Back in the office chair and money angst

dude_the flew back to Illinois yesterday, and I’m now playing catch-up (again), trying to make a dent in the mountain of work that accrued when I took a measly three-day weekend off. Three days. I take off three days and I can barely breathe for all the work that’s piled up. Sheesh. I remember a time when I routinely took three-day weekends with blithe unconcern. I don’t miss the circumstances of that luxury, but I do miss the luxury itself.

Our taxes went out on Monday, right under the wire, and spurred by the state of our finances, I went casting around for other sources of income. I was investigating the possibility of writing grants and found one that catered to women writers and poets to the tune of $50K for two years.

“Huzzah,” sez I, “someone trying to help poor, starving writers! I must apply.” But upon further examination, I discover that the grant application requires a $35 application fee. So yeah, they’re supporting poor, starving writers with other poor, starving writers.

Grumble. If I had a spare $35 to toss around, I wouldn’t $@&#! need a grant.

Oh well. I probably wouldn’t have had a chance anyway, being a genre writer and all. Still, foo.


Writing Stuff

In better news, I managed to land a very sweet freelance research/writing gig. It’s a short-term contract job with a VERY tight deadline, but it pays nicely, and, get this–I’m still in shock over it–I’m actually getting to use my Developmental Psychology degree. *gasp* I’m researching source material and information for specific coursework on teaching educators of grades K-3.

How absolutely fabulous is that? I actually cracked open my old Child Development textbooks–including the one I worked on in graduate school!–to get me started. I knew I was keeping those around for a reason . . .

I’m so tickled to be able to use my degree, although also a little aghast at how rusty and out-of-date my knowledge base is. (And also by the fact that my APA Style Manual is so outmoded that it doesn’t even mention how to cite Internet sources! Fortunately, the APA website does give out that info.) At least there’s a certain falling-off-a-bicycle feel to it. Once I started getting in up to my elbows, it all started flooding back. And even more amusing, my adviser in grad. school literally wrote the book on the subject I’m researching, so not only is this Dev. Psych. stuff, but this is totally-up-my-alley Dev. Psych. stuff.

But as I said, the deadline’s pretty stringent, which means I’ve shoved several other projects down my Things to Do list that I was working on. I’m hoping to get some of the smaller stuff done in between research jags, ’cause as I well remember from college, if I don’t give my brain a rest when I’m going over the theoretical stuff, I hit a wall where my gray matter becomes an impenetrable chunk of overwhelmed, making it and me quite useless for anything.

I’m using my psychology degree! Squee!

– Note from Jason Sizemore asking for my Featured Writer reprint story for Apex Online. Y’know what I really like? When editors ask me to send them a story. Yay!

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31 Responses to Back in the office chair and money angst

  1. Yay, Eugie, on using your psychology degree!!!!! 😀

  2. Congrats on the freelance gig!

  3. safirasilv says:

    One of the odd differences between “literary” writers and genre writers is that literary writers don’t blink at paying to apply for a grant or enter a contest (assuming that they will actually be able to buy groceries afterward, or at least borrow the money for either the entry fee or the groceries and pay it back the next time the temp agency comes through for them) and genre writers think, ‘Why should I pay you money in hopes of making money? Isn’t that like falling for one of those “Send me $10 and I’ll tell you how to get rich quick by doing this to other suckers?’ scams?”

    Being a poet as well as a genre writer, I find myself confused at times.

    I’d agree that that particular grant wouldn’t be a good investment for a genre writer. Unless one beat them over the head with Octavia Butler and Ursula LeGuin until they saw reason, that is.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Yeah, I’ve had Yog’s Law pounded well and goodly into me. I just can’t conceive of sending money to someone in the hopes of getting published or some other writerly success. It just feels wrong.

  4. reudaly says:

    Geez, I ran screaming from contests and grants and stuff because of the “entry” or “application” fees. It’s like the idea of “internships” = paying someone else for the “honor” of working. How messed up is that?

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t do screenplay competitions anymore either. I can’t afford them.

  5. gardenwaltz says:

    i don’t do contests in general. the one exception is the NC State Poetry competition which doesn’t have an entry fee. To me, they are like gambling. Even if your stuff is very very good, in the end, there are a lot of other writers of that caliber and it is a crapshoot to see if yours is selected.

    i actually found someone grumbling about a lack of quality submissions to her ‘zine lately and i pointed out that she might want to consider paying the writers. i will never understand why editors understand they need to pay for their computer, webhosting, internet service, paper, etc – but can’t understand paying for the writing.

    and, just to stay positive, congrats on the freelance gig. it does feel good to get to use that training now and again. you may want to look for other non-fic writing gigs for magazines. they’re not as interesting as fiction, but better than being a cubicle slave.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      i will never understand why editors understand they need to pay for their computer, webhosting, internet service, paper, etc – but can’t understand paying for the writing.

