Category Archives: And the Inevitable Irritability

Ego…It’s a Killer

Ego…It’s a Killer

A few days ago I received a friend request on Facebook. I didn’t know the guy, but I saw he was connected via another FB friend, who I didn’t particularly know either, but she was a writer, so I clicked Confirm.

Damn, that was really convoluted, wasn’t it?!

Anyway, I had noticed that this guy was always posting some new link to his book or books. And then this post came up on my feed from him today:

Ok I will write this and most likely get flamed for it but who really cares. Right? I was contacted by a “ free-lance” Editor today whom had some “ Tips “ for me as such as spelling and grammar, all in an attempt of course for me to soloist his services. While I do welcome open criticism of some ones work, even my own. To sit there and to attempt to degrade some ones writing style or even a couple poor points of gramma usage for a quick buck in my opinion is pathetic. Some of the grates had major issues with spelling, grammar and even continuity issues in there novels. J.R.R Tolkien had over 500 grammatical errors in his bestselling novel “The Hobbit” and guess what, no one cared. It was a great story. The point is this , the use of words to relay a story as long as it legible and has gone through some sort of proof reading to make sure the story can be enjoyed is all an author really needs. Too much has great authors ( not that I consider myself a great author) been torn apart by grammar Nazi’s whom have never published or had the gut to self-publish a book. I have more respect for a struggling Author whom sells only 200 copies of there novel and does not give in to those that will sterilize there books and keep their work pure , then I do for those that will pour bleach over a who would be creative master peace to make sales. The art of writing is as much about the author as it is about the reader. So if you have an issue with small grammatical mistakes that are not picked up by Microsoft word or if you have an issue with a single word being spell wrong or misused by an author , perhaps then you should not be reading a book because your missing what the story being woven for you is about. I stand by my works, regardless of what others think. I am writing a novel series, because I want to , I have a story to tell. IF that story never becomes a best seller, so be it. If that story never is read by more than 100 people , so be it. Because I would rather have a form of honourable dignity that what I have create is my own, is what I intended and not the reworked sterilized , plastic and commercial junk that I pick up in a lot of the large books stores.

Well if that wasn’t one unholy mess of grammatical and spelling errors.

What followed were a couple of catty responses that immediately escalated into sniping, insults, and name calling from the person who posted above and his wife who jumped to his defense.

At the risk of being spat, punched and kicked, I added in my own two cents (while quietly unfriending said person). I’m posted it below, if you want to read it.

I see this as nothing but ego. He feels put out (or put upon) by those evil, evil editors that just want his precious money. The reality is, someone tried to help him. That is one hell of an editing job that person was trying to take on, and I commend them for being willing to even offer their services!

Each time I think of the person i want to be, I think of ego. I don’t want to be that person. You know the one I’m talking about – the one who thinks they are so damned perfect, that they have finally gotten the acclimation they so richly deserved. The one who doesn’t have the time to answer someone’s questions or take a moment to help.

That isn’t to say I don’t guard my time fiercely. But in all things, there should be balance.

Every time I see ego rear its mighty head, I do my best to slap it down. It stands in the way of me improving myself, my writing, and my life.

Here is what I wrote:

