I have wanted to be a writer since I was thirteen years old. The year was 1998; I had a notebook full of poems and a head full of dreams and fancies. Enter Carrie Bradshaw, also circa 1998, who – according to Michael Patrick King – lived in her plush New York City apartment and wrote a weekly column for the New York Star. This chronically skinny fashionista’s research included slinging cosmopolitans with her “working-girl”friends, sexing up gentlemen rather frequently, and looking eerily like Sarah Jessica Parker. At thirteen, I wanted to look like Sarah Jessica Parker. Ms. Bradshaw was so confident with her Marlboro Lights, designer short shorts, Manolo Blahniks and on-cue voiceover. According to Sex & the City, this was the life of a writer.
As real life would have it, this is not the life of a writer.
I have worked in insurance for the last five years. Mediocre day job that it is, it funds the essentials: rent, food, transportation, and a college education (a.k.a. escape route). Still, writing policies didn’t exactly measure up to the kind of writing I was interested in. It was only last spring that I perused the internetz so extensively for a writing job that it was only a matter of time before I tripped and fell into “anything and everything LA” website, LA Cityzine. By way of the most informal of job interviews – over the phone in a stairwell during a makeshift break (“Family emergency” always works), I quickly became the new kid on the block. A year and some odd months later, I am contributing towards uCrave network music website BeatCrave.com. Reviews, news, blurbs, upcoming events – you name it, we write it.
As would be expected, I have not quit my day job. As unsatisfying as it is having to direct the daylight hours to something else entirely, it is close to impossible to expend all energy towards fattening up one’s portfolio, much less write for a living. Like most other writers, I am winging it sans trust fund, reality show, or sugar daddy. It goes without saying that I had often wondered how the aforementioned Ms. Bradshaw was not only able to land a position at VOGUE Magazine, but was able to talk them into paying her four dollars and fifty cents a word. (You’d be surprised at how many freelance writers’ minds that dollar amount has been branded upon. I guess that is why she’s a fictional character, and I am not.)
Writing for the relative masses is nothing like I could have ever expected it, for the good and the bad of it all. Needless to say, there’s nothing quite like the first few months where you’re super excited at Googling your name and coming up with more than a MySpace or Facebook profile. To date, the most rewarding moments include being patted on the back by editors, the networking possibilities, and of course, feedback from the subjects themselves. Access to new music rocks. Constant PR emails do not. However, the best of the best moments stem from the connections with choice writers who have proven to be as driven if not more than I am. It encourages me enough to assist in keeping excessive wordplay from becoming an obsolete cut-and-paste sport.
So I’d be omitting the truth if I said that writing does not pay. It does. And as anyone could tell you, it can pay about as much as the rapidly descending level of sanity experienced with every long night, looming deadline, and growing pile of work. Yet, it is of immense consolation that the world’s best writers have been considered to be a little off their rocker.