On coming into your own as a writer...

by Joseph Robinson Banned
10 replies
It has been coming up a lot in the main section recently: writers just don't seem to know how to get started or what to charge for their services. Those that make a little headway find themselves stuck under a self imposed glass ceiling, wondering what they are worth and whether they will be able to charge it.

Johnny Marqueteer, who you will remember tried to build his business by hostile takeover of Google (er Googlia) found himself facing a similar identity crisis upon reaching Kwality Continent. Maybe his story can help some of you writers see the light...

After a harrowing journey of many weeks (that included awesome shark battles, a Kraken, and a steamy love affair with a mermaid that I'm sure none of you want to hear about), Johnny finally spotted land in the distance. He had reached Kwality Continent!

As he pulled into harbor behind a procession of other hopeful entrepreneurs who had finally seen the light, Johnny noticed a group of official looking men waiting at the docks. It seemed that the arrival of Johnny and others was expected; but what did these men want?

Johnny would not have to wait long for an answer. After tying his boat down, he and the other refugees were informed that in order to gain asylum (and later prosperity) on Kwality Continent they would have to be reviewed by the Board of Advisers. Food was handed out as the men and women sat in the courthouse lobby waiting their turn; but Johnny couldn't eat. He had no idea what kind of questions these men would ask. The prospect of finding out that he wasn't cut out to be an entrepreneur scared Johnny to no end, and he shrieked like a girl when his name was finally called.

Upon entering the court room, Johnny found a much warmer atmosphere than he was expecting. It was quite obvious that the refugees were meant to be put at ease. The head magistrate instructed Johnny to state his purpose and what he could provide to the nation. Speaking very quickly, Johnny recounted his dreams of becoming a famed entrepreneur. With his head hung in shame he also recounted his experiences in Googlia and promised profusely that his actions did not speak for his overall character.

When he had finished telling his story, Johnny was forced to fidget nervously as the magistrate silently regarded him. After what seemed like an eternity, the man spoke. "Your heart is in the right place boy. You seem to have the tools to succeed; but you have much to learn before you can attempt to be an entrepreneur. You will be assigned to a textile factory to learn to produce great content...I mean clothes. Only by learning how value is created can you hope to provide value yourself."

With that, Johnny's review was over. Once back in the lobby, he was assigned to the factory he would work in: a low level textile mill known as Five-Rro's. He was also given a shared home with other refugees, with food and other necessities provided by the government. As Johnny went to bed early that night (he started work the next day) he excitedly told himself that he had finally made it; and that he would be an entrepreneur in no time.

Work at the textile mill was very degrading to Johnny. He and other refugees only worked for 5 Kwalitybucks per hour, and after taxes and fees only received 4. Johnny was more disenchanted than most, because he found that he had a natural knack for the factory work. He quickly became known as one of the best employees in the place, and took on jobs of quantities and difficulty that few other workers could manage.

After staying quiet and going about his business for a few months (Johnny was hesitant to anger the citizens of a country that had so graciously taken him in), Johnny decided that he could not do the work he did for such a menial rate of pay. Choosing to take a day off from the factory, he ran to the court house and burst into the head magistrate's chambers demanding that he be reassigned to a higher paying job. Being well aware of Johnny's growing talents and reputation, the magistrate agreed for a town wide review where his talents would be put on display. The citizens would then judge him and decide if he was ready to "move up the ladder".

Johnny was both elated and terrified at the news; and the day of his judgement came all too fast. At 10am Johnny was brought onto the makeshift stage set up in the town square. The entire town had arrived to see what Johnny could do. The magistrate made a short speech, and then instructed Johnny to show what he had.

Johnny took to the large sewing machine, working furiously to prove that he could craft pieces on par with the all time greats. After a half hour's time, he had produced an entire adult male's outfit. The items were passed around for judgement amongst the crowd:

"Very good for a refugee," one man said "I would buy these clothes at $.04 a thread." one said.

"Nonsense," a mousy looking woman said "look at the sheared threads right here! He probably isn't even a native textile worker!"

"Now now Agnes, mistakes happen. The boy does good work. All he needs is a mentor..." A stately looking man near the front of the stage said.

After everyone had a chance to examine the pieces, Johnny's fate was put to a vote. His stomach dropped when the town was split evenly on whether or not he should be promoted to a new profession. Did this mean that he would be sent back to Five-Rro's?

"As is the case with all split votes on refugee promotion," the Magistrate announced "Johnny Marqueteer will be assigned to an apprenticeship, to be judged again at a later date!" There were some loud cheers and polite clapping amongst the townspeople, and an elated Johnny was led back to the courthouse to await his mentor's arrival.

After about an hour, a very angry looking man walked in. "Ah, you're here!" the Magistrate said. "Johnny, I would like you to meet your mentor Postus Stobinsonman. He is the best textile worker Kwality Continent has ever seen, and an entrepreneur himself! You are quite lucky to be learning from him."

