My Writer’s Story – So far
Many of you already know what it is I do for living, but some new friends have asked what my story is. As it happens, I really enjoy telling stories.
When I was a kid, I interviewed my dog, Wags. I took notes in my little reporter’s notebook – it was one of those notebooks bound at the top, and I felt so very grown-up and professional using it. I conducted a in-depth interview with my dog – complete with quotes and even a Polaroid photograph of her. I can tell you, I was quite disappointed when I learned there was already a story published about Wags called, of all things – A Story About Wags. But that first failure didn’t deter me. I wrote when I was in high school. I wrote when I was in college, and I continued to write while I was a graphic designer. After a while, I started writing professionally and had several publications which I worked with in the United States. I wrote marketing and content development for my clients (who were mostly artists), and in 2004 I created my first blog called ArtLook. Things were good.
When I moved to Sweden – after many soul stealing months trying to find work – it was suggested to me that I should just put down my pen and get a job as a dishwasher or a night janitor. I was crushed. I had always believed that I could write from anywhere on the planet, but getting work in Sweden was really tough – This is a place that neither recognizes your education, or background experience, if you are a foreigner. I also realized that I had no real contacts in Europe and I was rebuilding a business from scratch. In this culture, people are not identified by what they do for a living, and while that is very different from the US – and quite beautiful in some ways – the fact remains: I AM a writer.
I spent many months with no money. I don’t mean I was simply broke. I mean I had maybe ten kronor (the equivalent of a little over one US dollar) in my wallet for weeks and weeks. I walked the streets of Gothenburg not even able to afford a cup of coffee. I went without buying clothes. I went without makeup. I had to learn to cut my own hair (which was a disaster). My fiancé completely supported me financially and I hated it. This was a far cry from the productive lifestyle I lived while in the US. I wondered what the hell I was doing here in Sweden.
I devised all kinds of things to keep me on track and to keep my dream and vision alive. I began to create my own books of photography. I figured, I would self publish them at Blurb. I knew there was no way I could pursue my past profession, graphic design, in Sweden so my mission was to expand my network for writing and photography. I continued to market … and market … and network … and network. I used social media like a fiend to get the word out about my services. I submitted hundreds of job applications and wrote emails to everyone and anyone I could think of. Finally I got a few gigs. I wrote for Nordstjernan in the US, did some jobs for The Local – Sweden, and also did some very gratifying work for Spoon Content Management. But three clients does not make a living. I got frustrated. I cried. I continued to market myself. I continued to write.
After several more months, my friends and family told me to come home. “Enough is enough,” they said. I had to admit, I was getting really tired of wearing clothes with holes in them. Life in Scandinavia was kicking my ass. “This is not who I am,” I sobbed. “I’m not staying in a place that doesn’t want me.” And so on a Friday, I started to pack my bags. I began shredding papers, organizing my things, and planning a return flight. But the universe has a strange sense of humor … not to mention timing.
The very next day, as I sat still shredding business documents, I received an email from an artist in Ireland. He wanted me to write an introduction for his catalog for his up-coming solo show. Fine, I thought. I can do that job from the US as well as I can from Sweden. I wrote the guy back, told him I’d love the job – and I continued to shred business documents.
Later that next week, I received emails from a magazine in Germany, my editor at Nordstjernan telling me he wanted to publish more of my writing and photography on a regular basis, another email from one of my editors in the US, another from a friend with a tip on a writing job at a firm in Gothenburg – and the biggest opportunity of all came in from a publishing house in Stockholm. I stopped shredding papers immediately! It seemed Sweden wasn’t done with me yet.
Writer/photographer Lisa Mikulski – available for print or online publications and businesses. The Nordic region, Europe, and the U.S. Check out my writing and photography services. Editorial, features, marketing copy, and public relations. Contact me here or at lisa @ 2sweden4love.com