The Devil wears Times New Roman

Or Arial Narrow. And he shows up in Richard Morgan’s inbox every hour on the hour. And the Devil is sneaky. He gets deputy editors to send Morgan emails that read, in full: “Hey there. Got an idea for you. Any interest in writing a James Franco profile?”

Morgan used to live the New York freelancer writer’s dream, renting a $875-a-month-Craigslisted apartment in the West Village, where he spent his days:

watching television, napping, noshing, strolling around, seeing matinees, playing The Sims, having sex and getting intoxicated.

He once got paid $100 a word. And being so successful, he was often sought out by wannabe freelancers, even journalism schools, to guide and inspire others down this dream vocational path:

When people say they want to get into freelancing but don’t know how to do it, what I tell them is: OK, fine, you don’t know how to freelance because you’ve never done it before, but take something you do know how to do—dating—and just use the same rules. Freelancing is basically just courtship, but the freelancer-editor relationship is nothing more than friends with benefits. The editor likes you because you remind the editor of when they had enthusiasm and appetite and vision and so you make the editor feel powerful in the way that nostalgia empowers people.

And although Morgan is American, the angst and editor animosity he experienced is no different to any freelancer – anywhere. He equates being a freelancer to being a single parent.

I’m the father. And the mother. And, for as long as you’ll believe it, I’m Santa Claus. It becomes unclear what exactly it is that editors do. And one cannot conceive of a world where writers treat editors the way editors treat writers.

He eventually left the freelance realm earlier in 2010 and took a newspaper job in Memphis. This provided, among many satisfying benefits, the opportunity to  fulfill a nerd-dream fantasy by being able to shake off his umbrella at reception and say, “Helluva morning out there, Lois!”.

Read the full and entertaining essay at The Awl …