Yesterday the online freelance writing/blogging community learned on Copyblogger that Men with Pens James Chartrand is actually a woman. I have to tell you I never saw that one coming. In fact I was completely blindsided by the news. So much so that I spent the rest of the evening in a fog getting very little work done as I tried reconnecting the dots from the first time I discovered the Men with Pens blog; trying to figure out if I’d missed any signs.
This may sound crazy, but until James revealed the truth about herself, it simply never occurred to me that there was a glass ceiling for freelance writers. Crazy, huh?
Gender bias toward writers
Whether you’re an established freelance writer, just getting your writing career off the ground or somewhere in between, there is a reason why Jame’s story should matter to you.
In the beginning James was providing clients with high quality content and reliable service; yet she was unappreciated, put down and often subjected to clients questioning her ability. But as soon as she decided to start calling herself James, she found it easier to get gigs, client’s lapped up her advice and just basically found her more brilliant, capable and knowledgeable in general. Even though she was the exact same person. Now what’s wrong with this picture?
A new way of seeing things
I spent the evening reliving my own past client encounters. Those times when clients nickled and dimed me, resisted cooperating by providing the information needed to get the job done, trying to get more for less or putting me through revision hell – were those guys (and 90 percent of the time they were male clients) just jerks for the sake of being jerks or jerks because they were doing business with some random woman working from her home?
Like James I thought it better not to mention my kids or the fact that my office is set up in the corner of my dining room. Some clients could care less, but I couldn’t be too careful. I go to great pains not to be perceived as a hobby writer.
How far would you go?
James’ story resonated with so many writers as you can see from the many comments at the end of her guest post. We all came to choose freelancing for different reasons – a last resort effort to generate a much needed income, the need to escape a suffocating career or a flexible way to make money and care for a loved on with special needs. We expect for everything to be neat and professional and dare I say fair? But sometimes that’s not what we get. I guess I’m still a little shocked at the lengths some are forced to go to just to put food on the table and pay the bills. Personally, James’ story makes perfect sense to me. As she said in her post, she had some tough choices to make, so she made them. Such is life as a freelancer.