Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rolling With It

In life, as in writing ...

Yesterday, I was looking at my billing for September, and I noticed something interesting. My client list from September 2009 is 100% different from my client list of September 2007. A total turn-over.

Two years ago, I was primarily a medical writer. I specialized in cardiology, but I covered a wide range of medical issues. Today, the only medical issue I cover is diet and nutrition. Otherwise, none. I've been spending a lot of time lately writing about plants, which truthfully I vastly prefer.

I never set out to change my working life like this. It just sort of happened ... just like medical writing sorta happened in the first place. I never had a burning desire for medicine, although I found the knowledge interesting and challenging.

My fiction, too, has changed a great deal since then. In 2007, you might have heard (har har) that I came this close to selling a book to Scholastic, but they backed out after multiple revisions. So yesterday, after I closed my billing, I was curious, and I went back and read the first few chapters of that book. I still liked it, but ... I would do it differently now. I can see now, with a little perspective, what my editor was talking about during all those months of revisions. At the time, I just felt like I was underwater, like she was speaking Japanese, and I struggled to understand every word.

It strikes me how important it is to remain open to the process. I'm not perfect at this -- lots of times, I discount messages from readers, from editors, from the universe. I'm often too wrapped up to really hear it. When people were telling me my characters were flat, my initial reaction was, "I did that on purpose! I wanted them to be ciphers!" But I like to think that, given enough time and some breathing space, I'll eventually unkink and be open to the advice. What about you? What messages do you think the universe is sending that you need to hear?

5 comments:

Mark Terry said...

I'm not sure about the messages the universe sends me, but I've noticed over 5 years of fulltime freelancing that things sure do change. I'm still a medical writer and that comes naturally considering my background, but 5 years ago it was much more biotechnology-oriented, then I went thru a period where medical stuff was maybe 25% of my work and I branched out into practice management, personal finance, business-y types of things. Now it's back to mostly being medical (although often from the business end of things).

If the universe is telling me anything, it's probably that when the economy sucks, fall back on your strengths and best-paying niche, which might be cynical, but also seems to me to be a major component of staying in this particular game.

Melanie Avila said...

That's great that you can look at your past frustrations with a new clarity. I find that with design I'm often horrified by what I used to think was good. There's a reason the only designers who include work from college are those who JUST graduated. :)

I worked with auto advertising for seven years and I cannot explain to you how happy I am to be done with that. I recently started doing some work with a professional photographer and I'd love if my work stayed in that field.

LurkerMonkey said...

Mark,

That strikes me as smart, not cynical ...

LurkerMonkey said...

Melanie,

Boy, do I know exactly what you mean. I go back and read stuff I did in college and cringe.

Good luck with the photos! Some of my favorite people in the world are photogs ...

Natasha Fondren said...

I sort of have the opposite problem: I hear and believe every single word, LOL. There is very little I won't agree with. In fact, of the editor who edits the most (non-fiction), I didn't change a "he" to a "she," and I pointed out one thing I didn't have as wrong as she thought I did, LOL. This was huge for me. I'm worse with fiction, because it's more subjective. I just sort of assume they see things more clearly, LOL, since, by the time I'm done, my story is muddy, messy, morning-after battlefield in my mind.