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I just finished the first draft of a short story that’s been haunting me for months. I’m so relieved, I almost don’t care how bad the draft is. Almost.

I’ve had plenty time and opportunity to finish it, but I’ve been running low on hardware–words and sparks to stack into sentences, paragraphs, character lives. Pro: Since the start of this year, I earn a decent portion of my income as a freelance writer. Con: I earn a portion of my income as a freelance writer.

Making money writing words for others means I’m challenged by and invested in my work, but it also means that by the end of the work day, I’m done with finding ways to say things well. The conduits between my brain and fingers are frayed, and my own writing suffers. I’m a firm believer in shitty first drafts and just banging it out to get to a completed draft I can revise and polish. But most days I feel like I’ve used up all my words by dinner. And if I try to rise and write early, I worry I’ll use up my words and won’t have any left for the lovely people who pay me to have words.

I’m about to go read this draft. It’s going to be terrible, and full of typos, and not good enough for the truth I’m trying to tell. But it’s the start to something I feel strongly about, and  the simple fact I managed to finish it gives me hope for this plan of mine to earn a living doing what I love. Go easy on us, Self: this work came from snippets typed into a cell phone, scribbled in a notebook and cultivated in a recycled Petri dish brain.