As a writer, I thought it would be a good idea to learn about photography so I could take pictures to accompany my stories. So in college, I signed up for several photography classes. Turns out I was pretty good with a camera and I ended up majoring in photojournalism instead of journalism. I landed a sweet job with the local daily newspaper and had a four-year career as a press photographer. When I gave birth to our first child, I decided to give up my job to become a stay-at-home mom making my husband the sole breadwinner. I had no idea how this was going to impact my writing career.
When the kids were ten and eleven, I wanted to buy a boat. I thought it would be a great family activity to be able to go boating, fishing, and skiing as a family. Having grown up with a boat, I had fond memories of all the boating trips and vacations we had when I was a kid. My husband was totally against the idea. It became a huge battle that came down to money. He made the money, so he made the decisions. When he told me, “If you want a boat, you have to buy it with your own money” he set me on a path that led to my future independence.
As a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t have my “own money.” I had to get “permission” to purchase anything that my husband deemed unnecessary, especially if it was for me personally, such as a new pair of jeans. Restarting my press photographer career was out of the question. You can’t be a press photographer from home, but you can be a writer!
I started my freelance career writing articles about what I knew…raising kids. I wrote articles about how to make your swimming pool kid safe, how to take better pictures of your children, and five fun crafts for a rainy day. When it came to writing what you know, I exhausted the stay-at-home mom genre and was published in everything from Parenting magazine, to Highlights, to Instructor, a magazine for teachers. I even wrote guest editorials for the local newspaper on quirky topics like parents as furniture for their kids. In order to save “my own money” for a boat, I opened a checking account in my name only and deposited every check I received from writing freelance articles into my account.
During my time as a press photographer I tried to use my training as a writer to write captions for my photography. I was told “no thanks” leave the writing to the writers. Now as a freelance writer, I was getting requests for photos to accompany my articles. When I offered to take the pictures I was told “no thanks” leave the photography to the photographers. This struck me as ridiculous. I was a photographer AND a writer, why couldn’t I do both.
To get around the foolish notion that one person couldn’t do both, I invented a fictitious photographer named Marie Walker. I was writing under my married name of Christie Costanzo. Marie Walker, my middle name and maiden name, became a professional photographer associate of mine who supplied me with photos to accompany my articles. The editors were thrilled and paid extra for the photographs. This doubled the amount of money I was depositing in my boat account. After two years, I had saved $5,000. I purchased a used Glaston tri-hull with an outdoor motor. The kids and I were thrilled, my husband, not so much. But what could he say? I had bought the boat with my own money. It wasn’t until I divorced him ten years later, that I realized what a turning point that had been. Freelance writing had given me the experience I would need to reenter the job market after a 15 year hiatus. But I really didn’t discover my real passion until I found true love and wrote my first novel.
Christie Walker Bos lives in Big Bear Lake, California, with her husband Robbie, her very own Magical Man. She has four published novels: Magical Man List, The Write Man for Her, and Getting Back to Delaney. And writing as Susan Ashworthy, she has the first novel in the Hot PurSuits series of erotica, Stealing Hearts. She has two Web sites: www.ChristieWalkerBos.com and www.SusanAshworthy.com