Clipped wings

Maybe the Universe couldn’t manage the nice weather I ordered for my research trip. Maybe that’s why my car broke down and I couldn’t go. It’s horrible being grounded, though, and nowhere near any rail stations. I feel as though my wings have been clipped. The weather anyway, for the midsummer weekend and super moon, was atrocious. Blustery showers and grey skies the whole time.

The diary that I ordered on Thursday was here on Friday. That’s quite good going considering they only charged me £1.50 for 3 – 5 days delivery (apx $2.30). Next day delivery would have cost me a lot more, and I got it anyway. Friday evening I had a lovely time acquainting myself with the new diary.

When the post came in on Friday and on Saturday, I touched it once, and shredded or binned it straight away. I had some money-off vouchers come from Tesco, more than £5-worth (apx $7.75), and those went straight into my purse.

When I went through the pile of post last Monday, I had to throw 3 lots of money-off vouchers away – 2 from Tesco and 1 from Boots – because they’d expired, and some only the day before. Those were probably worth about £15 (apx $23), and all for things that I buy anyway. This was one of my motivations for touching it once in future. (Although I did manage to save some coupons, £3-worth for the Co-op – apx $4.60 – and 60p-worth plus extra points for Boots.)

On Saturday I did some baking. I made a Quiche Lorraine and a plum crumble – yes, I’m hard enough to make a plum crumble … Sorry. Ahem … I walked the dog up to the Co-op to get some odds and ends, I took a rucksack so I could carry it home and still have my hands free for the dog. And I took the rest of the day off. I faffed, played games, caught up on old NCIS episodes and generally dossed, and baked.

I’ve started to do a big shop at Tesco just once sometimes twice a month, getting all the tinned, bottled and other heavy stuff, and then filling-in in between on a weekly basis, usually locally. It’s working out quite a bit cheaper, approximately £40 – £45 a month (apx $75), and I’m throwing even less food away.

On Sunday I had an idle lie-in and faffed some more. Then I knuckled down to some more baking (choc chip muffins), housework and then some writing work. I picked up 5 books on Kindle for just over £6 (apx $9.30) to read up on a potential new genre. When I wasn’t reading I was watching telly, but just for an hour. I would have liked to have gone out, but my wings had been clipped … I do miss my car.

When I get the car back I’ve discovered I can get to Leeds for the Saturday afternoon write-ins a bit quicker and a bit cheaper just by going to a different railway station. It’s not in a nice area, so I’d need to look at the car park security, etc. But if it saves me nearly £3 (apx $4.60) and about 20 minutes each way, it might be worth considering. It means the dog won’t be left so long on his own too.

This week, then, I have a new historical novel to edit, the walks report to write and submit, the daily comps to enter, job boards to surf daily, a well-woman clinic to attend, the gig list to upload for July (July already, sheesh!), a do diddle day, a book to write, diary work, invoices to raise, a trip to Birmingham, and – hopefully – a research trip to Derbyshire (weather and car permitting). Then I change to my new diary.

What are your plans for the week?

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Thanking the stars

On Monday night it took me nearly 3 hours just to open the post. Straight away I was able to get rid of 3 piles. 1. straight in the rubbish; 2. straight in the recycle bin; 3. shredded and then into the recycle bin. The shredded pile took the remainder of the 3rd hour and filled 4 shredder bins or 1 dustbin liner.

I was able to dispatch a 4th pile pretty much straight away too, into an envelope and off to someone else, while pile no 5 went straight into the filing folder. That left pile no 6 for “reading later”, and pile no 7 for “dealing with NOW”. That was the urgent stuff I was looking for.

I’ve never had so many piles …

It was quite traumatic, I must admit. But it was nice to get my 2 mailing trays back (in and out) and the now-vanished pile of post was good Feng Shui.

I really, really need to get into the habit of touching the post just once – whether that means shredding or binning or recycling it straight away or, heaven forbid, actually dealing with it immediately.

Of course, the filing pile is now a different story. I’m going to have to do daily 5-minute bursts to try and get that shifted. I’m almost certain I have another pile of filing shoved away in a cupboard somewhere too.

I finally sank into a bath at 10:45pm, but at least it was another job jobbed and it did feel good to have the clear desk and all that rubbish gone.

On Tuesday, when the post came in, I touched it once … and shredded, recycled and binned straight away. That felt good too.

