A Client Read My Blog!

I definitely need to take the time to finish updating this blog. I actually had a client ask me about the book I was working on. I had to tell her that there is no book anymore, at least not at the moment. Doing odd-jobs is working out well for me, and so my writing career is on hold. At least for now.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. I really thought that telling stories for a living was going to be my calling, so I did my research to find out what it would take to be successful at it. I’ve always learned best by doing, so I got writing. I also tried out some of the tricks I’d learned about social media marketing and ran a pretty successful writer’s group on Facebook for a while.

In the process I figured out how to self-publish and learned a lot from fellow writers. I also got to see first hand how much work actually goes into writing a book, and how little readers appreciate it. Writing is a more than full time job. Especially as an indie writer. You need to keep writing, every day, and you need to promote yourself and build an audience.

What this really means is that you spend all day, everyday shut in your office (which in my case is an old card table I put my laptop on in the spare room of my parent’s house, aka my bedroom). It gets lonely and depressing, especially when you and every other writer you talk to can’t seem to actually make any headway.

There are some writers I’ve talked to that have cracked the code and manage to produce enough writing to make a more than healthy living. They do so by studying market trends to see what sells well, and writing to market. They are able to churn out a daily quota of writing because they follow a plan that conforms to their audience’s expectations.

Sadly, this isn’t the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write the stories I have in my head. It’s possible that I could get to eventually if I write what the people want for a while, but my heart just isn’t in it. I can’t do it. It just sucks all the joy out of writing. I thought maybe I could freelance to make money instead of compromising myself, and found that freelancing as ghost-writer and article writer is just as hard to break into as creative writing.

I then thought that perhaps I could try taking a part time job to bring in some cash that way, but found that finding a job in the small town of Kidwelly was almost impossible, and commuting to the next big town over was problematic. I don’t have a car as yet (because it requires money and a UK license) and so I have to use public transport. The last bus from Carmarthen to Kidwelly is at 6pm, and most employers want you to work past that time.

Out of desperation, frustration and impatience, I decided to offer my services as an Odd-Job guy locally. I knew there were plenty of people living here that could use an extra hand or two from time-to-time. I’ve missed the gardening, DIY and small home repairs I used to do when I had a house, and this seemed like it would give me an outlet for the skills I’ve learned, make me a bit of money, and help people out.

It turned out to be so much more than that! It gets me out of the house, gets me using my body instead of wasting its potential at a desk, it allowed me to meet people in the Kidwelly community and hear their own stories, it makes me feel good to do a good job for the clients and see my progress, and I even have other people interested in working with me. It’s a lot of fun.

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The new Facebook Page pic!

That last part, about the work being fun, is the biggest surprise. I always thought I was too dorky, too wimpy, to be able to do a physical job (I also thought that conforming to a sexist sterotype was inherently sexist). Admittedly, it was a lot harder when I started. My body just wasn’t used to working up a sweat. Now though, I’m disappointed if I don’t get do do at least four to five hours a day of fighting brambles, sawing wood, or hefting something heavy from one place to another!

It’s so fulfilling I feed no need to write fiction. My real life is better. I’ve expressed this sentiment before, but it’s true. I still run my two rp groups, but they’re more of a social game than actual story writing, particularly since it’s just for fun, not profit. I might write some non-fiction later, and maybe some fiction too, but for now I’m happy to let the business grow, and help it along. I’ll go back to writing books when I don’t need the money.

I won’t be able to do physical work forever, it’s bound to take a toll on my body, but for now the aches and pains I have at the end of the day are tangible evidence of a job well done, and it feels good. I feel like I’ve achieved something instead of just waiting for something good to happen.

No more pushing myself to write something and worrying that it’s statistically unlikely to sell a single copy. This is a far more effective and sustainable business model. The next step is to get my bodycam working so I can make videos of what I’m doing that I can then post on YouTube. I’m also working on getting a UK driver’s license so that I can try to get a van. Luckily there’s a guy interested in joining our little Odd-Job Squad that has is an experienced truck driver and is thinking of getting a van too, so I might be able to do bigger jobs earlier than expected! 🙂

I’m really happy, and I never thought it would come from this.

