100 Queries

May 2, 2009

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Self Portrait

I began my career with an IBM Selectric II typewriter, which I paid for with cash from my tips as a cocktail waitress, and a copy of the Chicago Yellow Pages. I was going to be a freelance writer, although I wasn’t sure at the time what that meant. I decided to make 100 telephone calls to anybody and everybody I thought might hire me. I called newspapers, magazines, corporations, and advertising and public relations agencies. By the time I was a third of the way through this exercise, I had enough assignments to live on.

That’s the way it was, until last summer. Publications that had run my byline for years were disappearing. Long-time editors were retiring, usually not by choice. They ones who remained were no longer passing out assignments like Halloween candy. I had to do something to keep my writing business going, and profitably so. Then I recalled the 100 telephone calls I was prepared to make during those early days. I would do it again, in an updated fashion. I call it 100 Queries. For me, a query might be a story pitch, a letter of introduction, a contest entry or a grant application–anything that could lead to paying work. I’m a third of the way through, and I’m getting new assignments and building new editorial relationships.

So, I will not whine about the awful condition of the journalism industry today and its supposed demise until I have made all 100 Queries.

Contact me: pmckuen@gmail.com