Monday, October 4, 2010

Sowing Seeds For The Future

There are times with this writing game when you may feel that all of your efforts are being ignored. You send off a submission ... and hear nothing. You query an editor with a great idea ... and hear nothing. However, all of these actions are not wasted. You are, in fact, sowing possible seeds for the future.

Last February, I approached an editor with an idea for an article about the Long Mynd Hike, which takes place, here where I live,  during the first weekend of October. Hikers set off at 1pm on Saturday from the centre of the village, and within 24 hours have to walk the local hills - a circular route of 50 miles (80km) which includes over 8,000 feet of climbing. These sorts of events tend to take place in our National Parks, but the Long Mynd Hike takes place less then fifty miles from Birmingham City Centre. Having chatted to one of the founder members of the hike, I could offer an interview and background piece.

But I heard nothing.

After two weeks I approached the editor to enquire whether he'd had an opportunity to consider my idea.

I still had no reply.

So, two weeks later, I made another enquiry, by email.

Nothing.

At the end of April, I made one last ditch attempt and telephoned the editor, but he wasn't there. I left a message, but he did not ring back.

It seemed that this seed had fallen on stony ground, however that was not the case. In the middle of September I received an email, from the editor I'd originally approached back in February. Could I help him out? Another writer had let him down at the last minute and he desperately needed a feature to fill several pages within the magazine. The idea that I had proposed back in February would fit neatly, but (and here comes an element of the freelancing world that may seem a little unfair in all of this) could I produce the article within the next 24 hours?

Now, novice writers may see this as unfair - I'd originally approached the editor six months ago, and if he'd made the decision then, I could have had a couple of months to produce a fantastic feature, and now all I had was 24 hours to produce a fantastic feature!

But, back then, the editor didn't know he was going to have a problem with a piece in this issue and I saw this as an opportunity to show an editor that I could be relied upon. It was hard work, but I did it, and within the deadline. And, I saw it as bonus work too. Because I hadn't heard from the editor about my original submission, I'd written off this idea with this market.

And that's how freelance writing works sometimes. You may send off ideas and submissions but not hear back straight away. That doesn't matter, because sometimes those seeds do go on to germinate, and when they flower, it is always a beautiful surprise.

Incidentally, if any of you fancy climbing a total of 8,000 feet and walking for 50 miles around the Shropshire countryside, you may be interested to know that the quickest entrants achieve all this within nine hours! 

Good luck.

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