Freelancer Fears: Money talk

Talking about money is the wooooooooooorst. Even as freelance writer who must measure absolutely everything I do by how much it pays if I want to eat and sleep inside, it kills me to broach the subject of pay. I’m not alone on this. For whatever reason, most Americans not only don’t talk about their finances, they’d prefer to discuss politics, religion or death over money. Multiply that Americanism by being Midwestern, and talking about payment with publishers is practically paralyzing for me.

My professional money talk anxiety began decade ago (a decade ago!), when I wrote a weekly bar review column for a local paper in Lansing. Every week, I went to a bar, wrote my little thingy, and I’d get a $60 check in the mail. One week, it didn’t come. I decided to wait and see if it was late. When my next check came on schedule, followed by the next — with no mention of the missing funds — I panicked. I was 22, living paycheck to paycheck. I really needed that $60. How could I ask for it? What if they just thought that bar review was super bad and decided not to pay me for it? What if the error was on my end and now it was too late to fix? What if my editor thought I was stingy for making a thing over $60 and then hated me and stopped giving me work and my dream of writing for a living was dashed? Over $60?!

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What if my brain broke? And other burning issues.

My husband is really careful about his hands. Sometimes I give him a hard time about this, but, as a guitar player, it’s a valid concern. Anything that happens to his hands happens to his career. They break, it breaks. As failing to be concerned about things is probably the quality about myself that probably deserves the most concern, I’ve never before applied any similar reasoning to myself. Ninety percent of everything I do comes from my brain, so I don’t feel especially wary around hammers.

Then, after having a particularly difficult time transitioning from the holiday fog into January productivity this year, a horrifying thought occurred to me: What if I got permanently stuck in the fog? What if my brain didn’t shift back into critical thinking and creative expression mode? Anything can change the way a brain works – hormonal changes, chemical changes, injury, disease, simply aging – WHAT I IF STOP THINKING GOOD?

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