Friday, September 26, 2008

Mixed Bag

That's how it's been around here lately. A mixed bag. Work is good. Work is frustrating at times. Life is good. Life is frustrating at times. That's how it goes.

Today has been an unusually quiet day. It almost feels like the day before a holiday weekend. My email box had a flurry of busyness in the morning but has pretty much stopped now. No interviews scheduled. No phone ringing. I was able to get caught up on marketing stuff, and am working on a larger project today. And watching the birds outside my window. With fall coming, the landscape at my feeder has changed considerably. Not just the species of birds showing up but also in the look of my regular birdie friends who will be around all winter. They are all puffed up and fuzzy in their winter feathers. A woodpecker has begun to show up at the feeder. It's beautiful. I'd never seen a woodpecker that close up before. The blue jay has returned, too. He is beautiful, and every time I see him, I think of an old friend, Terrie, who passed away from cancer. She was a birder and during a visit with me and another PA friend, a blue jay perched in a tree outside the window of the room we were in. Terrie had never seen a blue jay before and you could tell it was a highlight of her visit to the east coast.

Yesterday I made that always tough decision to part ways with a client. It was evident we were no longer on the same page, and an incredibly rude email sealed the deal that had been spinning in my head for a couple of weeks. I always get nervous about moving on, but each time I find that something better has come my way. And in fact, since sending that letter, I got two positive emails about potential work opportunities.

Now to get a little something done before happy hours arrives.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Helping Our Own

If I was working in an office today, I'd find an envelope on my chair with a note to please donate what I can to help a coworker in need.

Well, my "coworkers," my fellow writers, are spread throughout cyberspace. So if you haven't already seen this, please consider it the envelope on your chair.

Lori Hall Steel is a single mom battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)and chronic Lyme disease, who faces the loss of her home to foreclosure within days because she's too sick to work. She has medical bills totaling more than $50,000, which may ultimately reach $120,000.

As a freelance writer Lori has published more than 3,000 articles for > local, regional and national publications. In September 2007 she > mysteriously lost the ability to move her feet. The paralysis later > spread to her legs and arms. Lori is now confined to a hospital bed > and is dependent upon a Bi-Pap breathing machine. Lori is only 44, and she is determined to fight this disease with all her strength.

You can learn more about Lori at

If you care to donate to save Lori's house, or send a supportive > message or get any media publicity that might bring in more donations, please do so.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I finally decided

On my book for book group, that is. I went with Eat, Pray, Love. I'm not a huge fan of the book, to be honest, but I think it is one that would make an interesting discussion. If I know my group would do it, I'd love to compare and contrast the subject of the memoir with The Year of Magical Thinking. I found myself thinking a lot about how two people reacted to a major loss in their lives. Granted, one loss was a boyfriend relationship vs a multi-decade marriage coupled with another life-threatening situation, so I would expect one recovery to be much more difficult than the other. Yet, both authors did essentially the same thing: she hid from real life. But getting my group to read one book in six weeks is tough enough, let alone two!

The choice was well received and one person said she was going to choose it for her next book.

Now I have about 10 months to think of my next book, but I've got it narrowed down to 50 or so already!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Finding time for everything

I was joking with a writer friend that my work is doing well enough that it is starting to feel like a job.

When I worked full time in an office, it seemed like 95% of my day was dealing with busy work -- necessary busy work, of course. The busy work would take a few minutes to deal with, which on the surface seems like nothing, but those few minutes begin to add up: answering the phone, answering emails, putting out fires, running an errand down the hall, etc. By the time I wanted to settle into the larger tasks at hand, it would be 5 o'clock, and I'd either put them aside for the next day or bring them home to work on in the quiet time of the evening.

That's how my past few weeks have felt here, too. I'm not complaining, mind you. I love being busy and all the work challenges. But this week, my days have been spent loaded with interviews, answering phone calls about articles, sending and answering emails that needed to be addressed during work hours, and by the time I'm ready to sit down and write the article, it's 5:30 and my schedule needs to move on to other non-writing tasks on my calendar. Writing comes later at night, when the house is quiet again. I write best in the afternoon or the wee hours of the morning, which is a good thing because the wee hours of the morning seem to be the one time of day I'm not busy!

Today, however, I made my calendar totally empty in order to spend time with a family member who is visiting. He's running late, which is fine, because I'm able to get some other things done that have been pushed to the side of my desk. But I started thinking . . . it wasn't hard to clear off this afternoon. I simply said, "I am not available for interviews Thursday afternoon." And voila, my afternoon calendar has nary a mark on it.

So I started thinking. What's wrong with keeping one day a week empty of interviews so I can focus on other tasks, like spending a day solely on writing? Nothing. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to pick a day each week that will be my writing day.

What do you do to find balance for the busy work and the bigger tasks?