Have a great day. 🙂

 

 

 

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Better than Fiction

This website is going to undergo some changes soon. It was originally intended to be a way to showcase my writing, build my fanbase, and maybe get some freelance writing clients. It didn’t work out though. Every time I tried to get serious about my writing career and get organised and disciplined, it stopped being fun, and I would find myself putting it off.

In the process of putting it off I found myself making friends, starting a local handyman business, and actually having a life away from my computer desk! I was surprised to discover I love the work, and that I’m beginning to like my life.

It’s unlikely that I’ll stop writing. I’ll just stop trying to force my creativity to clock in to a 9 to 5 schedule. I’ll write when I want to. When it’s fun. I know that the writing market is hard to break in to. I know that to get in requires discipline, and I just can’t do it. Yeah, yeah. I know there’s no such thing as can’t if you really want to do something, and apparently I don’t wanna ‘get serious’ about writing and taking all the fun out of it.

I’ve written articles talking about my determination to succeed, but it started to seem like a poor investment of time and effort. Especially since I’ve been able to make money faster by actually getting out into the real world and talking to people. With writing, I would have to spend years writing a book that might not even sell, and then try again, and again. By helping real people (instead of fictional characters) I’m getting instant feedback that people like my work, and it feels great!

I think I’m getting to the point where I’d rather live my own real-life adventure than create fake ones. There are exceptions of course. I love running my roleplay games with cool people. Again, I think it might be the real-time social feedback I get. I love it. I want more interaction. More friends. More real life please!

So, this website may get a makeover at some point. When I feel like it. To change it from being all about me trying to be a professional writer, to be being about whatever the fuck I want to write about that day. Perhaps even run an exclusive rp story-game similar to The City of Gate or The N-Viron Network. Both of which continue to be fun.

I want to get people talking too. Maybe make this our own little social media clubhouse. I want to know what you want this website to be. I hope you want to interact here and make it our little home away from Facebook. I could create pages about topics you want to discuss, or for a game as I previously suggested.

I dunno. I suppose it’s okay if I just continue to use it just to blog mutely into the ether, but the way I’m going, I’m likely to abandon this website altogether if I don’t get to use it to make myself a few more friends. You can challenge me to write about specific subjects, ask me anything about anything you want, and suggest other things I can do to make this page a fun place to be.

I really want to change the name. I’m trying to tone down the self-aggrandisement, and just be myself. Hopefully this will also reduce the number of self-pitying posts too. Failing isn’t something to lament. It’s a lesson. Sometimes it just means you’ve found a better path to walk. Or at least a more fun one anyway. 😉

Sincerely, have a great day. 🙂

 

ADHD Makes Adulting Harder Than It Should Be!

I’m juggling so many thoughts right now I don’t even know where to start, so I’m just going to start writing and see what happens.

I have ADHD. Almost everyone knows that this means I have trouble paying attention, but to say this is an oversimplification is an understatement. If I’m interested in something, not only do I have no trouble paying attention, I become hyper-focused. This can come in handy and help me get things done. Providing nothing breaks my focus.

That’s where it can be a problem. I’m rather easily distracted. Sometimes, I can provide myself with a controlled distraction. Like a fidget toy or a movie playing in the background. Something that can occupy my hyperactive mind without taking too much focus from my primary goal. It doesn’t always work though. Especially if I wasn’t particularly interested in the task to begin with.

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That’s the other not-so-fun part. I have no control over my hyper-focus. Sometimes something I’ve been really into before, doesn’t interest me at all another time. It can be really confusing. A good example of this is self-improvement books and books about living with ADHD. I will go through periods of reading books and listening to audiobooks to better myself and I’ll eagerly absorb every word they say, then suddenly I’ll pick up a book, or press play, and nothing will go in. This can be very frustrating. How can I control my ADHD when my ADHD won’t let me learn how?

Jobs are the hardest though. When I first start any new job, I’m generally fairly eager to learn everything there is to know about the job. Except when I tried car sales. I couldn’t get any product product info to stick because I just don’t care about cars. However, for the most part, I learned quickly and voraciously about how to do the job. I do well, and often hit my targets in the first couple of months. Then I get bored, because I know how to do it and I’m not interested anymore.

I have a few tricks to get around this. I fold origami at my desk, or fiddle with magnet puzzles, or Transformers (the ones with lots of steps). Most managers will consider these activities distracting and assume that they’re to blame for my low-productivity, when in fact it’s the only thing keeping me working at all.

