“So….what do you do all day?”
It’s a common (and fairly valid) question that I get asked somewhat frequently by people other than my mother (she now knows better). The truth is; every day is different. Actually, that’s not true. As much as I would like to claim that this is an accurate depiction of my daily life:
I start a lot of my days the same way: I get up, I make vegetable juice and coffee, I sit down at my computer and I start either writing, or looking for freelance jobs. I break occasionally to watch the industrious make money on the street corner or I visit my local Asian market for wilted lettuce and pockmarked apples.
This is exponentially less glamorous than what people envision when they hear, “freelance writer.” The picture in their head usually involves a fancy espresso drink, an outdoor café and a flood of sunlight. Or they picture travel, late mornings, and even later nights, all spent whimsically typing away with a bottle of wine or Jack Daniels next to my outdated laptop.
As a side note, I’d like to thank Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, Hemmingway and every poet that ever lived, for perpetuating the perception of writers as alcoholics. Today, this term is used somewhat loosely (usually to describe someone who you don’t like, but who drinks as much as you do), and while the designation might be somewhat unfair, I’m here to tell you that many writers are alcoholics, most are not. Those that are, are counted amongst the most successful of the global literati.
So it’s something to aspire to. I’m not sure if it’s that whole tortured, I’m trying to battle my demons thing, or if alcohol breeds creative self-expression (anyone standing at my window on a Saturday night will probably vote for the latter), but in my experience, a little SoCo and lime makes for really good writing.
What was my point? Oh yea, what I actually “do”.
So, freelance writer is probably the most ambiguous thing anyone could ever “be”– even “performance artist” is more specific. But I like it like that for two reasons. One, it gives me options, and as a creative person, options and a lack of fences is incredibly important. The second reason, is that it prevents people from automatically assigning a list of judgments about who I am and what I must be like, based on my profession. If you just said, “I don’t do that,” pay attention to your thoughts the next time someone tells you they’re an accountant or engineer.
Back to me (it is my blog, right?). The problem I have with multiple options is that I want to try everything all at the same time without pausing for breath or sleep. I want to write articles, I want to copywrite, I want to write fiction, I want to write nonfiction, I want to be the most prolific writer the world has ever seen. I want to be and do all of these things so I end up like a puppy in a room full of tennis balls and dog treats with my tongue out and tail wagging, working myself into a frenzy until my head threatens to explode.
Focus. Breathe. It will all be ok.
Because landlords don’t take IOUs, I’ve focused on the branch of writing that would pay for my Tenderloin apartment (and that auspicious bottle of wine). For the last eight months, I have lived primarily as a copywriter, and despite my best efforts to maintain a diversified client-base, laziness kicked in and I did the majority of my work for a digital agency that focused on technology and ecommerce companies.
For a girl who had a flip phone until last summer, this was not exactly my cup of tea. I’d rather tell you inspirational stories than suggest you install security software on your latest device, but mama had to pay the bills. Mama also got bored, so life kicked me in the pants. Remind me to send a card.
As a pattern, I follow the path of least resistance. I have dreams and aspirations and I’m hungry to make them a reality, but when things don’t immediately work out, I get distracted by the low-hanging fruit that promises instant gratification (even if it later causes indigestion).
Not that the agency was low-hanging fruit—they do great work, provided me with additions to my portfolio, and perhaps my favorite perk, they introduced me to my boyfriend. But in the grand scheme of my overall career arc, it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing or where I wanted to be doing it.
Now I’m back at the drawing board and in front of a long and comprehensive list of possibilities, trying to figure out which direction to take. I still want to tell inspirational stories; I still want to pay for my Tenderloin apartment, I still want to publish the book on which I’ve been laboring for a year.
How am I going to marry all of these wants? I have no freaking idea.
So every day, I wake up, I make vegetable juice and coffee, I sit down at my outdated computer, and I start writing. And looking for jobs. And networking. And reading. And writing some more. And that’s what I do all day.