This week marks a year of freelancing for me, and there’s a lot that I’ve learned as a writer in that time. I decided to start freelancing last summer after taking a break from working on a novel and my memoir. I think for awhile, I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do with my writing. I had written about adoption for so long, and I felt like that was what I was supposed to write about.
In 2016, I wrote a YA themed adoption novel, which earned me a mentorship with Sara Zarr and a request from an agent. But I stalled. I didn’t want to move forward with it, and the book sat on my shelf (well, my Google Drive). I decided to put the project aside for a few months to see if I felt any differently.
Two years later, I didn’t feel any differently about the YA novel, but I felt like I needed to give my memoir a shot. I knew the story of my adoption and reunion was a compelling one, so I sat down and wrote the first few chapters. I submitted those to the AWP Writer to Writer mentorship program and worked with author Elizabeth Isadora Gold. It was a good experience, but at the end of the mentorship, I felt hesitant to move forward with that project as well. Why?
When I reflect on it now, I think I was afraid of getting cornered into one topic. With both books, I felt like I would forever be talking about adoption. Here’s the thing – adoption is still a big part of my life. I moderate a Facebook group for Haitian adoptees, and I still speak at conferences about my adoption experience, and I occasionally still write about it. But when I’m done, I can step away from the adoption world. When it’s your lived experience, it’s exhausting. You’re always choosing your words carefully, trying to fight against the dominant adoption narrative.
So I say all that to say, freelance writing has given me a way to write and tell stories without being stuck to telling one story. I still write and speak about adoption, but this year I’ve written about attending Carnival in Los Angeles, haggling abroad, being an ally to black coworkers, and reading travel themed books by black authors.
I realized I love telling stories. That’s the heart of my writing and that’s what I want to continue to do. When I first started blogging, I was telling my own stories of adoption, but I was also interviewing other people and telling their stories. I think I’m a storyteller by nature.
While I may return to my earlier book projects at some point, I like the freedom that comes from freelancing. I’ve been incredibly blessed in my first year to write for publications like Travel + Leisure, Business Insider, Travel Noire, and Zora Magazine. My goal is to tell stories, and freelancing has allowed me to do that with a bigger audience.
So what’s next? I’d like to continue to write about the black experience, whether that means writing about traveling, parenting, or finance. I’m excited about what’s next, and if you’d like to check out my latest work, you can use this link.