Monday, March 04, 2013

Write Write Bang Bang!

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of my switch to full time freelance writing, I can officially say that the worrying never stops. Today was my first day of not having an assignment in months and, though I had prepared mentally for this day, I found myself thinking, "Is this it? Perhaps I've filed my last story or seen my last accepted pitch."

Today, I kept waiting for the magical email or Facebook message that never came. I checked all my recently completed assignments and assignments to come and stalked all my favorite writing sites, but there was no incredible convergence that resulted in a magical gig landing in front of me.

Until 2:17pm. A project manager offered me an editing gig for the rest of the week. Which is why I really must say right here, right now, that it takes a kind of thick-skinned, roll-with-it, Zen master of a personality to be a freelance writer, and I have learned to pretend to be that kind of person.

It turns out that freelance writing and editing demand a good amount of pretending.

Like pretending to take a picture of my precious son when I'm really photographing something right behind him that I need for a story.

Or saying I spoke to someone who said I could do this or go there or take that--oh, it wasn't you? Then it must have been your boss.

Something I never find the need to lie about, though, is the unglamorous nature of my chosen career. I've filed stories from the dark bathroom of a Tucson Motel 6 and from a video poker parlor at a Virginia truck stop. I've said yes to wild deadlines, like ghostwriting three chapters of a technical book in three days. In fact, the wilder the deadline, the better I seem to perform, that little anxiety pumping down my arms and to my fingertips as I type.

So I'd like to think five years of having my own freelance writing business means I have some kind of proof that I can do this, that it means it's a viable choice for the next five years. But the days of slow work prompt me to wonder about making it for even the next five days.

Then there is the deeper question: Does that little bit of fear keep me hungry? Without the fear perhaps I'd be without the gigs. I'll ruminate on this and let you know what I think on the six year anniversary of my freelance career.