Daily Prompt #6

Write a scene from the viewpoint of a dead person in a casket.

My take on it:

The view from the casket is odd. I’d sit up, at the very least, if I could.

Do you know what my first thought was when I looked up at the mourners? Nose hairs. All of my friends and family stand over me, most reciting sweet but only partially true epitaphs as I make a mental note about the length, color or protrusion of their nose hairs.

I make silent jokes about Aunt Bernice and her red tangle of protruding nose hairs until Sam stepped up to the casket, his blond hair falls over his left eye as a single tear tumbles down his cheek and then off of his chin, landing on my right arm.

 

Now is your turn! Send me your version below!

Freelancing for Newbies

Ah, the freewheeling life of a freelancer. It’s been just a few months freelancing and I’ve already learned some valuable lessons. To save future freelancers, I’ve written a list (a listed article is sometimes called a ‘listicle’) of the top five things NOT to do when starting out as a freelancer.

1.) Do not give away your time or talent.

It may seem tempting to give new customers a “deal” because you feel so grateful for the customer giving a job to a newbie, but nothing makes you seem more like a newbie than giving your talent away. It wreaks of desperation and in general, customers will take advantage. Once you set that precedent of being a push over, they will expect it in the future. Stand firm on your rate (assuming it’s  reasonable) and how much time you need to finish the project.

2.) Edit and then edit again.

Never ever turn in a project that has not been read through twice after finishing and read out loud at least once. Why? Editing your own work is hard because you know what you meant to write so your brain makes you see nothing but perfection most of the time. However, give it an out loud read and you’ll see more mistakes and hear more awkward wording. If you have another freelancer friend, trade editing work. Fresh eyes can help a lot.

3.) Outline articles before submitting a query letter

Frequently, I will send the basic query letter and get a response of “we’d like to know more. Please send more information on sources and content.” Basically, they want an outline of what your article will include. I suggest doing the outline before sending the query. This is because if a magazine or website shows interest, you want to send the outline immediately before they have time to forget about you. If you get an email from the magazine and they then have to wait on you, they may lose interest. In freelancing, you have to be fast!

4.) Make sure you actually have time to take on the project

As a freelancer, we tend to take on a lot of work at once (from time to time, anyway) because if the work in coming in, we usually can’t afford to turn down work. However, if you are overloaded with research heavy work or a lot of little projects, don’t continue to add to your workload. Yes, you will be losing some money but losing your reputation as a competent, responsible and talented freelance writer is a bigger loss.

5.) Treat this as a business from the very beginning

I know, from experience, that it is very tempting to stay in bed an extra hour in the morning. It might seem like a good idea to go for a long lunch followed by shopping. I get that you feel like you have a lot of time now that you aren’t leaving the house to work a traditional 9-5 but from the get go, you need to treat this like a business. Get up, get dressed (you feel more productive if you change out of pajamas- even changing into clean sweats and a t-shirt will make you feel more prepared to get down to business) and plan your day. Breakfast, check emails and get to work.Working as a freelancer has a ton of perks: work from home, no traffic, you are your own boss but you have to take it seriously

Working as a freelancer has a ton of perks: work from home, no traffic, you are your own boss but you have to take it seriously. Keep working at it and remember that this is your job. Treat it like one!

Feel free to comment below and share with fellow freelancers, please!

Fate

Do you believe in fate? I was never sure about it until recently when I had a particularly rough review of my TV pilot script. I went to a review group and they tore it apart. Too short, not developed enough, characters aren’t real enough. It was rough and even though I knew they were right. It hurt and I have never taken criticism well, it always feels pretty personal. I sometimes think about stopping the madness and just settling for a regular life working a regular, mundane 9-5. I always decide that kind of life isn’t for me and go back to writing.

After this particular beat down, I was feeling pretty down and my husband sent me an email with a link. I clicked the link and it took me to an article about how being a write is tough but to stick with it. It said on average, writers will write many, many bad scripts before writing a good one. It was just what I needed.

