Writers’ Excuses

The combination of the National Figure Skating Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum, the All-Star Game of the National Hockey League at the RBC Center in Raleigh, the street demonstrations in Egypt on all the cable channels, and the sale of my rental property all on the same weekend wiped out any attention to freelance writing for an entire week.

I’m not offering that as an excuse; I make lots of other excuses not to find time to write or to market my writing business.  I did find time to attend a “job fair,” i.e. group interviews, for a local PR agency that is adding freelancers to accommodate a new large account.  But as a news junkie and a local community enthusiast, I find that my interest in writing lags when I can’t get assignments and the rejections pile up.  I know that even established writers have to “play the numbers game.”  That not only means maintaining contact with regular clients and professional associations but also routinely sending out queries to potential clients.  Since I have a VERY small client base that has been severely impacted by the recession, I have few prospects of getting business from them in the near future.  I did get a kill fee for an assigned article that was never published, but that was a special situation.

Since I’ve written about social media so much lately, I guess I should offer some comment about the impact of Twitter on the situation in Tunisia and Egypt.  I am very reluctant to draw a clear line of cause and effect.  Technological advances such as cell phones, the Internet, and satellite TV in the developing countries have in many cases leapfrogged the traditional economic development of Europe and the United States.  It is much cheaper to build out a wireless network than to wire an entire nation.  But cultural and political influences are equally as important as the technology so it is difficult to claim which influence is the determining factor.  Street demonstrations are a “social medium” whether they are covered on TV or on the Internet or not.  In Egypt the determining factor in their success has been the presence of the military in maintaining order but in not suppressing (i.e. shooting) the demonstrators.  In most dictatorships, the police and the military are used to kill the demonstrators regardless of the cost in lives.  The Egyptian authorities tried to suppress the coverage of the demonstrations, but they lost control of the military or were pressured by the US to show restraint.

I picked up Aljazeera English TV on the Internet and have watched it on my desktop computer at home and on my iPhone while I’m out and about so I’ve kept up with the daily developments in addition to the coverage on CNN and ABC-TV. Although I have a Twitter account, I have not followed the coverage on Twitter.  I simply can’t devote that much time and portion of my life to news coverage.

Obviously, if I were working on a deadline assignment I couldn’t focus so much on world and local events, which I guess qualifies me as a hobbyist rather than a working writer.  Since none of my web sites or blog generates any leads anymore (much less income), then I guess that also relegates me to the sidelines.  I read “success stories” online daily, but the tricks seem to continue to elude me.


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