Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gals We Admire: Rosemary Counter

Freelance writer Rosemary Counter loves her job because she gets to produce stories based on her personal interests. Not to mention, she can were her pyjamas all day, but she says being a freelancer can be a lonely business, too. Find out how the talented writer spends her days and why she believes she did, and didn't, have a calling for her profession.

Name: Rosemary Counter 
Profession: Freelance Writer 
Twitter handle: @RosemaryCounter

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I get up, slowly, around 8. Two coffees and a social media cruise have me back in business by 9. I feel most creative energy in the mornings, so I use these few power hours to write pitches or whatever assignment is due next. I usually run out of steam just in time for a bagel and The View. Then it’s back to the freelance grinder: sending pitches, follow-ups with varying levels of aggression, or editing in-the-works stories. By 2 or 3, I’ve had enough, so I escape for a lunch date, the gym, or errands (all awesome while everyone else is at the office). If I make it back to work, afternoons tend to be more mindless: invoicing, transcribing interviews, fact-checking. I quit by dinnertime and try to put it all away til tomorrow. 

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I changed my mind constantly! Movie star was way up there, but lawyer, teacher, and romance novel editor were more realistic picks. My mom insists I wrote adorable stories all the time, but I didn’t really think seriously of being a writer until it started happening. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love not having a boss, mixing up my stories based on whatever’s interesting to me at the moment, and wearing my pajamas all day. Also don’t miss office politics one bit. 

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
It gets lonely! I spend a lot of time alone and it’s easy to fall into a gloomy funk. I need to make an ongoing effort towards human interaction, and that’s creepy. The uncertainty can suck too—I fight a looming fear that every story could be the last. 

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
Yes, but also no. In retrospect, I see all kinds of bonehead signs that I wanted to write the whole time but was too shy to say so. In university, for example, sometimes I’d ignore the research assignment and write a creative piece or poem (this only worked out once). But in another and more pragmatic way, I just fell into it and the lifestyle grew on me. It’s really hard for me to imagine going to work now. 

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Think big! I have all kinds of grandiose plans that will probably never happen, but I still secretly believe they just might. I visualize myself on Oprah all the time; I’m doing it right now.  

Embrace your failures. There’s a sign tacked on my wall that says “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.” So every time an idea is rejected or criticized, I tell myself that’s good. Waita push yourself out of that box! Then reward yourself with a glass of wine. 

Be yourself! It would be awesome to be Margaret Atwood, but I can only be me. It’s best not to compare yourself to anyone, develop your own style of doing business, and then give it the best you’ve got.

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