This week I must be brave. Okay, not like a solider-, fireman-, or public speaker-level of brave, but just sort of an it-must-be-done-but-I-am-really-uncomfortble-with-it kind of brave. Deep breaths will be taken. Heavy exhales will be released once I’m done….if I manage my way through, that is.
See, an article I’ve written for Horticulture magazine is due in a few days. The article idea – all about soil and light conditions to keep your plants healthy and happy – stemmed from a talk I did last year on my book Going Native: Small Steps to a Healthy Garden. Other than being just a tad over the word count, the article is pretty darn good, so submitting it isn’t what I’m fretting about.
No, the worry is what I need to include when I do submit the piece.
Grudgingly Following Advice
I don’t know exactly when I read it, but the writing-advice gurus advise that, whenever you submit a completed article, you should include a proposal for another article. The logic is that you already have the editor’s attention, they’ve already been suckered into accepting one of your articles, so you should try to sucker them into hiring you to write another one. The scheming portion of my brain – I think that’s in the cerebrum, if I remember my neuroscience training properly – loves this idea.
The only problem is that the fear portion of my brain – that would be in the amygdala – balks at doing this. First, it feels pushy and, as my marketing efforts will show, I am a failure at being pushy. Second, editors are sensitive, touchy creatures and one false move sends them running away faster than a skittish cat; I worry that if I irk them, if they feel I’m being pushy they may not only scoff at my ideas, but also reject the article I’ve just completed for them. A writer’s nightmare indeed!!
Getting My Cerebrum & Amygdala To Play Together Nicely
These are silly fears, I know, but I have a lot of time to myself, which means WAY too much time for my brain to come up with scenarios like these. I have tried the tack-on-a-new-proposal-to-a-submitted-article idea before and about three-quarters of the time it has worked. Still, there are various reasons (besides being a chicken) for not proposing a new idea when I’ve already got the editor’s attention such as crap pay for articles, editors that are a horror to work for, or just a lack of ideas.
But the Horticulture editor seems quite nice – although it took quite a while to get this assignment – and the contract terms are splendid. Not only did I have a very long lead time to complete the article, but she also didn’t toss in the surprise clause of “Oh, by the way, you have to include at least ten professional-level photos to illustrate the article.”
So, I’ve sifted through a few ideas, I’ve honed a new proposal to send along with my article, and I’ve mostly gotten my cerebrum and amygdala to play together nicely. Now I just need to put on my brave face and include the proposal when I submit the article this Friday.
Wish me luck – not only in not chickening out, but also for the prospect of another writing assignment!!
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF Going Native: Small Steps to a Healthy Garden AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCIL. YOU CAN FIND HER WORK AT TAMMIE PAINTER’S BOOKSTORE & GALLERY.