Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · So You Want to be a Freelance...
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So You Want to be a Freelance Writer... The Myths & the Bite of Reality Behind the Scribbling Life

Jane Louise Boursaw - November 18th, 2004
“Hey, I haven’t seen your byline in the local papers lately. What’s up?” I hear a lot of that these days, ever since I decided to try my luck with national newspapers and magazines a few years ago.
Things are going well, but being a freelance writer isn’t the free-and-easy life that most people think. So if you’re thinking about getting into the biz – and I know lots of you are, because people ask me about it all the time – I’m here to debunk a few of the more popular myths about the writing life:

Myth 1: You write an article, send it to a magazine, and wait for the check to arrive in the mail.
Oh, if only it were that easy. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. For most magazines, it goes something like this: write up a one-page query (an outline of the article you intend to write), email it to an editor at the magazine, then wait about three months for a reply. Ok, sometimes they get back to you quicker than that, but it can range from a few weeks to a year! In short, you have to have a LOT of queries circulating at any given time – I usually have about 20 out there. Oh, and you also have to follow-up with the editor every few weeks, otherwise they’ll forget about you and your query.

Myth 2: The pay is steady.
Freelancers across the country are laughing their fool heads off right now over this notion. Most of the time, you have no idea when you’ll get a check. It could be a month, it could be six months. And you can usually count on sending your invoice two or three times because it will keep mysteriously disappearing in the magazine’s black hole of an accounting system.

Myth 3: You have lots of free time to spend with your kids, do house chores, and run errands.
Oy. I probably have less free time than most people who work at an office job. That’s partly my fault for working all the time, but on the other hand, I have to work all the time to make enough money to support the family I never see. Ok, I’m getting better about the juggling act. I’ve even started shutting my computer down when the kids get home from school and forcing myself to keep it off on weekends. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but my emotional health and home-life are much the better for it.

Myth 4: Magazine writers are rolling in dough.
Not really. Although national pay is much better than local publications, the stories are also much harder to get. Local pay generally ranges from $50 to $100 for a 1,000-word article – about five cents to 10 cents per word. When I wrote for locals, it was not uncommon for me to write four or five stories each week. In fact, I HAD to write that many to make ends meet. The good thing is, I never had to query. My editors gave me a list of stories, and I wrote them up. I miss that.
The pay from national magazines ranges from 50 cents per word up to $2 per word – $500 to $2,000 for a 1,000-word article. But it could take up to a year for an article to see the light of day. There’s a long process of querying, sending clips (samples of your work), writing the story, rewriting the story several times because the editors can’t make up their minds what they want, then waiting for that elusive check to arrive. The same is true for book writers, most of whom do not fall into the “six-figure advance” territory of Stephen King and John Grisham.

Myth 5: You deal with one editor – and they’re REALLY easy to get hold of.
Not so. You submit your query to one editor, but they in turn take it to their “editorial committee,” a half-dozen or so editors who must approve the story before it goes to the editor-in-chief (EIC), who has the final say. Also, many editors are so swamped with work at magazines with ever-declining budgets, they simply won’t respond to you unless you stalk, er, follow-up with them.

Myth 6: Your daily life is exciting and full of interactions with other people.
The truth is, freelancing is a lonely and isolating business. I work alone and spend most of my time silently tapping away on a keyboard, a situation that promotes a borderline-disturbing friendliness with every Fed Ex guy and meter-reader that comes to the house. Many freelancers take part-time jobs just to talk with someone besides their dog every day.

Myth 7: Anyone can write articles, and this business is easy to get into.
If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, “Oh, I’m thinking of being a freelance writer, too” or “I plan to do that when I retire.” It’s not that easy, folks, even for local writers and reporters who’ve been writing all their life. It takes a lot of networking and establishing relationships with editors before they’ll even consider you for an assignment. I joined an online writer’s group that’s been invaluable in this regard.

Myth 8: Editors always grab up great stories.
Sometimes. More often, though, the best stories never see the light of day because the subject is too controversial, too scary for readers, or might offend advertisers. The key sources also have to be a perfect fit. They might be too old, too young, not cute enough, or they simply don’t fit the magazine’s target readership demographics.
And more often than not, editors are looking for stories with a sensational twist. It’s not enough to find someone who’s saved another person from jumping off a bridge. The two people must then become soul sisters, and the person rescued must then donate a kidney to the other’s child. Even better: a surprise happy ending where they find out they’re long-lost sisters separated at birth and sent to foster homes after their parents died in a plane crash. Far-fetched? You’d be surprised.

Myth 9: It’s easy to get a column or recurring gig.
You almost always have to know someone on the inside. My goal this year was to pursue a long-time passion of becoming a movie critic. I set up a Web site, “branded” myself, marketed my syndicated movie column (Reel Life With Jane) to papers around the country, even wrote columns for little money, just to get my name out there. I finally hit the mother-lode recently when I was offered the job of reviewing movies, DVDs and TV shows for iVillage.com. The clincher? I knew the editor, a member of my online writer’s group.

Myth 10: Freelance writing isn’t a “real” job.
Anne Tyler, noted author of “The Accidental Tourist” and other bestsellers, was once asked by another mother at school when she went to pick up her daughter, “Have you found a job yet, or are you still just writing?” The truth is, most of us out here in Freelance World are supporting families with our writing business. It’s not a hobby. It’s a business that requires the same business savvy as other jobs – probably more so.
And yes, we actually DO get paid for the stuff we write. The writers making the best income usually have a mix of clients: consumer magazines, trade magazines, national newspapers, corporate writing, columns, and books. As they say, it’s best not to put all our eggs in one basket.
So there you have it. The awful truth about my life as a freelance writer. So why do I stick with it? Because I love being my own boss. Because I love firing clients who don’t meet my standards. Because I love networking with my online writer-buddies. And because I can’t imagine NOT writing.

Jane Louise Boursaw writes the family entertainment section for iVillage.com. She also writes a syndicated movie column, Reel Life With Jane, and is a regular contributor to Oxygen Magazine, USA Weekend, AARP Magazine, Women’s Health & Fitness, and Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac. She’s also written for Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Fitness, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Pages
Magazine, and others. Check out
her Web sites, www.reellifewithjane.com, www.janeboursaw.com, or email jboursaw@charter.net.

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