Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. And when I first started thinking about this idea, “writer,” in correlation with my life, I really didn’t quite have a grasp of the image of what made a person a writer — or how the hell I could become one. The one thing I thought I knew from reading my heroes (Hemingway, Twain, and Kerouac) was that I had to live my life, in some shape or form, as if I was living in a book.
Now, when I was younger, to try and fulfill this prophesy, I would travel and move as much as possible. In fact, I thought that if I didn’t travel widely, I wasn’t really actually traveling like a writer. Destination is death! I was hungry for experience to write about, searching for it in Guatemala, Prague, Detroit — places that have become as much a part of my identity as my childhood. And while that idea has changed — experiences come in all forms — the aspect that I still hold true about living my life like a book is the idea of structure. For example, like the old cliché goes, there are chapters to one’s life, closing a book, beginning a new, a personal renaissance — all that bullshit. Each year, each period, each section of my life plays a larger part in the whole, and I have begun to expect the dramatic changes — almost yearn for them. Because in a certain sense, saying goodbye is the ultimate freedom.
What I’m trying to say is that a chapter has ended; I am no longer a full-time freelance writer.
I’ve been looking back over this blog, and it’s been six months since I wrote my first real post about quitting my job, pursuing my career as a freelance writer, stopping the soul-sucking commute, and beginning to write, write, write. And I did. I wrote for some great publications — Salon, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, The Village Voice — and I told some great stories. I wrote about the ports, the closing of a fish market, Jack Kerouac, truckers, books, poets/actors. I even wrote a cover story. And it’s been wonderful. I worked with some great people who helped me out along the way down in the LBC and Orange County. (Sarah Bennett, Gustavo Arellano, Nate Jackson are incredible people!)
But in the end, I just felt that I couldn’t make enough of a living. My student loans, my rent, and my medical insurance bills were always speaking to me — “Hey, you know you’ve got to pay me, right?” — and I found that I wasn’t happy waking up and hustling for pieces that paid very little — though some paid much better than the others. And writing for me isn’t initially about the money, unless that’s your income — then, yes, it’s about the money. I do like security. I do like a steady paycheck, but I also love writing. If an opportunity comes up to be a full-time writer, of course, I’m going to consider it.
And I’m going to still freelance on the side and pitch the stories I want to pitch. Meantime, an opportunity came up that I couldn’t refuse. As of last week, I have started a job as a Writer and Social Media Specialist at a public relations firm in Westwood. From my window, I can see the Pacific Ocean, The Getty, and Westwood. I moved to West L.A., and I’ll be working 2 miles from where Heron will be working in July. It’s an opportunity that I feel lucky to have.
But there’s something else I’ve had to confront about working full-time as a freelance writer — besides the struggle to afford basic living requirements — is that I haven’t had enough time to work on my memoir.
I don’t know if you remember, dear reader, but a few months back, I wrote a post about revising my novel. Six months ago, an agent at an amazing literary agency asked for some revisions. The biggest revision: turning my novel into a memoir. Well, because I have been so focused on writing to make money to survive, well, I haven’t really worked on the memoir. I have pieces. But I don’t have a manuscript. And out of all the writing I’ve done, this is the most important to me, because it’s my story, my town’s story, my family’s story — the story I must tell before I can really write any other stories that I have in the back of my mind. And in order to write this book, I need some consistency in my life. I need to be able to come home from work and work.
So, I begin again a new but the same journey. So from now on when you read my blog, you’ll still see me sharing stories I’ve written for some magazines, but you’ll be following the longer journey of me trying to publish my book — plus, just what it’s like to live in L.A. And I’m no longer chasing being a writer, because, well, I am one. Nothing can take that away anymore.
I will share everything along the way. I hope you’ll stay around to see how this story develops. Really appreciate you being a part of this.
So let’s see what happens in the next chapter — Into the City.