So far in Semawang Stories, I’ve described what life is specifically like in Bali and some peculiarities therein. This week I thought I’d give a little insight into what I actually do all day, you know, for, like, money and stuff.
First of all, Semawang Stories does not make any money and likely won’t in the foreseeable future. Unless one makes it big, being a mostly full-time writer isn’t exactly a lucrative business so I’m not exactly planning on making it rain anytime soon (plus there aren’t any (legal) strip clubs in Bali).
The best part of this ‘job’ is that I make my own hours and work is almost entirely on my own schedule. I say almost because deadlines from editors are a thing but fortunately I haven’t had too many as of yet. With the exception of my Vice Sports article on the #muzzaswell, which was somewhat time-sensitive because it was essentially on a weather system, my pieces haven’t needed to be rushed out.
The real reason I chose this subject is that the past 48 hours have been a pretty rapid series of highs and lows. On Friday, I wrote a piece about a local jazz festival I attended last weekend which should be published next week. And frankly, I kicked its ass. It’s the same feeling you get when you drop 20 in a game of basketball. The piece will be on a site called Bali Coconuts that I’m just establishing a relationship with having written this article for them about an art festival here in Sanur. On top of writing what you know is a good piece, submitting two articles within two weeks and getting paid for both (albeit underpaid) is damn gratifying.
Then, I woke up Saturday morning to find that a piece I’ve been working on for almost two months, one that will be my first in print, will likely be delayed until the next issue. The Editor-in-Chief wants it re-worked and some more urgency put into what I find to be an already engaging narrative. But as my editor put it, this is a big boy magazine and the Editor knows what the hell he’s talking about. More to the point, I’m incredibly proud of this story and this is absolutely the right magazine so I’m content to let this play out.
And yet, in the very same batch of emails (since I’m +12 hours from the East Coast, I get a whole day’s worth of email first thing in the morning), came a positive reply from an outlet I’ve been trying to pitch for months about a story I’ve been trying to pitch for months. This is no guarantee that I’ll be published, but it’s a big breakthrough and could very well lead to more consistent work in the coming months.
And this is basically what I spend most of my time doing, finding stories anywhere I can, putting together pitches that will grab an editor’s attention and then waiting. The waiting mainly consists of finding more stories and, in this age of constant media, keeping up with what’s going on in the world (i.e. surfing the web and reading content. Also, pro-tip, if you want to improve your writing, start reading more, find an author you like, and copy their style until you find your own.).
On the whole, I really can’t complain. I love doing this and, while I may not be making much money at the moment, I know that I can write as well if not better than many others (present post possibly excluded) who are doing it for a living so I know I can be a success if I put in the time. And I don’t mind doing that. As with many jobs, success depends as much on whom you’re connected with as how good you are at your job.
I’ll end this spiel here with the promise to return to a non-insect and more Bali-related topic next week. Thanks for tuning in and make sure to check out this week’s Frying Pan Podcast. It’s our best yet.