Row, Row, Row
Being a freelance writer is tough. It's not the kind of thing most people set out to do (or do so with erroneous visions of "free time" floating in their cubicle-bound minds). I'm lucky to support myself as I do. And I'm lucky to have a few friends in the same boat...some in bigger, better-built boats, some in roughly the same small, but sturdy boat as my own, and some whose boats went from dinghies to yachts in lightning speed. I would not be where I am without the support, leads, encouragement and sympathy of these people. You have to be a strong rower on your own, but you get further when you row together (wow, this boat metaphor is really spinning out of control--you'll see where I got the inspiration).
Every single writing-friend I have had or do have has offered me support and I send great waves of gratitude to them for that, and return it in any way I can. In the freelance world you can either hoard or share leads among your comrades. I can't blame anyone for hoarding--you did the work to get the source after all--but I've come to learn that the more fluid you let go, the more comes back. The key for me is never to ask of someone anything I wouldn't give in return. I credit my friends in huge measure for my success.
For instance, I record book reviews on a near-monthly basis for KQED Radio's weekly news magazine The California Report. This came about because my friend Colin Berry one day emailed me and told me they were looking for people with a little literary and radio experience. A little was exactly as much as I had and I was scared because it seemed "bigger" than me. I balked. Then he nudged me again some months later. They were still looking. At last I emailed them--tentatively, not expecting anything to happen...and eventually I got brave enough to do one. A year plus later I'm doing it regularly and loving it, and it's been a big boon to me. I would not have found my way there without Colin's tip and encouragment. I have been lucky all my life to be part of an unusually generous network of fellow writers and mentors.
Tonight Colin gave me another lead when all I asked for was his knowledge of submission guidelines. We writers must champion and support each other. We must believe in a plentiful, abundant universe with enough for all...and do our hard work too, of course. So, in my friend Colin's words, I remind all my writer friends (and any writer who stops by for a visit):
"We're all in this leaky lifeboat together. If one swims we all swim."
On that note, I want to congratulate my friend Susan Henderson, whose blog Litpark is a must visit, and truly original literary site. She sold her novel in the most astonishing way (on her own). Susan is a huge champion of fellow writers and a fine, fine writer.
I also want to say congrats to my friend Emily Brady, who went from the Columbia Journalism Masters Program to stringing for the New York Times in less than a year.
I am awed by so many people.