The Business and
Pleasure of Writing

Ellie S. Thomas   

© Copyright 2011 by  Ellie S. Thomas


Photo of hands over typewriter.

Ostensibly I was working as a copy writer at a small time radio station, but work was very slow and I was using my between-times to write my 'opus'. I had been unable to decide whether to write the story of my life, in other words, an autobiography, or to write a sort of trade-magazine book on the radio industry, or maybe even something on the writing and publishing business, (never mind that I had no expertise in any of the above mentioned), excepting myself, possibly. But did I really know anything about myself for that matter? Does anyone? Well, anyway-

I had finally decided to do something about writing; for years the idea had festered in my mind but then, I'd scoff and chide myself: "Who do you think you are trying to write a book? YOU'RE not trained for anything like that! YOU don't have a degree in journalism, or creative writing. YOU don't have any newspaper or reportive background. I was still determined to try.

The first step is always the most formidable. There was always something, some reason, for postponing it. I must write the copy for the day; I must call a certain department store and obtain fresh copy, I must prepare a promotion, copy plus appropriate music, or sound effects, maybe both, for an upcoming sale. I could always find SO much to do that it barred me from beginning my book. Actually, I had no justifiable reason.

I DID have a couple old flea-market typewriters and I knew how to type...didn't I already have a jump on a lot of people? And I could always type at the office. I straightened my spine and made a trip to the bookstore where I purchased a ream of cheap typing paper but when I got home with it and eyed the bulky package, it seemed like an awful lot of paper. And even though it had been cheap, I didn't feel it had been ALL THAT CHEAP- so now, I was reluctant to use seemed too good for me to practice on. I simply had to have scrap paper for my first drafts, so I became a menace. Whenever I went to the library, or school, or church; where ever there were handouts on which someone had obligingly used only one side, I became their best customer. I always took several, or more if I felt no one was watching me, although, or course, they were there to be taken, still I always felt slightly guilty. Could this be considered stealing? And from the whom I was supposed to be giving, not taking away? I still took them and encouraged my family to do likewise. It barely kept me in scrap paper even then. I needed additional sources. I tried wallpaper but it was very unsatisfactory and then one day I found the teletype machine spewing out miles of paper and my problem was solved.

You may wonder what was going on all this time that I was worrying about the accoutrements for a writing career. What kind of an office could allow such latitude among it's employees? Here I was, my absent mind wandering among the literati, the disk jockeys were absent mentally also, concerned with girl friends, or scheduling 'record-hops' in order to make extra money which they never appeared to have, the station manager was pursuing and being pursued by numerous predatory females; everyone there appeared to be living a double life and their connections with the radio station appeared to be the very least of their concerns. How could such a divided house survive?

It was on the way down and would shortly end in bankruptcy. Few of us felt any loyalty to owners who kept us short on all supplies, provided us with challenging creditors who were constantly coming in, or calling, wanting money on the bills, who kept us running in an effort to beat our checks to the bank before they bounced, who were so often unreachable due to their amatory dalliances, that we often lost out when there WAS a prospect of obtaining a lucrative contract.

I can see it now, the office girls frantically answering phone calls and going over the day's mail. A lot of it was from cranks and many calls were merely to request that the deejays play a certain tune. The deejay was enclosed in a small glass paneled cage which the overhead lighting turned into a sweat box.

"Be sure to drop down to our GIANT redwood studios and say Hello," he'd sign off with a flourish and turn the mike over to the 'personality' who would cover the next shift, or evening hours, such as they were. He'd wipe the perspiration off his face and leave the broadcasting more day gone and still tapes to make for the next day and he had to put in an appearance at the hotel to interview a visiting celebrity. It sure made a long day. Well, if HIS day was long, the office girls had an even more bitter one because we got none of the favored treatment, the VIP treatment, really, that a deejay got but we did get all the flak.

I had been with the Zenith Broadcasting Corporation for five years now. It was a tiny two hundred and fifty watt station operating on a Mexican license. We could only broadcast during daylight hours which meant that during the wintertime we might be 'on the air' from eight a.m. until four p.m. (if we were lucky), rather than the usual six-eight of summer time. The changeable hours caused a good deal of anxiety in the office because Lee, who made up the logs, (long typed sheets showing what would be on the air at what time and who would be the announcer), had to remember all the switches and schedule accordingly. I, as copywriter, had to remember also and have my copy read appropriately. Oftentimes, I would be conscious of other copywriter's errors in not pulling passe` copy and having the announcer read about an event that had occurred the previous day, or announce something about to happen 'this morning' when it was already afternoon. (It's easy to lose track of time and become disoriented when you're enclosed for hours out of sight of exterior windows.) Lee had to keep constant check in spring and fall that she didn't schedule commercials when we wouldn't even be on the air.

The announcers used the 'giant redwood studio' line over and over, getting a charge out of the play on words. It was especially funny because our studio would fit into a good-sized kitchen. We were housed in a decrepit old building that had survived structural changes converting it into different things at different times. The manager had a dark, tiny cubicle that had been wired on a straight line with the outer offices. This meant if our lights were off, he could have none, and when he needed light, the entire floor was ablaze.

Lee and I and the announcers had conventional office desks crowded cheek-by-jowl into one small room; behind this was a glorified closet containing the teletype, and then the broadcasting studio which may have been a gigantic 6x9 feet. The inner office where I worked was faced with paneling that the manufacturer described as 'from the giant redwoods', hence the big joke. Time and again bewildered callers would venture into our realm to inspect the 'giant redwood studios'. Sometimes they got a good laugh out of it.

This then, was the milieu in which I had to determine my writing career. First, I had to decide what kind of writing I would pursue. Would I write for the magazines? Fiction, or non-fiction? How about a novelette? I never proceeded from the viewpoint that the decision to write might not be mine, that I would or would not be able to do it, I merely felt I must decide on my parameters.

Once started, I found myself writing secretly, as though I was doing something obscene. I had an acute feeling approaching shame, about my activities. I still don't know why I felt this way, or perhaps I do...down deep. I think it was the idea that if it didn't come off, no one would be the wiser and if it did, that would be all to the good. It was merely a protection against failure, which I refused to consider on the conscious level. And it was one of the reasons that I hated to do any typing at the office; if someone saw me, they would wonder what I was doing. Or would they? After all, I'd been HIRED to type!

Ideas were never a problem. After all, I worked in an environment of bewildering, frantic disbelief. It was a never-never land where the incredible happened every day, often twice, or three times.

I quickly discarded ideas for my autobiography, the sort of homespun tale that I'd always enjoyed because I could relate to so much of it. The HOW-TO books revealed that 'most first works tend to be autobiographical, anyway.' That remark appeared disparaging, so I abandoned my idea to begin again. It was SO difficult to throw away the bits I'd already written. Some of those clauses and phrases seemed quite good and I loved the rhythm of some of my more elegant descriptions, especially those in which I'd used the most unusual adjectives. Bet a lot of people never heard of that one! It never occurred to me that I was supposed to be communicating with people, not mystifying them. I was planning to send a lot of them to their dictionaries. This was when I read that Hemingway did not use adjectives at all and wasn't he one of the greatest? Back to the drawing board.

My next venture was a combination of my experiences, (hilarious, of course), of working at a radio station...a sort of behind-the-scenes expose`, combined with an analytical essay explaining why people acted as they did. A survey of the market soon revealed that there was little demand for the essay-type writing unless you were a very famous person, another Shaw, or Baruch, perhaps. Or so very educated and cultured as to be almost unique. The little 'literary' magazines published this stuff but I didn't think there was money in it. Besides, once on paper, I realized that my hilarious experiences could be contained on just a few sheets of paper and where would I go from there? No, I needed something quite different to write about; something that hadn't been done before, but despite racking my brain furiously, I couldn't think of one thing that hadn't already been done by someone and usually someone much more capable than I. (See how my new literary status had begun to affect me; I nearly put ME at the end of that last sentence). If nothing else, being an author would make me more conscious of what I wrote.

It was difficult to mesh my copy-writing with my attempts to write literature. About the time I'd get shifted, mentally, to set the literary scene and place my characters in a believable setting, doing reasonable things, I'd be required to write a piece of hard-sell copy extolling the merits of purchasing tires from Joe's Auto Shop, and 'you'd better get there before they go off sale or before he sells out'.

Then, too, we were having our problems staying 'on the air'. Much of the equipment was outmoded, second-hand, or wired together with all sorts of make-shift material. It caused massive problems for everyone concerned because the engineer was often routed out of bed to repair the difficulties, (they often worked several places in the effort to keep body and soul together); it caused Lee big problems because all the commercials that had been missed while we were off the air had to be re-scheduled and made-up; it drove the bookeeper crazy because she either had to swear an affadavit that they had been re-scheduled, or just not charge for them, whatever the client wanted. Some just couldn't be pleased anyway, the same as anywhere else, and many knew how to work the thing to get out of paying at all. It kept life interesting. And it kept me racking my brain in between the crises trying to decide what I was going to write about.

At this point, I felt that my new writing status should be recognized. People should begin to realize WHO I WAS...therefore, I made a great to-do, running around our small library, pen in hand, carrying a clipboard and looking distracted, but it didn't get me much of anything but a huge sigh when the girl at the reference desk saw me coming. And the librarian himself seemed to be awfully busy and remote all at once. It was awfully difficult to GET ANYONE TO LOOK THINGS UP FOR ME.

I could see that this writing business was going to take a lot of thought but just sitting in front of the typewriter, surrounded by paper and cups of coffee went a long way towards making me feel journalistic, so I sat there often. The program director complained that I was losing the ability to write 'hard-sell' but how can you leave moonlight and dripping Spanish moss, a fragile girl in the arms of a dashing buccaneer to sell Rexall products?

Ideas came and went but there didn't seem much future in most of them. Could this be writer's block already? Perhaps if I started small- I decided to make a beginning with undemanding things like magazine articles. People seemed to be writing about all sorts of ordinary things for the magazines. True, most of them seemed to be How-To's, but there were also health things, and recipes, or adventures. Surely my years of living should bear fruit in some of these categories. The editors didn't seem to think so. I shortly had a file of some of the most courteous rejection slips you'd want not to see. I wrote the funniest episode for Reader's Digest about my husband's remodeling genius, and an in-depth digression for Parent's about my nephew's reaction to his hospital experience but they just didn't seem to appreciate what I had to offer. I don't know what was wrong with them, (the editors, I mean), but perhaps they were having an off-day, or their budget was used up for the year, but I got all THAT back.

Next, I tried the romances. It's said that all the world loves a lover but no one seemed to love MY love stories. I wrote from different angles: the hard-working girl who always picks a loser, and the playgirl who played the field, pitting one man against another until nobody wanted her, the handicapped girl with a deep inferiority complex who lied and schemed to hold a man by blackballing all the other girls, but none seemed to have the magic formula. I was becoming the biggest success at being a failure that ever was. I will say one thing in my own behalf; I didn't discourage easily; however, when I began to get remarks written on the outside of my mailers, I begun to think of a pseudonym, or non de plume.

It was at this time that I discovered that the program director was another frustrated writer. He revealed one day, when discouraged to the depths of his soul by uncaring staff, disk jockeys who didn't show up, did sloppy work and looked like bums, that he'd always wanted to write and still intended to at some future time. I was very happy then that I'd kept my ambitions secret because this man had degrees in journalism and was nearly through a prestigious university, so what chance did I have?? Why he didn't act on his ambitions, I'll never know unless it was the fact that the poor fellow was usually shaking from exhaustion and overwork.

Most everyone working with us at the time knew how to pinch-hit and take over other jobs. I had learned how to do simple billing so that when Ann, the bookeeper was on vacation, I could mail out a few invoices and keep some money rolling in; I also learned how to make out pay-roll checks and keep us paid, and then, I applied for a radio operator's license, never knowing when the announcer and I would be the only ones on the premises.

I feel that if you anticipate trouble, you're certain to get it and sure enough, the day arrived when the program director must be absent; in fact, practically everybody was absent from the premises except me and the announcer. Naturally, it was written in stone that we would go off the air. The dee-jay was frantic- we couldn't reach the engineer; usually, he listened in and if he couldn't pick up our signal, would hurry in to assist us, but it took time. Meantime, the deejay began rushing about, saying, "I'll have to go out to the transmitter. You"ll have to man the turntables and microphone."

I'd never operated a console in my life but I got a two minute lesson while he put his coat on...then I was alone. I wasn't sure if I was on the air or not but I selected my favorites, things that could be counted on to run three to four minutes, thus giving me a break while I cued up another record, (nothing was automated at that least, not there). Suddenly the amperage needles begun to move and I figured we were back in operation. I put on SUMMERTIME IN HEIDELBERG and got 4:10 minutes out of that while the dee-jay rang me on the phone to see if I realized that I was on the air. I nodded dumbly and begged him to get back as quickly as he could; meanwhile, I segwayed from one record and one cut to another, not daring to risk my quaking voice over the air. Before long, I had more help than I knew what to do with because the manager was down there to find out about our 'new sound', and the phone was ringing to commend us on our beautiful music, etc. When the unfortunate dee-jay got back and faced the music, why he'd left the 'office girl' in charge of the broadcasting unit, (what choice had he?) and I'd been ordered to go back and attend to 'my writing', someone thought to inquire what had caused all the trouble anyway?? It seemed that A WOODCHUCK had gnawed it's way through the door of the transmitter, which was located in a lonely bit of brush in the countryside, and then chewed on a wire, causing a short circuit. The engineer found the fried carcass draped over an iron stanchion.

I might have known that was the thanks I'd get for trying to help out, so I gave them a nasty gesture and returned to my desk. I had plenty to do there. I was supposed to write the script for a fashion show, anyway and the historical association needed some assistance on a story that they wanted to use for the upcoming centennial.

I was finding that ideas for stories abound most places. The country was rich in history and there was a demand for historical writing. History of the pilgrims and early settlers, the Indians and the Jesuits who came to 'civilize' them- the encroachment of the Spanish over the South and their influence on the rich Indian culture there; the story of Texas with the Mexican influence, the northwest territories with , again, the Indians, the mountain men, and fur trappers.

There were also gold mines to be plumbed for religious periodicals. There were stories of the North American martyrs: Father Isaac Jogues, Goupil, Lalande- there was Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native American candidate for canonization, or Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader who claimed he found the tablets with their religious tenets near Elmira, N.Y. And Eleazer Williams, a missionary to the Indians of northern New York and Michigan, who claimed to be the Lost Dauphin of France.

There were great stories of the naval battles on Lake Champlain...and they WERE great and important at that time. The days of the Mississippi river boats, the Creole culture in Louisiana; there was more writing to be done than one person would ever have time for. It didn't pay much, if at all, but it gave experience and practice...and recognition.

