The whole thing came about when, sometime in April, I got an e-mail from a family friend who works for V Magazine for Women, a Richmond-based free magazine. One of her colleagues had intended to write an article on Centra Health, an organization that owns or affiliates with a number of hospitals and medical practices in Virginia. She wasn't going to have time, though, and asked my friend whether she knew anyone based in Farmville (where our local hospital recently became affiliated with Centra) could do it.
I was happy to give it a shot just for the experience and publication credit, so it was just a happy little (or, for me, not so little) bonus to find out that "free magazine" doesn't mean "doesn't pay." In fact, they offered me fifteen cents a word, which is between three and, um, fifteen times as much as most paying fiction markets I've seen. So that's nice.
The cool thing was how much I enjoyed researching the article. I took a tour of the hospital - the place where my brother was born, where my third-grade broken foot was treated, and where I've taken CPR and "safe babysitter" classes - and talked with staff. I also got to interview Dr. Mary Donovan, a family friend (and my mom's doctor, and the mom of one of my best friends), who recently sold her medical practice to the hospital and is thus Centra-affiliated, too. It was neat to see all the advantages people were getting from it - which is good, because my article read, as I think they wanted it to, rather like an advertisement for Centra from the perspective of someone familiar with the Farmville area.
I suppose this makes me officially a freelance writer. Not an experienced one or anything, but publishing a piece of nonfiction with an actual paying market is pretty big for me.
Anyway, my article is out now, in the June issue of V Magazine. It's available in Richmond - I know the health food store Ellwood Thompson carries it, and probably lots of other places. Several places in Farmville do, too, including the library and sometimes The Bakery.
In mostly unrelated news, I spent a few days this past week being paid to write - calligraphy. I was addressing wedding invitations with an italics pen. It was absurdly fun. And now I can do swishy little Ys and 2s. Lots of swishy letters, actually, but 2s, lowercase Ys, and capital Zs were the most fun. I'd like to thank Anne Donovan for marrying someone who has so much family in Arizona.
The other thing I'm doing that's loosely writing-related is working with one of Hampden-Sydney College's rhetoric professors on a children's book he wants to write. I say this is "loosely writing-related" not with any disrespect for children's literature, which I value highly, but because my role here is actually illustration. He wants, basically, a dummy book (like storyboards), using his script, to send publishers. I spent much of today doing character sketches for that. Like the calligraphy, it was excellent fun.
Clearly the take-home message of this is that I don't need a real job. :P