Dear Dorothy Parker allegedly said, “I speak six languages, and I can’t say no in any of them.”
If she didn’t say it, she could have, and indeed, she should have. I can speak only for myself when I say that learning how to say no has been one of the most valuable, and most expensive, lessons of my life.

It is very hard for me, and I guess for most freelancers, to say no to work. But there are times when you’ve just gotta listen to those bells and sirens and shrieks saying, “It is not worth it!” Because there are those times and those jobs that, if you don’t turn them down, will come back to haunt you, one way or another.

This past year I have had my first bad debts—an alleged pro in New York, and then a lunatic who found me on Writer’s Digest—my own fault, I guess. We were besties right up to the minute when I asked her to pay me.

In the past month or so, a jackass of a new variety has put me on edge, and I won’t relax until his credit card clears my account. He’s the type who feels entitled to call me and get free advice, push me for tight deadlines, and ask my opinion on his chances of becoming a best-selling author, yet he wants a few bucks off for…who cares why. I don’t think so.

Ah, the freelance life.

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