I was also finding out that ordinary people often turned out to be very exciting because, they too were often leading a double life. When I went to the police station to pay a parking ticket for the manager, I found out that the chief was quietly turning out clever handcarvings, there was an elderly lady nearby who'd built her own home, cutting the logs and doing her own concrete work...often by the light of the moon, going on to sculpture and taxidermy when she was eighty years old! It was an amazing world!

Our days passed in a monotonous fashion. We'd check in at the radio station each morning and stand in front of the gas heater either holding up our skirts from the rear or chafeing our hands from the front. The suite of rooms was practically unheated, the steam runs so meagre and inefficient that I was reminded of offices in Ireland where they still carry in fuel for the fireplaces even today. In fact, the chambers were a model of inconvenience and inefficiency. There was no water for the help at all and we were forced to pass through a connecting door into the quarters of the local investor from whom we rented space, and use his facilities. Due to his penchant for sleeping in, often the door would not be unlocked from his side until the morning was half spent or until one of his employees remembered us and opened up.

Our male staff, first on the premises each day, in moments of desperation either removed the pins from the door hinges or ultimately, the hinges themselves but when the owner discovered that, he had the door re-hung with the hinges on the inside. Soon, any sort of container was in short supply around the premises and I remember searching vainly for my coffeepot one morning amid noxious fumes until one of the men stiffly suggested that I forget the matter. it, like all other containers, had been utilized and then thrown into the trash bin.

Actually, our comfort or conveniene meant nothing to our landlord. He'd arrive faithfully at the end of each week and draw a check, helping himself to the checkbook. He lacked the common courtesy to acknowledge the manager's precedence in the office, or any polite office procedure at all. In fact, he and the other investors had put so little capital into the business and drew their wages out so promptly that there was nothing left for our payroll. The salesmen were supposed to rush out and sell enough to cover our needs and when we wrote the paychecks, there was a stampede for the banks, each wanting to be the first to cash his check while there might yet be funds enough to cover it. Often the last one getting to the bank would find himself holding a 'rubber check' and needless to say, there was NOTHING for our suppliers or for the utilities.

All this anxiety and tension was not a conducive atmosphere for anyone who wished to write. It was difficult to go home and put all this foolishness out of my mind while I thought up new ideas for my scripts.

I spent a great deal of time at the library and got out huge armloads of books on writing. HOW TO WRITE ARTICLES THAT SELL, WRITING FICTION THAT SELLS, HOUSEWIFE BECOMES AUTHOR...all that sort of thing. When the girl checked the books out, she reminded me to remember her when I became famous, an unnecessarily snide remark, I thought. I studied these books faithfully, but though they WERE helpful to some extent, none of them told me exactly what I needed to know. For example, there were huge compendiums on the copyright law which no doubt contained the information I needed...somewhere, but one would have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it when they found it...if ever. The more readable books went into the subject briefly but from the angle of signing a contract, (what optimism!) or avoiding accusations of plagairism. I felt like the little boy who went home from school and asked his father, "Daddy, what is sex?"

The father marched him into the bedroom and gave him chapter and verse on the subject of human sexuality and reproduction only to have the child persist.

"But Daddy, teacher still wants to know; what sex is our new baby?" I too, was getting more than I cared to know in some areas and none at all that I needed.

First, I wanted to know where to write for permission to reproduce a famous print. At that time, I did not know whether one wrote to the author of the article, the magazine editor, or the museum housing the collection...YES, THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT DUMB! I don't know what I thought all those little credits were for at the end of the article, saying 'through the courtesy of' and identifying the owner of the rights.

And I am still not certain where public domain cuts off- what about Currier & Ives, the Remingtons, etc? There are also many old time paintings or pictures that no one is certain who painted them, purchased them, etc.
Perhaps the reason we don't see more on rights may be that few feel qualified to really say; however, I had more or less figured some out it out for myself...and God help me if I was wrong. From what I read, it seemed to me that when one offered First North American rights, you was offering the publisher the right to publish the submitted material for the FIRST TIME in the United States and Canada. This meant that you had not already allowed someone else to publish this same material in the present form.

Second serial rights become a bit more complicated. Now, they may not be complicated at all but I was always a master hand at finding ambiguities where there might be none at all; anyhow- what I got from this classification of rights was the impression that the material offered had already appeared somewhere, in some publication. NOW it was being offered a second time in the same form and credit must be given to the magazine that published it in the first place. If this goes on forever down through the ages, or not, I do not know. Many written explanations of second serial rights have (reprints) appearing in the same sentence leading one to suspect that they are the same thing. However, editors advertise that they will accept second serial rights, (reprints,) and previously published material, leading one to wonder where the hairline fracture lies? Some of it may refer to material that has been incorporated into a book or that is planned for inclusion in an anthology. But then, many say they will accept one-time rights. Does that mean a reprint, or previously published material? Why call it by a different name, then?

Some magazines stipulate that they will use reprints but they do not want you, the author, (is there a stigma attached to authors?) sending it to them. Well, if the author doesn't send it, who will? And who gets paid? An agent, I'll bet. I would also like to know the manner of designating reprints, how many previous publishers one must name? And what if the magazines are no longer extant? Must they STILL be named? Best to sell one-time rights whenever possible.

Again, some editors announce that they will accept first North American rights but that simultaneous submissions and previously published works are okay. Then, why advertise that they will accept first N.A. at all if they are willing to take material that has been published? it doesn't make sense, used material is used material- BUT if one submits simultaneously and is lucky enough to get both accepted, (unlikely, I know but allow me my little fantasies,) how do you stop one from using the material before the other one? How can you, in the light of today's mail, (or e-mail) have any idea which one will arrive where first? THEN you may be in trouble for selling first rights to someone while someone else may already have the article on the way to the printers. And both will hate you...YOU will be to blame!

I sent an article to a market announcing that I was offering them only one-time rights and said that my story had already been accepted on the local level and if they liked it, they must wait until the first editor had enjoyed his first time rights. The second guy rushed it into print under their copyright that left me without first rights for the editor I'd promised them to. Now I was in a compromising position because I would have to write to get the rights released before it could be published again. Tres' embarrassing! The author really doesn't have much clout in these matters unless (s)he is already famous and in big demand, or has an energetic agent who will fight for her/him or is willing to lose the market.

There was also another item to worry about and that was the idea of writing the same story for different publications. I had soon realized that this was the name of the game, getting as much use out of the same material as possible, so essentially, HOW different must the material be before one dares to offer first rights to it again? Better to offer one time rights or re-write it completely. Titles weren't too important as they can't be copyrighted, but other than that- if I felt there might be any misunderstanding, I endorsed the check 'for deposit only'; that way I was not endorsing any policies but merely banking the money for safe keeping until the matter was straightened out. SEE, I was learning a few sly tricks at the radio station!

By now, I could see that the matter of rights and costs were going to be a BIG surprise for the budding writer. One naively supposes that one simply writes to Museum X and announces plans for a forthcoming article on the great artist, Z.X. Slapdash and they would answer, (if they ever do,) 'Certainly, go right ahead and use our pictures with our blessing...and good luck.' Anyone who believes THAT is in for a big surprise because they are more apt to answer curtly, "We cannot allow just anyone to use our beautiful pictures free of charge, so if you want to use any of our masterpieces, you must pay fifteen dollars for the RIGHT to use them, and then you must pay an additional x number of dollars to get us to send you a copy of the desired work, plus mailing and handling costs.' Better get an exhorbitant price for the story, you're going to need it.

Then there is the chance that you will never recognize your story if you do see it in print. There are three, or four, reasons why this might happen. Number one, they may like your idea but not like what you've written, or your style, so they will send you a 'kill-fee' and take the idea and use it any way they like without mentioning you.

Number two: they may purchase your story and edit and/or add to it to the extent that it's unrecognizable as anything YOU sent and the whole meaning is changed but your name is still on it. Can this be a reverse act of plagairism? And to what extent can you be held responsible for what is printed?

Number three: your story appears, general content unchanged but due to printing errors, entire sentences are transposed, rendering several paragraphs meaningless, or impossible for anyone to know what you are talking about. YOU may have forgotten what you were talking about by now...or the punctuation and spelling, as it now appears, indicates that you are completely illiterate. Sometimes, BEING published has its drawbacks.
Well- I brought home many books on copyright; but I found most of them incomprehensible. Perhaps that was the trouble with 'new writers' (and what is meant by new writers, anyway?) At what point does one become an old writer? After having x number of stories published? After appearing in the right magazine? After reaching a certain age? After writing a book?

I had been sending out one or two manuscripts... aimlessly...I really didn't have any idea of the proper way to do it and I didn't match my story to the publication as one should, so it's no wonder that I got them back in short order with suggestions that I should query first. In a way, it was THEIR fault because I still maintain that the blurbs in Writer's Digest and Writer's Market, etc. are not clear enough for most amateurs. They state that the editors will look at items of general interest, of a historical nature, or family oriented items but do not explain that they mean that it must be on the history OF CYCLING, IF THEY ARE A CYCLING MAGAZINE, that it must be about family holidays if they are a travel magazine, that it must somehow be about the general interest in GARDENING if they are a horticulture magazine. They do not realize that they must narrow it down so beginners will know that it must in some way relate to what they are trying to sell. These things may be open and shut to pros but it is not so clear to a novice writer who'd think general interest meant general anything! Anyway, getting rejections merely reinforced my feeling that it was smart to keep my so-called writing a secret.

Now the query has been made to seem like an incomparable piece of rhetoric, a glittering, scintillating bit of writing that introduces you to the editor and demonstrates what an able writer you are and how fascinating your story is. Most books say to query first to find out if the editors have any interest in your proposed article, or have a market for it but I feel very strongly that if most beginners were to query the market to find someone interested in the work of an unknown, they would never put pen to paper, so to speak.

With this in mind, I began to write rough drafts on various subjects and THEN I would try to sell them. I realized that it was contrary to popular advice but it protected me from the day when an editor might say he was interested in a story as yet unwritten. So I did the work for nothing feeling that surely the experience of researching a paper and then writing it was worth something. Also, I felt that if I could write at my leisure, making the work as good, and as interesting as possible, then I'd be in a much better position to submit it. I'd know about how many words I could get out of the material and so on- then too, if the pictures I planned to use with the story were late coming back, or didn't come out, I wouldn't have an editor losing patience with me. I felt there was a lot to be said for each side of the argument. Then, too, I was learning a lot at the office about making pitches, offering packages, and other merchandising efforts, all of which would make my debut that much stronger. I thought I was nearly ready.

I wrote an article of about two thousand words on a subject dear to my heart. I've always felt it easier to show enthusiasm for something I'M interested in; ergo, a free-lancer has an advantage. In my query, I used the first paragraph of the story to lead-in and capture the interest. After I described what I wanted to sell, I added the fact that I could offer good basic black and white pictures to support the story and I enclosed one to demonstrate how clear and sharp they were. I sent it off and tried to forget it.

Perhaps it is as well that I wasn't pining away over the submission because we were at an especially busy time at the radio station. Sales were at an all time low and the manager was extremely anxious. It was very difficult for him to keep a trained staff of announcers, (or dee-jays,) or salesmen because as soon as they could say they were experienced, they went somewhere else for better money, better conditions, etc. Not that most of them would ever have a lot of money anyway, for they seemed to be an indifferent, happy-go-lucky breed not prone to hanging on to money. When they had it, they spent it.

Most of the fellows loved a good time and fine clothes. One, whom I particularly liked, came in one day with a very nice new topcoat. Unfortunately, it was solid black...and he loved animals. He hadn't had it long before his friends began referring to his 'fur coat.' And then there was the likeable little fellow with an extremely sensitive temperament. He was married and had several children and was chronically threadbare and hungry on his tiny salary. He did any extra chores he could find about the premises to pick up a few dollars and whenever there was a civic event where the radio station should be represented, the manager sent him along as a substitute, saying "He can use a steak dinner and save me being bored to tears at the same time."

I was the constant recipient of offers for a wonderful camera at a scandalous price, or would I like to buy a watch...perhaps a ring? As they broke up with their girl friends, I could have worn rings and watches clear to each elbow for pennies.

One of the 'boys' was an extravagantly large fellow who owned a tiny poodle. She went along with him wherever he went and had the unfortunate propensity of leaving deposits on the floor. After she'd adorned nearly every carpet in town, her welcome dimmed but he still loved her extravagantly. They slept together and each morning he'd arrive at the office where they'd share their breakfast. They'd come in and if the weather was rainy, or cold, she'd be wearing a tiny sweater, perhaps some boots, and her glittering rhinestone collar. She was a winning little thing.

Her master would seat himself and open his cup of coffee and lay out his toast and peanut butter. He'd take a draught of coffee and then hold the cup down to her so she could take her turn. Then he'd tear off a piece of toast and let her take it, then he'd lick his fingers and rip off a piece for himself. Thus they continued until all was gone. When she began to look about for more, I'd pretend to have something in my top drawer. I'd pull out the drawer and pretend to talk to something inside, stroking and petting an imaginary animal, then I'd close the drawer again and crack up watching her try to get inside.

He was an announcer who hated sports and as the 'early morning personality, it fell to him perhaps more than to any of the rest, to summarize where the teams had played, who they'd played, and what the scores were since the preceding day. Normally the other announcers would read a long list something like 'Miami is at Chicago, Denver is at Boston, etc.,' or they'd say something about the Knickerbockers trimming the Bruins in a bruising 9-11 in the third, but he wouldn't go through THAT foolishness...he simply picked the long sheet off the teletype and read the scores straight down without identifying which team he was talking about, where they were, or any other details! Fortunately most people were either still asleep or not awake enough to complain.

All of this maneuvering should have been excellent grist for my mill had I any idea who might conceivably be interested in it. And if no one was interested in these unstable disk jockeys , perhaps the romances would like a glimpse at the goings-on among our office personnel. There were numerous triangles, quadrangles, and parallelograms all over the place. Sometimes it was embarrassing when the lovesick swains began to plead their case in the tiny office wehre it was impossible to get away and give them any privacy. It was especially tense when more than one man was after the same woman and she sat gloating, enjoying her power over them. Then, too, there was always a certain amount of fall out on those of us who were uninterested in liasons because many took the attitude that 'they're all like that there'. It was quite the ordinary thing to be propositioned between the desk and the file cabinet, to be offered an assignation by one of the sales staff or by one of the suppliers while he was delivering the Coca-Cola.

I liked our manager quite well. He was a young man with a brilliant but erratic mind. He was obsessed with worries and teetering on the brink of whether he should 'get into something else' or call a meeting to 'force the owners to assume more responsibility.' I could have told him that you don't 'force the owners' to do anything but he was too young and cock-sure to realize that. We'd sit in his office and I'd watch him bite on pencils and pen nibs and drink coffee. Cup after cup-

"Fetch me another cup, will you, Maisie?" he'd ask for extra service while making slurs about my filing. I'd go to the window that was perpetually glazed over with ice and pour him a cup from the boiling 'billy can' that stood on the top of the gas heater just below. I'd add sugar and try to hack off crumbs of frozen milk from the paper carton. The cold milk curdled as soon as it hit the boiling coffee.

