What I do remember is going to a different bookstore each month to buy both Writer’s Market, the magazine, and The Writer. I would pour through each, drawn even then to non-fiction. I made lists of magazines and ideas and never did much but dream.
Each year I’d show up at one bookstore or another to buy Writer’s Market – the big annual that’s full of information about how to write, how to query, what publishers of both books and magazines are looking for. Again, I’d make lists, underline things and generally dream about becoming a freelance writer.
It’s hard to know now exactly what I thought earning my living as a writer would be like. I’m sure I had some notions of coffee with stars, or more likely given my inclinations, politicians, my name if not in lights at least on some interesting mastheads.
In a way it has been like that, and continues to be.
Although my first queries let to rejection those pre-printed slips of paper somehow gave me permission to continue writing and submitting.
All sorts of interesting things happened. When I discovered computers would check my creative spelling, I bought one and ended up doing tech writing.
From that I moved to editing a metaphysical magazine, which led to ghostwriting… etc. etc. etc.
Has it been glamorous? Occasionally. That first magazine won a Maggie Award and I got to swank it up a bit when, with other staff, got to go to Los Angeles and accept it in a big award ceremony.
One author paid my way to Hawaii on the theory we’d write there. We didn’t, but I had a ton of fun and the book did get written.
There have been down times too – when I didn’t get a contract or ran out of money or was told I wasn’t working hard enough – you know, the stuff of life.
As I look back on these 30+ years I think freelance writing has brought me pretty much what I’ve expected. A decent income, some interesting people – lots of interesting people actually, and the freedom to pretty much live life on my own terms.
Can you expect the same?
I think so, as long as you’re willing to do the footwork and put up with the ups and downs.
It’s been both my experience and observation that we get in life pretty much what we expect – oh not in the details, but in general. I’m pretty optimistic. I like people. I expect things to go well and they usually do, especially when I’m willing to look on the bright side?
What do you expect from freelance writing? What’s been your experience?