… I start to list all my projects and explain why they’re exciting. With a varied, ever shifting workload, there’s always an update on ongoing projects or a few new ones to catch them up on. Soon their eyes glaze over. My work isn’t exactly a predictable 9-5. Every day is vastly different than the next, so I have much more to talk about than they expected. After a while they grasp onto the one thing they know I’ve got going on: “Are you still working on the same novel?”
Unless you’re the type to pop one out every year or to toss your draft when something better comes along, novels are long term commitments. So yes, I’m working on the same novel.
Writing is my life. It’s strange to start answering someone’s question and then immediately realize that the person really has no idea what I’m talking about. I’m sure that people in a lot of fields feel that. I really have no idea what my Dad is talking about when he gets into technical jargon–sometimes far before the jargon even starts coming out. (Sorry Dad!) So how do we talk about our lives and our work in a way that helps others understand?
For me, I feel like I ought to condense my explanation. Maybe give the broad scope: I write for print and online magazines, I’m working on two books, and I freelance edit on the side. (Even that sounds like a mouthful, but believe me, that’s the short version.) And then I should focus on whatever they seem most interested in.
Do you come across this problem? How do you explain your work?
Rosie always encourages me to keep pressing onward. She’s pretty awesome like that.
About this time last year, I was prepping lesson plans and reviewing notes. But as this school year begins, I’m staying home. My writing projects have doubled. And alongside the ones that I listed in my last post, I’ll also be working on the second draft of my novel. It’s so exciting to be able to do this full time.
With all of these projects, I have less time for blogging. When I started in 2010, my goal was to foster creativity, help fellow writers, and practice the craft. But my creative energy has many outlets. I write weekly for StoryForge Productions and I love the community there, because I can regularly help fellow creatives with articles like “Micro Pacing: How to Time your Dialogue.” The number of large, long-term projects that I’m working with means that I’m practicing the craft daily. Now that I list everything out like this, it seems that the blog is obsolete. But really?
Where does that leave the blog?
The blog and I have had 4 good years, and I’m not going to ditch it just because I’m entering a new stage in my career. It needs a new direction, a more casual and personal angle. I am going to spend lest time on my posts, but that won’t make them less meaningful. I still want to partner with fellow writers wherever I go and be a helpful resource. Thank you for hanging with me thus far! I hope to enrich the writing community as I share my journey with you.
….and apparently I’m ignoring my blog, which is very sad.
With all of this going on, I feel so blessed to be able to pursue a career in writing. When I was 10, I just knew that I wanted to tell stories and read books. In high school, I started writing a novel. And in college, I realized that I could indeed get paid for writing if I tried. And now–I am! I’m constantly surprised by how much I love writing, even when the most unexpected assignments come my way.
With all of these changes, I feel like it’s finally time to adjust the blog’s focus–but it’s midnight, I’ll have to discuss that next time 😉
I went on vacation last week to the Sierras. It was a long week of everything and nothing. I ate good food, took hikes, smelled wildflowers, and watched a hottie fisherman (my husband) catch huge rainbow trout. We played games, watched squirrels, and spent a few hours in a local sports bar to watch the world cup final. We then mourned for Argentina.
I can’t stand boredom–those hours of feeling like I could be more useful elsewhere–but it sure did work out well for me. When removed from computers, new home organization, and social obligations (all of which I missed quite sorely) I accomplished a surprising amount on the writing front: Continue reading →
Life is a rumble tumble experience. As I’ve recently discovered, happiness often comes with its own difficulty. And if you keep your eyes open, worry is followed by a spot of sunshine.
If you want to know anything about me, know that I love order. I organize for fun. I work best in a clean, tidy environment. And now, chaos has fallen.
Two weeks ago, a large pile of props filled my living room. I co-designed StoryForge’s table for Wyrd Con, and therefore collected, organized and stored the items in preparation for the con. Even though it was a pain for a while, the work and mess completely paid off. The StoryForge team had a fun, exhausting weekend at our beautiful vendor table.
Even after the props cleared, my home’s state has shifted for the worse. Boxes are everywhere. Shelves are empty. Junk that I haven’t seen for years has resurfaced and demanded my attention. This sounds like complaining, right? Well, I suppose it is. A little. But this messy process is joyful, because my husband and I are moving into our new home. We will hopefully get keys tomorrow, so let the chaos come!