Mistakes happen, sure, but rampant mistakes pull the reader out of what would be an otherwise excellent story. Why do that? I want people to enjoy my stories, not bounce out of my carefully constructed world just because I didn’t bother to do the boring second half of my job as an author. Editing is necessary. Otherwise, you step outside your house wearing this snazzy new shirt over stained pants. It is no different from creating a professional cover, something I learned from experience! You can write your heart out, but in the information age, with Grammarly and Hemingway apps at our fingertips, one merely has to spend a little extra time to achieve results that will create an even better reading experience. I’m a big enough person to thank someone who finds a typo or incorrect phrasing and promptly fix it. My writing should be its best.
And his response:
I understand your point Christine , but i would also like to point out as paul said , most people don’t have above a basic college education , if that education does not prepare one to apparently write a book ( If anything can I seen very boring books from english professors lol ) then how can it prepare them to exactly point out grammatical mistakes in a language is so broad such as english . Then there is the issue of what about the creative side of it? Again drawing on the grates , using the term tatters is not correct, yet the hobbits with out that term would not be the hobbits we know and love. There is also several other major issues , people don’t think , speak or even read in a grammatical sense. The point is if you don’t have spell check in front of you , then you don’t know if something is grammatically wrong or rather most people don’t. Thens ones who do , dont really read as there busy trolling the net for the next victim. The point is , writing should be fun and yes there is work involved , i know i proof read a lot of my work and throw half of it out as im not happy with it . But that being said , the term still holds as was said in the 1800s your biggest critic is you , the writer. So why give power to a bunch of editors and even publishers whom never in the most part ever released a book , no less wrote one? That’s not saying all editors and publishers have or have not , thats saying if they were so damn great , they would not be correcting our spelling and grammar they would have wrote a master peace by now.
Apparently, he thinks people are complete idiots that won’t notice his rampant errors, only those nasty old editors. (p.s. I SUCK at grammar and even I wanted to scream by the end of each of his posts)
And my response:
I’ve had great experiences with editors, so I simply cannot relate to what you are saying. The editors I know, and work with, do not tear you down or crush creative spirit, not at all! My eldest daughter is my content editor and she is amazing. She will point out areas I need to put in more detail, where I have lapsed into telling instead of showing. She reminds me to use less adverbs (and believe me, my readers thank her for that). She points out inconsistencies and long-winded sentences. My daughter is also well on the way to writing and publishing her second book. My line editor/proofreader catches a lot of the crap that my daughter doesn’t or that slips under Grammarly or Hemingway’s radar. I pay her in farm fresh eggs and my charming company because she’s my friend and a self-published author herself. Don’t sell readers short. I know plenty of readers who don’t have that “basic college education” that can spell, and generally pick up on major faux pas’ in writing. In summary, we will not agree on this. But editors can (and often are) writers in their own right. And readers, college education or no, are perhaps a little more perceptive than you are willing to acknowledge. That said, keep doing what you are doing. It will all shake out to one side or the other in the end.
Read between the lines on those last two sentences. He believes what he wants to believe, and quite obviously is not going to be dissuaded from such foolishness. He will keep putting out grammatic nightmares and get nowhere fast in his writing career. And he will either learn from it or not.
Ego…it is a killer!

I Fell For it AGAIN

I Fell For it AGAIN

The first time I was asked to review a book, in exchange for a review on mine, I didn’t think much beyond saying “Sure!”

What I received was a “how to lose weight using yoga” guide that was written by a non-English speaker. There were questions asked in chapter headings where no question was intended, a screamingly offensive treatise on “how to tell if you are overweight,” and yoga poses that were not only NOT described, but not pictured.

I sent an email back to the guy and suggested he edit and add some damned pictures.

A few days later, I fell for another one. This woman had a GREAT cover, said she was “bestselling author” and the premise of the book sounded interesting, so I told her to go ahead and send me the pdf. It was laughably short, all of 14 pages long in Adobe Acrobat. Along with it she sent a note, “As a sidenote, I was in such a rush to get this done that I didn’t have it edited, but I think my writing stands well on its own.”

Say what?!

I opened the “book” and found within the first page a paragraph that literally had brackets and said [Insert book title here].

Christ on a stick.

I sent an email back to her and told her I wasn’t going to bother until she was willing to actually edit. Which was pretty kind of me.

And you think I would have learned.

But no, I had to have the lesson taught a third time. The other day I received a request and the link showed a godawful cover – and if you don’t think those things matter, believe me they DO – but a couple of the reviews seemed to indicate that this might be a great story clothed in a dog butt of a book cover. So I said “yes” and did a face palm after reading the first couple of pages.

It was agony reading more than that. It is so bad, SO BAD, that I can’t even tell this author anything good. I mean, it’s middle school kind of bad. I can’t even formulate a response other than to delete it.

I swear, this is the WORST issue I have with self-publishing. We are all standing here, shoulder to shoulder, on the same level playing field. I totally get why some reviewers respond to me (nicely, but still) with a “thanks, but no thanks.”

There is only so much dog vomit one person can willingly consume in a day.

