I decided in 2004 that I was going to become a freelance writer. It seems, looking back, that it was a just-like-that sort of decision, but I suppose it had been moldering around inside of me for years. Occasional stories written on scraps of paper were buried in boxes in the closet, stacked atop old journals.
But writers were…something. I didn’t quite know what, actually. They had little bylines after things they wrote, and there were those blurbs at the ends of their articles that said they were freelance writers (which most certainly made it so), and sometimes they said other things in there like “climbs Mt. Everest for fun” and “wrestles alligators while tap dancing.” OK, well, technically, I’d not seen any of those things listed at the end of anyone’s bio excerpt, but it might as well have been in there. Whatever I read, it seemed that those “real” writers were doing something grand, and I was just me.
I was just writing for fun, and that was different.
So I wrote a Christmas newsletter that year (remember those?) and told everyone I was going to start freelance writing as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It seemed a perfectly logical thing to do, but by the time I’d licked all the envelopes shut, stamped them, and mailed them off, it seemed like possibly the dumbest thing I had ever considered.
January came and that newsletter was hanging over me like I’d been double-dog dared. Now honestly, I probably could have forgotten all about it at that point–does anyone actually read a Christmas newsletter anyway?
My effort and interest have waxed and waned over the years, but I’ve had a good run and a solid return on the effort I have put in. I’m not a household name by any means, but I’ve enjoyed writing books and articles and a few other projects. At the end of this month, I have a piece that is being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Adoption: 101 Stories About Forever Families and Meant-to-Be Kids. It was something that I had submitted close to 10 years ago, back when I was just starting, and now, here it is in the book. By the time I got the email, I’d long given up any hope of being included.
It doesn’t really matter how many times I’ve been published or even what the publication is. I admit it, seeing my name as the author/writer/contributor never gets old. I don’t write for a living, so it stays fun. The paid writing I do helps to cover our travel expenses, so that is another perk. I’ve come to realize that it changed my life to realize that I had it in me to make this dream come true.
So this is my shout out to anybody else out there who is thinking or dreaming or planning. Just get started. Stop thinking about whatever it is an find a way to make it work. You’ll be glad you did.
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