Diary of a freelance writer: 26 October 2016

shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hires

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Okay, it’s not been as long as I thought … okay, it’s been three weeks, but at least the last diary was in October and we’re still in October, so that’s not too bad at all. Is it?

Oh, but it’s been very, very busy, and not a lot of writing work to report. It’s mostly been editing work. I had that much work in that I needed to get my head down and blitz a load.

Thankfully, the pressure is off again now. It was too much work for too little pay that they couldn’t really afford anyway, and my own work was suffering. Very badly.

Now, however, I have a little money in the bank, a lot of money owed, and enough work to keep me happy while still doing my own work.

AND … the big news is – I CAN NOW DO NANOWRIMO! (Hurrah!)

So, what have I been doing?

Wednesday 5 October 2016
(See, I told you it was still in October!)

On the first Wednesday, three weeks ago, I apparently wrote quite a large blog – 1,117 words-worth. I also apparently did some writing work for the following new books:

  • Diary of a Freelance Writer
  • Diary of a Freelance Writer book 2
  • Diary of a Scaredy Cat: a year in the life of a frightened writer

Erm, do you see a theme here?

The first one of those likely to be ready is, in fact, the 3rd one. This one follows my first full year, 2014 – 2015, trying to get back into the swing of being a full-time freelance writer again. I was very scared, afraid to lose the safety net of regular editing work, and almost totally lacking in confidence again. But with the full support of the poet I did it, and this book follows those first months.

The next book to be ready will be the first one on the list, and this is where I got a bit more professional. This one is September 2015 – August 2016. The final one (at the moment) follows on from that one.

These three books will form volumes in my new writers’ guides series. I decided to cash in on all those years freelancing and teaching creative writing, from the 1980s to the present day, and put them all in a book. But one book would have been far too fat, so they’re being split down into smaller chunks with, maybe, omnibuses available in the future.

Also on that first Wednesday, it seems I wrote 799 words for Catch the Rainbow. And in the afternoon I have “editing work”, but it doesn’t say who for …

Thursday 6 October 2016
On the Thursday I added 1,082 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat. The book is collated from the old diary over on Baggins Bottom. But it will be tidied up and it includes exercises that go with whatever I was doing that particular week, so the reader can join in too.

I also hand-wrote 767 words for Catch the Rainbow, and I edited 77 pages of a book for lovely-already-boss. (He’s not going anywhere!)

Friday 7 October 2016
Friday, I think, was the last of normality for a while. I added 971 words to Diary of a Scaredy Cat, I typed 949 words for Catch the Rainbow, and I hand-wrote a further 483 words for Catch the Rainbow too. Incidentally, only the typed words get added to the overall word-count, which you can follow on the word meter in the side bar. You can also follow the progress of my other full-length projects on here too.

What I’ve decided to do with Catch the Rainbow is get everything that’s handwritten onto Scrivener. Then, I want to spend one day writing new material by hand, and the following day typing that up, and follow that (on the same following day) with the next hand-written session. I thought I was at that stage, but when I checked one of my other notebooks, there were loads and loads of new scenes.

Transferring the work to computer on a daily basis reminds me of where I am in the book (and hopefully where I was going), plus it gives me a second immediate edit, although this edit invariably adds words.

On the Friday afternoon, I finished the edit for lovely-already-boss … and so ended life as I knew it for a week or so …

Weekend
All I have in the diary for that weekend is a Monkey Dust gig on the Saturday and a trip to Birmingham, via Doncaster, on the Sunday. I think that was the day we took my mother-in-law to meet my mom for the first time.

Monday 10 – Friday 14 October 2016
I’m not going to bore everyone with a repeat of the same thing every day for this week. Instead I’ll just mention it here.

The mornings were still admin and housework for a couple of hours. Then all of my “writing work” and “study work” sessions have crosses next to them. I started to edit a particularly large job for the retainer client, but as the retainer hadn’t yet been set-up, this would be invoiced as usual – just like all the others to date.

On the Wednesday we had band practice and I did the shopping, and on Thursday morning I added gig list admin to the list of chores.

Weekend
Apart from a gig on Saturday night, we had the weekend off. (Hurrah!) Although we don’t class it as a weekend off as we’re still tied to a gig.

However, while I worked OVERTIME on the big edit, the poet made a new step for the deck outside the conservatory. The new unit in the conservatory door with a cat-flap in was due on Tuesday, but we needed the step so the cats can reach it from the outside.

He also made bread that day, and on the Sunday he made pasta for the first time with the new toy I’d treated him to (a pasta machine!). And it was very nice, just like proper pasta and everything!