"Why does it look so funny?" He'd stare at the curious mixture. I explained that the milk always froze on the window sill but there was no other place to keep it where it wouldn't spoil.

"Well, my coffee's awfully dark. I need another slice."

One day he was fretting and worrying, going from one thing to another when he suddenly noticed a big hole in the sole of his shoe.

"My goodness, look at that shoe," he remarked. "Is there anyone around here who fixes shoes?"

I said that I was certain there was and should have known what the next step would be, and sure enough-

"Can you take these over and see how long it would take him to fix them?"

I departed with the shoes and the repairman agreed to leave his work and start on them immediately. I thought he was awfully nice to do that and therefore made no conditions about hurrying. Naturally, it took well over an hour during which time my employer concealed himself behind his desk in his sock feet while he discussed business with callers. He was distraught, to say the least, but forgave me readily when he got his shoes back and saw how nice they looked.

Meantime, our push to increase business was going quite well. The program director and I dreamed up various promotional packages, complete with music, that made some of the customers feel they were dealing with high-tech broadcasting. We ran a beauty contest and offered a trip to Disneyland as prize in another contest and I was supposed to run daily surveys by phone throughout our listening area to see what listenership we had. I called my mother in the next town and called a friend in another. Many kinfolk who hadn't heard from me in years were flattered to receive a call. I didn't bother to tell them they were on the opposite end of a poll; 'allow them to feel obligated, you never knew when it would pay off' was my motto.

We did remotes, broadcating from a location other than the studios and I made duplicate logs so the announcer would have some idea what advertising copy he should be reading between records, but it was very difficult to synchronize the thing due to outside variables such as malfunctions or interviewees talking longer than they should, etc. Also, you never knew what a person would say while the mike was open. It might be something banned by the FCC, something incompatible with our station's views, or inimical to our interests. Sometimes an old-timer would not realize what station he was speaking with and would praise our rival stoutly.

By now, we were well along into late fall and we were off the air shortly after four p.m. Since we could broadcast during daylight hours only, the announcers signed off with a flourish and left the broadcasting room. They turned off all their lights and went home; the salespersons went home, the manager went home...there was only me alone in the basement of the eerie old building. I was isolated and no one could see who might enter while I labored in my small cubicle of light. Occasionally the phone would ring and someone would request a song, unaware that we were done for the day. I didn't relish my solitude but as soon as my duties were finished, it made a good opportunity to write as I had to remain until five p.m. anyway.

I'd write down any interesting events of the day, using the fine electric typewriter they'd just gotten for me and there was scrap paper in plenty, so all was not lost.

My query had been gone for over a week and they tell you not to ever expect an answer before three or four months, anyway. By and large, I would say that is a fair estimate; however, I have learned to not believe any ALWAYS, NEVER, situations. Especially in reference to writing.

People will laugh and say, 'You have visions of writing something and being called by the editor in the middle of the night. Right?? They are just WILD about what you wrote and want to buy it immediately. Right? They agree to give you an excellent price and ask you if you will work for them on assignment. Right?? Forget it; it NEVER happens that way.

THEY are wrong- that is exactly what happened to me and it was the first thing I'd ever sold! I couldn't believe it. I'd been sleeping soundly and almost didn't answer the phone. I was sure it was either a wrong number, or someone playing a rather crude joke, especially when it developed that someone was talking about buying my story...then I KNEW it had to be a joke. But it wasn't and when they asked me to work on assignment, I sleepily declined, thus throwing away an opportunity that most beginning writers would give their eyeteeth to have.

I wouldn't say that this was a usual thing to happen with my submissions, but it is a good indication that anything can happen in the writing, or publishing business. Of course, I didn't mention the fact at the office. I felt what they did't know wouldn't hurt them any, so I kept my lips tightly sealed. My spouse was outraged by my secretivness but went along with my eccentricity and said nothing. He couldn't understand such modesty, but I was afraid to spoil my record for one thing, and I didn't want to be perpetually ragged as 'the author'for another.

The books say that if you have a sale, you should immediately send off another manuscript, so I made another proposal. I'd noticed the booming of a particular line of building in the area and wrote an upstate newspaper suggesting I do an article on it for them. This letter was not long in being answered either; whatever I was doing, I certainly was good at getting fast replies! The editor declined my suggestion in a very courteous manner, saying that all that sort of thing was written by their staff; however, (he went on) he'd read the other article I'd just had published and offered me a column! He went on at length about how very good the article had been and how much he admired my writing until he had me terrified. I knew that getting that first article published that way had been a fluke; just as I knew I could never do it again- and here, he was, offering me A COLUMN where I'd be required to be excellent every week. My heart quailed within me. I thought it over for two days and then wrote for more information on the column, length, leeway as to style, etc.- and NEVER HEARD FROM HIM AGAIN.

Well, so much for that. It is a good thing that we were busier than ever because waiting for his reply would have been hard to take. And then the final realization that I was NOT going to hear from him again, ever, slammed me into a momentary discouragement. I continued with my work at the radio station and helped plan our Christmas party. One of the owners would come north two hundred miles to be with us, so I and the bookeeper decorated the office and I made reservations at a nearby hotel, etc. Then the night of the party, we all gathered at a nightclub close by. It was an evening of fun and good cheer and the owner was a handsome, congenial man. We danced and joked and laughed and he tried to be friendly with everyone, giving each his/her turn. When he turned to Pat and inquired about his family and where HE lived, Pat vainly tried to explain the obscure little village. The big man couldn't quite get it until I interceded.

"Mr. Ross, it's one of those unique little towns; you know- Unis Equi'? The boss stared a minute and threw back his head and roared. Pat glowered and looked suspicious but couldn't quite comprehend if he'd been insulted or not.

So things trundled along over the holidays and then I wrote again, to a travel magazine this time. I suggested an article on traveling throughout the Northeast and asked for an assignment and guidelines. It wasn't long before I received a Mail-o-gram with the explanation that this was to expedite things. The editor mentioned that she was including guidelines for my convenience and there wasn't a thing inside! I wrote back and explained the situation and asked to have the guidelines so that I might take them with me on vacation and could collect the information pertinent to my story. I have yet to hear from her-

Then I ran afoul of the next editor. I sent him a mildly derisive manuscript describing a military installation that had been built, blunder by blunder, in the wrong place, finished at the wrong time. and costing the citizens huge quantaties of money. I described the goof-ups of some of the people concerned in a laughing manner and infuriated the editor in the process. He not only didn't accept, he told me off in no uncertain terms! I wrote later and apologized; although all my references had been from recognized sources, I was still at fault for not using better taste. Especially since he was an officer and I was writing for retired officers...(the writer must always be on his/her toes and be conscious of such mores.)

Well- sometimes it WAS discouraging. I seemed to be getting no foradder with my writing. One editor had held a story of mine for over two years, so I wrote and politely asked to have it back, and that's when he said he'd just published it! True enough, it was in the next edition. Things were exceedingly strange in this business.

It was even stranger at the office. Lee, who'd been office-manager took a maternity leave and told me she didn't plan to come back. The station manager gave me her job, but I was still responsible for my old one. I was nearly overwhelmed with work and the little raise I received didn't begin to compensate for the additional labor. I went to the office when the sun was just coming up and I left the premises after dark. The cold was intense and many times my fingers were too stiff to type. I couldn't figure out if it was worse enduring the bitter blasts in winter, or the heated months of summer when frogs and snakes came in through the open door and crawled under our desks and the hornets and mosquitoes clung to our hosiery. Being on the bank of the river had it's moments. Many times we observed the schoolchildren obsessively forging their way across the frozen river, jumping from ice block to ice block like Liza, while we held our breath until they reached the opposite shore. Every day the police warned them not to do it, and every day the same ones did it anyway.

Of course, there were other times when it was all pure pleasure. Like the time Julius LaRosa came to town and we had him all to ourselves for about an hour. Or when Hal Smith came down and did his impersonation of 'Otis' for us- times like that made it very nice and we found most celebrities so down-to-earth; 'just people,' anxious to do their job and get home to their loved ones.

Naturally, I didn't know enough at the time to interview these people so that I might do a profile on them for somebody. Learning to seize opportunities comes with practice, the same as the ability to see a story when it happens. Or the ability to plan on getting several stories from the same area, thus avoiding making the trip twice with its attendent costs for motel, resturants, and gas. Which leads me to the subject of expenditures and keeping records. 

The boss had given me several small raises since Lee had left to have her baby. As she had no intention of returning, I was trained to do her job, but was still responsible for my old one. It certainly cut down on my time for any extra writing and was not really FAIR to me because they were getting two jobs done for little more than the cost of one. But, what was fair in this world? I didn't squawk because I too was getting something- a great deal of free training in a job that I loved. And, I literally loved everything about the broadcasting business.

The program director had asked me to be the female voice in several commercials that he was working up into a production for a ritzy resturant. I stood before the open mike which he'd patched in to the console, planning to tape the commercial while the station was putting out music over the air. We got better quality taping this way rather than using an auxillary tape recorder.

"Zis is Mimi at the Cafe de le Paix and today we are having the wonderful escargot, yes? You mus try zem, or per'aps zoos magnifique cordon bleu-" As I glanced at him, I noted that the meters showed we were going out over the top of the music. My voice faltered and he caught on. He switched over but the damage was done. When he played the commercial back to the restaurateur, the man was not enchanted with it.

"That girl sounds too amateurish," he announced, nearly putting an end to my career. We got things straightened out and after that, I went on to new heights as Mrs. Santa Claus, or some other character. I drew the line when he wanted the sexy, sultry voice of a femme fatale for something or other.

"I'm sorry, I just CAN'T be a femme fatale," I announced. "Do it yourself." And he did! He had just the right sort of husky, raspy voice that recorded as an extremely seductive female and we had a lot of those type productions from then on. It's strange how recording changes the quality of one's voice. I felt that I sounded like Minnie Mouse!

One day the station manager called me into his inner sanctum where he sat in the dark (the lights weren't on in the other offices, so HE couldn't have any, either).

"We are going to have to plan some sort of anniversary celebration for the station. It has to LOOK like we're all having great fun, but it's got to bring in a lot of money for us, too. I want you and the program director to get together and work up some ideas. You'd better arrange things at home because you're going to have be hostess for this thing and you'll be spending a lot of time with us."

With this remark, he threw the thing into our laps and went off wherever station managers go. Fortunately, Tom was very creative and he and the sales manager had both worked in large cities in many and varied capacities, so they knew how to proceed. We spend several days in closed and smoky quarters, discussing and planning WHO we could get to come to town (our little town) as a celebrity, WHAT we could offer as an inducement to get people to join in the celebration, meanwhile bringing the station the most publicity at the same time, HOW we would deliver the most hype for the least expenditure, and for how long, and the best way to keep our rival station in the dark until the last minute.

This was a package that would stump some Madison Avenue firms but here we were, with our outmoded equipment, limited funds and staff, trying to deliver sophisticated productions and programming for a naive, and mostly rural audience. For one thing, an entertainer, or actor of any ability would be extremely reluctant to leave the lucrative possibilities in the city to fly north to OUR town where we were inevitably on the worst end of the weather, where there were very limited hotel and dining facilities and literally NO amusement. And what would they get out of coming? Perhaps a little money, but few raves over anything they might do- no, it was a losing proposition for them. The best we could hope that there might be someone who owed one of our investors a favor.

We were in luck because, for some reason probably best not gone into, one of the stockholders got a fairly good name to appear for us. The hapless performer flew in on the local Toonerville Trolley and appeared at the station looking frozen, lost, and uncomfortable. He gazed about him in bewilderment, obviously wondering what he was doing in this god-forsaken place. I will say this for the man. He was down-to-earth and pleasant; no airs, no derogatory remarks as he looked at our tiny, fly-specked offices, glanced at the gas bar with it's steaming teakettle on top, and could see the entire operation from inner sanctum, to office works, to teletype and broadcasting booth without having to leave his chair.

"Would you like a cup of coffee?" I even had the gall to offer to saw off a chunk of frozen milk for him but he shuddered and remarked that 'luckily, he took his black'. He seemed very grateful for it, too. He just couldn't believe that he'd walked the main streets of the village unmolested, he was so used to being mobbed in most any red-blooded American city.

Contrary to all probable odds, our celebration came off quite nicely. We'd run a beauty contest, with any listener eligible to enroll their daughters (and we did have some beauties), we also offered a free round trip to Disneyland for the two persons collecting the greatest numbers of names of those among our audience, there was also a beauty contest, and so on and so on. It really came out just fine. It robbed me of several weeks of personal time, but-

It's some kind of law, I guess, that when you don't have the money, you can always find loads of things you'd LOVE to buy...or you can think of MANY places where you'd like to travel, that sort of thing; but when you get where you have the money, you no longer have the time to travel, shop, etc. I was sorta in that position now. With my additional wealth these days, I could have purchased more stamps and mailers, or film if I could just find the time, but the 'workman's law' prevailed and there was little time for myself. I resolved to make time for myself as soon as this rat race was over.

Writing once again, I could see that I would have to be more organized and business-like about it. My postal costs were getting large enough that I knew I should be keeping a record for the Internal Revenue. This was an angle I should have looked into long before; I knew if I wrote enough and kept a record of everything, I SHOULD be justified in taking a portion of our heating, electrical and telephone costs, and so on.

I bullied the fellow at the postal window, making him give me a receipt every time I bought a dozen stamps, and continually asked him about sending my six, or eight page manuscripts by fourth class mail until his manner became exceedingly frosty. I couldn't understand why everyone seemed out to discourage new authors.

Later, I learned to purchase first class stamps by the roll and get a receipt for them...I also learned to keep the next gradient of stamps necessary to send the second ounce so I could weigh my own mailers and send them out whether the post office was open or not. I also saved myself a good deal of expense by dropping down to 6x9 mailers for manuscripts of only four, or five pages. It wouldn't hurt to fold them over once. And the final stroke of wisdom taught me to send manuscripts off first class because if I sent them third class and they proved undeliverable, then they came back to me C.O.D. It was bad enough to pay to mail several ounces ONCE-

By now, I had purchased a camera with various lenses and attachments. I made sure to keep all those receipts as well as the receipts for film, and both the return envelope and receipt when I asked for the finished pictures.

I let quite a few receipts slip away from me before I developed the carapace necessary for asking and keeping slips for gas, resturants, motel rooms, and admission tickets to various places I had to visit. It was also necessary to keep telephone receipts. It's surprising how they all add up.

