The Making of This Writer: An Origins Story (Part 1)


By Katie Vann

“It’s not what you deserve. It’s what you believe in.”


Sound familiar? For those of you who have seen the new Wonder Woman movie, you probably recognize this phrase. It’s one that Wonder Woman eventually comes to learn, accept, and adopt as she decides to love and help save humanity even after seeing how terrible humans can be to each other. 

Like Wonder Woman, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I believe in and what I deserve over the past several months. 

I’ve always been a writer and a reader. There have been times when I have both wrote and read less, but they have always been there for me like old friends. They are deeply ingrained into my identity and have shaped who I have become as a twentysomething today.

Despite this love affair with words, I have just recently decided to dive full force into freelance writing. I’ve completed several projects for friends and colleagues over the years, but this is the first time I am truly devoting plenty of time to marketing, cold pitching, and networking. I’m still teaching full-time at Clemson, but with a fast-growing clientele list, I can officially say I am a freelance writer on the side.

What made me finally join the freelance hustle?

Everyone has their own reasons for making the jump into freelance. Some may want more autonomy. Others a better schedule. And, hopefully, for most of us, it has to do with falling in love with a skill or passion that we want to share and use to help others. 

My reasons? I think after quite a bit of soul searching over the past few months during one of the scariest ordeals of my life, I can verbalize my motivation for becoming a freelance writer into four main reasons:

1. I love writing.
2. I love researching, reading, and learning.
3. I love talking to people and hearing their stories. 
4. I love and respect my body and my health. 

You see, it took me losing the ability to write, to read, and to listen to others’ stories to make me finally stop waiting for the perfect time to become a freelance writer and start writing. It took me having to fight through and survive Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder in which you experience sudden onset, full body paralysis, to appreciate the ability to ask questions, hold a pen, and use my hand and my fingers to guide that pen over a blank page to fill it with my thoughts. 

Before this experience, there were times when I gave up on writing because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Or because I was so unhappy with another area of my life that I became distracted. Or because I thought I deserved more than what my life seemed to be offering. 

Looking back on those thoughts, my beliefs have indeed changed. 

It took me almost losing my life to want to go out and write about life more than ever.

I now know how fragile life is and how drastically it can change over just a few hours. I now know through experience, not just cliche, that tomorrow truly isn’t guaranteed. 

And I don’t want to waste another day not writing.

Like Wonder Woman, I’ve seen and been through some pretty terrible things. But now, more than ever, I believe that words and stories are the most important tools we have to help others to learn about and try to understand each other. And I very much want and need to be a part of that mission.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing more posts that will slowly unpack my story. The details aren’t always pretty, but I don’t believe in censorship or editing a story to make others feel comfortable. You will read about heartbreak and frustration, but you will also encounter plenty of humor and interesting life characters. You’ll get to know me through my writing and have a rare glimpse into what makes me, me. 

So, let’s start with a few basics. What do I believe in?

I believe in confidence. That I should have it in my ability as a writer, as a businesswoman, a teacher, and just as another human being trying to do their best. 

I believe that my body and health need to be valued and never again taken for granted. I believe that the sense of value must start internally with me.

And, finally, I believe that the privilege of writing stories, whether it’s the story of a nonprofit seeking funding, a new business opening up downtown, or just the stories of people I meet on street, is the greatest job and responsibility in the world. 

That being said, with pen and notebook in hand, I’m off, perhaps not to save the world, but at least to explore and write about it.



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