That’s why I thought a writing career would be better. No bosses telling me how to do a job I already know how to do in my sleep. No trying to sell products that I don’t believe in. No boring. Or so I thought. It turns out that writing a story can get really boring. Especially if it’s a formulaic narrative that a client wants you to write because it hits all the bullet points that the marketing tells them it should.

Even the stories I’m writing for myself. If I already know how it ends, then trying to put it into detailed words that allow other people to see the direction the story takes can be a little tedious. Admittedly, I often find that the characters add interesting details to the narrative that I hadn’t originally anticipated, but getting to those ‘wow’ moments can be a slog. Then there’s re-writes! Sometimes I don’t want to write another word simply because, once I’ve finished, I need to rewrite the whole fucking thing to check for errors and tighten up the plot. Boring!!

I had these big ambitions of writing everyday, like it was my full-time job (because it would be). Being the next J. K. Rowling and living in luxury. In reality I sometime go for days without writing anything, and even then it’s only because of ‘The City of Gate‘ and ‘The N-Viron Network‘.

Speaking of which, I love writing those stories and if I could somehow make a living running those RP groups, I think I’d be in heaven. I’ve had the idea of selling merch, but I don’t think my audience much cares about ‘The City of Gate’ t-shirts and miniatures. The minis will be a particularly hard sell, just because they’re so expensive. Particularly if I want to make a profit selling them. More on that later.

At the moment I don’t make a lot of money. None, in fact, from the writing. I can, however, make up to about £120 per week doing odd-jobs. I like doing the odd-jobs. I get to help people, do something physical, get some fresh air, meet new people, and make a little money. Since I’m not a fully licensed and insured handyman, I only charge £10 per hour and generally only work in two hour shifts for each client. If I can work my way up to two clients per day, Monday thru Friday, I could make £800 per month.

This would be fine if the plan was still to stay with my parents for as long as I could, save up £1000 of ‘oh shit’ money, and then start working on getting a car and a place of my own. However, I now have a girlfriend. My parents house has no soundproofing whatsoever. If my parents are in the living room (directly above my room) I can hear everything they say and every footstep they take. There are occasions when my gf and I would like some privacy.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking into the cost of renting a flat. I’m pricing it up as if it was just me since, understandably, my gf doesn’t want to commit to moving in with me just yet. We’ve only been a couple for just over a month. Kidwelly, the town I live and work in, doesn’t have any one-bedroom flats available at the moment, according to my Google search results. However, the nearby city of Carmarthen has a few places available in the £300 – £400 per month range.

On top of that I’d need to pay council tax (about £60), utilities (included with some places but up to £120 on top otherwise), a monthly bus card so I can still do my odd-job gigs in Kidwelly and get around in general (£21, I think), handyman insurance so I can take gigs from the council or businesses (a little under £100), and food (both to cook at home and to grab on the go, about £280 per month). Altogether that’s £980 per month, which is way more than I can afford right now.

If I also take into account that there’s going to be additional surprise expenses, like new tools, dates, the occasional gift, a sudden pet, and it’s clear that I have to modify my plan. Hence why I’ve been seriously thinking about other ways I could make money, such as selling ‘The City of Gate’ merchandise.

I’ve designed some pretty awesome miniatures through a website called HeroForge. The ‘premium plastic’ versions of each mini cost £29.99 to 3D print (about £20), which is fairly reasonable for a custom-made miniature. The bit that makes me nervous is marking up the price so that I can make a profit.

Most of the books I’ve read on starting up a business point of that the biggest mistake new businesses make is undervaluing their product. They set the price too low, and end up making a loss when people ask for a discount. At least on of them recommended an 800% markup. That way you can offer them a 50% discount, it looks like they’re getting and amazing deal, and you’re still in profit.

If I did that then each mini would be $239.92, marked down to $119.96. In GBP that’s £159.95 marked down to £79.97 (roughly). Tell me honestly, as awesome as these minis are, would you pay nearly 80 quid for it, even if the ‘full price’ was £160?

