Words Of Infinite Wisdom Part One: Never Say Die
A funny thing happened last night as I made the final tweaks to this very website. The kind of thing that speaks volumes about the nature of freelance journalism. But first let’s rewind to early June. A friend was about to leave his job on a broadsheet and I asked, before he left, for contact details of its health editor. Never having written for a broadsheet before – I tend to stick to glossies, weeklies and lifestyle websites – I was keen to boost my CV. I pitched a bunch of topical ideas that seemed to fit with their health content and – lo and behold! – got commissioned. Copy thoroughly researched, finely honed and in on time. They asked for tweaks to my first draft and I duly delivered. Then… silence. My polite enquiries were met with a curt “we’ll let you know” and that was it. More silence. Into the vacuum my mind started to fling thoughts like, “Well no wonder, it was probably rubbish” and “Well that’ll teach me to over-reach”.
But hang on. At 11pm last night – almost four months since I sent that first draft over – I received not one email from the health editor, but two. Sorry for delay, we are finally going to print your feature, the first one said. And by the way, could you write up one of the other ideas you sent us by monday, said the other. Which just goes to show. If you’re a good writer, you’re a good writer. You never quite know what is going on within the working practices of a publication to prevent them commissioning you or printing your work – and whatever it is, it’s rarely personal.
Never. Say. Die.