We’re six days into the New Year: 2014 already – WOW! Last year marked 15 years since I moved from Montana, leaving a landscape that truly doesn’t leave my heart and putting behind me the everyday grind of being a small town journalist – reporter, photographer, editor, copywriter, page and ad designer, as well as receptionist, bookkeeper and other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten (or want to!). For a brief time, I picked up the career again like highway litter cleaner, but I only had to serve in two of the aforementioned capacities. Still, it was a grind, especially when towing the police scanner around on my designated “work weekends.”
As “all around journalist” at the West Yellowstone News during the mid-1990s, I conducted ad and page layout the old fashioned way: Pagemaker software, yes, email no. The layout was done by hand and I drove the 16 to 20 rubber-cemented pages compacted in a box and sitting in backseat of my car for 250 miles one way so those pages could be printed on newsprint. What a difference less than two decades make – so many other incredible changes such as email means no driving half-days and no enormous graphics paper or stinky rubber cement! Although those days of being up 36+ hours and driving two-lane roads, even in winter, are behind me, I am sure the experiences helped polish me, shape me, for the journey I’m on today.
My husband and I bought a Kindle Fire for Christmas – we also have an older Kindle I purchased used from a friend a few years ago. Such an amazing invention! And all the others: Ebooks, Smartphones, laptops, tablets, Facebook, Twitter – not even in a writer’s vernacular 15 years ago!
Publishing, too, has changed. I recently watched a newscast about a couple on the verge of foreclosure who began writing and publishing ebooks — they even made bestsellers lists… and they are self-published! Gives me hope (of course I don’t write steamy romance — but maybe I should!). Self-publishing, both print and ebook format, opens the floodgates wide for book publishing opportunities, and blogs, websites, online magazines and ezines significantly increase ways for writers to make a living. Freelance work may still be competitive, especially for printed magazines, brochures, and newsletters, but if that’s what a writer wants to do, that’s the direction s/he should pursue – and that’s just the pathway I plan to travel in addition to creating more Kindle books and trying more online writing ventures.
During the Christmas holiday, I explored children’s magazine options, and in the coming weeks I plan to query and/or submit to a few. I’ve also registered on a few websites for freelancers, including Elance and Flexjobs. The competition looks tough, but if one doesn’t try, the projects certainly won’t happen. Writer’s Market Guide still has its place on my bookshelf and I’ll be exploring the 2014 edition this month, but the Internet is now also a major pathway for writers to explore for work, both as a freelancer and as a book author. I am excited for what 2014 may bring – I only hope I don’t wrap myself up like a pretzel along the way!
What are the dreams, hopes, and goals you have for this New Year with regard to your writing career? The times they are a’changin’, but in many ways writing-wise, for the better!
As this New Year sprouts before us, may our writing endeavors bloom with luster!
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, to articles in Creation Illustrated and Our Town Casper magazine, and in the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers. Her future plans include creating newsletter and brochure content for businesses and writing more magazine articles. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.