Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh yes. I remember this.

When I went from freelance to full-time at my Hearst job, I thought I'd be able to keep writing young-adult novels, no problem. I was used to doing a chapter a day and thought, with the amount of actual time I spent writing, that piling that on top of a full day's magazine writing and editing would be easy. There's a lot of what seems like wasted time in a writer's day -- and it seems wasted even to the writer wasting it.

What I learned then was that all that "wasted" time helped to gather stores of energy and focus for the actual writing, fingers on keyboard, eyes on monitor. You cannot do that half-assed. You cannot sandwich it between scheduled research and scheduled interviews. It takes its own time, and you have to allow the full amount of that time.

This is not to say that you have to wait for the Muse to strike, or that repeats of "Bonanza" are integral to the creative process. There is a sweet spot, a perfect amount of cushion before and after the actual writing; learning exactly what you need (as opposed to what you want, because in addition to being a hardworking writer, you are a big lazy bum) is about the most precious and helpful information you can put in your hopper. 

All this is to say that I got a disheartening response from an editor this morning, saying that a rough draft was way off the mark. I've gotten these before, and written these before, and still ended up with a triumphant final draft, but it is always a blow to the ego. It reminded me of my editor-friend Roz's response to me ten years ago: "This isn't the Amy-writing we're used to!" 

Back then, I could give up the freelance and commit fully into my equally satisfying day job. Now, I need to do both till I can transition to freelance full-time; I don't have the luxury of agreeing that this isn't the right project for me. I have to do better, which means working smarter, avoiding websites that suck the life out of my day, and allowing for the kind of rest that makes me work better, not worse. 

Good to know! Of course, I knew it already, but... Good to re-know! 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to freelance?

It is conceivable that I could go back to full-time freelancing. I'm up for that Holy Grail of freelancing, the permanent part-time gig, which would give me a reliable base-salary equal to what I made in my worst year of freelancing. (About half what I make at my day job.)

I could pile work on top of that and approach a reasonable facsimile of my current income.

So why am I so petrified at this idea?

1. It seems irresponsible. The regular paycheck, the 401K, the absolute knowledge that the work is there: How can I give that up?

2. Fear of running out of work. True, my friends have been almost literally banging down my door to hook me up with amazing contacts, and the work has been coming in. And the only reason that I fell out of freelancing before was that personal crises of various sorts made me less than dependable. But how do I know that won't happen again?

3. It's shitloads harder. When I freelance, I have a keener sense that any wasted time is money I'm not making, and I don't have a good constitution for that; I am the worst, meanest boss I've ever had. I remember the extreme, amazing relief I felt when I graduated college and started my first job, and realized that at the end of the day, I was done. Done. No looming deadlines, no worrisome unfinished business, nothing stopping me from sleeping at night: Done. You cannot put a price tag on something so precious; I'm bad at compartmentalizing, letting things go.

As each of his daughters moved out, our dad's empire expanded. He likes to have a separate workspace for every project, and he now has desks, piles of books, and stacks of folders piled around the house. I get it: I'm envious, and I also get the shudder-horrors at the idea of reaching total saturation on one article, getting up to clear my head, and wandering into another room, only to be confronted with an alarming amount that needs to be done on another one. I think that's what the inside of my head is like.

Well, but that's what they call a tangent. The point is, I'm weighing my options. Right now, my job is fine, but as I've noted, they're none too fond of pregnant ladies or mommies there. And I don't know how I could explain to my baby that what took me away from her was... the holiday promotion. I'm going to be working essentially two full-time jobs in the runup to this baby-happening; what happens after the fact is anyone's guess. Eeeeeek!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McFly? Bueller?

What do I do if an editor responded to a query, but never sent a contract or followed up on my follow-up questions? Eh, I'll probably just write it, because it's interesting to me either way, but I so hate when this happens.

I got a huge contract -- the per-word rate isn't so great, but the full amount is nice and hefty. This seems to happen every autumn -- I get a nice, fat project that allows me to pay my taxes for the year (hi, I'm disorganized) and keeps me on the "yes, I'm an active freelancer" map. 

The trouble is, when I moved, I set up my office in a room that just isn't mine anymore. Don't ask, it's annoying and complicated -- but I have to create a new office somewhere else in the house. So far, I've identified (a) the kitchen and (b) the bedroom. Either way, I need this workspace to have enough room for files and research materials, AND to close up when I'm not using it. Because again, somehow, after the move, my computer ceased to be mine (along with my workspace), and I am feeling really territorial about it all.

Anyway, I've been in the market for hideaway desks. I'm a bit tormented, because the armoire style might be annoying with the big ol' doors... but the Ikea Alve secretary-with-add-on is twice as expensive, not so pretty, and - you know what? I should just get the cheap armoire and leave it at that. 

It'll be a huge relief to have my own, private workspace, even if it is in the middle of chaos. Just to know my files will be where I need them, and my computer will have a safe spot away from the teeming masses... and I'll put a fricking lock on it if I have to! 

Oh! And my iPhone story will be in the September MacLife. Man, that thing was fun to write, and the perfect excuse to get an iPhone. and yes, iLove tYping all pOstmodern like that. Next up: getting a Get.