Creative professionals live a rollercoaster existence—especially when they also work as freelancers. Slow years are nerve-wracking, because you’re always hustling for gigs. Busy years can also be nerve-wracking, when clients and subjects demand a great deal of time but may not excite the imagination. Then there’s the matter of income, which trickles and gushes, depending on your luck. The 1099s pile up. By the end of tax season, my accountant is all but cross-eyed.
But sometimes, everything goes right.
I started 2022 on a high note, and each month felt luckier than the last, right up through 2023. Opportunities were hurled my way, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t saying “yes” just to say yes. Goals were hit. Unspeakable dreams came true. And despite some setbacks—a stress fracture in my foot, my first case of COVID—the good vastly outweighed the inconvenient. This has been the most fruitful and pleasurable chapter of my career, which is saying a lot.
To aggregate all these happy twists of fate, I have listed most of them here. Yet this post is a work in progress; as they say in the news industry, “this story is developing.” As new projects go public, I’ll add them to the roundup, along with links and notes. And with luck, this update will grow beyond my current expectations. When you’re on a roll, all you want is to keep rolling.
Writing for Lonely Planet
I spent the last quarter of 2022 writing several chapters for not one, but two Lonely Planet guidebooks to Costa Rica.
It’s impossible to overstate how much this milestone has meant to me. I first encountered a shelf of Lonely Planet books on display at an Eastern Mountain Sports outlet in the late 1990s, and I have heavily relied on these volumes ever since. In most of the 39 countries I’ve visited, LP books guided me through some pretty obscure locations. Even in the era of cheap-o SIM cards and international data plans, I routinely carry them.
Writing travel books has always been my most heartfelt desire, but it was Lonely Planet — above all other publishers — that best suited my style and temperament. I wrote one story for the LP website in 2015, a freelancing fluke I savored for years. e daydreaming about. Then, in September 2022, I landed this assignment — to write about Costa Rica’s Central Valley. And not only that, but to physically return to a place I briefly called home; to see friends I have dearly missed; and to finally visit locations I failed to reach while living and working in San Jose. This colossal writing project (amounting more than 40,000 words, including web content) has been every bit as thrilling and satisfying as I could have hoped.
First Contribution to the BBC
A decade ago, I jogged along the multi-use path behind my Grandmother’s house in Silver Spring, MD. I’d never given this path much thought, but then I saw the sign at the trailhead, which described the exploits of Arctic explorer Matthew Henson. I became enamored of his story and vowed to one day write about it. In April, my story for the series Rediscovering America was published in BBC Travel, truly one of the highlights of my career.
First Story Appears in Longreads
Sometimes I can’t believe I read all 1,000 pages of Around the World on a Bicycle, by Thomas Stevens. I’m further surprised to have finished an essay about it, bookended by one of my bolder premises. Several publications rejected the essay, and I nearly put the thing on Medium, convinced that it would never find a more prestigious home. And then, much to my amazement, editor Peter Rubin at Longreads—one of my favorite websites—accepted the essay and published it in early 2022.
First Publication in Adventure Cyclist
Adventure Cyclist is the official monthly magazine of the Adventure Cycling Association, and it’s one of the few print periodicals I still read cover-to-cover. This year, my first pitch was commissioned, to write about a Costa Rican cyclist who is mapping the country’s labyrinthine backroads. This epic story, already one of my favorites, ran in March.
Unexpected Win at the Block Island Film Festival
I love the Block Island Film Festival, and I was ecstatic to have a second short film selected for screening. I hoped The Invisible Thread would perform well, but I was surprised and overjoyed to receive an award for Best Actor. I performed on stage for years, but I never imagined I’d be a candidate for this particular honor, and the competition was stiff. This was also the first BIFF I got to attend in person, and it was a blast.
My Day Job Remains a Joy
2023 marks my second year as a full-time videographer at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, where I have continued producing documentaries about notable community members, among other tasks. I couldn’t ask for better supervisors and colleagues, and I’ve learned a great deal about Rhode Island and, by extension, the Jewish diaspora. A favorite project was a promo for the JCC’s fitness center; I’ve always wanted to put together a commercial, and advertising something I care about makes it so much better.
Product Reviews for Momentum
I started writing for Momentum Magazine in 2021, which stills feels too good to be true. During the COVID lockdown, I’d started blogging about cycling to fill time, only to realize that I loved writing about bicycles. I found Momentum by accident, and the rest is history. In 2022, I started filming ebike reviews for Momentum’s new YouTube account, which has been a blast in every way.