Earlier, I had blithely sent my work off without looking up the correct, current address of the magazine. After having a lot of returns ( all that postage wasted), I saw that nobody seems to move oftener than these city businesses and it's no fun to pay for these abortive trips through the postal system; seldom do they forward and postage is too expensive for many such mistakes.

When the first checks come in, it is easy to feel rich and well-paid, forgetting what it cost you to earn that money. I remember at first, traveling 300 miles round trip for a story, paying $35.oo for a motel, $20.00 for dinner, $10.00 for breakfast, $10.00 at least, for gas, $10.00 for photographic supplies, several bucks postage- and feeling GOOD about getting $100.00 back! I'd worked for nothing! Now, I try to work it to get at least TWO stories out of the same trip, more if possible. If I can't slant the same article for a second magazine, I try to have a second story source in the same area. You have to.

But then the day comes when somebody makes your day. You'll be in an area, researching a story, when somebody will hear about it and they will come to you, wanting to be interviewed, or else say, "You know, I wish somebody would write about THIS, someday."

Oftentimes, friends will suggest something they'd like to see you cover and will offer photos, and information. Just recently, I had sold a story and was meeting with the subject about a possible article leading out of the earlier one. A day or so later, I was called by the subject of the latest, and I'd not yet had time to CALL him. We discussed it and set a date for an interview...and I must say, I felt pretty good about the whole thing. This man was the kind of well-rounded person who allows you the opportunity of approaching magazines of various categories. I KNEW I'd have no trouble selling something on him once, but I hoped to sell essentially the same story to a sports magazine, a fraternal one, one dealing with youth, and one for law and order. These are the kind of people you must look for; they will put money in your pocket. When you make your deal with the editor, try to get an extra copy of the magazine with the story in, for the subject.

Now that I'm older and wiser, when I interview someone, I try to slip in the question naturally- what organizations do you belong to? What are your hobbies? What kind of car do you drive? It always helps if you can photograph a celebrity driving a VW, or a FORD- makes the story easier to sell.

AND selling is the name of the game. Of course, we don't tell most people that we who write love it to the extent that we'd probably do it for nothing, anyway, but the money certainly gives one a well-earned feeling of recognition. We should therefore take into account anything and everything that will help us sell our work.

If one writes, and I begin to think everyone does these days, finding enough time seems to be a problem because the more people one knows, the more there are to steal one's time away. A husband, or boyfriend, or conversely, wife or girlfriend, offer the most pressing and immediate demands and any refusal constitutes rejection. It must be a great blow to the ego to be replaced by a book, or an article...and of course, children only magnify the problem.

Of course, anyone can write; those who are interested and make no attempt, I suspect of laziness. It is easy to shrug the shoulders and say, "No, no, I never could do that." How can you possibly know without trying? After all, it is a learning process, like any other. On the other hand, if you achieve any recognition at all you can expect to get the 'people-chasers' on your tail. You are suddenly eligible and DESIRED by the local clubs and asked to speak at meetings where you may have no authority, or credentials for doing so, but if you refuse you've 'gone arty' or high-and-mighty. If you accede, there may be a mention in the paper, with your name misspelled, or missing all together, with your aims and statements misquoted, and angry people will search you out for an opportunity to corner you and demand 'where you got YOUR information?" People who have known you from birth will look at you askance, wondering 'who you think YOU are?' It's true that a prophet is without honor in his/her own country.'

Much of your success will hinge on things of the past; things done, or left undone, items used or neglected may tell the tale. How much education you got, or did you try to educate yourself? Are you well-read? Who would dream of the importance of such things as the type of paper used, or merely if you have changed to a new typewriter ribbon or not? Anything to make the writing better- clearer, more readable; to make someone else's day more enjoyable at the other end. After all, if you use erasable bond or not, may determine if the editorial assistant gets his, (his'n? hern') cuffs smeared- or if the print is faint, he may get eyestrain. If you staple your manuscript together, someone may get scratched by the staples or get an expensive blouse caught; what do you think the chances for your manuscript would be at that point? (At the very least, it is not HANDY to read papers that are nailed together at one corner.) And it is UNTHINKABLE that you would dare to reuse a mailing envelope no matter how pristine its condition...(would you??) It is a world of calculated risks and you must maintain top quality whether anything comes of it, or not.

I am not going to dwell on the fact that you will use only top grade typing paper...always keeping a carbon of all work, and leaving a good margin, at least one and a half inches all the way around the edges, and DOUBLE-SPACED. If you've interested yourself in the mechanics at all, that is already old hat to you and I credit you with some sense. You also know by now that your name and address should appear in the upper left-hand corner of the first sheet; it's a good idea also to use this place for the offering of the rights you wish to sell.. your word count may go in the right hand corner. I like to note the number of pictures I am enclosing here, also. I like to repeat my name on the top of succeeding sheets and add the page numbers.

After you have done all the things you have been warned to do and not done any of those you have been warned against, you will begin your writing.
If you find it necessary to travel to get the stories you desire, for Pete's Sake, remember what I said about keeping receipts for meals, lodging, etc, and any other expenditures that may occur. If you are keeping up on your reading, you will notice that the government is finally getting around to allowing free-lancers tax write-offs and you'd better be up on it. AND, you can prove nothing without a receipt.

Back at home, buy your stamps by the sheet, or roll and get receipts for them, and keep all those from the bookstore, and ask for one when you mail off registered letters. Also, keep a list of out-going calls and fees which appear on your bills. I dwell on all this but believe me, when the IRS comes to call, I will be your friend.

And, now for rejections; doom, gloom, boom: everybody gets them, if that is any comfort. It is difficult for the writer to know what was the cause of the rejection; perhaps you did not aim for the proper market, perhaps someone has already submitted a similar story, or perhaps you have used material that is taboo with the publication. The return may be occasioned by the failure to do any of the above, all of the above, or like the old college questions, was it a combination of a&b, a,b, & c, a&c, all of them, or none of them? The usual rejection forms are so nicely worded and so vague that only a mind reader could determine the reason behind them. Occasionally there will be some kind-hearted person who will take pity and try to offer some guidance, or at least some encouragement. There is something about the written word- and even if they only pen 'sorry, try again', it can give a certain boost to the day. I know; I had made submissions to a certain periodical over a period of time before some alert individual awoke to the fact that (s)he could be helpful by inserting a check list, which apparently they'd had on hand all the time, and (s)he put it inside the envelope. By merely checking off a space before one item, (s)he made everything clear. They would not print anything about a deceased person!

Now, if you study many books, you may find there is one centralized theme repeated over and over from different angles. After attempting to write thousands of words, enough to comprise a book, you must learn to say the same thing in twenty different ways. After all, that's how many chapters are filled up. As an example, I would now fill up the chapter, I would begin to explore the various ways in which others have said what I am now saying and how and when it was published. I might also tell in which languages I have seen it appear, and in which it appeared the most effective. You should also consider the person, or persons saying it. Are they someone important? Someone who MATTERS? Why did they say it? Was it out of picque? Envy? Malice?

Of course, you will relate what you have to say in the very clearest grammar possible; I know, I know, we have ALL read books that are written in strange, exotic patterns, like some of Kurt Vonnegut's work, e.e.cummings' idiosyncrasies, etc., some without punctuation, capitalization, seemingly without beginning or end, but that is not for us; not yet, anyway. After we have made our mark on the publishing world- after we are famous, then we may do as we wish, but not just yet. We must know the rules of grammar, or at least, the biggies, and we must also know something about spelling and punctuation. The old days of writing and leaving all the bad stuff to be edited out are gone forever; no one can afford the staff to attend to all the minutiae any more. Write what you have to say in the briefest, clearest, most down-to-earth English you know. Read it aloud and see if it says what you mean to say, or are you supposing that 'everyone knows what you mean'? I'd like to read something to you and you see if you can determine the meaning; it certainly beats me.

Now, this was taken from a book by the late Mr. Malcolm Forbes, of Forbes magazine. I do not mean to pick on Mr. Forbes, I'm certain he didn't get where he did by being a dummy; however, if you or I try to write this way, I guarantee we shall fail. Listen: He was talking about Stephen Foster and he said, "Foster, who grew up singing but had very little musical training near Pittsburgh, was successful almost from his first published songs in 1848", and later on, 'He was found by a chambermaid delivering towels later that day.' I leave you to draw your own conclusions about the meaning of those sentences. Mr. Forbes might not be at fault for the way them came out; I know from bitter experience what the typesetter can do if he transposes words, or sentences, or plays with the punctuation. Anyway, don't do it...any of it. And the last thing before I leave the subject, it is well to slow down the tempo of what you are writing unless you are striving for effect, like suspense- I tend to write in a staccato, abbreviated fashion, leaving out many descriptions, leaving too much to the imagination. I ASSUME everyone knows what I'm talking about...don't do it.

Once your story is finished, how do you know where to send it? The markets must be carefully chosen, would YOU expect to buy cookies in a shoe store? After a study of the various magazines, and WRITER'S MARKET, you will determine what category you article fits. Send it to the articles editor, or the fashion editor, the recipe section, or the photo editor, naming them if you have a CURRENT name. It may take a bit longer to sort out if you don't have a specific name, but at least it should not end up across town at Catholic Charities, following the staff member who has moved on. The turn-over among staff is incredible and unless you can keep current, there may be a danger in addressing one certain person unless you put the department position.

A curious thing about writing, is that one never knows enough. I suppose that may be true for most things that we do, but there is SO much information that one must have have before being able to write intelligently about a subject. One feels like Alice in Wonderland for the more one writes, the more one must read. And that too, may be fraught with hazards because there is the matter of interpreting what is read. That is not always easy as was evidenced by the earlier quotation from Mr. Forbes' book.

That last statement reminds me of two mothers, both with large families, who apparently had a problem of choosing yet another name. Each strove to find something new, perhaps a little distinctive, but were unable to interpret what they'd read, and therefore were considerably surprised to find that the girl who'd been named 'E-loyze' was actually 'El-o-weeze' and the boy who'd been called 'X-a-veer' at home, was now 'X-zave-yer' or 'Hav-yer.'.

An important thought you will find running through most 'how-to' books is that of writing to the publication. If you do not write in their pattern, or style, you might as well forget it; this is not the time for individualism in writing. I'm not sure if this is different from the idea of slanting your material but to me it is along that order. Slanting is the idea of writing the same theme but adapting it so that it can be used in different magazines. For example, if I am writing a story on herbs for a gardening magazine, it would be written in a straight forward style, perhaps throwing in a few ideas on soil preparation, sunny versus shady locations, climate, when to pick, how to dry, and so on, but if I wish to send the story to a religious publication, I not only must change the content to say- the number and order of their appearance in the Bible and other religious literature, how they were used in those times, etc. I must also change my title to something like HERBS TO BE FOUND IN THE BIBLE, rather than GROWING HERBS IN YOUR GARDEN.

Another thing I might as well mention here is that you must be aware of the taboos in writing. You should never, never, never send anything even remotely obscene or unpatriotic to the Bible-belt. And you'd be surprised what may be termed offensive; a simple damn may well 'damn-you'. I once forgot that the four letter 'turd' appeared in one of my stories and it was excised with much of the surrounding material which I could ill afford to lose.

Another taboo of sorts is the change in writing styles. When I was a kid, I just loved Allan W. Eckert's THE CROSSBREED, and stories of that type which are related in an anthropomorphic style, telling the tale from the animal's point of view, telling what it thought, felt, and sensed. This method of writing is now a no-no; at least for most magazine articles.

Non-fiction magazines like short articles, 1000-1500 words, written in a crisp, concise manner, opening with a punch to snare the interest, followed up by the gist of the material, utilizing plenty of quotes and authoritative material, then a close in a circular route which re-iterates the opening statement. The longer feature stories are written in much the same manner, except they have much more detail.

It surprises me now that I was able to do any writing at all with things so hectic 'on the job'. "Why is that kid here ALL THE TIME?" I asked irritably of no one in particular. The bookeeper looked up and gave her usual soft, tolerant laugh, but it wasn't funny. Most radio stations have their hangers-on, it seems to go with the game but we had more than our share. There were the bona fide ones; the telephone men came in regularly to install line service for remotes, to check the teletype, and do other legitimate things. They were never adverse to killing a little time, having coffee, and flirting with the office help. Then the delivery men who brought supplies for the soft drink machines, or office supplies, or UPS, might remain and chat a few minutes but generally speaking, they remained pretty business-like. It was the high-school kids who were our bane.

Most of the adolescents were pretty awed by what they considered the glamorous life of the disk jockey and yearned for the day when they could hear their own voice on the air. They would come in and hang around and hang around, getting in the way and having to be shooed out when they got too noisy. But there was the odd one, so anxious to be considered part of the gang, that he would spend most of his out-of-school hours with us, willing to be the gopher, run any errands, answer the phone on Saturdays when there was no office staff and the announcer couldn't handle it all by himself, and do anything else just so he was allowed to stay. We had one of these kind now.

My phone rang and I interrupted my typing to answer with the usual station hype. We were supposed to give the usual greeting, followed by our call letters and then announce that we were NUMBER ONE in the area...all of which made for a pretty long reply and was a nuisance. Today was no exception.

"Good afternoon, this is WXQZ, Radio One, first and foremost in your listening area, may I help you?"

There was a dead silence and then a snicker from across the room. The current gopher, a raw, rangy kid, sat smirking at his success in fooling me. He spent the afternoon across at one of the other desks, squeaking the chair back and forward, and now and then, ringing me on the other line. He got a big guffaw out of it every time I fell for it. Naturally, after the first few times, I no longer found the extra calls funny. I wasn't supposed to antagonize him, however, because as I mentioned, he functioned as extra help without getting paid for it. There was only one answer for the situation. I sent him on an errand.

On the weekend when I and the other office staff did not come in, this kid brought his friends, and his girl friend, and their girl friends to the station and they hung around the dee-jays. There was scuffling and foolishness. They used the phones and typewriters, etc. and many times I'd come in on Monday morning and find huge, sticky rings all over my desk top and crumbs down inside my typewriter. At the time, I had the best typewriter in the office, the only electric one and it had been expensive. The manager was rather worried about it when I discussed the matter with him and wondered if there wasn't some way that I could lock it up.

"Sure thing," I replied with alacrity. There was no way I could lock up the entire typewriter because it was just too heavy for me to lug back and forth to the supply cabinet, but I COULD render it immobile.

I took the roller out and locked it away in my desk drawer. When I arrived on Monday morning, there was a big howl because I'd locked up the typewriter. The program manager had needed a typewriter and naturally, wanted to use the best one..there were others too, who felt very put out and went to the manager only to be told that it was his idea! They didn't like it at all and there were many complaints and remarks sotto voce about 'toadying' up to the boss.

