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Today’s Lesson from The Horrible Warning

If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning. ~ Catherine Aird

While I’ve been fortunate in my career to have several steady gigs that pay my bills, recently, one of those gigs went away (due to the economy) and I’ve been tossed back out into the real world of freelancing. This means lots of query writing, market researching, and idea generating.

This week I discovered an idea that I want to pitch to a large, good-paying publication. In order to do this, I need to send clips along with my query. “No problem,” I think, “I have the PERFECT clip for this piece.”

Except when I go looking for it, I don’t.

mild annoyance

Oh, I wrote the piece I want to use for the clip. I have the original document, and I can even lay hands on all the research, but the clip… POOF! No electronic copy (my gig usually sends my clips in hardcopy and PDF) no paper copy in the clip file. Nada. It doesn’t help that this particular clip is four years old.  Or that I have no idea if I ever received it in the first place (long story for a different time).

pounds head on desk

There’s nothing I hate more than having to ask a busy editor for something  I should already possess. But after two days of tearing my office apart, that’s what I did.

I’d like to say this is the first time this has ever happened to me. I’d also like to say that I’m 5’10” and weigh in at a slender, if slightly anorexic 108 pounds. And can fly.

idiot, idiot, idiot

In my reality, clips sometimes fall by the wayside. Particularly if I’m juggling lots of projects along with real life.

Fortunately, my editors are saints, and were it not for computer problems at their end, I would already have the clip. Were they not nice people, they could have told me tough luck. And laughed. Evilly. But they are nice people.

Hooray!

Which brings us today’s lesson from The Horrible Warning (a.k.a. me). Create a system to keep track of your clips. Not just storage, but a record showing you actually received them. Writing is a feast or famine type job. When the writing is going well, and life is particularly busy, it’s easy to forget about the clips, especially if you aren’t paying attention.

Lesson learned. I hope…

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