Chat Transcript: June 3, 2001
The professional business of writing

The life of a professional author is more likely to be strewn with invoices and tax-bills than laurels and fame. A career in writing demands stamina, commitment, and persistence - but even then, most writers have to supplement their earnings with teaching, editing, readings, and residencies. It helps to take a serious approach to marketing and professional development. A variety of print published authors as well as those who strive to make money on the Web will be meeting to chat about the challenges and maybe even exchange a few tips.

Why not come along and join in?

Related Links

Session Start: Sun Jun 03 21:03:16 2001

Topic is '3rd June the Professional Business of Writing '

Set by Helen_Whitehead on Sat Jun 02 10:06:16

David_Clayton says, "I always find it funny on trAce that professional matters don't get much response.."

Helen_Whitehead says, "...If it's just us."

Helen_Whitehead says, "I agree David... but we keep trying..."

Sue_Thomas says, "David I sympathise!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "We'll wait a bit longer in case...."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Mmmm we've had up to 22 in here... what was that for?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Interviewing web writers like Alan, mez and Talan was popular."

Connie_Brigadoon has joined #trace

Sue_Thomas says, "Hi Connie, hope all is well"

Nick_Daws says, "Hi Connie"

Helen_Whitehead says, "How're things?

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Hi everyone. Sorry I'm late. Joe has to get a catscan tomorrow (husband). Joe will get better."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Oh good. There's just us at the moment...."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "But I think he'll be alright."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Cat-scan sounds serious...." Helen_Whitehead sends supportive vibes through cyberspace

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I won't worry yet."

Everdeen_Tree, R_Adams, evreally, Michael_Byrne, Loki93c and Deena have joined #trace

Deena says, ""Hi am I here?"

Nick_Daws says, "Yes."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Hello Ev, Hi Deena, how are you? Hi Randy, nice you could come."

Deena brushes herself off and is glad to be in the room.

David_Clayton says, "The coffee's on the stove Rick!"

Deena passes around hot coffee and donuts.

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I needed this coffee--thanks."

Nick_Daws says, "MM. Nice donuts."

Helen_Whitehead has a small silver flask with something to liven up the coffee. Anyone?

David_Clayton says, "I was saying that not too many people want to talk about 'professional' matters at trAce."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I've noticed that too

David_Clayton says, "I saw that Connie referred us to two or three sites with comments and there was no response.

Helen_Whitehead says, "And very few about new media matters..... we don't even have a new media workshop -- but that's another discussion!"

Deena nips at the flask.

David_Clayton says, "I thought we'd started!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Some people get defensive when they read that sort of thing."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Ok, it's ten past the hour, shall we start? Possibly those most interested are here!"

David_Clayton says, "I'm always interested in new sources of information."

Deena says, ""Yes, let's start."

Helen_Whitehead says, "We haven't any "official" Guests tonight...but we have a panel present of "Professional"Writers of one sort or another. May I start by asking them to introduce themselves and their professional experience, and then other can join in if you have a comment? "

Helen_Whitehead says, " Nick, how did you come to be a professional writer, for how long have you done it and what to you write?

Nick_Daws says, "Ok...I've been a full-time pro writer for eleven years...I've always been interested in writing, but I didn't go full-time until my full-time job went pear-shaped...I write mainly non-fiction: books, articles, training material...I am also interested in fiction, though, especially short stories..."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I'm Connie Makled. I am a journalist in Michigan writing news and features for two years in local and national publications mostly. I've been writing on and off, getting published in small publications for 15 years, but never made a living at it.Until two years ago"

Helen_Whitehead says, "David?"

David_Clayton says, "I'm David Clayton. I have been a full-time writer and actor for six years and have around ninty publications including around forty children's books."

Nick_Daws says, "But it's non-fiction that pays the bills!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "David, does fiction pay your bills?"

David_Clayton says, "Ha!ha! Not exactly! From writing and performing, I earn around $20,000 a year."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, non-fiction pays the bills."

Karen_King has joined #trace

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I've published more than 780 articles in the last two years.

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie that's a lot... and was it a living?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Karen, are you a fulltime writer? Of children's books exclusively?"

Karen_King says, "Hi Helen, Yes I am . Well books and children's mags."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Karen, do you think it's easy to make a living in the writing business?"

R_Adams, Deena, Connie_Brigadoon, Everdeen_Tree, evreally, Nick_Daws have jumped ship and quit IRC (Connection reset by peer )

Helen_Whitehead says, "Whoops, we've lost people...."

Sue_Thomas says, "Wow what happened there?!"

Loki93c_ says, "American connection failed?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Nick is in the UK"

Loki93c_ says, "Jus a thought."

People come tromping back in.

Helen_Whitehead says, "Welcome back, don't know what happened there! There were problems with the university network this morning, maybe there are still repercussions."

People brush themselves off and continue.

Karen_King says, "Helen, No I don't think it's easy. I think I got lucky getting into mag work but the market is closing."

David_Clayton says, "In what sense Karen?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Karen do you know David? Another children's writer."

Karen_King says, "Helen, David and I are in the same Wordpool group and he kindly sent me some stuff by email.."

