Maturing As a Writer: Memories of a Freelancer

I started writing in the basement 37 years ago. My metal typewriter table on wheels was close to the furnace. In the winter, when the furnace turned on, I heard it hum. In the summer, when the air conditioner turned on, I heard it hum. The humming sound was rather comforting.My electric typewriter was an improvement over the manual one I used to have. It would work for a while, suddenly stop working, and I would take it to the repair shop again. The last time I was in the shop the owner asked, “What can I do for you?””You can drop this typewriter from a high-rise building!” I exclaimed in frustration. That was the last time I used an electric typewriter.Things changed when a computer software company hired me to be its newsletter writer and editor. For six months, I worked at the company, and enjoyed it immensely. Although I had never used a computer before, I caught on quickly. But the company ran into financial problems and I was let go. The boss offered to sell me the PC I had been using at a discount. I took him up on the offer.

Having a PC changed my writing life. In fact, it tripled my output. I cranked out so many articles and books with the PC I typed the paint off the keyboard. My track-feed printer, however, was not my writing buddy. It was so slow that I would hit print, leave the house, drive from the country into town, and do errands. When I returned home the printer would still be going.Because I’m a former teacher, I believe in detailed book outlines. At the tie, writing an outline was similar to writing a thesis. I would start with the major points, add the sub-points, add the sub-subs, the author and title of every resource, and every page number. Whew! Each outline could have been a book itself. In the fall I will be 80 years old and I’m working on a new book. When I started it, I realized I was working differently.Book outlines aren’t the tedious process they used to be. I brainstorm on the major points and then let research lead me. With this method, the sub-points are often a surprise. While this isn’t a perfect method, it works for me. Researching a book takes me to new places. While I appreciate the journey, I wondered why I was working this way.What changed? Maturity seems to be the answer. As I matured as a person I matured as a writer. Since I’m writing in the computer age, many of the resources I cite come from the Internet. Instead of spending hours in the library, roaming the stacks, I log into Amazon and order any books I need. I write for blogs and websites. However, I must admit that I’m often a computer klutz.

I’ve witnessed many changes in the publishing industry. You may witnessed these changes too: vanity publishing, independent publishing, hybrid publishing, eBooks, and social media. You and I aren’t just witnesses to history, we’re making history. So on my 80th birthday, I’m going to give a cheer, raise a glass, and toast all writers. Each writing project is a challenge, a learning experience, and accomplishment. Here’s to us!

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