Finding the Upside

It’s been a week full of ups and downs. At the beginning of the week it dawned on me that the freelancer site, UpWork.com, needed my banking information so that I could receive any income I make through it. Then I realised that I hadn’t notified the bank of my change of address.

The bank allowed me to fill in the change of address online, but required me to print them out and hand-deliver them to my local branch. The nearest branch is in Carmarthen, about 10 miles away from Kidwelly. Luckily my parents had some errands to run there anyway. so I could just tag along.

After the banker had typed everything on the paper form into the computer and thrown the printed forms away (yep, that happened), we discovered that GAME was hiring. For those who don’t know, GAME is a store that sells new and used video games, gaming consoles, gaming accessories, merch and used mobile devices. It’s similar to GameStop in America.

I’ve worked for GAME in the past, in fact my first ever job was working for Electronics Boutique which later became GAME. I have fond memories of working there. I was delighted to discover that the position being offered was full-time. This meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about money. I could afford to move into the flat that I’ve had my eye on, and focus on writing my own stories instead of freelancing!

I applied for the job that night (Monday), and was offered an interview on Wednesday that would take place on Friday! It was all moving so quickly, I didn’t even print the extra ‘Odd-Job Antony‘ flyers that I had been planning on posting around town. It felt like everything was falling into place.

Then the day of the interview came. Everything was going well. I looked great. Dad and I got into Carmarthen early. We even had time to chat with a chap called Constantine who was selling ‘Big Issue’ magazines. He says he’ll email me about ghost-writing a book for him. We’ll see if it happens.

The interview did not go as well as I hoped. I think I sounded nervous. I should have done more research into upcoming games. However, the biggest disappointment was discovering that the job posting on the official GAME recruitment page was wrong. It wasn’t a full time position, just an eight hour contract. Nevertheless, some money coming in would be better than no money, so I still expressed an interest in the job. I may have been too eager. They said they would let me know yesterday. They didn’t.

Oh well, I’ll keep trying to find work. I have also applied for a full time position waiting tables at a local cafe, and a part-time job at Kidwelly Castle. I’m not going to give up there’s always more opportunities. On the plus side, not being able to find work means I get to spend more time with my family. I missed them a lot when I was in America and it’s been great being around them again.

I should probably just go with it. Accept and enjoy the fact that I’m living with my parents and use the time to write every day an work on my books. I have a roof over my head and food in my belly, there’s no better time to focus on my writing. They’re not putting any pressure on me to provide an income and help them pay the bills or to move out, in fact they’ve told me the opposite. I can stay as long as I need to. After all, they’ve missed me too.

Dad gave me a model kit earlier in the week, so I built it yesterday. It’s a hydraulic arm and it was really fun to build. It was just as much fun to play with when it was done. Dad had it to give him something to do other than church stuff, but he’s so busy that he’s never gotten around to building it.

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Pretty cool isn’t it?

When I was putting it together I dropped a piece or two. As anyone knows that has ever made anything from a kit, the bits that go flying off the sprue and go bouncing across the floor are the tiny bits that are really hard to find. When I found the bits I was very pleased with myself, and it occurred to me that at one time I would have continued to beat myself up for losing the item in the first place rather than enjoying the little victory.

In a way, not being able to get a job, any freelance work, or any odd-jobs either is also a good thing. It means I have no choice but to stay with my family and heal a little longer. It’s been a rough few years emotionally, and the unconditional love has been good for me. I should accept it as a gift.

In which case I should stop worrying about finding a job or finding my own place, and just write. That’s what I wanted to do anyway when I first moved back to the UK, but circumstances required me to earn an income. However those circumstances have changed. I don’t have to push myself so hard.

I think I’m still tying to prove that I’m capable of looking after myself. I’m not sure who I’m trying to prove it to, or why it’s so important. I do know that living with my parents and letting them take care of me is the opposite of being independent. However, being independent and successful is only really important if you’re trying to find a romantic partner. I’m in no hurry to get my heart stomped on again, so that’s out.

The main reason I’d still like to be successful though is to give something back. My sister and her fiance would like to have a home together, which they can’t until he manages to sell off his one bedroom farmhouse that isn’t big enough for my sister and her two daughters to live in. It would be nice to be able to throw money at the problem and fix it. My Dad is working way to hard and doesn’t feel like he’s doing what he set out to accomplish. Again, I’d love to throw money at the problem and fix it.

So maybe I should stop distracting myself trying to find a job that pays me now, and finish writing my stories so I can start building a fan base and earning royalties? If I remove the pressure to make money, maybe writing will become fun again and it’ll stop feeling like something I have to do.

Yep. I think that’ll be good.

Speaking of fun, I have a City of Gate update to write! Have a great day 🙂

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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 🙂

 

Grinning Again :)

If any of my family and friends were worried about my last article, Grateful Gardening, fear not I’m feeling much better. This is in large part to being able to work in the garden with Grandad again yesterday evening. Mostly we were just re-gravelling the pathways and adding decorative stones, but it felt good. Not only to be useful but to be able to reconnect with my Grandad.

