Recidivist visitors (recidivisitors?) to this web blog know that I aspire to be a Writer with a capital Dubya. As I sit here in a branch of the Austin Public Library, for a group writing gathering of the Writers League of Texas, I am reminded that I already am at least a writer. I keep a journal that sometimes sits for weeks without an entry. I compose emails and texts. This blog, entries into websites like the one that got me a very lightly used bicycle helmet quite cheap. There’s the occasional greeting card, to do lists, and today I reworked my resume. At times there’s even a missive, epistle, screed or rant. I think about making the shift from a hobbyist, diarist, listmaker, blogger, etc. to become a paid author. However, it is a large step from writer to Writer.
Recently I checked out from this very library a book by Moira Anderson Allen, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer. It’s a bit dated and I’m only two chapters in, but when I picked up the book to read it, I got a bit of an electrical charge, which I took as a good sign. I’m sure it will get me some ideas so that I don’t have to reinvent the (bicycle) wheel. But the thing I keep hearing is that I need to hang out with other writers. It’s like bicycling in that sense, and I imagine most human activities: while essentially a solo effort, with others, there is more meaning, learning and enjoyment.
For example, as I worked on my resume at the nearby community college, earlier today I had a critique group of one, my long-time but occasional job search coach and friend. She gave me pointers, I added or deleted words and after a good while, I had a product I could live with. My first entry under EXPERIENCE is now titled “Writer.” It includes a short blurb about this blog, which is almost four years old and has had 12,000+ visitors and 24,000+ views. I also mention my book, which I’ve completed the first draft and am editing chapter nine (of 24).
While we keep being told that traditional journalism is going down the drain, digital content is surging in popularity. Blogs not so much, but from advertising, technical writing, to articles, screenplays, social media, books, e-books, there are zillions of words flying around the world and being read. People will still pay for some of those words, and someone has to write them, so why not me? Or you? No reason except that the words need to be what people want to read and what editors and publishers will pay for. Therein lies the rub.
Some bloggers make money (Lauren Modery of Hipstercrite and Darren Rowse of Problogger are two that come to mind), but they do not restrict themselves to one outlet. Writers these days, unless they are popular and successful enough to have an agent, also may need another job or income stream, like Patreon. They also have to promote themselves, collaborate, have clients they write for, and keep searching for the next assignment or client. The business end of writing is something that will take time away from one’s writing time, but that work must be done if there is money to be made. It’s something I’m learning about even though I’d rather “just write.”
With the internet there are many more opportunities, and many more people competing for a slice of the pie. So if you don’t love writing, just doing it to make money may not be enough to sustain you. If I can monetize this blog, get my book and other works published, perhaps someday I can then make the switch from writer to Writer. If that day never comes, at least I will have put in the work and told my story. Everyone has one worth telling, and I wish well as you keep on telling yours.
Thank you, visitors and followers all, for reading this bit of mine today.
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