The literary mercenary

“…he was looking for something else and decided to walk in the minefield that is called freelancing. That is a form of unemployment where you seek out piecework that will result in income. It isn’t really a job, there are no benefits, and you get to pay both halves of the payroll tax.”

–Richard L. Collins, in his Introduction to Phil Scott’s Then and Now: How airplanes got this way


Never have I read a better description of my job, my life, my existence as a writer-for-hire. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is good on a pen and a wing. The quest for work is a satisfying challenge, and while that double payroll tax is annoying, I can take pride in the fact that I do well enough by myself that I actually have to pay it.

Now, one of the functions of Plane Tales is to serve as a continually updating resume in my quest for that piecework that (hopefully) results in income. Every time I get an assignment, or something new of mine appears in print, I post an announcement here.

What? You didn’t notice?

Yeah. Don’t feel bad. Neither does anyone else. Ironically, as an aerial nomad, I’m the victim of mobility. Those of you who read Plane Tales on a desktop computer might have noticed the list of publications in the right-hand menu bar. Those of you who read me mobile just said: What menu bar?

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.34.35 PM

Yes, I’ve just learned that when Plane Tales displays on the smaller screens of mobile devices, all the navigation tabs (and the email link) are moved to the bottom, buried under scores of older posts where no one ever sees them. So in addition to my usual Friday Tale, I’ve decided to give you a head’s up here in the main section of the site when something new I’ve written has landed.

Today, you need to file a flight plan for the April Issue of Flight Training Magazine…


…where I have an article called, “The case of the mysterious lever.” I confess, when I saw the title and my byline in the table of contents, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had written about. The article was one of those non-time sensitive “evergreen” pieces that editors sometimes sit on for awhile, holding them until they have some space to fill, and I’d completely forgotten about it.

What’s the lever? Well, you’ll just have to do what I did. Read my own article to find out.

Gotta run, I’m off to the minefield.


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