After that, we began to notice an increase in long distance calls over the weekend and none of them were to legitimate businesses, so the manager tried to devise some way to outwit the people who were cheating. Back came the telephone men and in went a lever that again, I would switch off late Friday before I left, cutting off all the phones in the office...the only one left in operation was that in the broadcasting booth with the announcer and he'd better explain any extra calls!

I was rapidly becoming the oldest staff member at the station and getting more and more responsibility, no more pay, just responsibility. To compensate, I was called the office manager and the rest had to do whatever I said but they thought I was real mean in cutting back on so much of their fun. There were times when their high spirits got to me and I felt real mean, too. These were the times when I wanted to forget the whole business.

Economically, things were getting worse all the time with the corporation and I was driven to foolish extremes. We still cut up the paper from the teletype and used it for second sheets or made scratch pads. We no longer bought pencils or ink, after all, everyone used ball point pens now, and the banks and businesses gave them away. I got rid of the cleaning woman, the boy who used to come and incinerate the papers, and the window washing man and combined all the functions with one hungry village employee who agreed to do all those tasks for the price that we used to pay for just one of the former. Nothing helped, though, we were really going under.

I was currently keeping two checkbooks. There was the truthful one that told how far in the red the corporation was; on paper, we really couldn't be operating. Then, there was a second one that told how much had come in that day and decided who would get a little on account. We staggered along from day to day in this manner, feeling fortunate if the salesmen sold enough each week, or if enough cash came in the mail to pay each employee and give out these little pittances. All this was supposed to be a big secret and I was probably the only one who didn't go home and confide in my spouse but I kept it all locked inside and developed a gallopping case of ulcers. Naturally, I got meaner than ever.

About the only mind-saving thing for me, was going home and immersing myself in my writing or going out into the countryside and taking pictures with my new camera. I wanted to get where I felt competent to take pictures related to my text because they would go a long way towards making my proposals attractive.

My camera was a 35mm SLR and I spent many happy hours learning the rudiments of taking expressive pictures. I tried different lenses and different films and became very fond of color. When we went on vacation, I photographed everybody and color, only to learn, when we got home, that most of the magazines I was now active with, preferred black and white, or transparencies. Whatever I had in the camera, they wanted something else. You couldn't win! I guess I needed two cameras, minimum.

It seemed that not only did editors want b/w's, they wanted them enlarged. I never could understand their reasoning for putting the writer to this expense when they were just going to have to reduce them back again to fit into their magazine. Enlarging was quite an expense when there was no surety that the pictures would even be purchased. They WOULD look at contact sheets, but we had few in our area who did them and they were not cheap, either! What to do?

Well, there are those publications who do not consider your pictures are ever going to be good enough, anyway and they advertise, 'WE will send our OWN photographer to take photographs if we are interested enough in your story.' You can imagine what kind of a story you are going to have to come up with in order to get them to go to that expense, and you can estimate what the chances are for a newcomer to get accepted with that magazine.

I appeared to be at an impasse, but ultimately I learned to accomodate and get by with colored film. If we were in a once-in-a-lifetime location, I tried to shoot both b/w and colored, using 400 ASA and different settings, (bracketting). I shot a LOT of pictures to ensure that SOME ought to be good enough. I learned how to remove a partially used film from the camera without losing ALL the pictures and then re-insert it at a later time. And luck was with me and more and more editors began to accept the colored film, or transparencies. Black and white had caused me a lot of headaches because, with colored film being so popular, there is not a lot of demand for black and white film, and it was difficult to get processed. In our village, films were sent two hundred miles to a city lab and they had so little call to process b/w that they saved it all up and did it once a week. You can imagine the convenience when I was waiting for it to come back so that I could send a manuscript off. Weeks that contained a holiday really did me in. Also, I had to buy at least 24 exposures and sometimes 36 and it took forever to get it out of the camera.

I WAS getting better, despite all the odds. And occasionally something really amusing happened to me. I was given authorization to visit a prison and do some filming in their chapel for a human interest story. By the time I carried my camera, several packs of film, all my different lenses, filters, hotshoe, purse, etc., I had about all I wanted to carry...all I COULD carry, to be honest and it had to be right the first time because I was sure there wouldn't be a second chance. There was really no way I could carry all that and manage a tripod, too, so I decided to make myself a beanbag to support my camera. I solved my problem by literally putting some beans in a zip-lock bag.

Everything went fine... for a while. The chaplain conducted me around and I shot several spools of film but then I could see he was getting restless. His nervousness communicated itself to me and in trying to hurry, I broke open the bag of beans that shot all over his nicely carpeted chapel. The ludicrous situation made me giggle and here I was on my knees, trying to gather up beans before he came over to see what I was doing. I guess I got most of them, but if some were missed, he must have wondered about them.

Regarding cameras, I think it is too bad that we are so often forced to buy our cameras with the standard 50 mm lens on it. True, it is a good all around lens but if one prefers something, like my zoom, the 50mm sometimes becomes a bit redundant and lens are too expensive to have a redundant one.

I began to notice other things I had never thought of before, now that I was into photomania. I learned to compare my prints with the negatives in the pack. Oftentimes, the very portion of the picture that was important to me would be cut off and if I did not have the sense to protest, certainly no one else cared. If I did protest, the pictures were made up for me free of charge. 'Cropping' is done regularly, of course, and they have no way of knowing what will be most important to you.

I had to learn SO much about photography; simple things that I'd never experimented with before, like using my fractional exposure to compensate for taking pictures from an interior. Shooting from inside threw off the automatic aperature adjustment and the pictures usually came out too light; now a simple change of the dial brought them right. Then I often had to remove a partially used roll of film and change to a different speed, or color if I'd been using black and white, etc and it was hard not to lose the rest of the roll, but eventually, I learned all that. It kept me on my toes!

It seemed incredible to me that there were so many classes in learning how to talk, and articles written on speaking; perhaps I noticed it more because we were in the business of selling talk and oftentimes, I felt as though I was drowning in it. All day long I listened to talk, talk, talk. There was ALWAYS someone talking and usually it was of little importance. The announcers talked themselves hoarse and indeed, many would go on to develop polyps on their vocal cords, or other conditions of the throat and getting a cold was not something they took lightly. If it went into their throat, or closed their nasal passages, thereby changing their speech, they might loose several days of work, or more. It seems surprising in light of those facts, that they were not more careful of their health.

The salesmen talked- when they came in to deliver their contracts, they never failed to jolly the girls and banter with the men. More talk was wasted on silliness, if only they'd got paid by the word, they'd all been rich.

Of course, we in the office talked, too. There was always the latest gossip, and news of sales in the various stores, and ideas for vacations. We shared our views of the rest of the staff and who was being chased by whom. And everyone discussed whether the radio station could keep going and for how much longer-

My desk had been situated directly in front of a window opening on to the broadcasting desk. From this vantage point, I could gesture to the announcer to pick up the phone if he had a call, or warn him if he was mispronouncing a word, or name, or tell him if we were off the air. It also made it possible for me to get even with any one of them who needed it.

There had been one in particular who had been playing little jokes on me and saw himself as quite a prankster. I felt I owed him one, so when I went out for lunch, I brought back some lemon quarters salvaged from my cup of tea. When he went on the air and just got going nicely, I stood before the window and begun to suck on the lemons. One look at me and his mouth began to salivate uncontrollably.

"Stop that," he screamed as soon as he could close the mike. "Darn you; I'll get you for that!"

I laughed and went back to my work, resolving to use crackers the next time; they'd be much easier on ME. Crackers would dry him up entirely.

There was a large speaker installed directly above my desk. All day long this delivered the sound of our 'voice' and enabled me to hear if we were on the air all right, and if the commercials were being read correctly. Oftentimes we would be called by an enraged client.

"What is he doing to my commercial?" the person would scream. "Do you expect me to pay for THAT? He's giving it all wrong; that sale ended yesterday"...or perhaps, "that sale doesn't start until tomorrow"; there was always something. Some of them knew how to work the complaint system and get out of paying for a great deal of advertising. Surely it is no wonder if I got dreadfully tired of talk.

To make matters worse, when I got home at night, there were four pair of ears and four tongues waiting to tell me all that had transpired during their day and to find out all the funny things that had gone on with me on the job. In self defense, my system soon learned to shut them out.

Like most life-saving measures, there was a draw back to my means of self-preservation. The intercom would buzz.

"Come in and bring your steno pad," the boss would say.

I never knew if I would be taking several letters or simply used as a sounding board for ideas. This happened regularly and I liked it because, although it kept me from completing my work on time, it also allowed me a period of just being a warm body while my mind roved at will. Many times he got off on a personal tangent and talked of his personal life and I felt even less guilty about leaving him then.

I would sit, all smiling acquiescence, while he droned on and on, reciting his plans for the future. My mind departed and traveled to another time and place. There appeared to be various stage-sets, advancing and retreating, each complete with its own little scenes and spheres of action. It was similar to watching the 'soaps' on TV. I'd see the children parading in new Easter outfits and hunting for the eggs that I planned to hide just HERE; maybe one over THERE- There would be a fade-out and another galaxy of ideas would swirl into my view. Perhaps there would be a remembrance of something naughty, or romantic and I'd drop my eyes, not wanting him to read the images there. I had to guard against smiling at some of the scenes, least he find me being funny at the wrong time. I shopped and rearranged my furniture, planned new stories to write and chose the pictures to go with them. It really was a pleasant occupation, but one day I was recalled abruptly, my images deserted me and left me stranded, wondering what I'd missed. I heard his voice winding down and stared at him in confusion.

"-and I can go to bed with you tonight and forget you exist the next day. I'd feel no obligation whatever."

He smirked like Barney Fife on the old Mayberry shows. I stared at him. WHAT had he been saying? Had he been relating what someone had said to him, or what he'd said to someone else? Or, worse still, could he have been propositioning ME? I rather doubted the latter, but that's what I got for my day-dreaming. Over the weeks to come, my mind would range back, probing, worrying it, re-hashing the scene. What had he been saying? Why couldn't I remember any of it? Well, if it had been an advance, he was remarkably slow at following it up!

Still, it worried me. I felt I would have to do a bit of research, perhaps bring up something related to the day and the hour and see what he'd say. No, I decided it was better to leave well enough alone. Besides I had much more pressing research to do than THAT kind.

Now that I was an author, and anyone who writes anything (other than grocery lists, of course), is an author in some sense, I must say that writing is a great lesson in humility. If one can withstand rejection slip after rejection slip and come reeling back to ask for more, one either has an insuperable ego, (the editors-are-all-dumbells unable to appreciate really good writing sort of thing), or one closely approximates a masochist! The next best thing I can observe is that one may well emerge a better person, for who can do all that research, check all that spelling, look up all those words, and correct all that grammar and not learn something?

It seems unfortunate that often times, one only has the modest successes in the very fields in which one has the least interest. Research had always been an area I had carefully avoided; I'd wanted to write fiction, either romantic or whimsical, I wasn't choosy, but I felt it held the widest range for cloaking my ignorance. I was very surprised to find that even the fictional fantasies have to start somewhere with facts of some kind. Nothing can be developed out of thin air- everything must start somewhere and the minute one sets down the first fact, it must be honest, it must be supported, or it is not a fact. If one's fantasy contains people, they must have a world, or environment of some kind in which to exist, to BE- and they must have a kind of behaviour to be believable.

Jean Auell's books are splendid fantasies about how pre-historic people evolved and came down through the different periods to emerge as mankind and there was immense research and study required for them. It might appear easy to say "I shall write a fantasy about a cave man'....'I will merely take away all his civilized effects and put him into a lion-skin, in a cave, and let him say 'ugh' occasionally. There is a little more to it than that.

Cave men existed in a certain period and certain forms of animal life and flora and fauna existed at the same time. To mix the offspring of one era with those belonging to an earlier or later period would only be a confusion and one would produce nothing believable. Therefore, you must research-

In conjunction with my research, I learned to start keeping my own files of clippings. I combed through the newspapers and magazines assiduously, cutting out anything that might be the basis, or support of an article. If I couldn't cut, I copied on the copier or by hand, carefully noting the date, name of publication, and page, etc. I soon had sizeable files and would possibly never use much of them but it began to pay off all the same when I was able to collate a couple items from different papers with pictures and facts I'd gathered while traveling. With a bit of selective pruning from one and adding to another, I got a choice little article and it was all profit because most of the material I already had on hand. These are the kind of stories most of us would like to do, and you will too, once you get set up. I must admit it was NOT convenient having all those cartons of paper underneath my bed, and I WAS sleeping atop a possible fire hazard but the minute I threw anything out there was an immediate need for it.

Usually, research was a difficult business and I met all kinds of people. I'd recently traveled about fifty miles to use the facilities of a university library. Enroute, I stopped and visited the small town museum-cum-historical center which I thought OUGHT to have background on my subject who'd been born in that town. They had absolutely zilch and I ran into typical small-town thinking. Evidently, all monies appropriated for this historical center had been sunk into the building and utilities, leaving nothing for competent staff. The place was manned by a bright-eyed seventy-year old who had definite opinions regarding who was WORTHY of being installed in her card catalog of Fame.

"NO, I have absolutely nothing on HER," she said. "I always felt she was no better than a whore and we already have enough on trash like that!"

On another occasion, I was gathering facts on an Olympic star who'd spent many years in our area. He'd won several gold and silver medals, so I thought there'd be plenty of records in our sports-minded town. I was amazed to find nothing in the archives of our local paper, although I'd seen pieces authored by members of the staff. This man, similar to the woman in the preceding paragraph, was of some national prominence; both had lived in our area, but I could find nothing on their lives. It was eerie-

Learning to recognize a story is another talent that comes as you go along. In the beginning, I missed a few that were right under my nose and I could have kicked myself for being such a slow thinker. These days, fewer and fewer get by me. I try to make it to most public events, just in case, and my friends all watch out for me. I also eavesdrop shamelessly and am not above joining the conversation to ask for details if it sounds interesting. I travel with my camera at the ready and the most awful catastrophe I can visualize is running out of film or having my camera stolen. Actually, I have got to the point of needing TWO cameras; one loaded with black and white film and the other with slide film. It wouldn't be a bad idea to leave a tape recorder in the car also if the weather extremes are not too wide in your area.

The broadcasting business was one of rapid turnovers. We would just get a newcomer 'broken in' to our ways when they would leave for better pay, better conditions, more opportunities; all available almost anywhere else.

It made me feel sad to see so many move on because I quickly got attached to these goodhearted, cheerful boys. They often weren't treated right... I thought back to the forced 'donations' when the boss'es girl friend left on maternity leave and he notified the staff that 'he expected at least ten dollars from everyBODY,' in order to give her a suitable send-off. These kids couldn't afford such a deduction from their already-small paychecks but they didn't dare refuse, however, I couldn't help them.

I felt the rest of the staff were able to defend themselves. Most of THEM were married and established; if they weren't, they had no one else to blame. I viewed the salesmen as a bunch of con-men; they were able to talk their way into, or out of, most anything. I thought of the smoothie, who was such a master of women that he had to give me my little thrill everytime he came into the station to report.

"One of these nights, I'm going to take YOU out," he'd promise me, shooting his cuffs and exuding macho after-shave all over the office.

"Spare me the pleasure," I'd answer him.

These salesmen got many fringe benefits in the way of gifts and special treatment that the rest of us hadn't access to. I didn't care- as long as they left me alone. Naturally, there were social occasions when we had to come together and I remember one anniversary party when we met, spouses included.

The event was held in the basement of somebody's home and various ones took their turns at the piano. Liquor and mixers, donated by our various advertisers flowed freely and the party got under way.

The manager and somebody's wife, displayed their footwork. It was an intricate quadrapedal display either years past, or before its time. I certainly couldn't put a name to the performance but they were utterly absorbed in making it come out right.

The engineer sat at a table by himself, clutching a shot glass in his fist. One sleeve was STILL half out of his jacket, exposing lining and quantities of padding. The super salesman was rapidly becoming intoxicated and his happy condition made him maudlin over the cute little feet on his coffee cup.

"Look at the cute little feet on my cup, Hon," he coaxed his smiling wife. "Just look at the cute little feet!"

She didn't smile quite so broadly a minute later when he waved away the dish of baked beans someone offered him and went into the insalubrious effect they always had on him. The evening wore on with most becoming sated on either food, or drink; some on both. One of the office girls made a pass at the manager, offering to accompany him on his next trip and 'take dictation'. What a rich source of material for a writer!

I saw opportunities everywhere. I'd written several articles detailing some of the more important or hilarious aspects of the entertainment industry, but I noticed, more and more, I was getting propagandist replies, inferring that editors might be more receptive to submissions by 'subscribers' and they would include subscription blanks with their letters. Also, there are many who tell you, in response to a query, that you should order a copy of the magazine (at $4.95, or $2.98, etc.) because YOU HADN'T A CHANCE to get their style right without studying several issues, (apparently issues from a newsstand wouldn't help you.) It may be true that familiarity with the magazine will enable you to write for them specifically, but, again...hucksterism!

My own personal success story was shaky, to say the least. Some months, I'd sell four, or five manuscripts almost simultaneously, then it might go five or six months before I'd sell another. One of the dismaying things I'd noticed, was the fact that periodicals are as reluctant to part with their money as anybody. I would be notified that I'd had several stories accepted, but they would drag and drag, holding off payment until the last possible moment. As I never considered anything final until I actually SAW an article in print, I was left with an uneasy feeling- here they were, holding on to material that I didn't dare offer elsewhere and I wasn't QUITE certain that it was placed.

I had sent a manuscript to a firm that I'd done business with before and they'd encouraged me to send more; therefore, I mailed another off without a letter, and waited...and waited. It was going on ten weeks when I suddenly received a check in the mail and the usual copy of their publication, BUT NOT THE ISSUE WITH MY STORY IN IT! I finally had to write them again and ask for a copy containing my article- additional work for me, additional postage, etc., but here is what irked me the most. Their check had been drawn the 10th of the month and I'd received it on the 22nd. They KNEW that long ago that they were going to use my story but never let me know! The author receives absolutely no consideration and is consequently unable to plan ahead at all. If they'd sent a card of acceptance, I could have had another manuscript in the mail; but it was a seasonal story, their late acknowledgement meant I was unable to send them another until I knew the status of its predecessors.

When I was young and innocent, this business of 'not hearing' had made me quite thrilled because, like many other novices, I thought it was something positive. 'Gee, they're keeping it because they like it, or while they are making up their mind.' DON'T automatically feel that it is good news that someone is holding on to your manuscript; it may mean one of two things: they MAY be considering it, of course, but then again, it may be so bad that they can't bear to look at it and keep consigning it to the bottom of the heap. Or, they may just not have the help to get TO it any sooner. There is another side-benefit, while they are hanging on to THIS one, you can't send them any more!

But, perhaps you have more confidence than I ever possessed. I became so concerned with the worthlessness of my writing that I began to work on books. What a stupendous reason for not having articles published! 'I am working on a book these days' is a marvelous and legitimate excuse. Still, I was SO obsessed with writing that I found myself working on three books simultaneously while waiting a reply on a fourth! Which is to say that most things are good in moderation.

One thing that I'd learned that was helpful, was to let my work 'cool' for several days. After a while, you can't SEE it anymore, you aren't reading what's THERE, your mind continues to see what it remembers, instead. Be sure the minute you mail it, you will think of several different ways you could have made it better.

Then, too, I'd learned; never submit less than a complete package. It's best to get the very best pictures possible and other relevant details and enclose everything of interest. Maps, souvernir brochures, matchbook covers, placemats, anything that will help the editor put together a more visual story. If there is any hesitation on your part about parting with any of these items or about their weight, there are xerox machines in almost every block. They are a wonderful help. I often copy pictures on them and explain that 'these represent the variety of shots that I can offer', then if you wish, you can enclose one to indicate the clarity of your shots.

Perhaps you feel that I should have had a leading edge by being a radio-writer, but it didn't work quite that way. When you are writing advertising copy, you are trying, in effect, to brain-wash someone into buying something for someone elses benefit. Many times it is something they do not need, nor want, whereas when you are writing an article, or book, you may be trying to entertain, or inform; or again, you may be trying to change somebodys mind but it is usually not an immediate thing or anything that will put money in your own pocket.#

Things were certainly different at the office on a day to day level. There'd been a change in station managers, our bookeeper had left, the program director had gone on to greener pastures, and I was now Office Manager, (when you can't give money, give a title.)

I was manager of myself, and the copy girl, the bookeeper when she came twice a week, and although the program director was supposedly in charge of the announcers, they had to look to me when there was a problem involving office procedures. I made sure their commercials were scheduled and the copy ready, ( a job the program director should have done, and often did, but we sorta DOUBLE-CHECKED this way) as well as sound effects, etc. I also tried to watch them and listen with half an ear when they were on-the-air because many of these kids had never come into contact with our local names, many of French derivation, or our colloqualisms. They had a tendency to massacre any name not of good old Anglo-Saxon origin...but also many of THEM, too. I also saw that their checks were ready, not necessarily GOOD, just ready.

On the matter of pronouncing, I was amused to hear Governeur called Gufe-ner, vignettes were vig-nets, trajectories were tragic-tories, and so on. It often did no harm but it did matter when you were trying to sell time to a businessman and they couldn't even pronounce his name. We all seem to have a certain protective hang-up about our name. After listening to so many blurbs, it got difficult to speak correctly myself...and I must admit to making use of the humerous goof-ups too many times until they nearly became habitual.

Business was not much better with our corporation, we were still on a downward slide, but the station manager and sales manager were gamely trying to keep up appearances. They kept up a barrage of contests and insisted that management, which included me, maintain a highly visible profile. With this in mind, I joined the Community Players theatre group, while the managers got involved in other things, attended all the local clubs, and community groups. I enjoyed practicing for the upcoming play but it was another one of those things that stole away my time.

I DID like working or doing things for my community, but I also enjoyed writing. I'd had just enough modest success that I wanted to do more and more of it, it had a sort of addictive effect. I wasn't getting rich at it but by now, it was taking care of my office expenses, which isn't bad for an amateur. It is really all you can expect at first and points up the wisdom of not quitting a regular job and planning to live off one's writings. But I was shortly to have greater expense due to my little hobby because if I continued to sell, I needed a computer.

I don't mean to imply that one cannot write without a computer, but I'd started out with such an old, beaten-down, second-hand typewriter that it took all my strength to hit some of the keys, so I knew it was either purchase one thing or the other. It was likely that I'd go to a computer someday, anyway, so I couldn't see investing in a new typewriter first. I made the purchase and then spent a LOT of time at home, trying to master the thing without any help from anybody!

If you have the opportunity to learn at work, or under the guidance of someone who knows, by all means, jump at it. It will be much faster and save many disheartening days. By studying my manual, I managed to get the thing operating, but I must admit that I had days when I lost 30-40,000 words at a clip. Fortunately, most of what I lost was not deathless pose, but my time was at such a premium that I really couldn't afford to waste so much of it this way. And, of course, the computer was only the INITIAL investment. There was paper, printer, disk drives, and on and on. I'd have to produce some BIG checks to make up for all this!

Then, too, as we were forced into maintaining more active roles in community life, I had to upgrade my wardrobe. I WAS lucky as many of the townspeople did try to help anyone from the radio station. Despite all attempts at secrecy, our economic status was apparent, so many business people tried to warn us of upcoming sales, or give us a small discount, it was all very kind. We were all in the same boat, too.

I remember the boss drawing a check from petty cash for gas when he had to go the another city on business but other than that very small check, he had something like $3.00 of his own money...I know, it DOES sound incredulous, but that is the way it was. The poor man went around with his feet coming out through his soles and in wintertime, his feet were always wet.

I remember one time when he was out of town and expected an important call to come into the station.

"I'll call you collect and see if the call comes in," he promised.

Sure enough, that afternoon, I got a collect call...the operator inquired if I'd accept it.

"Who is calling?" I asked her.

She got his name and asked again if I'd accept.

"I never heard of him," I told her. There was the sound of fuming and gnashing of teeth at the other end.

"You'll hear of me when I get back there," he threatened, "NOW tell her you'll accept this call!"

By now the operator was laughing too and I decided I'd better take the call while he still found it funny. I was very fortunate that most of my superiors seemed to be really nice people who backed me up on everything and were very considerate.

Which was fortunate. I had now developed ulcers and before I got on medication, there were many bad days. I didn't know what was wrong with me but I had the most embarrassing need to belch from time to time and my stomach would gnaw and I'd double, I must have more food. Why am I hungry all the time? I wasn't hungry, but the food did fill up my stomach and give the ulcer something to feed on besides my mucosa. The boss ordered me to take my vacation.#

The sales manager had left us and several of the announcers. As we were surrounded by a nearly new staff, there was no one with enough clout to demand the business I took it home with me. I drove it back and forth to work for a week or two and had a lot of fun with it. We were supposed to keep ourselves in the public eye, weren't we? My friends and neighbors got a big kick out of seeing the small station wagon parked in the my driveway, the 'foot high' sign proclaiming the call letters. But the second we got a new manager, he came after it.

The play, The Little Foxes, a Lillian Hellman vehicle, had come off successfully meantime. The NEW copy writer and I had good parts in it and the local paper gave us quite a lot of publicity, but it didn't make me yearn for a life on the stage. I had to admit that I HAD enjoyed myself. It was good to have my time back, however, and not have to run down to the auditorium every night for practice. AND I hadn't gotten all that much usable material from the experience. And I regarded EVERYTHING in the light of possible material for writing these days.

AT home, things were continuing apace, the children growing and their minds enlarging as they took in world concepts and watched life getting more sophisticated. And this was when the boss ordered me to take a vacation and get my health straightened out.

As soon as I brought the news home, my husband began planning the vacation that we hadn't had in years. The children grew very vocal and each had their own ideas about where we should go and what we should do. Naturally, I wanted to go where there would be the best possibility for background material. AND PICTURES!

The youngest threw us into a quandry by suggesting Cop Cade. We stared at each other in bewilderment. It sounded just familiar enough that we felt we SHOULD know where that was, but no one could QUITE decipher where she meant. The next older sibling interpreted for her.

"She means Cape Cod."

NATURALLY! Why had we been so lacking in imagination? But we didn't go to Cape Cod...that time. Instead, we packed our station wagon, hooked on a travel trailer and headed west. I wanted LOTS of beautiful slides of the Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon, of Indian reservations and Indian goods, and I got them, too.

And when we spent the night in Mitchell, S. Dakota, there was a tornado alert. Wow...wouldn't all this make a grand story? No one seemed to care. There has been SO much travel writing and by people who seem to get so much more out of it than I do. They always go to the right places and see the right things. They can give you prices and a calendar of events at the drop of a hat. They don't seem to be burdened down with tired youngsters who need to stop at a bathroom every hundred feet and a husband who jets past all the interesting cities and refuses to 'get caught in THAT traffic' but gets lost going around and shows you the city dump, or the wharfs and docks. I saw the seamy side of lots of American cities but that's about all I can say.

The Albuquerque dump wasn't much, as dumps go...and the loading docks at Dallas/Ft. Worth weren't all that colorful, either. And there was one vast stretch when we'd got off our route and despite a scant separation of only a few feet and a high fence, it played peek-a-boo with us the rest of one entire day and we were unable to get back on. When all else fails, ask for directions- we drove down a parallel road that appeared to go nowhere, and within a quarter mile were back on the throughway. THIS was good for my health??

The three weeks went all too soon and if I wasn't able to write something out of the experiences, at least I'd have something new to bore my co-workers with. They seemed glad to have me back and I got right back into the old routine ...with added strain. We had prospective buyers coming north to view the 'operation' so we were told to be on our toes.

When these high-powered moguls hove into sight, they appeared appalled by the entire experience. One seemed allergic to local weeds that stood shoulder high outside each window. He sneezed and his eyes ran...and he ran out of handkerchiefs. There was nothing to offer him, unless he'd consider his shirt tail or my slip hem..but when I went out for lunch, I returned with a box of Kleenex.

How do you handle the next step? Do you tell a prospective employer he needs to blow his nose? Do you interrupt a bull session to offer the box of seemed insulting despite my perception of his acute need. I was saved from the surrogate-mother act by his emerging from the office to get something out of his coat pocket.

He saw the box on the corner of my desk and dove for it with the desperation of a man who had just crossed a barren waste without water and then glimpses a pool. I probably got a few Brownie points right there. Maybe not, after all, secretaries are supposed to be psychic and provide everything.

The next interesting 'happening' was when he called me in to take a letter. I won't pretend that I was a graduate of a prestigious business school. I had no conception of shorthand, I'd gotten by with speed writing and my own kind of abbreviating so far, so he viewed my idea of how to keep up with him as he dictated. He called in a cohort and asked him to 'watch this', not an act to encourage confidence. His cohort decided HE needed a letter done, also. So I took another. This man was a bit more critical about my interpretions of what he'd said when he dictated and he asked me to change several things. As it was a press release about his latest Broadway role, I suppose he wanted it just right. He'd had some successes in Mr. Robert, and other notable plays, and so we did all the credits. I hoped he'd credit me with something, too. Other than being an incompetent, I mean.

I don't think they were impressed with our cheese-paring ways. When the buyer-to-be wanted ink for his pen, I couldn't deliver that. I explained that all the businesses GAVE us ballpoints and as no one demanded ink anymore, we quit stocking it. This got me a funny look...and then he caught sight of my scratch pad. It was paper from the teletype that I'd cut to notepad size and we used it all over the office. He began to roar.

