Among many other surprises this weekend, I discovered a check from Reptiles nagazine. This was payment for an article on carnivorous plants in herp enclosures in the May 2011 issue. This was just the cherry atop a writer’s sundae: working with Reptiles has to be the best experience I’ve had since I started writing professionally in 1989, with my time at Gothic Beauty being a very, very close second.
For those who didn’t know or didn’t care, I spent nearly 13 years as a writer for various science fiction magazines. Most pleaded poverty as to why they paid in “exposure”, and the others generally paid if and when they felt like it. Somehow, though, bringing up the fact that a publisher was six to eight months late in paying for previous articles, all the while begging for new pieces, was considered the height of bad taste. Worse, getting aggressive about collecting was seen as “being difficult”. This wasn’t the only factor in my leaving writing in 2002, but it was one of the top three. (The one time I relapsed, the status quo returned, and I finally received payment from the SyFy Channel only after threatening to out the personal E-mail addresses and phone numbers of SyFy management if the company continued to ignore requests for payment. Nearly six months of courteous requests got nothing, but one threat to give out Skiffy Channel president Bonnie Hammer’s direct phone number, and I got the check within two days.)
Anyway, based on this, I think I’ll be sticking with horticulture writing for a while. The editors are friendly, the readers are fascinating, and prompt and reasonable payment is gravy. Best of all, compared to science fiction, I can write about things that actually matter.