Freelancing or Free-falling? And Do We Care?

April 9, 2009 at 6:27 am (Uncategorized)

It’s another perfect day here in Sydney, although the forecast for the Easter long weekend is rain. No matter. I have things to do and things to read. I’m enjoying the strange stiffness of The Sorrows of An American, and think it highly peculiar that, hot on the heels of Mrs. Dalloway, I should find myself reading another book that does away with the little literary convention known as the CHAPTER. It’s crazy – and not very common, either. It’s weird finding myself wandering through another house without walls so soon after the last one. There’s something slightly unsettling about it, which suits the atmosphere of both books very well (not an accident, one suspects). And once I finish Sorrows, I’ve got Charlotte’s The Submerged Cathedral to look forward to, so if it is to rain all weekend, so much the better…

I was more productive yesterday. I received excellent, useful and astute feedback on the first 10,000 words from Darkling JB, so I went for a run to mull it all over. I really think the largest remaining problem is nailing chapter one… I don’t think it’s in bad shape, I just need to draw out a few things further than I’ve managed thus far. Which is fine. There are a couple of imbalances that need correcting; I’d wondered about them, and JB’s immediate identification of them makes a good case for their reworking. Try as I might to get away with it, the reader always knows and can spot this type of unevenness a mile off. It’ll keep me honest. Make me work harder, for longer, but keep me honest. The good news is that the graphic element received two thumbs up. I would have been surprised and distressed if she didn’t think it was working, simply because it feels so right to me. It would have been hugely disappointing to be told it wasn’t doing it for her. I know one person’s opinion is only ever one person’s opinion, and all the other disclaimers we cosset ourselves in to make harsh criticism bearable, but when it’s an opinion I respect, I take pains to listen very keenly, even when I don’t like what I hear. So having my own instincts about this graphic content vindicated by her enthusiasm, well, it just gives me a little confidence boost that I can really use. It means too that going back and doing battle for the umpteenth time with the raging beast otherwise known as chapter one (or This Total Fucker) is something I can almost enjoy. I made a start yesterday – not even a paragraph’s worth, more like taste testing than cooking with gas – and even though by all appearances I am someone who’s not currently working on her manuscript, looks can be deceiving, because behind my calm exterior lurks a mind that’s whirring around the clock, grappling all the time with what remains to be done. It’s true I have an obsessive streak, but I try to use this psychosis for good, not ill, and it does really assist my productivity that, being a terrier with a locked jaw, I won’t let go until it’s done. 

In other news, I caught up with my freelance chicks last night. L, J, D and I met in town for a few glasses of pinot and a big confab about the state of freelancers’ affairs. Frankly, it’s a shambles. D and I are both feeling the pinch, commissions are in the toilet; L very sensibly threw in her lot with corp comms a long time ago, so she’s rolling in dough but obligingly sympathetic and full of sound commercial advice; and J is turning to highly irregular measures to make ends meet (I’d dearly love to tell you more, J fascinates and amuses me in equal measure, but I daresay her current misadventures will one day appear in book form and take the world by storm). It was very cathartic getting together with some peers for a bit of a pow-wow, and very reassuring to know I’m not the only freelancer whose services are no longer required. This is, it’s true, partially a situation of my own making. I have not been cold calling editors, I have not been flogging my wares, I have not been pitching stories. No, I’ve been working on my line-by-line instead of my bottom line. Is it any wonder I’ve fallen off the radar? No. But I will have to engage; you’re only as good as your last publication date, and I’m starting to feel a little stale. Ugh. I’d be fabulous as a woman of independent means, just fabulous! Oh well. It’s only money, and as cornball as it sounds, I feel rich in so many other far more important ways. Positively loaded, in fact. And on that cheering note, Happy Easter. I’ll be back next Tuesday 14 April. Be happy, be safe, and don’t eat all your eggs at once.

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4 Comments

  1. davidrochester said,

    Happy Easter!

    And that first chapter is always the worst. If you can get that one worked out, the rest seem much easier to fix.

    *speculating about J’s adventures*

  2. litlove said,

    Have a wonderful long weekend, and I agree with David – the start is always a pig. I’d leave it and come back to it later, myself, but maybe that’s sheer laziness speaking! 🙂

  3. doctordi said,

    Happy Easter, you two! I’m up at Palm Beach, sitting on the deck overlooking Pittwater and listening to the native birds go, er, wild…

    No rain. It’s lovely.

    Chapter one really is the worst… I feel like I’ve rewritten it a million times already. I’d call it a word beginning with ‘C’ were I not in polite company. But it’s MUCH better than it was, and if I can get some work done up here – new environment and all – over the next couple of days, I’ll be really pleased. I can’t leave it, Litlove. I probably should, but I can’t. It’s right up my nostrils.

    J’s adventures are worth speculating about, David, trust me. I just want to hang out with her for a day. Just one.

  4. Pete said,

    I can relate re the freelancing. I had one reliable gig (which I hated) but it now appears to have dried up. And good luck with “the Fucker”! Hope the long weekend was great and productive.

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