8.31.2010: Well Hello, Blank Screen

Starting a new blog is akin to going head to head with writer’s block.

I have so many ideas for blog entries to write for the future–freaks, geeks, neurotic animals, lovable nephews, Vegas showgirls, Chicago vagaries, hog butchers to the world and so much more.
But this first entry is more of a challenge. Because you can’t just burst into a new and scintillating topic without any back story.
So here’s the back story.
I’ve lived in Chicago for nearly a year now. I’m a transplant from Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Boulder, Colorado by way of Oberlin, Ohio by way of Houston, Texas, preceded by a brief stint in St. Louis, Missouri, which was too long ago for me to remember (I was a year old when I became a Texan).
I’m a professional writer and my work is as wide-ranging and ever-changing as my geographic history. My stories appear on websites, in an airline magazine, in a variety Las Vegas publications, Chicago publications, ghost writing projects and, now, a blog. It’s not my first blog, but it is the first one my name has been associated with. So that’s kind of new and different and neat and scary.
My goal for the blog is to harken back to the last decade of my writing life, which was spent in Las Vegas. During my time there I became the writer of the “freak beat,” an unofficial name explaining my magnetism to quirk, oddity, subcultures, offbeat humor and the general weirdness (in a lovable way) of people.
I was lucky enough to have staff positions for seven of those years, five of which were spent as a writer at Las Vegas Weekly and two were at Las Vegas Life magazine (now defunct) as an associate editor. At both publications I had the freedom and trust of some wonderful editors to explore anything and everything I wanted to write about, whether it was worm-farm pyramid schemes, political extremists, Mormon polygamists, pig-farming mavericks, die-hard scrapbookers and the list goes on and on.
I didn’t fully appreciate that freedom and unquestioned support until I quit my job three and a half years ago to freelance full time.  That’s when I learned that most people don’t just get to write about what they want to write about–they actually have to sell their work. It was a tough lesson, but I’ve done just that with enough success to remain a freelancer. Still there are times I miss (and no doubt romanticize) the old days of being on staff.
And then along came blog.
I’ll still be selling pieces by day, writing what others (and often I) want. But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to return to the freak beat, to the freedom of a blank page and blank expectations, to my love of writing as a hobby, rather than a business.


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