Taking the Plunge
by Ian Birnbaum
Well, school is coming to a close; I'm right in the middle of that lull between midterms and finals, and summer is approaching real quick-like. The big change this year is that I have formally decided not to look for a summer job. The gig at the newspaper will effectively run dry over the summer, so I was pressed between finding a service job where I can hate my life or making the really uncomfortable jump to subsisting entirely on cash from published articles.
Especially considering that I'm still waiting on hearing on that first article, it's definitely a gamble. But I guess we all have to make that decision at some point: play it safe, or go for the gusto? If I actually manage to write (and then publish) enough articles to feed myself for three months, I will have a resume that I could beat a bear to death with. And if I don't, well. That's why parents always seem to have so much money just lying around, right? Yeah, I know. I'm a leech.
In order to make this work, I'm going to have to make one serious change to my writing habits: I need to learn how to multi-task. I've already started, sort of. Right now, I'm working on:
- Getting 1200-word feature (originally written as a paper for a midterm) into shape for publication. I'm hoping that a Christian news magazine will run it and throw a bucket of money at me.
- Polishing up a short story that I shared the first page or so of, Regular Guys. It's actually a pretty old one, but it needs a serious revamp. The story, when I describe it to people, is very “ohhh, that's cool” - but when people read it they're like “I don't get it. He did what now?”. I think I'm just going to entirely revise it, a process that I'll go into next week.
- I have a possible idea that could be turned into a 5- or 10- part series. It's top secret for the moment, and will stay that way until I get some of it written and email an editor or two.
At a general average of $750 an article, I need to get paid for only two articles a month. That's really not a whole lot, but I need to start now if I want the checks to start coming in during the summer months that I'll need them.
So, facing the rather real possibility of having to choose between begging my parents for grocery money and loosing a whole bunch of weight on the Ethiopia Diet, I embark from the precipice. It’s make it or break it time.
What’s the scariest career/life move you’ve ever had to make?
The editors of FTTW have all their money on the bear in the Ian's Resume v. Big Bear fight.