On the Side (Mary Strand)

This month, we’re supposed to blog about side hustles, or what we do to fuel our writing.

I have no idea why I’m always so confused and/or stumped by almost Every Single Blog Topic, but I will note that (1) in high school, when my Spanish teacher said we could write an essay about either Topic A or whatever we wanted, I wrote about whatever I wanted ... and he then assigned whatever topic I’d written about to the class the next week, and (2) “side hustles” made me think about When Harry Met Sally, and how Sally always ordered her food “on the side.”

Harry: "On the side" is a very big thing for you.
Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it.

(For the record, I agree with Sally.)

It may be that my confusion over this month’s topic will finally send me over the edge, and I’ll do what I used to do in Spanish class: write about whatever I want.

In Spanish.

At this point, I may not need to mention that my brain races in a million different directions, pretty much nonstop, and rarely in the direction that someone else asks it to run.  Also, I love love LOVE movies — I’m all about dialogue, baby — so almost anything that someone says will make me think of a movie I love, and there I go down a rabbit hole.  Like, say, to When Harry Met Sally.  But I’m more likely to quote Bull Durham.

Okay, fine.  Side hustles.  I don’t think I have one.  I actually googled “side hustle,” because I wasn’t sure what one was, which would be my first clue that I don’t have one.  I get the sense that I’d have to actually make money at something for it to qualify as a side hustle, and right now I’m just getting paid for writing novels.


I’m actually working on songwriting these days, and my goal/hope/dream is to write songs I can sell to recording artists, and make money at it.  But would that be a side hustle or simply separate from but equal to my novel writing?  I have no idea.  I love writing songs (although I’m not yet prolific and need to work on that), and I think it’s cool that songwriting feeds my creative soul in a way similar to writing novels.  It fuels my creativity.  I can already tell that if I’m writing novels AND writing songs, and doing a lot of both, the songs fuel my novels and the novels fuel my songs.

(By the way, Music and Lyrics, with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, is a great movie about songwriting.)

Although songwriting fuels my novel writing (and vice versa), I’m not sure that PLAYING guitar or singing does, except that it fuels me as a person, and everything that fuels me as a person  — music, sports, travel, my crazy adventures, books I read, movies I watch, and almost every conversation I have  — ultimately winds up in some fashion in my novels.

But I don’t think any of this might be what I was supposed to write about.

Así es la vida.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.


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