Right out of the blue

If getting paid for your work makes you a professional writer, then I guess this is it. But it came right out of the blue.

While I was still very ill, a couple of months ago, I wrote a pitch to a magazine, sent it off, and was told they had in-house writers and didn’t need me. So I shrugged my shoulders and got back to the business of getting better.

Now, I’ve been commissioned to write the piece. I know it’s small, it’s not a publishing deal and it’s not fiction, but it’s in the hallowed halls of “paying markets”, and I’m earning money for writing words, so I’m pleased.

It’s also a great opportunity to look at the reasons why I’m so terrified of being published in the first place. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having written so many books and having lots of private acclaim, but being too scared to really get any accreditation for it. This is a small step to overcoming the anxiety and depression around being a published author and a proper professional writer.

J x

Having read, reread and read your post again, Joely, Im more than overwhelmed by the impression that my initial attempt at making a point, was more akin to using a jackhammer, to browbeat a walnut into submission, for which I apologise unreservedly. I shouldve been more in touch with your feeling, and I wasn`t.
Well done Joles…well done. :smiley:

A simple “well done” would have really rocked. :open_mouth: :stuck_out_tongue:

Consider the source. Nothing is really ever simple.

I`ll take it that the tale has failed miserably, to achieve what it set out to achieve.
Take care

LBJ, With vic-k I would suggest that a re-read of the thread shows an insensitivity to your position. Let me congratulate you on your success.

Jaysen, old buddy,
The moral of the tale is: Joely doesnt need someone putting pennies in the piggy bank, to make her a professional writer. She already is. Why strive to attain that which you already possess. Money for what you do, even do well, doesnt make you any better at it. Paid or unpaid, wont affect the way people receive your work. But sensing that youve put your heart and soul into it…just might. My impression is, that`s what she does.

Ill say it again. Being a professional isnt about wonga…its about what [i]you are.[/i] The tale was a compliment to someone, I feel isnt a feckless professional

Take care y`all


The vast bulk – say, at least 95% – of what I’ve written for pay went uncredited, or was published with someone else’s name on it. And the bylines I did get were, generally, in publications which my friends and neighbors never saw. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I began writing op-ed pieces for my local newspaper.

What happened? Not an awful lot, and none of it bad. Some readers agree with me and some others do not; friends occasionally say, “Good work,” or words to that effect.

That is, nothing much changed. I prompt a few discussions, earn a few dollars. All, I think, to the good.


Just what would a feckful professional be? Or is that something we dastn’t discuss in polite company?


[i]One if by feck, two if by flunky.
Dear Word Detective: If “feckless” is without “feck,” what is “feck”? – Randy Sublette.

Ah, better to ask, “What isn’t feck?” Without “feck” there would be nothing. “Feck” makes the world go 'round. Movers and shakers have scads of “feck.” Donald Trump has “feck” by the blow-dried bushel, and Bill Gates has so much “feck” he uses it for mulch in his money garden. Legend has it, in fact, that certain suites at the Plaza Hotel in New York City have hot and cold running “feck” on tap.

And without at least a little “feck,” this column would not exist, so I’d best muster the bit I have and get on with it. “Feck” is vigor, energy, initiative, efficiency, and, most importantly, effectiveness, the power to get things done. That may seem a lot to invest in an odd little word like “feck,” but perhaps it will make more sense when I tell you that “feck” is simply an aphetic, or cropped, form of our familiar English word “effect.”

“Feck” comes to us from Scots, the language of Scotland, and never really made it into standard English, although its derivative, “feckless,” appeared in English in the 16th century. As you might imagine, “feckless” means “ineffective, feeble, weak or helpless,” and is not a good thing to be. The opposite of “feckless” is “feckful,” meaning “efficient, vigorous and powerful,” which, ironically, has not been a very feckful word itself and has never gained wide acceptance in English.

Although “feckless” is at root a fairly contemptuous term, modern usage has lightened up a bit, and “feckless” is now often used to mean “carefree, irresponsible, unconcerned,” especially applied to blissfully ignorant youth (as in Siegfried Sassoon’s poem “Memory,” which begins “When I was young my heart and head were light, And I was gay and feckless as a colt”). “Fecklessness” in this sense is a temporary condition, sadly cured by exposure to the cruelties of life.

But while “fecklessness” can be cured by time, “gormlessness” is forever. “Gorm” is another fine old word (originally “gaum”) meaning “care or attention,” so someone who is “gormless” lacks attention, doesn’t notice things, is tuned out, vegged out, hopeless and clueless.
There y go young Philip, Have I ever let y down? :smiling_imp:

In the capital of a nearby (to you) republic, which shall remain blessedly nameless, one enounters a phrase which, in context, seems to mean something like, “Go ahead, have a good time.” It is seen in store windows, on tee-shirts, and on trinkets in tourist shoppes.

The phrase is, “Feck it, you’re in Dublin.”


The big deal isn’t getting paid or the word “professional”, to which you’ve all hooked with such gusto.

It’s that I managed to do something that has caused such severe anxiety in the past I’ve had to be hospitalised.