Monday 17 October 2016
On the Monday we had a day off from work and went to Birmingham to collect the new unit with the cat-flap in. We had to go down a day early but it was already ready so that was fine.

We also popped in to see my parents as my dad wasn’t very well (the doctor gave him a flu jab the previous week and now he had … flu!) and it was his birthday the following day. It was great to see me ol’ muckas at Shard End Glass and as if no time had passed at all.

Tuesday 18 October 2016
Tuesday  was also a day off from work. We’d originally planned to be in Birmingham, but now the poet was able to concentrate on fitting the new unit … only it didn’t fit. My measurements were questioned at the time of ordering and changed by … him. But, actually, my measurements were correct … so I made him ring them up and place the new order. We’re picking that one up this Friday …

On Monday night I broke a tooth and a filling came out. At 3pm on Tuesday we went to the dentist to get it fixed.

Wednesday 19 October 2016
On Wednesday I intended to get back into the swing of things, I really did … but then the internet fell over on my computer. I spent the day trying to find out what was wrong, and it turned out to be an automatic update from Windows 10 that didn’t recognise my WiFi. To say I was furious is an understatement.

The day was therefore spent backing up all of my critical data and making notes of all the software I’ve downloaded. Then I had to reinstall my computer with factory settings, which took me back to Windows 8 (which I’m keeping, by the way). And then I had to load all of my new drivers and new software again, requesting or finding serial numbers where I could.

The bonus of this is my Office updated to Office 2016, and it’s a lot cleaner and less cluttered than the shower I had before. Again, apparently, Windows 10 doesn’t agree with much of the old Office 365 and I was having all sorts of problems with that, especially with tracked changes on Word.

Also on Wednesday, my new filling fell out again.

Thursday 20 October 2016
On Thursday I really was back in the saddle. I did the usual chores, fitted in another trip to the dentist, managed the gig list admin, and I started a new edit for the no-show-retainer client.

Friday 21 October 2016
By Friday I was writing again and I wrote 1,046 words for Catch the Rainbow. I raised 2 invoices (hurrah!), and I continued with the new edit.

Weekend
On Saturday, the only thing in the diary is a Monkey Dust gig, a private party this time that the mother-in-law came to and where I met quite a few of his old school and village friends.

On Sunday I did some writing! I started a short story and wrote 590 words. I don’t usually work at the weekends, but I may do for NaNo this year, so maybe it was good practice.

Monday 24 October 2016
Okay, Monday was the day I found out the retainer-client couldn’t actually afford me, despite not starting the retainer yet anyway. So I downed tools. I really, really do not work for nothing.

Instead, I got back onto the job boards but only pitched for 5 proofreading or editing jobs, I pitched for a private proofreading job, and I contacted 10 publishers to see if they’re looking for copy-editors. I won the private job and, so far, have had 2 hits from the publishers.

I suppose the moral of this particular story is to stick to the hours you agree to give to someone else and keep the hours for your own work to yourself. I’ve hardly done any of my own work over the past two weeks, and that means my writing to-do list is stacking up again.

I did finish the first draft of the new short story, though, writing an additional 271 words.

Tuesday 25 October 2016
Yesterday I pitched for one new job and I completed the one I won the day before.

Homework w/c 26 October 2016
Today, then, I’ll be setting up my new binder on Scrivener for NaNoWriMo. I also have my tax return to complete for 2015 – 2016. Tut-tut, I’m usually so much more organised on that by now, but when the year ended, we were in the midst of another house-move.

For the rest of the week I’ll be typing up the rest of those handwritten words into Scrivener for Catch the Rainbow, I’ll get on top of the short material schedule again, and I’m planning my NaNo project – although at the time of writing, I haven’t decided whether to be a NaNo rebel and work on something existing, or whether to start another brand new project.

What would you do?

Diary of a freelance writer: 5 October 2016

So this week, there were TWO disturbances. The first one on Thursday, when the internet fell over. The second was on Tuesday, when my new mobile phone arrived and I just *had* to set that up exactly how I like it. It has to be said that “not much work” was done during those 2 periods. However …

Wednesday 28 September 2016
On Wednesday, I wrote 1,012 words for a blog post. I completed the revision of the BCJ course, Tutorials 9 and 10, and I wrote a massive 23 words in that process.

In the afternoon I spent a second writing slot this week gazing at a blank page for a short story. The outline page was done in one notebook, and I’d really broke the back with the writing part in another notebook by writing the date and the title with “#1” at the start meaning “draft 1”. I managed 31 words in all before giving up and moving on to Catch the Rainbow, for which I wrote 444 words … before getting totally distracted.

