Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keep an eye out for helicopters

I heard an old joke recently (you may have heard it, too) that I think is quite applicable to freelance writing.

With the water rising rapidly in a flood, a truck pulls up to a man's front door and offers to take him away before it's too late. He refuses, saying: "I'm a Christian, and I know God will save me."

A few hours later, the man is forced to retreat to the second floor as flood waters creep up the side of his house. Some rescuers arrive with a boat, but he sends them away, declaring: "I'm a Christian, and I know that God will save me."

Finally, the man is on his roof, clinging to the chimney, when a helicopter hovers just above him and drops down a rope ladder. "Thanks, but no," the man yells against the noise of the rotors. "I'm a Christian, and I know God will save me."

Soon after, the water closes over the roof, and the man drowns. He finds himself at the Pearly Gates, standing in front of St. Peter, and he says: "You know, I have to tell you, I was really hurt that I trusted God to save me, and he didn't."

St. Peter shakes his head in disbelief.

"What do you want?" he tells the man. "He sent you an truck, a boat and a helicopter."

I sense that this parable applies to a lot of freelancers. There are rope ladders dangling all around us -- on-line newsletters, writers' groups and services like this one -- but you have to reach up and grab them. Put other way, you can't sell anything if you don't try. And if you wait for editors to contact you, you'll probably drown.

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