Searching for that One Magical, Coherent Professional Vision: A Freelancer’s Lament

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I’m basically all the dudes in this 15th Century German illustration, who are searching for … something.

I have always been the kind of person who likes to focus on one thing at a time, which is particularly funny because I have also been a journalist for all of my professional life. Journalism does not lend itself to this kind of focus. For the first five years of my career, I was a daily newspaper reporter who wrote up to four stories a day; even when things slowed down once I was at Entertainment Weekly, my days were neither sleepy nor predictable.

After ten years there, I quit to become a freelance writer. Finally, I would concentrate on projects of my choosing, in the quiet of my own home!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

It turns out that being a freelancer who pays her bills, for most of us, means juggling many different projects, different types of projects, and often even entirely different roles within one day. Sometimes I’m a solitary writer. Often I’m a journalist interviewing people. Sometimes I’m being interviewed so that I can promote, say, a book I wrote. Sometimes I’m speaking in front of people about a book, or teaching people how to write or blog, or blogging.

This effectively prevents anything resembling boredom, but I am farther than ever from my dream of concentrating deeply on one thing, having that one magical, coherent vision for my career. I suppose that when forced to choose one word for myself, it is author or journalist or writer. But I’m going to have to sell a lot more books before I’m truly an author only. I wonder if I’ll find myself bored if that ever happens.

What’s your dream single-title identity?

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