To be a freelance writer—to work for yourself and call the shots and figure out how to make enough money to put food on the table and keep your baby diapered up—you’ve got to be a really motivated person. You’ve got to have goals, and you’ve got to want to fight to make them. But this first month of this new, beautiful year, I didn’t have it in me.
The first step to being a successful writer is investing in a solid coffeemaker. Me? I have a Ninja Coffee Bar. I discovered it on a late-night infomercial during the early weeks of momhood, when I was delirious from being forced to join #teamnosleep.
In recent months, I’ve come to realize how important this coffeemaker is to my writing career. Thanks to this machine, I can write anywhere from four to six stories a week — stories I’m proud of.
In the past, Labor Day has never meant more to me than the opportunity to sleep in on a Monday. This year, though, is different. For the past few weeks, my family and I have been talking a lot about what it means to be a worker in today’s society, especially in light of the fact that the country elected a president who would probably struggle to understand the hardships of the average American.
On August 15, my partner and about 300-some members of the security force at Savannah River Site went on strike.
Recently, I was flipping through an old notebook I use to free-write late at night. Well, at least I used to. It only took flipping a few pages back to find where I'd chronicled the time and minutes between contractions during labor with my daughter. She was born in February — of last year.
Here we are, about six months into the year, and I've been thinking a lot about my writing goals recently. In addition to maintaining my daily news writing gig at VICE's Broadly, I've broken into a couple of new publications, including Brides.com and the newly unveiled VICE Impact. I've also been blogging regularly over at Creative Loafing Atlanta, which allows me to work with my mentor again, in addition to keeping tabs on what's happening in my home state.
What I haven't done thus far this year, though, is place a piece that tells one of my own stories. I love narratives for the way you can play with language to paint a vivid scene that draws a reader in. It's my favorite kind of writing to read and do.
What's holding me back, though, is that lately I haven't been so keen on the kind of self-reflection that yields a great personal narrative. Many writers keep a journal to help them work through stuff: ideas, random thoughts, even memorable conversations. But I haven't written anything for myself in almost a year.
I could blame my never-ending fight to find the time, between working and mommy-ing, but that feels like a cheap excuse. If I'm being honest with myself, I think I'm a little afraid. I don't know what I'll find once I start digging within myself. Since almost simultaneously starting this mom journey and full-time writer journey, I guess I've been nervous to check in with myself about how it's all going.
I suppose that's what being a writer is all about: Making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your work. And I know once I start writing, the good stuff will eventually flow out so easily. It's just a matter of getting those first few words down on paper.
Then I wonder: Do I even have interesting stories to tell?
What I'm reading: Not a damn thing. Oh, wait, actually, we recently got a subscription to The Atlantic and the digital version of the Washington Post. What's waiting for me to read but I'm too sleepy at the end of the day to dive in? Moms Who Drink and Swear by Nicole Knepper.
Since I started this freelance journey of mine, most of my work has been digital-based. There are certain things you have to think about when writing for an online audience: shorter word counts for shorter attention spans; including links for SEO; being pithy. And I love doing all those things.
But, man, there's something about seeing your byline on the front page of a newspaper you respect.
Last month, a story I wrote for Creative Loafing Atlanta, the city's alternative newsweekly, captured the coveted cover space. In it, I profile writer Van Jensen, known for putting his mark on The Flash and Green Lantern Corps.
Check out the cover:
I'll always adore local print publication and what they strive to do--after all, I spent almost a decade working for one.
On Friday, the day Donald Trump officially became the 45th president of the United States, I took my daughter to the park with the intention of not thinking about politics. Earlier in the day, I joked with my editor about the day being set aside for mourning. But I really cried when I watched the Obamas welcome the Trumps into the White House.
I live in a very red county now, so it shouldn't have surprised me to see, on our drive to the park, white men standing on the corner of a busy intersection, waving a Confederate flag and holding up a sign that read, "America is back!" My chest tightened, but I pushed it out of my head so I could enjoy playing with my baby girl. She just started walking, so every day is a new adventure with her.
But the next day, Saturday, I joined about 600 people from the Augusta area to march in solidarity with the historic Women's March on Washington.
It's the last morning of 2016, and my kid and I are hanging out in my home office. Correction: I'm hanging out in my office; my kid is wreaking havoc. Toys, office supplies and books I've yet to read are scattered everywhere. The play area I've set up for her under the window remains neat and untouched.
I'm in planning mode, but half-heartedly. What do I want to accomplish next year, professionally and personally? How do I continue to grow my business and manage the never-ending needs of my tiny human? What am I going to do about childcare, now that she's so close to walking and will undoubtedly no longer be content to sit in my office and play while I work?
Then I look over and see my kid. She's got a marker in one hand and a book in her lap -- the picture of a future liberal arts major.
It's been a long five days since I sat at my desk and engaged with the online world. Are you still trying to clear the post-Thanksgiving fog, too? Here are five articles I read this morning to bring me crashing back to the real world:
"The Toll Activism Takes on Your Body" via Tonic
"Trump pushes conspiracy theory that ‘millions’ voted illegally for Clinton" via Washington Post
Today, I published two pieces on Vice's Broadly. The stories they share are very different, but they both focus on a black woman who caught headlines this week.
The first piece is about Selma director Ava DuVernay, who just became the first woman of color to work on a film with a $100 million budget. Only two other women have reached this feat. With Disney's full confidence, she's bringing us A Wrinkle in Time, due out next year.
Insert that awesome hashtag #BlackWomenDidThat.
It's a Monday night, and all is quiet in our house. Down the hallway, my kid is making breathing noises through her pacifier. She's been fighting sleep all day, so to be able to sit at my desk uninterrupted right now is really nice.