And if I’m sounding like a complete bitch, here is a big admission. I’ve written shit. I have folders full of it. In fact, my first four books remain full of grammatical faux pas and typos. I’ve since learned, under the adept tutelage of my eldest, the proper approach for point of view shifts when dealing with fiction. I have also been admonished on reducing my sentence length.

Part of me wants to charge forward and write a slew of books as I edge closer and closer to notching my belt with that 10,000 hours of writing experience. I have learned so much in the past eight years. I KNOW my past books are not perfect and I struggle to reconcile that, wondering if I should go back and fix them (covers, grammar, pov shifts, and more).

The fact is, after going through some major edits with my eldest, I am ruined for bad writing. As in ruined FOREVER.

I’m still clueless when it comes to conjunctive phrases and all of the technical jargon that English majors seem to know so well, but at least I can say it isn’t as bad as it was.

Last night, I lay down in bed and began to read Yesterday’s Gone by the same authors that wrote Write. Publish. Repeat. I hadn’t gotten more than a few pages before I was jerked out of the story by a weird point of view shift between the mother Mary, and her daughter. That’s when I realized I was ruined forever and there was no going back.

“I am glad you did it, but you have to know that you have ruined me forever. I’ll never be able to read bad fiction again.” I told Dee this morning as we drove to a cleaning appointment.

And it is true. I’m ruined…forever.

Feel Free to Ignore This Post

Feel Free to Ignore This Post

Why?

Because I’m going to bitch.

/cue rant

I don’t do it very often (well, at least not publicly, my family would probably have a different view) and I’m sitting on the fence, frustrated and peeved.

In the past week, I have had five review requests from “authors” needing reviews of their books.

As an author, I have a hard time saying no. After all, I know all too well just how hard it is to get reviews on a book you have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours crafting, editing, and polishing.

Sometimes I feel like a supplicant on my knees as I politely, and then with increasing desperation, ask, “Would you read my book? Would you review it? Can I send you my book? Tell me what you think.”

Believe me, working in an office surrounded by catty, bitchy women seems rather appealing at the moment. In fact, the marketing side of writing is just a short step up from working in a call center with angry, pissed off BCBS customers reaming my ass for something I didn’t do while having to follow rules I didn’t make.

But I digress.

These “authors” – and yes, I feel the need to use quotation marks for two reasons. One, because they are anything BUT authors. Seeking to cash in on the self-publishing revolution, these jerks write (or plagiarize) the crappiest junk they can, as fast as they can, and then toss it up onto Amazon in the hopes that some idiot will buy it and they will be rich.

I was sent a pdf of a “book” written by a non-native English speaker (without any discernible editing that I could see – and folks I’m NOT editor material) about how to lose weight practicing yoga. Not only did the “author” NOT include ANY pictures of yoga poses, he also basically insulted anyone who is even slightly overweight by suggesting that the way they would discover it was because when out at bars and public venues people who are given your number don’t call you back.

The next one I fell for had a GREAT cover. It was purported to be a self-help book and the person billed themselves as a “bestselling author.”  They sent me a pdf that was 14 pages long and rife with errors, including brackets that literally had [Insert book title here].

Better yet? That pdf was actually sent with the following message: “Just a sidenote, I didn’t have time to get this book to an editor because I got in a huge rush with my launch, so it will not be absolutely perfect text, but I’d say it’s still pretty well written 🙂 ”

WTF?!

If that person is a bestselling author, then please, go ahead, shoot me in the head now because the literary world has truly become a mammoth mountain of horse dung.

Now all of this bitching is rather two-faced of me. I’ll admit it.

My first forays into self-publishing were rife with errors. I did my best with the skills I had, and I did have family members or friends help me with editing considering I had no budget for such things.

I still don’t have a budget for such things – so I have a content editor (my eldest daughter) a line editor (my friend Kerrie) and my husband serves as my auditory beta reader. I read the entire book to him, editing as I went. And that is how I managed to whittle down the errors to around 15 (so far, there may be more). One of my first readers was kind enough to send me a list of fixes, 14 in total, and then I found a repetitive word in one of the first chapters when I received a proof copy.

I’ve put out books that had lovely artwork by my eldest daughter but weren’t considered “professional” covers.

And I’ve put out books that I now want to revise since my writing skills have improved exponentially since.

