Monday, 24 March 2014

What Do I Actually Do for a Living?!

I keep telling you all and people I know in person, when they ask me, that I’m a freelance writer. Specifically I’m a freelance ghost writer. I tell people this because it is what I do, not because I want to sound all fancy and artsy fartsy but really I’m a crazy cat lady who watches Disney films all day (even though I kind of am that too). I’m not aspiring any more, I’m not trying any more. I’m officially a freelance writer. I have to do my own tax returns and keep invoices and everything. I actually get paid actual money to write stuff. Scary! When I tell people that I’m a freelance ghost writer I always end up having a conversation about it that goes along these lines.
Other Person: “Oh that sounds so cool.”
Me: “Thanks, it is and I really enjoy doing it”
Other Person: “Oh that’s good.... what does it involve?”
Me: *internally* Oh god, oh god, why do they always ask?!
(I really don’t like talking about myself much in person. I get worried I’m talking about myself too much. Durr!)

And then once I’ve calmed down enough to speak and lost the deer in a headlights look I go into a slightly lengthy conversation where I explain, in somewhat broad terms what being a freelance writer involves. Sometimes they still don’t quite understand though. It can be tricky, especially if they’re not overly familiar with the creative ‘world’ as it were, to get them to understand what being a freelance writer involves. Then it’s even trickier when I need to explain what a ghost writer actually does. Usually I only get to that point when the person is genuinely interested though. I don’t want to bore people with overly detailed lectures about my job, because let’s face it, no one likes listening to that person and no one really wants to be that person. But I’m going to try and explain to you today because I said I would. What’s more, I’m going to try and explain with my slightly longer explanation for the people who actually ask more about it all because if you didn’t want to know you would have stopped reading by now. So here's my usual spiel;

Basically I am contacted by people who want their story written, whether it’s fiction or autobiographical, but for reasons only known to themselves can’t do it themselves. Sometimes they don’t have time due to their own commitments, sometimes they don’t have the skill to write it at all, sometimes they just can’t seem to make it come out how they want it. I don’t mind why they don’t write their own stories because otherwise I’d be out of a job.

I talk to them about their story, try to understand what it is they want it to say and the tone. I also ask for a very broad outline within the messages we exchange, just so I can tell whether or not it’s for me or not. It’s about this point, once I’m happy to work with them that I will probably begin to send them a contract or they send me one to sign. Most ghost writers have a contract that they use for each client, just a set template that has details edited to fit each job. I don’t have one right now but I’m beginning to think I need to create one too, simply to protect myself from not getting paid or similar freelancing related problems. It also sets out very clearly what the expectations are on me and the client and what we both expect to receive in turn. Once that’s all sorted I’ll send a proposal and receive a deposit or they’ll pay my fee straight up, putting it into what is essentially a holding account until the job is complete. Then I’ll get either a bigger outline or begin to work on my own. Which it is depends on the story and the kind of client I’m working with. Now and then I might message them, depending on how complicated the story is or whether I need some points clarifying or want to check if a route I’m taking with the writing is alright with them. Again it depends on the story I’m writing and how much creative input the clients are happy for me to make. Once the story is finished I send it the client and draw up an invoice. The client pays me and then I no longer have any claim to the writing whatsoever. The story is totally theirs to do with as they wish.

Sometimes they’ll want to hire me for more work, or to continue working on the story I’ve been working on. I work in 5,000 word blocks. It’s a decent length to tell a short story in and it’s not too big to go back and edit if the client wants to make some changes before moving onto the next block of words. Some clients hire me again and again, wanting to work with me on several short stories or several longer pieces because they know and like my writing and because they know how I work and that I can meet their expectations.
From time to time I have had to turn clients down, which is never easy, but usually they’re very understanding and can see that what they’ve asked for is outside of my abilities. Now and then they ask me to write something that I am very uncomfortable writing but that is very rare.

And that, my friends, is the short version of what I do. When I first started writing this post I had intended to make it longer. Then it got too long and I realised that it actually might be more useful to write the lengthier, more in-depth explanation of freelancing and ghost writing as a series of posts. Yep, I came up with another one. But this one is already partially written so it should actually get finished and put up. Besides, it’s good practice and as you’ll find out in a later post, practice is never a bad thing. There’re more reasons for turning this into a series of posts than just me wanting to share this longer version with you because I’ve written it and don’t want to delete all those words though. The biggest of these is that someone could find it helpful. I’m still new to the freelancing world, probably like many other people are, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find a lot of resources and guidance from many different areas. I’ve also been making a lot of it up as I’ve gone along. We can always learn from other people’s experiences and I’m hoping that my experience, what little there is, can help someone else learn. Especially if it helps them realise that freelancing isn’t always sitting at home in your pajamas eating ice cream and watching tv. Because I’m going to admit... that’s what I initially thought it was.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

In Which I Mention Hope. A Lot!

So I did mean to make another post yesterday but then things happened and I didn’t have time. Now though I’ve finished the little bit of work I did have for today and I can finally make the post that I intended to make yesterday. I want to share with you all the things that I have planned for the blog. There are a lot of things that I want to do, the primary idea is to establish a schedule for posting stuff up on here.

