I graduated from Industrial Design school two years ago, ready to take the world by storm and become a successful Product Designer. Little did I know, now I am not even sure if Product Design is what I really want to do. Design was always bigger to me; bigger than objects, bigger than symbols. I’ve always been involved in a project, a workshop, volunteered or became part of something big. I like to keep myself busy and I happily jump at the next opportunity that presents itself. But more than often the things I’ve done had little to do with Design, so I am starting this series of posts sharing what I’ve been doing in the last few years; what I've learned and how I screwed up. Hopefully, it will all add up in the end and show me a direction.
Why should you read this? A. See if you can relate to it B. Learn something new C. Maybe it’ll encourage you to dive into an unusual opportunity and D. Learn from my F*cking mistakes bec. am not gonna publicly embarrass myself for nothing!
At a point in time, I was a freelance writer at G Mag.
Where did G Mag go by the way?! Anyone here was a G Mag reader, better yet collector?
I started writing for Gmag during my early years in university. I always liked writing and coming up with fiction stories till this day is my morning routine. I loved the fluffy content of G Mag and found it very funny, and back then publishing in ‘Arabish’ was new and daring. It wasn’t the mainstream yet so it was actually pretty cool.
It was the first time I’d ever approach a magazine; I prepared some content and article ideas, I remember I really enjoyed illustrating my articles, I gathered everything in a nice pdf and sent my writing samples to the editor. It took them some time to reply and I kept sending that email over and over.
Big mistake learned: my attachment was probably over 1GB, just kidding, but it definitely was not inbox friendly, I was yet to be introduced to the 'save for web' option! Big attachments are such a turn-off!
I did get a meeting with the editor where she told me all about their procedure, very simple; freelance writers are paid according to the word count and G Mag only published pieces that were either 600 or 1500 words. She mentioned they don’t do contracts for freelancers, but payment would be after the issue was published. I didn’t ask any questions, I was so happy that I was going to write something that was going to be published, like on paper! I didn’t even know how this whole freelance thing works. I left the meeting thinking ‘Maan, I love their office!’ That’s it!
I wrote 4 articles for my first issue, I was on fire! Looking back, I don’t even know how I came up with these things or how this was even published! I find it kind of cheesy now, hope that means I am getting older and wiser! And most of my articles used taglines from movies or commercials, that even when I read it now, I have no idea what I am talking about! My first article discussed something quite serious though; public peeing. I had to write something about it, I had to let the world know how disgusted I was! I even wanted to do a follow-up piece and review public toilets in Cairo, booy was that such a terrible idea! Worst idea I’ve ever had, hands down!
After the issue was published, the editor called me to come pick up my payment; I went all the way to the office to be told that payment was actually made two months after the publication date! I went back home and emailed the editor and I got an ‘oops’ reply, It just flew off her mind! So anyways I did wait, had no other choice really, and I didn’t care much about payment at this age, I was over the moon already, I wasn’t a closet writer anymore! I wrote another two articles for the next issue, and afterward I was in that phase of changing universities and leaving the German University in Cairo, so I was quite busy.
Two months passed, I send the editor and I get no replies. I even joke about it in the emails and still no replies. Knock knock jokes didn’t work!
That’s when I learned that even “half American” Egyptians can act like they are from Banha when it’s time for payment.
I actually traveled to Malaysia and still wasn’t paid, I did enjoy writing these articles though so I did continue coming up with articles, I had lots of material about the new cultural I was in. One day I sent a new article, and guess what I got a reply! Who thought a well-known magazine would act so low! The editor sent me for more articles and when I asked again for my payment, she acted all surprised that I was not paid and told me that previous months were already settled! How unfortunate!
Well, I had it coming. I had no contract, did not bother to ask about the payment during the interview, just gave out my articles for free even after not getting paid, can’t put all the blame on them. I did eventually come to my senses and never sent any more articles. I would have probably loved just being a contributor and wrote for free, but if you are going to make me a freelance writer and promise to pay me and you don’t, then I wouldn’t want anything to do with your business.
I learned it a few months too late, but I did learn it in the end.
I still can’t believe the fluffiness! * Laughing Ashamedly while reading drafts*
I won't keep all the laughter to myself; here are two of my published articles illustrated by moi. But please try to laugh with me, not at me, just try.