Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paid by the Weight of the Word

I managed to squeeze out a little more than 1,000 words yesterday for my newspaper article. I don't know why the muse was dragging her heels. Part of the reason is that I live in this town where folks read it and I need to be able to face them knowing I have done a creditable job, of course, but that comes with the territory of writing. We hope and pray someone will read it and then die a thousand deaths when they do.

After finishing--with more than usual paragraph re arranging and stalking around the room for the right word "I know I saw it here somewhere..." I was worn out. A friend rang just after I had finished it and wondered what was wrong--"just tired," I explain. I could not say I was worn out from wrestling with 1,000 words--some of which were quite agreeable about taking their place in line.

My husband, reading my article said, "Oh it must be getting easier." I looked at him perhaps the way women all do after labour. He quickly added "because it sounds so smooth."

Funny, I had the opposite interpretation reading my daughter's draft of her novel. It is the second draft for about half of it. The opening moved like polished stone--smooth, warming in your hand. I was through it without realizing it. I knew she must have worked very hard to make it so easy.

That was when I hit on the notion of how to pay writers properly--the old by the word or by the page or project was suddenly passe--a ratio based on the weight of the word--weight both in its import and also in the effort to get it to stick to the page.


At 11:24 PM, Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Sometimes -- as a lawyer -- I get paid to write by the hour. That's a wonderful thing. But I don't think I've ever dared to put down all the time it really takes.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, Cur, I know what you mean--paid by the hour has usually been a disappointment. Either I sat idly in an office some place watching the clock tick away or I had a project which I sadly underestimated the amount of hours required. It is so hard to get it right. I am working on a wee book now that either I sadly underestimated amount of time required or expanded the job--either way I will be relieved when it is done.


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