But there is one thing that I absolutely do not share with these other “authors.” And that is this – I’m not looking at writing as a way to make quick, easy money. Sure, I would really, really like it if one of my books went viral and people started reading it on the subways of New York and then hunting down every other book I’ve written because they just couldn’t get enough.

Do dollar signs dance in front of my eyes? Rarely. It is why I am putting other passive income streams into play – like overhauling The Cottage and making it into an Air B’nB. I hope for more income on writing, and teaching, and cleaning houses, so that I can put that money into The Cottage and then it will turn around and become a money maker that gives me regular income while I continue to work on the writing. I’m shooting for that whole 10,000 hours thing.

I’m not a one-trick pony and I’m in this for the long haul.

But in the end, I can’t help wondering if I’ll be that pretty shiny gemstone sitting somewhere on a mountain of feces. Fighting that is frustrating to say the least.

/end bitchy rant

Back to work I go. I’ve got three projects to choose from, best get to it.

Delayed Gratification or Procrastination?

Delayed Gratification or Procrastination?

I am the queen of both, so it might be a toss up.

FACT: I need to finish this third round of edits on Gliese 581: The Departure

This week I have had two classes to prepare for and teach, I also started on a wire basket project (more on that later on The Deadly Nightshade), helped my husband install lights in our attic and then promptly spent all of Friday organizing and cleaning it (still have more to do), and I’ve gone off on a couple of craft project research tangents (mini terrariums for a class and also salt-cured eggs – I can’t make this up, folks).

The editing has sat here, waiting patiently.

Years ago, tired of a constantly messy kitchen, I instituted a “Delayed Gratification Policy” that I still (more or less) follow today. If I want to eat food, first I need to clean up the mess. That means dishes in or out of the dishwasher, countertops wiped down, things put away.

Our kitchen is rarely pristine, but it looks far better and is relatively functional.

Delayed gratification works. It gets things done.

As the new season of The Walking Dead came our way, I decided to use the DGP to encourage my procrastinating brain to get to editing. I announced I would not be watching The Walking Dead until I had finished all of my 3rd round of edits. I’m dying a little, b/c my hubs has been watching it without me, and TEASING me about it.

He is a cruel, cruel man.

Then the weather warmed up and I thought, “Oh wonderful, I can get back to work on Zentangling the van!”

Nope, DGP. Get the edits done first.

Along with the weather warming, the yard is beginning to warm up and plants are poking up under the bricks I laid to enlarge our front walkway. They need to be dug up, but, again I am stymied. DGP – Delayed Gratification Policy – I need to finish the edits.

So here is the deal.

Laundry isn’t getting done.

Shopping isn’t getting done.

No more work on the attic, outside, inside, the van, projects, NOTHING.

Today I will finish the edits.

This post is my last opportunity at procrastination. Time to grab a bite to eat and get to work.

TODAY I WILL FINISH THE EDITS!

Narrowing My Focus

Narrowing My Focus




At the beginning of the week I tend to focus on blog posts. By Wednesday I have accrued enough, typically, that I can finish putting together the weekly newsletter and setting it in the queue to deliver at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning.

At this point, I look at my week and think, “Well, I’ve got Thursday and Friday, and time on the weekend to get some serious writing done.

Thursday rolls around and I sit there…

I squirm…

I click on Quicken and review bank balances and stress over looming shortages…

I manage to type a few lines in a story, some story, before…

Well, crap, what happens next? I need to actually have some details here and more storyline would help.

I stop, frustrated, and visit [fill in blank with time-sucking computer location – Facebook/Pinterest/News sites/etc]

I manage to write a couple more lines and obsessively check my word count. i realize I have a looongg way to go and suppress the urge to gnash my teeth and wail at the injustice of the manuscript not writing itself. I think of my daily house zone, today was dining room and art room, and mentally beat myself up for not having it cleaned already.

I do a little “research” and find myself paging through Facebook…AGAIN.

I’m taking Facebook, Candy Crush, and email off of my list of open programs on the computer or my cell phone…

Maybe that will help me focus. And then again, maybe it won’t.

I need to give up the stuff that is taking too much of my time away from writing.

