What’s in the Works? Write The Novel.

I write when I need to write. When the words are in my head and need to come out. Sorry about that, but all the “coming out” words are going into my novel rather than this website.

So, the novel. Now that I’ve mentioned it, I should expand upon it. The novel now has a goal for completion (not final final completion… completion in the sense that it can be pitched). I plan to have it ready for the speed-dating  Pitch Slam at Writers Digest 2018 in August.

Can I do it? This is where you all yell “YES YOU CAN!” in unison and I have a horrible flashback to that children’s show with the builder guy and his talking vehicles. Maybe you should skip the yelling.

If you want to know more about the novel, then comment on this blog. Really, I have no idea if you’re even interested if you don’t tell me. Would you prefer to have more reviews? Talk about TV and movies? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Phew. Got that out of my system. Now it’s your turn.

Writing Like You Mean It

I recently went to a brief writing retreat at a cabin reserved for writers near the Finger Lakes. It was, to put it mildly, remote. But the windows offered a lovely view of a lot of rain on leaves that were turning color. The rain is probably what kept me writing. No temptation to go outside. It’s funny how negatives help you. No TV, no problem. Sure, you say, you can stream on your computer. Not with spotty Internet you can’t. And my sweet husband left the cozy cabin every morning for nearly the entire day so I could focus.

And I focused. I wrote 11,683 words that weekend. And I think most of them are grammatically correct and in pleasing sentences for someone to read. Or not. I’m almost afraid to look at them. In fact, when I picked it back up, I read the last thing I wrote and just went forward from there. Yes. I just moved on. Didn’t even reread what I had read. Sort of the NaNoWriMo state of mind, only without all of those other rules.

Anyway, I had written myself over a hump and into a corner. Good thing the weekend ended at that point because I had no idea what was going to happen next. Which might be good because the reader will hopefully wonder as well. For now, I am shuffling out of the corner carefully. I know it will all be changed when I revise, because everyone knows that first drafts are all rubbish. I have to get from the place I am now to the end I know. I’m not sure what happens between here and there, but it will come to me as I sit down and start to type.

I’m writing like I mean it. I’m serious about it. I’m sitting down and only looking up things if they are research for something in the manuscript. I take short pre-planned breaks to check email and social media, but mostly when I’m writing, I’m writing.

If you’ve taken on the NaNo… good luck to you. If you’re writing a novel on your own, cheers! If you’re writing poetry or short stories or memoir or journaling… keep it up! Write like you mean it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Freelance Life Post: Everything Hits at Once

The_Scream

 

Have you noticed, if you are a freelancer, that right around the holidays everything happens at the same time? Everything. EVERYTHING. Enter: Stress Threat Level Orange. We’ll be leading into Red by Christmas.

My brother, who will be blogging with me as soon as he feels a bit better, is ill and was recently in the hospital. He lives a few hours away, so I am communicating by text, email, cell phone, and tying messages to the legs of ravens. I don’t recommend that last one. I think it only works on TV. I don’t like not being able to see him, so I get very stressed. When someone I love is sick, I want to be there to make sure they are well taken care of  (even though I know his wife is doing this for him). I once was the “last straw” in having a Physician’s Assistant fired for being a jerk… he was – there were witnesses – and trying to bully me when my mother was in the hospital. I do not fear nurses, doctors, lab technicians, or other hospital personnel who need to pay attention to their patients. I am not nasty unless they are uniquely horrid. My sister wants to make sure I’m at her side if she’s ever sick. ANYWAY… I feel helpless because I can’t help.

In addition, I have/had a client. I can’t say for sure because I’m trying to cancel the job and the whole situation is like gum on my shoe. Let’s just leave that there.

My sons were home for Thanksgiving and the sewer clogged at my mother-in-law’s where we were having dinner.

My phone has rung 14,586 times today and only 2 weren’t telemarketers or charities.

It’s December already. I have done no shopping at all for the holidays and don’t even have one decoration up.

My router stopped working and the 5 minute firmware update took a day and a half.

I have deadlines upon deadlines and I’m writing a blog post instead.

I hope you haven’t read this far hoping I have a solution. I’m just putting out fires as I go along. I guess that’s one of things about being a freelancer: you must be able to prioritize, multitask, and just keep moving forward. Are you still here? Shouldn’t you be doing something?

Never Stop Learning

courseraI’ve heard a lot about MOOCs lately. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, it means massive open online course. There are several outlets for these courses and many were recommended to me before I stumbled upon Coursera.

