Oh! I am so excited! Please be patient with me while I have a little gush.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to Australian Catholics magazine. I’d been meaning to do so for a while now. I kind of hoped they might take me on to write something for them and I gave them links to some of my posts (OK, six posts. I may have gone a little overboard). For those of you who didn’t go to Catholic school here and didn’t receive a copy of this glossy quarterly with your Friday newsletter, Australian Catholics is an entertaining and accessible magazine which also seeks to address the deeper questions of what it means to be a Catholic in today’s world. As far as church-based colour publications go, it’s kind of a big deal.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the reason I had the mental clarity to compose this email was because my heroic husband had taken all of my offspring (well, not the ones in utero…) on a camping trip, leaving me to wallow in the luxury of a quiet house with nobody to please but myself (I tidied the kitchen bench and it stayed tidy!)
Anyway, the thing is they wrote back! And they said they would be Definitely Very Interested in me writing an article for them! And then, after an exchange of emails (my response email had something in it about how their response made me do little squealy noises in my chair. Not sure why I felt the need to share that. Probably should have pretended that I’m such an in-demand writer that this sort of thing is totally commonplace but I think I was high on the fumes of the spray-n-wipe on the kitchen bench which was still clear and shiny), and also a phone call (do you remember what we were talking about? That was a long tangent I went on in the middle. You might need to go back to the start of the sentence. Sorry about that.), I agreed to write a 550 word article for them which would tie into the theme of their upcoming issue.
And they would totally pay me for it.
It was after about half-an-hour of dancing around the house that the panic set in. Wait a minute: this isn’t like my blog where I bang on for as long as I like on a topic that interests me. This is a professional article with a set topic. I don’t think I have anything of use to say on this subject. And I have to be funny. I can’t be funny on purpose. What am I going to do?
Plus, by now the children were all back home and I was feeling far less sure of myself and my writing abilities than I had been in my super-confident child-free bubble. But, after talking my husband, family and Lovely M to death on the topic, I somehow managed to tease out a few ideas without having to invent a fake ‘fail’ story (my sister’s suggestion: I don’t think I could have pulled it off).
I didn’t have much time to write the article, which I think was a good thing. It stopped me from procrastinating and agonizing over my lack of things to say. In the end, I got down to work and scribbled down something that was far from brilliant, but still workable.
And about twice as long as it needed to be.
I think it’s a good discipline for me to put my writing on a diet sometimes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but brevity isn’t exactly my strong suit. The first few hundred words I culled made everything sharper and snappier and gave the article a good pace. But I still had to lose 180 more words and I was down to muscle and bone!
In desperation, I emailed the draft around to my family and they gently coaxed me to scrap and condense, without neglecting to stroke my ego (“this section reads really well. You did a great job, Kate. Now, get rid of it.”)
Some friends asked me “how do you find the time to write?”, then they visited my house and stopped asking that question. As I spent my days furiously tapping at the keyboard or wandering about vaguely, churning ideas in my head, the entire house quietly and promptly fell into disrepair all around me. Let’s just say, the kitchen bench had long lost its sparkle.
The final, rather emaciated draft, was chock-full of apostrophised contractions and was sometimes so word-frugal that it didn’t make sense. Even then, it was 34 words over. But my editor (“my editor”: doesn’t that sound nice?) very kindly said they could work with that, and so, in a fortnight or so, my article is going to print (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Thank you so much for making to the end of this post. It was such an indulgent one – bloated and well over the word limit, long past deadline (I started writing this weeks ago), and with no real point to it. But that’s the best thing about having a blog, I guess – every now and then I can get away with indulgent and boasty writing. Maybe my next post will have some sense in it.
I guess there’s a first time for everything.