I am a writer, of sorts. And I am out of sorts because I have realized that I have become a slave to having my subject given to me. Yes, I was the one coming up with the subjects. I was the one checking out keywords. I was the one writing the content.
BUT when it comes to writing for myself. I am wordless.
I think I have just figured out the reason for discussions around concepts and editorial calendars. I just took an idea that was already super-sized and ran with it, quite cleverly I must humbly add.
This space, however, is like the blank screen that faced me when I was writing true romance short stories. I wrote over 30 and had 7 or 8 published.
At that time, I knew the main idea: This is my problem and how I solved it. I knew the target audience: lower middle-class women from their twenties to late thirties.
Guess how old I was when I wrote those articles. I was 40, just enough older to have lots of experiences and lots of friends and to have lots of ideas spring whole from my head like Athena sprang from Zeus.
My days of fiction writing were few. I had many articles returned to me because I didn’t have enough dialog and descriptions. I guess I was a news person at heart which is half-right since I graduated with a double major in communications (journalism) and English when I turned 44.
I spent many years writing a weekly column for a local newspaper. I even got to do some real stories. The writing was plain spoken, no flash, no extra words.
But then I needed a real job to feed my family.
So taking a job writing nonfiction for a marketing company seemed like the right fit. I wrote articles for a senior care in home agency, a dentist, an eye doctor, a real estate agent, a man who sells software to companies thinking of becoming ISO 9001 certified and, last but not least, I wrote for the marketing agent.
Ori Bengal, who if you don’t know him you need to Google search him, went to a convention and one of the ideas he shared from a seminar was the question: Can you give a one-sentence story about what you do that will capture people’s attention.
Here were my feeble tries:
In my late 50s I asked myself what I dreamed I’d do when I grew up and the answer was I’d be a writer and now that’s what I do … as well as much more. In my late 50s I asked myself what I dreamed I’d do when I grew up and the answer was I’d be a writer and now that’s what I do … as well as much more. In my late 50s I asked myself what I wanted to be when I grew up and now at 63 I’m an internet ghost writer and social media manager for various clients.
Here is what Ori came up with for me after my feeble efforts:
It wasn’t until my late 50’s that I actually asked myself “What do I want to be when I grow up?” – now, in my 60’s, I get people more business by being their voice.
Sounds great doesn’t it? And in some respects, it’s true, the first part at any rate.
The part that worries me the most is the “by being their voice” part. I have not been successful at being anyone’s voice, not even the person I speak to regularly. When I was writing those short stories, each person had a different voice as near as I could make them. I even wrote several from a man’s perspective. But I was told recently that I write “like a girl.”
The part that bothers me next is the “I get people more business” part. I have not seen any tangible evidence of this although people do click onto the pages I write and they stay there for a while, but does this give my clients more business? I am not sure.
For these reasons, I am reluctant to seek another job, but there is no money in short stories if those romance magazines even exist anymore. Besides, I think I spent more on postage than I ever earned.
But I have learned a very valuable lesson in all this. I need to have something to write about before I sit down to write. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Ann Mullen has been a “paid writer” for the last 20-something years since she began writing for a newspaper in South Texas in the early 1990s. From 2011 through 2015, Ann worked with several marketing agencies where she learned she loves the creative side of inbound marketing. Researching, creating gripping text and coming up with engaging images for the various media are her passion.
She has now struck out on her own as a freelance writer. You can find her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, on Twitter at Ann Mullen@AnnMullen4, on Google+ or by calling 512 278 8288.