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Cause it don't mean nothin'
The words that they say
No it don't mean nothin'
These games that people play
No it don't mean nothin'
No victim, no crime
No it don't mean nothin'
Till you sign it on the dotted line

~ Richard Marx, Don't Mean Nothing

It is a fact of life that a freelancer lives by her contracts alone. This morning I got word that a big contract I expected to come in will not come in until sometime next year. Suddenly, I have 3 months free and clear—no project and no money coming in. This is a common enough thing in the freelancing business that most freelancers overload their time, knowing that some of those pending contracts will drop out due to the vagaries of business.

People talk a lot. They brainstorm. They plan and they make verbal agreements all the time. Almost all of them do so in good faith. However, until you have a contract in hand, all of the words in the world don't actually mean anything at all. The contract says that the company has looked at their budget and their upcoming product plans and as deemed your project worthy of attention, PR and cold hard cash. Fantasy meets reality and both agree. Until that time, it is all just vaporware.

That's what this particular situation is. A lack of funding right now for the contract to proceed. As much as I want to do this particular project, I know better than to start (or complete) it without a contract in hand. It is not a cancellation, and for that I'm grateful, but it does mean that I need to shift my priorities around a lot. I have two contracted gigs in progress right now. One will not be done until next year. One will be done next month. Then I have to figure out what to do next.

In the meantime, I figured I would restructure my schedule for next year and pass on this small bit of advice. Talk, network, make plans and then act on those plans after you have your signed contract in hand. Until then, those plans mean nothing.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
On the flip side, this gives you a chance to do some of your own on spec work...
Sep. 22nd, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
There is that. In fact, I'm going to be rewriting something from novel to serial format for a different project.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
you are so right
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 22nd, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
David and I are going through something similar with a project he already complete, but they moved back in the schedule somewhat indefinitely. Lesson learned.

It's probably no help to you, but David might have some tiny projects he needs at least another writer on. It's embarrassingly low rates of pay, a cent a word I think. Still, that's sort of a long term project so if you needed some pocket money, let us know.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Ping me with the info. :) I'd love to work with you guys.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
That's the same lesson I've learned in freelance IT. A lesson I expect to apply as a freelance writer/editor/podcaster.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
You've got some free time coming up, huh? We should work together on something...
Sep. 22nd, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
If you want. That would be most cool.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)
I'd love to. :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )