February round-up

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Cribs Exhibition, Wakefield (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

January wasn’t a great start, and that continued into February. This is mostly because much of the time was spent editing other people’s work while the rest of the time was spent eating birthday cake.

The month began with a contribution to a friend’s article on writing plus the return of a lovely job to a lovely new client.

I did a quick catch-up with some book reviews and a couple of short stories. And then I sat down to rework my schedule around work in and time available to do it.

A new feature started on the lifestyle blog, life on the farm. And then I started a new editing job, which pretty much took out the rest of the month.

Preparation work became well underway for the new project, The Fool, which was mainly – and still is – character work and world-building.

Early on in the month I sold a second short story to a magazine I’d been targeting for more than 30 years – they’d already bought a first short story towards the end of last year.

On Valentine’s Day we were invited to a new exhibition in Wakefield via the gig list, and while there we had our Valentine’s meal.

On 18 February we’d also been invited to a concert in Bromsgrove and were assured there would be two tickets on the door for us. When we got there, there was only one ticket on the door and all other seats had sold out. So we came home again.

On 25 February, we were due to go to the Moonraking festival in Slaithwaite, but the weather forecast was really bad and we were both still recovering from lingering colds. So, as it was the poet’s birthday the next day, we went to see Gaslight instead at the Lyceum in Sheffield.

In between work on the editing job, I was able to keep on top of gig list admin and I did manage a few more short blog posts.

Towards the end of the month, I finally pulled my finger out and cracked on with some writing work. I completed draft 2 of one short story and draft 1 of another.  Plus I got some questions off to the author of the editing job I was in the middle of in between finishing the hard-copy edit and starting the electronic-copy edit.

March has started much better, and my work schedule is much clearer and much more achievable.

How was your February?

January round-up

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

January has not been a great start to 2017 for me, work-wise. I’ve been lazy, unmotivated and easily distracted. I think the biggest problem was I didn’t set myself a total word-count target for the month and, as a result, I’ve written hardly anything.

I have had one book each in from two clients, one to edit and one to proofread. I’ll be finishing both of these today and tomorrow, so January won’t have been a total washout.

The other client I had, I knocked on the head because he was sending me far too much work, wanting it all done NOW, and then forgetting how much he’d agreed to pay for it, trying to renegotiate several weeks after invoices were already overdue.

I have two books of my own I want to start working through, Mardi Gras (which was my 2015 NaNoWriMo project), and Catch the Rainbow (the first draft I finally finished for my 2016 NaNoWriMo project). I haven’t touched either.

I have two books of my own I want to finish writing, Diary of a Scaredy Cat, which has been on the verge of being published for several months now, and Ideas for Writers and What to do with Them, of which readers have been getting sneaky peaks.

And then there is the short story work, which ground to a halt when another previously approachable short fiction market in the UK slammed its doors.

All of these things I should have worked on, and I’ve not worked on one. PLUS, I promised to review fifty-two writers’ guides in fifty-two weeks and I’ve managed two-and-and-a-half.

Therefore, this “January round-up” is fast turning into “plans for February, because I didn’t pull my finger out in January”.

Today I have some serious diary work to do, I have at least one of the client books to finish, and I have today and tomorrow to knock a short story into shape to get it submitted to a still-existing UK fiction market before the end of tomorrow. I also need to re-start my word-count and work-load tracker in Excel.

I’d best crack on … or quack on, courtesy of today’s picture of a duck. 🙂

Diary of a freelance writer: 18 May 2016

Looking back at the diary, it seems to have been a fairly good, productive week.

Wednesday 11 May 2016
The poet started his new job on Wednesday, so I had to start getting used to being up at 7am again. He was out of the house by 7:15am, though, and yes, I went back to bed. But I was up at 8am and at my desk by 9am.

After all the usual daily stuff (competitions, surveys, admin, etc), first job of the day was a chase. I’ve never, ever chased a short story submission in all of my writing career – that’s since 1985 for those who don’t know. But this was a story I initially submitted back in March as a continued break-in attempt to crack a very old market.

For the first time ever, the magazine asked me to do a re-write rather than rejected it outright. So I was very delighted with that for a start. And the very next day, naturally, the re-write was back in the post. As the story is June-themed, I thought I might need to chase it just to make sure it arrived, as the magazine is usually very quick to react to a submission with an email if it’s no good. I was a bit scared, but did in all the same, and the fiction editor responded almost immediately to say: yes, she’d received it; yes we’d missed June but not to worry about that; and yes, it’s still in her drawer.

I wrote a 456-word blog post, had a dental appointment, wrote 779 words-worth of press releases for the pro-bono project, and did some gig list admin.

We were supposed to be going to a gig in Wakefield, on comp tickets for the gig list, but as it was the poet’s first day at a new job, he didn’t feel able to finish early enough to go. So we had to send our apologies.

Thursday 12 May 2016
On Thursday, once the admin and daily stuff was done, I did some more work on the pro-bono project, did some more gig list admin – which included scheduling a post for Monday, and I did some writing

Aside from a 433-work extra blog post, I also wrote 1,820 words of a short story, draft 2.

The poet had band practice Thursday evening, so I did the shopping.

Friday 13 May 2016
Friday included a lot of admin work too. Then I wrote a 489-word blog post, and I wrote 2,491 words of a different short story, draft 3.

The poet finished work early, so that – naturally – cut my day short too.

Weekend
The weekend was the climax to our pro-bono project. There was a sponsored cycle ride last Sunday, from Doncaster to York and back. On Saturday afternoon there was a charity football match (over 30s v under 30s). And Saturday evening was the actual “bash” itself. Three bands, the Outcharms, the Kavaliers and Monkey Dust, played to a packed house. And we think we raised over £14,000 for charity, which is an excellent sum – £10,900 of which was raised by the cyclists!

On Sunday we popped up to the new house to measure for a shed and a greenhouse, and we met our lovely new neighbours, who just happen to be related to the potato farmers where we live now!

Monday 16 May 2016
I didn’t get so much done on Monday. I didn’t feel very well and went back to bed for a good hour after the poet left for work. The daily stuff always takes a bit longer after a weekend off, which is why I schedule the Monday morning gig list post now rather than make sure I get up early enough to do it.

I did manage a 324-word blog post, and I wrote 86 words of a short story outline, so not a total loss, and I still managed to write something. But I knocked off at 3pm and went downstairs to read.

When we move, I’ll no longer be working “upstairs”. The “office” will be just inside the dining room, which is just next to the kitchen, which is just next to the front door. The ideal “office” is too far away from the door, although it does overlook the front of the house. But the poet is having that for his “studio”, and we’ll no longer be sharing.

Tuesday 17 May 2016
Tuesday was another very good day.

I quickly ran off another pro-bono job of just 80 words, then I set up my binder on Scrivener for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I typed 1,174 words for that, and I wrote 1,350 words of another short story, draft 2.

After doing all of the regular daily and admin stuff, I had a spare hour. So I spent that editing BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK 3. The first edit pass of that is now complete. Overall, I got it down from around 98,000 words to around 75,000 words, and I tidied it up a bit and made it consistent. The next stage will be a hard-copy edit.

Homework w/c 18 May 2016
I’m going to be good to myself this coming week and not set myself too many objectives. We get the keys to the new place on Friday and we’ll be doing work up there when we can. The garden needs a fence before the dog can come with us for a start. On Saturday we’re having a furniture delivery. We have a whole new room – the dining room/office – and have had to buy furniture for that.

On Saturday evening, Monkey Dust have a gig in Doncaster. And on Sunday we’ll be in Birmingham and Doncaster, visiting.

CATCH THE RAINBOW is now a (week) daily task, added to the others. I have 2 books of my own to continue editing (MARDI GRAS and BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK 3). And I have 2 books to carry on with for lovely-already-boss.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 24 February 2016

It’s not been a great week. We’ve been busy with one thing or another that isn’t really for sharing. And my days have been spent recharging, I suppose. I need to sort myself out, though, give myself another kick up the bum. Because too busy to work doesn’t earn the pennies.