…before it seriously rains down, I’m going to distract myself with a pot of tea, hide away in the most orderly part of the house (which happens to be the kitchen, today) and write. I’ve got to finish the novel by July 1st!
So it’s time to write a blog post and I’m stumped. I’m in the middle of buying a house with my husband, and even though that doesn’t take that much of my time away from my personal writing, it sure takes up a lot of mental and emotional energy.
We discuss over and over how to finish certain paperwork, how we’re going to move, and what construction projects we’ll start first. I browse magazines for potential paint colors. He searches craigslist for a refrigerator. Everyone around me gets the low down on what’s up, whether or not they actually ask for it.
In the meantime, I still get up at 5:30 every morning and try to start my days as though everything is normal. As a freelance writer who has few external time restraints, discipline has become quite difficult. People ask me for advice on how freelancers should budget time and create schedules, and I can give them a lot of helpful tips and access which will work best for them depending on their needs, but for myself? Staying focused is hard.
Today I’m reminding myself of the advice that I give to others: when your usual habits don’t fit your phase of life anymore, get ready to mix things up. Don’t expect old schedules to work in new environments. You’ve got to reinvent yourself. Things would be a lot easier if we lived in a cookie-cutter world, where the circle always has a circle space to fit into, but it’s more complex–and much more fantastic–than that. Since I’m preparing myself for a move, I can’t focus as much at home. I’ve got to get out of the house more than before. It’s not bad per say, it’s just an adjustment that I need to make for the next few weeks.
So, chat time. How’s life? Any big changes going on?
People balance us when we go a little crazy: encouraging us when we drag our feet, checking us when we rush into the blue, and critiquing us when our heads get swollen. After dealing with all of our manic behavior, hopefully they are still willing to collaborate with us.
Teamwork enables amazing opportunities, yet risks great hurt. Though I want to address potential cons and how to avoid them, let’s begin with some heartening pros… Read More at StoryForge, and see the fantastic illustrations that accompany!
Today I’m not just talking about the satisfaction of a job well done; I’m talking business. Rates, skills, and time.
Alongside my usual freelance work, I recently edited friends’ grad school portfolios and cover letters. I’m happy to help them out; I’m invested in their success and I want to support them however I can. But far too many people out there don’t realize the pecuniary worth of a writer. Continue reading →
Art can be a lonely endeavor. Your muse spills onto a canvas, a page, a screen—and that intense focus often requires solitude. Your mind delves into invisible worlds, trying to pull slivers of imagination into reality. It takes a lot of work to communicate your original vision but, no matter what, it will be a shadowy simulacra of the original thought. Though solitude can be a helpful meditation to invoke your muse, community remains an essential component both the creative process and your survival in the ever-competitive professional realm.
Networking is a hive of potentiality, but before I explain, let’s do away with any negative connotations that may buzz around your brain…(Read more at StoryForge and see illustrations from some fantastic artists who were kind enough to collaborate with me!)
I believe that Roberts is referring to Stephen King’s advice from “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” which I would highly recommend.
With the advent of social media, creatives can link directly to their audiences, creating informational immediacy, revolutionizing professional relationships, and necessitating business savvy. See the articles below to discover the best advice from the online world of writing and freelance:
“The Stephen King Drawer Method for Writing Better Copy” – Stacey Roberts addresses her fellow writers and bloggers, encouraging them to improve their work with one simple hint: give space. Though it’s tempting to press ‘publish’ right after typing a blog post, maybe you should try out Stephen King’s drawer method.
“The Network Effect: How Joining Forces with Fellow Freelancers can Jumpstart Your Career” – Ritika Puri offers advice that all creatives can benefit from: don’t stiff-arm the competition. In her article at The Freelance Strategist, she encourages freelancers to network, connect, and collaborate. Since Puri focuses mostly on freelancers, her article serves as a great launch point for next week’s StoryForge article on artistic collaboration.
“7 Things I learned from the World’s Best Marketers” – As an artist, you might think that you can leave the business stuff to the business people. Incorrect! Especially with the immediacy of social media, marketing skills are necessary to make your way in the world. Learn from Tiana Warner, as she guest blogs for Jane Friedman.