Karen_King says, "A lot of the children's mag work is now being done in house to save costs, David."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "It's what I do best and what I have done as a child. It fills a need to create."

David_Clayton says, "I wrote for my children when I was a teacher to produce better books and just expanded into paisd work."

Helen_Whitehead says, "A lot of people think they can write for children...."

Karen_King says, "A lot of people think that writing for children is the easy option but I think David will agree that it isn't."

Helen_Whitehead says, "What do you think makes you professionals? Apart from that kind of professional contact which Karen just mentioned."

Sue_Thomas says, "I've watched the discussions in webboard. I agree that it's about getting paid."

Nick_Daws has joined #trace David_Clayton says, "Did the cybermuggers get you Nick? Helen_Whitehead says, "Hi Nick, sorry you got bounced! Nick_Daws says, "Glad to be back!

Connie_Brigadoon says, "People depend on me for information and I fill that need and get paid for it."

Sue_Thomas says, "And was amazed at the idea that someone's sister doing a course might make her 'professional'!"

Everdeen_Tree says, "That someone's sister was one course in photography., sister who went to RIT for full degree would disagree on that definition."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I know. I tried to explain that a course alone does not make her a professional. She finally agreed."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Does being paid make you a professional? I think it's more than that. I have met writers who have written books and been paid but I still don't consider they had a "Professional" attitude."

Deena says, ""You said that nonfiction work paid the bills earlier. Could you elaborate? Is it freelance writing assignments that pay rather than fiction books and articles?"

Karen_King says, "What do you write, Connie? I missed the beginning of this chat."

Helen_Whitehead says, "At what point do you think you became "Professional"? when you started fulltime? before that?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Years ago, when I studied sociology and social class we were told that professional meant you had some kind of recognized training - eg doctor, teach

Deena says, ""Connie, Nick, All, what motivates you to write professionally?"

David_Clayton says, "I write to provide good life templates for chuildren and to encourage them to read AND to get paid!"

Mazzy and Frances_Cornford have joined #trace

Deena says, ""Hi Mazzy, Frances, we are discussing what makes a writer a professional."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "You mean you can read and get paid for it? WOW! Sign me up! :-D"

Sue_Thomas says, "I think we're using the word in different senses. Practically, professional means you get paid. But in terms of quality, peoiple think you achieve certain standards."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, standards."

Deena passes around high standards ...

Karen_King says, "Ditto David. I think you've got to love kids and want to write for them."

Deena says, ""I would consider myself a professional hypertext/electronic writer, as I get royalties and payments for my stuff, but I depend on a full time job to pay the bills...."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Yes Deena, your "genre" doesn't pay so well."

Deena says, ""No, we still have to work out business models on the web."

Sue_Thomas says, "Different things."

Everdeen_Tree says, "But yes....term needs to be defined.....semantics are often important."

Sue_Thomas says, "Deena, I feel the same."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I think if you can meet the standards and earn the respect of your peers and readers, you have arrived."

Nick_Daws says, "For me part of the reason I'm a full-time freelance is the freedom it gives me to work from home, arrange my own schedule, and so on."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Nick, I identify with that one -- I became a technical writer and editor for that reason -- but then I encountered trAce...."

Sue_Thomas says, "I am a novelist of sorts.And it takes at least 2 years to write a novel and you generally don't get paid much for it. But the fact that one cannot live from it should not demean the work."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Sue I agree, just because you do NOT earn a living or don't get paid much doesn't mean you're not professional."

Deena says, ""Writing for children poses a lot of challenges. Karen, would you and David elaborate on those?"

David_Clayton says, "Children DO take stories seriously. It is very important to be honest and say something worthwhile."

Karen_King says, "I think that you have to remember that what children read can influence their life no and in the futre. It's a big responsibility. A lot of people think that writing for children is the easy option but I think David will agree that it isn't."

Deena says, ""Helen, what makes a professional attitude?"

David_Clayton says, "You cannot turn in work that is less than 100%."

Sue_Thomas says, "David - I beg to disagree.You CAN turn in bad work and get it published. There is a huge amount of bad work published for kids and adults."

David_Clayton says, "You would turn in inferior work, Sue!?!!!!!!!!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I read if you can write two hours a day at least four pages, you can complete a novel in four months and make at least 10 grand for it."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie - surely it depends on the novel and LUCK!"

Deena says, ""Wow Connie, I would like to do that. I haven't seen too many writers getting even 10 grand for a novel... there are so many variables."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Connie, not to mention connections!

Karen_King says, "And you have a lot of PC stuff to cosnider."

Sue_Thomas says, "David - people do. Let us not romanticise - people get paid for very poor work sometimes."

David_Clayton says, "I said you shouldn't."

Karen_King says, "How do you do that, Sue? Give me the name of the editor quick!!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Yes, there is a lot of inferior work published for kids. I'd sa that's by people who are professional but NOT wriiters!"

Sue_Thomas says, "Helen, there are bad writers!"

Deena says, ""What are the standards we are living up to as professionals? I would say it would be to produce quality work, accurate reporting, ..."

R_Adams wondering what's the big deal about being called, or seeing onself as 'professional'?"