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If so, that’s awesome, but I’m thinking that a $15 (£10) profit per mini is more reasonable. This would make the premium plastic versions $44.99 (about £30) and the standard plastic $34.99 (about 20). The difference being that the premium plastic is design to be paintable. People are still welcome to cut out the middleman and design their own HeroForge minis, but if they want the characters designed by me and the players of ‘The City of Gate’ then they can pay the extra.

I’m open to other ideas though. I’m even willing to consider going back to working full time if a) I can find full-time work in Carmarthen so I don’t have to commute so much and b) I can find a role that won’t bore me stupid within three months. I’d also still like to become a full-time writer, but I may have to get a better handle on my ADHD before I can seriously consider that a career.

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I have (finally) registered with a local doctor’s office. So soon I will get to see if a British Doctor will agree with my American Doctor about it being ADHD, or if it’s something else (I’ve noticed a few autistic behaviours, particularly when I’m stressed). Maybe there’s even some sort of benefit I’m eligible for.

I’m going to the Job Centre in Carmarthen tomorrow anyway for the next step in the process of Job-Seekers allowance. I looked into it because my Mother suggested it and found out that if I drop below 16 hours work a week, I can get a little help. It won’t be anywhere near enough to reach my monthly target, but it will help when the gardening gigs drop off and I’m begging people to let me hang shelves or organise their junk room.

I think that covers everything I’m stressing out about at the moment. Oh, wait! There’s also the fact that I have recently started a Games and Geekery group in Kidwelly, and that most of my friends and odd-job clients are in Kidwelly, so even if I did have a place of my own in Carmarthen, I’d still be spending most of my time in Kidwelly anyway!

I may need to think this through some more. Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated. I know there was something else I wanted to bring up, but it’s gone.

Have a great day 🙂

 

 

Really?!

I was going to try and write an article for the Games & Geekery website this morning. Actually I was going to write it last night, I was super tired and ended up falling asleep instead. I knew I only had one odd-job client scheduled for today though. I could get the article written in the morning and then go paint garden furniture in the afternoon.

However, I got a message from one of my Facebook contacts who happens to also be interested in participating in my sci-fi RP group, The N-Viron Network. He seemed determined to talk despite telling him how busy I was. However, one of the things I was busying myself with was playing with Heroforge.com (it occured to me that I could create custom minis for the characters in The City of Gate), and that I should always be available to help the players.

In general I like to help people. It makes my day to brighten someone else’s. It’s part of the reason I like doing odd-jobs so much. I also love talking about the rp games I run, and writing in general. So when he started the conversation, not with ‘Hi’ or ‘Do you have a minute’, but ‘Do you like Campbell?’ (as in Joseph Campbell, the author of ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces‘) it seemed like it might be an informed discussion about character creation.

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One of the Knights of H’Vannah, from The City of Gate

I made myself available. I’d been looking forward to seeing what kind of character he might come up anyway based on our previous discussions. He seemed to be leaning towards creating an antagonistic player character determined to tear down the infrastructure of the N-Viron Network last time we talked, which would have made things challenging, but interesting.

However, he quickly stopped talking about The Hero’s Journey and claimed he just wanted to chat and develop our friendship. In my experience people on Facebook who say they ‘just want to be friends’ are selling something. I explained that I prefer having a specific topic of conversation because I’m a bit of an introvert. Conversations need to have a point to reduce the risk of awkward gaps in which you don’t know what to talk about. He claimed to be an introvert too, and that’s why it’s easy for him to listen. He proceeded to dominate the conversation at every opportunity!

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Majister, and Elder Draconic Vampire from The City of Gate

He began by saying that he prefers to dig deep into topics that make people feel vulnerable. ‘Like dreams, desires, wishes, fears, etc.’. I agreed that being upfront about your weird stuff is a good way to find out whether or not you can really consider someone a friend. What I didn’t tell him is that I also recognised this as a sales technique. People are easier to convince when they’re vulnerable.

The conversation became a series of soundbites about success and motivation, whilst also criticising my writing style and undermining my confidence. If he’s kept going until I was utterly crushed, I might have been desperate enough to buy what he offered, but he got frustrated with me and quit talking to me first.

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Skritter, the last of the Ratkin. Another NPC from The City of Gate.

