Monday, August 3, 2009

The late-payment blues

I just got back from a week-long camping trip with my family last week. We had a nice time. We didn't even have to rough it too much. That's good. My version of roughing it means I have to drink warm cans of pop instead of cold ones.

Anyway, when we came back, I was hoping to find several of those wonderful, career-affirming checks in my pile of mail. Unfortunately, I found my credit-card bill, but not any of my much-needed paychecks.

This seems to happen quite often: I think I've written more than enough stories to maintain a steady cash-flow. But then the bills come more quickly than the pay. It's rather annoying.

So I make the rounds, calling or e-mailing editors and publishers looking for my checks. I get the same excuses: Oh, sorry, we missed you in our last round of payments. Don't know how that happened. We'll get in our next round, three weeks from now.

And remorse? None. And is anyone ever willing to break the standard payment cycle and actually send me a check even if it's off the payment schedule? Heavens, no.

I'm convinced that magazines are doing this to freelancers on purpose to help with their own cash-flow problems. Trouble is, there isn't much a freelance writer can do about this in today's economy. I'm writing for clients whom I'd never touch before. Now I have little choice, at least until the economy finally improves.

So I'm writing myself to death, and running to the mailbox every day. We'll see what comes today, more bills or a few of those elusive paychecks.

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