      Emphatic nods!

  6. unquietsoul5 says:

    “So yeah, they’re supporting poor, starving writers with other poor, starving writers.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time this was done… actually I find that numerous grants, contests etc are pretty much worked this way, especially in the poetry field.

  7. palmerwriter says:

    Congrats on the research gig! I’ve been getting into alternate writing income streams myself, since I’ve just now managed to sell one short story, so I’ve been writing business-related articles. Have you considered copywriting? The money is potentially excellent. I just picked up a client via a referral to write some Web copy for him, which will hopefully turn into repeat business, as he will need additional stuff. Good luck.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Have you considered copywriting?

      I have, but I have no idea how to get started on the finding clients part. I got my current job through a networking company and I’m just hoping it leads to other connections (as well as more work!)

      • palmerwriter says:

        Finding clients is tough, but networking seems to be the way to go. I’ve gotten most of my few assignments through other copywriters: subcontract work and a referral. Most of mine seems to come from graphic and web designers. Check out The Well-Fed Writer and The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman. Both are good primers on the freelance copywriting world, and Peter’s in Atlanta, so he also gives you a good idea of what’s available in our area.

        Good luck!


  8. basilwhite says:

    Grant application / chain letter


    Send $35 to the foundations below, create a foundation, and add your foundation to the top of the list.

    You don’t want to suffer the fate of the last applicant who broke this chain, found strangled with a dangling participle.

  9. aliettedb says:

    Hurrah for the editor asking you for stories, and the freelance gig. It must be nice to dig up all that old, rusty knowledge, and try not to fall off the bicyle 😉

  10. terracinque says:

    I’m so happy you’re going to have income again! I know y’all were starting to fret.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Thanks, sweetie. Actually, I did have income before with the writing and all, just not a lot of it. There’s not going to be a huge influx of $$ with this gig. I’ve made more on a few stories I’ve sold–only a few, though. But I’m hoping this will lead to more work, not to mention it’s nice working on something that I know I’ll get paid for rather than the on spec basis that most of my fiction projects operate on.

  11. radjacee says:

    I have the most up-to-date APA manual and have become quite proficient at finding things in it. So if the website does not deliver, feel free to drop me a line with questions. I’ve become the defacto expert on it here in the USC English department. I also have a power point presentation on it I can send you as a brief refresher if you feel the need.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Thanks, Sara. I appreciate it. I’m doing okay with my old APA manual and the write-up on the APA website for Internet citations. I’m pretty comfortable with APA style in general, but if I have any quandaries, I’ll be sure to drop you a line.

  12. dean13 says:

    Working as a freelance writer doesn’t sound like much fun. Working as an up and coming writer would seem even worse. I found working as a contract programmer too much stress. And there was the nasty problem of finding the next work assignment.

    Good to hear you are using the Child Psych degree for something other than just dealing with adults behaving badly.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Working as a freelance writer doesn’t sound like much fun. Working as an up and coming writer would seem even worse.

      Being a writer of any sort pretty much plops you into the “freelance” category. The financial uncertainty is indeed, ye verily, stressful, but I really am doing what I love right now, which does a damn fine job of offseting the rest of it. Assuming we don’t end up starving, of course . . .

  13. All such great news! Having some credits on the development/psychology side will look good on the famous author bio for your novel, too. Go for it!

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Famous author bio. Snarf! But yeah, I’m pretty tickled by this job. It’s always been a subject of exasperation for me that I never did end up using my degree for anything. I really did find what I studied fascinating, and I lamented never doing anything or going anywhere with it. Now, at least, I’m using it for something. And I’m finding my research topic quite interesting. Yay!

  14. basletum says:

    Finding freelance writing opportunities via Research-Academia (which I stumbled onto via Google Adwords on your website) gave me a source of income after I recently quit my “day” job (long story on why). Still need to find more income sources, of course, but it’s a good start.

    As for contests/grants: Hmm, should I pay money for a snowball’s chance in Hell, or should I just do a bit of market research and up my chances of getting paid for my work? Hmm, pay out or get paid? Kinda a common sense choice there, isn’t it? 🙂

    Eh, something about a “grant” requiring a fee just rubs me the wrong way.

  15. tomaqmar says:

    Congratulations on the gig. Freelancing, sweet freelancing…
    (He said, still waiting for his check from WIRED.)

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