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Thursday, March 31, 2016

State of the Cat: Progress of a Different Color

It occurs to me that I ought to make some adjustments to my standards as far as what progress means when it comes to my creative goals. I default to thinking that I'm not really making any, but every so often there will be a moment of clarity where I realize I'm actually doing pretty well. It's just that whatever's happened doesn't tend to fit my narrow picture of what progress looks like.

Case in point, I've finally reached a place where I view my life as a copywriter differently than I once did. Don't get me wrong. Copywriting still isn't where I ultimately see myself ending up as a writer. However, I've learned to take more personal pride in some of the assignments I work on. As a result, I no longer see my copywriting business as something that's standing in the way of my being a "real" writer.

I'm still working for much better quality clients these days, for one thing. I'm almost never writing that sketchy stuff I was writing before anymore -- the ad copy, and product reviews, and articles meant to sell shady items that may or may not be scams. Most of the companies I write for now are not only legitimate, but pretty darned wow-worthy, even to me -- the types of companies I'm actually proud to add to my resume. I've been able to write on topics that are more in line with what I'm actually enthusiastic about in life as well.

To name just one example, I'm currently working on a large-scale web content project for one of the biggest publishers of regional interest and local history books in the country. This is the same publisher that's been responsible for some of the regional interest books I've read and enjoyed over the years. I'm into history, culture, and regional pride for sure, so it actually... meant something to me that this client has been so happy with the work I've been doing for them. It's sort of like an official nod from an authority source that I really am as proficient in regards to those topics as I'd like to think I am. That matters to me.

I still tend to be hard on myself because I don't spend hours of my free time each week writing fiction or painting pictures anymore though. But I try to give myself a break when I realize that there are good reasons why I don't. Work -- which actually makes me money -- really does keep me busy when it comes to my everyday writing life. Also, I am blogging a lot more frequently these days, which has been helping to keep my "real" writing voice alive and kicking. When I'm not blogging, I'm reading a lot -- non-fiction and fiction -- which is just as important. This time last year, I don't think I could really say any of that.

Which reminds me. BlogHer has recently started doing something new where they're accepting pitches every other week or so to write paid features for their website. Each feature pays out at $50 if your pitch is chosen. Best of all, the features wouldn't be like the things I write for my clients. They're not resources or SEO-centric articles designed to drum up business for BlogHer. They're all personal essay type pieces, just like the ones I write for my blogs -- pieces I'd be writing based on my own life, experiences, and values.

I'm thinking that the next time I see Melissa asking for pitches, I'll throw my hat into the ring if I think I can come up with something in regards to the topic. Sure, the money is great and certainly fair for a one-off article. What I'm really interested in though is actually getting paid to have my personal writing featured somewhere it's bound to be seen and read by a considerable audience for a change. A feature in my own voice about my own thoughts and published under my own name. I've never actually had that opportunity before. And that would definitely be progress of the kind I'm after.