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?

Diary of a freelance writer: 28 September 2016

Okay, I seem to finally be back into a rhythm. Long may it last this time … It’s been a fair week with, erm, no unaccounted for faffing and most time-slots filled.

Wednesday 21 September 2016
On Wednesday, after, erm, faffing for much of the day swapping mobile phones, I did eventually write 539 words for a blog post and I cracked on with some editing for lovely-retainer-client.

At almost 2 years old, my phone had finally died and I had to dig out an old phone that still worked. I’ve gone from an android phone, which I love, to a windows phone, which I hate. Roll on 16 October when I can get a new android.

I’ve been with the same provider for many, many years (Three), but having looked at the phones they currently offer, I *am* considering changing. My android phone (the one that died but which I love) is a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, and the closest Samsung seem to do to that now is the A3, which I’ve seen in Curry’s, complete with full accessory set, but at £2 more than my current contract and with EE.  So I have some thinking to do between now and 16 October.

Thursday 22 September 2016
On Thursday I was expecting both a boiler man and a Sky man. The boiler man arrived at 11:40am and left at 12:20pm; the Sky man was 2 men who came at 2:00pm and stayed until 4:00pm. Normally, this would completely cock-up my day, but on Thursday, for a change, I didn’t let it.

For my daily admin period (1 hour today), I did the diary for next week, re-did the diary for this week, and did 2 lots of gig list admin.

For my daily study period (2 hours), I revised Tutorial 6 of the BCJ course and wrote 251 words and I printed off Tutorial 7. I also picked up a book I’ve been reading on how to write short stories. I’m on Number 3, but only got as far as the writing exercise, which I’m still percolating at the back of my mind.

For my daily writing period (2 hours), I went through my “keepers and chuckers” for Jan 2017 – Apri 2017, for the freelance writing side of my work. I know I’m a bit late for Jan – Mar, but I wanted to see if there was something I could come up with quite quickly. I kept 4 for myself, but here are my “throwaways” (“chuckers”):

  • 6 Jan: Epiphany (evergreen)
  • 1 Feb: partridge shooting begins (evergreen)
  • 15 Mar: the ides of March (evergreen)
  • 28 Mar 1977: breakfast telly started (40 years ago)
  • 8 Apr 2017: Grand National (changeable date-specific evergreen)
  • 14 Apr: first cuckoo day (evergreen)
  • 24 Apr 2017: Hocktide (changeable date-specific evergreen)

Let me know if you use any of them and what happened to them. 🙂

My daily editing period (2 hours) was a continuation of yesterday’s edit.

Friday 23 September 2016
On Friday I wrote 409 words for a blog post, I revised BCJ Tutorial 7 and wrote a whopping 9 words (they all count!), and I printed off Tutorials 8 and 9. Fridays are short days for me now, but I did finish the hard-copy edit for lovely-retainer-client.

Weekend
Our weekend was quite exciting.

On Saturday we drove down to Birmingham, dropped the dog off, continued on to Birmingham International Railway Station, and made it to London in time to see a matinee production of Wicked.

On the evening we went to a “meet the authors” event so I could finally meet my lovely-retainer-client who is usually based in Spain. I also met quite a few of the authors I’ve edited for them over the past few years. AND I had a chat with lovely-retainer-client who is interested to consider publishing any (ANY) of my books, and especially (ESPECIALLY!) *my* books. We had a chat about Catch the Rainbow and, well, I need to get it finished as he’s really very interested.

Sunday was the journey home, again via Birmingham to collect the dog and visit my parents.

Monday 26 September 2016
On Monday it was back to the real world and back to work. I wrote a 1,155-word review of Wicked  for the blog and then copied it over to the gig list reviews page … where I got stuck reformatting all sorts of vagaries that had crept in to the html coding. I did what I could for the latest reviews to tidy them up, but resorted to a quick fix for the rest of the page when I realised that time was, once again, running away with me.

I didn’t manage any study work today, as I ended up doing quite a lot of washing and other housework, as we’d been away for the weekend. I did, however, finish the electronic edit for lovely-retainer-client.

Tuesday 27 September 2016
Yesterday I revised Tutorial 8 of the BCJ course and wrote (another whopping) 13 words. Then I printed off the remaining 3 Tutorials, 10, 11 and 12 (I’d already printed T9).

In the afternoon I wrote 1,236 words for Catch the Rainbow, I started a new edit – this one for lovely-already-boss – and I chased an outstanding invoice (boo!).

Yesterday evening we did our weekly shopping.

Homework w/c 28 September 2016
My homework for the coming week will mostly be daily writing towards Catch the Rainbow. I intend to finish my revision work for the BCJ course and crack on with the next assignment that’s due. Any down or breather time from Catch the Rainbow will be short material, either work already started or the date-related ideas I came up with on Thursday. I have this edit to finish for lovely-already-boss and the next one to start for lovely-retainer-client.

