Diary of a freelance writer: 26 October 2016


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 …

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.

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.

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: 23 March 2016

We’ve been running all over the place, attending appointments and interviews, some of them joint, some where I’ve waited in the car and either read or wrote. I’ve not cranked up many words, but at least there have been some words.

Wednesday 16 March 2016
Last Wednesday we had a joint meeting in the morning … that turned out to be for the following day (sigh!). The person on the phone had definitely said Wednesday because we had another appointment in the afternoon and the poet had told them we couldn’t do then so they said “how about that morning, then?” So that was a wasted morning.

We nipped home, had a quick dinner, then went out for the afternoon appointment in Leeds. The poet was on a business trip and I sat in the car. I wrote 293 words of notes and ideas for short stories and, when we came back, I wrote a 539-word blog post.

So the day was not entirely lost.

Thursday 17 March 2016
Thursday started much the same, with us dashing out for our 10am meeting, rescheduled from the day before. This time we were in the right place at the right time with the right paperwork and everything – although the lady we saw did seem a bit worse the wear for … something ...

The afternoon was spent catching up on admin and sharing the gig list. Then Thursday evening the poet had band practice. I didn’t do any shopping as we were going out for that another day. Instead I read.

Friday 18 March 2016
Friday morning dawned with another business appointment, this one over in Liversedge near Heckmondwike. This was a shorter meeting, though, so I only managed to do some reading work.

I didn’t manage to do much beyond admin or reading in the early afternoon, so as it was Friday, I gave myself the rest of the day off.

We had a very rare weekend off and pottered in the garden or did little jobs around the house that have been neglected.

I was able to pot 2 fruit bushes son #2 + g/f had bought for the poet for his birthday (in February!) and I weeded the patio. Then the poet fired-up the lawn mower for the first time this year and cut the grass.

We also enjoyed some much overdue retail therapy, which resulted in new camping gear for us and a new computer for the poet.

Monday 21 March 2016
Back at work Monday morning saw me doing all of the admin jobs again. I wrote a 550-word walking blog before backing up my system and then setting Windows 10 in motion for upgrade.

I had Windows 10 before but it crashed all of my Office 365 documents, including Word files I was in the middle of working on for clients, so I wasn’t very happy. With the new pc coming with Windows 10 already installed, they seem to have ironed out a lot of the bugs, so on Monday afternoon I went for it.

So far, so good …

Tuesday 22 March 2016
On Monday evening we were sent a text asking us to call one of the many offices we’ve been to in the past week, and when we called them back, they wanted more paperwork. So, first thing Tuesday morning we were back in town. These business meetings do cut the day in half!

When we got back I was greeted with an email from a magazine I’ve been trying to crack for 31 years. No, they still weren’t buying a story … but if I didn’t mind having a go at some suggested rewrites they’d be happy to look at it again … It was a no-brainer really, and the furthest I’ve ever got with this particular market.

Homework w/c 23 March 2016
So, I have that story to rewrite and send back, then I still have all of those short stories to write that I had to write last week, and I still need to get back to the fiction writing course. But at least there has been some freelance movement this week, in between all of the other stuff.

After only 2 last week, I have 5 throwaways this week, for October:

  • on 8 – 9 October there is something called the Much Marcle Big Apple in Hereford
  • 9 October is Siddington Harvest Festival Corn Dolly Display in Cheshire
  • 21 October is Apple Day
  • 21 October is also Trafalgar Day
  • 31 October is Samhain

What do these 5 things inspire you to write or find out? Do you want to write a short story or an article?

  • What on Earth is the Much Marcle Big Apple? Could this be a feature on various weird and wonderful customs around the country? Or a travel feature on Hereford?
  • What can you find out about corn dollies? Are you already an expert in making them? Where do their origins lie? This could be a historical (I sound the H when I say historical, so therefore it’s preceded with an a) folklore feature or it could be a spotlight on Siddington or an interview with some of the people behind the festival. Or it could be a harvest festival feature or short story.
  • Lots of places do lots of things on and around Apple Day. Where are its origins? What are some of those customs?
  • Trafalgar Day could be a piece on Lord Nelson or his column or his birthplace or somewhere he lived. Or it could be a short story from the perspective of someone who fought alongside (or against!) him, or someone who had a romance with someone who did.
  • And Samhain, or Halloween. The short story magazines always like something set around this time of year. But it’s not all just about ghosts and ghoulies. What else can you find out about the feast? Or perhaps you’re already an expert. Are there any projects for the craft magazines?

Two of these are date-specific for 2016, but they’re all evergreens too, as in they happen every year. So do try to find a 2016 date-specific slant to encourage editors to use it this year rather than hold on to it forever.

And don’t forget to let me know how you get on if you decided to go for either of these ideas.