Mazzy smiles in agreement with Randy

Helen_Whitehead says, "Randy it's more about the way people perceive writers -- not having "Real jobs"--not working hard...."

Nick_Daws says, "In non-fiction anyway, many writers see themselves as subject specialists first, writers second."

Karen_King says, "I think you'll find, Sue, that a lot of the inferior work is done in house by editors trying to save money ."

Everdeen_Tree says, "If a doctor works in a free he not a professional?"

David_Clayton says, "I think that writers in any genre should not turn out sloppy work. If others do that its THEIR problem."

Karen_King says, "Amen to that!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Karen, I gather that too... as an editor I'm apalled!"

Deena says, ""Yes, doctors have professional standards, pass med exams, have professional organizations. Do any of you belong to the professional writer organizations?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "When I was applying for magazine writing jobs a lot of interviewers thought that because my degree wasn't in English, I couldn't write -- I wasn't qualified!"

Karen_King says, "I belong to the Society of Authors."

Nick_Daws says, "Yes. Socirety of Authors, Career Writers Association...I can't say I get very much benefit for my membership though..."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, networking is important."

David_Clayton says, "I'm in the Writers Guild."

Sue_Thomas says, "I used to belong to the Society of Authors but I left for various reasons - intending to rejoin, though."

Helen_Whitehead says, "I'm in the Society of Authors."

R_Adams says, "Helen: do you think we can change ( tried with my ex-wife for 17 years.........)."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Mmm, it's difficult, Randy...."

Deena says, ""Randy, change what?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Would you recommend that people join the Society of Authors?"

Karen_King says, "Yes, definitely. I've found they've been really helpful."

Deena says, ""I have belonged to Rocky Mountain Writers Association and Science Fiction Writers Guild, but these organizations were not really sympathetic to the particular concerns for electronic writing, at least not yet..."

Helen_Whitehead says, "You can join the Society of Authors if you published a book or the equivalent. I got in by having written several audi-training courses each as long as a book."

Helen_Whitehead says, "I think it would be helpful if I ever got a major contract...."

Nick_Daws says, "I've found it helpful to say that I'm a member of the Society of Authors."

David_Clayton says, "I have an agent for awkward moments with publishers."

Karen_King says, "They've fought a few battles for me and won. Even though I have an agent I don't always get work through her."

Nick_Daws says, "It can be a useful marketing thing."

Deena says, ""Yes, is having an agent a mark of the professional?"

Nick_Daws says, "I've see no need to get an agent."

Karen_King says, "I've been told it's harder to get an agent than a publisher now."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Agents only really work for books, would it be any use for you Deena?"

Deena says, ""I have an agent for my work, and that has helped somewhat. We are still testing the waters."

David_Clayton says, "I've had an agaent since after my first book.

Karen_King says, "I've only had an agent for about five years and I've been writing for a living for over 15 years."

Helen_Whitehead says, "So, only Nick can do without an agent..."

Nick_Daws says, "Though if I write a novel I'd be looking for one.."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Agents are great if they are good and good ones are hard to get."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Say THAT ten times fast."

Deena passes out tongue twisting agents and tongue depressors.

Sue_Thomas says, "I have an agent - 2 actually - one in the UK and one in the USA."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Is that changing? or are agents becoming MORE necessary?"

David_Clayton says, "I think that you CAN do without an agent if you network well and know a few editors or even one good one."

Sue_Thomas says, "I find them very helpful even though I don't make them much money!"

Karen_King says, "Soem publishers won't accept work unless it comes through an agent - especially in children's publishing, unless, as David says, they know you and you network."

Deena says, ""Agents also help spot bad contracts. Wish I had had one for my first two electronic works."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Perhaps agents are another discussion...."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, I think you are right, Helen."

Sue_Thomas says, "Why are agents another discussion? I don't understand that."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Another question for you writers.... what one thing would make life easier for you as a freelance writer? tax breaks? recognition?"

Karen_King says, "Paid holidays."

Deena says, ""Tax breaks in the US definitely help. This is one way I can get to support my work."

Nick_Daws says, "Amen to that."

Sue_Thomas says, "Yes, paid holidays!"

Deena says, ""Paid vacation days and I have a flexible job to take nonpaid vacation..."

Deena says, ""We have editorial standards for writing--Associated Press, MLA, Chicago. Do we have any ethics or quality or subjective standards for being a professional?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "The standard I write to is called the Associated Press Stylebook and guide to media law."

Deena says, ""How has the changes in publishing in the last decade (self pubbing, epubbing, death of midlist, etc changed the profession of writing?"

Nick_Daws says, "I do agree about the importance of networking though...I get much of my work that way now...".

David_Clayton says, "Once you ARE published you can ring publishers and say 'What's doing?' and get an answer.."

Karen_King says, "Yeah, I ring publsihers all the time, it's how I get most of my work

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, David. Thats right. You have to be published to get published!"

Loki93c_ says, "Catch 22 ish!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Some publishers accept work if they are recommended by a known author."

Helen_Whitehead says, "So how do you network effectively? Any tips?"

