Dad, Are You a Famous Writer?
by Jake Poinier
When my son Nick was about 5 years old, he stared up at me with his big, round, blue eyes and asked, “Dad, what’s Pluto?”
My own dad was a traveling medical supplies salesman, back in the days when pacemakers were bigger than your fist. I remember when I was about 5 years old, myself, he’d teach me the parts and functions of the human heart as we were driving to Little League or hockey practice.
So, when Nick asked me about Pluto, I thought to myself, “This is your chance to do what dads do.” Mind you, this was when it was still a planet and hadn’t been demoted. I went through an elaborate explanation, using a lamp to simulate the sun, and various balls and a globe to show how the solar system works.
“Dad,” he said. “I thought Pluto was a dog.”
Yeah, that hurt.
Fast forward a few years. Nick was obsessed with J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and knew enough about money to understand that she had a lot of it. Again, those big, blue eyes, now maybe a foot higher off the ground, looked up at me. “Dad, are you a famous writer?”
I knew better than to get too cute with this young man, so I explained that what I do isn’t really the same as J. K. Rowling. “I write for businesses that need help with their websites or advertisements,” I told him. “Sometimes I help other writers make their books better.”
This explanation went slightly better, even if it gave me a wee bit of existential angst about my level of success and fame at the time. With the passage of time, of course, it doesn’t sting quite so much. As I celebrate 16 years of freelancing this month, I’ve worked for hundreds of clients and also written three books of my own. I may not be famous by Rowling standards, but I make a great living and get to choose whom I work for and what I do for them. And I still wouldn’t trade it for a job in an office.
This post was adapted from Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier’s new ebook, The Smooth-Sailing Freelancer: How To Find, Sell, and Retain More Freelance Business, which is available as a free download at DoctorFreelance.com. A freelance corporate copywriter and editor since 1999, Poinier is the author of The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid and Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy, available in print and ebook versions on Amazon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.