In the dead of Chicago’s punishing winters, I am reminded of the many occupational hazards of being a freelancer. In no particular order:
10. Yolander Prinzel nailed it with her post about the freelance life, As A Freelance Writer, I Notice My Ass Often Hurts. Too true!
9. If you write for too long while stretched out on the couch, you can forget where you are, stand up too quickly and entangle your feet on the laptop’s power cable. If you have children nearby, they will learn new vocabulary. That’s one reason why I’ll never have kids. The self-censor feature is absent from my brain.
8. Scotch just doesn’t taste as good at 9AM as it does at 6PM.
7. Everybody calls you at 11AM to ask “What are you doing?”. Well, gee. What are YOU doing? I’m earning a living over here. Continue reading Top Ten Perils of Freelancing and Working From Home
The 2008 race for the White House is finally over, and here is a handy list of words that no writer must EVER use again, thanks largely to the overkill in coverage of the primaries, the campaign, the debates, and the election itself. Freelancers, you must NEVER write the following words in ANY context:
12. Any combination of “Joe” and “Plumber”
15. Exit Poll
17. Swing State
18. Recount (thanks to Al Franken)
FZ readers, you’ve been warned. Anyone caught using these words in a writing context will be forced to endure every videotaped statement ever made by Sarah Palin that contain any or all of the words above.
I read a great post just now by John Windsor on his Cultural Radar blog. Windsor made some observations about people who are so tied to their cell phones, PDA, e-mail, and instant messaging that a new phenomenon seems to be emerging. Techno-lonliness is what he calls that feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world because you can’t or aren’t allowed to access your gadgets (mid-flight, for example).
What really got my gears turning was the reply by a reader discussing the expectations of people who employ you (freelance writers, take note). For some–myself included–it’s that expectation of an editor or client who assumes instant access to you any time they want.
This can be a dilemma for those of us who are at once serious workaholics, but also want to take time to enjoy life outside of the 15-inch screens that dominate our world. Just today I caught myself contemplating the purchase of a Palm Treo so that I could stay on Skype while out to lunch and dinner…the better to communicate with those clamoring for my freelance attentions.
At some point, you have to draw the line and say “enough!” and I think that while my intentions are noble, the Palm Treo idea is a bad one, at least for now. Circumstances may dictate otherwise at a later date, but for now I am keeping my worlds seperate. Kudos to John Windsor for a great post, and for reminding me NOT to give in to all my workaholic urges.
The worst part about travel writing, for my money, is not the lengthy time you have to spend on the road, the uncertainty of the publishing game, or the constant struggle to find new and interesting things to write about. Instead, it’s the brain-dead conversations you have to listen to while waiting for your plane, train, or automobile. I am writing this post on board an Amtrak headed south from Chicago, and so far today I’ve heard three people on cell phones, definitely NOT using their indoor voices. Here’s a transcript of my current favorite:
“Hello? Hello? I haven’t got a signal. I’ll call you when I get there. I love you. Hello? I’ll see you when I get there. I am wearing white socks. Hello?”
I know I must be imagining this, but it seems that on every trip I take lately, whether to Boston, Springfield Illinois, St. Louis or NYC, there is at least one person in the waiting area or on board who apparently has never used a cell phone before. Is ANYBODY still reacting with surprise that they have faulty reception and dropped calls? The sound of GENIUINE surprise in the person’s voice when they experience call interruption (while using their outdoor voice) causes me great internal injuries as I suppress my laughter.
Equally ridiculous is the fact that at least two people will have truly annoying musical ringers, playing at top volume. Apparently people think the “vibrate” function is somehow hazardous to their health, because they never use it.
One of these days I will make enough from my writing efforts to start hiring private charter jets (ha!) and then I’ll be free of ringtones, clueless cell phone shouters, and rudeness in general. And that will be the day that Satan drives a snow plow to the office. I think this screed is basically the result of having spent too much time on trains today combined with a lack of caffeine. I need a beverage.
It’s called Karma. For me, it usually comes about a day after my cockiness factor has gone through the roof, my editorial hubris running amok. Every time I start getting the big ego, the over-inflated sense of self-importance, that feeling I can do no wrong, Karma comes in to give me a nice reboot. Then I am nice again. For a while.
A few weeks or months go by, and the idiotic practices I see in our beloved writing industry start irritating me. I begin complaining about stupid queries, brain-dead replies to job offers, idiotic and clueless dorks polluting an industry I depend on to pay my bills. Once I get to the top of fever, I start pushing near-rabid diatribes about the worst parts of being a freelancer.
Then, it happens. Continue reading Confessions of an Editor, Part Four
A week or so ago, I posted my top five productivity enhancers for when I am feeling the need for a major boost to hit that rapidly approaching deadline or kick out yet another round of queries to my favorite editors. Now I present my favorite time-killers– those web sites I visit when I need a mental break from the writing game. Beware, these sites WILL sap valuable time from your day and are too much fun not to explore in depth. The way I see it, the time I spend on these sites is the time I would spend in the car doing a commute if I was slaving away in an office somewhere. It all balances out, right?
Continue reading Top Five Timewasters