Essays & Thoughts

Freelance Writing: This is What it Feels Like to be Exhausted by What You Love

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Writer Hunter S. Thompson, while probably feeling similar to the way I feel about my laptop after writing and editing all day, prepares to shoot his typewriter to smithereens.
Writer Hunter S. Thompson, while probably feeling similar to the way I feel about my laptop after writing and editing all day, prepares to shoot his typewriter to smithereens.

A month or so ago, I got the idea in my head that I needed to become a freelancer. Like, now. Despite the fact that I am only a rising college sophomore, despite the fact I have little experience in my writing representing anyone other than myself, I decided to take the plunge.

Surprisingly, it’s been working out great.

I feel this immense gratification in knowing that there are people out there willing to not only pay for my work, but swear to heavens that its worth more than the $5 they paid me for it.

That’s right. Just $5.

Because I have virtually no experience, I searched for ways to gain experience while online. That’s when I happened upon a freelancer blog talking about Fiverr. I decided to sign up for the site. Things started slow for the first few day and then suddenly, they rocketed off. It’s barely been a month since I’ve signed up for the site an I’m already rated as a Level One seller because of the orders I’ve fulfilled and the views my Gigs get.

I’m earning money doing what I love. However, it still manages to be demoralizing. I’m giving my 100% to people who are just paying my $5 in the hopes that eventually that $5 will turn into $15 an hour somewhere, somehow.I have high hopes for myself and in the process of making sure my “hopes” turn into a “reality,” I am exhausting myself.

I wake up and write, edit, write some more, edit again, copy edit, write even more, and maybe ever top all of this off with some web coding because, really, I am a renaissance woman and I’ve dared myself to do it all. Whatever I can do, I am doing. Even things I thought I couldn’t pull off, I am pulling them off. I’ve crossed that line to where bullshitting has turned into “Hey, you actually good at this!”  I often think that I won’t make this deadline nor that one, but by jove, I ‘m doing it and I’m doing it well. 

Well, at least that’s what people tell me.

Anyway, despite all this success and the immense gratification I feel in completing and reading over  my work, I’m in desperate need of being able to write for myself without the thought of work hovering over me. I need the time to read for myself without the thought of 5 approaching deadlines.

I wonder how full-time freelance writers live with themselves. You can’t create your own schedule, despite what hundreds of blogs say. You are at the will and mercy of those that order your services. You will always be on someone else’s deadline, that is if you feel a sense of urgency with every job that you receive like I do. Taking a break threatens your income. There are no retirement funds. There is no paid leave. You have no provided safety net unless you earn enough to create one yourself.

If I do decide to become a professional freelance writer (I guess I kinda already am?), my life will also consist of a normal 9-5 that will most likely be A) working at Wal-Mart or B) working as an IT specialist (aiming for choice B, of course). I hear having a steady, traditional job in addition to freelance work is the fate of most freelancers. Whoever earns a living off just writing is incredibly lucky and has internal patience that only years of meditation could give me. If I were them, I’d want a break. My hands would start to hurt. My mind would start to dull. My standards would slowly but surely diminish. I would need to breathe.

But you know what a journalist told a crowd me along with a crowd of other aspiring writers at a journalism conference? That when you write about life for a living, when you write for people and not yourself, there’s no such thing as breath that lasts longer than a few hours.

Could I survive like that? Right now, I’m saying no, but maybe I’ll be saying yes in the future.

There’s still much to learn. In the meantime, I have to get back to writing and editing six articles I have due by tomorrow…


Hermitdom (Tale of Teenage Insecurities)

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I come home, itching, sniffling, and beating away insecurities:

The aftermath of a night out with my friends.

Every time I get home, the more I think that my plan to have a fantastic summer is backfiring and instead of having a fantastic summer, I will just discover – more “fantastically” each time – just how second-rate I am compared to nearly everyone else in my group of friends.

Teenage insecurity.

As I age, I am becoming more aware of how others view me, despite their willingness to admit their feelings. However, I am still too young to not care and just settle, as the rest of my family has.

I am different from much of my family, but there are some ways that we sustain similarities. There’s enough similarities and differences present for me to wonder how will I treat my feelings as an adult.  Will I learn to view them as irrelevant when they regard other people who are not my significant other or best friend? Will I settle for being the placeholder for better, brighter things? Or will I break the pattern and come to see that my insecurities may be falsities?

Nonetheless, I’ve grown up around some lonely-as-hell people and as I grow, I don’t see my destiny being much different. Regardless of much I try to be social, try to be more involved, try to force myself in the picture, the result remains the same: some part of me is unworthy, some part of me doesn’t click right, some part doesn’t request or demand attachment. I am just a fleshy part of scenery.

After years of locking myself away from social interaction with those I thought I was the closest to, I step into the world to find . . . I should have kept locking myself away. A scarce commodity is always more valued.


Self-Destruction: A Junk Food, Unrequited Love, Dying Night Owl Kind of Thing

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If you’ve read enough of my writing, you could tell I have a self-destructive streak the size of the Mississippi River. I go through phases were every other action I take defies my limitations and leaves me in a corner, battered and bloody. I know myself well enough to know what I truly cannot do without getting harmed, but sometimes, I don’t listen to myself. I just . . . do. Acts of “passion,” as they say.

