wendylbolm

Archive for the ‘Writing Opportunities’ Category

The sky is falling and a room with a view

In Feminism, Fiction, Life Goals, Uncategorized, Writing Opportunities on June 17, 2008 at 1:31 am

Spring, summer, and fall are always fun times for Florida weather coverage. I’ve especially noticed this in the past few weeks, where drought conditions brought the Hillsborough River, a major river that runs behind my house, down to the point where there’s a large sandbar smack down the middle of it, and there is now a sandy beach extending at least fifteen to twenty feet past my dock. And, thanks to the beginning of hurricane season and summer rainy weather, we’ve been having regular storms pass through for the past two weeks.

The drought (which happens every year) is fun, because the local news outlets panic over which towns and counties are sharing water resources and which are mooching. They cover water restrictions and give a list of local officials and how much their households use in water each month. Now, the big story has been filtering reclaimed water and turning it into drinking water and whether or not the regular folks in Florida would stand for that kind of thing. If it worked in Waterworld, it could work for Florida, right? Instead of drinking other people’s filtered debris, I could just buy a filter and make my own.

Now that it’s raining again, I’ve noticed my local news stations running stories about the horrific storms. I think the local CBS station actually did a story the day after one storm, cataloging the storm damage in a neighborhood, which amounted to some downed branches and lost shingles.

I’m sure Tampa isn’t the only local coverage area where the stations make a mountain out of a molehill on a slow news days.

And, I’m going to apply for the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Gift of Freedom grant and the scholarship they give every year for a writer’s workshop. If I win the grant, I will focus on my freelancing and a novel I’m working on. If I win the scholarship, I will be going to Georgia O’Keefe’s ranch in New Mexico to attend a workshop for women writers. I’m excited!

If there are any women writers out there who read this, I would suggest you apply.

More on Anonymous vs. Scientology

In Anonymous, Awesomeness, College Goals, Fiction, Life Goals, Scientology, Writing Opportunities on April 20, 2008 at 1:12 am

I attended a protest last Saturday, and I wrote a post about it for Sticks of Fire. You can find it here.

I also have exciting news. After years of dabbling in fiction and winning a few awards, I finally have an acceptance letter from a magazine. A little vampire yarn I wrote called “Monica” is going to be published in Arrhythmic Souls. Today has been a good day.

More on changing the world

In Writing Opportunities on March 4, 2008 at 2:05 am

So, even after reading about the lack of opportunities to change the world through journalism, you still think you have what it takes to change the world through writing? Here are three avenues to give it a try.

Magazines

Vogue and Cosmo are not what I’m talking about here. Think more like Bitch or Tricycle. If you have a cause you can’t get enough of, read every publication you can and take notes on where you’d love to work in the process. If social causes aren’t your thing, search for trade and hobby magazines that are more to your liking. Just remember, magazine staffs are usually pretty small and therefore can be difficult to join.

Alternative Rags

Think the Village Voice or Creative Loafing. You might see an article about raw milk next to a review on the raw food joint down the road. Your mom might cringe at the trannie personals ads on page 19, but you’ll have more freedom to pursue your own writing desires and voice than at a traditional paper.

Start Your Own _____

Go ahead. Fill in the blank. Think your town’s nightlife is insufficiently covered? Start your own website. Think the music scene needs some followers? Print your own free weekly.

Take out a loan, apply for a grant, do what you need to do to get fundage for your new pet project. It’s the in thing to do in these black days for printed newspapers and old guard journalism. Just make sure you have a plan.

Coming up: How to get your dream job today’s uncertain climate.

Spring Break and changing the world

In College Goals, Writing Opportunities on March 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Even though I have a week to go until Spring Break, in many ways I have been taken an impromptu Spring Break from the internet. Sometimes graduation and a quarter-life crisis hit at the same time. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in the past week.

One thing I’ve been thinking of quite a bit (and it’s something I’ve never bought into) is the theory many students and beginning journalists have about how they’re going to use their writing to change the world.

They just don’t get it.

Journalists don’t change the world. They write about the people who do. In fact, journalism keeps most journalists from changing the world, especially if they want to cover their passions.

Think about it. If you’ve worked your way up to the presidency of a gay pride organization, no editor is going to let you write about it. If you volunteer for a soup kitchen that needs volunteers, no editor is going to let you write about it. If you join a protest, guess what. No editor is going to let you write about it.

