Originally, I planned to cover today’s “W” topic with writing resources. You know, those books, software tools, and online resources writers just can’t live without. But this past weekend’s events made me rethink my choice in topics.
Over Easter weekend, I met my partner in crime’s folks.
Yup. Meeting the parents. We’re in the big leagues now.
Niceties aside, (and they are really nice folks, by the way) I came away from the morning meet up with some valuable food for thought. The kind of “damn that makes so much sense” stuff you often get from simple-living guys who just don’t have the time, much less the inclination, to mince words.
So, what was this great pearl of wisdom that made me change my mind for today’s topic?
“It don’t eat nothin’.”
You see, the morning started out with sittin’ a spell in the folks’ robin’s egg blue living room, amidst a myriad of historical family moments captured in little wooden frames stacked on every flat surface and hung below wallpaper borders. My guy as a little guy, with his father and older sister. Mom as a young and vibrant woman. Grandparents with big smiles and cars of bygone eras. All momentarily caught in sepia splendor. It was a lovely, Little House on the Prairie kind of feel-good visit.
After an appropriate time spent in Southern visiting tradition, we ventured out for my grand tour of the homestead, with its many outbuildings full of forgotten treasures and gardens the likes of which could make the Jolly Great Giant jealous. As I was led from this garden patch to that, listening to family histories mixed with tales of family gossip, my guy’s mom commented on all the things her husband keeps around.
Or as she put it, drags in from who knows where or everywhere.
A half dozen pull-behind trailers in various sizes and stages of aging.
An old ice machine or two.
A pile of alternators, air conditioning parts, and more than one pickup truck.
Parts of an old rotary phone and an alarm bell mounted on the side of the barn, rigged to go off when the house phone rings.
All of it will someday serve a purpose. Spare parts you can’t buy in the store anymore, tinker-around-and-get-it-working-again-for-someone projects, and if all else fails? Haul it all off for scrap and make a few bucks.
Mom saw a bunch of stuff bordering on junk. He saw stuff with potential.
And in his eyes? It don’t eat nothin’. It doesn’t cost anything to keep it around.
That got me to thinking. (Yeah, a dangerous thing to get started, for sure.)
I’ve heard some writers talk over the last couple of years, about wanting to find a way to bring in a few extra bucks beyond their usual writing work. Normally, these conversations crop up when I talk to folks who work in more traditional writing jobs…technical writers, staff writers for local papers, and the like.
When they find out I work from home, in my pjs and Tigger slippers, they’re curious. Do I really make a decent living writing from home? Some have heard of content creation and web content writing. Most have the stereotypical content mill in mind, complete with whip-wielding content managers brutishly driving slave writers with sweaty backs bent over desks, churning out web articles for pennies.
They’re often hesitant to branch out and look at writing for the web, because of what they hear about content mills. The stigma acts like a padlock on any effort they might make at venturing into the world of web writing. But not all content companies are content mills. Not all web writing pays a penny a word or involves writing mindless sales copy. In fact, web writing offers some of the most lucrative opportunities for freelance writers willing to take a leap of faith.
Here’s how I see it. It don’t eat nothin’. Applying to web content companies doesn’t cost anything. Just because you get accepted to write for a content company doesn’t mean you have to actually write for them, yet. (Well, except for the ones that require minimum contributions from writers.)
Why not test the waters and see how it feels? Why not have a look around, see what’s available, and maybe test out a company or two. If you get accepted to one that doesn’t have minimums (and very few do) you can let your account collect dust without actually doing anything with it. It can sit there, like an emergency preparedness kit, in case your regular day job writing suddenly gets downsized, rightsized, or eliminated-ized.
Trust me…if you wait until you NEED a writing job to apply, you’re going to screw yourself by accepting the first paying work that comes your way. Bad idea. Better to have them waiting, slowly simmering on the back burner, in case you ever need them. After all, they don’t eat nothin’.
For the Nosey Nellies
And for those of you nosey nellies, wondering how the folks-meeting went? I’ll have you know, his folks are two of the nicest, sweetest, most warm and inviting people you’d ever want to have brunch with. I have to admit, I was ready to bite my nails to nubs over the idea of meeting the parents.
After all, when you start hitting that 40 mark, you have to ask…we’re a little old for that, aren’t we?
But my worries were all in vain. I had a wonderful time with the folks. I just hope he’s prepared for meeting MY folks…especially my loveable, yet void of class Dad…the guy who wanted to walk his granddaughter down the isle in his baseball uniform…the guy who taught my children about making silverware catapults…the guy who, on first meeting my brother in law, asked to see a copy of his W-2s. Heaven help my poor guy…he’s so not prepared for what he’s gotten himself into.