Got an e-mail today announcing an exciting new freelance writing opportunity:
“There are hundreds of assignments, each paying $10 per 300-word write up of a neighborhood.”
$10. For a 300-word article that, by dint of its subject matter, requires at least a couple of hours of online and on-the-ground research, and likely more time cutting down than it’ll take to write it up.
As a freelance wordsmith, I’m forever trolling job boards and scanning weekly group e-mails and, yes, even taking a look at Craigslist every once in a while. A band bio here, some web copy there, research for a magazine elsewhere … ya gotta be flexible. It’s a tough old industry. But I’m not sure I’m “flexible” enough to deal with the person that posted this particular ad last month (entirely [sic]):
“have project wrote years ago.not about me.great story.Funny deals with the water ,beach,life,pretty sure can get sold if written right.Good time with winter being filmed here.I am a local native.My ride to work is a waverunner.Again the stories not about me.Also local celeberty will be interested.I prefer a women write if i need to work with someone.However the story getting it right and it will not have to be perfect to get sold.Just correct.i have house on water to write from and I work most days in my waverunner rental company so u may work here.I also have two more stories that are books.Need someone for that 2.this will be a team effort and comp.is on selling it and to be negoiated on your skills.You will read it and decide what u think.write me if important”
Obviously, this person is badly in need of a writer. (Or at least someone to explain to him or her the difference between sounding like an important and influential figure in the film industry to attract a hot young intern, and hoping that waterfront property is enough to outweigh the sort of disjointed syntax not seen since Richard Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman.”) But no self-respecting writer is even going to consider working with this person on spec–it’s just too obviously a no-win situation.
However, Jet Ski-renting grammatically challenged waterfront property owner and ambitious possessor of what is almost certainly an awful idea for a movie, if you’re amenable to paying me hourly and handsomely for the time I have to spend listening to your inane ideas and sorting through your notes–surely a karmic retribution of some sorts–then let’s start the negotiations. Good writers are like good whores; we’re perfectly willing to bring your bizarre fantasies as close to reality as is within our talents, so long as our real names never appear on a receipt, and we’re pretty sure we’ll be long gone before the true depth of your delusion is publicly revealed.