Some journalists get around this by specifically not joining the groups they want to cover. I did this when I was a journalist at The Oracle, so I spent two years covering events I wanted to join in on and people I wanted to befriend but couldn’t because of ethics.

The upside to the new world of journalism is blogs, where many journalists are given free reign on some newspaper owned blogs and their own personal blogs. However; I don’t think many newspapers would hand over their server space for a blog on any kinds of activism, and I know of a couple journalists in my area who have been fired over blogs they started in their own time.

“But, what am I supposed to do?” You might ask. “I really do want to change the world, and I thought reporting would help me accomplish this. You must be cynical, Wendy Withers, because all of my friends want to change the world, too. And, with new guard journalism, we’re sure to succeed.”

No, you’re not. Chances are, you’re sure to get disillusioned with the whole reporting process and quit after a year or two. You’ll realize that most editors aren’t willing to give you the feedback you want, you’re writing the articles assigned to you, and these assigned articles are geared towards the local audience, not what you actually want to write about. On top of this, since you’ll most likely start out writing for a small newspaper in a small market, the stories you do write probably won’t focus on the big, “important” issues. If the first paper you work for does cover those issues, they’ll go to seasoned reporters, not you.

“Your argument does seem to make sense. So, what do I do?”

You have two choices. Either stay on track with the knowledge you gained by reading this, or quit now, while you can. Quit a low-paid career field where the only feedback you receive may be how much you suck. There are plenty of organizations where you can change the world, and many would be thrilled to employ someone with a communications degree.

Think social justice organizations. Art galleries. PR firms. Book publishers. Businesses that actually pay employees a living wage and then give them a raise for a job well done.

The newspaper business doesn’t have enough open slots to provide every Jschool graduate with a job. From what I’ve seen, most Jschool graduates have no idea what’s going to be expected out there in the real world. You might as well get out while you can.

Site review: Helium, Pay Per Post, and 451 Press

In Consumer Review, Writing Opportunities on February 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm

I started out on 451 Press, with the first blog I was paid to write.

The network pays on a per view basis, and I earned about $5 a month. $5 for anywhere between 10-20 blog posts. After a while, it was hard to make myself write the posts. In addition to writing, I had to link back to at least two other posts in the network to get paid. While good in theory, it could be hard to make those other blogs fit into my blog’s theme. There was also no room for creativity when it came to my blog’s layout. However, the other blogs in the network were well-written (bloggers are screened and must go through a brief hiring process).

My take: 451 Press is a good starting point for mass comm undergrads who haven’t had an internship, have a light course load, and don’t have a part-time or full-time job.

After 451 Press, I joined Pay Per Post, a paid content site works through established blogs. PPP blogs are non-commercial ventures, so I used my Blogspot blog instead of 451 Press. PPP pays a flat fee per article, and the biggest rules are (1. bloggers must disclose paid posts and (2. blogs must alternate between paid and nonpaid posts. I’m averaging around $60 a month with the PPP system.

My take: PPP is a good system for established bloggers who want to earn a little spending cash and don’t mind their blog being taken over by annoying ads. Some members of the PPP network make thousands of dollars a month, and every payment I’ve been promised has made its way into my bank account.

In another bid to make money off of writing for the internet, I joined Helium. I’ve realized it’s not for me, although they’re currently holding a special event for the next two months where high quality writers earn extra money through every posted article, and they have a Marketplace (where sponsors send out article requests) that offers more bang per buck. Currently, my earnings state I’ve made $.07. However, I just received an email stating I’ve earned $7.50 for my articles plus the extra rewards for the event. So, I could possibly earn more than $100 in the next two months. I will probably submit semi-regularly to get at least a small return.

On the site, articles move up and down a ranking system, where users vote on specific articles. In order to succeed at the site without the special, limited rewards program, users must write a staggering amount of articles to make any money, and there is not instant gratification payment. I’ve also seen people in the message boards complain about users “revenge ranking” or automatically ranking well-written articles near the bottom as well as seen frustration from other users who have written for the network for months but haven’t earned more than a few dollars. Many of the articles aren’t well-written, which is another reason to avoid the site.

My take: Helium is a great site for wannabe writers who don’t understand the ins and outs of journalism or the book publishing business; it could lead to other opportunities and could possibly act as an okay writing portfolio.