Some of my other ideas are several collections of posts around a similar theme. One I want to be is an ‘A to Z of Writing’. It’ll basically be an alphabetised explanation of different things related to writing. Each post should (hopefully) revolve around a single letter, starting at A and ending at Z (duh?!). These will be posts that (hopefully, again) I will have worked on before the post date, planning them and writing them and turning them into beautiful polished pieces of writing. Or at least pretending to. Another series that I want to write is ‘A to Z of Life’ that is basically similar to the writing A to Z but focused on things linked to general life, rather than being focused on writing. Again there should, hopefully, be about 26 posts for that series. Because you know, 26 letters in the alphabet and all. One final series is going to be ‘The Life of a Novel’ with me comparing planning and creating a novel to the life and development of a human being, from start to finish, particularly focusing on the similarities between the two. In theory right now it’s going to be about And now, before I start sounding like I’m writing a proposal for a dissertation I’m going to stop. I’m being very ambitious, I know that and hopefully (there’s that word again) I’ll be able to finish them and see them through. Does it sound cool yet?

I’m also going to delve into the world of book reviews. I read a lot of books, some of them amazing and some of them that I end up wondering why the hell I actually spent money on them. I want to share my thoughts on these books with people but don’t know anyone who really wants to hear it all. I’ll probably put those reviews on Goodreads too and possibly even Amazon. I’m hoping to do one of those a week but we’ll see how that goes with my, admitably, ever increasingly busy schedule (blimey that was a bit of a complicated sentence wasn’t it? I hope that makes sense). Sometimes I just want to gush about books. Sometimes I want to rant about certain books. Sometimes I just want to ask why parts of books are so confusing to me and hope for some clarification.

All of this will be on top of regular posts about my general life, work and writing. It’s ambitious, I know this. I’ll probably get other ideas for posts that I want to make, I know this too. And I’m hoping, really really hoping, that I can keep it up and stick to what I’ve got planned. As to that schedule I mentioned? I’m thinking posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with an occasional post on Sunday or if something amazing happens that I can’t wait to share with the world. Let’s face it though, that last one is unlikely to happen because my life, while nice enough for me right now, is BORING!

So what do you think? Am I a bit too ambitious? Do you reckon I’m biting off more than I can chew? Or do you think I can handle it? Can you think of any topics that you really want to see me post about? Do you just want to be super supportive and encourage me on? Let me know, I always love comments and try to reply to them if I can.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Whoopsie! I'm back now I promise!

Well things have been a bit mental here in Nallyland since I last made a post back in... wow September! I have been a bad blogger.

Anyway, since September a lot has happened. My sister went overseas to work on a cruise ship, I was revisited by depression, failed NaNoWriMo for the first time ever, started dating someone, stopped dating someone, lost my job, set myself up as a self-employed freelance writer, had a death in the family, had a wedding in the family and had my sister return from working overseas. So all in all it’s not like I’ve been sat doing nothing. Today I decided though that it’s been far too long since I last made a post. It’s been about 7 months in fact (I am in fact screaming about that inside. I feel so bad!). There’s so much I want to write about and share with you all but it would take so many words for me to tell you that you’d stop reading before being a quarter of the way through.

I know that I’ll come back to some of these things in later posts, specifically the whole freelancing thing and the depression. I will say this though, depression isn’t one of those illnesses that once you get over it, it never comes back like with chicken pox. It comes back. It almost always comes back. And I’ve started to feel like I’m living my life looking over my shoulder waiting for the next bout of the stuff. So far I’ve been lucky in that although it came back it wasn’t as bad as it used to be. I’m not stuck, curled up in bed crying and unable to face the world. But I’ll tell you about that at another point. And the freelancing, self-employment move... that’s going to need a whole post to itself. I’m starting to wonder though whether I have the motivation and dedication to do it. Then I realise that my dad will possibly gloat if I turn around and say no, that’s it, I’m getting a normal person job. So I have that pushing me onwards. It’s hard work though. Much harder than you’d expect. Then again I’m an inherently lazy individual so it may just be me thinking it’s hard when actually it’s fairly easy.

In the writer-ly news though, I’m still writing, still planning and still editing. My projects are coming along swimmingly. I finally gave in and bought Scrivener which I have to admit I do love. A lot. Feral Diaries is still going through its edits and I admit I’m taking my time with it as it is soooooo screwed up at the moment that it could in fact be better if I just sat down and started over with the whole thing. But I won’t because I know that there are some good bits in there and the whole thing can shine if I managed to polish it up some more. Wolfe, the novel I started working on for NaNoWriMo, is also being planned well and is almost ready for writing. I’ve been taking my time planning this one too, fitting it in around my freelancing projects and other personal projects. I did write about 5,000 words of it during NaNo but they were pure crap so I’m just going to delete them and start fresh with the story properly planned out.

I also found some notes on old stories that I worked on several years ago, stories that began writing, in fact, before I realised that writing is what I wanted to do with my life. The stuff in there is fairly good too. Not amazing and not my best work but I can see where my mind was going with them. Now I just need to finish planning them and I can begin actually writing them.

I’m feeling motivated again, imagining and thinking of all of the things that I want to do with my stories once I’ve finished them properly. I’ve got my eyes on the finish, the end prize. But I enjoy the journey, the strange twists and turns I take to reach the end product. And if I ever stop enjoying the journey and start seeing it as a chore....
Well I want you to tell me to stop writing and go and get a normal person job. At least for a little while.

Because let’s face it. I’m not a normal person.