Monday, December 19, 2011


Six months ago, I quit my full-time job and picked up my first freelance writing gig developing a high school civics text.

That decision has had unforeseen consequences on my writing life.

I've relished, exalted, and been all-round giddy while writing the parts I naturally enjoy: cultural history, the founding of our country, and international relations.

And I've despaired, gnashed my teeth, and procrastinated like I've never done in my life over the sections that bore me or that I abhor (yes, it's a strong word, I know). Sections like the the judicial branch (I'm not a lawyer and have little interest in law) and the chapter on politics (I'd pretty much rather do anything but write a chapter on our political system--yet I am the same gal who is glued to the TV and Internet during election returns--even on off years).

Writing this non-fiction curriculum has depleted my novel-writing desire on many days. Burn-out has been frequent.

And then the rare day arrives when I finish editing a nasty, wiggly chapter and I am on top of the world, thinking, oh yeah, if I can do this in a high school text, a novel will be a piece off cake!

A couple months into this project, I came the realization that I don't want to write full-time. I want to write part-time and live so I can then write some more. I don't want to write to live. And the project has seen fit to hammer this thought into me. I am writer, but not solely a writer. I am a thinker, researcher, slave to my cat, dreamer, foodie, historian, and friend. Oh, and a wife.

I don't care if that means I'm not a prolific writer. Writing is my way of coalescing many of the aspects of me into a unique picture that I can frame the way I wish before sharing it with the world. It remains a mere snapshot of me in time, a mere shade of the many hues with which I color myself.

In the end (I'm only halfway through the project), I hope I can look back and see that I've gained a measure of self-discipline, pacing, and flexibility in my writing that will transfer over to my novels. Maybe my fiction writing will have matured as a result of my non-fiction adventure! At the very least, I'm pretty sure I'll appreciate the ability to freely write my novels without fact-checking because I'll be the creator of the world.

1 comment:

  1. "a mere shade of the many hues with which I color myself." Love that line. This is part of why I've not pursued freelancing...I want to have the energy to write *my* stories.


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