For the past two years, I have claimed writing as my career, which sounds like I’m making money from my writing, but alas, this is not the case.
Well, I did get paid $20 for my story in Witches, Stitches, & Bitches. And I received a $3.90 check last year from Café Irreal for my flash fiction piece. So there’s money coming in. But still, most of the writing I do, I do for free.
I’m hoping that will change now that I have an agent, but I’m also keeping realistic expectations. You can read here or here about how much the average writer makes on a book deal. Spoiler alert: not much.
Basically, this means I have to have other jobs besides writing. Currently I tutor Ukrainians on Skype and write math curriculum. I also worked this year as an after-school assistant, and when I lived in Cape Cod I worked as a bar trivia hostess and a wine sampler in a liquor store. (I realize this makes it sound like I sampled the wine, which I did, but my job was to give it out to the customers.)
My fiancé and I are moving to Minneapolis at the end of the summer, so I’ve started trolling the craigslist job boards for part-time work. The best situation would be an afternoon gig (I do my best writing in the morning) that isn’t too horrible or boring.
I found a few tutoring and teaching jobs, so I applied for those, and then, as I was scanning the writing/editing section of craigslist, I noticed an ad that was disturbing, yet intriguing:
Get Paid To Woo Women On OkCupid & Tinder? (work from home)
compensation: $13-$15 per hour
What if you could get PAID to woo women and get them to respond to your messages?
Believe it or not, this sort of job actually does exist. Our business has been featured all over the media by outlets like FOX, the Today Show and the Washington Post… And we’ll pay you to write profiles and messages for our clients while sitting at home in your pajamas.
Right now we’ve got part-time opportunities available with eventual full-time potential. If you’ve got the skills, we’ll hire you immediately for this long-term position.
Think you have the charm, wit and wordsmith skills to join our team? Then send a quick email to HR@virtualdatingassistants.com with “Creative Writer in Minneapolis” right in the subject line, and we’ll tell you more about the most entertaining job in the world.
“Babe, listen to this job,” I said to Paul, who I happened to meet on okcupid a few years ago. “I’m fascinated by this, but it’s so morally wrong.”
“You should email about it!” Paul said. “You’d be good at that.”
“I would be,” I agreed. “I have experience wooing people online. But morally, I just couldn’t do it.”
And yet, I couldn’t get the ad out of my head. In the sub-zero temperatures of the six-month long Minneapolis winter, I’m not going to want to leave the warmth of my apartment, and it sure would be nice to get paid for writing…
“Maybe it’s not so bad,” I said. “Maybe it’s like, you talk to the guy and find out things about him and then say, ‘ok, why don’t we write this on your profile,’ or ‘why don’t we phrase it like this.’ That wouldn’t be so bad. You’re just helping him write his profile.”
“I doubt that’s how it works,” Paul said, but I decided to email for more information. Besides, I was curious. If I ended up doing this job, it would give me a ton of interesting things to write about.
The company emailed me back almost immediately. The email detailed information about Virtual Internet Dating Assistants (VIDA), and what they were looking for in writers:
Here’s What You’ll Do:
– You’ll craft magnetically-attractive profiles that grab the reader’s attention right from the start and holds it as she reads every last word.
– You’ll write new, high-performing template emails that we can quickly copy, paste and send to different women for our clients.
– You’ll ghostwrite back and forth emails, as the client, with the end goal of getting her phone number or setting up a date.
“Oh my god,” I said to Paul. “No. No. I cannot do this. You actually write back and forth emails, pretending to be the guy.”
“The guys just want to get laid,” Paul says. “They’re going to go on the date and not know anything about the girl because they weren’t the one actually messaging with her.”
I thought back to the several years I spent doing online dating. This could have happened to me for all I know. I could have been messaging back and forth with a guy, getting excited about how witty and interesting he was, when actually it was some female novelist emailing me for fifteen bucks an hour. Come to think of it, I’d gone on at least a few dates where the guy seemed much more awesome online than he did in person. Creepy!
“I can’t do it,” I said again. “It’s fascinating, but morally, I cannot get paid to dupe single girls for the benefit of horny rich dudes.” I was glad to know that even I have a line I’m not willing to cross.
Over the years, I have taken a lot of strange jobs because they allowed me flexibility and (sometimes) because I thought they would give me fodder for my writing. And some of these jobs toed the line of my own morality. For example, working as a SoCo shot girl. I wore a provocative outfit and was basically told to flirt with men until they bought drinks. That was questionable, to be sure.
But now I have found the line I am not willing to cross. Not even for a flexible, interesting, work-from-home job that allows me to use my writing skills. Being a virtual dating assistant? I would do a lot of things for my writing career…but I won’t do that.