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Saturday, May 17, 2014

I'm Baaaack -- Reflections on Three Years of Freelancing

I can't even remember when I last posted on here, and for that I am sorry.  In fact, some of you may not even remember me! I would give excuses, etc., but honestly, now that I am freelancing, I've just had to be super careful how I spend my time, and that includes my writing time.  That said, I have resolved to be more active on this blog, as this community has in the past been great supporters, and, well--I miss you all!

The last time I was on here, I think I had decided to stop teaching and instead begin a freelance writing and writing coaching business.  I told myself that after a year of full-time freelancing, I'd evaluate the business and what it had taught me.  Well, the fact that one year turned to three sort of sums it up for me.  I can't believe it's been three years, but it has, and they've been the fastest, busiest, and yet most rewarding (by far) of my life.

In that time, I've cultivated a list of long-term clients who are as devoted to me as I am to them, and I've worked with thousands (yes, literally, thousands) of others.  I've worked with more projects than I can count.  I've blogged about, edited, coached, cajoled, listened to, urged, and interviewed more than three hundred writers, and I've helped develop more than a hundred manuscripts.

In short, I've had a blast.  But what I've not done as much of as I'd like to lately is my own fiction writing.  I think back to where I was three years ago and laugh, because I originally started my business as a way of having more freedom to do my own writing.  And in some ways, that is still true.  I still have the flexibility of taking on work or passing on a project, and I can generally do it on my own timing.  The problem--and it's a nice one to have--is that I've been completely booked.  Quite literally, since the day I quit teaching and started full-time freelancing, I've had work, and generally more than I can even do at one time.  It's been sort of mind-blowing how very easily the work has come, especially compared to how very difficult so many other parts of my career have been, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Right now, my calendar is more full than I'd like it to be, but I'm just sort of going with it.  I'm still making time to write, just not as much as I'd like to.  But for now, for this moment, for this season in my life, it feels right.  What I'm doing and the balance I'm finding is necessary for my growth and development.  It's also really teaching me a lot about the business -- so much so that I know the next time I begin a novel or even a short story, I will approach it far differently than I have in the past.

And as for the novel I had going, way back when?  No, I haven't given up on it.  Currently, I am at a crossroads with it because I received feedback that felt "right" but will take the work in a very different direction than I'd planned.  I'm not sure that it's the right direction for the story (it involves adding a whole other narrator), but it feels good.  At the same time, I know how long each rewrite has taken me, so I'm really thinking hard on this before I commit to it.  It will almost be like writing a whole other book.  And yet--maybe that is what I need to do, given the knowledge I have now.

Regardless, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I've had to make a steady living freelancing, a living that has been more than five times as lucrative as the one I was eking out as a "part-time" college teacher.  And that, sadly, says far more about the system of adjunct labor than it does about the virtues and values of freelancing.

Most importantly, though, I am happy.  For the first time in my adult life, I can say that, without shame and without reservation.  I am happy, and I look forward to what the future will bring.

5 comments:

Colleen Thompson said...

I'm so glad you're back! Congratulations on your success with your freelancing. Sounds as if it's been very fulfilling!

Colleen Thompson said...

I'm so glad you're back! Congratulations on your success with your freelancing. Sounds as if it's been very fulfilling!

Kathryn Paterson said...

Thanks! It's been great. I'm still working out the balance of it all. I honestly never anticipated it would grow so fast. It's grown so fast I haven't even been able to get my new website up! So I need to convince myself to step back a little and stop taking on more new work (or at least more new work that isn't really well paid) for a bit so that I can let the dust settle a little. But I'm definitely not complaining!

Kathryn Paterson said...

And thanks for the warm welcome back. It's nice to be here again. :)

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