Tuesday was a glorious day and as I’d finished the proofreading job I was scheduled to finish, written and filed the walks report, met an obligation in town, and delivered one of those urgent forms I needed to fill in NOW, I decided I fancied and deserved a nice run to the seaside. Rufus had a great time there, we had fish and chips, a lovely walk along the beach, and we headed home at a reasonable time.

But halfway along the motorway the car cut out and I managed to limp onto the hard shoulder. We waited for over an hour for the AA to come out but he could only do a recovery, and he was close to his driving hours too, so we also had to give him a 45 minute break. He got us home for about 1am.

On Monday I was talking to the Universe; today I’m thanking stars. But I have a lot to be thankful for – for being in the AA, for the motorway being relatively empty, for not losing control of the car, for the dog not escaping across the carriageway, for not being alone, for nothing crashing into us on the hard shoulder, and for getting home safely. It could have been so much worse.

We had to abandon the car outside someone’s house, but my lovely mechanic has been out this morning to collect it, identified the problem, and will look at it as soon as he can. Meanwhile, and if it’s too expensive, I’m grounded again. But we’re all safe.

I couldn’t hand-deliver the job I finished yesterday, so that will be going via the post office later on this afternoon.

Today a new job landed on my desk – I touched it once, put it straight into my work folder and disposed of the packaging. Now I have to decide whether to crack on with that one, and therefore invoice it quickly, or carry on with the plan and write up the first chapter of my non-fiction.

I’m a bit tired, so I’m doing pc and internet admin stuff for now. I’ll see how I feel later on today and decide then.

Friday – the planets … 😉

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A chat with the Universe

Oh my goodness. I know it’s been a while but this whole interface has changed. It definitely wasn’t like this on Friday. I wonder why this happens. And I wonder why they can’t leave anything alone.

Anyway, Saturday was a very busy day in that I didn’t even surface for air. I surrounded myself with my diary, with my dates dictionaries, with my folklore calendar, with article-writing textbooks, with notebooks, the lot. And I sat down and I planned for England.

I had a really productive day and I created a schedule whereby, for example, right now (June) I should be “thinking” December, “querying” November, and “writing” October.

Then I went through the diaries and the almanacs to see what’s happening in those 3 months.

I’ve identified some upcoming anniversaries that interest me and that I hope I may be able to interest a magazine editor or 3 in as well.

I’ve identified some October and November topics I can write some speculative fiction for.

And I identified some imminent annual events locally that I can attend and photograph now, research after, and query in December in time for next year when they come around again.

I also decided on which subjects to initially specialise in and honed my list to incorporate as many anniversaries and events that come under those subjects (traditions & customs and great days out).

Yes, folks, the freelancing hat is back on and I’m hoping to get back into it with a vengeance.

Then I went through all of my outstanding WiP – short stories, RTEs, fillers – to see what can be finished now and submitted, and what can be slotted in for completion to the WiP file.

I also filled the diary and noted when I have some holes in the workload. Some of those holes can be plugged immediately with some work someone has specifically been waiting for but that won’t earn me any dosh just yet, so it was a low priority. However, it should earn me a nice crust at some point and I need to invest some time in that.

For the rest, I did some Cosmic Ordering, and I had a jolly good chat with the Universe about new work and people who owe me money.

Yesterday was a day off as it was Father’s Day and I was down in Birmingham with the dog.

Today I was up and at ’em and raring to go and I started a brand new job that should only take me a couple of days.

I fielded 4 telephone calls – four! I don’t normally get that many in a whole week let alone a day, and a single morning at that. And I received 2 very nice emails. One was informing me that a payment only authorised last week has been released, that should hit my bank account tomorrow. The other was asking if I’d like another editing job …

Remember that jolly good chat with the Universe? Well, case rests, mi’lud.

This evening I have some admin to do. I have this heap big massive pile of post and I know there are at least 2 forms in there I need to complete quite urgently. I keep trying to keep on top of the post pile, but it takes over every single time. I need to learn the touch-it-once principle, I really do.

I have a book to proofread, a book to edit and a book to start writing. I also have a walks report to write and submit plus whatever other writing WiP I can fit in this week. Yup, that’s this week’s to-do list …

This week is nicely full and on Sunday, weather permitting, I’m off for a ride around some of those imminent local annual events armed with my camera and my dog. I’ve ordered nice weather too, so I can take lots of lovely pictures. Let’s hope the Universe continues to be so accommodating.

