A big “thank you” goes out to Beth Ziesenis (that’s her in the photo to the left!) of Avenue Z Writing Solutions for letting me write a guest post today at her blog Life on Avenue Z. Beth is a freelance copywriter & editor out of San Diego, CA, who blogs about her newly founded career as a work-for-hire professional so, as a kind of counterpoint, I wrote about working with freelancers from our perspective as book publishers here at TSTC Publishing. However, in all honesty, I wouldn’t rush over there to read what I had to say . . . instead, I’d suggest visiting Beth’s blog on a regular basis to get her take on the the ever hectic life of being a freelancer writer.
In particular, I think Beth’s blog strikes an effective balance between the professional and professional aspects of her life that makes it consistently engaging and interesting. Sure, much of what she writes about are cool new Web-based tools, insights while traveling on different assignments, and staying up all night to meet another client deadline. But, what I like even more is how well she integrates those posts with other ones of a more personal nature: her wildly successful Avenue Z food drive, health issues in her family, and periodic updates on her biking and running efforts.
As I used to tell my first-semester composition students, dryly recited facts alone are convincing but not engaging while anecdotal evidence is not persuasive but can be interesting. So if you want to be persuasive and engaging, a good mix of facts and anecdotal evidence is a good way to hold on to your reader until the end. After all, while the publishing industry as a concept is interesting, the people who are in the publishing industry are more interesting still. For daily updates about the business of publishing, Publisher’s Lunch is the way to go: late-breaking news, deals, and who’s going to where from where. But for the story behind the story—that is, how the people in the writing and publishing industry live their lives day to day—Beth’s blog (as a freelance writer) and Pub Rants (an agent) and Publishing Careers (a product line manager) and the Tiano Design Blog (a freelance book designer) among others do a good jog of letting us see what that life is like.
On another front, I think Beth’s blog does a good job of showing what being a freelance writer is really all about—constant networking, self-promotion, bird dogging leads for work with the never-ending tenacity of Type A self starter, and writing, writing, writing—as opposed to a particular conception a lot of people—especially those who think they like the idea of being a writer—is all about: the ever-popular tortured artist effect. (Or affect depending on how you want to look at it.) There was a post a while back at GalleyCat (I think) where the title was something like “Wannabe Writers Talk About Craft, Writers Talk About Money.” And boy is that ever the truth!
Show me a a writer who makes anything approaching a living at it and I’ll show you someone who is writing and working all the time . . . and who doesn’t have the time for some never-ending existential angst that manifests itself by being a life support system for a couch while eating Cheetos, limpidly reading Jane Austen novels, and waiting for a call that will never come from The Paris Review to be interviewed for their Writers at Work series. As opposed to allowing you to exist in some perfect solitude amongst Plato’s forms, being a successful freelance writer requires ongoing engagement with different people in the world to a much higher degree than just going to the same job (and seeing the same people) day after day. So hats off to Beth for getting the work done that she does, juggling clients, traveling around the country, and still having the energy and drive to write the insightful (and regular) posts that she does.