Today’s Blog is an interview with my friend Shellie R. Warren. She has been a freelance author for about 12 years and I met her in academy. Shellie and I weren’t actually super close in high school, but she is one of the few people I have maintained contact with since my days of legalism and self-righteousness (Am I the only one who hesitates to stay in touch with high school friends after becoming extremely embarrassed about who I was in those days?).
Our relationship has been complex and unusual (anyone who knows us both can verify that!). When I got married the first time I asked Shellie to be a bridesmaid. She declined saying that she felt it was a mistake. Turns out she saw what I didn’t at the time, but rather than ruining the friendship it made it stronger because I trusted her from that moment on with a full and thorough fierceness. (She said yes to be a bridesmaid in my wedding to Marcel.)
People may not always like what Shellie says, but when she speaks there is never any doubt that she is speaking honestly. SOOO, given that I write a blog about women entrepreneurs it seemed only appropriate to interview Shellie. Here is what she said:
1) Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing and what are you currently working on?
I don’t really think I got into writing. It’s more like it got into me. My mom told me that when I was a very little girl, my preference above all toys was shaking newspaper (there must be something to that because my brother is an award-winning musician now and he preferred to hit on pots and pans!). I always did well in English and tended to gravitate toward creative writing. Even while in college and having no idea what the heck I was doing there (I flunked out twice, actually and have yet to return…we’ll see), I excelled when it came time for papers to be due.
In 1997 when I penned the poem, “I’m Single and That’s Alright with Me” I got a standing ovation at a local poetry spot. It was the first time I realized that maybe my mom actually did know what she was talking about when she told me that I was a writer. In my mind, all I thought was, “Who applies to be a Maya Angelou or a CS Lewis?” As a full-time writer now, I realize the answer is “no one”…if you’re gifted with words, words that can enlighten the world in some way, an audience will present itself.
Currently, I’m not sure what I’m working. It’s all kind of a blur. I write for a company that commissions blogs on a daily basis. I ghostwrite for a woman that tours as a public speaker. I am a relationships writer for a website in Australia. I am the women’s editor and contributor for X3Church.com. I have my own blog for single women that desire marriage: OnFireFastMovement.Blogspot.com. And I’m working on my next book. It hasn’t told me what it should be titled yet and so I’m assuming that I’m not supposed to give a lot of details. Other than that, I freelance for a few magazines. A cool way to get a byline and have an unexpected check show up in the mail from time-to-time (you usually get paid 6-9 months after submitting material to major magazines…just a heads up!).
2) Tell us about your books.
In 2004, I “birthed” my “firstborn”. Her name is “Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love and Redemption“. It’s basically what I consider to be my sex autobiography in the sense that it shares my journey from sexual abuse to sexual misuse to the beginning stages of abstinence.
My second is “Pure Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Integrity” Pure Heart, basically picks up where “Inside of Me” left off. I also have a T-shirt line, “Perez Linen” and a friend of mine and I are developing a production company for one man and one woman shows. We haven’t trademarked the name yet and so I’ll keep that quiet for now (if you’re someone who makes money from ideas, be very careful about who you share your intellectual property with. Keep those Facebook and Twitter exchanges to a minimum!).
I do some touring as the women’s “Porn and Pancakes” speaker for http://www.xxxchurch.com/. I’m proud of the work that we do when it comes to helping people get free from porn and sexual addiction and so if I were to market anything, it would probably be that most of all.
3) What are some future goals?
I’m at a place in my life where I’m not sure what my future looks like in the sense of what I want to do next. The last 10 years or so have been about doing a lot of healing (college and the early-mid 20s are a real trip!). I spent six years working as a teen mom director for the local chapter of a national non-profit and with all of the sexual issues that I had to work through (promiscuity, four abortions, date rape, broken hearts, etc.) that did a lot of healing for me. I’m also in the process of becoming certified to be a licensed doula and so I’m sure that will tie in one way or another. I think more than anything, I want to finish getting Butterfly Angel off of the ground. It’s intended to be a non-profit organization that celebrates survivors of sexual abuse. The concept came from a little “love sister” of mine in South Africa who is a survivor of sexual abuse just like I am. She wrote me a poem entitled, “My Butterfly Angel” that has stayed with me ever since. Other than that, I honestly have accomplished more than I ever dreamed on a professional level. I would like to do some documentaries, record a few audio books, do a college tour and maybe become a syndicated columnist at some point, but right now, at this moment, taking a bit of time to travel, to pamper myself, to pat myself on the back for what’s already been done is pretty high on the to-do list.
4) What advice would you give to women who want to work for themselves?
Be prepared to work really hard…a lot. For instance, being that I am a writer, it’s not like the world is lacking in those and so I have to make sure to market myself and to keep my voice relevant and current. On the financial side of things, 1099s can come to bite you with the sharpest of teeth! Keep up with your taxes. Paying them quarterly is wise. Oh, and if you’re wanting stability and to live on the high-end side of life, it’s possible, but it’s more the exception than it is the rule…especially the first 3-5 years of working for yourself. I have to be quite creative with my finances in order to enjoy the luxury of working from home, but to be on my own schedule…there’s nothing like the feeling of knowing that you’re putting your blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally) into building your own dreams rather than someone else’s (even the freelancing that I do for others, the byline helps to get my name out to attach to my own visions). This isn’t a field for the fickle or faint of heart, though. Self-employment is a ravenous lover that wants a lot of your time and attention. Rarely is there any room to cheat. It requires the same kind of discipline day in and day out.
5) What role does your Spiritual connection and relationship with God play in working as a freelancer?
I’ve been living by the motto that the Holy Spirit and I have been discussing as of late: “You don’t have to take leaps of faith if you’d simply follow your ordered steps.” Some people would say that freelancing requires a lot of faith. I get where they’re coming from, but 12 years in, I think it requires more obedience than anything. Every day, I go to God about what he desires of me and when I do that, he makes the path pretty clear. After all, the Word does say in Proverbs 3:5-6 that if we acknowledge him, he will direct us. Since 1997, something else that I’ve also done, basically every week, is pen a devotional that I send out. For years people have asked when I’m going to publish them. I don’t have an answer to that question. I see it as a way of tithing some of my spiritual gifts, including writing, back to the Lord and Malachi 3 tells us that when we tithe, he’ll rebuke the devourer for our sake. I think that is what has kept me going—mentally, physically, emotionally and financially all these years: using my writing gift in a way that would not compromise my love for God and trusting him to open the doors as I do it.