Friday, 22 February 2013

Freelancing: The art of flying without a safety net

It appears my dreams of a future in journalism have been, once again, dashed.
For the past year and half, I have been on a wonderful, almost unbelievable, journey. I was called upon to create a new magazine in Canada, part of a chain of magazines worldwide. The topic is unimportant, suffice to say it involves commiting medical journalism, one of my favorite areas of interest.
I absolutely love creating new magazines. I've done it maybe ten times in my career and I'm good at it. Lifelong learning has been a passion for me and I'm always amazed at how small our personal worlds are and how much we do not know.
Part of the allure of being a journalist is being able to interview smart people: doctors, scientists, difference-makers. Interviewing them makes me want to be a better person.
Anyways, the magazine is now in its eighth edition and the company has now set up a website which means that I can now commit daily journalism. Haven't done that in 20 years. It's exhilarating.
Was exhilarating, that is, until I started having to fight to get paid. I am now owed about $6,000 and haven't been paid since December 20th on another paycheque I had to fight for.
The standard in the industry is that the writer gets paid on publication, which is bad enough. This kind of work is not for the faint-hearted. It often means going without a paycheque for months. But at the end of the process, a deflated bank account miraculously rises like a puff pastry.
But this time, this time, it appears things are different.
I put the magazine to bed on February 3 and today is February 22nd. I've also submitted about 20 stories for the web, which are supposed to be paid out every two weeks.
Unfortunately somebody in France is sitting on my invoices.
I was told two weeks ago, it would be just a few more days. Then the CEO, who has to sign all the invoices, took off on the very day all the invoices were to be paid out. Then my supervisor told me she stood over the accounting people and demanded they get him to sign the damned things. Yesterday, she said, she hoped he'd finally do it.
I still haven't seen anything. We'll see what the day brings today.
When you're a freelancer, you often feel like the stinky kid.
It's not always about the money, it's about respect. These publishers love to get your work, but pretend you're a mosquito once you've done it.
You become a nuisance to them.
You're made to feel like a loser.
Yesterday, I'd had enough. I told my publisher that I was putting down my tools.
No more web stories until I get paid. No magazine in six weeks if I don't see the color of their money.
By the end of the day, I was shaking, worried that they might fire me. Get somebody else.
I always hope that I'd be missed, but I know that everybody is replaceable.
There is always somebody waiting in the wings, another freelancer with their own deep pockets who would do the work for nothing because they love it so.
Or somebody who has a husband with a job.
Yesterday sucked.
I'm still hopeful that I'll be paid today. The glass is always half full in my heart.
Try telling that to your creditors.

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