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A bit of a rut

I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I find that when people owe me money, I get distracted. I get distracted because when everybody does it, basically I have no money, and I really do struggle to function with no money. In May just one client paid me. Another went on holiday for 14 days and forgot to pay me before they went. Others just dragged their feet. This left me in quite dire circumstances for most of May and, as a knock-on, also for June.

It’s not as if I haven’t done the work and don’t have money due. I think it’s downright rude when clients don’t know my personal circumstances. Perhaps they think I do my work as part of a little hobby, seeing as I do it from home, and clearly I don’t need the money or I’d have a proper job. Whatever, it’s just not fair.

Anyway, I’m not going whinge and moan. But I do need to ensure it doesn’t become a regular event. It’s just that when I’m distracted, I don’t work as well; and when I don’t work as well, I seem to lose interest in getting the work in too.

So now I have daily and weekly targets. I’d already upped my weekly wage minimum requirement, but with folk choosing not to pay me that didn’t work very well either. Instead I need to send something out every day – every working day – be it a completed job (edited novel, proof-read book, written book proposal), a short story, an article, a pitch for an article, a filler, a puzzle, a bid for a job.

This week I’ve sent out 2 brand new short stories. I’ve been editing a novel, I’m proofreading a book, and I’ve bid for 14 jobs. I already have a RTE (reader’s true experience) stewing, ready to be sent next week, and a long, nostalgic article doing the same.

I’ve printed off a magazine’s latest guidelines to see what I can come up with plus an anthology’s upcoming projects to see if there’s something I can send to them.

I’ve bought some of the red-top magazines to see what fillers and readers’ letters they’re actively looking for at the moment. And I have an article pitch currently stewing for one of the specials I write for. A special I used to write for has asked me for some ideas, and another special in the same field has also asked me for ideas. I need to get the ideas hat on.

I’m checking the job board every day (just one now, I do actually get enough work from the one, when they pay me, the others don’t seem to be so professionally run) and I’m back doing the daily competitions – well, I live in hope and I have won some very nice nights out that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

I’m writing a sample chapter for the non-fiction book as I really really really really need to get the updated proposal off and, hopefully, the contract sorted, and I’m writing the sequel to Night Crawler.

I’m also fielding and prioritising creditors. Fortunately, most of them are reasonable people and, for the past 5 years, I’ve had an impeccable record. It is a juggle, though, and a distraction I could do without.

Not having anything very uplifting to blog about, that’s probably why I’ve been quiet. A collective kick up the bum might be a useful thing just now, and thanks in advance to those who oblige.

This picture is on the June page of my calendar. It was taken on a walk from Locke Park to Worsborough Country Park, Barnsley.

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May to-do list

Here is my to-do list for May:

  • 2 bank holiday weekends
  • proof-read new client novel
  • write sample chapter for own non-fiction
  • proof-read non-fiction #1
  • write 1,000 words every day (1k a day in May)
  • weekly walks’ reports for 6 local newspapers
  • daily dog walk
  • edit new historical fiction
  • proof-read non-fiction #2
  • update gig list weekly
  • weekly banking
  • weekly diary work
  • hair appointment
  • weekly invoices/book-keeping
  • 2 trips to Birmingham
  • ad-hoc work as it comes in from new contract
  • MOT car
  • surf job boards daily
  • attend 2 gigs
  • 1 Do Diddle Day

Here is May’s picture on the calendars.

Greylag Geese, Cleethorpes
Greylag Geese, Cleethorpes

Oh, what a glorious thing to be …

I don’t usually work weekends. No, really, I don’t. And I bang on about it often enough. But when I have deadlines looming, when I’m a bit behind, or when I’ve taken on a bit more work than I can handle, then I break the rule. That’s one of the reasons rules are there in the first place.

This time, it’s a combination of two things – 1. losing time due to injury and holiday; and 2. a job turning out to be quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be.

I didn’t work on Saturday. I have things that still need doing, like walking the dog, shopping, washing, housework, etc. There’s no-one to delegate to, and the animals just aren’t learning fast enough. I also need time off to recharge.

On Thursday evening, I burned out. I ground to a halt. I wound down so quickly it was like a kick in the face. But Friday morning I was up and at ’em again, all bushy-tailed and raring to go.

But I had Saturday off.

Yesterday, Sunday, I worked. Solidly. All Day. I finished at 1am this morning. Then at 9am, I was back at my desk.