His first attack on my self-esteem came by asking why I still lived my parents. This put me on the defensive immediately. I don’t still live my parents. I moved back in with my parents after over a decade of living in the US, because I was feeling emotionally vulnerable and financially desperate following my divorce. He then told me about his string of failed relationships, mentioning that he would sometimes ‘get all bipolar on people’.

Then he asked me when I was going to move on, ‘you’re not going to live with your parents forever are you?’ I was expecting a pitch at this point, some magic way that I could make money and regain independence. Surprisingly he said, ‘I don’t know how you can earn money to get out of this’, and that’s when the self-help quotes started up like, ‘what you fear most is the thing you must do.’

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Myche, a magically modified elf from The City of Gate

I happen to agree with him. Sometimes doing what must be done is scary, but you have to make the leap. I found the prospect of quitting the day job to write for a living terrifyingly intimidating, but I did it. In fact I find most regular obs intolerable now that I’ve become used to working for myself. I’ve put myself out there and invited constructive criticism and feedback, despite how vulnerable this makes me.

He also said, ‘If you hit your lowest, you can start anew’. This too I agree with, and I told him all about hitting my low point and using it as an opportunity to explore my psyche and figure out what had brought me to this point and why I was getting in my own way. That by doing so I identified several learned behaviours that were holding me back. He then told me that what I had done was impossible and that I was fooling myself, and seeing only what I wanted to see, while continuing to tell me (just like my ex-wife did) that I just had to cut the bullshit and be myself!

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Greta, from The City of Gate

Apparently I should only be myself if I do it the way he approves of.  ‘Tap into your emotions and your subconscious mind’. I’m pretty sure I had just told him that I did that very thing. I had been using a computer analogy, telling him that I was basically using meditation to edit my source code. He didn’t like that. Computers are logical (though anyone who’s ever used a computer might disagree), while emotions are not. While I agree that ‘logical’ isn’t necessarily the correct word, I do find that emotional reactions make more sense than they’re given credit for.

Regardless of his insistence that I was wrong, I tried to use a different metaphor, that of the mind-palace, to explain how you might choose to navigate and organise your thoughts and emotions. He seemed interested in this concept, but quickly moved on to expressing his opinion that the key to happiness is being aware of, and in touch with, your emotions. At this point he was beginning to sound like a broken record.

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Lynn, from The City of Gate

I suggested he write a self-help book, which is when he said there being easier ways to make money than writing, and bragged about having lived in one of the most expensive apartments in Romania, and how he’s very good at selling online. Once again I was expecting a sales pitch, but got none. Since he didn’t, I did. I told him about my Patreon campaign and invited him, since he was so affluent and successful, to help support my writing.

He said no. I wasn’t terribly surprised. Usually when people have to tell you how rich they are, they aren’t. They are just trying to convince you they are so that you buy their money-making scheme. I’m also aware that only about 10% of pitches result in a solid sale, because I’ve actually studied sales and marketing back when I worked in sales and marketing!

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Granma, from The City of Gate

He went on to tell me that he’d be more interested in reading a book like ‘The Grey Man‘ than my work. Which is fair enough. I’m aware that not everyone is going to like my writing style. My main goal at the moment is to expand my audience and find more people that do. Pitching to people that don’t like my stories is just a waste of time. I made the foolish mistake of asking him how he gained an audience large enough to make him wealthy.

He told me I had to tap into my ‘real, real, real self’ and put myself ‘at risk of being judged’. To risk ‘being considered weird’ and having ‘people make fun of you’. All things I already do, as anyone who subscribes to my WordPress blog already knows. I told him that I already do this and he claims that I’m not really being vulnerable. He read some of the blog and said I write like a scientist.

He cited his own articles as an example of how to write authentically, deeply and with vulnerability, and found almost all of his articles to be about how to get rich (no surprise there) and lists of the things he’s grateful for. The same generic shit I’ve seen on countless blogs that make money through affiliate marketing.

He called me a brat at this point and I called him condescending, and he decided we should never talk again. However, his assessment that I don’t write with emotion or vulnerability bothered me. I feel like I’ve bared my soul in this blog, but what if he’s right? What if the reason why I don’t have a huge following already is because I don’t make people care?

Or maybe he’s just a douchebag. Let me know what you think, I’d appreciate the feedback, no matter how much it may hurt.

By the way, do you like the minis?

