Peek into a freelance writer’s word-savvy soul

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Meet Samantha, called Sam, a freelancer who writes a blog called Scarlett, Called Scout. I knew Sam and her boyfriend-now-husband when she was Samantha Strong, student columnist extraordinaire at BYU. Sam’s mesmerizing way with words draws you in, and I’ve always admired the sheer honesty in her writing. She’s also a talented photographer and has an eye for publication, as you can see on her blog. I see no limits to her career potential. Get to know her in this Q & A and her essay titled “Wedding Demons.”

Q. Scarlett, Called Scout gives me a peek into your soul. How does it feel knowing many others read your personal thoughts, especially those you’ve never met?

A. I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I love that it encourages me to write regularly, but I hate that I feel obligated to write when I don’t feel inspired. If you look back in my archives, you’ll see that there are times when I’m downright prolific and there are times when I’m silent for weeks. I love the feeling of fulfillment that comes when I know that what I’ve written reflects what I think and feel, and I hate the countless times I’ve felt like my abilities of expression have fallen short. I love the thrill of making myself vulnerable to an audience, because I truly believe it’s the best way to improve my writing, but it is, at times, a terrifying thing. Inevitably, I end up worrying about the things I say and the things I censor.

That only half answers your question. We bloggers are too accustomed to doing whatever we want.

Q. To create your thought-provoking phrases, do you have a quick concept-to-words writing process, or do you belabor over edits and refining?

A. It’s either there or it’s not. I have a file full of blog posts I couldn’t finish, because the words just didn’t come. I do belabor a bit over editing, but only because I want a lot of my writing to have a specific audio quality that can be a little tricky to achieve sometimes. I make my husband read the posts back to me and if they sound different out of his mouth than they did in my mind when I wrote them, I shift the punctuation around until I get it right. I’m definitely a descriptivist when it comes to grammar. I don’t hesitate to break the rules if it gives me the effect I want.

Q. With your deep wit and sassy way, you sometimes share honest specifics about your relationship with your husband. I guess this is more a question for him, but I’m curious: what does Trent think of these confessional-type pieces?

A. Trent has a love-hate relationship with my blog as well. He loves that it makes me happy, but hates that I have to be robustly honest to get there. People tell me constantly that the blog makes him sound completely endearing, but he thinks I make fun of him too much. In blogging, as in all things, we compromise a lot.

Q. After your journalism degree and being Associate Editor at a magazine, you’re now embedded in the freelance scene. What’s the best/worst parts of freelance writing?

A. For a long time, I thought freelancing was a myth, a euphemism for “unemployed.” I was wrong. I’ve been extremely blessed to find so much freelance work with so many fantastic publications. The best part is that it requires that you give your absolute best with every piece you write. There’s no guarantee you’ll get another job with any publication, so the stakes are always high. It’s incredibly motivating. Making my own hours is also fantastic. Most full-time writing gigs are 9-5, but I’ve always been a night owl. Most nights I tuck Trent in bed and then get to work. The worst part is probably that my personal hygiene has suffered. I’ve got a professional wardrobe in my closet going out of style and a blow dryer in my drawer collecting dust.

Q. Think back and tell us: When did you first know you wanted to spend your life writing?

A. I went through a major “Harriet the Spy” phase when I was eight or nine. Trent always jokes that I never left it, that I spend my days at home in Atlanta spying on our neighbors and writing my observations in a composition notebook. He might just be right.

 

“wedding demons”

I have wedding demons.
Like my own hell-bent ghosts of Christmas past, they follow me, haunt me, shame me. They keep me company.
The dress — cheapest one I didn’t hate — picked to prove something.
The flowers, rushed.
The cake, expensive and tasteless and who cares about cake?
The tables, sloppy vision, blah and blah.
The photographer, perfect. Just perfect. But it’s hard to forget my misplaced pickiness and bridezilla moments with her — ugly moments hovering in retrospect.
The organization at the reception, messy timing, needless waste.

I could go on. I do go on — in my head in moments of weakness, too frequent moments these past 20 months. I stew and regret and then hate myself for caring — and for still caring — and for seeing no end to the caring in sight. Click here to read the rest on Sam’s beautiful blog.

 

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Scarlett, Called Scout blog

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