Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Roller Coaster Writing

I thought it would be fun to post this article, which I wrote a couple of months ago.

Have you ever boarded a roller coaster at an amusement park, only to wonder what you’d just gotten yourself into? If so, then you know what it feels like to be a full-time freelance writer. Up one day, down the next. . .the average freelancer rises over the crest on the proverbial coaster, only to plummet back down the other side, losing her stomach in the process. Scary stuff, the writing biz.

Even those of us who are fortunate enough to have book contracts aren’t immune to that inevitable “stomach in the throat” feeling when we don’t know what’s coming around the next bend. “Will my readers love my next story, or boo me off the stage?” “Will my editors decide the gig is up and send me packing?” “Will I be able to meet my next deadline if I take on extra work on the side?” “Can I really support myself in this crazy business?”

Oy, the questions! How they fly. And yet, the writer plows ahead, undeterred. What propels her, besides the rent, electric bill and so forth? Her undeniable love affair with the written word. She is addicted. . .unashamedly, head-over-heels addicted. She couldn’t give it up if she wanted to.

And so she perseveres. She eats, sleeps and breathes her WIP (work in progress). The laptop becomes her faithful companion. She wonders if others fall asleep thinking of the next step in their plotline. Her dreams are filled with images from her story—colorful, vibrant and alive. Morning awakens and she rushes to pick up her characters where she left them the night before. When her fingers hit the keys, her breathing steadies. She’s at home once more.

Perhaps you can relate to this writer. Maybe you’ve walked a mile in her shoes. If so, then you know what it’s like to give yourself over to your craft. There are high highs and low lows, and many unexpected places in-between. The joys are many, but so are the sorrows. And the freelancer, for all of her trying, still battles the inevitable questions and fears. She also wonders about the financial. . .a lot. And like the woman in this story, she seeks out other work, hoping to make ends meet. She edits on the side. She pitches magazine articles. She shares her story with writers groups. She offers her services as a creative writing teacher at a local homeschool group. And all with one thing in mind. . .to support her habit.
There is no twelve-step program for this poor soul. She’s in this thing for life. When her days come to their rightful end, she will be found at her computer, rigid fingers still perched on the keys, the words THE END etched in crisp black print against a frozen white screen. Times New Roman font, of course. 12-pitch. Just in case an editor happens by.

Yep, writing is tough work. But this weary author, for all of her joys and sorrows, hopes the gig won’t be up, even when this life is over. If there’s not a laptop waiting for her in heaven, she plans to take it up with the Almighty. Surely he will offer her a position as a freelancer. After all, the stories up there will be out of this world. Literally.

NOTE: Don't forget to leave a comment on Monday's "Weddings by Bella" post so that you can enter the drawing to win a copy of "It Had to Be You."

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