A New Reason for Living for the Mail

A few year ago, I wrote about how writers live for the mail. It seems to me that you can map the stages of a freelances writer’s career from how we assess the mail each day. When I started writing, I lived for the mail because that’s where the rejection notices came. I would rush to the mailbox every day in hopes of not seeing a rejection slip. No news was good news. As my writing career evolved, and I started selling stories, I’d rush to the mail in hopes of seeing an acceptance letter. Funny thing, though: I’ve never received an acceptance in the mail. They’ve always come by email.

My writing career evolved right alongside that of email and over the course of the years, I’ve lived for the mail less and less. Almost everything, from submission to acceptance to revision to the signing of contracts is done via email.

Except that all of a sudden, I’ve learned to live for the mail again. You see, with all of the acceptances, with all of the freelance writing, with all of the contracts signed, there is one inevitability: a check! And that check arrives in the mail1. I’ve gotten quite a few of these checks this year–more so by far than any previous year. And so now I live for the mail when I know that I have outstanding checks coming to me. I get home from work, toss my backpack onto the floor and then dash out to the mailbox to see if, by chance, another check has arrived.

And what happens when one shows up?

Usually, I tear it open, look at it lovingly, and then show it to Kelly and say something like, “See, all of this writing really does pay off!”


  1. Yes, some editors are willing to pay via PayPal, and I suppose I could get myself set up to take payments that way. And yes, as Evernote’s Paperless Lifestyle Ambassador, it is ironic that I’m not setup for that. But I’ve got to tell you that there’s something about getting an actual check in the mail that makes it seem more real. I can times in college (and even after) daydreaming about actually getting paid to write science fiction stories. In every one of those daydreams, I was paid by check, not by an electronic transfer of funds and a resulting email message. So let me have it my way this time, okay?

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