I’d felt it before, that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, a constricting, breath drawn in, and then the waterfall of feelings.
For the past ten years, I have been a freelance journalist, defined mostly by my words and my work. Known in circles of other creatives who wanted to make it on their own, pitching magazines and newspapers, pleading with editors that this topic, this angle, my talent were what she should hedge her bets on and pay for.
A little more than two years ago, I was tired. Tired of so many things – an emotionally draining marriage into which I poured all of myself and got little in return; a freelance career where I pitched, pitched, pitched just to land an assignment and then, story done, check cashed, I had only to pitch some more. I waded in a pool of anxiety that I would never hit a big-enough byline nor earn enough money that we wouldn’t bleed through each month.
And so I contemplated what I wanted out of life, out of love, from myself and for my kids – and I filed for divorce. And I created a company. And I focused on breath. And I found me.
For some of you this touchy-feely crap twists of discomfort but it’s the only way to live I’ve found. Wholly in the moment, ever present and focused on being the very best I can for this moment only.
My company, Your People LLC, is taking off and now I find myself succeeding into new media markets where as a writer I did not. Yesterday, the New York Times mentioned my client, Hiller’s Markets – a first for Hiller’s, a first for me and my company. It was with bittersweet enthusiasm I celebrated that A-section note – for here I am, breaking into a market I’ve always wanted to, without my name anywhere. Such is the life of a publicist.
And today, a kind, soft email from a fellow freelancer, telling me that maybe it’s not so appropriate anymore for me to take part in a closed-circle group of food writers, since my focus these days is on promoting, not writing, food companies.
She may be right – though I hold on dearly to the last dangling strings of freelancing still.
But that familiar feeling – they don’t want me? I don’t belong anymore? all that is familiar is fading …
Change is good. I know that. And just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It was harder to decide to divorce than it was to file and go through with it.
And now, I face a changing definition of my work – with greater success than I ever had as a freelancer and subsequently more freedom to write with my heart. But change is good. I say goodbye to yesterday so I can welcome tomorrow.
From Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse”:
“Up in the sky where we stood the air was lusterless yellow. To the west the sky was blue. Now the sun cleared the clouds. We cast rough shadows on the blowing grass; freezing, we waved our arms. Near the sun, the sky was bright and colorless. There was nothing to see.”
There is wisdom in words and in fashioning brilliant paragraphs. I will still write, even if I am cast out of the food writers forum, even if it is with kindness and well wishes. And maybe now, anxieties of the past put to bed with the ever-changing landscape, I will write like I was meant to write, freed from the pressures of writing for my daily bread, writing toward the horizon.