FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
I’m in accounting hell this week because I need to get all my spreadsheets, bank statements, and receipts to my accountant and I’ve fallen way behind with my documentation this year. So now I must pay.
In writing news, I had so many ideas for pitches and books come at me all at once that my brain short-circuited and sent me into an overwhelmed paralysis. This happens frequently, as regular readers may know. I used to think of it as a problem to be solved, but I understand now that this is just how my brain works. It’s not something I need to fix, but something I can learn to work with. Something I can turn into a superpower.
I’ll have periods of relative stability, followed by a creative overdose that’s typically triggered by a positive event, such as good financial months or acceptances from sought-after publications. And then my brain goes into overdrive and tries to come up with all the things that it can do, no, must do, this year, no this month, no this week, no right this very minute. I’ll make a bunch of 600-item lists, and then, inevitably, I’m overwhelmed, paralyzed, and very, very tired. Usually at this point I’m also at a high risk for depression because there are 600 things that I should have achieved by now and I haven’t even started. And given how tired I feel, I never will, making me the biggest failure of all time. (And a con artist to boot because I’ve successfully convinced people I’m not.)
I know what to do now when this negative spiral happens. Not disengage, but hyperfocus. Sam, my husband, set aside an hour on Monday so we could talk through this looooong list and pare it down to the one thing would be fun to focus on for the next few weeks. And I’m talking to the women from my writing group later today so we can figure out the exact next steps that will help me not only work on this project, but finish it.
It feels chaotic, this brain of mine. I spent years trying to fight against it. But I see it as a gift now.
I’m never bored. Never uninspired. Never, ever, at the mercy of other people’s beliefs about what is desirable in a career or a life.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Three pitches going into editorial meetings this week, which means by early next week, I’ll either have three assignments from top publications, three pretty cool pitches that can be sent to other markets, or some combination of the two. Oh, and I have a 2,000-word feature in the Sunday Times again this weekend. Look out for it if you’re in the UK!
Enjoy the issue!
Natasha Khullar Relph
Editor, The Wordling
Read my books:
IN THE NEWS
More than 300 authors, including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Lawrence Lessig, have teamed up with advocacy group Fight for the Future, The Bookseller reports. The group have published an open letter that demands publishers and trade organizations “cease efforts to undermine the essential contributions of libraries to an accessible and inclusive world of books.”
What’s this about? At the start of the pandemic, a nonprofit called the Internet Archive, which digitally lent out one book at a time, dropped that limit in what it called a “National Emergency Library.” This was done to make ebooks accessible to people during a time when they were sheltering in place. Major publishers, including HarperCollins, weren’t happy. They sued the Internet Archive for copyright infringement, saying the digital library grossly exceeded what libraries are allowed to do.
Why it matters: The Internet Archive argues that what they’re doing is no different from traditional libraries and poses no harm to authors or the publishing industry. They say the organization “fosters research and learning by making sure people all over the world can access books and by keeping books in circulation when their publishers have lost interest in providing access.” However, major trade associations have pushed back against the author-backed open letter, suggesting it’s nothing but a PR campaign.
A statement issued by a group of writer and creator organizations, including the Authors Guild and the Society of Authors, reads: “The lawsuit against Open Library is completely unrelated to the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books. It is about Open Library’s attempt to stretch fair use to the breaking point, where any website that calls itself a library could scan books and make them publicly available, a practice engaged in by e-book pirates, not libraries.”
What next? The final round of briefs was filed last week and a federal judge is now ready to hear arguments for summary judgment. Watch this space for more as it happens.
- French writer Annie Ernaux, published in the UK by Fitzcarraldo Editions, has won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature. Fitzcarraldo Editions is a small, independent press that has taken on “boundary-pushing writing” leading to four Nobel prizes for its authors.
- Staff at the Financial Times are each receiving a £1,800 payment to help with the cost-of-living crisis in the UK.
- And the Onion is heading to court. “Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government? This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team,” the site’s lawyers wrote.
NEW ON THE WORDLING
Because hitting publish is just the first step.
It’s not worth doing if it’s not replicable.
KASSONDRA CLOOS ON
MAKING A CAREER IN TRAVEL WRITING
The adventure travel writer talks to us about traveling on assignment to 13 countries, including Mexico, Peru, Sweden, Germany, and Japan.
“You should charge not based on your time, but on your value. So if you’re writing a blog post for a company and that one blog post will get them, say, $20,000 worth of business, it’s not outrageous for you to get paid $1,000 for it, even if you’re only spending an hour. And if you are spending weeks of your time planning something, going out and then spending a week on the ground, and then coming back and spending weeks of your time writing and editing, you deserve to be paid for that. Even if you had a good time. Having a good time is a bonus. You should like it.
“You shouldn’t have to suffer in order to get paid a living wage.”
Your life doesn’t go off-track all at once. It goes off track one moment at a time, one small decision at a time.
It doesn’t go right all at once, either. Success happens one moment at a time, one small decision at a time.
Dream your big dreams. But don’t underestimate the power of the small decisions you make today. And every day.
INDIA: “Lawmakers and newsrooms in the U.S. and India are closely watching one of the strangest episodes of a newsroom and its subject publicly disputing—and doubling down on their claims… Facebook, like many other companies, does maintain dossiers on journalists. I (Manish) know this because they accidentally sent me the link to one about five years ago.”
IRAN: “Accurate information on the rapidly unfolding protests and retaliatory crackdowns is difficult to acquire due to widespread internet and cellular networks blackouts across the country. Restrictions enacted by major Iranian internet providers have also targeted WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Skype. For journalists reporting on the protests in Iran, the current situation requires careful consideration of digital and physical security for sources on the ground, the risks to their own freedom covering the protests, and the difficulties of accessing information for ordinary Iranians.”
AUSTRALIA: “Journalists working for foreign-owned outlets could face jail under Australia’s foreign interference laws for exposing defence force war crimes or misuse of surveillance powers, a new paper has warned. The broadly worded laws ‘have the capacity to criminalise legitimate journalism’ and should be amended to protect public interest reporting, according to a press freedom policy paper published by the University of Queensland (UQ).”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.
– Tracee Ellis Ross
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