In 2003, I moved from Indiana to Washington state, sight unseen, to take a job in the financial services industry only to be laid off nine months later. I was a single mom in a new state, with no job, no family and few friends. What I did have, though, was one freelance client, a passion for writing, and a stubborn streak that would keep me going. Surviving on a half-time job and a bit of unemployment income, I took a leap of faith to try writing full-time. Within a year and a half, I had to quit the half-time job because I was so busy writing for local publications and clients.
Since then, I’ve moved to the Seattle area and am now a regular contributor to The Seattle Times, 425 magazine, South Sound magazine and AARP Bulletin. I’m also the publisher of iLoveKent.net, a hyperlocal blog about Kent, Washington, and I am currently the president-elect for the national Society of Professional Journalists. I will be the 7th female president in our organization’s 104-year history, and one of the few freelancers to hold this position.
Ten years ago, I would never have thought I’d be able to follow my dream of being writer, but here I am. Every day, I have the great privilege of telling stories. I don’t do it for the fame, and I certainly don’t do it for the fortune. I do it because I love entertaining and educating people. I like making them laugh, tugging at their heartstrings, or pointing them to a resource they didn’t know existed. I don’t care if they remember my name; all I care about is that I touched them in some way. How lucky am I to be able to do that every day?
This is not the career I planned, but it is what I was meant to do, and I am grateful every day for this gift. I encourage others to follow their passion. It is more rewarding than I ever imagined.
Based in the Seattle area, Dana Neuts is a full-time freelance writer and editor, as well as the publisher of iLoveKent.net. She is passionate about freelancing and journalism, and is currently serving as the president-elect of the national Society of Professional Journalists. She lives in Kent, Washington with her daughter and their menagerie of pets.