Interview with Irina Gonzalez
Irina Gonzalez is a freelance writer and editor and based in Fort Myers, Florida. We talked about dating, transitioning away from a staff position and impatience. Check out her website to learn more about her work.
Your writing has appeared on Brit + Co, Latina, She Knows and more. Which stories are you most proud of and why?
I’m passionate about stories with cultural impact and the state of the world right now, especially after the election. I’ve been inspired to write about women’s issues and immigrant rights. I’m proud of a recent op-ed/personal essay for The Establishment about the repeal of the ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ policy for Cuban immigrants.
I’m Cuban-American And Glad ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Is Being Repealed
Now that Cubans no longer have an easier path, Cuban-Americans need to join forces with other immigrant groups and…
I, myself, am Cuban American. My take was that it’s actually good for the Cuban community, because they tend to lean Republican and don’t really support other immigrants. I think the repeal of this policy will push Cuban immigrants to embrace the other immigrant communities and fight for the rights of everyone.
One of the first stories I wrote, back in October, was something I wrote on my blog and Dose.com picked it up — the site takes previously published stories from blogs. The essay was about why we don’t accept and expect generosity in dating.
My partner now helped me understand generosity is normal and accepted, so we should be generous with our feelings and actions with the people we’re dating. I don’t think this is happening much right now because of online dating — Tinder and all the apps — make it easy to blow people off, ghost and ignore them.
The Difficulty Of Accepting Generosity When We Date
Why it’s easier to swipe right on ten instead of opening up to one.
When did you start freelancing?
I freelanced here and there for a few years, but I really went full-time freelance this past May. 2017 will be my first full calendar year of freelancing.
Could you identify your first story as a freelance writer?
This time last year, I started freelancing more than ever. The piece, How My Latina Shame Kept Me From Going to Therapy for Years, was published on a site that no longer exists called the Flama. The piece talked about the cultural impact on me and why it kept me from therapy. I think this resonated with a lot of people because mental health issues are a huge problem in the Latino community. People don’t want to appear crazy.
What do you enjoy about freelancing?
I enjoy the freedom. I love sharing my voice, thoughts and ideas with different audiences across different platforms. For me, with freelancing, I want to be published in many different publications. My goal for 2017 is to be published in 17 publications.
Being on staff is a different experience. I was limited, but not in a bad way. If I had a fabulous idea, but wasn’t fit for the platforms I worked for, they wouldn’t publish it, nor should they.
Now, when I have a great idea, I have many options to where I can publish it.
I can write to an editor I’ve worked with, that knows my voice, or I can try a new editor to reach a new audience. That’s been fun to explore and I’m still getting used to that.
What don’t you enjoy?
I don’t like waiting for responses — waiting for editors to get back to you, waiting for follow-up emails, waiting for your pieces to get published. Right now, I have three pieces sitting and I know my editors might have notes to publish them soon, but I’m not very patient.
How my Latina shame kept me from going to therapy for years - Irina Gonzalez
Note: This is 1 of 3 essays that was written for and published on The Flama last year. However, the site has since shut…
For my own sanity, I haven’t installed one of those email tracking apps. However, I use a Google doc to track my pitches. You don’t want to be the person pestering editors asking when they’ll publish your story.
How did you break into editing?
I’m from this year in Florida originally, but I lived in New York for the past 12 years. Some reasons I moved away was to freelance full-time, get a break and have a calmer lifestyle. With editing, I just did it the traditional way. I was an editor at a website, a full-time staff in-office position, which helped me build up my skills and expertise.
What values are important to you as a writer?
What’s most important to me as a writer is telling stories that need to be heard. Personally, I have a lot of different things that make up who I am. They’re not unusual, but it makes me unique.
I think how we relate to other human beings and how we want to better the world comes through relationships.
With my work, I don’t want to just spread happy messages, but spread good feelings toward other people and why it’s important to be inclusive in what we believe. Not only community building, but trying to better the world a little bit for everyone has been a theme in my life well before I was full-time freelance writing.
Essay 1: The Day I Became an American [#52essays2017] - Irina Gonzalez
This essay is part of the #52essays2017 series focusing on my memoir, Moscow Chica: How Growing Up in Cuba and Russia…
I came out as bisexual at 17 and something I remember being passionate about gay rights in high school. Now, the point where I’ve gotten into with my writing, that’s a topic I want to write more about. There are stories that need to be told and communities that need to be supported, whether or not I relate to them.
What message do you have for the Millennial Freelancer’s audience?
My biggest message is to keep going. There are a million mistakes you’ll make, that I’ve certainly made, like emailing the wrong editor early on in my career. Perseverance is one thing I’ve really learned and am still learning now.
It’s hard, but make sure you follow up on your pitches. If someone rejects your pitch, don’t get discouraged and send it to someone else. Change up the angle maybe.
There are months you get four assignments, others ten, others one. Don’t sell yourself short. I’m a huge believer in not taking unpaid work, because this is our job. So much of it is to keep going, because there are always new challenges.
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