The Hunt Continues

I may have to give up on my goal of moving into my own place next month. I’m continuing to apply for jobs in the area and not getting anywhere. I did have a job as a lead generator for a telemarketing call centre, but I found it difficult to lie to people and be surrounded by people who felt so comfortable with being dishonest.

It doesn’t help that I’ve also been fighting the cold from hell. It’s been over a week and I’m still snotty. I wouldn’t have been able to work even there if I wanted to. At least the coughing and sore throat have mostly gone and the dizzy spells only lasted a day or two.

I’d like to get a job lined up soon for several reasons. I made a promise to the landlady that I would be able to move in March 1st and pay the first month’s rent and deposit. I’d feel terrible if I had to break that promise. I’m currently living with my parents and I don’t want to have to impose upon their kindness for long. Partly because they’re wonderful people and I don’t want to take advantage, and also because I don’t want to get too comfortable and become a stereotypical jobless loser playing videogames all day.

It would be great to have my own space, in the middle of town. Able to fend for myself, invite people over when I wanted, and still be close enough to family to come by when I want. However, since no-one has offered me a steady income to write everyday, I’m going to need a day-job to do that, and I don’t want to go back to telemarketing.

I consider myself an expert in customer service. Most of my jobs since I started working have involved some level of customer service. I like to make people happy and to feel like I’ve genuinely helped them. I’ve also enjoyed training others on how to make customers happy. Presenting to a group, one-on-one coaching, and leading by example.

Perhaps I’m going about this all wrong. Instead of trying to find an employer, maybe I should be finding clients. People who would be interested in learning what I know about how to help people, or about how to self-publish, or participate in writing classes, and be willing to pay me for it.

At this point I’m willing to do odd jobs for people, like walking people’s dogs, painting and wallpapering, doing people’s dishes and ironing, unblocking sinks or fetching their groceries. This does have a certain appeal since I would like to be a part of the local community and make some new friends.

If I post on the Facebook noticeboard that I’m available to do odd jobs, I’ll have to word it very carefully to avoid panicking the landlady. Or just tell her that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to move in after all. Which is a shame because the flat is awesome and it would be a shame to lose the opportunity to live there.

I have less than two weeks to secure a job, or find some other way to earn at least £800, or I’m going to have to let it go, and sponge off my parents a while longer. If you have something that needs doing let me know what it is and how much you’d be willing to pay someone to do it, and if it seems like something I can do I’ll do it.

What I’d really love to do is to tell stories. This could be reading stories to people that can’t read for themselves anymore, or that are still learning to read. However, ideally It would be a story game, a narrative rpg, similar to The City of Gate.

For those that don’t know what that is yet, The City of Gate is a text-based (forum-style) roleplay game I’ve been running for the last seven years or so. Every Sunday I post the next part of the ongoing story and tell the players what happens next to their characters. The players then have a whole week to comment, in character, to act on the new situation. It’s a lot of fun.

The City of Gate is a fantasy story. It’s centred around a City that grew up on the doorstep of paradise. A huge fortified gate blocks the way to a land of plenty where everyone is happy and takes care of one another. Only one person is allowed through each day. People line up at the gate every day to barter, bribe and beg the guards to be allowed through. The City grew up around them, mostly populated by people who were turned away and had nowhere else to go, and merchants that saw an opportunity.

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The players pick all kinds of different characters. Elves and dwarves, vampires an were-creatures, bakers and farmers, mages and hunters. Anything you want to be, I will run with it and incorporate it into the story. There’s no rulebooks, no dice, and no graphics. It’s entirely story-led based on the imagination of the players and myself, and it’s awesome!

We could start a new story in the same setting, but at a different time. We could run a game that’s based around a different town in the world, such as Traveler’s Rest, Coal City, or Skelbania. It doesn’t have to be related though. I can create an entirely new fantasy, sci-fi or horror setting for the new game. I have two questions for you though. How much would you pay per month, or per week, to participate in a game like this? And what would you like to be?

If the story game doesn’t appeal to you, I can do lots of other things. I can write. I can do origami. I like to build flat-pack furniture and I know my way around a tool-box well enough to repair furniture and fix a leaky pipe. I get along great with dogs. I can keep children amused for hours with games, stories and crafts. I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and just listening to people talk.

