Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Professional Give and Take

It's hard to make a living as a freelance writer. Unless you've got great contacts or regular contracts you never really know where the next job's coming from. It's doubly difficult in January, I've found, when all the work you've done over Christmas still only exists as invoices in an in-tray until the finance people return from their summer holidays.

[My God. I've started calling December/January 'summer'. I've finally gone native.]

Pound for pound (or perhaps 'pound for word' would be more accurate), I've found that writing for magazines provides the greatest financial return, and the Holy Grail in magazine work is the retainer - guaranteed work and guaranteed income each and every week.

If you can get a couple of those deals under your belt, you can start planning where your cash goes instead of simply putting out fires as and when a job pays off. That, in turn, means you can take on some of the more time-consuming but less well-remunerated jobs (newspapers or fiction) without having to sell your own organs to pay the rent.

So with the January money drought finally over, I was still more delighted to learn today that I've landed another regular gig. The money's not amazing, but added to my other weekly column and my wife's new income, it helps to clear the bills every month and will allow me to work on some more fiction projects.

But what the God of Freelancing giveth, the God of Freelancing snatcheth back the moment you're not paying attention.

With so much of my work reliant on watching DVDs for reviews, the worst thing that can happen is to have the DVD player start to clunk menacingly then switch off and refuse to work. So that's just what it did.

It's good to know that another benefit of freelancing is the ability to claim vital equipment back against tax, and for me a new DVD player is indisputably Vital Equipment. Thing is, you've got to pay for it before you can claim it, and ... yup, you remembered: I'm coming off the back of a four-week financial famine, and every institution in Perth has its hand out to cover the bills I've had to let slip since Christmas.

So until we get solvent again, I'm having to borrow a machine. It's not as cutting-edge as I'd like, but it'll do the job. Hell, I'm a professional, aren't I?

Oh, the shame.


Blogger Peter Pan said...

I think its pretty!
Oh ..and am officially starting a campaign to get you as writer for any Sarah Jane spin off novels....

6:12 PM  
Blogger Pete Kempshall said...

Thank you!

Should probably watch the show then ;)

7:12 PM  

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