Friday, May 23, 2014

Time To Let Go (For Real This Time)

Some sort of change is sweeping me along, people. This week I fired two of my paying clients because I'd pretty much had it. You must understand that in the decades I have been a freelance writer in a certain couple of industries, I have never once fired anyone. Ever. So: a) you know it was bad, and b) you know I had tried for awhile to help them, which is what I usually do with the less successful teams. This is to say that I have put up with all sorts of indignities; I have stuffed and swallowed my comments at lame critcism, dysfunctional systems, and mean people as necessary over the years. I have written whatever was requested of me no matter the impossibility of the deadline, the incomprehensibility of the request, or the insanity of the circumstances. (Once I wrote a website about leukemia for an Italian-only-speaking client in what was requested as "British English," so it could be translated into French. What the what?!) But something has happened to me of late. Something good, I hope. I realize I don't have to take any old thing that is handed to me. I don't have to fix everything that is wrong. And I get a choice in the matter too. Just because I can write ANYTHING pretty well doesn't mean I have to say yes to EVERYONE.

There's a certain fellow, whom I like to call Mini Freud, who is the current guide of my psyche, who likens these crazy agency work teams (you know the set up: account people, traffic people, editors, and art directors) to my family of origin. The crazier they behave, the more at home I feel, says Mini Freud. And probably he is correct. But I am busting out. You know why? I don't need money THAT desperately.  I've been at this for nearly 20 years, so I can actually sit back a little and choose which projects to take and which to let pass by my front stoop. (This time of year, I do generally use my front porch as my office.) That's right, my friends, at this late date, W,R is finally giving up the panic about ever really making a living as a writer (technical/promotional writing almost counts as writing, doesn't it?) because I've been making a living for some time now, and I might as well catch up to this fact, and chill out a little. Our little W,R is growing up at last.

But there is something else too. There is something big I have put off until the last minute, as my deadline is June. I have put off the final write up for the publisher of all the proof changes, final tinkerings, and last minute catches to my novel that will finalize the published version you will see on November 11, 2014. What it means, mice, is that this is truly it. End of the line. It as in IT, no more time on the meter. I will no longer have this novel all to myself any more. I will no longer have the opportunity to change any word, any punctuation, any character name, any anything I see fit to change in that leisurely "no-one's-going-to-buy-this-book" way. I will not be able to make it better after this, cannot think of some cool thing to try out, cannot let it rest in its little word document file while we take a break. I must let it go, and I must do so now.

Though I have longed for this moment of sending it off into the world for many years, as you have witnessed through this blog, it feels like I am ripping out the inner lining of my lungs. (Sorry to be so dramatic; I am tempted to ignore the feeling and wheeze out a statement about everything being fine, but I tend to get in trouble when I allow myself to be the Queen of Denial, as they say.)  So, I have cleared away nearly entire the day (except for a brochure on multiple sclerosis that needs to be rewritten) for this task, and maybe for a few melodramatic tears. 

Luckily, too, I think I have finally nailed the right approach for the nonfiction book I have been writing (fist-fight, more like) for the past couple of years, so I better get on with the new book (draft #4) and start this whole bruising book-readying cycle all over again. Why do we do it? I ask you and you ask me. There is no answer to that question other than, I suppose, because we can't not.

Happy Friday, ya'll. And Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Rosemary Ahern.

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