Wednesday 17 February 2016
Last Wednesday I was taking my dad home after a short stay with us. So that wiped out the entire day.

Thursday 18 February 2016
Thursday was better. Again. I did gig list admin (again), and I wrote 869 words of blog posts.

In the afternoon, I did some survey work, some pro-bono work and some diary work.

Friday 19 February 2016
On Friday I did a little editing work but I did more survey work too as it’s quick and easy money.

Weekend
At the weekend we had a gig Saturday night and we were visiting Sunday morning. But Sunday afternoon, on our way home, we managed to squeeze in a short walk.

Monday 22 February 2016
Monday was pretty much the same as most days. I’d already pre-scheduled the gig list work on Thursday, and that posted automatically. I must make a habit of that because it saves time on a Monday, when I’m busy after the weekend, and I don’t have to worry about making it my first job.

We had yet more visiting to do Monday evening.

Tuesday 23 February 2016
Tuesday was the same as Monday with me doing little odds and sods around the office, but we were glad to have a day off from having to do things for other people.

Homework w/c 24 February 2016
My office is a mess – a terrible mess – and not how I like to work at all. So first job this week will be to start to sort out the filing. I want to swap the drawers over, so that the alpha-filing is closer to hand and the old brought-forward system is further away. I don’t even use the b/f system any more, and don’t really know anyone else who does. (Do you?) So that drawer will eventually be changed to over-spill, or continuation of the alpha-drawer.

I have a book that needs editing, so that I can get it back to the client. And I have 2 books from the same client that need proofreading. I need to really crack on with this.

I want to write a short story for fave market, I want to write a short story for a new (to me) market, I want to do my next fiction writing course assignment, and I’d like to come up with a story for one of the calls for submissions doing the rounds.

Meantime, I have the poet’s birthday on Friday and a very busy weekend ahead as son #2 + g/f are coming for the weekend and we’re hopefully going walking on Sunday.

What are you up to this week?

Diary of a freelance writer: 17 February 2016

So here I am, a day late again. This time it’s because we had a guest and I was taking him home yesterday. But it has been another hectic, busy week with our usual routine slightly different.

Wednesday 10 February 2016
Today – and for much of the rest of the week really – the only job I really did was the heavy editing job. I didn’t manage any of my daily admin stuff either, or very much housework.

Thursday 11 February 2016
Thursday was better. I did gig list admin, I wrote 677 words of blog posts, and I wrote 176 words of short story planning. I’ve come up with an entire outline for one short story and the bones of an idea of another short story.

In the afternoon, I did more of the heavy edit and managed to finally finish the hard copy edit.

Friday 12 February 2016
Friday was just half a day for me as I had to go and collect my dad, who was coming to stay for a few days. I managed a few hours on the electronic edit, went off to collect him, then did another few hours in the evening. I didn’t do anything else on Friday.

Weekend
We had snow forecast on Saturday, and for almost every day next week, and I had just a chill day, although I did do a few more hours on the heavy edit.

On Sunday we went visiting, and I did some more hours on the heavy edit … (sigh)

The snow never came.

Monday 15 February 2016
At 9am, I sat down at my desk and I continued with the electronic edit. I paused for a banana, for lunch, for a cup of tea and for tea. But I carried on until, at 8:45pm, I finally finished the work and was able to send off the invoice. (Hurrah!)

The snow never came.

Tuesday 16 February 2016
It was a bit of an easy day on Tuesday. I always seem to need to recharge after finishing a particularly big job. I did, however, do some pro-bono work. I caught up on some of my admin work. And I started a new edit. I also printed off Mardi Gras, which was my 2015 NaNoWriMo project. It needs development.

The snow never came …

Homework w/c 17 February 2016
On Wednesday I was due to take my dad back home again, so not a lot would get done then. We also had a meeting booked for the pro-bono project.

Aside from that, the plan for the coming week is to catch up on everything didn’t manage to do while (a) I was doing that heavy edit, and (b) my dad was here.

I have the new edit to continue with. I have that outlined short story to maybe draft out. I have Mardi Gras to sit and work though.

And I’m still watching for snow.

What are you up to this week?