Creative Queries and a Dash of Confidence By Melissa Walker

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From my window in Brooklyn, I can see Manhattan’s shiny, silver Financial District over the rooftops and through the trees. When I worked as an Assistant Editor at a national women’s magazine, I hardly ever looked out my windows-I missed the sunny part of the day anyway. But when my magazine folded and I found myself with a bit of severance pay, I decided to open the curtains.

The job market was dismal-especially in New York, and especially in publishing-so I thought I’d spend a few weeks writing while I applied for new positions. I had done a couple of pieces for the bridal and parenting markets, and I knew I could deliver top-notch women’s magazine copy. I just wasn’t sure how I’d convince editors to take a chance on an unknown, out-of-work assistant.

My insecurities mounted as I borrowed a desk from my sister and bought a filing cabinet for a little corner in my bedroom that would become my home office. What if I sat there every day with only a blank Word page and a mocking cursor as companions? What if editors didn’t respond to my queries, or worse-what if they totally trashed them? What if everyone knew I was just a kid with a computer, pretending to be a writer?

I needed to get out of the apartment.

After pouring over my goal markets at Barnes & Noble (without a job, I certainly couldn’t afford to buy all the magazines I wanted to read), I scoured small-town newspapers on the Web for stories that were heartwarming and unique. Finding a few gems that hadn’t been picked up by the national media, I crafted my pitches for particular sections of each magazine to show that I was familiar with their needs.

Turns out, I didn’t have to convince the editors about me-my ideas spoke for themselves. In the first month, I landed small pieces in three national publications.

Five months into the freelance life, I’ve stopped interviewing for full-time jobs. Because of the good relationships I’ve established with my editors, they’ve referred me to friends at other magazines. I have enough work to pay the rent and still enjoy some nights out in the city.

Life looks pretty good with the curtains open.

Melissa Walker is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She absolutely loves looking out her window. You can email her at mewalker1999@yahoo.com.