This was the year in which I finally started taking freelancing seriously, and decided to stop feeling anxious about pitching publications, large or small. I made a joke on Twitter at some point this summer that I was getting rejected by the biggest names in the biz, and I said it half-pridefully. Putting myself out there and dusting my shoulders off made a difference, and that boldness landed me some big wins. I have to wait until 2016 to share some of them, but for the coming year, I look forward to a bigger and better showing of my work.
As of today, in 2015, I have had 38 paid bylines in 8 publications – I’ve got up to four more that might still run this year. At the beginning of 2015 I was mostly doing local listicles for Chicago NewsCastic. I stopped writing for them in March when, as my client list grew, I decided I could do better. At first this gamble didn’t feel like it would pay off – I hit a dry spell over the summer, between my cross-country move and getting turned down by a handful of big publications from my dream wish list.
Then at the end of that dry summer, I got scooped up by The Billfold after pitching an editor I’d long admired and whose career I’d been paying close attention to. Around that time, my newsletter list started to grow more and more. I got essays picked up by Little Fiction | Big Truth (print anthology coming in 2016) and Story Club Magazine. An editor at HelloGiggles saw potential in me and asked me to start pitching her directly. I began landing interviews with people I admire and got to do pieces I cared about, more and more.
In the first quarter of 2016, I will have not one, but two pieces, on a site that has long been on my dream list; I am slated to have a piece in a print, local Portland alternative weekly, after months of hoping to find a place in the local scene; and a piece for which I got to interview women writers I admire will run the first week of January. I still have my dreamlist of publications, and I hope I can crack into three to five of them in the next 12 months.
Also this year, I wrote a (nearly finished!) first draft of my book, which I expect to take up most of my brain space in the coming year as I try to find an agent and publisher. I hope to get some excerpts from the book published on sites early on, so hopefully I can achieve a couple 2016 goals at the same time.
To round things out, a list – since that is the format in which this site’s 2008 origins are rooted. Here are the published pieces I was most proud of in 2015:
- 14 Reasons Women & Children First Rocks (Chicago NewsCastic, February); I got to promote an incredible independent feminist bookstore and work closely with store co-owner and my friend, Sarah Hollenbeck.
- How I’ve Put Shine Theory Into Practice (HelloGiggles, April); This one landed me an interview spot on WGN Radio in Chicago, and was included in HelloGiggles’ fourth birthday celebration post as a favorite piece.
- What It’s Like To Be A Hearing Impaired Skater (Little Anecdote, June); I pitched a Portland author I’d never met and asked to write a guest post for her roller derby site. She and I are on a first name basis now and swap interviewing tips. I’m so glad I reached out to her.
- A History of My Life Through Movies (HelloGiggles, August); This is the HG piece that got me on an editor’s radar, and now I work with her directly for everything I write for the site. She loves bouncing ideas off writers and is quick to respond – always a plus.
- The Cost of Getting Your Car Booted by the City of Chicago (The Billfold, September); This wasn’t the first piece I did for The Billfold, now one of my most popular clients, but it was a fun piece that got a lot of response.
- A Season of Housekeeping in Ohio (The Billfold, November); I sent this 2,200+ word essay to Nicole Dieker, my awesome editor at The Billfold, unsure it would be a good fit for the site. She liked it and made it work, and it got kudos from the site’s editor. This essay on loss and friendship is the piece I am most proud of this year.
- The Cab Driver (Story Club Magazine, November); I wrote this essay in June for a live lit performance in Chicago. One of Essay Fiesta’s co-hosts encouraged me to submit it for publication, and it found a home with Story Club Magazine. Big props to editor Rosamund Lannin for working back and forth with me to get this piece in its best final version.
- How Gilmore Guys Do Money (The Billfold, December); I pitched this to my editor fully owning up to the fact that I wasn’t sure I could make this interview happen, but that I’d do whatever I could. She took me up on it, and the co-hosts of my favorite podcast agreed to speak with me.
It was a pretty great year. I can’t wait to see where my work ends up in 2016.
As a reminder: I blog here less and less, but you can still keep up with everything I’m doing and writing by signing up for my email newsletter. It goes out every two weeks, usually on Wednesdays.