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Monday, November 2, 2015

What I've Learned Recently

I'm in my annual slow period. As a freelance copy editor, working with Indie authors, that means my slow period follows the usual slow period for all of publishing: meaning, not much going on in October, November, December. The preceding months of the year are this mad rush to get books up before Thanksgiving/Christmas. This year my slow period started in September (which is never good, moneywise). But I've been getting to some of my own WIPs. And here's what I've learned about myself:
  • I jump around from writing project to project. I have three nonfiction ebooks I'm trying to upload by 11.07.2015.  I got one up already on 10.31.2015. It was my fourth volume of quotations, which I worked on over the last two years and basically just had to make the cover, give it a once-over (as I try to double-check each entry as I type it in) and spell-check the ninety or so pages. Nonfiction Project #2 should be up Wednesday, 11.04.2015, another conglomeration I've created over my years as a copy editor. That leaves me with Nonfiction Project #3, something for all us authors which I'm creating from scratch (after months, years of research) and hope to have up before my self-declared deadline of 11.07.2015. I work on the one my gut leads me to. Yet when working for other authors, I'm more immersed in the copyediting projects I get, so I like to completely finish one before delving in the next. I do them in order of receipt date (and relative deadline date, even if three are all due on the same calendar date but received within hours of each other).
  • I jump around with my household projects too. If I feel like working in the yard, I do. Then, after a couple hours, if I decide it's time to clean carpets, I move inside. I've also filled one box with cookbooks I can live without to take to Half-Price Books (it's more about freeing up my bookshelf space than getting any real money for these books). I've got another stash of nonworking electronics to recycle at Best Buy too. I'm motivated to get to lots of stuff during this "downtime" of mine and am pleased with my progress made to date.
  • I keep food longer than I should in the freezer. The packages aren't dated either. (I blame working those 234-hour months. It's not that I've got a bad habit of not dating my freezer packages, right?) As I defrost stuff, if it has no taste, I throw it out. And anything I put in the freezer now has a date marked on it. I've also learned that I should cook less initially (so it doesn't get lost in the freezer) and/or to keep a list on the freezer of what I added and the date. It's "easier" to cook one big pot of beans using the whole package than to just cook one-fourth of the package (only 4 to 5 ounces). Or so I thought.
  • And I like to stockpile foods, in the freezer and in the pantry. It means "security" to me. Plus I'm planning for this slow period every year. But ... I think I need to stop "hoarding" with such abandon. I've still got (fresh, not expired) meats in the freezer, although I'm doling them out. Plus I have canned goods in the pantry, but my shelves are getting barer than I like. I'm only buying the basics, bread and milk and eggs and such, each week.
  • I've figured out a $0.72 one-serving breakfast: two scrambled eggs in some olive oil and a clementine (based on Aldi's current prices here in the DFW area and keeping in mind that lunch at some drive-throughs costs $10).
  • If you add four pieces of toast and some jelly to the above to make a bigger one-serving breakfast, it costs $1.15. 
  • Even if two people eat as outlined above (one the light version and one the more-food version), two people can eat breakfast for $1.87.
  • I can also have a $0.36 lunch: one slice of bologna on one slice of bread (fold it over for a half sandwich) plus one dill pickle spear.
  • If you need a bigger single-serving lunch, fix three half-sandwiches and have a pickle for $0.88.
  • Presuming two people eat lunch, a woman eating the single half sandwich and a man eating the the three half sandwiches, each with a pickle, the total lunch fare is $1.24.
  • For dinner, one quarter package of wide egg noodles with butter costs $0.35 for a pretty hefty single serving. Two could probably eat this for $0.70.
  • For three light meals in one day, the total is $1.43, with the heavier meals totaling $2.38, or two people eating as described three meals a day for a total of $3.81. Granted we all need variety and probably could not (or would prefer to not) eat the same thing for thirty straight days, but, if we did, $3.81 x 31 days = $118.11. Something to shoot for when the funds and foods get really depleted.
  • And I figured out my preservative-free bacon from Aldi's (with its low price) is $3.99 for 12 ounces but that equates to $5.32 a pound. Can't you buy steak for that? It has been a while since I bought one, of any cut. Needless to say, that is why I'm not buying bacon (or steak) during this slow period.
  • It's easier to see what's in my fridge too, when it's not so crammed full of stuff. But that's the price I pay for being crazy busy with work (and getting paid, which is a good thing). At this rate I'll be able to soon clean my whole freezer and refrigerator with minimal fuss in unloading food only to put it back.
Being a freelancer, I can't spend my time worrying. I do what I can. Right now I'm giving myself the luxury of this one week to work on my stuff for a change. I'm hoping to upload three ebooks within ten days' time. I'm anxious to see what, if anything, Amazon's algorithms do with something like this.

Then, if none of my submissions pan out to get additional copy edit jobs, I'll seek a temporary day job. I've done it twice before in these last seven years of freelancing, working outside the home for a combined two years and nine months, in order to pay bills, in order to catch up on past due bills, in order to make those looming future bills timely. Sure, it gets hectic and cuts into my sleep when I work for three different employers (two being full-time), but it's worth it to have the financial security of a day job when needed.

And I've even culled down my loose recipes to fit all in one banker's box. Maybe that cookbook idea of mine will come to fruition this year. That would be a bonus.

So wish me luck that I land more of my preferred work and that my own writing pays bigger monthly royalties. You know, the kind with three digits or more (representing dollars, not cents). Ha!

Now I need to return to work. Have a great week, y'all!

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

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