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Elisabeth's Writing Ramblings

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04:20 pm: Math for Writers

One year, I set a really stern goal for pitching freelance stories—something like 20 a month. And danged if I didn’t see a huge upsurge in responses (positive ones!) to my queries.

That’s a pretty simple equation:

more queries = more work

After the magazine I edited folded about 18 months ago, I revisited my previous system, which had somehow faded away. (Query writing is, along with dusting, searching for spider eggs, and turning the compost pile, way down at the bottom of my list of Favorite Things To Do.) This time, I upped it to 10 queries a week. And danged if I didn’t see an almost miraculous response to my pitches—breaking into new markets right and left, getting personal notes from major editors of major magazines, and landing the highest-paid assignment ever. So new equation:

way more queries = way more work

But, as I read in one of the positive thinking books (the granddaddy, in fact: The Power of Positive Thinking), “life is just so daily.” Things happen. And so my equation evolved, self-complicating in ways my algebra-challenged mind could scarcely keep up with.

way more queries + angst-making part-time freelance gig = more money + more cranky

angst-making part-time freelance gig + DIY kitchen remodel – any queries at all = some guilt about freelance slackery + a thrill of taking advantage of working at home

angst-making part-time freelance gig + DIY kitchen remodel expenses = ever increasing anxiety + diminishing funds

parent’s heart attack + month-long hospital stay + open-heart surgery + angst-making part-time freelance gig – DIY kitchen remodel = ??!!***!

Parent’s recovery at my house + loss of angst-making freelance gig = groundwork for my own personal heart attack (especially since I may now be genetically predisposed to one. Thanks, Mom!)

return to freelancing + renewed focus on fiction project (revision + attendance at multiple conferences + meetings with critique partner) = more serenity than I’ve experienced in quiiiite a while (even when + college visits with high school senior)

So: back to the basics.

more queries = more work

more writing = more manuscript pages

more focus = more results

Math was never my favorite—but these are equations even I can understand.

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