Remember that time I was all, “oh my god I’m supposed to be a writer“? And then continued on my merry way?
Well, life’s crazy guys. And since I wrote that post in January a million and one things have happened, never mind the whole quitting-my-job-and-moving-to-Germany thing.
I spent years working in the start-up world at various marketing positions. This was fine. But mostly I wanted to write. Write anything, really. A book, essays, blog posts, help articles. It didn’t matter. And now, a month after we’ve arrived in Germany, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
My work, like most people with a dream, can be broken into two categories: (1) Work I do for money and (2) Work I do with an end-goal that pays me nothing.
Work I do for money
Surprisingly, as soon as I announced I was freelance again, I had a few emails with offers of social media work. While I’m terrified I’m going to have no money forever (I’ve noticed that writers spend most of their time telling you how little money they make – p.s. I hate you guys), the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the social media world. Unless it’s a place where I can be 100% unfiltered, I hate doing brand social media. I hate the noise, I hate analytics, I hate feeling like it’s a race to beat everyone over the head with your next great headline (spoiler: it never will blow your mind).
So I turned them down. And it was scary. But really, really freeing.
Thankfully, saying no to those projects allowed space for the work I really want to do to enter my life.
Right now I spend about half my time working for my old company, running their blog and generally keeping content alive. It’s easy and fun since it’s the part of my job I truly looked forward to doing.
I also discovered a new company called CloudPeeps, which matches community and content managers to clients who need them. Through them I found a super cool Paris-based website that needed a content strategist. Huzzah!
The good news: I now have three consistent clients, so should decide they hate me, I won’t be homeless. The other great news is that living in Düsseldorf is cheap. I only technically need to work 20 hours per week to make enough for rent, food, travel and my new obsession with indoor trees.
One of the reasons I left the States was because I wanted to be able to focus on my writing career without stressing about money. There was no way I could have left my job and still lived in San Francisco. I could barely keep my job and live in San Francisco. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but San Francisco is expensive. Living in the States, period, is expensive.
Work that pays me zero dollars
Long-term, my big dream is to write for myself – books, essays, podcast storytelling and this here blog. I don’t fully know what that looks like. I’m working on a book now (SO SCARY), but I have no concept of whether it’s any good. I sort of like the idea of teaching, but to do that I’ll probably need to get my MFA (not off the table). So right now I’m learning everything I can and writing with abandon.
Two projects I’m working on are personal essays, a medium I had never read until a teacher suggested I submit a chapter of my book to Modern Love. After working on it for three months, hiring an editor and putting it on an online writer’s group, I’ve scrapped the whole thing and started again.
Some days I feel like I’m a great writer. I’m not afraid to cut myself open and showing you my scary insides. But most days I feel horrifically inarticulate. Like when I’m arguing with someone. Or trying to explain why I feel a certain way. I can describe those feelings, but I can’t boil them down to a single sentence. Oftentimes I show my work to other writers and they’re say, “Oh, it’s because x y and z” and I’m all HOLY SHIT YES IT’S EXACTLY THAT HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!
So mostly I’m slamming my head against my desk because I can’t articulate why my ex-boyfriend made me crazy, just that he did.
And speaking of said ex-boyfriend, I got an email from Elizabeth Gilbert last month (okay, fine, it was through her newsletter, but a girl can dream). Her publisher is celebrating 10 years since Eat Pray Love and will be publishing an anthology of stories called Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. AND I WANT IN SO BADLY.
Lucky for me, the book I’m writing is about exactly this so I spent the last two weeks working on my submission and yesterday I clicked “submit”. Please keep all your fingers and all your toes crossed forever.
And if I don’t get in? Them’s the breaks. Because I’m finally doing the work, not just talking about doing the work or reading about the work. Writing that anthology submission was hard and I learned a ton. I also have a pretty good essay – probably the best work I’ve ever done – and if they won’t take it, I’m sure I can convince someone else to.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to do this kind of writing. I sit at my desk next to the window with my coffee and I write like myself, if only for a few hours. It’s magical and challenging – exactly what I want out of my job.
So that’s where I am. I can’t believe in December of last year I had no idea what path I was supposed to take. Then January came (along with a magical conversation with my friend Amber) and my whole world opened up. Since then I’ve taken two writing classes, gone freelance, focused 100% of my work on writing, submitted to an anthology and actually have publication goals that don’t involve words like “strategic planning” and “management training”.
For the first time, I care.