Today would have marked my 24th year at my old company but instead of walking across the windy parking lot and into those colonial red doors, I sent a completed freelance writing assignment to a client. Imagine that. I have "clients."
Each of the writing projects I’ve finished to date have swallowed me like a plunge off the deep end. I’m an expert swimmer but the water is cold and sometimes snapping turtles lurk out there.
At the lake where we swam as children, I loved flying off the springboard. Before every dive I’d walk to the middle of the supple Duraflex plank and pause, picturing what I needed to do next--the arm set, the pike, the extension, the toe point. Gliding across the sandpaper surface to the end, I’d force the board down and let it hurdle me toward the sun, reaching my hands, grasping my knees, wrapping a twist. I could tell, by the whoosh, the speed at which the water vacuumed me to the murky bottom--whether a petite geyser of spray emanated behind me or if I entered with a churning, washing-machine splash. In diving, it’s about practice and clean lines and perfection; if I stepped awkwardly on the board, over rotated, fell short, I’d hit the water hard, surfacing disappointed.
Writing projects require a similar precision. I interview my clients, determine their needs and set myself up by deciding which slant to produce. Practicing my approach, I read what I’ve written out loud--making sure the message enters straight and crisp. Walking to the end of the board, bouncing a few times, I edit. Then confident in the preparation, ready soar into the sky, I walk back to the middle, stride to the end and press send.
But here’s the difference. This dive freezes in mid air. I’m floating here in layout position, hoping at the end my toes will disappear into a silent whirlpool vortex. For the moment though, I’m hanging. Until I receive a response there’s no way to know if I’m plunging at the right degree—whether I've scored anything near a perfect 10.