A blog by freelance writer Trina Lea Grant

I was reading my tweets and feeds this morning, and it occurred to me I have wondered since I got into this business how professional writers handle the distinction between their professional persona and their religious and political beliefs, for instance. I have been told by some people professionals in every industry, whether freelance or employee, should keep their beliefs to themselves and keep it business. Still others have said their religious beliefs, especially are an integral part of who they are, that it overflows into the workplace. They say this would be true even in a public work environment, should they not be working for themselves.

Since I began my career in freelance writing, I have read the work of others and seen a mixture of both points of view. There are those who put their name and face out there and say what they have to say and that's that. Then there are those who are more diplomatic, you might say, and choose to keep their professional life strictly on a professional level, regardless of whether they work in an office or a home office.

It is one of the ironies of the freedom of freelancing to think we are free to write whatever we choose for the most part, within the limits of the law, yet the views on whether or not to air strong opinions within the guise of your professional life vary from person to person. I supposed your decision would be based largely on the type writing you plan to do, and who your target audience is. If you are shooting for a twice-weekly analyst's seat on Bill O'Reilly, you better start spouting some strong opinion. If you prefer to keep your reputation strictly to that of a non-partisan contract employee, then it is probably best to keep strong personal opinion out of your writing.

Your target audience will determine your best course of action. If you are looking to catch the eye of a certain group, to be sure you should either be completely for them, or completely against them. If your aim is to get paid to write in a non-personal, completely autonomous way, then you should stick to writing facts. I asked the question on several of my blogging groups to find out the general consensus on personal ideologies in writing. What do you think? If you are a freelance writer, do you have a blog or other site where you express your beliefs publickly? Or, do you keep your two personas separate?
Here are the links to the group discussions on LinkedIn the question started...

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I should have remembered the monster I created when I introduced my middle-aged mother to the internet years ago. Alas, I did not, and now I fear I have awakened a sleeping beast: the blogger in my husband. He has always encouraged me with my own blogging and writing. But, he has always said he himself is a terrible writer and he hates to have to write. I asked him if he'd ever just sat down and wrote whatever he wanted to-not an expense report or a financial forecast, but whatever he felt like expressing himself about. As soon as I handed him a pen and paper and said, "Just write words. No sentences. No complete thoughts. Just words. Go wild," he did just that. He started writing about things that are important to him in the political realm and the different aspects of being the head of a family. Soon we were posting and picking out templates. So far he has finished one draft post. I'm not rushing or nagging, this is truly a great start. I'm so glad he has found something to keep him busy and something to focus his energies on.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month) start November 1st as most of you probably know. I always start my planning (officially) on October 1st. I love it when the month starts on a Monday, especially my birth month! I don't really actually celebrate my birthday, but I just looked at the calendar and realized tomorrow is the first and I just like that.

I'm very excited about NaNo, as usual. My husband is so cool about NaNo. Every time I start talking about an idea for a new novel, he says, "Are you going to save this one for NaNo?". He does this because he knows how particular I am about the rules, and I don't want to cheat, so it's always kind of important for me to know from the start if I just need to make notes, or if I can be working on prose as well.

This year I contemplated using the same novel as last year, "1500 Feet". The plot for this novel was inspired by all the cases of wives gone missing and presumed murdered by their husbands that have gained such notoriety in the recent past. However, though the book will follow the case of the missing woman, it will center around the effect of the event on the lives and emotions of the people around her.

The premise of "1500 Feet" is a young wife goes missing, and though her body can't be found, all fingers point to her husband. A secret affair with a co-worker, a failing marriage and financial troubles all make for the perfect set-up for the husband to be the prime suspect. However, with lack of any physical evidence, and basically just public speculation to go on, her family is left to mourn with no closure as the years pass, and the husband walks away to start a new life.

The missing young woman's mother, however, cannot go on with her own life. A woman deeply damaged by physical and emotional scarring from her own past, she is a woman hell-bent on a mission to find or daughter or find the person who took her. She knows in her heart of hearts her son-in-law has done something to her daughter, only she, like the police, can find nothing incriminating him. So, she begins to stalk him.

The mother stalks the son-in-law and his new wife, the former mistress, with an intensity that eventually winds up with a restraining order being issued. Thus, the idea for the title, "1500 Feet". I'm hoping to give the novel a somewhat psyche-bending, "Phonebooth"-style atmosphere, something that will have the reader intensely focused on the downward spiral of a woman and her family after a tragedy.

However, over the summer, I came up with the idea for a new novel, working title "Brothers' Keeper", another family drama frought with secrets and hurt and emotional dysfunction. This is the story I have decided to tell for NaNo. You can find the plot synopsis HERE on my NaNoWriMo profile page. If you haven't checked NaNo out, or have never heard of it, you should definitely head on over there. This will be my fifth year in a row participating. Though I have never "won", every year is a new chance to achieve the golden ring, and I look to it with hearty anticipation.
I have a possible lead on some volunteer work for kids with cerebral palsy. A lady who has a son with CP has been asked to write a book about the challenges of her life, and she needs a ghost writer. My girlfriend whose little boy also has CP has mentioned me, and the woman said she is going to get in touch with me. Fingers crossed.

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Image courtesy sxc.hu/svilen2_theauthor2
I finally wrote the synopsis for my novel I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. It took me a while to decide to do it. I guess because it's up there and so many people will see it! Oh Lord! What a thought (sarcasm). It's very easy to write a blog or write stories or write anything, for that matter, including a novel, when no one will see it but you. It's a lot harder when it's something a lot of people are probably going to see. That makes it more important, more essential, especially in the eloquence department.
When I post my synopsis on NaNo, it's there, for all the world to see, and that means it's official. The novel is being born. It's in the conception stage, but soon we will be a beaming mama-to-be of a bright, shiny new novel. It's terrifying. It's not so scary when you're sitting on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night so you won't disturb your husband who has to be at work in a couple of hours, and you're scribbling hurried notes in your metallic yellow reporters' pad, using your super-special University of Alabama pen.

It's not so scary when you're picking out this year's super-duper new 'Notebook for NaNo' and your pen that will be the ticket to fame and fortune. It's not so scary when you're getting together all the stuff you'll surely be able to put to use this year until you eventually throw all that crap back in your office and use a Bic pen and a legal pad and your laptop. When it gets to be Bic pen and legal pad and laptop time, it starts getting scary.

Scary is when the count-down clock on the NaNo site tells you there are less than two weeks to make your final plans for notes. Scary is when the die on 'Dice City Roller' keep screaming at you it's time to get off your butt and start that outline, that the notes you've written won't put themselves in order. Scary is your office whispering every time you walk by, "You've been nesting for three weeks now, and I'm all cleaned out, and straightened up, and set to your liking, and now you have to admit you're avoiding me." (Of course now that the husband has discovered a new civilization game and is taking up his own corner of the office and yells every five seconds, "Look, baby, look at the smoke coming out of the smoke stack of my level 9 houses!", it's very hard to concentrate, so there's a good excuse.)

The news will have to be turned off, children turned away, dinner turned over to the husband and the phone turned to silent. It must happen. I have done it three years in a row now, and I've never won, and this on my BUCKET LIST. It must happen. There must be no fear, there must be no hesitation. I cannot continue to ask my husband if it is a month-long waste of time, knowing he's only going to tell me, "No, this year you are going to finish, all fifty-thousand words, and you're going to write a novel, and people are going to want to read it." So I have to quit fishing for encouragement, and just repeat the same things to myself I do every year at this time, that, "...it's almost time, it's almost time, it's almost here..." and get ready. That's it.

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