A Writers’ Other Jobs story from Naomi Jaul

I knew exactly how my new life in Los Angeles was going to look: there was me, interviewing celebrities at the Polo Lounge; there was me again, typing out reams of incisive personal essays for ELLE, and, oh, there was me living it up on press trips for travel stories every second week. My life was going to be as sun-soaked as a lo-fi Instagram filter. But when I wasn’t planning my new, nonchalant-chic freelancing wardrobe that I’d obviously need, I was shitting my decidedly non-nonchalant pants.

I mean, really, what was I thinking, leaving a solid, senior job that I enjoyed (as deputy editor at Cosmo) for the unknown world of freelancing half the world away? But that’s what you do when your fiancé wins a green card lottery and has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to Los Angeles and pursue the dream of a small Greek boy in a small Hobart cinema watching Star Wars: to make movies. You leave behind your job security, your friends and the world you know, and you hope for the best.

The best being, that you’ll become that person who writes, “Angelina Jolie stalks into the Chateau Marmont, her long legs clad in glistening leather and her jaw set ferociously.” The reality being stained tracky daks, unbrushed hair, a desk cluttered with mugs and chewed pens, writing daily deals for a website that makes you want to stick aforementioned chewed pen directly in your eye.

Not that I could afford to be picky: figuring that I didn’t want to be depressed working from home, my now-husband and I had signed a lease on a beautiful Art Deco apartment with a price tag to match. I was getting writing work, but it never seemed like enough. And he was finding it hard to get interviews in a country that seemed to spend the last two months of the year in an egg-nog haze of the holiday season. It wasn’t even sunny: whoever said L.A is always cloudless turned out to be a filthy liar.

So there I found myself, writing dazzling copy for booze cruises and Indian food. Every morning, I’d wake up and check how many deals I’d been assigned, make a cup of tea and try to get creative over makeup application classes and Segway tours. Then I’d feel sorry for myself for not having any friends who I could just call up and whinge about it to or procrastinate with over coffee. And then I’d go back to my personal hell of trying to find a new angle to sell what felt like my seventieth spray tan deal and a way to describe eyelash extensions without calling them “flirty”. But the worst part about it was my sanctimonious editor who liked nothing more than to chastise me for writing “valued at” rather than “value:” or some such petty thing.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a precious writer, and I’ve edited enough precious writers to know when not to take things personally. I pride myself on having good relationships with all my editors. But this guy was horrible, and I dreaded reading his feedback each morning for three months straight. So when word came through from HQ that all copywriting was being taken in-house, I couldn’t help but be relieved.

That was a while ago, and even though I miss that regular paycheck, I don’t miss the leaden feeling in my ribcage whenever ‘deal assigned’ popped up in my inbox. Six months after leaving Sydney with two suitcases and some silly ideas about meeting Angelina Jolie, I’m writing stories for Marie Claire, International Traveller, Cosmo, Women’s Fitness, CLEO, The West Australian Travel and Glo (glo.msn.com). I’ve even interviewed a few celebs and been in the same room as Johnny Depp. The. Same. Room.

Did I make the right decision to come here? I don’t know yet. But I’ve learned that I don’t need a team around me to make things happen, a full time job to keep me afloat or constant feedback to make me a better writer. In other words, I’ve learned to stand on my own two freelance feet.

And now that it’s summer, everything really is sun-soaked.

Naomi Jaul is an L.A based freelance writer and editor. Her work has featured in many magazines including Marie Claire Australia, CLEO, Cosmopolitan Australia and International Traveller. Follow her adventures at http://unitedstatesofmrandmrsc.com/and https://twitter.com/NaomiJaul

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