If there’s enough demand for me to design a training course in how to write and self-publish, or how to be the ultimate customer service rep, or even how to blog, then I would be more than happy to do so.

What would you have me do?

Prospects and Plans

I did a little maths (that’s British for math) on the way home from the hotel job this morning. I figured out I only need to earn an average of £35 per day to match what I make as a night-porter. This feels like an achievable goal, which is a relief because the job is becoming a lot more demanding than I’d hoped.

The job has it’s perks. I get to complete the tasks unsupervised, which is great because I often felt patronised by managers at other jobs. I much prefer to be left alone and trusted to do the work well. Also, if there isn’t going to be an event the next day and wasn’t one that day, all I need to do is change the dirty table cloths, relay the tables, take out the bottle bins and bathroom rubbish, and then wait 5 hours until it’s time to set up the breakfast buffet. Ideally, this five-hour gap would give me time to write, read and network. However, there have been a lot of events lately.

Last night, the last of the guests didn’t go to bed until 1 am. They left several dirty glasses, coffee cups and assorted rubbish that had to be cleared. The glasses and cutlery they’d used had to be washed so I could use them for table settings. I then had to rearrange the tables in two rooms, then lay them (only to discover I still didn’t have enough cutlery and glasses), bring several chairs in from another building on the property, and then set up the breakfast buffet.

I have to go back for another shift in seven hours, and I’m still hurting from last night’s physical labour. I know to some of you it may seem like I’m whining, and I am. I know this. Suffering is a part of life, but (to a certain extent) we get to choose how we want to suffer. I’d much rather struggle over plot points and character development or push myself to meet deadlines and exceed client expectations.

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In order to achieve this, I aim to generate enough freelance writing work to earn £40 per day, with a stretch goal of £50. I’ve already spoken with several potential clients, three of which have already sent me their drafts and outlines. I’m feeling good about this. The sooner I no longer need to work at that hotel the better.

There’s no shortage of writers that have had an idea and begun writing a story, only to get stuck and lose hope. Some of them don’t even consider themselves writers, but I’m sure they’d love to see their name on a book! I can make that happen. £25 per hour may seem expensive (and if it is you think of it like an eight-hour workday), but I can work on your story for just one or two hours per week if you like.

A ten-hour work week would be all it takes to make the hotel job unnecessary, which is great because, with having to sleep during the day and getting no time to write during my shift, I often only have a couple of usable hours in a day at most. My days off are often spent recovering from work and networking to try and gain more clients. Hopefully, this blog post should help with that too.

Speaking of blog posts, I setup a Fiverr.com gig to try and get more writing work. I used to write an article per day for free when I first started blogging for a geeky WordPress site. I’d much rather get paid for it! One article per day would be enough to be able to quit the hotel job and write full-time. If you have a blog that needs articles, I’m your man!

Prices are negotiable, especially if I can get my name out there instead of ghost-writing, but my priority at the moment isn’t self-promotion. It’s getting enough money coming in to make working in a ‘regular job’ completely unnecessary. I’m a writer. That’s all I want to do.

This post, by the way, is what a ‘short’ article would look like. I can make it shorter if you want, but as you can see, it’s a little more than 500 words 😉

Have a great day 🙂

 

The New Plan – Operation Freelance!

After talking it over with a very smart friend I’ve decided to offer blog articles for £100 each, and £50 each for short ones.

I’m offering Ghostwriting and Co-Author services too. If you have a great story idea but don’t think that you could do it justice, then I can help. You may even have started writing it yourself and got stuck. You can hire me as a Ghostwriter, in which case the book has your name on it, and you get to keep the royalties, but you pay me for my time upfront. Or, you can let me take a Co-Author credit, both names are on the cover, we split the royalties 50-50, and it costs you nothing.

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I’m hoping to build up a client list as quickly as possible. I need to be a full-time writer. I’m going nuts. I’ve been trying to build my profile, and my reputation. Take my time. Do this right. Work wherever I can to survive while I make myself look great online. The problem is that the job I’m doing for money is taking all my time, energy and motivation.

I didn’t realize when I started working nights how lonely and depressing it would get. I needed some time to think, but now I’m ready to rejoin the world. I could just get another shitty job doing bar-work, retail or call centre customer service, but I really don’t want to have to. I want to write. It’s all I want to do, and I’m good at it.

