Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Moved sites late morning yesterday, so now I’m back up at Job #2. A bag of work that was supposed to be delivered to me here in CT was delivered to the Cape instead. It would have been nice to get started on it this weekend, but I’ll just have to do it early next week instead. I can still meet the deadlines — I just have to spend more focused time on everything next week. The world isn’t going to stop spinning, and it’s just not that big a deal.

Next week will have a lot of extra long days in it, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you stop on the dot at 5 PM, anymore than working a desk job means you stop at 5 PM. No matter what the profession, there are days when we put in extra hours. You do what’s necessary to get the job done. You learn from it and see if there’s a way you don’t have to do that the next time around. Sometimes, it’s beyond your control, and you just suck it up, get it done, and add it to the invoice. The “I have a life” refrain doesn’t cut it — work is part of life. You hate your job, you want to compartmentalize, go ahead. I prefer to live an integrated life, and that means sometimes I put in 16 hours at the computer and sometimes I put in 1. Doing what needs to be done outside of “regular business hours” doesn’t mean I don’t have a life. What it means is I’m able to ebb and flow, rather than be regimented (how very Piscean of me), and still get everything done.

Started reading a book yesterday that I was very excited about when I bought it. What a disappointment! The first SENTENCE turned me off. I pushed on. The writing is sloppy, shifts tenses without good reason, it rambles, the structure is poor, and I don’t give a damn about the characters. By the time you finish one of the rambling, disjointed sentences, you have to go back to its start to try to figure out why it was written in the first place. It’s not like the sentences move the story ahead or reveal anything about character. I stopped on p. 12. I just couldn’t take any more. The author effusively thanks her editor, and I am so tempted to contact the editor and ask what the editor saw in this manuscript? Why not fix these massive problems? But there’s no way I could phrase it so it wouldn’t sound like I’m criticizing the editor, and I don’t want to burn a bridge in my field with someone I don’t actually know yet. So I will keep my damn mouth shut. I’m especially irritated because I paid full price for the book. 😉 I don’t know whether to put it up on BookMooch or keep it as an example in the year-long class of what NOT to do! Later in the day, I forced myself to read more, just to be fair. It didn’t get any better. Sloppy writing, illogical plotting, non-dimensional character cliches, poor research, no growth or surprises in it. Everything I tell my students not to do. Often, if I don’t like a book, I just shrug and figure it’s not for me, it’s for others, more power to the writer for getting it on the market, it’s hard to make a living. Well, badly written books like this make it harder for the rest of us to get published, and I can’t help but wonder who slept with whom to get it done, because it certainly wasn’t picked up on merit.

I thought I’d share my weird book-buying formula with you. It’s not the “right” way to do things, but it works the best for me, on several levels. I happen to think there’s a place for Amazon, big bookstores, independents, and second hand stores. Each fulfills an important part of the reader experience. I like to support independents, so that’s where I try to shop first. Again, I’m enormously blessed on the Cape because there are so many independent bookstores, so many libraries, and they are so busy all the time. I also buy books by living authors I know (in person or by their work) and like at full price, preferably from an independent store, but, if I want it fast and it’s via a box store, so be it. But I buy the books NEW, so that the author gets the royalty payment. I “test drive” new-to-me authors via anthologies (bought new if I already am familiar with a contributor, second hand otherwise) or from the library. If I like their work and they’re alive, I then buy them new. Dead writers’ books are usually bought second-hand. Out-of-print and research books are often bought second-hand, usually because they’re so out of my price range I can’t buy more than a dozen a year at full price (again, I try to buy those few full-priced ones from living authors, so they get royalties to pay bills). Amazon is my last resort, usually if I’m on a tight deadline and can’t find the book at my usual outlets or get it in time from my usual outlets. I’ll also buy new-to-me authors second-hand at first if I’m on the fence about them — then, if I like them, and they’re alive, I switch to buying their books new and at full price. Not every book on my shelves falls into these categories neatly, but that’s how I try to buy them.

Not a good writing day yesterday, so here’s hoping that today is better. At least it’s sunny and a bit warmer.

Going to Costco this morning, and then a friend is coming over for dinner tonight, which will be fun!

Time to wrestle with the Page Dragon, and hope that I win!


Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 8:07 am  Comments (8)  
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Tuesday, January 4, 2010

Tuesday, January 4, 2010
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Sun still down, and it’s cold!

New Year’s Day was an exercise in frustration — the Command Hook I moved tore a chunk out of the wall — “damage free hanging” my ass. However, they responded to the complaint with in 24 hours, so kudos for response time, and we’re at least trying to figure out a solution. In the meantime, I stuck the hook back up to cover the missing paint and will hang something festive from it. But now I’m worried about all the other Command hooks I hung up so blithely during the holiday season. Will I be able to remove them without doing damage?

I’ll probably hang seasonal festivities upon them instead.

And the shelves I was so excited about for the basement? The Geelong shelves are crap. The directions have nothing to do with what’s in the box, and the drawings are so unclear you can’t tell which way the pieces go together. K-Mart’s response was ridiculous –thanking me for feedback and then sending me a survey asking if the customer service rep fixed the problem — I had a few choice words! And the head office of Geelong in Hong Kong has, of course, ignored the complaint. If you say “easy to assemble” and that all I need is a mallet, I should be able to do it by myself in twenty minutes or less. The directions should be relevant and the drawings should be clear. Period.

Up at 4:30 Sunday morning, on the road by 6, to CT by 10. Unloaded, got my mom settled, headed to Costco, stocked up on a few things, back to CT. Spent the afternoon reading magazines and doing some writing. Shopping at stores I’ve shopped for years felt like I’d never left.

Up early on Monday, yoga, meditation, etc. Packed up what I needed to. Costume Imp texted me when he was on the train, off I went to my old hometown. It was on time (oh joy, oh rapture). Picked him up at the station, we swung by Salzburg Patisserie to get coffee and chocolate croissants, hit the road.

We had to drive by my former building so to do. It looks even sadder and in more disrepair than when we left. It made me sad — I grew up there, and it used to be a charming, late 1920’s Art Deco building. Now, it’s just being “improved” to its detriment, making it look like a cheap Queens hotel that rents by the hour.

We hit the Book Barn in Niantic hard. I bought so much at the main branch that they packed it in boxes and helped me get it to the car. Yeah. That much. A LOT of gardening books, but some writing books, critical essays, biographies, etc., etc. The colony of cats was happy to see us, played with us, and nudged us to shelves where we’d find what we needed — and they were always right. The big black cat who hangs out in the “Haunted Bookshop” where the mysteries are kept is particularly bossy. But he’s always right.

Of course, their big sale happens later this month when neither Imp nor I can get there!

We hopped across the street and had a lovely lunch at the Niantic Diner, then visited the two downtown branches of the Barn to peruse more fiction. Yeah, we both bought a lot again, but at least this time we could get it to the car ourselves!

Back on the road, feeling the weight of the books in the back every time we tootled up a hill. We drove to Mystic and popped in to Mystical Elements to pick up a few things. Deciding which few is always the challenge.

We figured if we got stopped by the cops for speeding or whatever, we could attempt to bribe with books or a nice amethyst. 😉 Actually, I was pretty careful. I have to remember that I no longer have NY plates and can’t act like I’m driving a yellow cab!

Back on the road. Stopped in Rhode Island where I always do for gas, then it was a straight shot back home. Of course, a 4 hour trip took eight, but stopping at book stores is always worth it.

It was dark when we got back, but we put on the trees at the front, he got the tour of the house and got settled. We had beef stroganoff and a nice bottle of Washington State wine. I’m not that familiar with the state’s wine, but this Pine and Post bottle of cab sab is very nice. Hung out by the tree with a variety of desserts and Vandermint-flavored coffee, chatting and catching up.

The cats are horrified — first that they were left alone overnight with no bedtime snacks, then that this STRANGER is walking around the place, and he smells of other cats! They stare at him, then flee and hide. They’ll get used to him.

Up early today, back to teaching. I thought Tuesday’s lecture took last night, but it doesn’t seem to be posted, so I’ll go re-post.

Most of the snow’s melted in the yard (and, more importantly, the street). Imp can take a good look at the yard today and we can talk about possibilities. We also plan to head to Sandwich and Plymouth for awhile — he came all this way, he has to see Plymouth Pebble.

But first — my students.