There are some areas where my self-destruction is not a phase. It’s a lifestyle.

I consume an inane amount of dairy products despite my lactose-intolerance, continue to fall for friends, and neglect sleep all because, for some inane reason, I want to see myself break.

Then I have the other half of myself who wants me to thrive, to live, to succeed. Who wants to stop eating that tub of ice cream, to stop dreaming of that specific friend coming to a sudden realization about me, to stop going to bed at 6 am when I have to wake up at 7:30 am.

Seeing that I am so aware of what’s going on inside me, I should stop that reckless, destructive side of me.

But I won’t.

Matter of fact, I’m currently awaiting the arrival of a tub of ice cream. Chunks of Oreos will speckle the vanilla ice cream. With every bite, each chunk will crunch between my teeth with, reminding me that my jaw is sore from a month long stress-clench. The crunch will also probably aggravate the headache I have from my left eye being swollen with infection, which stems from another self-destructive decision of mine.

In light of all this, I might as well stay up until 6 am again and think about how wonderful my platonic-but-I-wish-it-was-more prom date will look in evening attire. Go big or go home, right?

Daily Prompt

Identity Crisis in the Prompt Abyss

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Recently, I’ve taken to the desperate world of “writer prompts” in search of inspiration. It’s a lucrative business. Writers too lazy or too empty to find their own ideas scour the internet for pre-packaged ones and often those too lazy or too empty to expand on their own ideas cast them to abyss for others to take care of. (To those prompt-writers that actually write on their own prompts, I give you props.) Prompt-hunting for me is an embarrassing adventure. I feel like a hypocrite every time. How in the hell can I spew on and on about how much writing means to me when I A) barely do it and B) hardly have any ideas for where to take it? Of course, this feeling of hypocrisy arises in me several other questions about myself.

  1. Do I have the right to call myself even a hobbyist writer?
  2. If writing is just a trite blurb in my sphere of enjoyment, what means more to me and why am I not willing to admit that it means more?

And the most troubling question of all . . .

3.  How much of a difference is there between the real me and the me I portray to others and especially to myself?

This questioning of myself prompts me to go into identity crisis mode. I often find myself glazing over the answers for all three questions because I just don’t want to fucking deal it. If I question my love of writing, I’ll then question my love of literature, which will be followed by me questioning the gap I’ve created between my identity and who I really am thus charging myself with a personal felony — serial self-deception.

But as I write this blog entry, an alternative state of mind comes to me. If I apply my outward bluntness to myself, what answers will I find?

Whatever those answers may be, I know that I won’t be ready to tell them to blogging world until I personally reconciled with them.

Bloggers,writers, and general commentators, have you ever had difficulty aligning your identity with reality? If so, how did you get the two to align?

I’d Advise You Not To

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In the hall, I hear Jeff Buckley’s cover of “I Know It’s Over” swaying and sweeping and echoing against the walls. My heart aches. For words so true to be spoken so sweetfully and painfully drives me to desire a drink. Something that burns me as it rushes over my insides. Something that numbs my imagination and my pain if only for a short time. Life has a way of politely lighting the most valued components of my sanity — security, love, hope — on fire. Not just any kind of fire, but the kind even fireman cannot tame and Nature herself will never quiet. The fire has a will, a drive of its own. Slowly the blaze will travel and touch my feet. I’ve been taught not to move though. I’ve been taught to just sit there and pray to God (which is not what I do and likely never will with a true heart) for the fire to just vanish.

Obviously, I’ve been taught wrong. I’ve been taught by hypocrites and children, which benefits me little for I am a child myself. I am a child that happens to be wiser than most, but a child nonetheless.

I’ve grown tremendously without the direct aid of anyone. I’ve taken direction and input, but my ability to distinct sound advice from the ludicrous developed early out of sheer necessity. How many times can one be told not to trust anyone, yet know for a fact life cannot be lived without trusting a single soul? Soon the advice becomes a mere utterance and the utterance becomes an annoyance.

And annoyances are quite frankly fruitless.

So I stand before you as someone a few months shy of adulthood with no adults to guide the way. I can take the applicable advice of my grandmother, but because of her passing, doors to new wisdom have been closed. I’m left on this Earth with a mother who acts younger than me and a family who isn’t doing that well on their own accounts.

So, I close my eyes and purposely mishear a line from “I Know It’s Over”: “Oh grandma, I can feel the soil rushing over my head . . .” And as taught, I seem to be lying here until my throat becomes clog and my heart ceases to beat.

A Thousand Lives

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If I were to live a thousand lives of sorrow, but only one of happiness, I would choose to live a thousand. The wisdom I would gain could save many, albeit at my own risk. 

The First Lifeline

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The First Lifeline

An essay I wrote about my great-grandmother. 

My great-grandmother, who passed away a little over 4 years ago, had a great influence on my life. Because of her, I was able to tap into that part of me who wanted to read about the entire world and in turn, write something the entire world would want to read.