It was 6:20 pm on a Sunday when I walked into a trendy coffee shop on the west side of Atlanta. The crowd was buzzing with fashionably-clad hipsters and preps alike, most of whom were engaged more with their laptops than with the person directly opposing them. The music was thumping loudly as I made my way over to a high table in the bar corner of the room where Christen Weimer sat waiting for me with a tea. She greeted me warmly.
Christen and I have been distant friends or close acquaintances for over a decade. We unofficially met at the Atlanta Ballet when I was in my mid teens, you know, the time when age gaps are felt more acutely than they are in adulthood, and have continued to share mutual friends ever since. Christen is a freelance writer, but also a professor of dance at Spellman College and Clayton State University. She also teaches yoga and dance classes around the greater Atlanta area, is working on a novel, and is about to host and create works for a collaborative art gallery just off the Atlanta Beltline. Though she mainly writes dance reviews without receiving pay, not necessarily what people intend to do when they set out to be freelance writers, what I find interesting and so extremely applicable to my own life is how Christen balances her creativity between movement and language. Christen is situated right between the two worlds. It is a place that seems to be full of life, collaboration, and change.
Even the way that we met was infused with this ever-changing energy. At one moment, Christen and I were having a conversation and the next, an old student of hers from Kennesaw State University walked up and joined us. Not too much later, Lyle Baldes, a musician from Loudermilk & Moon joined us as well.
“Well, do you have some questions to ask me then?” Said Christen.
I fumbled for my computer. Suddenly, I was nervous. The questions I had prepared felt stiff and awkward suddenly. I pulled out my computer and started recording the noises of a very loud coffee shop and also what the two artists had to say.
The interview is included unedited and uncut below:
In the end, what I gathered from Christen and from Lyle, both writers and artists in their own ways, is that the first step of freelancing is getting in the habit of writing every day. The second step is to submit your writing somewhere and be willing not to collect an income at first. What I did not know before the interview was that Christen had never collected income from her work as a writer. You can hear that in my questions and also in her answers, but the reason for that resonates with me: she is more focused on another aspect of freelancing, choreography.
One of the great assertions that she made during our time together was that writing is in everything she does, just as everything she does is in her writing. The relationship between her two professions is reciprocal.