He didn’t realise how much I liked gardening. Grandad seemed just as excited as I was at my enthusiasm, and happily showed me his plans for the garden. He also showed me what he had grown in his hidden vegetable plot next to his decorative garden. He has lettuces that you can just pull leaves off and eat. He also has rhubarb, leeks, raspberries, mint, and gooseberries.

I’m not a huge fan of gooseberries, but I’m looking forward to eating fresh home grown salads and drinking mint and raspberry leaf tea. He has a couple of potato plant growing too. Having a garden had been a dream of mine since childhood. It was a big part of my ‘happily ever after’ dream of adulthood. It’s rained hard today, so no gardening for us tonight, but I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to get my hands dirty.

I’ve also gotten to talk to Grandma a little more than I had. Perhaps Grandad and the Doctors have finally got her meds balanced correctly, or perhaps I just didn’t see her enough while I was preoccupied to make an accurate assessment before. She’s a lot more with it than I thought she was. This makes me happy too. I’m glad I still have the opportunity to chat with her and get Grandma cuddles.

Even chatting with my ex at work today has been positive. Despite our separation, I still have the same reaction I’ve always had in her presence. I smiled. It looks like we might be able to pull off this ‘just friends’ thing after all. She even said she misses me, which boosted my ego somewhat. 🙂

I’m finding my urge to write again too. Not just talking about it in the Creative Writers group, but actually write too. This article is just the start. I’m also going to type up and proof-read the story I’m working on for Monolith, and then begin revising my narrative for Hermes925 to fix any inconsistencies and strengthen its connections to the UbiquiCity universe.

Once Hermes925 is finished, I’ll release it under the CWP brand, and add a page telling readers about other titles for Creative Writers’ Press, including Monolith, Mosaic, and anything else we have out or in the pipeline by then. I’ve had several members of the Creative Writers group ask me to help them publish their work. The stories will have to be awesome. I’m holding Hermes925 to the same standards. If the team doesn’t think it’s good enough for a CWP label, then we’re not printing it until it is.

I’m not going to announce it just yet. I want to get my new work-life balance figured out to be sure I’ll have the time, though I’m fairly certain I’ll make the time. I’m also considering taking more hours at work, to help save up more capital to invest in this venture. I also think I’m more likely to find interesting characters and possibly even people I can network with.

There may be a supervisor position available soon at Whitewater hotel. It would allow me to apply my group-tested leadership skills in a real-world environment, and it would be a much better rate of pay. I’ve already let the hotel manager know I’m interested and reminded him of my experience and credentials. We’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t happen, I have contingency plans.

This is a 360 flip of my previous goal which was to dump the day-job entirely in favour of becoming a full-time writer. However, the structure of a working day keeps me writing, and I gain the resources to produce, market and sell books faster than my current strategy is. I’m going to work my ass off!

😀

 

Why Don’t I Just Quit?

I’ve actually been thinking about quitting writing quite a lot. Writing is hard work and takes up a lot of my time. I told myself that I needed to do this, for me, that no matter what. However, I’m beginning to worry that my friends and family see me as selfish and foolish, and would prefer that I give up this dream of being as well known an Author as Neil Gaiman, George R R Martin or Anne Rice.

My close family. My parents and my sister, are being very supportive. My Sister has even challenged me to finish Hermes925 by the summer, and I wouldn’t be able to muddle by at all if it wasn’t for the monthly financial assistance from my Mum and Dad. The rest of my family, however, have not become subscribers or shown much interest in my writing whatsoever.

I currently live with my Grandparents. I don’t expect them to become patrons, they are already doing more than enough by giving me a roof over my head and a place to sleep until I get back on my feet. They used to feed me too, but they can no longer afford too and I worry that I continue to be a drain on their budget. Their electricity and water bills must have gotten higher since I got here, especially with my girlfriend spending all her time here too.

That’s partly why I took the part-time job. I want to help out while I’m here, contribute to the bills and groceries. I’d still rather pay for it by writing, but the income from my Patreon.com page is only up to $15 (£11.95) per month. I also want to save up to get a better place for me and my girlfriend. I’ve seen gaming tables bigger than this room. I’m only working 2-3 days per week, but it’s already put a strain on my writing time.

 

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This was posted to Facebook the same day I was told I needed to do more chores.

 

I’ve been asked by several members of the family to help Grandma and Grandad with dishes, dusting, and other little cleaning jobs. This is completely reasonable and the least I can do for the generosity they’ve shown me. One family member has asked me to also begin taking over the larger jobs. Typically Grandad likes to do these jobs himself and has never asked me to help. However, I don’t want to further alienate my family.

I know some people manage to write entire novels in just 2-4 hours per week, but I honestly don’t know how. This blog is about the only thing I freewrite in one draft. Hermes925 always gets at least two drafts. The rough draft is written on paper first, purposefully forcing me to rewrite it when I transpose it to the computer. The second draft is always much better than the first. I usually rewrite it again when I transpose earlier entries for publication elsewhere. I’m currently behind on the story, but you can read the most recent entry here.