David_Clayton says, "It's different on the other side of the wall. Not easy, just different."

Karen_King says, "Make friends with as many editors as possible."

Helen_Whitehead says, "How Karen?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Karen, how much time do you spend promoting yourself vs writing?"

Karen_King says, "Not a lot really, because I've already got contacts in the field."

Deena says, ""How much time do you spend marketing your work? And how do you market successfully?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I think those who have not been published should offer work for free just to get their name in print. That will get them a start."

Nick_Daws says, "A lot of it comes down to doing a good job and getting on good terms with other writers/editors."

Loki93c_ says, "Mine is free, thats why it's on the web."

Deena says, ""I think the most successful writers write because they have to. Like Connie said, it fills a need to create..."

David_Clayton says, "My advice is like Connie to get your name in print at the easiest access point, local papers, local radio etc."

Helen_Whitehead says, "But there's more to it than creation -- the marketing, the networking, otherwise your text goes into a black void."

Sue_Thomas says, "Deena I really don't agree with that - I think its romantic. I think the whole thing becomes too romanticised."

Deena says, ""Conferences help to network and meet editors, agents, etc."

Karen_King says, "I agree David, but I don't think any writer should work for free."

Nick_Daws says, "I think networking is a two-way thing as well. You give other people useful leads, and in return they do the same for you."

Deena says, ""Sue, there is so little reward in writing though... why write if you don't have to at some level?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "They won't have to work for free once they show they can actually do it and do it well."

Helen_Whitehead says, "To go to a conference or festival costs money -- should writers be more prepared to spend money to network and to promote themselves and to develop their skills?"

Sue_Thomas says, "I have to eat. I don't have to write. I want to write. I like to write. But I don't have to!"

Karen_King says, "Yes, it's tax deductable."

David_Clayton says, "I first got on the radio by attending an arts week and talking to authors in the bar afterwards. One of them invited me on to his show."

Karen_King says, "That's the plus of being a male."

Deena says, ""Informal networking like that is a great way to go, David..."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I have never spent a dime marketing my work. I get an idea for an article and I write the editor and supply the camera ready art and they buy it."

Nick_Daws says, "One thing often lerads to another in the writing game..."

Helen_Whitehead says, "I have to write... I don't know why anyone would do it if they didn't have to. It's biological."

Sue_Thomas says, "Helen that's nonsense!"

Karen_King says, "I agree Helen, I can't imagine a life without writing."

Sue_Thomas says, "Why do people always say that stuff!!"

Everdeen_Tree says, "Sue,....maybe for them it's true."

Sue_Thomas says, "Everdeen it can't be!"

Deena says, ""I don't think I could ever earn enough to get groceries by writing what I love to write. Which is why I have a day job as a technical writer...But I spend the time because I love to create this stuff."

Sue_Thomas says, "I'm sorry I just think it all adds to the tortured genius poet thing."

David_Clayton says, "I found out a lot from Al Kennedy by buying her a drink on her 30th birthday at Ilkley Festival. Not just men."

Nick_Daws says, "I wrote an article years ago about the National Lottery. Someomne saw it and asked me to write a regular column on I'm a gambling expert!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Nick do you gamble yourself? Just curious..."

R_Adams says, "My two cents: when I moved away from my hometown, 4 years ago now, I left behind most of my professional contacts, because my writing was ususally about regional issues, local arts,'s very hard to re-establish oneself, especially if one doesn't try."

Karen_King says, "It's just a bit easier to get around networking if you're male I think. I tend to do my networking on the phone."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie, how much do you write in a day?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I write an average of 5 articles a day. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.

Deena says, ""Wow Connie! 5 articles a day is a lot. Do you do the same research for more than one article?

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes! That is it. I also research ahead of time so that I can write it later. "An example of this is the celebrity articles I did for the Oakland Press. I got at least 5 articles out of one day's experience.That's how I get paid well."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie, that's a very professional attitude and worth studying."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "It has been recommended to me by several people and it WORKS. I sold two articles about the ARC last week from one interview."

Deena says, ""Connie, writing many articles from the same source information for different venues and audiences sounds like a very effective way towrite freelance articles."

Everdeen_Tree says, "In every stereotype there is a germ of truth."

M_Byrne says, "Yes I agree. I mean let's look at the big writers? artists?"

Karen_King says, "I think I've lost the thread."

R_Adams says, "Anyway, I have put aside professional writing in order to concentrate on a I am an ex-professional writer...maybe like an ex-boxer."

Sue_Thomas says, "Ok.Can we clarify this a bit? Because I think its very germane to professionalism."When people say they have to write, what do they mean exactly?"

Everdeen_Tree is always interested in hearing what people mean.

David_Clayton says, "It is an established fact that writers and artists are more prone to alcohol abuse etc."

Nick_Daws says, "I have to write to pay the mortgage!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Randy - but you're still writing? And you're a photographer too... and a new media artist..."

Karen_King says, "Ditto Nick. But it goes deeper than that."

Sue_Thomas says, "Randy - when you sell the book you will be professional again."

R_Adams says, "No, Sue, I will be an author ;-)

R_Adams says, "I sold my house ;-)

David_Clayton says, "I write all the time in my head. When I sleep I write, when I run I write."