"H-hello" Johnny stammered nervously.

"No time for small talk boy. I saw your demonstration. We have a lot of work to do. Come, to my shop with you." Postus growled as he abruptly turned to leave the court house.

"He's a rough character," the Magistrate whispered to Johnny "you'll get used to him."

And get used to him Johnny did. Over the coming months Postus worked Johnny to the bone (although at a much more reasonable pay rate), making him create pieces of beauty and difficulty that he had never before fathomed. Practice wasn't all that Postus used to train Johnny though. He showed him what other textile mills across all continents and islands were creating; he also put a large amount of time into teaching Johnny the history of textiles.

One morning, Johnny finally got the courage to ask Postus a question. "Sir, why must I learn of other nation's textiles? And the history for that matter? I thought that my goal should be to just create something unique. As long as I avoid the duplicate clothing penalty I should be successful."

[For those who can't read between the lines or got so engrossed in the story that they forgot about becoming a better writer: the lesson is here]

"Well, son it's quite simple. Creating original masterpieces is the crux of our job. That much is true. But just being different isn't enough to be good. We examine other pieces to find what works, and from those fundamentals create our own vision. As to studying the history of the craft? Well, I thought you were smarter than that boy. How can you hope to claim proficiency in something you don't completely understand?"

With this knowledge in mind, Johnny worked as he had never worked before for the next few weeks (he did this to your favorite 80s montage soundtrack). Finally the day came when Postus firmly told Johnny "You're ready. Go knock 'em dead boy."

Johnny left Postus' shop for the last time, ready to go to town square for his review. Johnny didn't know what would come next (a better paying textile job, his own textile mill, or perhaps a completely different profession?); but he knew that with Stobinsonman's advice (now combined with his father's) nothing could stand in his way. And if the townspeople couldn't provide what he now knew he was worth? Well, Johnny had traveled thousands of miles, he could do so again to complete his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

Well, there you have it writers. An anecdotal account of how someone can start from literally nothing in a craft, find their worth, and confidently move on to bigger and better things. Again for those who can't pick a lesson out of a story, here you go:

1. You can start out somewhere menial like Fiverr; but unless you have limited talents it will not satisfy you for long.
2. The best way to figure out your current worth is to put your writing in front of judging eyes.
3. If you aren't at the top of the food chain, you need to learn more. If you can find a willing mentor, get one.
4. The best way to improve your writing is to see how others are doing things, and to completely understand the nuances of the language you write in.
5. Check back often to see if your worth is improving. If it has; but the people aren't willing to pay you what your time/effort is worth? Move on and go find the market. It is out there.

#coming #writer
  • Profile picture of the author Ross Cohen
    Way to call me out, Joe! Gee, what a guy!
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  • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
    Not just you my dude . As you alluded to in your thread's title ("I'm jumping on the bandwagon") there are plenty of writers who start threads wondering what they are worth. There are even more writers who might be too afraid to do even that small step.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Cohen
    Ha - I know. Was only jankin' your chain. Tomorrow concludes my college years (whatttt!!!!)... but that means 2 finals as well. Following those (around noon if my coffee overload which is bound to happen doesn't kill me), I'm gonna finish up my Warriors For Hire thread that I'm gonna post to merely see what happens. Perhaps I'll drop you a line and you can chime in to tell people to hire you instead. Then we can have a rap battle/spell-off. You down? Haha!
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    • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
      Originally Posted by Ross Cohen View Post

      Then we can have a rap battle/spell-off. You down? Haha!
      I think we are both far too white for that .
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  • Profile picture of the author ebizman
    Restaurant Online Ordering System | FREE 30-DAY TRIAL!
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  • Profile picture of the author Freelancing10
    Totally awesome! Thanks for calling me out too.

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  • Profile picture of the author Big Rob
    I tend to forget what a truly gifted writer you are!
    Now,my friend, I see you are a gifted teacher as well.
    Well Done!
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    • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
      Originally Posted by Freelancing10 View Post

      Totally awesome! Thanks for calling me out too.

      The story is to educate, not call out lol.

      Originally Posted by Big Rob View Post

      I tend to forget what a truly gifted writer you are!
      Now,my friend, I see you are a gifted teacher as well.
      Well Done!
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      • Profile picture of the author Freelancing10
        Originally Posted by Joe Robinson View Post

        The story is to educate, not call out lol.

        Lol.. I know, it was great. I love it. You are an awesome writer.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve McBride
        Originally Posted by Joe Robinson View Post

        The story is to educate, not call out lol.

        I totally ninja'd that bro-fist, even if it wasn't meant for me.

        Great story! I remember one of the recent threads you were talking about. There was so much good advice in that thread alone. I love being apart of such a helpful community!
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