In the last week I have embarked on a new venture. I was looking for a regular 9-5 job on Craig's List when I found an ad seeking writers. On a whim I took a chance and followed up to see if the post seemed to be legit. I included my resume, which shows my newspaper work, and a link to this blog. In short order I received a reply from PetsLady.com.
To begin with them I was to write three blog posts as a Guest Blogger. This would allow us to work out how we would work together, my understanding on submitting, and what they are looking for. They had especially liked what they had found under "This is a Life?" So they wanted news stories with a humorous slant on pets and animals. Great! I can do that. No problem!
One problem. I am no longer all that used to writing to someone else's specifications. How do I do that again?
I selected a topic -- the dogs who were passengers on the Titanic for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. Nice, topical, trendy. Yep. I can do this. Wait. How do I make this funny? It was an enormous tragedy. So I set about surfing the web for everything I could find out about the dogs who sailed. There I finally found the answer. The ship's cat, who had boarded in Ireland, had left the ship in England before the start of the actual voyage, taking her litter of kittens with her. Yes! A conspiracy theory of the first order! The first post was good.
The second blog post would center on transgendered chickens. My neighbor, Isabel, had set up her tiny urban farm with nine hens to supply her large family with a steady supply of eggs. Then one of them switched sides and turned rooster. I did a little web research and found more information on this phenomenon. This was a tricky subject to treat with humor. I had to be careful about passing opinion. I wasn't out to create any more controversy than already existed on the topic. I think I did well. They published it.
The third was giving me fits. What to write about now. All I could think of was some of the strange encounters I had had with animals. They were very funny, but not exactly news. So I tried the exotic pets angle. Don't have a raccoon as a pet, no matter how much they want to volunteer for it. I added my mum's experience with raccoons in the house and my experiences with them in the neighborhood. I added in a recent news report of raccoon attacks in public parks. Okay. It seemed to work. They published it. Then I received an email reiterating that they wanted more of a "news" story to improve their website's progile. They asked if I thought I could really handle that part. I quickly responded that I could handle both the news stories and the softer personal pieces.
All of a sudden I fell into a funk of depression the likes of which I had not experienced in a long time. What was wrong? Was I doubting if I could really handle news? Perhaps. Was a wondering if this was an opportunity that I should pass on? Possibly, but I doubted that. I dealt with it in the old way -- a couple of Big Macs and large fries. Something was definitely bothering me. I hadn't eaten a Big Mac in years. As I let the depression run its course I finally looked into a metaphorical mirror. That was hard. I realized that I was indeed having a reaction to writing to someone else's expectations. What it came right down to is that my ego was feeling a bit bruised. I knew the prescription for that -- GET OVER THYSELF, LAURIE!
You can't truly be professional writer or author without being able to set your ego aside and take in what your editor or publisher is asking of you. Compromise is not a dirty word. You need your editors and publishers to help you reach what you want -- a readership, and hopefully a decent amount of sales. I swallowed what my false pride and set out to work on more blogs for PetsLady.com. Happily so and with a full heart. After all this was a new chapter with a new adventure. This was a move in the right direction for what I wanted in life -- to support myself as a published writer. What could be better than that? Okay, suddenly finding myself with a Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games would be. Being a blogger was not going to make me rich, either. But you have to take the first steps on a journey to make it to your destination.
This morning I mailed my signed contract. There was a definite feeling that I was jumping off a new cliff straight into the cavernous unknown. I'm not the biggest risk taker, but if you don't try you will never know. Now I am getting excited about some of the ideas for blog posts that are coming my way. Most will be on the news beat, with the occasional personal experience piece. All with humor. Which, after all, is my milieu.
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