Celebrating Freelance Writer's Appreciation Week
“It’s Freelance Writer’s Appreciation Week, and I just want you to know you and your writing are appreciated,” a relative wrote.
Ah, the glamorous life of a freelance journalist! I smiled, but at the same time, I could see the expressions of other family members when they ask, “So are you still doing that writing thing?” Like it’s some kind of phase I’m going through. Like they don’t think I actually earn a living putting words on paper. (I do, trust me.)
The convo reminded me of the “What People Think I Do” meme that shows six viewpoints of the journalistic/writing life.
Frame one shows ‘What my friends think I do’ with a photo of a person writing at the neighborhood coffee shop. Sure, if I lived in Lincoln, I might be at The Mill, pouring my heart onto a Word document. But let’s be realistic. I live on a farm, I teach three hours a day, and my drive time totals at least two hours. Starbucks isn’t an option.
Frame two explains ‘What my Mom thinks I do’ and shares a picture of Diane Sawyer at the ABC news desk. My mom and dad know better. They’ve accompanied me on photo shoots and story assignments. They’ve watched me cover an event, review notes, and send an article to a publication within 15 minutes of the end of the event. They wouldn’t want me to be Diane, anyway. They’d prefer I emulate Meredith Vieira or Ann Curry.
Frame three elucidates society’s vision of the writing life: a blur of camera flashes as I chase down a subject. Yup, happens all the time, especially when I have to photograph a herd of cows or the newest wine bottled by a Nebraska winery.
Frame four illustrates ‘What editors and clients think.’ A girl holds a sign stating she will work for free. Ha! Maybe I’m lucky, maybe it’s because I am – and primarily work with - Midwestern publications and we are known for our strong sense of values, but I’ve never had that problem.
Frame five justifies ‘What I think I do.’ Sure I’d love to get wrapped up in some investigative piece, ala Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in “All The President’s Men.” Wouldn’t it be challenging to delve into some scandal and report the facts and tell the truth? This leads to frame six…
‘What I really do.’ I spend a lot of time writing about people and events in this area. I read a lot and see what correlations I can make in our region and then seek potential story candidates. These are the stories that interest me and are important to share with others. Every person has a story to tell, and I enjoy being able to relate those significant, heartbreaking, heartwarming, offbeat stories because ultimately, they are the fabric of what unites us, what creates empathy with others.
Some writers make you think; others make you wonder. As a writer, I appreciate capturing a reader’s imagination, letting the story unfold.
It’s what I hope I do.
by LuAnn Schindler