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Got the Girl Scouts' Writer badge (the only one that interested me) when I was 12: that signaled the future. I began writing fiction, but discovered that what really compelled me was literary nonfiction--especially once I developed a way to use a central image as a method of analysis.
An image constrains and focuses thoughts while allowing you to come at your material from many different directions without losing coherence, since the analysis acquires its form from the structure of the image.
I used this method for both my literary nonfiction books:
For *The Women Outside,* a study of homeless and marginal women, it was the figure of the witch.
For *Slaying the Mermaid,* about women and self-sacrifice, it was Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid.
Literary nonfiction didn't pay the rent, but I like writing books, so I became a book collaborator and wrote five other books with experts. (For a series of articles on how book collaboration works, see my website: http://www.stephaniegolden.net.)
And since for a freelancer diversifying = security, I started writing all sorts of other things: magazine articles, newsletters, reports for nonprofits, grant proposals, training manuals, and lately websites.