Tag: Freelance Writer

The Ending and Beginning of a Journey — Into the City

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!)

Fish Tacos at Berth 55
Fish Tacos at Berth 55

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.

Red Berth

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.


Another Day as a Freelancer

I spent the evening heading to a couple bars in Long Beach, trying to decide the best dive bars in the city.  I heard some great stories.

Overall, it’s been an excellent week for freelancing.  I’ve had a couple pitches accepted in some great magazines, and I’m working every day.  In fact, I feel that I should be working way more on the pieces that were already accepted.  Also, Heron and I had a great friend stay at our house this week.

But I need to keep pitching.  I can’t stop.  I need to be ten steps ahead of the game.  Well, I also need to enjoy the moment.  I’m tired, and I’m going to bed.  Goodnight everyone.

Interviewing Skills, New Published Work, and “I am freaking poet”

Today, as a freelance writer, I had a busy day.  I interviewed a state senator, Alan Lowenthal, and candidate for Congress.  My profile will be appearing in the Long Beach Post.  We had a great conversation at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop off Los Coyotes, and I talked with him and got to know him as the grinders and espresso machines babbled.  I’m looking forward to interviewing Gary DeLong as well.  I’m really excited to talk with him.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned so far as a freelance writer, when in comes to setting up interviews.   (Oh yeah, right now I’m listening to the Ramones.)  You have to be really persistent, but you also need to come across casual and understanding that the person you’re trying to meet is very busy.  So, in order to get these interviews, I had to stay on it.  You have to plan in advance.  And you can’t, ever, give up.  There are many tactics to take.

For example, I was having a really difficult time getting an interview, even a comment, from a government organization.  So I talked with someone, and this person said, email them and say that you’ve tried several times, and you would love to have their perspective, but you will run the story without them.  Well, I did what the person suggested, and I got a response in a few minutes.

But in the beginning, be friendly, casual, understanding and persistent.  And don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.  I think, at first, my biggest mistake was asking too many tough questions in a strong voice.  So, it’s a balance. You don’t want people to stop talking to you.  If you’re a freelance writer, or you’re even thinking about it, you should start at this site: freelance writer.

Another thing that happened today was I wrote a new piece at the OC Weekly about video game soundtracks: Top 5 Nintendo Soundtracks.  That was fun to write.  I’m learning to spot trends in results and write pieces accordingly.  I have started to see results.  Oh, I read a great article this week on Twitter and how to increase your twitter following.

Also, another funny thing happened today.  I was trying to set up an interview with a doctor for a piece, and she was pretty political.

“Don’t worry,” I said.  “I’m bipartisan.”

“That’s what everyone in the media says,” the woman said.

“I’m not the media,” I said.  “I’m just a poet, trying to make money.”

That was a funny exchange.  I guess I don’t really see myself as a journalist yet, but I need to start seeing the world as a journalist would, because the world, our environments, is our commodity.  Stories are everywhere; I just need to pull them out of the air and make them work. Narratives are all around us.

So, this week, be on the look out for another piece at the LA Weekly.  It’s on Joseph Mattson — a great L.A. writer and his book Empty the Sun.  It will be in the print issue Thursday, and it will be kicking off something great at the weekly.  I’m excited.  I hope you’re excited. Goodnight everyone.