Last night I finished all the manual edits on a big book I’ve been working on. This morning I fired off an update email to the client, and I started the electronic updates. Somewhere in between I snuck a copywriting quickie in for a new client. I needed the respite more than anything. Then I was back at the type face.

At about 3pm I broke off again to walk the dog, nip to the shop, post a couple of things, and while there I bumped into the keep fat buddy. I’ve not seen her properly for, ooh, about a year. So we nattered for a good while at the end of her front path, and then she walked back with us to the top of our snicket, and then we nattered some more. It was great to catch up, but it was gone 5pm by the time I got back in.

I did another hour of work, broke off to cook tea, feed the pets, wash up, watch a bit of telly while I ate my tea, write a few words, set the DVD to record a couple of programmes on telly, and watch a third programme that clashed for just an hour.

It’s 10:30pm now and I just washed my hair. I’m writing this while I run a bath. The next job will be the walks reports for the 6 local newspapers. And if my hair isn’t dry yet, I’ll do a few more electronic edits.

This week I have an appointment in town on Tuesday afternoon, there’s a full council meeting on Thursday I wanted to attend, I have a Do Diddle Day on Friday, I’m meeting up with another friend for a writing session (yes, I have another friend!), I’ve promised the Leeds write-in lot that I’ll try and be there Saturday, and I’m in Birmingham on Sunday.

I have this current book to finish editing (this week), author and proof-reader feedback to apply to a historical novel, another historical novel we’re having layout issues with, a new client’s novel to read and provide feedback for, a non-fiction to proof-read, and a magazine client nagging me for a couple of stories. Plus my own writing work. And life. And all that other stuff in between.

It’s also the start of bill-paying time.

I think I need an extra day this week. Or maybe two. Or something may need to give. Thank goodness we have another 2 days in April next week …

And people think I’m making it up when I say that I’m busy.

Happy days. 🙂

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So where were we?

blog thumbnailAh yes … I was having a break from blogging. And I still may do, I just felt the urge, with a new financial year and all that, to bob along and say hello.

I broke my finger. I did this when I fell down the stairs and didn’t want to drop the dog. Only I didn’t know I’d broken it until about 3 weeks later when the swelling went down. I thought it was just a sprain, but when the swelling went down, it was clear the finger was broken.

You don’t know what you use your finger for until you can’t use it any more. Swearing, for one thing, just isn’t the same when your swearing finger is strapped to your pointing finger.

So I was strapped up for 2 weeks and told not to drive or use the computer – this is because I’m a touch typist and Brain wants to use all fingers. I did keep an online presence, however, via the mobile phone, which only requires the use of a thumb and a forefinger to type.

Last week I was given the go ahead to take the strapping off, and I’ve been catching up with work ever since. I’m not allowed to drive more than 50 miles for another fortnight, but at least we’re getting there.

I’m doing a 1,000 words a day in thirty days challenge for April (30k in 30 days) and, so far, that’s coming along quite nicely. Today I hope to clear the double figures mark (watch the meters in the sidebar).

Yesterday I did some author and proof-reader edits on a historical fiction I’m editing.

Today I’ve printed off an auto-biography to edit and I’ve sent sample chapters to my regular publisher as I think it’s something their readers would love.

I also have author and proof-reader edits to do on another historical fiction.

I have a non-fiction to proof-read.

And I have a sample chapter to write for my own non-fiction.

My prices also went up on 6 April, and I was asked for professional feedback on some software I’ve been using.

So I’ve not been idle.

Now I have to get ready to go into town for a 2:30pm appointment. When I get back I’m making winter vegetable soup.

See you soon. 😉

It starts here … well, yesterday …

blog thumbnailSo the end of last week once again disappeared beneath a pile of work, but at least the work is there, and at least I’m getting it done. I’m just not able to bob online as much as I’d like.

Friday evening, though, I finished one proper big job, was paid for another one, and I won another. And that, with my own work, has filled me up for March with what I already have in. Good stuff.

On Saturday I went shopping and took the dog with me to the pet shop to get weighed as I’ve started the flea programme now for all the pets. The cats just need to be “adult” or “kitten”, but they need to know how heavy the dogs are. And mine’s a fat little sausage at 11.2kg. (He’s not really fat. I’ve seen sausage dogs that are really overweight and Rufus is still, and will be for a while yet, very fit.)

