Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Offer I Might Refuse

Yesterday I received an invitation from a publisher to submit my work--and an assurance that my work would be carefully considered and a decision made in a timely manner.  But I'm not sure I want to submit.  Sometimes a writer just knows . . . .

I've refused many times.  In fact, I've refused many offers that other writers might have accepted, and refused to sign contracts that other writers may have signed in their sleep. 

I'm not a legal eagle or an expert on writing contracts, but I do read them.  I don't like giving my work away without certain cautionary conditions--and there are times when I would prefer to give my writing for free instead of being paid for it if the conditions are more favorable (in my view).  In fact, I would rather write for a publication desirous of my commodities before I would write for a publication possessing an air of stinginess or self-preservation.  I would rather be a part of work new or creative than to assist in work that is trite or overly critical.  I would rather labor in humor than in tears.

It is nearly a monthly occurrence that someone invites me to review a writing contract of some form or another--usually a book contract--and offer my opinion about "the deal."  But I hate hosting Let's Make a Deal.  I'd rather talk about goals and writing and ideas.  "The deal" is simply a by-product of a writer's output and productivity.

I have a drawer in my office stuffed full of writing contracts.  These (now numbering in the hundreds) are disorderly and in no apparent chronology.  I have no idea how to locate an old contract if I needed to.  As soon as I sign my name to one contract, I stuff it in the drawer, finish the piece I'm working on, and then move on to the next project.  If (or when) a check (almost always minuscule) arrives in the mail, I rarely remember what I wrote to earn it.

I sign these checks, too . . . and give them away.  There's always a mission.  And there's always another deal coming down the pike.  But I don't accept all of them all.  Some deals I can refuse.

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