What are you up to this week?

Note: This “diary” is now a year old. The intention was to complete it for 12 months and then decide whether or not to publish it as a memoir. I’ve actually found it very useful to keep track of what I’m doing, what I’ve been up to, what I should be doing, and where I’ve been faffing or time-wasting. If you are enjoying the diary, then do let me know. I think I’m going to continue with it as it’s so useful. But if there’s anything else you’d like to see then, again, do let me know. Ta. 🙂

Diary of a freelance writer: 21 September 2016

Ooh, I’ve been faffing with a mobile phone today (blummin technology!), and I almost forgot to get on with some work … But, it’s still Wednesday, so I’m not late yet …

Wednesday 14 September 2016
On Wednesday I wrote 682 words for a blog post and 404 words for a writing course assignment. I revised half of Tutorial 3 on the BCJ course. And I continued to edit Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two, the rebrand.

Thursday 15 September 2016
On Thursday I completed Tutorial 3 of the BCJ course and I wrote 388 words for that. Then I printed off Tutorials 4 to 6 (inclusive) so I have them in the folder without having to switch on the pc. I did some more editing for Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two.

Friday 16 September 2016
On Friday the electricity was supposed to be off, so I planned for that very carefully and made sure I had lots of hard-copy material to work on. I wrote 2 brand new outlines and a brand new first draft of short stories, and I wrote the first full draft of a previously outlined short story.

The electricity didn’t go off in the end, for some reason – but it was quite thundery, stormy weather and they wanted to turn the power off so they could trim trees that were getting too close to the overhead power lines. In case it was the weather, then I await their next notification so I can plan again. It was a very productive day.

Weekend
Saturday was a doss day. We have a busy month ahead in October, and we have a busy weekend ahead too. So we chose to do nothing out of the ordinary at the weekend. Saying that, we did tackle some long overdue filing, crossing several addresses, and I wrote another brand new first draft short story.

Monday 19 September 2016
On Monday I continued with the BCJ course revision, Tutorial 4 this time, and I wrote a very small amount of words for that. I finished editing the rebrand of Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two, and I started a medium-sized edit for lovely-retainer-boss.

Tuesday 20 September 2016
Yesterday I completed the revision of Tutorial 5 for the BCJ course, and I started Assignment F4 for the WB course. I wrote 640 words for both of those. Then I sorted out my short-story WIP and discovered I have 15 short stories in various stages of completion. So those have all gone down to be completed (and remember, some of these need draft 1 writing, draft 2 writing, draft 3 typing, and editing, and some of them are only in idea stage and need an outline too). I’d like to complete a few of those and get them out earning their keep before I start any new ones.

The afternoon was spent taking the poet back for a hospital checkup and the weekly shopping, as we were out.

Homework w/c 21 September 2016
My homework for the coming week consists mostly of editing and completing short stories. If I feel like it, and find the time, I may also do some novel work. However, we are off to London for the weekend and I’d like to get as much done as possible before then as we won’t be home to do the usual housework.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 14 September 2016

Wahey! I made it in on time again! 😀

I’ve not done much actual writing this past week, but I have done a lot of organising and arranging and getting back into the swing of things. And I’ve been busy the whole time, no malingering or skiving.

Wednesday 7 September 2016
On Wednesday I thought about rebooting my study work. I have so many courses I’ve not finished, and so many jobs – if I want them – seem to want a degree now, which I don’t have. I’ve paid out money for these courses, or had money spent on them for me, and I think I’d like to complete at least one of them, if not all of them.

So, on Wednesday I contacted the Open University to see what I need to do to complete my degree with them. I started a BA (Honours) in Art and Humanities, but that was back in 2000. I financed the first 70 points myself, and the company I worked for also financed a further 60 points. But as the degree I initially signed up for comes to an end next year. I needed to see if those existing 130 credits counted towards what it’s been replaced with. I set the ball in motion and awaited their replies.

I also continued with an edit for lovely-retainer-boss.

Thursday 8 September 2016
On Thursday I wrote last Wednesday’s blog post and pretended it was the day before. That netted me 603 words towards the monthly word-count target. I also did gig list admin and remembered to schedule the Monday morning post this time.

Friday 9 September 2016
On Friday I finished the current edit for lovely-retainer-boss and invoiced for that one and one I finished earlier in the week too. (Hurrah!)

Weekend
At the weekend we did some running around with/for parents, and Saturday evening Monkey Dust had a particularly bostin gig in Doncaster. The poet also spent time emptying a couple of boxes and organising my office supplies in a cupboard.

