There are several reasons I started this blog, the most important was that I wanted a vehicle to help me find my next passion in life. But I also saw it as a vehicle to get me writing again. Writing used to be my job. I wrote eight hours a day and I loved every minute of it. Now, as I’m searching for something I am passionate about, I often wonder if it hasn’t been right under my nose (or, more accurately, under my fingers) this whole time: Writing.
I am happiest when I am writing. Sometimes I crack myself up to the point of laughing out loud, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I craft a turn of phrase that I am particularly pleased with. Maybe I’m wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses, but I can imagine nothing better than writing all day as I used to (although I wouldn’t mind an atmosphere a little less frenetic than a newsroom).
So about a month ago when I was asked to start writing posts for The Voice of Downtown Boston I was incredibly excited. It’s not Slate.com, (that would be a dream come true) but this unsolicited invitation was extremely flattering. And while this isn’t earning me a great deal of money, it will certainly help support my newly-acquired interior design habit.
I went into my first assignment with a fire in my belly. I felt as if I was returning to my journalistic roots by writing about weekly outdoor block parties held in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. I realized this was the first time in more than a year that I was being told what to write, instead of me dreaming up what I wanted to write about it. No one told me to try synchronized swimming; I wanted to see if I could do it.
This is where I got into trouble. After I submitted my first post, I received feedback that I needed to re-write it with “more personality.” More personality? The criticism affected me more than I wanted to admit. I have spent years, not to mention a great deal of my parents’ money (in the form of Columbia J School tuition) developing my writing style and voice. It’s something I’m immensely proud of. I think my personality shines through in my writing. Then I realized it shines through on this blog…a safe place of my own creation. Reading the post again, yes, it was a little stiff…it read a bit like a press release. I re-wrote it, but refused to read it when it finally went live on the site.
I have always been confident in my writing ability; now that confidence was severely shaken. Maybe I just think I’m a good writer, and all of you really read this blog for the pictures and puns? Maybe the truth is that I’m just average (and as you all know by now, average is a four letter word for me) with my court jester-like adventures acting as a diversion.
I figured I wouldn’t be asked to write for them again, and that my little adventure as a freelance writer was over. So when a second assignment came in I was equal parts relieved and nervous. I was reminded that the Voice of Boston folks had asked me to write for them because they liked my blog, and this quirky literary voice of mine. This time, I would show them personality, I thought. My assignment was to write about Post Office Square, a public park in Boston’s Financial District. Not the sexiest topic, but I was determined to Emily-ize it! I framed the piece around a love affair that I was having…with the park. Yep, there’s Emily! You can read the finished product here. It was published without revisions, and I felt validated.
So now in addition to my very demanding and fulfilling full-time job, and the part-time job/passion project that is this blog, I have now acquired a third job writing for the Voice of Downtown Boston (and hopefully more outlets in the future). I hope I will be able to fit in time to sleep. Let the writing adventure begin!