The Trouble With Freelancing and Working for “Exposure”

(When the payment for your work is in “exposure”, you better love what you’re doing.)

Treasure

“What…what…what about your career?”
– My uncle on Easter Sunday when he found out I was taking a hiatus from work to focus on writing

Writers get paid very little for their work and are a dime a dozen in this town – but not good writers. That’s why I’m taking some time off from work to dedicate myself to my writing and to become better than “good”.

Last weekend I was talking to a friend that does MMA and found out that he doesn’t get paid for some of his fights — this floored me. I suppose it makes sense if I thought about it though, because people can get away with anything when they promise that your payment will be in “exposure”. Most people would assume that if someone is putting themselves through that kind of grueling harm, they would at least be handsomely compensated for it. But he does it because he loves it – just like I write because I love it. And although he’s putting himself out there with the physical risk of broken bones and black eyes, I’m risking my mental sanity every day as I sit in front of this blinking cursor. Granted, these are very different risks, but they come from the same place. None of our families or friends know what him or I go through on a daily basis, they just see the final product of him winning a fight or me writing something amazing. Along the way we get punched or rejected and we keep getting up to do it again – but some days are harder to get up than others.

This weekend my status as a lion took a hit from the perfect storm of rejection and negativity. It wasn’t until this morning after a sluggish workout and an flavorless breakfast did I see the sun break through the clouds and I was able to pick myself up again. I know that I’m entitled to falter once in a while, but I’m surprised at the speed and frequency of these tests now that I decided to climb in the ring. Only through failure have I learned that I have to constantly keep dodging and jabbing or I’m going to take an uppercut to the chin – and sometimes that may come from an editor, and other times it may come from a family member (even if they didn’t intend to).

Life is going to keep hitting you in the face, sometimes when you least expect it. But if you want to be successful in your chosen path, then you have to keep getting up off the mat and putting your fists up for the next fight.

[Photo: At an auto body shop on Easter Sunday in Echo Park.]

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