The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why do I write?

I was thinking yesterday about why I am pursuing this silly freelancing career.

My primary motivation, as I've discussed before, is that it gives me the freedom to care for my niece. Kids seems to be the motivating force for a lot of freelance writers, mostly moms, who want a chance to stay home with their kids but still earn money.

Once my niece starts preschool I'm not going to be needed as often. So do I get a real job then? Man, I hope not! I love being able to work when and where I want and if I could just get a touch more discipline about it I could make a decent living at it. Well, at least an above-the-poverty-line living.

But one of the strongest draws to writing, at least nonfiction writing, is that it is an excuse to learn. I used to love to read and learn new things. College pretty much beat the love of learning out of me and I don't pursue it as much as I did. But if I am writing an article, then I have to learn about Sumerian religions or specs on the latest hot motherboard or the developmental problems commonly faced by kids with hydrocephalus.

That last one is the real key. I would like to be doing a lot more research about my niece. My sister and I have a deal; I do the research and read the horror stories and then filter the information to her as she needs to know it. She doesn’t need to hear about spina bifida and shunt revisions and subdural hematomas. She needs to focus just on raising her daughter.

But there are so many things going on with her that it becomes overwhelming. And it becomes one more thing distracting me from making a living. So if I can do what I need and also do what I want, then I am making a living doing something I’d be doing anyhow. Heck, it’s practically like free money.

And it has another benefit: I can help parents find the information they need when the doctors have used some big, scary word to describe their child. For example, there is a book called, “Hydrocephalus: A Guide for Patients, Families and Friends” by Chuck Toporek and Kellie Robinson. They are a married couple and she has hydrocephalus. They were frustrated that almost all the information out there was aimed at neurosurgeons so they wrote this book to provide information for laymen. We found the book a great help in the early days of Maria’s diagnosis.

In fact, I really need to go back and reread it, but I just don’t have the time.

So I see writing as a tool to allow me to learn things that I’m interested in and if I can aim my writing projects towards subject I’m interested in, then the whole thing becomes more fun and seems less like work.


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