By Helene Wingens
After spending most of her life in the service of youngsters, many of whom called her “Mom,” a woman (let’s call her “Pam”) decided to reenter the workforce. To that end, she was determined to earn her way in the world by playing to her strengths and doing something she had always enjoyed: namely, writing.
Her first step was to go through a list of publications which accepted submissions from professional and amateur writers. Perusing the list of places to send her work, it struck her that, of the hundreds of places listed, there were at least five which were willing to pay for writing. “It’s a start,” she thought optimistically.
At first the rules that governed the submission of material were bewildering but, still, Pam persevered. To get paid, her writing had to be “original,” which meant that it had never before been seen by the human eye. To be honest, if the ten people who followed her on social media were to have already seen the piece, that would only leave 7 billion people worldwide who were still available to view it for the first time, so she understood this restriction.
In her naiveté, she decided that she would send her writing to sites that didn’t pay because she reasoned that, “Once they see what I’m capable of and get hooked on my writing, surely they’ll want to pay me for it.”
As Pam’s understanding of her new field began to coalesce, she took some of her old pieces, which lacked the originality requirement, and sent them gratis to a publication which appeared to be a good fit for her writing. Pam assumed that after receiving some pieces for free, the publication would be more open to paying her, so after having a few freebies published, she sent them a post with the following preamble: “Here’s a post that I think would do very well on your site but, in the nicest way possible, if you decide you want to publish this piece, I’d like to get paid for my writing.”
That’s when the publication, You Don’t Need to Earn Money After 50 (YDNEMAF), decided to cut off all communication with Pam. When approached for a comment, YDNEMAF insisted that Pam must be completely deranged if she thought that she should get paid for something she had spent her time and energy creating.
They further stated that they live and die by the credo, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Apparently, this particular publication had a large stake in cows who were producing milk freely for them. YDNEMAF concluded that while “Most people will hear back from us within six months of submitting, someone with the audacity to ask for money will never hear back from us, because obviously that’s just the pinnacle of rudeness.”
Understanding that perhaps upfront payment was difficult for electronic publications, and not one to lose faith easily, Pam resorted to sending her work to sites that paid per click. When she asked the proprietors of the site if she could see the metrics surrounding “clickage,” she was informed that they were sure she could understand why they would not be able to share that information with her. They assured her that if her piece garnered the requisite one million original views, she would be eligible for the sweet and lucrative pot of $7.50 which was, as they said, “top dollar” in the industry.
And, this was how it finally dawned on Pam that if money was her goal, this was not the proper trajectory for her. Clearly, people were clamoring to work for free and in this industry it was the height of daring to think about getting paid. That was when she determined that paying her bills would take a backseat to the true payback from writing which was, quite simply: joy.
About the Author
Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She has been writing and editing since the beginning of time. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog at https://helenew123.wordpress.com. Her essays have been published in: scarymommy.com, The Forward, betterafter50.com, Club Mid, bonbonbreak.com, http://www.kveller.com, and grownandflown.com.