Sorry it is a gimmick. I do not have the answers of what you should do and not do when you are trying to start freelancing; after-all I am but a newbie myself.
I do know that there are a lot of opinions and a lot of experts. Since longform writing is out and lists are in, everything is in lists. Even blog posts must be kept short, because our attention spans are short. We need something catchy to grab your eye, but don’t use a cliche. While you are at it, “passion” and “innovation” are over. Everyone has a lot of passionate and innovative ideas, you need something to indicate that you are more passionate and more innovative than the general schlub hawking $2 articles.
After a whole day of reading advice on the internet, it can be pretty discouraging. You realize that you made mistakes. I made a typo. I didn’t “research” the company enough. This work of trying to work is so much… work? It is hard not to feel discouraged and also slightly bemused at the state of freelance writing on the web. Oops, you will have to forgive me, I made my blog post too long….
“Beaufort, South Carolina” by Elisa.rolle CC by SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Writing and reading. Reading and writing. They are really just one and the same. Without one, the other would not exist, and because of that, I suspect, most writers are also avid readers. I know I am.
A long time ago, I remember reading an interview with Pat Conroy, the author of The Prince of Tides, where he discussed his writing education. I can’t find the article or interview, but I remember it quite well. As a graduate of the Citadel in Charleston, SC, he recounted that he did not have an Ivy League education. This is not dissuade him. Instead, Conroy decided to commit himself, not only to writing, but to reading too. He reasoned that if he couldn’t be an Ivy League graduate, he could at least read like one. What struck me about Conroy’s interview was not only his sheer determination, but also his focus on the importance of reading as a writer. The interview even described the page count that he read everyday, which I remember thinking was a massive amount. Unfortunately this page amount is a detail that, as Billy Collins describes, “decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.”
I have not always been a voracious reader like Conroy, but I have always aspired to be one. As an academic, I ironically lost my habit of reading for pleasure. Overwhelmed by work reading and academic literature, the time for pleasure reading was moved aside. Over the past two years, I refocused my reading habit and built time into my day for pleasure reading. By reinvesting in reading fiction or literary non-fiction (as opposed to academic literature), I have found myself recentered in the things I love about reading…and writing.
Photography of an archway in Maynooth, Ireland. By L.Phillips, 2010.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
Times of liminality are frightening, exciting, exhausting, and overwhelming. And so, I find myself in one of these times. For the last 10 years my identity has been tied to that of a student, a researcher, and a scholar. I knew my road and I followed it. There were times of difficulty, like when I was trying to finish a grant proposal, and I went into labor with my first child. Still, even in those most difficult times I always knew which way was forward. Now, I am done. I am a PhD, but not an academic. I loved the academy, but I knew after many years in it that my life was going to be outside of it. And so it is. I stand on the edge of a precipice and am entering my new life as a writer and editor.
Welcome. This is my website documenting and sharing my love of writing. It also provides information about how to contact me if you are interested in hiring me for writing, editing, or researching. I plan on including work on ideas about writing, my own history of writing, some musings about linguistics, and the occasional homage to anthropology. In other words: a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.