Sunday, September 10, 2006

Show Me The Money

The money's in non-fiction.

That's the mantra we're all forced to learn when we become freelance writers.

Alas, I've yet to prove that true.

Although I often earn more per-word for non-fiction, I don't seem to earn more per-hour. I've been writing and selling short stories for so many years that they often just roll off my fingers. Articles take more research and more drafts before I feel comfortable that I've produced a publishable manuscript.

Part of my dilemma is limited formal training in journalism. I've not mastered the art of the interview, and often find myself with far more material than I need. I've not mastered the art of organizing my material and developing a preliminary outline, so I often toss my outlines out the window once I start drafting copy. I've not mastered the hook and the nut graf, so I often struggle producing them.

My wife--a journalism professor at a major university--must think I'm a moron when I ask for her advice, which I often do when crafting articles, and she repeatedly pounds the same lessons into my head that she pounds into the heads of her entry-level journalism students.

It may be that I lack confidence or that I wear blinders when viewing my non-fiction. After all, a good part of my freelance income comes from editing other writers' non-fiction! I can see and correct the problems in their work that I can't seem to see and correct in my own.

Ah, well, maybe it's just a time and experience issue. If I had written as many articles as I've written short stories, they might just roll off my fingers the way short stories do.

And maybe someday, after I have written many more articles, someone will show me the money!

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