Finish the Book

Or, as a million billion writers say by way of advice: “keep writing.”

Part of life lately has included delving into the world of freelance writing. I can (and still do) graphic design and website work, but although the last many years of my life have included those things, I’m not actually trained in either graphic design or web design. It’s all self-taught.

What I am trained (and educated, and experienced) in is writing. So it made sense to me to take what I’ve had a ton of experience in, working for private companies, and a ton of education in and make a go of it as a freelancer.

The most interesting thing thus far is dealing with the lack of external deadlines and direction. My preferred method of work is for someone to tell me what they want, when they want it, and then leave me alone until it’s done. Now I get to decide what I write, and I’m writing uninterrupted, but there’s no when decided for me!

Everything I’ve read/studied/heard about freelance writing says that it’s hard. Rejection comes often, and the work is a grind in every sense of the word. But then I’ve also heard that if you love writing (and I do) that it’s worth it.

So here I go! And if you know of any blogs or magazines or businesses who could use a good writer for some good content, let me know. 🙂

2016 Reading Challenge

Popsugar 2016 Reading ChallengeNothing like a list to get motivated, right? Thanks to the wonder of social media sharing, I recently came across a meaty 2016 Reading Challenge list. The checklist items are broad – allowing individual users to choose their own books.

<— Here’s a copy of the checklist.

I’ve already knocked out two books from the list, and a third (related) book. My local library has seen me once already and will probably get to know me on a first-name basis in the near future.

I enjoy being a reader again. Having a list somehow motivates me to pick up books and get through them, which (for some reason) is an activity that has fallen out of favor in my brain over the last year or so.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology – specifically my Kindle and the Kindle for iPhone app – I can read everywhere. I do tote around one or two physical copies of something on the list, but with my phone always on my person, I can snag a few pages whenever I have a few minutes of down time.

Take a look at the list and see if it inspires some reading desire. I like conversations with other readers, so I’d like to challenge you to join in with me and let’s compare notes.

(On RaeReads.com I outlined the entire list and my choice for each category. As I finish reading and post book reviews, that’s also where the reviews will live. And Goodreads is where I keep all of this stuff straight – it’s social media for readers. Lots of books, lots of reviews, and that’s “home base” for sharing book-nerdry with my friends. I don’t make any money off of mentioning Popsugar or RaeReads or Goodreads. I just like those sites. 🙂

Goals and Resolutions, 2016

I’ve mastered the art of non-committal and generally general goals and resolutions for 2016.

imageI read a short and sweet article the other day about the difference between goals and resolutions for the new year. Essentially, goals are finite while resolutions represent more of a lifestyle change. “Lose 20 pounds” is a goal; “exercise five times a week” is a resolution.

For 2016 I have a few goals and resolutions. I would like to lose some weight, but daily exercise continues to be a challenge. So I have a goal and a related resolution. (I also have some new outside gear for the MUCH colder weather in our new city.)

We would like to adopt this year. There are a lot of “finite” things we have to accomplish to see the big goal, but a major one is money. So I have a resolution related to regular savings, as well as some sub-goals related to financing.

As ever, reading/writing and creativity are part of my brain space. I’d like to write more (a resolution), and work on getting something published (that’d be a goal). I’ve been going strong on the handlettering, so I have a resolution related to doing that regularly. And I discovered a reading challenge that appealed to me greatly. I’ve already knocked one book off the list.

(I’ll probably post more fully about that reading challenge, along with my personal list, over on RaeReads.com at some point in the near future.)

Finally, I discovered this thing called “bullet journaling” which is a catch-all term for a simple planner and/or a long-term to-do list. The name “bullet journal” can be attributed to a specific guy, as well as one way to “do” bullet journaling. It’s a flexible system, though, and useful for getting and staying organized with tasks. I started trying it out in early December and have actually simplified how I “do” bullet journaling over the last few weeks. It’s handy.

I’m curious about your own goals and resolutions. Please share in the comments, or link to a post about what you look forward to in this new year.

Feliz año nuevo. (Improving my Spanish is a resolution!)

Creativity Activate!

Creative juices have been running high, lately. I suspect part of it has to do with finding constructive outlets for the never-ending frustration that is infertility. When it’s an “in your face” type of thing like it has been lately, I try to find healthier things to occupy my mind. For this go-round, I have succeed!

First, several local folks have asked for consulting work. This is a delight because it keeps me busy and helps quiet the voice that tells me I MUST contribute to the Household. “Consulting” on graphic design and website work and other similar things is also happy work for me – allowing me to be creative and productive all at the same time.

Second, I finished a highly complex quilt for my new niece recently. I loved working on that quilt. It was the second one I’ve ever made and WAY too advanced for me. Should have gone with a less intricate pattern and should have relied much more heavily on my sewing machine – hand sewing is not for the faint of heart! However, all that work allowed me to pour a ton of love into the process and also do a bit of passive healing around the whole childless thing.

