My First Contract

25 11 2006

A few weeks ago, I received an “Author Agreement” in the mail.  It wasn’t exactly a surprise as I had spoken with the magazine’s editor numerous times on the phone.  But it was exciting nonetheless.  Somebody is actually going to publish, in a nationally distributed periodical, something I’ve written, and they’re going to pay me to boot!  It was weird – once I had the contract in hand, I had a hard time signing it and sending it back.  It took me a week to put it in the mailbox.  I’m not going to name the magazine or describe the article at this point.  Something my mom told me about eggs, chickens, and enumeration.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  I’ve been told the short article will be published in January.  I’ll have more to say then.

The experience was a little painful.  I am a great procrastinator, and came up with plenty of good reasons not to sit down and write.  And that really is the only way to finish any writing project – you have to sit down and write.  Of course once I did start, no sentence I wrote was good enough, so I wrote and rewrote the title of the article (which the editor may or may not even use) five or six times.  But once I got past the distraction the words, sentences and paragraphs came.  I’ve found that it’s better to just write, let it flow, then go back and rip it up.  It’s not like I’m etching granite. 

I’ve gathered up material to write another piece along the same lines, and I’m still having trouble getting started.  This one covers a broader topic and should be about twice as long.  I just hope it doesn’t take me twice as long to get it going.

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4 responses

25 11 2006
Dave Powell

As the great man said, “I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written…”

For some reason it is very hard for me to start banging out words as well, but once I start, I generally can keep rolling. My goal is to turn out 500 words a day. I don’t always succeed.

Congrats, and I am looking forward to it…

Dave Powell

27 11 2006
Harry Smeltzer

Dave,

It’s not so much the actual writing that causes me to freeze up – it’s the prospect of writing. I have a well earned inferiority complex. On those rare occasions I turn out something I like, I always look at it as if someone else had written it. “Hey, this makes sense! I wonder who wrote it?”

But the actual writing (and rewriting) part is not altogether unpleasant, and time flies too quickly when I’m doing it.

16 12 2006
Phil Muskett

Harry,
This is a goal of mine. So any pointers down the road when I start to write would be greatly appreciated. Gotta finish college first.

Phil

17 12 2006
Harry Smeltzer

Phil,

It’s good to hear from you. I’ve also received acceptance of two proposed articles, including one on a Bull Run personality. Now, this is different from acceptance of an article – it’s merely someone saying “Yeah, that sounds interesting…send me X thousand words.” It may turn out to be nothing.

I’m not sure what pointers I can give, other than “don’t end your sentences in prepositions” and “it’s A historian, not AN historian.” But it’s never a bad idea to pick up a style manual. I like Chicago, but each publication has it’s own preference. And some software packages like “Citation” include options to choose a style manual for notes, bibliographies and such.

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