After working solidly all week again I didn’t feel up to going out Saturday night and just chilled in front of the telly instead.

Then on Sunday I packed the dog into the car and we went to the seaside. I had a picnic in the car, overlooking the sea front, and Rufus could hardly believe how many dogs were just wandering past. I made him stay in the car until he got fed up of barking at them. He needs to get used to other dogs and know he doesn’t have to chase them all. On our beach walk (about an hour) I kept him on the long lead and, in the main, he was very well behaved, not tugging on the lead at all and coming back to me rather than pull away from me when I called him.

Maybe we’re finally getting there. I mean, he is nearly two … lots of other dogs are trained by now, but he does love to chase other dogs. (Sigh.)

Today I started work on a new project, a proof-reading job. And I walked the dog in our fields for the first time this year as they’ve dried out now – I almost lost both wellies last time I went on that walk and thought I’d be stranded. I let the dog off his lead, but kept hiding from him so he had to keep looking for me. He was so good I think he got sick of all the dog treats.

The birthday week started yesterday with our trip to the seaside. I’m out Wednesday evening. On Friday I’m being taken for a birthday meal. And Saturday is the football game, a night out with my Brummie pals and a visit to see the parents.

A tad busy

blog thumbnailOoh, I’ve been a bit busy between last Friday and today, and even now – at 10:40pm – I’m only coming up for air between hard copy and electronic copy proof-reading.

I was working at the weekend, mostly on an auto-biography for a client, and I did get going on that. But when I warned him that it may be a day late, i.e. Sunday, because I’d been poorly, he told me not to give up my weekend and he extended the deadline. What a nice chap.

So I had an unexpected afternoon off on Saturday and did some shopping. I had to replenish the dog training treats, and bought him a new ball as well – ooh, and our pet superstore has finally joined the 21st century and is issuing loyalty cards. I nipped to the chemist to get the lipgloss I like, because I can’t get it from the supermarket at the moment, and while there picked up a new fitness magazine. I had a free lunch courtesy of another loyalty card. I picked up a pair of yoga pants in a sports shop sale, because I lounge around the house in them and two pairs are falling apart. And Rufus had a good walk.

Sunday I pootled about doing absolutely nothing. Well, he told me not to work on the weekend … but I wish that I had.

On Monday I started back to work with a vengeance, and then the house calls and the phone calls started. Nuisance neighbour is at it again, this time the local environmental health department came to see me. I told them this was complaint no 10, and they said they were also fed up of him and were passing him “upstairs”. I had long conversations with the police and with my solicitor, plus one call about repairing the fence/gate, and I finally set up the CCTV a friend had loaned me that I was just using as a deterrent for now.

He’s about to get a letter off my solicitor and the police decided that now might be a good time to get the camera plugged in. I’ve been advised not to carry out any temporary repairs on the gates until we know whether I have to leave vehicle access or if I can fence off the garden full stop. We’re still investigating the boundary dispute, but he’s going to get a sharp rap on the knuckles over his constant harassment.

Ten complaints since November 2011 (that we know of), and not a single one has been upheld. My solicitor and the police both believe that once he gets his letter, there will be a whole host of other complaints he’d like to make about me, but at least we’ll know what they are then, and by his own admission.

While I was setting up the CCTV he came home and made a big pantomime of watching the bedroom window and making a phone call. I totally ignored him and set the CCTV to RECORD.

So that took up most of Monday and because I started work late, I finished work late. About 11pm.

I was up with the larks on Tuesday – well, up by 9am – and was tightening both washing lines by 10am. He’d already gone out, quite early (and he came back quite late – spooked much?), so I had the yard to myself. We’ve had such glorious weather since Saturday that I decided to take advantage of it.

So after hanging out 2 washloads, I was back working. I had an hour off at 9pm to watch a television series, but other than fetching the washing back in (and snapping one of the lines, I’d pulled it so tight), I worked. Until 1am.

Today I’ve been working some more, but still it isn’t shifting. I told him it would take 3 – 5 days and so far it’s taken 3. I’ve done all of the hard copy stuff and some of the electronic. Now I have to finish the electronic amendments and get it back to him. I’ve already sent feedback but by the time I finish, It will probably have taken 3½ days. I just wish I could have been left to just get on with it.

I’ve had a quick tea this evening (beans on toast followed by chopped bananas with fruits of the forest yoghurt), taken the dog for a walk and posted a letter to my solicitor. I have coffee. I work.