I got my start as a blogger writing geek-culture articles for a WordPress-based website. The articles I’ve written for them seem to have gone, but I saved a few of my favourites and re-blogged them on Games ‘n’ Geekery. A geeky website of my own I created using all the skills I learned while working for them, and a few tricks I’ve picked up since.

They didn’t pay me anything, but the experience was invaluable. I learned how to use WordPress, how to make a good-looking blog article, and that I could churn out an original 500-1000 word article, including research, links, pictures and video, every single day.

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I used what they taught me to create this blog, and others. The Hermes925 serialized story that I’ve been posting to this website attracted the attention of Tod Foley, who recruited me for the UbiquiCity project. The writer team would video conference online to talk about our ideas and world-build together, then we each wrote a short story that fit into the world we created. My short story, and the others, are now available on Amazon as part of the UbiquiCity anthology. The accompanying RPG sourcebook will be out soon. It was a fun project. 🙂

I got the opportunity to ghost-write a story for someone, and that was fun too, but the client put the project on hold before I saw a penny for the work I did. I definitely learned a lesson there, but it put me off the idea of ghost-writing for a while.

I submitted a short story or two to contests and publications that offered a cash prize or payment if you were accepted, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that writing short stories for submission, especially if they don’t get accepted. Too much time and effort, for not enough guaranteed reward. If I write a good short story, I want some guarantee I’m going to get paid for it, and I certainly didn’t want to have to pay someone to publish it.

It’s about that time I got distracted by the Creative Writers group. It had only 32 members left, no admin at all. It occurred to me that I could test some of the things I’d learned about social media management and audience building, and also create the kind of supportive community I wanted to find. The group now has over seventeen thousand members.

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I even created an opportunity for group members. I’ve always been a ‘learn by doing’ kind of person. I learn best when it’s a necessary means to accomplish a desired outcome. In hindsight the Monolith project was probably a little too ambitious, but that was kind of the idea. Set the bar high and see if I could pull it off. I didn’t, but I learned a lot along the way.

The idea was to create a series of large anthologies, containing well-written stories, all conforming to the same theme. There would be no charge to submit and we would review the stories as they were submitted. That way we wouldn’t have to try and deal with a huge pile all at once after the submission deadline, and the writers would get feedback right away instead of having to wait. This also gave them an opportunity to try and improve their submission and try again.

We ended up with a lot of great stories, and a lot that could have been good if the writers had been willing to improve them. The project became a logistical nightmare, even with help from other admins in the group, and so the project was abandoned. However, I decided to test self-publishing anyway with one of the short-stories I had written. It sold pretty well for a short story, and I’m currently writing a longer story, hopefully a novel, inspired by the short story. It’s called The Haunted Story.

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It’s taking longer to write than I wanted though. I enjoy writing stories, but they’re harder than blog articles. I have several work-in-progress story-lines that I will to turn into books. A few of the ideas have already been mentioned in this blog. I know I can manage my time better, and be able to spend more time and energy writing my stories, if I can write full-time. The night porter job is an inefficient use of my time and wastes my creativity.

I could replace the hotel job by securing enough clients to write an article a day, just like I used to do. I’m a good writer, as you can see from this blog and my published stories. I’m more than happy to negotiate, especially if I can gain something else besides money, like cover-art, editing, or marketing.

I can do blogging, and it comes easily to me, but I’d prefer to write a book with you. I know from the previous experience that I write better and faster when I’m working for someone, and it gives me something to look forward to each day. Unlike my current job. At this point I’d welcome any opportunity to write for a living really.

So, want to write a book with me? If you don’t have any ideas, I can help with that too. I’m aware that some people just want to see a book on the shelves with their name on the cover. I can arrange that. I can also go to the opposite extreme and help you polish up and revise a story that you’ve mostly written already (and that wouldn’t cost as much). It’d be much more fun to bounce ideas off each other and come up with a great story together, but I’m flexible.

Please email me: antonym.copeland@gmail.com or leave me a comment if you have any questions, advice for new freelancers, or a project for me. Whether you’re a fellow writer with too much on your plate, a website manager that needs more content, or just someone that wants their name on a book, I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day 🙂