Freelancing means walking from the West Village
to the Upper East Side and back because
you don’t have enough money for the subway.
Freelancing means being so poor and so hungry
for so long that you “eat” a bowl of soup
that’s just hot water, crushed-up multivitamins
and half your spice rack (mostly garlic salt).
Freelancing is being woken up on a Monday
at eight a.m. by an editor who
gives you the following assignment: “Put
together everything interesting about
all the city’s airports by Friday,”
doing it, and then not getting credit
when it runs … as an infographic.
Freelancing is having your mother send
you a book called $ix-Figure Freelancing
which lists as helpful resources, on page
one nine eight, the dictionary, thesaurus,
and Freelancing means your editor
will reject your pitch and then, seven months later,
run the story you pitched—with the same language
as your pitch—and then have it submitted
for a National Magazine Award.
Freelancing is having an editor tell you
that he really loves the story you’ve filed
and wouldn’t change anything, and in fact
suggests you expand upon the characters
a bit—and also cut the story in half.
Freelancing means having to chase down checks
every time, even when that means waiting
two years for one thousand dollars. It means
having stories killed and being told that the
editor-in-chief gave no reason, but
that the same editor would love to work
with you some more.

From ‘Seven Years as a Freelance Writer, or, How to Make Vitamin Soup‘ published in The Awl, 2 August 2010. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.