Persuasive Encouragement
by Ian Birnbaum

“So I’ll cut you a deal,” he says, leaning against the wall of the airport terminal. I’m in the car driving through the Dallas rain, and he’s in Hawaii trying to catch a military transport back to San Antonio.

I’d been talking to my friend Will, who is a proud member of my support system, as I drove back towards Denton. I was filling him in on the crap the Dallas Morning News was trying to get me to do before they would print my article. I had mentioned that I was considering sending the same article to a couple of different religious magazines.

He sounded intrigued, then offered up a vague “deal,” which, in turn, intrigued me. Whenever Will is going to bargain with you, it’s bound to be good. I tell him that I’m listening.

“Yeah, here’s the deal. You’re going to send that story out to two places this week.”


“And you have to do it this week, because I’m coming up to Dallas the next week.”


“And when I get up there, if you haven’t mailed the articles, I’m going to kick you straight in the balls.”


I don’t really know what I was expecting. I was certainly not expecting a counter offer that, if I did mail the articles away on time, I could kick him in the balls. I laughed.

I accepted the terms, and sealed the deal. Because it will be funny, that’s why.

When you’re freelancing, especially when you’re just beginning, setbacks are going to happen. If you can’t accept the fact that some people won’t like your writing, or that some people don’t see your story in their magazine, or that some people just loathe you as a person – you’re not going to make it.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Dallas Morning News was interested in an article I’d written for their weekly religion spread. Well they emailed me back, and said they’d changed their minds and are no longer interested. Great, right? However, they’ll still consider the work pending two things: I get several more sources and do some more “journalistic footwork,” and that I rewrite the piece to take out “a lot of the description.” Yes, they really want that.

There is a couple of up-sides to this, however. The first is that I now have my first assignment from the DMN – I can interview people “for a piece in the Morning News” now, and not be lying! The second is that the piece I have now and the piece that will run in the news will be so vastly different from one another that I can confidently solicit magazines for publishing of the longer original draft – and get paid for original work instead of a much less lucrative reprinting pay.

So, when all is said and done, I’ll have turned my one class paper into two separate entities that will be sold to two different venues. I’m learning that this is a key in this business – multiply the work you do, so that you earn more cash per word. When I get started on this tomorrow morning, I’ll have begun my summer of freelancing, and I’ll have mailed away two more articles for publication.

Well I’ll have to, anyway, so I won’t get kicked in the nuts.

Ian had to go. Someone was going to kick him in the nuts

The Word Whore Archives


I'm learning a lot from you, and you are also inspiring me to clean up and send out some of my older writing.

I just need someone to kick me in the balls. Or the ass.


Congrats Ian--that's awesome. Good luck with the writing man!


Another excellent lesson, Ian. I hope it doesn't come at the expense of sore nuts.


Send Will my way when you're done.


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