Monday 12 September 2016
On Monday morning, I received the first confirmation from the OU that they were going to look at transferring my existing qualifications to the new version degree. I wrote a quick 278 words for the lifestyle blog and I rebooted 3 of my writing courses:

  • The British College of Journalism, Professional Freelance Journalism Course (BCJ)
  • Writers Bureau, Fiction Writing Course (WB)
  • 5 in 10: Create Five Short Stories in Ten Weeks by Devon Ellington (5 in 10)

I went to find an empty ring binder to keep the BCJ and 5 in 10 courses together, but although I found a nice shocking pink one, it soon became clear that this wouldn’t be big enough. I printed off the first BCJ tutorial for revision, wrote 430 words, revised “week 1” of 5 in 10, and I studied module 8 of the WB course. I printed off Tutorial 2 of the BCJ course for study tomorrow.

Monday was very much a “me” day with me not doing any editing work for anyone else.

Tuesday 13 September 2016
By yesterday I was “back in the saddle” for the freelance writing, catching up with date work and writing a massive 132 words of notes! I picked up Tales From Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book Two and started to edit it in preparation for its republication on CreateSpace. I’ve decided to use Lulu for hard-backed books, CreateSpace for paperbacks, and Kindle and Smashwords for ebooks. Hard-backed large-print will be with Lulu, paperback large-print will be with CreateSpace.

In the afternoon, I completed module 9 of the WB course and Tutorial 2 of the BCJ course, writing 75 words for the latter. I printed off Tutorial 3 of the BCJ course for study tomorrow.

I started a new edit for lovely-retainer-boss.

Yesterday evening, we went shopping, and I bought a shiny new lever-arch folder for the BCJ course, shocking pink again. I was going to buy some subject dividers too, but during his clear-out at the weekend, the poet had found some unused subject dividers. So I utilised those instead.

Homework w/c 14 September 2016
It’s a busy week ahead for me, then, with 3 writing courses to continue with and a book to finish preparing for republication.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 7 September 2016

I’m a day late again, but I’m going to pretend I’m writing this yesterday.

We’ve had another traumatic week, but hopefully we’ve turned the corner now.

Wednesday 31 August 2016
It was all going so well … I’d managed to write another 1,309-word blog post, which is quite good on recent standards, and I’d settled in to do some editing work for lovely-retainer-client when … BAM … the poet was admitted to hospital. He’d taken ill at work and come home early, then on the way home from work he took ill again … and again when he got home. So he was taken to Casualty and admitted to hospital for observation.

Thursday 1 September 2016
In between taking stuff to the hospital and visiting, the only work I managed on Thursday was essential gig list admin. I forgot to schedule the Monday morning post asking for gigs, but the gig list was posted and the poet was allowed home overnight, for one night only, so he could attend his dad’s funeral Friday morning.

Friday 2 September 2016
On Friday it was the funeral, so I didn’t do much work. And at teatime I had to get the poet back to hospital …

Weekend
… where he remained for the entire weekend. On Sunday afternoon, his mom, daughter and granddaughter were able to visit him with me.

Monday 5 September 2016
I managed some work Monday morning. I did the Monday morning post I’d forgotten to schedule for the gig list and I completed a hard copy edit for lovely-retainer-boss at the hospital while we waited for the poet to be discharged. His tests had all come back negative, with just one or two little things they wanted to look at in more depth in the future, but nothing they were worried about. It took them FOUR hours to discharge him, and he didn’t even need to wait for any medication from the pharmacy.

Tuesday 6 September 2016
Almost back to normal, but with the poet at home until next Monday, I was able to get some more work done. Because I’d fallen quite far behind on the retainer editing, due to the massive, horrendous edit I delivered the previous week, I wanted to concentrate on catching up there. So I did the electronic edit of the one book I’d finished the night before, and I printed off the next one for a hard copy edit to start tomorrow.

In the afternoon we were able to go and buy some much-needed shopping.

Homework w/c 7 September 2016
So … I want to carry on this week catching up on any editing work for lovely-retainer-client, and I have another to start for lovely-already-boss. Then, next week, I want to allocate time to my writing again. And to my study.

I’m toying with continuing with my Open University studies at some point, but I can’t enrol before February. I’d like to apply for a grant/loan and it can take several weeks to be accepted, but also, I’m waiting for the OU to let me know if my existing credits with them can still go towards one of their new BAs, as the two I started both finish at the end of next year.

In the meantime, I’m going to finish my fiction writing course. I also got in touch with the British College of Journalism to see if I can complete my article-writing course with them too. The last time I contacted them was in 2011, but they have very gracefully agreed to let me do my last two assignments with them, but they would like me to complete the course, if I can, within six months.

What are you up to this week?