The life of a freelance writer


Freelancing is the grass that looks green to the full-timed corporate drones. The dream to one day be one’s own boss seems hard to resist. But it can also be a nightmare.

A freshly discovered blog by Ratna Rajaiah, an ex-advertising suit now a freelance writer, tells it like it is about freelancing:

So you are your own master – big deal. The only thing that means is that when you crack the whip, it smacks your own butt and ow, does it hurt… you need to be a pretty decent runner – to run after people who’ve promised you money (yours that they owe you)/assignments/contacts/anything and how exhausting it can be to do all of this while wearing patient, polite not to mention a blazingly charming smile, when all you want to do is kick the person’s teeth in. (You know, that guy who said tomorrow never comes? He must have been a guy who makes out cheques to freelancers.)

My good friend and Arabic copywriter, translator, author and poet, Hanna Farha recently had a tough time getting paid by one advertising agency here in Dubai. They owed him around US$ 10,000. Yes – that’s more than 30,000 dirhams in dues!

Now, Hanna is a very soft-spoken and gentle person, most writers are. So what did he do? He spilled his heart out and wrote a poem to the agency’s client.

And guess what? The agency paid up. Now that’s what I call the power of poetry.

God forbid, should you be at your wit’s end dealing with an agency that treats its freelancers like beggars without bowls, take inspiration from this:

Let’s pray – a poem by Hanna FarhaLet’s pray… let’s pray
Hoping that (ad agency name)
Will pay
Its debts, our bills
Without delay
Debts to those who’ve been waiting
Night after night,
Day after day
A number of days now exceeding
One thousand days and one day
Waiting for (brand owner name) the great
To think about others’ fate
And put an end to a nasty game
That will only bring (ad agency name) shame…
Let’s pray… let’s pray
Hoping that (ad agency name) will soon pay…
Its debts, our bills, without delay
To those she owes, quite a lot
Standing in big lines, on the way
Suffering from strong winds and dust
And a lousy weather
Wet and hot
But remember Mr (brand owner name)
My ads made you our “King Kong”
No one can claim you were wrong
No one can claim you are wrong
They all think, you’re always right
Please excuse me Mr (brand owner name)…
Ask your (ad agency name) to pay us now
What she owes
No ‘why’ and ‘how’
Please make sure, Mr (brand owner name)
That (ad agency name) pays us all, in peace
Or else we’ll go to the police
We don’t like wars
We don’t like fights
We only want you
To pay our rights.

(c) 2006 Hanna H. Farha


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Leave a comment


  1. Betty

     /  May 26, 2010

    Having just inadvertantly stumbled across your blog: US$ 10,000 is a lot to be owed. Has it never occurred to you to write copy and send invoices in instalments? I have never undertaken a large project without this safeguard, but then, I am a Dutch copywriter in the cold and down-to-earth Netherlands…

    • Hey there Betty – welcome to the humid and hot UAE – where clients are sometimes eager to get the work done but slow on the payments.

      Sometimes copywriters who are too decent to insist on getting paid on one job before starting the other are taken advantage of – that is how the $10,000 must have come up.

      Yes, safeguards is a good idea – paperwork, POs, written commitments. Better than someone’s word specially in the case of freelancers.

      Wishing we were in Netherlands 🙂

  2. Habib

     /  March 29, 2010

    Dear Farrukh,

    Hanna Farha recently launched his website to publish some of his writings/poetry.

    If anyone is interested in reading more check it out on

    • Dear Habib – thanks for letting me know. Mr Hanna is one of the sweetest copywriters I have ever worked with. He’s like a father figure and a friend too!

  3. Indu

     /  June 15, 2008

    Hi Farrukh,

    When am not writing away furiously in my full time job, i pen in a few words as a freelancer….:)

    I liked the last portion in your ‘About’ section…am going through that phase now…between working harder at my style and telling myself not to take the last punch too hard…i have actually wondered how these editors would have turned out to be had they had to come the hard way….:)

    Of course, i must say, not all of them are that way…:)

  4. Roshni from Singapore, Aleka from the States and Nancy from the freelance kingdom of lazy clients and unpaid cheques – happy to know that across the world, we writers undergo the same kind of daily struggles. But we’ll shine through. The freedom is worth it!

  5. nancy raj

     /  December 18, 2006

    i am budding freelancer, i design and do illustrations,i spend more on my telphone and internet bills than what i am supposed to be paid by my client.
    i was browsing thru the internet to find other means and ways to get paid by our lazy clients and found ur poem!

    hah i was in the verge of losing hope till i saw this very creative way of asking our clients to pay!

    wonderful farukh!


  6. Hey Ratna,

    Link is fixed!


  7. Hi farrukh
    My blog has changed to So please change the link on your page

  8. Aleka

     /  August 20, 2006

    Uncle Hanna if you see this, I love it! Well done! Miss all of you, I send you a shout and a laugh from the States

  9. Roshni

     /  July 28, 2006

    Hi Farrukh,

    Thanks for sharing the poem with us…It sure added some cheer to this dreary friday afternoon. Kudo’s to Hannah all the way from from sunny Singapore!

  10. Ratna: Your writing is what advertising needs – it’s fun.

    Shahzad: The poem is a good template, just insert agency name and send a part of the recovered amount to my friend Hanna 😉

    Govind: Actually I do have suggestions for you – if you are in Dubai, mail me at my email address given on the homepage of this blog and we’ll work out something.

  11. Govind Dhar

     /  June 13, 2006

    Your opening lines make me rethink my position. Im currently at a desk job and my heart is in writing, directing, acting and public speech. Im passionate about film and write poetry from time to time. I do amateur cartooning as well and I just dont know where to start with actually looking for a magazine or agency who would look at my stuff. Any suggestions?

    PS – loved Hanna’s poem. Absolute genius.

  12. Lol ! they paid up becoz of this poem?

    I need to write some poetry to a number of people then !

  13. Farrukh
    Thank you and Hannah, beautifully, beautifully put.


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