I always loved reading. As soon as I’d cracked the code and learned to read on my own, I couldn’t get my hands on enough books. I begged to go to the library like most kids beg for ice cream. I had an odd obsession with nonfiction books. I wanted FACTS! I needed to know how the world worked. But I also loved a good story, usually about animals. I grew up on the back of a horse. So, naturally, “Black Beauty” and “King of the Wind,” were early favorites.
I loved writing, too. My mom still had some of my early stories written on wide-ruled paper meant to improve handwriting. I also illustrated them very carefully with crayons. But I somehow never gained a lot of confidence as a writer. I always felt like anything that I had to say would surly be obvious and uninteresting. I held onto this insecurity into my engineering career. White papers caused me a lot of sleepless nights. I always imagined that my audience were PhD’s who would find my technical explanations laughably elementary. I felt this way even after I was published in popular industry trade magazines.
In the last three years I’ve been phasing out engineering and moving into…what? Well, writing is what I keep coming back to. But, once an engineer, always an engineer, I began to examine the writing process and my feelings around it. Well, maybe the engineer in me didn’t look at the feelings, but definitely the process!
I knew that I had to write more words. I also needed to let go of the myth of the muse. If I only wrote when I felt like writing, there wouldn’t be much writing getting done. So, I began freelancing. I primarily wrote web content. It was perfect! I got short assignments with quick deadlines. And I got paid! It wasn’t a lot of money, but that wasn’t the point in the beginning. I was learning to get out of my own way and be a better writer. Here’s my favorite freelance feedback:
“My God…this is awesome. I think you’ve created something special here. Thank you so much! I look forward to future projects with you.”
I was over the moon when I read that! It was for a satirical article on GMO foods…even better. I could be funny! I had stepped out of my matter-of-fact approach and found my voice. I’ve got lots of projects in the works. Sign up for updates and I’ll share my indie publishing journey with you. You can also find me over at Lifehack.