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Let’s Come Out of Isolation

by christina posted April 10, 2013 category christina, cooking, freelancing

Ever since my leap into freelance writing three months ago, I’ve been climbing a steep learning curve. It’s been fun and hard, and I absolutely love what I do. However, working as a freelance writer can also be extremely isolating. I’ve learned the hard way that when I am frustrated or discouraged or need someone to bounce ideas off of, I can’t stay in my house, and I can’t be by myself. I need someone else to help dispel all the fears and worries that are too thick to trudge through alone.

Croutons

You see, this past week or so has been a doozy. I’ve felt more inadequate than ever as a writer, partly due to outside feedback, but mostly due to the gnawing fear inside my head that tells me I’m a failure: I shouldn’t have made the leap. I can’t write. I should definitely find a job with a 401K. When those doubts start creeping in, there aren’t other co-workers to dispel those negative thoughts.

I recently turned in a project that wasn’t great, but I didn’t know how to make it better. My husband had tried to help, and I spent hours upon re-working a piece that my brain simply couldn’t turn into a masterpiece. I was a teary mess, exhausted and confused. “Why am I even doing this?” I wondered as I stared blankly at my computer and clicked “send.” Gmail assured me, “Your message has been sent.” Great.

Then, my phone rang.

It was my friend, Claire, who was the first writer I ever met with. “Hey, Christina. I just wanted to see how writing was going,” she said cheerfully. If that isn’t providential, I don’t know what is.

“It’s going terribly,” I said, frustration and defeat marking my words. “I don’t feel like I’m a good writer. I just turned in something awful. I feel like I am failing at everything,” and I proceeded to launch into a long-winded explanation of how awful I was. Emphasis on long-winded.

Claire kept trying to interrupt me, but I plowed ahead, determined to show her why I made a ridiculous decision to begin writing. Finally, amidst the din and noise of my complaints, she got through.

“THAT. IS. BULLSHIT!” she declared.

I don’t think I’ve heard holier words in quite some time.

Over the phone, on a warm spring afternoon, Claire acted as a fellow colleague in a cubicle next door, and I’m beginning to see my need for the camaraderie of fellow writers and entrepreneurs and artists on a weekly — if not daily — basis. This can be a lonely, isolating, frustrating career, and the load is so much lighter when you realize there are fellow travelers treading the path alongside of you, ahead of you, behind you.

If you know an artist/entrepreneur, pick up the phone and give them a call. Send them a quick email. Write them a note, and tell them they’re doing a great job. Odds are, they need to hear it. And, if they’re feeling like they’re not good enough/smart enough/talented enough, go ahead and tell them…that’s bullshit.

———

Now, on to croutons. I made croutons in my cast-iron skillet, and I’ll venture to say they’ll work on any soup or any salad. Here’s my ramshackle approach to a recipe:

Crouton Recipe

1 loaf of your favorite bread (I used whole-grain)
olive oil or butter

Chop bread into crouton-sized pieces. If the bread is fresh, throw it into the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 for a few minutes, to dry it out a bit.

Add a few glugs of olive oil or a couple pads of butter to a cast iron skillet. Toss the croutons into the skillet, coating them thoroughly with the fat. Add a few herbs if you’d like; I added oregano and kosher salt. Brown the croutons on the stovetop until crisp and golden on the outside — you may need to do this in batches. We served them with this soup, fresh basil, and pecorino romano.

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