Category Archives: Freelancing

Rambling into 2013: An update

I think I’ve always been a bit of an all-or-nothing type.  I’m melodramatic and a bit self-involved quite a lot of the time, much to the annoyance of anyone who loves me and many who don’t.  A knock-on effect of those tendencies happens to be that I give something a go and if it doesn’t work out, I let it go pretty easily.  I don’t give up, mind – I just shift.  My attention.  My effort.  My raison d’être.

When I was 15 I thought I might be a writer.  By 17 I was hoping to fall head-first into rockstardome.  At 18 I boarded a plane to Manila.  Said I to me, “Either animals, children, or music…that’s gotta be it.”  By the time I boarded the plane back to LA I was set upon working with kids.  Homeless kids, to be exact.  And I did – much more than I ever did poetry or rocking out.  But life has, in the past couple of years, led me in a number of different directions, and so I’ve found myself doing the things life has led me to do.  Most of those things haven’t involved homeless children…or children at all, really.

The last year has been an interesting one.  At the start of it, I was feeling rather zen about all of it, like things were sure to fall in place if I just kept my head about me and stayed focused.  I suppose things did fall into place, if by “things” I didn’t mean “money” and by “place” I didn’t mean “my bank account.”

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It ain’t all fun & games in the partie profonde*

I was an infant when my mom started taking me into the water.  I don’t remember ever not being able to swim, although it was sort of a freestyle doggy-paddle rather than anything proper.  My grandfather tried to sort me out one day in the summer, but alas, my swimming experiences in this life since that day have been almost exclusively recreational, so I never really mastered the coordination of it allFace in the water breathing out through the nose for one-two-three strokes, kicking legs almost-straight, toes pointed, arms digging, thumbs first, then face up to the side – inhale, face back in the water, breathing out…

We didn’t have a pool when I was little, and by the time we moved to a complex that did, all anybody my age was doing was sitting in the jacuzzi and occasionally diving into the deep end when nobody was looking.  In the summer, my friends and I would wake up early and board the bus before 7 to get to Huntington Beach as early as possible.  We’d snooze in the sand and talk trash to each other for the first twenty minutes or so, willing the water to warm up under the California sun.  I learned to dive into, jump over, and even catch waves with grace, and I could swim out so far my friends on the shore were indistinguishable from the other beach bums dotting the white sand.  But this wasn’t proper swimming.  It was playing.  I could swim, but I couldn’t really swim.

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Zen and the Art of To-do Lists

In the past week, as my life has gone from one extreme to another, I’ve come to a very clear realization:  the less I have to do, the more I feel like I need a to-do list.  This raises two important considerations – firstly, just how this bizarre fact manifests, and secondly, what that means about the very nature of to-do lists.

On this occasion, the best course of action is to start from the middle.

Around the time my accountability partner and I decided to start working together, I suggested that the best way to measure our outputs would be to use to-do lists.  My thinking was that it would help us to identify specifically what needed doing in the week, picking out the step-by-step process of getting from point A to the sometimes elusive point B of freelance writing, and, hopefully, identifying what specifically wasn’t getting done each week.  Ideally, we would be able to reflect on what was getting in the way, what wasn’t working, where we were spending too much time, what we were consciously avoiding or where less-important aspects of our lives were interrupting more important tasks that were therefore being neglected to our productivity’s detriment.

Does this sound like a good foundation for creativity?  No.  The answer is no.

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Cause vs. Reason

I’ve been thinking a lot about that famous poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow“.  It keeps popping up…and I find that it intoxicates me for reasons I can’t explain.

Words are like that.  They can be magically and musically inexplicable, for all their ostensible explicability.  I’m reminded of Bill Borroughs’ cut-up novels…the way that Kerouac chose the words in his novels for their be-bop readability…the way that Shakespeare would rather make a word up than let insufficient syllabic content muss up his perfect iambic pentameter.

I’ve recently been forced, by way of my efforts to secure a slightly more dependable paycheck, to undergo a bit of intense personal reflection.  It started like this:  I received a convocation from the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) informing me that I would need to attend a one-day information session on la vie française.  

