Friday, July 2, 2010

Blogged Down

I truly enjoy this time I spend with you here, tossing some junk philosophy about life and chronicling my journey from lousy kidneys through dialysis and, hopefully one day, an organ transplant. Not only has the process been surprisingly cathartic for me, but I'm often told this blog has given comfort and entertainment to many, while providing me with contacts and opportunities I can't imagine having received any other way.

You'd never guess the depth of my pleasure from the frequency of my postings, though, wouldja?

I look back at how often I've contributed a new entry to Just Kidneying – two in April, two more in May, a grand total of one last month – and I'm embarrassed. It's not for lack of material. I have so many stories I have yet to tell you: my remarkable visit and experience at the Baxter Healthcare headquarters in Waukegan, Ill.,; my all-day medical endurance test at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to be evaluated as a kidney transplant candidate; even my observations on the mechanical dialysis cycler that has been my daily companion, home and away, for the past six months.

It's not for lack of passion, either. The heart is willing, but the fingertips are weak. Here's the problem: I write for a living. It's pretty much all I do, seven days a week. (Freelance writers, I have discovered, are afforded neither days off, overtime, sick days, vacations or any other compensation demanded by the modern American worker.) 

I write for four publications pretty much full-time, and I'm working on a new book. Karen (aka The Wife) is quite favorably disposed to the concept of me receiving checks in the mail for sitting around on my butt all day in front of a laptop ("Any windows today?" she will cheerfully inquire, referring to the long business envelopes with the clear windows in front, frequently denoting payment inside), and if I'm not writin', fish ain't bitin'. 

I have known many people in my professional career who literally live to write. If they weren't working for the newspaper or magazine that employed them, they were crafting poetry or maintaining a journal or writing letters or composing grocery lists. OH, how I envied them! Ever since my first job out of college at The Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Mich., I have written to live. I write something, somebody somewhere pays me. If I wasn't on assignment, I would much rather be watching a ballgame on TV, going to a movie, sticking needles under my fingernails – anything but continuing to write for the pure joy of composition. Blecch.

When I made the decision two years ago to step out on my own and become a full-time freelance writer, I prayed that God would guide me and help keep work coming my way. Boy, can God provide and answer prayer! If anything, my biggest problem has been too much work; at any given time I usually have three or more stories in progress at once. I could use a nap. 

In the past seven days, for example, I've finished a four-figure assignment on a custom publication for a national advertising agency, completed my regular TV column for The Metro Times in Detroit (you can read a sample here if you're interested) and began working on a feature story for HOUR Detroit magazine. (Though I no longer live there, Detroit is still the primary source of my freelance income, for which I am extremely grateful.)

So I have to prioritize. And as much psychic satisfaction and creative fulfillment as I derive from Just Kidneying, it doesn't pay the car note. I'm still trying to figure out a way to integrate writing this blog more regularly in between all the paying gigs, and I will. Because I want to. But in the meantime, hang in there with me, will you? I miss you when we don't talk more often. And I can't wait to tell you the story about St. Looie.