The year was 2003 when I conciously decided to pursue writing as a career. Having little knowledge of how it works, I read everything I could to learn more about the craft. I joined the workshop by Pinoywriters and made new friends and valuable contacts there. If not for this e-group, I would still be sitting at home and frying my brain cells from watching too much television.
The Internet is a major force in jumpstarting my writing life. I joined online writing workshops, writing e-groups, read various writing articles from different websites and met other writers who later became my friends and idols. I also bought a lot of writer magazines, which is only available at Booksale. Ahh, yes. Booksale is another major contributor in my journey as a writer. Its cheap books and magazines are exactly what an improverished and newbie writer needs.
Then I worked on gaining confidence by starting out my own e-group and submitting articles and stories to websites. I dreamed of being published on print so I can make my parents proud of their little eccentric, easy-go-lucky, lost but brillant daughter. You see, my folks wanted me to become a lawyer. But because they respect me too much (and probably they got tired of giving me all those sermons), they don't pry into my business. They just let me be and pray to God that I find success in whatever field I choose to focus on.
2004 was the year I got my first article published online. And it was my first PAID article. P500.00 for 800 words. I know, it's cheap. But I didn't care at that time.
Then came my first major break. A friend of mine referred me to a client to do web content writing for a company in Quezon City. Though the contract was for P9,500.00, I was only paid half of it as it was stipulated in the contract that the other half will be paid once they received the second set of the articles. However, they never asked for the second part (even though I had finished writing it) so I never got paid. It was a lesson of sorts. I had to learn to write a MOA, to estimate how much I should charge per article and to encash my first check.
Yes, I got paid via check. But I received my check only the following year. Another lesson learned--make my MOAs iron clad.
2005 was the year of ghost writing. I received an email and I responded. It was that simple and efficient. However, the pay was only P150.00 for each 500+ word article. Still, I took the job. It's better to write than do nothing. Besides, my fiction writing was slow and none of my queries were answered. My e-group's activities waned and rather than wait for manna to rain from the sky, I wrote anonymously.
At that same time, I was busy with the e-zine project that my writer friend started. I wrote feature articles there and did the marketing for it. But we had to cut the e-zine short because of the lack of funds.
I also met one of my writing idols. July 2005 was Neil Gaiman's visit to the Philippines. I was ecstatic! Meeting him is one of the highlights of my writer life! His SANDMAN series made a deep impact on me as a creative writer back in college. I used to borrow copies of his graphic novel from my band mate and read through it during jamming sessions.
Now 2006 seems to be my year. Closing a book contract is no joke. And though I'm not getting paid like the American writers who get about $100,000 or more in book advance, I am quite content with how things are. I'm not greedy. Writing is not my bread and butter. I've always thought of it as taking a complimentary role in my jumbled life. I have too many loves to give any of it up, which is why I'm not sweating the monetary stuff.
Again, I had to learn to write a MOA and how to estimate my rate on a project basis. So I asked friends who knows more about the writing business than I did. And then I realized something...there is NO RELIABLE RESOURCE for freelance writers in the country. There is absolutely no guide to help new freelance writers and fiction writers like myself with regards to the financial and legal aspects of the job.
Hmm...what a great book idea! (must pitch this to Anvil!)