Lunch would be provided.

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Plan-schman.

There is always, always a plan.  Even when I try to let life lead, there is always a plan.  Even when I don’t know exactly what the outcome will be, there are a number of options.  Like the doors on a gameshow, I expect the outcome to my big life decisions to fall within the confines of one of them, or some combination of the lot.  This time has been very different.

When the idea to write for a living came along, it was as though, for a moment, I suddenly had sea legs.  Is that even legal?  Surely I’m not one of the beautiful people.  I’m not someone who gets to spend her days creating.  Surely my mind isn’t independent enough, I’m not relentless enough, and after all, who on Earth wants to read what I’ve got to write?

Alas, I’m over a year into this endeavor and I can say that, without a doubt, I’ve not yet figured out the answers to any of those questions, or calmed any of those doubts (with the exception of that question on legality.  Apparently it is.  You heard it here first, beloved readers).

Don’t get me wrong – this post is not some big fishing festival – you read me, ergo, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you think I’m wonderful, either because of my uncanny ability to whittle words or because you just love me from way back.  I’ll take either one.  As to the editors I’ve contacted, the feedback has been…limited.  I’ve sold a few articles, I’ve written several more for free, and I keep on keeping on.  But there has been more than a little hubris along the way.

See, the first thought was this:

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Go, bird, go!

Well, this was going to be an insightful piece about how social media is taking over our lives.  I was going to endeavor to inspire you all to foreit the Facebook in favor of more face time (no, not the Apple equivalent of Skype.  The real deal). I’d all but written the thing – in fact, I’d gone through the first draft in my head already on my morning run yesterday.

See? There in the middle. I don’t make this stuff up, people.

Then, on the same day, I went and created a Twitter account.

Hypocritical?  Yes.  Necessary?  Also, I think, yes.

See, the post about the “Facebook Age” (which I may very well still write, mind you!) was inspired by my current predicament.  The fact is that it’s becoming increasingly obvious that, given the following circumstances…

  1. I am still relatively new to professional writing
  2. I have no journalism degree
  3. I work independently – freelance – and so must generate all my own business

…I kinda need a social media platform.  This wasn’t my idea.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it.  It was just that when I thought about it, it was sort of in a stop-thinking-about-this-right-now-there-that’s-better sort of way.  Like the way I think about how I need to stop eating so much chocolate.  Wait, what?  Forget about it.

But, try as I might, this niggling notion of my lacking social media presence kept creeping into my brain, courtesy of the various bastions of IT know-how in my life, namely Chris and my Accountability Partner.  And then the folks over at Elephant Journal strongly encouraged it, too (but by no means insisted, mind).

So I’ve compromised.  Not my integrity, mind you.  But my insistence.  Facebook still makes no sense in my life.  But I guess Twitter does.

What makes Twitter different?  I guess that, for me, the big difference is the respective primary functions of these machines perform.  From a distance, I see Twitter as a sort of constant stream of ideas.  Like headlines on a newspaper’s website, a user can pick and choose the ideas they want to look into more deeply; like “thoughts of the day” a user can quickly glance into the psyches of those s/he follows.  Facebook, on the other hand, feels increasingly like the social media equivalent of a high school reunion hosted by Kodak.  More on that eventually.

I’m not completely convinced by Twitter.  I am a firm believer that human beings say stupid shit.  And it seems to me that Twitter empowers the stupid shit people say sometimes to get the better of those people themselves.  Also, I do not need yet another reason to be in front of my computer.  I also realize that I’m coming into it really late in the game.  I’m a bit intimidated by the idea that I’m trailing behind on this by miles and miles.

But I’m hoping it’ll be a platform from which I can benefit from the brilliant ideas of great writers like Andrea Gibson and Charlie Brooker (two of my word heroes, incidentally), and maybe also get quick ideas and important news out to you all a teensy bit more quickly and easily.

Here’s hoping I’m not at this all day long…go bird go!

(Ahem.  Sorry about that.  Couldn’t help myself.)

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