It wouldn’t matter if what I’d done was walk to Tesco to buy milk, climb Mt Everest, or get a publishing deal. The point, for me, was that I’ve been able to handle something that previously triggered off severe symptoms of my particular mental health problem.

When it comes to mental health, logic doesn’t come into it, I’m afraid. It’s no good saying “nobody will see it.” That isn’t the point, it’s not why I have anxiety. For me, this was massive, and I was very lucky to have an appointment with my psychotherapist on the same day that the email came through. This has helped to change how I view myself as a writer and what I’m capable of doing.


My apologies for not understanding. An accomplishment like this is one that should not be taken lightly.

I suggest you read and contemplate advice at



I wondered if you might throw that in my face. :unamused: Never mind.

I was tempted to put in an update on my last response here, but instead, I’ll do it here. I’ve now got two more submissions out, which I managed to do without having severe panic attacks or needing to call anybody for support (which I did when I wrote the original post for the article). The article mentioned above is already written and ready to go off, so I’m just waiting for my style guide from the editor before I submit. I have a total of five submissions out now, which while small, is mostly due to working on WeSeWriMo and spending most time working on what I believe they call “self-healing” (horrible phrase, I don’t like it :angry: ).

I’m also working with a photographer on developing some work for travel magazines, something I’m excited by as when I was able to, I loved travelling. That’s slightly intimidating, as this will be the first time I’ve been taking somebody else’s experience and translating them into my words. It’s a little like ghost-writing, but not quite.

Sometimes, vic is right, it’s a matter of how you see and describe yourself. Because I’ve written all my life, just because it’s what I do, I didn’t really have the mindset to think of myself as professional. It meant that often, I didn’t even consider submission because why would I? I’m not professional. I didn’t even think there was a chance anybody would say yes.

Sometimes, though, it really helps to have something happen that shakes up whatever’s going on in your head and makes you think, “Hang on, maybe this is possible, and maybe I can do it.” So while I can totally appreciate what vic means, that it shouldn’t be necessary to have external validation from a publisher or magazine, I don’t think there’s any harm, especially if it helps you make that leap by yourself, and you don’t become totally dependent on it. It certainly has pushed me, and helped me to see that I can do it.

Thanks so much for the well-wishes, Jaysen and Vic, and thank you for understanding. It’s been frustrating the hell out of me that two years ago I was appearing at literary festivals, getting my work out there, and then by this year, I couldn’t actually get out of bed. I was ashamed of it, actually. So now I’m crossing my fingers and hoping all that is over.

J xx

For you it is writing. For me it is music. I have been playing for years and have done studio work for others. But I can’t seem to “succeed” on my own. I just don’t see myself as “good”. Folks have payed me to play. I get an occasional royalty check. But I am not a professional musician.

I think the problem for me, and maybe for you, is that the music/writing is more us than it is a work on its own. Which means that any rejection of the work is a statement that I, by extension of the me-ness of the work, am also rejected. Meanwhile, my professional life as a computer geek, has no bearing on my self image. It is a job that I do outside me so reject away. What do I care? it is just a lousy system.

In looking at your accomplishment in this light, I can see the hugeness of what you have done. If this can be a building block to freedom from your anxiety then nothing can be greater.

Oh yes! Exactly!

It’s totally like that. And it’s easier to pitch an article of non-fiction, or submit my humour pieces, than to even consider the whole Amnar thing.

It’s like asking somebody to evaluate my soul and find it worthy! You sum it up perfectly.

I know for some people, it’s even worse - just the idea of writing out the idea they have is impossibly hard, because the moment it’s there in concrete form, well, it might end up not being so great after all. That’s one of my fears. If my work is finally in print, it might just not be much good.

It’s a bit like saying, “Here’s my heart and a knife, why don’t you have a stab?”

I still haven’t dared do the big thing and submit Amnar anywhere. I figured I’d work up to that. I have a publicist, which is great, but just knowing that he has copies of my work that he’s sending out to his literary connections is terrifying, when I think about it.

I’ve found that it’s not just rejection I’m scared of, it’s acceptance. I’ve had publishing deals with traditional houses fall through, and the relief surprises me. I think I’m afraid it might get out there and just not be that great, and what does that say about me? etc.

The first time I did a reading at a literary festival, I was sick beforehand. I shook all the way through and I could feel the sweat coming off me. I didn’t have the courage to read Amnar, either, so it didn’t really teach me that I could do it. My mind keeps saying, “The next lot of people might say it’s cr*p, and then where will you be?”

I completely get where you’re coming from and thank you again for the support. I feel like I’m getting there, bit by bit.

J xx

This I know. My mind goes to “what happens if I can’t do it again?” or “is it just a fluke?” The one hit wonder.

I think though, that we need to go back to a basic principle that most of us what to teach our children: You define who you are and when you are successful, let no one else control your opinion of you.

If we can absorb that into ourselves then we have nothing to fear from either success or failure.

Now there’s wisdom. :mrgreen:


There’s this big black monolith sitting in the middle of my apartment right now. :stuck_out_tongue:

Love that film, by the way. It was nice to see the beginning again.