I need to narrow my focus even more than I already have.

Somehow…




Oh look, I’m out of water. Time to go fill up my cup…

Hello Wall…I Hate You

Hello Wall…I Hate You





I mentioned that I was having a little problem with forward momentum on G5D (Gliese 581: The Departure) the other day, which I attempted to solve by printing what I had of the manuscript out, placing it in date order, and going through each chapter to ferret out exactly what needed to be added/deleted/changed.

Ariel Gore described it well in her book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment so I’m not quoting verbatim, but basically she said that you get to a point where you are writing your book and you are just sick and tired of looking at it. You want it done, out, finished. The relationship is over and you are ready to move on.

I think that there is also another stage that occurs…that one that stops most writers in their tracks, often creating and endless cycle of rewrites or perhaps an abandoned project. It is that moment when all you can do is stare at the manuscript and think…“It’s shit. I’ve written shit. No one will want to read it, I’m tired of reading it. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t grab my interest. Yep, I’ve just spent days/weeks/months writing shit.”

And that is where I sit at the moment. I may keep talk, talk, talking about G5D, but right now, I’ve just hit a wall. All forward momentum has stopped.

I’ve kind of got my hands full peeling my face off of said wall and trying to figure out my next step.

I’m not entirely sure how to proceed. Do I give the manuscript as it stands to my eldest and beg her to read it and give me some “atta girls?” This while secretly (or not so secretly since she reads my blogs) nursing the fear that she will say in her nicest tone…”It’s a good start,” before petering off in the face of this monumental failure to produce a solid product.

Yes, I have fears like that. Heck, I’m practically riddled with them.

I’m not giving up. But I am stepping back for a little while. Perhaps inspiration will hit and the wall will crumble. Who knows?




A Different View

A Different View

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It seems inevitable…at some point or another, I’ll hit that wall where I know I need to add more to a story, but my writing has slowed to a crawl.

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The end is in sight, but my fingers and brain have declared a state of war.

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So here I am – 62,599 words in on Gliese 581: The Departure and feeling rather…stymied.

So I printed it out. All 198 pages. And because I have several different story lines going here, I stapled the individual chapters and sorted them in date order, by story line.

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Now I will read through them, make notes on the pages, add thoughts and ideas, and then return to the manuscript on my computer to finish working on the manuscript.

Sometimes, you just need a different view on things!

Choking on the Home Stretch

Choking on the Home Stretch

The other day I was in the writing zone. I finished two chapters, reviewed my document’s Table of Contents, and realized I had just four more chapters to write.

And then I got sidetracked.

This happens a lot.

It is one of the reasons I have only managed to publish four books in the past seven years.

I started thinking about what kind of cover I needed. I couldn’t ask my talented daughter to design it – she hasn’t learned graphic illustration yet and I have a very clear picture in my mind of what I need. I know what the spaceship looks like, I know how I want it positioned, hanging in space with Gliese 581G in the background.

And then I started wondering if I really had just four chapters to go. Had I shown one particular aspect of the story well enough? Perhaps I needed MORE chapters…

And faced with that thought, and with plenty of other distractions to keep me busy (van art, homeschool, the cannabusiness we are discussing/planning on starting, and more), I just…choked. And nothing has been done in days.

I hate that. I hate that I get distracted by other stuff and wander off topic. I have a solid line of stories in me, things I want to say, stories that are clamoring to be told, and yet I allow myself to be distracted, to stop writing.

[sigh]

First world problems, right?

A Pause in Station Programming for…Traffic Court

A Pause in Station Programming for…Traffic Court

Every time I deal with bureaucracy, the city, or the legal side of our “justice” system (there hasn’t been any real justice in a very long time, folks), I walk away disgusted or bemused. Sometimes both.

So you may remember a few months ago (if you haunt my other blog The Deadly Nightshade, which you totally SHOULD), that I mentioned I had gotten some traffic tickets thanks to my neighbor Crazy Dale, otherwise known as Asshat. I had reversed my car, pointed the wrong way on the side of the street in front of my house (some half block away from Asshat), and was a few inches into the No Parking zone on the street.

This sour-faced woman pulled up, said nothing, and simply handed me two tickets totaling $135 in fines with a court day of today.

