Sunday, May 17, 2009


Only putting this up because he figured in last week's INCARNATE blogposts, but look who Ori stumbled across while boozing up in the National Portrait Gallery:


Valerie asked:

'I publish a tiny literary magazine, and I got a furious response to a rejection slip last month -- very colorful really. I was half-amused and half-sad, because it really does pay to get past the agony of rejection and to realize how many things besides the quality of your work such responses represent. (That said, he was reacting to a single word in my canned response that he considered loaded, which I have changed for the future -- I'm not trying to make anyone miserable, after all!)

I got very lucky and had a high school teacher who actually instructed us in processing rejection slips. Subsequently, I garnered dozens of them myself, but have somewhere along the way published many poems and even sold a number of short stories.

But it seems to me that when your livelihood depends on your writing, there is more at stake. You've clearly learned not to take the outcome as a reflection on your writing skills -- but doesn't it affect your stress about daily bill-paying?'

Well, you simply have to have enough projects on the go that two or three of them at any one time have got to the commissioned treatment stage, and you're working on one actual scripted episode as well. Four full hour-long scripts in one year are certainly enough to pay the bills, but more usually I'm writing two or three in a year, and working on four or more outlines throughout the years as well, and writing comedy sketches and maybe a bit of animation as well.

It's when you suddenly have a three projects collapse from under you at once, with nothing else on the horizon that it gets a bit scary, as it can take about three months for a project to generate enough momentum that you're actually getting paid for it. So if you've been three months without work, and are only just starting to get hints of fresh work, you may have to go six months without earning any actual money. Which was sort of okay when I was single, in a rented flat, when I could back to bookselling at any time. But now I have a wife, baby, cat and mortgage, you can see how an actual proper work ethic has crept into my daily life....


Marsha Klein said...

A wife AND partner? Shouldn't that be 'baby'? Or is this a superhero crime-fighting kinda partnership?

James Henry said...

Oops, amended! Although the Blue Kitten and I do occasionally team up to fight crimes perpetrated by the cat, so that is, technically, accurate.

(observation nicked from Patroclus)