On a writing list I’m on, someone asked how a person manages to do the writing that sells when it’s not the kind of writing that she wants to do.
When my son was two, I began my writing career with plans to write creative non-fiction — essays about life as a mother — and occasional articles to illuminate the populace. Really. I pitched crazy stuff to Parenting, subjects they would never touch with a ten-foot pole, because I thought I was there to educate their readers.
As I kept plugging away, pocketing rejection slips as I went, I learned some basic truths:
1) Every writing mother out there is writing about her unique experience of mothering. Sadly, there’s not enough room for all of us to make a decent living at it so most of us will eventually have to expand our repetoire;
2) Parenting doesn’t publish crazy stuff because their audience doesn’t want to read it. Obvious, right? But realizing that helped me see that very often my role as writer would be to entertain informatively not bludgeon people with an extreme point of view.
I also realized some other things:
1) I enjoy the skill of writing a well-turned phrase enough to exercise that skill on writing about pretty boring subjects;
2) I like getting paid for my work;
3) Publishing credits beget freedom.
Honestly, I would rather be Louise Erdich or Anne Lamott but since those two lives are already taken, I’ve decided to have fun being me.