Loki93c_ says, "I have to write to get the creativity out."

Deena says, ""I mean, if no one saw my writing and if I were not being paid, I would still write to create something. I have to write technical wrticles and work for the govenment to be paid, but that is not where my interests really lie."

Sue_Thomas says, "Helen what do you mean by 'write'? shoping lists? stories? poems?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "If I don't write I get ill.. and unhappy."

Helen_Whitehead says, "So if I have to write I might as well do it properly and professionally!"

Karen_King says, "I've always written but I haven't always been published

M_Byrne says, "I write because I have an imperative to say something ; communicate meaning; sense, order..So there!"

Sue_Thomas says, "But what do you mean by write?"

Karen_King says, "Scribble on any piece of paper you can find."

Sue_Thomas says, "Fiction? nonfiction? What do you write?"

Loki93c_ says, "Writing is another creative outlet to be utililised, enjoyed."

Karen_King says, "Fiction."

Deena says, ""Good point Sue--we are talking about a lot of different kinds of writing... Fiction, electronic, freelance articles, technical writing,..."

Sue_Thomas says, "Deena also shopping lists, reports, business plans, letters, emails"

Everdeen_Tree says, "So....professional depends on the figures on the year's tax form?"

Nick_Daws says, "For me one big attraction of writing is that I am always discovering new things."

R_Adams thinking that shopping lists can make great poems. Loki93c_ says, "Good idea Randy, I might pursue that

Helen_Whitehead says, "I just about get away with writing websites, and copywriting, but editing doesn't satisfy it: it needs to be creative in some way...."

Karen_King says, "I like to see where my imagination can take me."

Nick_Daws says, "I agree. Writing is more fulfilling."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Am I the only one to write advertising? now there's a well-paid angle: 200 for 50 words!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I write advertising as well as part of my job."

Karen_King says, "How do I get into that Helen?"

Helen_Whitehead says, ""Phorpain, fixes pain fast!"75 better than any book

Nick_Daws says, "Helen, I'm most famous for my Writers Bureau advert!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Why does that make you famous Nick?"

Nick_Daws says, "It was by-lined...They use it a lot. I wrote it seven years ago, and they keep re-running it in The Guardian, etc."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Oh I see, and advert FOR writer's bureau!"

David_Clayton says, "I keep a database of story ideas sometimes with a few pages written out. If I am commissioned to write I can often find a theme in my bank."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Good idea, David. I do the same.

Karen_King says, "I keep a book of ideas..."

David_Clayton says, "When I have a lot of time I expand my favourite one into a full book."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Do you all consider your writing "a business?"

Karen_King says, "No but the taxman does."

Deena says, ""I consider my writing a business for tax purposes. I wouldn't want to rely on the income though--and neither would Uncle Sam!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "My house isn't supposed to be used for business. I would be interested to go to court and have someone tell me how I can NOT write in the house!"

Deena says, "Helen, in the U.S., you can write in your house, just don't deduct household expenses for your business..."

David_Clayton says, "Yes a business but I write many letters and e-mails for myself also."

Karen_King says, "What do you mean David?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Do you approach it as a business or as art?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "It's both isn't it, Connie?

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yep. Helen, Its both, yes."

David_Clayton says, "My commercial writing is JUST done for money and I write a lot in addition, on trAce to Connie and others to friends who aren't on the net."

Everdeen_Tree says, "I think for some people....writing is both a business and an art...but for others only a business and for other only an art."

David_Clayton says, "'Correct--it ISN'T just done for money."

Nick_Daws says, "I hope to earn enough through my nonfiction to buy myself time for fiction projects."

Karen_King says, "Or none of us would do it."

Everdeen_Tree says, "And that any of the three groups....could include professionals."

Deena says, ""Everdeen, I think that is a good point. Everyone writes and approaches writing for different reasons."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "But a lot of people don't approach it as a business and so fail and making money at it."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Fail at making money I mean."

Karen_King says, "I started it as a hobby and it ended up a business."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Connie....yes/....they fail AT making money...but maybe not fail in their intent."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Right."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Nick that sounds about right for a lot of people..... whether they make the money by non-fiction or by something else entirely."

David_Clayton says, "A lot of people can't take the bumps and bruises!"

Everdeen_Tree says, "And that intent may be perfectly valid."

Nick_Daws says, "I think if you want to make money you have to be perceived at least as an expert in something...Preferably more than one thing!"

Loki93c_ says, "I'm not certain I 'm in it for the money, more for the satisfaction."

Deena says, ""What are your goals in writing?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Goals - that's an interesting question."

Karen_King says, "To entertain children and try to help them deal with some of the problems they face."

Deena says, ""I think my goals are to create something that hasn't been done before, work out complexities, show new angles..."

Sue_Thomas says, "I would say my goal is to clarify my own thinking."

Helen_Whitehead says, "You and David are such terrific examples of children's writers -- I have met some whose aims are nothing like that!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "To become more than a competent writer and give people something they need/want."

David_Clayton says, "My children's writing is deep down to show how can CAN be."

