I am not comfortable asking people for stuff—which is kinda funny, given that I’m always harassing strangers about sharing their innermost secrets with me. For publication.
But I digress.
Today I’ve asked about two dozen people for stuff—at least ,that’s how it looks from my point of view. It’s assignment-giving day for Fibromyalgia AWARE, and I’ve been emailing like a finger-flailing madwoman, begging people to please, please, for God’s sake please accept the assignments I want them to accept.
This is also kinda funny. When I have my freelance writer hat on, I’m always asking editors for assignments, hoping they’ll say yes and fling money at me. But when I have my editor hat on, I hang on tenterhooks (every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds), waiting for the phone to ring, hoping to hear a grateful writer say yes, of course, he’ll write a fabulous story for me.
True: a lot of the people I’m contacting aren’t freelance writers. They’re medical professionals, and I need them to give the truly inside scoop on current research—after all, they’re the ones conducting it. And because they’re not writers, taking on an assignment for me is a tangent they may or may not be able to find time for. (One doctor just emailed me back: she has six papers due in the next 90 days. Six feature stories in 90 days is a cakewalk for me—but then, I don’t have a medical practice to run on top of it.)
But the really funny thing is the freelance writers who pitch stories, and then when I offer them assignments (not infrequently months later, I must admit), they’re too busy to take them on. I can only recall one time I pulled out the I’m-too-busy excuse in the face of an assignment—and I wasn’t too busy at all! I just didn’t want the job. (Small corporate newsletter. Poor communication. Payment in gift certificates. Enough said.)
I got a surprising yes from a very prominent researcher about 10 minutes after I emailed him—but now the six-papers-in-90-days doc has brought me low again. I may hate waiting for the phone to ring even more than I hate asking people for stuff.