"I'll have you know that I want this place run in a business-like way from now on," he screamed. I nodded that I was willing and he cooled off a little. He went off to spend the afternoon on the lake, fishing with the sales manager who thought he'd earn some Brownie points for himself but instead, was roundly criticized for an obvious willingness to be out fishing rather than on the streets selling. That point was not lost on the new employer, I suppose he could see that this had been standard procedure..and we all knew it.

Which brings me to an interesting the light of today's 'equal rights', I mean. I'd been with the radio station for four years before they hired the current sales manager. I could read the rate card and knew how to sell from it; indeed, had often done so and to Madison Avenue agents who represented big companies like BBD&O, or Grey Advertising, or J. Walter Thompson. THIS guy knew from nothing, he didn't know how to write a sales pitch, (and I did), he didn't know who the biggies were nor how to handle their preferences, (and I did), but he got started off at a far larger salary than I ever made, and he was put in a position equal to mine from whence he immediately started making difficulty for the office help. As an interesting sidelight, the boss upheld this upstart and was rewarded for HIS loyalty by the sales manager giving HIM trouble when he left us for a better job! Which seemed like divine retribution.#

The more I wrote, the more I developed my own ideas on the writing/publishing industry. It seemed to me that editors HATED anyone who made them write a letter...and it showed when the magazine advertised in a trade publication and the editor's name did not appear. THEY didn't want anyone writing to THEM! Often I received undecipherable scrawls tacked to the bottom of MY letters, or on pieces of torn paper, obviously ripped from something larger and bearing a few terse words, and they only served to reinforce my beliefs. Often editors did not answer directly at all but turned this onerous chore over to an assistant or associate-to-the-editor. Correspondance was to be directed to an editorial assistant. Well, that was fine with me if the assistant had the authority to make a few decisions. But when Writer's Digest, Writer's Market, or the Literary Marketplace stated that a certain periodical reported in two weeks and there'd still been no answer six months later, one was left to wonder how often the assistant was able to capture her superior to inquire what he wanted to do about certain submissions. I feel, if it takes forever to answer a query, imagine what they'd do to a manuscript!!

Another canker that worried me was the way that publications followed TRENDS, few being willing to depart from the established routine to try anything different. Now that self-help and how-to's were the rule, it was difficult to even get a reading of anything else. If you wrote something on astrology, it better be a 'how-to' article...How To Find Your Favorite Constellation, or How To Determine If The Stars Direct Your Life sort of things; cooking, fashion, psychology- all must have that slant until readers (and writers) were bored to tears.

Not only was there a surfeit of how-tos, we were also up to our neck in sex articles. The country had discovered sex...and it made things difficult for any writer with a Christian background or a conscience, or TASTE that arbitrated against turning out such muck. After all, most of us know the basics, why move into over-kill? Living in a state of constant titillation doesn't appeal to EVERYONE!

Times had changed indeed and the good old family-type magazine seemed to have departed for other climes. Mothers were now forced to hide their periodicals each month the way men used to hide the girlys. It was clear that many periodicals were going the same way that television had fessed up to- aiming at those with prurient interests, poor taste, and questionable intellect. After all, why else should it be required to tell humans over and over again, how to complete something as elemental as a sex act? Even a cat needs no instruction for that. Hucksterism knows no bounds!

I deplored the same attitude at the radio station where I noticed, more and more, we were playing songs with suggestive lyrics, or even explicit words. It was an insidious thing that started out with a few expletives in things like West Side Story..then it went on to Paycheck's Take That Job And Shove It and then we got into Prince and HIS albums and soon we were informing the adolescents how-to and when. We were rapidly reaching a point where we had to make a stand somewhere and each one of us had to decide where our own saturation point would be.

It seemed, too, that certain periodicals were making their dollars by doing profiles of certain monied families over and over again, until the readers began to wonder what share of the stock was owned by that family, or how many family members were on the staff. By narrowing their focus so thoroughly, the editors made it difficult for anyone with a wide range of interest to care about the magazine.

Perhaps I had too much time for thinking these days and consequently bred a lot of false concepts; I was beginning to wonder about editors who agreed to read a manuscript 'on spec' and then made no reply afterwards. Did they hate to hurt the author's feelings by rejecting the material? Did they feel that if they withheld a reply long enough the author would be forced to make the first move and would withdraw the article himself without blame accruing to the editor? The reason I suspect this may be so is that I've had work accepted by 'pay-on-publication' periodicals and it would sometimes go to two, or three years. Well, when they can't cough up $15-50 for a fee in the beginning, they're NEVER going to. It's best to get out and go on to greener pastures. It's a toss up anyway WHAT their reasons were for not answering because I really don't think any of them lose much sleep over it. Some of them hate to be unkind, of course, but by and large, I think it's a dog eat dog world.

I thought back to those days of innocence when we were celebrating the first anniversary of the radio station's inception. We'd hosted a buffet/party by the poolside at the newest motel in the area. It was of futuristic design and, out of recognition for the cold climate that prevailed seven-eight months of the year, there was a giant plastic bubble over the pool, so they could, presumably, use it year 'round.

We'd invited a host of dignitaries, businessmen whom we were involved with on a steady basis, representatives of the local paper, our supplies: paper goods, soda, beer distributers, airline contact, etc. We also had the current Miss XYZ as one of the hostesses. As she was supposed to be the winner of a beauty contest, she was forced to spend the evening in a swim suit and float around on the pool, an overly cool occupation in the late northern fall.

There was the usual businessman's lunch with mixed carrots and peas, plantation style chicken (half a grilled chicken), some little brown morsels of grilled potatoes..the usual fare. As we fought with the stringy poultry condensation dripped down on our heads and plates from the inside surface of the plastic.

Those who knew one another gathered in clumps instead of acting friendly and making strangers welcome; they huddled in clusters while the unknown wandered about, feeling as out of place as I did.

That glorious event out of the way, we began preparations for the Christmas party and after such FUN at the last celebration, I could hardly wait for this latest to erupt. We had many promotions on the air, telling people that there would be a grand judging of the Christmas decorations and a (naturally) wonderful prize. Children were encouraged to address their Santa Claus letters to our station and I went on the air as Mrs. Claus. I was so credible that you could almost smell my cookies baking-

And when the night came for judging the outside lighting, guess who was stuck giving up her evening to do it? Right!! I was supposed to cover the village with one of the announcers and a representative from the Business and Professional Women's club, and a member of the Garden Club, etc. It was already dark by six o"clock so we set off in the bitter cold. The announcer's car was exceedingly dirty, filled with food and drink cartons..there was no heat coming from the heater and therefore, no defrosting, so he was forced to keep his window down most of the way. Which may have been wise because he also had no headlights!

We cruised over the town, hoping that we would meet no police cars, we slid cautiously through icy intersections and thumped our feet and blew on our hands. The judging was rapid and without controversy and then the others adjoined to the nearest pub and I went home to put my cold feet on my husband.

The second anniversary was even more of a travesty. No one showed up for the judging , (wisely, I thought), except for a man, whom I'd never spoken to before, and myself. After we'd waited for a half hour, we decided that the others had played it smart so we started off. We were understandably stiff with each other and spoke only when necessary.

He asked me to tell him where I wanted to go and I consulted the list as best I could by the light from the dash. I tried to make a systematic route so we wouldn't be doubling back on our trail and waste time and eventually, we got the thing done. There wasn't much to quibble about; the usual winners won again with few newcomers...I congratulated myself on getting THAT done and we went back to the meeting place.

"Can I buy you a drink?" he offered.

I demurred. "My husband will be waiting for me to get home, so I'd better go on. Thanks anyway."

He went into the lounge and I went home. A day or so later, I saw in the paper where he'd been arrested for indecent exposure.#

In retrospect, I see the radio station as a place of comedy. We were such a microcosmic, insular piece of the media as a whole that we would have seemed ludicrous to professionals from larger places. But we did have our place, like station KORN on Hee-Haw, we served the area and provided our public with many things they needed, or wanted.

There were Kathy Days and Cindy Days, days when we did broadcasts in the interests of charity or foundations (and our own to fulfill FCC requirements,) the proceeds going to help those stricken with sorrow or misfortune.

We also served to give the young people a glimmer of something they might become, bigger and larger, of course, but we proved that better things were possible and we gave many of them a goal. There were several boys who started their training with us and they went on to lucrative positions at radio and television stations, some went to Madison Avenue or apprenticeships on newspapers. It was a free training not to be sneezed at.

As for me it kept me young, and au courant. There's much of the hip world that I should never have encountered except for the milieu in which I worked. There was young Dick, a roly-poly fellow who came from across the border, in 'Free-France', as we said, and I don't know how much of a cross section of his country he represented but he was an eye-opener. The first time I saw him, he wore a loud, checked suit of a bilious mustardy color and he carried a porkie pie hat. His conversation consisted of 'I dig, I dig' and other buzz words current at that time. He complained to me that his wife's boss was fond of hugging and kissing her and 'did I think that was right?'

"If it's all right with you, Dick, it's all right with me", I replied. He stared at me in confusion as I went on with my work.

Then Roger came along with his cute little Alpine hat and lederhosen, and Les, ahead of his time in cut-offs. Les would work his shift in the hot broadcasting studio and in between times, he'd run outside and take a quick dip in the river, fully clothed, as it were.

Then we acquired a preacher. He gave us the obvious information that he was from the South, quite redundant, I felt, and he was married to a fourteen year old girl. He was a go-getter who made a very able salesman. He was able to sell our book keeper a bill of goods and several times I caught her on his knee. It was he who made the arrangements whereby we all became airborne.

Our struggling enterprise had a reciprocal agreement (a recip) with an equally struggling airline and we had tickets and passes to fly as long as the station carried their ads. It didn't get us far, not cross-country, that is true, but there were trips to New York City, Boston, Montreal, Detroit, heady stuff for people not accustomed to flying at all.

Our recip bred little recips and before long we had others with male clothing stores and eateries, this was how our Dickie was getting his outrageous wear. The owners were talking him into taking whatever didn't sell to more sensible people.

Our salesmanager was another 'city-slicker' and dressed in fashions sure to raise comments on local streets. He had strange, cold, self-interested ways of looking at things and women were mad for him. He was often in trouble with the police as he ran up tickets which he ignored. He kept begging me to use my influence to 'get the cops to lay off me'; (he realized that I knew most of the men on the force.) We fought over trifles and then dissolved into laughter. I was probably the one person in town that he seemed to have any respect for. He was an avid fisherman and our area with its multitude of rivers and lakes delighted him. He fished whenever he could seize a moment and brought his catch to me. I returned the favor by shopping for gifts for his wife-

Now it was time again for the office party and again, we met in the plastic bubble. Again, we sat underneath the dome while condensation dripped on our heads and our food. The current Miss Radio floated about on a rubber raft in the water, damp and uncomfortable, while the boss and I kept each other company in our misery. We picked at our Plantation-style chicken, half of a stringy road runner that almost defied knife and fork. After we gave up, we tried to circulate among the patrons we'd invited.

The engineer deigned to drop by and favor us with an hour of his company. He sat at the head table wearing the same spotted old suit jacket, the sleeve half out and the white lining protruding, leaving strings on anyone foolish enough to get close. The boss frowned at him but nothing dented his insoucience. Was he showing his contempt for the rest of us, or was it merely slovenliness? Didn't his wife EVER look at him? During the evening, his mouth went like the universal hinge and it was mostly about his conquests, seemingly an obsession of his. Finally the boss, who could raise a blister at twenty feet, advised him that there was a time and place for everything and the boor subsided.

As you can imagine, I watched all this color feverishly and made mental notes. It was incredibly good copy because I did not often get where there was mainstream thinking, anymore.

I was learning not to be quite so gullible these days. This had been a facet of my personality to trust others but as I licked my wounds, I learned many things. I'd been told about a woman who intended to submit to a magazine in which I was interested. We were both going for the same story but she didn't do it, and didn't do it, so I determined to try...but she had the pictures I needed. Finally, the subject told me to write her for the pictures, 'they're mine, after all,' so I wrote. I should have been shot for being such a fool because this spurred my competitor to get her manuscript in ahead of mine and of course, she sold the market.
Then I visited another writer and asked HIM for a copy of a picture; he listened to my tales of markets lost, or just missed and made promises of aid which never materialized. I was finally beginning to see that a writer is strictly on his/her own.
During this time, I'd been using such old, outmoded machinery at home that I finally decided to turn in my computer. There'd been the comments within the TIPS section of Writer's Market that stated that many editors favored submissions by computer. But who knows WHAT computer, and what size?

It is only after having one to work on that certain things became obvious. I found there was more to consider than the initial price. I had selected one of the lowest priced I could find and it was sold by a well-known franchise. It had one interior drive and 256 memory, the part that allows you to store your work as you go along. The machine was supposed to be compatible with many other computers but I found out soon enough that it would work with only a few because it had so little memory, and just one drive. That also prevented access to many programs that I should have liked to use.

Another thing was the fact that they had no trade up policy and that a computer is considered over the hill in just a couple years. If I desired to go to another larger one, the cables to my printer were not compatible and I didn't feel I could take such a loss. I was well and truly hooked.

I hadn't had the machine long before something went wrong with it and it only had a 90 day warranty, I was forced to buy a service contract. They installed a new mother board and thereafter the machine refused to perform some of the functions it had previously done. The company took it back in and kept it for a month, (they offered no substitute while they worked on yours, naturally,) and when I got it back, it was no better. After that, they were reluctant to take it in, implying that the trouble was ME, or my software and they dillied and dallied until the service contract ran out. By this time, I'd gotten where I could work on nothing else, my files were no good on a typewriter!

Hindsight showed me that I might have been smarter to consider just a word processor. That was the only part of the computer program that I had ever used and it would have been adequate for my needs. Well, caveat emptor.

If you've ever tried to learn computer techniques all by yourself COLD, you'll know what frustration I endured. It's similar to learning a foreign language with nothing but a textbook. I referrred to the manual frequently, some of which may as well have been written in Chinese, and some were; however, little by little, I did learn and began to get along okay. Losing 30-40,000 words at a clip facilitates your learning, I think. Needless to say, it helps if you know how to type and fortunately, I did.

The family learned to tippy-toe around my desk where I kept the computer. We could not leave the house without first checking to see if it was disconnected from the outlet. I didn't want a blast of lightening, a power surge, or any other electrical malfunction to get at MY machine. We watched the humidity and gave it just the right amount, not too much nor too little. No one was allowed to move or rock the desk where it rested, and we fought dust like obsessive housewives.