A Facebook friend mentioned that she was taking a course, so I decided to check it out. I was shocked to find that everything was free. Everything. Access to textbook readings, material that usually requires website membership to access, videos that are not usually available for viewing online, and video lectures made specifically for the course.

I took Social Psychology from Wesleyan University, taught by Professor Scott Plous. I cannot begin to tell you how engaging Professor Plous is. His lectures were never boring and he made the material easy to understand and absorb. Assignments were interesting, and most were peer reviewed for grading. I even got to participate in a discussion group with members from all over the world!

I took my final exam yesterday and hoping to pass and receive a certificate for the course. The best part is that I am already applying Social Psychology principles to my life! I updated my Linkedin profile and immediately got a new job. Coincidence? Maybe…

Anyway, Coursera has classes for everything from computer science to the arts. I highly recommend taking a free class and continuing your education.

Daily Distractions

I admit it. I can’t wait for school to start. I have 3 sons. Two will be off to college in a few weeks and the other will be back to high school shortly thereafter. I love my kids. I really do. They are generally well behaved and very sweet. But….

They are detrimental to my work schedule. I close my office door, put signs threatening to “do not disturb unless you are on fire” on the door, ask nicely for quiet, and remind them that I am “at work”.

Right now, outside my window, six teenagers are in the swimming pool. They are apparently hard of hearing because they have to yell even though they are right next to each other. Last time I looked out, one boy was peeing in my landscaping.

Tomorrow is my middle son’s graduation party, so I have all of the work and stress associated with that running through my mind/body. Did I order enough food? What have I forgotten? Do we have a final count?

In other words, how am I supposed to actually work? I could deal with just one or the other, but this particular combination of distractions is making me mildly crazy. Maybe I’ll go outside and start yelling arbitrary words and noises. Most of them don’t know me well enough to know whether I am truly insane or not…. This could be my best plan yet. Either that or I give up and go read a book.

I’m No Longer a Twit

I know that social media is important, but I don’t tweet. I used to tweet. But I no longer engage in that way and doubt I will return to it.

I had a personal Twitter account with over 1200 followers. I used it for fun, adopting a “persona” that was sometimes like me and sometimes not. As my followers grew, I found myself engaging in more and more conversations. There was a lot of joking and the occasional blocking of oddballs and sleazebags. But the more followers I gained, the more I felt I needed to keep up.

I held Twitter parties where I was put in “Twitter jail” for indefinite amounts of time for over-tweeting. I actually had a backup account set up for when that happened. My followers followed my Free Me account. I started to feel like I had to answer every tweet directed to me. I was checking Twitter constantly.

One day I tweeted over 3000 times. I had a wake up call. Twitter just wasn’t good for me. I’m the kind of person who throws myself into things: projects, my children, work, research. I was doing this with Twitter and it wasn’t healthy. I deleted my account with a brief message to my followers.

So, if people ask for my Twitter handle, I politely decline. I have an account for testing things for clients, but it is locked. I never check it. I DO manage accounts for clients in Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, but my days of tweeting for myself? Um. No. Maybe someday I will find that balance, but it was too tempting and too engaging and way too much fun. I’m no longer a Twit.

The few followers who turned into friends had been accepted on Facebook as real friends. I Facebook regularly and maintain a business page there as well. Some days I update my status more than others, but nothing like Twitter.

Lucky for my clients, I am similarly passionate with my work. Once I begin a project, my attention is focused on it and I give it my all, returning again and again to check that my work is my absolute best. OCD? Not quite… but a darned useful quality when channeled the right way.

The Perils of Time Management

 When I was Director of Client Services, I never had to worry about time management. I logged on and BAM, there was my work. Troubleshooting, meeting planning, team building, client calls, project management… I worked about 65 – 70 hours per week.

Returning to freelancing means I make my own schedule. The key word in that sentence is schedule. If I don’t lay out a schedule, my projects won’t be done on time and that simply is not acceptable. I am nothing if not prompt. In fact, I take pride in delivering on time.

I realized this week that I have been feeling the freedom of being my own boss and maybe taking advantage of it a little bit too much. Yes, a lot of time has been spent networking on LinkedIn, creating this website, and participating in some volunteer judging pre-event work for the FIRST Robotics League (coolest thing ever), but I have done little client work.

Client service is very important to me, especially with my background in client service and project management. In other words, today I will focus on client work and resist the temptation to continue to experiment with this site or network on LinkedIn.

I think my next post will be about business ethics. I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly, and decided I want to be better than good – I want my business to be outstanding.