Friday, June 22, 2012

An Update and Some Rufus Love

Rufus & Me!

Hey Y'all,
Wow. When I put up my post yesterday, no way could I anticipate the amazing support and feedback and the stunning number of hits the post received. Thank you all SO MUCH. And yes, it sucks that a complaint like mine has netted me so many responses since, in the end, the onslaught is just a reminder of how many people in the world are treated so crappily by so many other people.

I feel like I made it pretty clear yesterday, but some of the exchange happened over at FB, so I want to clarify a couple points here about my own stupidity. To wit:

1. Though I was really excited to cover the topic I was assigned by AW, I should have stuck to an earlier vow I made awhile back to stop taking all freelance gigs, period. That old saying about if you can't stand the heat... is very applicable here. Freelance writing has a lot in common with waitressing-- there's no law saying folks have to leave tips (and there will always be assholes who stiff) and, similarly, publications have clauses that say they can kill a piece and thus pay far less for it than originally agreed to, and they also have all sorts of dirty tricks to delay payment and take advantage of writers. I waited on tables for fifteen years and freelanced for thirty and I guess I had a pretty high threshold for pain back then. No more. Too many abusive customers and too many abusive editors out there. And while these jerks count as the minority, eventually their terrible actions wore me out. Anyway, no more table waiting, no more freelancing. The abuse isn't worth it.

2. A couple people unkindly suggested that, in essence, I was an idiot for not having gotten terms and/or a contract up front. Guilty as charged. I had been out of the game* long enough that I forgot some publications have insane payment schedules. And I should've asked for a contract. On the other hand, AW should've sent me one. To be clear-- to those of you who said I got what I deserved-- I was not protesting not getting paid on my terms (30 days), I was protesting that I did not get paid on the terms AW forced on me (60 days). Only when they did not honor THEIR OWN terms did I get steamed.

If you missed the FB update-- the check did arrive yesterday, June 21st. Though the office manager swore up and down she mailed it on Monday, the check itself was dated Tuesday, and it was also postmarked Tuesday. (And yes, when I talked to her on the phone, I asked her if had really been MAILED on Monday, or simply set in an outbox. She assured me it had been MAILED). Since mail arrives in my PO Box the next day, this indicates the check was issued Tuesday and mailed Wednesday. To me, this is the crux of it-- I cannot stand bullshit and I cannot stand lies. I also cannot stand not having my private queries responded to. I tried reaching the editor privately by phone and by email. She did not pick up when I called, and instead of responding directly to my email, she cc'ed me a note she sent to her office manager.

Anyway, enough of all that. Lesson learned, hopefully for good this time. I am done with freelance writing, unless and until someone wants to pay me, in advance, what I am actually worth which, of course, means that I am done with freelancing. From here on out it's all weddings and blog posts and, if I ever finish it, perhaps the book I'm in the process of revising. (Decisions, decisions-- self-publish or attempt to go the pain-in-the-ass "traditional" route?)

Meanwhile, speaking of being out of the game (see asterisk above), I had hoped today to post an open letter to Rufus Wainwright but I confess yesterday's letter writing left me all tuckered out. Still, because I feel it is crucial for every one of you to buy RW's new record Out of the Game right this minute, and also because I'd like to head into the weekend with a picture of Rufus on my front page vs. yesterday's picture... well at least let me tell you a little bit about the record. In short:


I've been to Houston twice in the past two weeks to see a sick friend in the hospital. It's not the worst drive in the world, but I have been logging an awful lot of miles in the car, and one can only listen to so many chapters of Wolf Hall before one becomes fully entranced by Highway Hypnosis. And so I have been taking in the WH in tiny bites and mostly turning to Rufus to keep me awake and alive on the drive. My god, what a fantastic record it is! Every time I listen to it I hear something new. There's a dash of ABBA, a sprinkling of Queen, a whiff of Sargent Pepper. There's Martha and there's bagpipes. And yet all along it is 100% pure Rufus.  I've been spending hours trying to guess the meaning behind the lyrics, and hours feeling the achey haunting tributes to his mom, Kate, and contemplating the parts that surely must be targeted at his dad, the bastard.

Oh RuRu! How I love you so! You cheered me up during my divorce, provided a soundtrack for me falling in love with the right guy after that, dazzled me at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, and again at Stubb's in Austin, and in Studio 1A and at the Paramount. And you were the first one I listened to when I got the word my own difficult dad had departed. I'm a little sad you won't be stopping in Austin on your next tour, but baby, I will drive to Houston for you. It's a drive I know well, one you have made so much more bearable.

Here's a sneak peek of Rufus singing Jericho.

1 comment:

originaloflaura said...

Glad you finally got paid, Spike! And I'm glad you shared your experiences with this magazine with the rest of us, too, because it's certainly useful information for writers looking for freelance opportunities. AW seems like a good bet for writers because of its glossy appearance, but looks can definitely be deceiving. Knowing they can't even pay their writers on time, as per their own (crappy) terms, and on top of that they have the indecency to bitch about how their high-powered plastic surgeon advertisers don't pay THEM on time makes it obvious that this isn't a publication anyone should to waste their time pursuing. Thanks for the heads up!