I was so stinkin’ mad I said some rather choice things to Asshat, including the suggestion that we would all throw a party when he dropped dead and couldn’t he please just do it soon because everyone else on the block was a reasonable human being.

I sometimes let my tongue get the best of me.

Not that I particularly regret saying it…but…still.

In any case, I went to court today.

I had never been to traffic court.

I’ve been to chicken court…twice…but never traffic court.

I learned a couple of important lessons.

#1 – Always Challenge a Ticket

They are so overwhelmed, SO OVERWHELMED, in traffic court that they drop the price down to nothing just to get you the heck out of there. On the 1:30 docket were no less than 50 people. That’s a heck of a lot, folks. I stated that I was pleading not-guilty to the clerk and then waited for my turn to speak with the prosecutor.

She was piling through folks. Basically, everyone got their fines knocked down to $5 plus court fees.

So here I was, facing two tickets, which totaled $135, and madder than hell at Asshat for being such a complete douchebag. But I sat quietly, working on my artwork until it was my turn.

One citation was thrown out, the other was knocked down to $5 plus court fees of $22.50. That plus the parking fee of $3 put me at $30.50.

It’s still $30.50 that I shouldn’t have had to pay. I wasn’t in anyone’s way, I hadn’t hurt anyone or blocked the street in any way. I did it so that I would stay safe and not be in the street when Zentangling the driver’s side of my van. But Asshat would rather see me hanging out in the street so I could get hit by a car.

And no, I don’t have a driveway unfortunately.

In any case, $30.50, not bad, when it is compared to $135…right?

Oh wait, it also cost me a pair of fingernail clippers…

Lesson #2 – Fingernail Clippers are Lethal but Rocks are A-Okay!

I was in a hurry, running late, when I hustled into the court building. As I was going through security, where they scanned me and also my purse, I was stopped by security. “Ma’am, you need to show me your fingernail clippers.” the woman said.

I handed them over and she pointed to the swivel pointy thing (sorry, I’ve got nothing more technical than that to describe it) and said, “You can have the clippers, but not with that part on them. You can either break it off or throw them away or take them back to your car.”

I was late, so I sure as hell wasn’t walking the 1 1/2 blocks back to the car, and I happen to USE the swively pointy thing, so I told her to just toss them since they wouldn’t be much good to me without it.

Meanwhile…THIS…was sitting in the bottom of my bag.

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And I couldn’t help but test it out a little more. I sat in the courthouse, in the second row, and drew on it for upwards of 45 minutes, in plain sight of all of the officers in the court, until my name was called.

Personally, I’d think the rock could do a lot more damage than the little swively pointy thing could. I am an avid Walking Dead fan, I’ve taken notes on apocalyptic hand-to-hand combat and I think I could have beat the living crap out of someone with this rock. It weighs nearly a pound and is solid river rock.

You could bash a zombie’s skull in with this thing (although I doubt using one of my hand-decorated ones would be my first choice).

I love visiting courts…I walk away feeling like a mental giant in comparison to some of the folks that work there. Speaking of which, the sour-faced woman was there, I curled my lip at her as I left and murmured sweet nothings under my breath as I walked past her out of court. I reminded myself that at least she was gainfully employed…sort of.

I had politely waited for her to talk to me once I noticed she was parked there in front of my house back in April. She could have stuck her head out of the window of her car and said “move your car” – I would have done it if I had known it was a crime to park the wrong way on one side of a two-way street.

So there you have it, two lessons learned.

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And I behaved myself. I didn’t bash anyone’s skull in with a rock.

That’s got to be progress.

Each Blow Pushes Me Closer

Each Blow Pushes Me Closer

I’ve never been a one-trick pony. I’ve never had just one love, to the exclusion of all others.

So it isn’t surprising that I’ve spent the past ten years (or more) spinning plates…

  • Plate 1 – cleaning houses
  • Plate 2 – home and family
  • Plate 3 – arts and crafts
  • Plate 4 – reading and learning…voracious and unending
  • Plate 5 – writing
  • Plate 6 – teaching
  • Plate 7 – gardening

I’m sure there are more.

