Thursday, January 10, 2013

Real World Rewards for Your Work

Sometimes the real payment you receive for your work isn't money.

A funny thing happened this morning to remind me that this business of writing is about so much more than putting words to paper ....

I'm researching a story about programs to help soldiers and veterans with substance abuse issues. I pulled up the Army's Substance Abuse Program Web site and was tooling around to see the types of courses and aid they have available.

Suddenly, my eye fell on a phrase I know very well: "PRIME for Life."

The link for it went straight to a program description, and I knew that well, too.

Ten years ago, I freelanced for the company that put that program together. My job was to take their course materials and edit them. I didn't get rich, and my name wasn't included in the final product. No one knew I had anything to do with it.

But this morning, when I saw the same course materials on the Army's Web site and realized that soldiers and veterans were benefiting from them, I felt so gratified and happy.

The real reason I got into this business was to help change lives. I know that sounds like a Pollyanna, but it's true. Throughout my career, I've always sought stories that will enrich and inform people, spur them to action or cause them to think hard about their perspectives and attitudes.

As a newspaper journalist, I usually saw tangible results of my efforts on at least a weekly basis. As a freelancer today, I don't always get that immediate affirmation.

This was that type of feeling. It was a decade after the fact ... but what a feeling. I needed that shot in the arm to remind me that what we do really does matter.

And whether you're a rich-and-successful or a poor-and-struggling writer, this type of payment is the best there is.

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