Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wish I Were A Writer Like...

I love reading books about writers.

Clarification: I love reading novels about writers. I admit it...I live vicariously through them, imagining that I too can have the fabulous house and exciting life...all on a freelance writer's salary naturally.

Case in point: Rona Parish, the heroine of a series of books by mystery writer Anthea Fraser. Fraser reminds me of a combination of Rosamunde Pilcher and Agatha Christie, with much of the book focusing on Rona's life and family, and the whodunit all wrapped up in just the last few chapters--if not pages.

Rona has an amazing life. She lives in a great house in Marlsborough, England, and has a dog, Gus, whom she takes around everywhere with her. (The number of restaurants in England that allow dogs must be enormous.) She's married to an artist...who lives in his own cottage just down the road three nights a week since he teaches night classes...so really, she has the best of both worlds. She's a twin, has a loving father and slightly kooky mother, plus great step-parents. Best of all, she and Max have an amazing life of going out to dinners and parties and three-week trips to Greece, all funded by Max selling the occasional painting and by Rona writing one--ONE!--article every few months for Chiltern Life--a local (not even a national) magazine.

In the meantime, of course, Rona stumbles across a murder and often has to fight for her life, but still.

I had a marathon Anthea Fraser reading session last weekend, and at the end of it, told my husband: "You know, Rona has been involved in five murders in the course of a single year!"

Now that I think about it, maybe that isn't such a great trade-off.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

First Day

I've always wondered what it would be like to live the life of a freelance writer. Now that I've taken the leap, put in my notice and started walking the five steps every morning to my new home office, I've found out.

I wrote the following a few days into my new life as a freelancer...now that I'm three months in, the rollercoaster of emotions is still about the same, but I'm still enjoying the ride:).

Day 1, 8:30 a.m.: Listen to my husband putter about getting ready for work while enjoying the feeling of the smooth sheets and our snuggly down comforter.

8:32 a.m.: Realize I don't really have to get up at all if I don't want to! Sweet!

8:40 a.m.: "Bye, baby," my husband whispers as he heads out the door. A moment of guilt, then determination, then out of the bed I jump.

9:15 a.m.: Ready and dressed in jeans, brown boots and cream sweater, topped by my camel princess cut coat. I feel particularly well heeled and imagine myself as a stay at home wife (which, in a way, I am!).

9:30 a.m.: Oil change! and time for me to sit in the lounge to make calls and write notes in my pretty new turquoise day planner. That takes about 15 minutes as no one picks up and I leave messages. Stare at the other customers for a while, who are either blankly staring at magazines or books or texting. Wonder if they're unemployed, like me. Feel depressed, which is not helped by the fact that the TV is blaring the People's Court. Is this what my life is going to be like from now on? I can't even get through to get clients and will sit at home all day watching bad court TV???

10:30 a.m.: Still waiting for my car. Read magazines to get inspired and psyched up about magazine writing. Feel a little better.

11 a.m.: Finally finished! And they washed and vacuumed! What a nice surprise! Off to Radioshack to get new phone batteries so I can successfully complete phone interviews.

11:15 a.m.: Twitch in line as the cashier takes minutes to read her customer's receipt, look over the merchandise she's returning, show her another option, chit chat with her and the other customers in line ahead of me. Hurry up!!

11:17 a.m.: Take a deep breath and realize I don't really have to hurry up, do I? I can just relax and enjoy. I begin to smile at small children and listen to the cashier. Wow, she really is offering great customer service. Think about a story idea about small businesses and customer service.

11:30 a.m. The cashier takes her time with me as well and as the customer, I appreciate it. And tell her so. Smiles all around.

Noon: Make my lunch with a friend. She pays. I'm poor now after all.

1:30 p.m.: Meet another friend who will help me with my website. I love having talented friends!

2:30 p.m. and on: Make more pitch calls, then obsess over my website and business cards during and after dinner. Bedtime!

Day Two:
9 a.m.: Late start today...feel a little worthless. But decide to work out to get a jump start to my day!

10:30 a.m.: It's 10:30 and I'm just now getting to work! The exercise high is wearing off and I'm feeling worthless again, but start to work through my to do list. Emails to possible clients coming up.

Noon: I've sent out several emails with my resume and clips. My husband comes home and starts making lunch. Feel guilty...isn't that what I should be doing since I'm home now? We decide to work together on lunch.

2 p.m.: Meet with a potential client on a large, potentially months-long project. Excited but cautious. This one-time project could eat up a lot of time and could I keep building my client base and working on other projects too?

3 p.m.: Start networking to determine pricing for this project. Awed at how nice and supportive all my friends and acquaintances are. Everyone wants to help!

5 p.m.: Ordered my business cards and started work on the site map for my website. I'm determined to walk away from my computer at 5 p.m. and am successful for a while, but after dinner, I'm back. My husband says it's because I'm loving what I'm doing. I think he's right.

Day Three:
7:40 a.m.: I'm up and brushing my teeth!

8 a.m.: I've decided this will be a robe day. I turn on the computer to find that my first story has been accepted and payment is on is way! Whoo hoo!!

8:30 a.m. and on: In delirious happiness the entire day. So excited and love this job!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sometimes Scary Moves Pay Off

This year, I did the thing I was most afraid of....I (wait for it) quit my full-time, fully salaried job (with my own office, own bathroom...and did I mention the salary?) to move into freelance writing full time.

It has truly been the scariest thing I've ever done..scarier than jumping out of a plane (at least if that ended badly, it would be quick), scarier than my first kiss, scarier, even than the time the giant roach divebombed my face as I cowered, naked and wet from the shower, in the corner of the bathroom.

So far...and I say this with plenty of knocks on wood and handfuls of salt thrown over the shoulder, it's been good. Honestly, I absolutely love it. I find that I don't mind working til all hours or waking up exhausted. Because I really do love the fact that I get to write all day--and most of the time, get paid for it! It's a huge, huge thrill.

The gig that I love the most is that I was just named the restaurant reviewer for our local paper, the Augusta  Chronicle. My column is called Dine & Dish (a name I came up with all on my own!).

I promised myself that I would treat myself to a day at the salon with my first paycheck; while I was there, I chatted with my hairdresser, who competes on a dirt bike in his spare time. His whole face just was alive as he talked about taking the hills and turns at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. You could just tell that he absolutely loved it.

I think I know the feeling.