But when it comes to pulling my weight, and earning money, I’ve also done whatever I could. Especially in the past ten years where, with the small exception of a part-time job in a woman’s home office, I have not stepped foot into the corporate/”working” world.

I haven’t missed it…the bickering, the manipulation, the high school days revisited in dozens of unhappy desk jockeys who hate their lives.

Now I’m not saying that everyone hates their jobs or lives…just all of the ones I encountered!

I tried building the cleaning business…and was met with monumental ups and downs. So much so that, when I would acquire a new cleaning client I would mentally review all of the clients I currently had and try to figure out who would be next to lose a job, move, retire, or otherwise upset the apple cart of income I was receiving. With every ‘up’ in income, I would see a corresponding ‘down.’

And let’s face it, cleaning toilets is no one’s dream job. I derived a sense of satisfaction from it – making something clean out of a dusty mess – and I wasn’t having to punch a time clock or deal with women who acted as if they were still in high school cliques, but it wasn’t my lifelong dream and desire.

So in 2007 I began teaching classes. This grew, and grew, and GREW.

Except when it didn’t.

Last year it was last minute RFID implementation in one of my main host sites. They canceled classes willy nilly, not rescheduling, just canceling. This would happen a few weeks or a month before the class – far too late to fill with anything else that could make me money.

This past January, when I received a request for 34 classes, I was over the moon. It meant doubling my average monthly income from last year. Something I desperately needed because I had finally given up on my cleaning biz. I have three dedicated clients, and for as long as they need services, I’m up for it. But I’m not looking for new ones, not even accepting new ones, and I had already made the decision to focus on classes and writing.

Then last week dealt me another huge blow. My biggest client decided to remove 21 classes from the roster. Not because I had done anything wrong, or because there were any problems with my performance in any way. It was simply a change in policy on the types of classes they would host. Even in light of offering them a long list of other possible classes, they chose to cancel instead of substitute. This cost me nearly $2,800 in income.

And then yesterday, another blow came. I had scheduled five classes with a site I use off and on. It meant, according to my figures, the possibility of about $1000 in additional income. Last night I received an email that, due to the director of programs leaving after 30+ years, they were canceling their summer classes and would resume in the fall.

Again it seems that for every step forward, I end up taking two steps back.

I won’t get into the HOURS I spent scheduling all of these classes on the Google Calendar, creating invoices and even preparing future posts in TDN that would automatically post five days before a class to remind folks. In fact, I scheduled so many that I broke my database. It refuses to let me in to delete them now! (This means I get to check TDN every day for the next four months and delete the post as soon as possible. Fun, fun, fun!)

I have always shied away from the abstract. And to me, writing is nothing but abstract when it comes to income. I love it, but will it pay? I love to write stories, and those who have read them have had good things to say, but that doesn’t pay the bills folks. Not at all.

Yet, with each blow I receive, I find myself inching closer and closer to just dropping it all and saying, “Screw it, I’m going to write. I’m going to write, write, WRITE and just see what happens.”

Last night, with the TDN database not working, locking me out, giving me errors, along with a recalcitrant child who doesn’t want to do her chores, less and less money earned each month, et cetera…I just broke down and cried. I’m angry, frustrated, and so much more. I feel as if I have done everything right, been professional, given good quality classes, and yet, here I stand.

So I took the night to work it out and here is what I decided…

  • I’m raising my prices – I’m not leaving my house for less than $200 (a few exceptions apply on this…women’s groups, some charitable organizations)
  • I’m adding in a cancellation clause with my class hosts – cancel with less than one month’s notice and pay 75% of the class fee, two month’s is 50%, three months is 25% (this won’t apply to classes that are not happening due to lack of sign-ups)
  • I’m restricting our homeschool outings to less than three or less per week – I feel like I’m never at home anymore!
  • I’m reducing my teaching availability to no more than eight classes per month
  • I’m damned well FINISHING my book projects I have planned
  • I’m going to venture back into the world of writing for gardening, parenting, homeschooling magazines

So, that’s the story, folks. I’m pissed, frustrated, sad and stressed. But I’ve got some ideas in place and now I’m going to put them all together and see where we end up. Change isn’t easy…but each experience has been leading me to this place, this moment, where I stand now.