As you probably know, Hermes925 also drew the attention of Project UbiquiCity, and I have a story I’m writing for them. The current draft is due at the end of this month. It’s not going to happen. It would be logical, of course, to be working on that right now instead of writing this rant, but the writing process is seldom logical. I often find that a story I need to get written just isn’t coming to me, but another story, or an article, is screaming to get written instead.

I don’t mind much that the science-fantasy story (the one about a physicist that can see faeries) has been put on a back burner for now since I’m stuck. I haven’t had any idea how to proceed with the rough draft for weeks. I do feel like I need to start the second draft. Perhaps something will change in the rewrite that will solve the impasse. I don’t have time right now.

I’d also like to begin re-writing my ghost story. The original was a short story in the form of a single letter written by a man who has was so obsessed with ghosts that he researched how to become one, and then killed himself with the intention of haunting the story itself. I hoped to send chills down the spine of the reader. It didn’t work and it got rejected by the magazine I submitted it to. So I now plan to write a longer story about the investigators that find his mutilated corpse, and show the reader what it’s like to be haunted by this ghost instead of relying on their imagination. I don’t have time right now.

I need to prioritise UbiquiCity and Hermes925, and also make time to help my Grandparents more, and continue to work the part-time job at the Whitewater Hotel. There are som many ideas swimming around. Sequels for stories I haven’t written yet. Projects that would allow people who can’t, or don’t, read to experience my stories.  So many wild fantasies, including the idea that one day I’ll be able to afford a big house with rooms aplenty that family and friends are welcome to stay in.

 

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I just got my new work shoes!

 

It might be time to “grow up” and quit writing. I’d be letting down the patrons I already have for Hermes925, the Distractions from Drudgery e-zine that has agreed to serialise Hermes925, and the team of writers I’m working with on Project UbiquiCity. However, I’d also have the time to take care of my Grandparents like I’ve been asked too, to the best of my ability.

I feel guilty for even debating this. I have to take the selfless path don’t I? If I don’t sacrifice my own happiness for others, then I’m just a selfish jerk. I want nothing more than to be a writer, but I simply can’t afford too. I used to tell myself that if I focussed on my writing now, treated it like my full-time occupation, that I’d soon be able to afford to pay for a professional carer for my Grandparents, and give generously to other friends and family also. It’s not happening yet.

I am making progress. It seems like a waste, and a terrible shame to give it all up now. It’s become such a habit to get up and write, I’d feel lost without it. I imagine myself on the couch with the grandparents, watching their tv shows and silently screaming to myself that I’m not writing. It’s true that I could be scribbling away in a notebook during this, but I really really don’t want the shows they watch to influence my writing. I suppose I could try it.

I also don’t really feel qualified to do my Grandparents housework. I’m terrible at it. I always have been. It’s a bad excuse for not wanting to help my grandparents, but it’s nevertheless true. My room is, I’m told, typical of those who are creatively minded. It’s messy. Grandma and Grandad do a better job of keeping the house clean than I ever could.

Then there’s my girlfriend, who is often content to watch a movie, play a video game, or nap while I’m writing. What do I expect her to do while I’m sitting with Grandma and Grandad or doing their housework? If I change my habits like I’m suggesting and spend more time keeping my Grandparents company instead of being holed up in my room scribbling down ideas or typing, do I ask her to help me keep an eye on the Grandparents?

It seems that the logical thing since she has time to nap and play games would be to ask her to do my Grandparents housework. After all, if we were living together and I was supporting us both with my writing as I would like, then it would be her doing the majority of the housework. It seems like a shitty thing to ask, even if it would be a logical solution.

I could still sit with the grandparents, scribble down ideas or even type them up on my laptop. I could use an earbud in one ear (leaving the other ear able to hear) to listen to music on my phone, or even use my tablet to play a better background movie or tv show than the one they’re watching. I’d also be available to help with the cleaning if need be. Particularly if I want a break from writing for a few minutes.

I might be able to make this work after all, simply by moving my ‘office’ from my desk in my room to the living room couch. It just wouldn’t be very fun for my girlfriend. It would be far more sensible and hurt fewer people, to just put writing on hold for a few years. I fear though that if I do that, I’ll be trapped. Unable to ever afford to do more than working my arse off at job I get paid as little as possible for, only to see all the money disappear into credit card debts, and expensive (but much needed) trips and hobbies to break up the tedium of life.

 

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I used to play Warhammer 40k a lot.

 

All I want to do is write, but it can’t be all about me or what kind of man would I be? On the other hand, what opportunities would I be giving up on if I stopped now? Would successfully balancing my writing, my job, my relationship and my grandparent’s chores finally earn the respect of the family and friends who have yet to become patrons, or even read my work?

What do you think?

Have a great day 🙂