It seemed that minute I began to use the machine, the electric company had reason to work in our neighborhood, or some wild driver would run off the road and knock down a pole. I was a nervous writer, darting back and forth between the desk and the windows. But little by little, I became dependent on the machine and the nice, clean copy it made. There was no reason for mistakes now and I do think the copy went a long way towards getting my submissions accepted. It was even possible to send the disks through the mail but most editors still wanted a printout of the work so I didn't win much there.

I found out about ASCII and began saving my files that way so if the machine DID go, I could use the disks on other machines. I could always go to the library in a pinch and not be stuck in mid-stream. And if I mailed a disk off, the editorial office would more likely be able to use it. Saving in ASCII deprived me of using underlining and bold facing, but there are some things I can live without, however, my machine refused to save set-ups in ASCII, an important feature.

You'd thought that the office would have been going to computer, wouldn't you? But they were so pinched for money that we were still cutting down big sheets of paper to make memo pads, and scrounging our pens from the banks, etc. It would have helped me immensely if I COULD have learned all this at work, like anyone else.

There were many benefits in becoming 'computer literate'. So many other places were now computerized that it was a marvelous help when I wanted to do some research. I'd go to the library and type in the information I needed and their machine would tell me if the data could be found in situ or in which other library I'd find it.

I could have worked directly with research centers and editorial offices if I'd wanted to purchase a modem but I didn't feel that I was really that far into the business...yet. My writing was still more a hobby than anything and I couldn't be more grateful for that fact. When I saw how hard one worked and how little most received for their efforts, I was happy not to be one of those who depended on writing for a living. I was making back most of my office expenses now, more than many writers who have written for years.

From all I'd read, I could appreciate how fortunate I'd been. I'd been published almost from the beginning, nothing big and I never expected to get rich but that wasn't my criteria. But I kept reading of some who'd been writing for TWENTY, OR THIRTY years and never had anything accepted. How did they survive that and keep going? THEY were truly writers.

It seemed to me that whenever writers got together they'd rehash the awful experiences they'd suffered. They not only offered their own but recalled reading about the agonies experienced by others and from all this long list of woes, they coded a series of must dos and don't dos.

I always swim against the tide and don't believe those ALWAYS-NEVER admonitions that THEY tell you about; I felt you must have faith in yourself and believe that the impossible CAN happen. The reason I felt this was because THEY would discourage you and you must realize there are always exceptions and I am living proof that this is so.

I'd been a vacillating person, trying several fields and never finding my niche, but meantime, I dreamed a lot. Continuously, in fact. My life was a realm of glittering situations where I was the heroine of many adventures. I began to write them down and people found them amusing.

"Send them off," they urged me. "Have them published." And so I began the long trek that we are all familiar with.

I went on writing and sold some and had many rejections. Still, at the back of my mind lurked those first successes and the kind words those editors had given me. Perhaps I COULD write but was just having the usual amateur's problems of matching the work to the market. Time and again, I'd be assured that the story was a good one but it doesn't 'fit our publication' or doesn't 'meet our current needs'. This confirmed my feelings that I was having technical problems.

One of the best things that happened to me was when Writer's Digest got a selection of leading publications to go along with a program to encourage new writers. They advertised fifty or more periodicals that were willing to accept work from unknown writers AND WORK WITH THEM, offering some brief commentary on submissions. I did not sell anything out of this endeavor, but was often pointed in the right direction and given a great boost to my wavering confidence besides. Time and again they pointed out that I must match my work to the correct market. I began to sell slowly, but regularly.

Now my problems were of a different nature. For some reason, the minute I thought of a marvelous story to propose to a publication, I'd pick up a paper, or magazine and see MY story already in print! What was happening? Was somebody following me around getting ideas? That was too fantastic to credit but it was eerie.

I queried about a local prison...and saw the story in a nearby city newspaper. I began research on an old fort in our area...and saw THAT in print. This was getting hard to take. I wrote to one of our leading historical publications and proposed a story based on a installation on the west coast. For weeks and weeks I waited for an answer, while I prepared to depart on vacation across the country. I wrote the editor one last letter, saying I would still like to get the assignment and that I would be in situ where I could get photographs if he'd just let me know. When I arrived at my destination, there was a letter (addressed to someone else) and about to be returned with the outgoing mail. I recognized the return address and opened the letter- it was meant for me but they'd sent it to the person who they were giving the assignment to. They said that this person was promised the assignment but if I cared to get the pictures for them, I could send them along. They'd used my first two initials and the last name of the other writer and sent the whole thing to my temporary residence.

A person could go on and on, but I'm sure by now that you've gotten the idea. Our confidence as a writer is very fragile and easily lost because we feel ourselves to be amateurs, and we are, but we are not the only ones who make mistakes. The important thing is to find out where we are erring and profit by those errors. As we write, we are learning and all learning is beneficial. Most experiences prove something and so many of them can be grist for our mills.

To return to my opening theme, which is something we are urged to do by the experts, always believe in yourself because if you don't, who will? And always begin by expecting that the unexpected CAN...and often DOES happen.

When I'd applied for work as a radio writer, I had no experience as a writer there or any other place. I'd more or less applied for the job as a whim, never dreaming I'd get it. When the manager told me to start work the next day, I couldn't have been more surprised. But if you don't take the chance, you certainly WON'T get what your heart desires.

I had been such a signal failure as a magazine writer that I decided to add another string to my bow. That may seem foolhardy to some; if you CAN'T get published in a magazine, then why write a book? Possibly I hadn't found my niche and I might hit my stride with something longer.

In my usual headlong fashion, I soon found myself with three books in the works. I was fighting with this one by fits and starts and I left it long enough to start sending a short suspense for teens through the mails and while that was making the rounds, I began another. I wasted a lot of money sending my manuscripts with return postage until I figured that it was cheaper to make copies than it was to ask for the ms. back. After that, I just enclosed an SASE for my rejection slip. (You can see how my confidence had slipped-) but things weren't going all that well at the office and in trying to keep my two lives separate, my ulcers had worsened.

To add fuel to the fire, I discovered competition almost within my own house so to speak; a young cousin inexperienced and untried by life, untravelled and ignorant, was publishing like mad! Where was the justice? Another cousin was writing doggerel for a religious weekly, yet another cousin was doing well writing for a Madison Avenue firm...anything to undermine me. As far back as the Civil War my kinfolk had been writing; one lady published books of poetry THEN. I was sorry I'd asked. Well, if I wanted to uphold the family honor, I had to get busy.

I realized I'd have to make some changes. At first, I'd taken a shotgun approach to submitting and sent out manuscripts to anyone I found an address for. It took me a while to realize that I'd probably do much better by analyzing the situation and trying to ascertain where my talents lay, (if I had any,) and submitting to the type of magazine that I'd had the most luck with. But as soon as I found out that this approach worked much better, I flooded the market in my usual fashion. I couldn't seem to get a handle on it, how else could you make money except by submitting? Let them speed up their publishing! But the economy was in a slump and I was lucky that no one owed me more than a couple pictures or subscriptions.

After writing all day and then going home and writing more at night, (in fact, I was devoting most of my conscious time to writing or thinking about it,) I became so obsessed that I began to dream about it. In August I dreamed of selling a book. I have no idea what kind of a book it was nor to whom it was sold anymore than I can say how successful it was. There is only the fact of the dream.

Just before that I had dreamed a story, full-blown as to intro, body, and conclusion. I SAW it in detail with intense clarity of color and expression and awakened to get the whole thing on paper as quickly as possible. Just don't ask me if either one has sold yet-

I lulled myself to sleep night after night re-forming sentences and paragraphs, analyzing markets and thinking of new angles, wondering if my styles and attitudes were too passe' to appeal to current taste. I began to read all the classics but it is a trusim that nothing grows stale sooner than fiction. The writers of yesteryear may have been great writers, I don't deny it but I do know that their style would not be popular today. One wonders why professors continue to assign them as required reading. Surely it would be more to the point to use popular writers whose works SELL. That is why most people nowadays want to know about literature; it is from the SELLING angle. I'm not sure they really care if they're still on the bookshelves a century hence.

A person's writing is more than a little revealing. You can often guess their age by what they write and how they write it; I'm certain my prose is more than an little 'old-fashioned' because I refuse to move into a world of no plot, four letter word triumphs.

Of course, it's more than the matter of expletives in the text, certain quaint phrases are as dating as surely as Sam Wright's 'yes, that's how it was' and the constant repetition of the last thing he said. Mentioning the books, the movies, and the songs of one's youth can be deadly also. Which I've already said that working with the hip young people at the radio station was keeping me in touch to some extent. The trouble with that was I deliberately shut them out just as I did my children once I got home, the first because of my scorn for their feckless lives, the second because I was usually too tired to listen except half-heartedly. Well, THAT was coming to a galloping conclusion also because the station was being sold.

When I left the radio station, I thought I'd forget about writing. I wish I'd kept track of all the times I've quit; it would be interesting to know. I didn't quit because I had nothing to say, or because I didn't care for it anymore but because no one answered me. Day after day I haunted the mail but nothing came in. I was tired of wishing my life away, wishing it was Tuesday, instead of Monday, wishing the weekend would hurry past, all so the mail would be due again. But days passed and nothing- not even a rejection slip. Even a rejection is better than nothing! At least someone is acknowledging that you exist, that you are alive, but NOTHING. It was too discouraging. Editors not only weren't answering my queries, they weren't even disposed to give me a yes or no to the manuscripts I'd already sent in response to their go-ahead.

It was going on seven months since Mother Earth News told me (via her associate editor) to send a proposed manuscript. In the last four or five weeks, I sent a follow up letter remarking on the visual support I could offer and including a sidebar, but still...nothing. Animal Tales asked me to re-draw the sketches I'd included with a child's story almost a year ago. I performed the work and...nothing. Police Times asked for a re-write on a manuscript THEY'D accepted two years ago and which they have never used, and so on. They haven't even published some articles they have already paid for, as is the case with Women & Guns. Still I suppose I shouldn't complain because John Updike says that The New Yorker held one of his works for twenty one years, three months, and a day before using it. I hope that is a record and not a usual thing. Admittedly, it does make for a nice surprise when one gets a check in the mail long after giving up on a publication.

I am so often struck by the strangeness in this business of writing and publishing. I have been given several positive replies to my queries, or I THINK they were positive had it been possible to read the illegible scrawl at the bottom of my letter which they returned to me- what do you do if you can't decipher the scrawled signature, or instructions? Do you risk offence by admitting you can't read their writing? And why do they write, and in pencil, when they certainly ALL have office machinery, and probably a secretary, too?

And here is another occurence I found a little weird. I'd sent a brief manuscript and a picture to the sports editor of a regional periodical. I offered him one time rights and informed him it was a simultaneous submission and requested he hold it until I found out if Insights planned to use it or not. Neither answered me before I saw the picture and text in a regional newspaper. I was surprised because I'd not submitted to them but the sports editor had apparently thought he was doing me a favor and passed my submission along and they published it! I was just lucky that Insights did not want the manuscript or I don't know how I would have handled that; it would have been embarrassing, to say the least.

After that, I received a call from Women & Guns saying they were accepting my story and a check was in the mail. Days later I received a very small check. I felt rather cheated but what could I do about it? I decided to cut my losses and be philosophical ...then about a month later, I received a second check, for the same amount for the same story. Was this further payment or a duplicate payment? What should I do? I simply deposited the check without endorsement, figuring they'd be asking for it back soon enough but nothing- neither did I receive my copy of the magazine displaying my story. Months passed and I didn't know if they ever printed the article because the periodical was not available in our area, I didn't know if I could ever submit to them again or where I stood. SO awkward. I finally wrote to them and asked bluntly if they had ever published my story and they sent me a couple copies forthwith, and my story was inside!

In retrospect, I have mostly found writing great fun, whether I was writing 'for hire', or as a free lancer. I kept just busy enough that it paid my expenses and fed my ego. I became the Intrepid Interviewer and many funny things happened to me.
One dear old fellow I interviewed was clearly impressed and when I wound up OUR half-to-three quarter hour audition by saying that I had to go on to the next community to photograph a church, he admiringly remarked, "THEY really keep you busy, don't they?" Little did he know that the only one keeping me busy was me.

The next occasion wasn't nearly as pleasant because I was at the sheriff's office speaking with him and his staff. Some of the men acted like they had expected a hard-boiled dame and they gave me the unvarnished facts, not pulling their punches nor softening any of their words. I really got told more than I wished to know that day but I'd 'asked for it,' as they say.

The next time proved comical because it involved, again, a law enforcement official. He invited me to a home that was immaculate and very nice. He showed me around and I asked questions but he kept agitatedly repeating how sorry he was about 'the mess.' The mess remained invisible...and so it went.

I was fortunate that I hadn't planned on supporting myself by writing and I still feel sorry for any free lancer who tries. The standard rejections are depressing enough, but what must they be like to a person who is actually hungry? It is far too long between attempts and results- These days are especially discouraging because so many corporations are having financial difficulty and have cut expenses and staff that it is nothing to wait for months and months for a REPLY and it may never come. Sometimes they will have gone out of business before you get a reply; however, many of them are trying to be innovative and do new things.

Many of them now advertise in the trade magazines that if you are patient, you WILL get an answer eventually. Others say that if they are not interested, they will save on office work by not writing back. You are to assume the answer when you don't receive their reply, yet you must continue to include SASEs when you query.

I'm sure I could have made my way faster if I hadn't hemmed myself in with restrictions. I would NOT use four-letter words, nor would I write anything that would ruin anyone's reputation. I found it too much fun writing upbeat things, pleasant, informative articles, or perhaps something historical or inspirational. There are plenty of these markets available and they have suited my small way. I do not become depressed if my stories do not meet the needs of the larger markets because there is a place for everyone.

Finding one's market, writing one's story, and having the fun of selling it is the thing. I found magazine articles require a lot of research and meticulous writing. If one isn't accurate, a lot of flak appears in Letters To The Editor. The author has moved on and may never see them or even know about them but it only takes one, or two, to discredit you and needless to say, that particular editor won't be easy to approach again.

Right now, electronic publishing seems to have taken over and is the way of the future and firms are inviting you to submit. If you are computer literate and can submit your books electronically, you may get in on the ground floor. Be canny though and read your contract thoroughly and be certain just what rights your are selling. We are warned that the day may come when publishers will insist on buying all rights and that will not be good. Right now, you can sell only the electronic rights in one place, the audio rights in another, and still have the printed rights to offer elsewhere. Some feel that the printed rights will no longer be welcome after the book has enjoyed so much exposure already; time will tell. Few can deny that publishing may have been forced into going electronic because we are already drowning in a sea of paper and warehouseing such quantaties, and providing staff to handle it may be cost-prohibitive. Whatever happens, I still see a place for writers because someone will still be needed to turn the phrase and generate the ideas.

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