R_Adams wondering about what Richard Hugo (American poet) said: how do I know what I think until I see what I write?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Randy I like that quote."

Deena says, ""How do these goals influence the way we approach writing, networking, and marketing?"

Sue_Thomas says, "The moment I start thinking about what the reader wants I freeze up.But that is my own particular problem"

Everdeen_Tree says, "I'm working to explore aspects of language....and am in the middle of a six year project....."

Sue_Thomas says, "Everdeen tell us more."

James_Mawhirk has joined #trace

Deena says, ""Hi James, we are talking about approaches to professional writing and our goals."

Karen_King says, "I guess I just really like kids. But I do write other stuff too. Do you David?"

Deena says, ""How do children respond to your work?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Deena, I research methods of writing, styles, as well as business practices. Even a shoe salesman has to know more than just shoes."

David_Clayton says, "I don't write anything else at present but I do a lot of performances and some TV work as a walk-on actor."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Some writers do write only for themselves, but that's not necessarily wrong... it's one way of approaching it...."

Karen_King says, "Hey, that sounds really interesting. I write short stories for women's mags too."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Sue...I'm working on interests developed during my academic and professional language and organization."

Karen_King says, "I think you have to wrte for yourself AND your reader."

Deena says, ""Good point Karen. Writing is fundamentally communicating..."

Deena says, ""I research and network with people doing cutting edge work to keep up with what can be done and I collaborate with universities and others to take advantage of new techniques..."

R_Adams says, "I quit writing columns and articles etc etc to focus on serious work. It was a conscious and expensive decision."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Should a writer have other strings to their bow? like David's acting -- teaching writing, visiting schools & festivals, to help make the money?"

Nick_Daws says, "Yes, to keep themselves sane."

Karen_King says, "I think they have too."

Sue_Thomas says, "Yes Helen, a day job really helps!"

David_Clayton says, "I think you have to, unless you are Joanna Rowling etc."

Deena says, ""Randy,others, I know so many who have quit a day job to write full time. Is it worth the sacrifices?"

R_Adams says, "For myself, Deena, yes."

Deena says, ""Randy, why is it worth it?"

David_Clayton says, "I made the right decision because I became ill doing what I did."

Karen_King says, "What did you do?"

R_Adams says, "But Deena, I quit writing schlock (sp) to do serious

work, I did not qut a day job, haven't had one of those for 25 years

R_Adams says, "Deena, because now I am proud of what I write."

Deena cheers Randy and passes around the champagne. That is worth it then...

Sue_Thomas says, "Congrats Randy."

Sue_Thomas says, "But I think there is a problem in that many writers are not performers and dislike the public eye. That makes life very hard for them."

Nick_Daws says, "I think you need to do things that bring you into contact with other people. Writing is inevitably solitary."

Deena says, ""Nick, that is one reason for trAce, ELO, and these chats--to get a sense of community."

Deena says, ""How can we promote writing, address copyright issues, etc. to help writers gain a living wage?"

M_Byrne says, "Go on strike Deena."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Did the American screen writers go on strike in the end? Or did they get what they wanted?"

Deena says, ""They settled at the last minute for better internet publishing rights and credits."

M_Byrne says, "Liz Hurley broke the picket line, ahem..."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I disagree--I write for the paper--it is serious work. And in my spare time I write my screenplay and short stories. That too is serious."

Sue_Thomas says, "Deena, it's a product thing."

Deena says, "Sue, what do you mean by a product thing?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Produce something people want and they will buy it - do people want writing?"

Karen_King says, "The trouble with writing for children is that you have to get past the editors and all the PC stuff first."

James_Mawhirk has joined #trace

Deena says, ""Hi James, we are talking about publishing and professional writing."

Sue_Thomas says, "Deena I have known writers who feel they deserve to be published."

Sue_Thomas says, "Ain't true"

David_Clayton says, "The line of gatekeepers is endless."

Karen_King says, "It's hard to let kids have adventures any more."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Unfortunately in the news business, the editorial staff is not producing revenue and has become dispensible, which makes me wonder what will people read when all the editorial staff is weeded out of the industry?"

Helen_Whitehead says, "I've noticed even bestsellers are not very well edited these days...."

Helen_Whitehead says, "But editors are expensive, better paid than writers I think."

Deena says, ""Good points. What do readers read and how do we promote reading?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "The publishers don't make money by editing. That's the problem."

Deena says, ""Connie, you are right. We are really touching on the underlying economics of writing and publishing. How does that affect the kind and quality of writing?"

R_Adams says, "Whereas, when freelancing or contracting, it was written for the editor, and I know my editors. And what they wanted. But it wasn't what I wanted to write."

David_Clayton says, "On the radio the other day they were talking about the airport inertia in that you don't need to sharpen up established authors-- they just roll on."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Connie, a question....if you had to chose between identifying yourself as being in the "news business"or as being a "writer"....only check one of those boxes, no scribbling in the margins...which would you choose?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, ""Staff Writer--That's my title, not reporter."

Everdeen_Tree says, "But the question was which box....not being rude...just curious?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I write a lot more than news though. I write a great deal in my "spare time." I am a writer first, a reporter second, since I have to have the ability to write well in order to report well."