That night, I thanked my husband, I looked at him adoringly and told him how much that article meant to me and how his support touched me more than he could know. Do you know what he said? He never sent me that article. No. The article he sent was about scary short stories. I went back and clicked on the link and it did indeed send me to scary short stories, not the reassuring article. So where did it come from? My husband says it was fate. Fate interceded to keep me from quitting.

I’m still not sure about the coincidence but it did make me feel like I’m not wasting my time, my life, chasing this dream. It made me feel secure that the more I work on my craft the better it will get and maybe one day someone will like my work and I’ll be successful. Maybe one day, if fate allows it.

Golden Opportunities

I was reading a book about being a better you.  Self-improvement is a goal of mine (couldn’t hurt to become a BETTER me, right?).

I was reading and all the things were common sense or cliché: money doesn’t buy happiness (but it does buy my husband that big screen TV that he has been obsessing about) older people are happier (because they get the social security I’ll never get and don’t have to work), blah, blah, blah.

Boredom was setting in until I read, “are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?”  It made me think of my friend, we will call her M.  M is fabulous.  She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  A poet, performer, speaker, and author, she should be here in la la land with me making movies and doing readings and book signings.  But she isn’t.  I sat there and thought how it was really too bad she didn’t market herself more.  It was too bad she didn’t really push herself to do more social media marketing of her brand.

Then I read the question again.  “Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?”  Oh.  This was about me, not M.

Redness flooded my cheeks and I knew the answer.  No, I do not take advantage of all the opportunities offered to me.  I am too scared or embarrassed to say to the person next to me, ‘hey, I’m a writer too, how did you get published?’  Or ‘how are you getting your short produced?’  Instead I sit quietly and let these golden opportunities pass me by.

Since moving here in June, I have worked on four movie projects, two features, one second unit feature and one short.  I did not network on a single one of them.  Its not in my nature, it doesn’t come easily to me.  But shit, it shouldn’t come easily!  If it did everyone would do it!

So now I have two new goals

1.)  be less judgey

2.)  be more proactive and push for what I want instead of waiting for my future to fall into my lap.

Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you?

How to Get Published Without Really Trying

I used to be stupid. Ok that’s harsh but it did get your attention and it is sort of true.  I used to believe that certain things; books, etc. would make me get published.  I used to think, ‘wow, if I had that pen, I would be a great writer.’ Or, ‘if I could read that book about getting published I would be published.’ In my mind these were magical things that held the key to becoming a successful author.  I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and bought books about getting published.  I believed the article that said if you do these 3 little things you would be a success. I followed the advice, all wide-eyed and optimistic.  And believe it or not, I did not get published.  I just couldn’t understand it.  I read and reread the articles.  I was doing everything right and still nothing. My optimism disappeared and I became bitter and jaded. But then, then I realized that while I was wasting hours reading about tricks to get a deal I was not focused on my craft.  Instead of writing, I was trying to find shortcuts to the gold at the end of the rainbow but guess what?  There are no shortcuts.  Time, hard work and persistence are what get people published, not the book on how to spend 2 hours a day writing to get a novel in 90 days. In fact, right now you should be focused on your own work instead of reading this!   (Just kidding of course!  Love that you read this!)  Now get to work!  To quote Young MC “don’t just stand there, bust a move.”

The Fear

The Fear is back.  The anxiety is rising.  My book will be out in a little over a month and my concern that it is not good enough, that I am not good enough is taking over.  I hate rejection.  I have a total consuming fear of failure.  I am half tempted not to put my book or myself out there, out for the whole world to see.  But that is selfish, right?  And stupid.  I know I have to make this first step if I want to be a writer, a paid, professional writer.

So I will.  I will put my book and myself out there for judgement.  I will smile during my author photo session.  I will not allow the fear the take hold.  I will self promote with everything I have.  I will work hard to make sales.

I will do this.

I can do this.