One of the offshoot results of finishing that quilt was wanting to try something much simpler. So when two little friends asked if I would make them quilts (out of the blue, which was kismet for sure) I, of course, agreed immediately and immediately went to work. They chose the color combos and then I added a hand-embroidered initial to each for a bit of extra love.

Now I’m working on one for another new family member and, since I’ve been posting updates of quilt progress as I work (over on Instagram) I’ve got what I think is a commissioned piece. How cool is that?!

Third, some friends have been talking lately about doing a podcast. I’d researched podcasting a few months back but realized it wasn’t the time to start working on something like that, then. Recent friend conversations got my mind back on that groove and, since I already pretty much knew what I needed, I was able to go to work!

Rae Reads Podcast | available at RaeReads.com

There’s a book review site that I “maintain” but never update as much as I would like to. Given what I wanted to do for a podcast, RaeReads.com was the perfect place to host the ‘cast. Roughly, each episode contains a quote, a poem, a one short story read aloud.

I love audiobooks but rarely get to hear short stories, and there are some GREAT short stories out there. So this feeds that beast.

Anyway, you can listen on the site (click on the icon to go there). Hopefully the podcast will be up in iTunes soon, too, so people with Apple products can subscribe directly from the iTunes store.

If you have (or are interested in getting) a NON-iTunes podcast app for your smart device (there’s a TON out there), you can subscribe to the Rae Reads Podcast by using this RSS URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RaeReadsPodcast

There’s a learning curve with this kind of thing – it took some mental gymnastics to just let this episode go, warts and all, and refocus on the next one. But HOW COOL IS THAT? I love researching stories and I love hearing literature read aloud. And, I love reading to myself. 🙂 This is a project to fill up my own audio library with things I want to hear and it’s a bonus that I get to share with friends and family.

This is Exactly What I Signed Up For

Somehow, I thought a writing job would be way more glamorous than it is. This is regularly painful. It’s like my brain is constantly being crushed by a giant vise.

I’m waiting for a grant decision to come back. I wrote the grant four months ago. It’s a huge grant, writing it was one of the most pressure-filled months of my life, and a decision still has not been made. It’s making me crazy from waiting. If we get the grant I’m a flipping work HERO – like, someone might hoist me onto their shoulders. If we don’t get it I can forget about a raise.

Forget a raise. I can forget about any friendly looks from my bosses. The failure will be a haunting one. I will not forget. They will all be sure I will not forget. Never mind that only a handful of these grants get awarded in the nation. I will be made to remember my failure.

Yes, my workplace is the type where I am personally responsible for decisions made by the federal government.

i signed up for this | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

A year and a half ago, when I walked out of the meeting room where a panel of academics decided I was a Master of English. I distinctly recall thinking, “I’m done.”

I meant, I’m done with writing stupid, terribly long papers. I’m done waiting so dang LONG for arbitrary judgements about my work. It will never be like this ever again.

WRONG.

It turns out that unless I plan on teaching, this is my life.

i signed up for this | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

Mental Health Day (e.g. Cat GIFs)

Today is the fourth days of a self-prescribed four day recovery weekend, taken after a terrifically challenging month at work. A month that involved a LOT of writing and very little positive energy or good vibes. At day four the cup is beginning to refill.

You know what has gotten me through the last few weeks? Cat GIFs. I share them with you now, just in case you’re also in need of some good cat GIFs for a quick pick-me-up.

cats8 cat3 cat6 cats7 cat5 cat4 cat2 cat1

Barnes & Noble Right Before Christmas List

Ever drive to your favorite shopping spot, after a frenzied week of shopping, wrapping, and mailing gifts, and just spend some time wandering a magical and huge place like Barnes & Noble?

I do. And then I end up creating a mental list of totally random wants based entirely on things I see that I have to talk myself out of buying immediately. (Because I’m already in super-extreme-Christmas buying mode.)

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I have a perfect spot for this on my desk, and a short list of people I can impress with my daily vocabulary skills.

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This thing is just painting with water. I’d probably mostly write cranky curse words on it, but maybe it’d be good irritation management. Maybe I’d be calm if I sat quietly until the words faded. Even if not, it’d be fun to draw.

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I need to write more. I feel the need. I just lack the proper motivation. These would do it; I’m sure of it.

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“The Science Behind Revulsion” ? ! I’m hooked. I need to know why I can’t stand raisins or peas but love olives, stinky cheese, and experimental meat products.

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APPARENTLY somebody wrote about the dichotomy of live-in-help culture BEFORE Upstairs Downstairs. Who knew? Not me, but now I do. And yo quiero.

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Leather-bound books. Need I say more?

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A Moleskine book journal for chronicling all my book-related adventures. Cherry on top.

Do you do this kind of thing? What stores do you enter and immediately begin compiling a list of wants?