Karen_King says, "I think if you write for a living you have to be flexible and compromise sometimes."

Deena says, ""Karen, what kind of compromises?"

Karen_King says, "Soemtimes editors want changes that you don't really want to do."

David_Clayton says, "'When you are first accepted you REALLY have to know the rules in children's writing. You can't write ANYTHING you want."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Karen I have noticed that: and if you write for a living you have to write hard and long and not just when the muse hits!"

Karen_King says, "Too true, Helen."

Karen_King says, "There's no time for writers block."

Helen_Whitehead says, "..or romantic tortured genius..."

Deena says, ""Yes, with a day job, you can afford to wait until the muse hits...;)"

Nick_Daws says, "I see myself as a technician rather than an artist..."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Nick....that's an interesting point....technician or artist.....writing to spec was one of my questions."

Deena says, ""I see myself as an explorer more than anything else..."

Karen_King says, "Unless you want to be a starving in the garret."

Nick_Daws says, "No thanks!"

Everdeen_Tree laughs...well Helen, you actually have a Juno."

Deena says, ""Everdeen, Helen, what is a Juno (missed that bit)"

David_Clayton says, "People don't actually want to know if you are tortured or not."

M_Byrne says, "Amnsety International wants to know..."

Helen_Whitehead says, "OK, time is slipping away. Can I ask our "panel" to let us have a last thought, a summing up, a motto to live by, a tip for the future, or whatever? then people can talk on aftwards but we're officially finished."

R_Adams thinking about 'writer's box' as opposed to block."

Deena says, ""Why do people read..."

Karen_King says, "To be entertained, to forget their problems for a while.."

Deena says, ""Reaching the reader, no matter what we are doing, is the key to writing effectively..."

Karen_King says, "I agree Deena."

Deena passes around gaily painted writers boxes and blocks and toys full of thoughts and databases."

Nick_Daws says, "I just think that if you want to write professionally, you have to be a business-person first and foremost. You do as good a professional job as you can. The creativity can be almost incidental to this, but it is still there."

David_Clayton says, "I wrote to children's publishers for eight years with three books, won a radio competition and submitted six ideas to the company that published the greatest number of children's books (Ginn) after three years they published me."

Sue_Thomas says, "I have written 4 novels, 2 of which were published and 2 werent - but each was equally important to me in working out what I wanted to say, even if nobody got to read 2 of them."

Deena says, ""Sue, don't give up on your unpublished children."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Why do you think the two were not published? And why do you think the publisher bought the other two?"

Sue_Thomas says, "One was too obscure , the other was very bad."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Both things you can control and change. Will you try again?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Connie, I am writing another book - I don't think of it as trying."

David_Clayton says, "I think that we are preaching to the converted here. Who am I to tell people like you what to do. It's been a pleasure talking to you all."

M_Byrne says, "I find it difficult to be "outside", personally, it's a bit chilly so .... how did you get your first book published David?"

Sue_Thomas says, "My last words is that I would say..Be willing to grow."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Take writing seriously. Don't be afraid of the word "no." And don't be offended if your editor makes needed changes. "

R_Adams says, "My uncle was the editor of a daily for 30 years, and now, as he tells it, he can't write...sad, because all he ver wanted to be was a writer. His son, my cousin and very good friend, is the editor of 5 community newspapers...his articles and columns are tripe...his emails are wonderful"

Mazzy simply slips a slip of paper into the box that reads "Concentrate on writing, not on 'being a writer'"

Deena treasures Mazzy's paper.

Helen_Whitehead takes Mazzy's paper and nods sagely

Sue_Thomas says, "I agree with Mazzy."

Karen_King says, "Well, it's been a great chat - and my first chat too - so bye everyone."

Nick_Daws says, "Thanks, everyone. I've enjoyed chatting with you.."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Bye! to you."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Thanks Karen, Mike."

Deena passes around professional donuts and coffee cups for all

Everdeen_Tree says, "Thanks all."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Thanks to David, Connie, Nick!"

Nick_Daws says, "Bye.

Deena says, ""Thanks all for coming, and thanks for organizing this Helen. It was a great chat."

Sue_Thomas says, "Its the writing that's important, not being a writer."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Sue...if the two were important to being written...because they were something you wanted to say....even though not that perhaps only different in phrasing or degree than "Having to write"??????????"

M_Byrne says, "Sue , how didi you get your fist bk published?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Yes Everdeen."

Helen_Whitehead says, "That's what Mazzy said...."

Mazzy smiles at Sue and ponders that even 'very bad' children can turn into prodigal sons sometime in the future."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Some peopel are too taken up with being a writer ...just write!"

Sue_Thomas says, "But no actually. I misread you. Sorry. I did not have to write them. I just chose to write them."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Right, I know what you mean. The book I'm working on is all written in my head and now I have to put it all on paper.""

Sue_Thomas says, "Just as I chose to plant an apple tree yesterday."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Sue....I understand.....::nods::

M_Byrne says, "How did you get your book published, anyone?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Michel sorry. I will tell you. 1. I met a famous writer. 2. He introduced me to an editor. 3. She gave me the name of an agent who was looking for new writers. 4. I approached the agent and she took me on."