When I’m writing this book if I hit a brick wall, research-wise, I *do* quickly Google the fact before moving swiftly on … however, on Wednesday I got carried away when I found some old photographs of Birmingham on the internet that I might be on or even some of my friends. I know we were there. I was supposed to be checking what 2 pubs looked like in 1974 and ended up in 1983. I gave myself a good kick up the bum and tore myself away from the internet again …

… only to nip back on to see if Birmingham City FC were playing on a specific day. Not only did they play, but they also won 3 – 1, against Liverpool FC. And they were, at that time, in the top division of English football. (I’m a BCFC fan.) So that added some authenticity before I wrapped up for the day.

Time was also spent looking at my Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham & Suburbs, 1973-4 CD as I had my main character shopping in some specific shops … that turned out not to be where I thought they were in 1974. So I moved the locations and shops in the story to suit the directory. I hope it was up to date, because someone somewhere will know if I’ve made a mistake as it’s still very much within living memory.

Thursday 29 September 2016
Thursday was the first of my “down” periods. I’d noticed the phone landline wasn’t working properly and started off by trying to fix that. I couldn’t get any cables to work, though, and we decided it might be a faulty phone, despite it being brand new.

Then the internet fell over. We noticed that not while I was supposed to be working, but while we were trying to watch television on Sky catch-up the previous evening. We reported a possible fault at around 9:30pm the previous day, and Sky confirmed that yes, there was in fact an external fault.

I don’t know about you, but if I know my internet isn’t working, I’m blummin’ rubbish at work stuff. This is a discipline I need to work on.

Friday 23 September 2016
On Friday the phone and the internet came back on at around 1pm. I knew this because the telephone engineer called the landline to tell me and it worked. Apparently a tree had grown close enough to the overhead cables to damage the line that our number was on. Luckily, there was a spare line, and the engineer moved us to that one. But he needed to report the tree as they’d have to locate the owner before they could arrange to cut it back and replace the line. The line that we’re now on has meant a much more stable internet, but the phone line at our end at least is very crackly. People at the other end, however, have assured met hey can hear me loud and clear!

I was much better today, and I did manage to write 1,511 words for Catch the Rainbow before an early finish and a trip to Doncaster with the poet and his mom. When we got home, we closed the gate and didn’t open it again until Monday morning.

Weekend
On Saturday, we enjoyed a glorious lie-in. When we finally emerged, at gone noon, the poet baked 2 loaves of bread and he made fishcakes for tea.

On Sunday, we were up earlier. We put the garden to bed for the winter, bringing in the cacti and putting the parasol, rotary washing line and portable barbecue in the shed. The poet made a much-needed shoe-rack with offcuts of wood and he cut the grass, hopefully for the last time this year. I baked a cake and we slow-cooked a lamb-shank. Then while I read a book (Robert Goddard, Beyond Recall, I LOVE Robert Goddard and wish I could write like he does), the poet went off to chuck fluff at the river for an hour (aka fly-fishing – he caught one).

This was our last weekend off for 4 weeks, which is why we wanted to make the most of it.

Monday 3 October 2016
On Monday I was able to do some of the things I couldn’t do on Thursday and Friday, such as gig list admin, chase an invoice and raise a new invoice and send it.

I wrote 1,060 words for Catch the Rainbow, I created a new tracking spreadsheet for the new month, I did some tidying up on Trello (online T-cards), and I ordered a new catflap and a new pane of toughened double-glazed glass to put it in. For this I contacted one of my old favourite and very reliable sub-contractors in my building maintenance days at Birmingham City Council, Shard End Glass. (I’m going back 30 years.)

Tuesday 4 October 2016
Yesterday was new phone day. So beyond a bit of admin in the morning before it arrived, much of the rest of the day was spent faffing with said new phone. I also ordered a new case for it.

I was delighted when both invoices chased or raised on Monday were paid today, one of them 6 days early!

Yesterday evening we did our weekly shopping.

Homework w/c 5 October 2016
My homework for the coming week will still be daily writing towards Catch the Rainbow. I also have 2 books I want to crack on with editing for 2 different clients. With the new phone, I can now continue with mapping dog walks (MapMyWalk doesn’t work on the Windows phone I was using until my new phone arrived). That means the fitness regime will start again – today. Next week I also want to get on with the study work again. All of these things have been neglected these past few days.

What are you up to this week?