Helen_Whitehead says, "It's that network again....

Sue_Thomas says, "Fraid so."

R_Adams says, "Mb: a publsiher read an article that I wrote in a farm newspaper and asked me if I could write a book. They called me. They wanted a second book, I said no.""

Helen_Whitehead says, "Why did you say no, Randy?"

R_Adams says, "The first one was regional, I don't want to write about the prairies anymore. I want a wider readership."."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Mmm, turning down a commission, that takes guts and confidence in what you DO want to write."

R_Adams says, "no guts, Helen, and maybe a stupid thing, but for me, it was like going backwards. At 49, it was not the direction I wanted to go."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "MB---you can start small and approach a local publication and print an article. Once that is done they will take you more seriously."

M_Byrne nods and says, "Thank you for that information."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "If someone came to you Sue, would you consider recommending them?"

Sue_Thomas says, "Connie what do you mean?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "What I meant was it would be difficult to recommend someone and have the publisher not like the work."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Sue will you introduce me to your agent? (winks at connie)

Sue_Thomas says, "Oh! Well I can do that but I can't recommend anyone and she probably wouldnt trust my judgemenrt anyway!"

M_Byrne says, "Would you recommmend getting an agent then, Sue."

Sue_Thomas says, "Michel yes if you can, get an agent. But it is very very hard"

David_Clayton says, "Having 'a track record' paid or not counts (you don't say when you quote it!)

M_Byrne says, "I have been published, in a football programme. Success. I'M A GENIUS !!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "It's a start Mike! Probably a bigger circulation than many literary mags."

M_Byrne says, "Its just nerves, excuse I'll be seeing my doctor tomorrow."

Mazzy shakes Mike's hand and passes a copy of Road Accident Statistics Great Britain: 1999."

Mazzy autographs it for him.

Sue_Thomas says, "Mazzy, somebody has to do it!"

David_Clayton says, "I wrote six articles for five pounds each and the magazine folded but kept the articles. My 'debut!' The next owners published them. I had no money to sue!"

R_Adams says, "Funny thing David, but that happened to me too, but three publications died at once...for a time, I thought I was cursed."

David_Clayton says, "OWNERS! DOH!"

M_Byrne says, "WE'RE GENIUSES. not. The sad reality.

Mazzy laughs

M_Byrne says, "GENUII!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "It was copywriting the brochure for the telephone sales agency that I most regret....

Mazzy nods. In our own universes, yes Mike

David_Clayton says, "I think that it was a great thing to do, Rich."

R_Adams says, "It won't make me rich."

M_Byrne says, "Yes it has a picture of pub landlord accompanying the article, actually warning against the alcohol, sense of humour. Dangers of excessive consumption etc."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I feel great about two recent articles that reached certain people and it really made a difference to them...My work helped them. That gave me a feeling money can't buy."

Everdeen_Tree says, "What were they about Connie?"

David_Clayton says, "You create a fantastic impression with me, Connie. Excellent!"

Everdeen_Tree says, "Are you putting them up on your site? Your archive project?"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "One was about the ARC program--teaching the special needs kids how to ride bikes---it helped two people find the program and their kids are so happy. The other was about REGAP--a program to save greyhounds from the racetracks. Five greyhounds were adopted as a result of my article (that I know of).""

David_Clayton says, "I got a letter from a boy on Avery Rough Estate in Newcastle, written in pencil in a wobbly hand on rough paper it said how happy one of my books made him. I felt so pleased."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I'm so happy to hear that David."

Everdeen_Tree says, "Good job!"

David_Clayton says, "You have one, Connie! I know! A greyhound!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Yes, even I adoped a greyhound as a result of my article! I'm quite convincing!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Ha ha!"

David_Clayton says, "Wuf!wuf!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "It doesn't happen very often but when it does happen---the day you get that possitive feedback---it makes you love your job all the more."

David_Clayton says, "I love visiting schools for this reason."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "I bet you do. My son saw one of his favorites at school and talked about it for days and days."

David_Clayton says, "Some kids never get anything special in their whole lives. One school had my huge picture all over the walls. I felt like Elvis at Las Veges!"

David_Clayton says, "VEGAS! DOH!"

log says, "After one of my sessions a child came up and asked where the party bags were... he'd enjoyed it so much he'd forgotten where he was!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "David, you would look good in sideburns!"

David_Clayton says, "And no hair!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, ":-D"

David_Clayton says, "Sean Connery without the rug!"

Connie_Brigadoon says, "log--bet that felt good. I love Sean Connery."

Helen_Whitehead says, "Connie and David can carry on enjoying themselves, but we're definitely officially finished."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Helen, have you any suggestions?"

David_Clayton says, "Elvis has left the theatre. Thanks everyone!"

Helen_Whitehead says, "Thanks for coming everyone. See you next week OR the week after, 17th June when we'll be talking about Year of the Artist."

Connie_Brigadoon says, "Goodnight everyone. Thanks for a wonderful chat."

Session Close: Sun Jun 03 22:21:05 2001


Related Links: