Care2 Blog Non-Weekly Roundup (10/08/2017)

I don’t know when exactly I realized I was on hiatus from my Care2 Blogging. As the only on-staff freelancer (that is, without a set number of expected weekly posts), I didn’t technically need to ask for leave if I was uninspired or unavailable to pitch and write any stories in a given week. But I certainly didn’t plan to take a three-year break.

This summer I got back to it, with a couple posts a week. Right now that still seems just about right, though I’ve done the odd threefer. Here is a curated selection of some of my favourite recent pieces:

Wildlife Thrives in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone

Equifax’s Data Breach Is a Nightmare. Their Handling of It Is Worse.

The 5 Weirdest Banned Books

What Have I Been Up To?

I read an interesting study not that long ago on time management for school principals. One of the more interesting, if obvious results, is that you only have so much time in the day. If you’re fully booked and you try to cram in something new, something else will fall by the wayside. It won’t be planned and it won’t be by choice, but you cannot add to a full schedule without losing something, for all your intentions of working just a little bit harder and moving just a little bit faster, we all have our limits.

In my case, I’ve been busy with a number of new roles in my life over the last couple of years:

1) Home renovator: This may not seem like much of an explanation, but I really have poured a metric tonne of time into making this old house as beautiful and functional as it is cozy, and I’ve done the work with great amateurish gusto. It started with tearing down and rebuilding a kitchen entirely from scratch two summers ago, and it just spread from room to room after that. Every vacation, save this past Christmas when my family went to El Salvador, has involved one major or several minor home projects. I pretty much stopped taking major writing contracts starting that summer of 2015, though I may get back on the horse, finally, in the new year.

2) Dad: My son’s impending birth actually provided a motivation as well as a deadline for the new kitchen, which somehow led to the several projects since. I’m on dad duty from the time I get home from work until my two-year-old is down for the night. All my writing has to be done after that, or during nap-time on weekends (if I’m not redoing the bathroom or something, of course).

3) School Principal: I got this job at almost exactly the same time I got the two previous jobs, that same eventful summer. I think I have finally become comfortable (not complacent) in the role, but it’s not a nine-to-five job oftentimes, no matter how much experience you get.

4) Student: This was actually related to role number three, as I took on graduate work in educational administration at night and just finished this past June.

So, after spending most of my time writing school budgets, board reports, research essays, curriculum, and workshop presentations, I am slowly starting to pick up the pace of my public writing again. It’s nice to be back at it.

I haven’t been entirely inactive on that front, and I’ll post some round-ups of my work from the last year or so in the upcoming weeks. But it won’t take long to catch up. I’ve written more academic papers and office emails, by a long shot, than literary reviews, essays, or editorials.  Hopefully there will be some quality where I lack quantity.

Booked Solid for Three Months

I have a couple of book reviews coming up for the Free Press in the next several months (both are being filed very early since I received the ARCs equally nearly six months ahead of publication). I’ve also submitted a non-review draft to AE, which will likely run sooner than that. Other than that, what I’m sitting on is a really impressive “to-write” list.

If, before spring, I actually get around to writing all the things I plan on writing — scratch that, if I actually manage to pitch all the things I’m thinking of writing, and perhaps end up writing even a couple of them during that time frame, I’ll be satisfied.

The thing is, I have so much commissioned work already, trying to sell additional stuff, even were it pure gold (and only an editor can make that determination), probably shouldn’t be my main focus. I’m so focused on trying to get “caught up”, I think I’ve missed an obvious but important point. The whole point of pitching, querying, pounding the virtual pavement, as it were, is to get work. If I have enough writing work, my focus should really be on turning it in in a timely manner.

As a fairly employable teacher in a, nevertheless, fairly rough hiring environment over the last five years, I’ve gotten used to applying to new jobs on a daily basis. When I finally ended up with a fairly stable position, I had to consciously break the habit of checking the want ads, anticipating unemployment. “You’re not on a short-term contract,” I told myself. “They want to keep you. Relax.”

Likewise with my writing. I’m working on, not one, but three concurrent projects, related to content and curricular development for private companies, each one of which will likely stretch from two to five months. And of course, I do still have that pesky day job.

All of which means, this is enough. If I have any spare time at all, I’d like to fit in a few articles for Care2, since it’s been months since I’ve contributed, and I don’t want them to forget about me. But I certainly don’t need to start any new working relationships or make any new commitments at this point.

As a side-note, it’s worth noting that much of my present contract writing work is at least partially related to either my educational or science backgrounds. As a writer, you need to use every working relationship and connection, draw on every talent and experience you have to get work. Spent some time as a wedding planner? Parlay that into a gig writing for a wedding magazine. Worked at a Radio Shack? Write for a technology website.

Every new item on your résumé, every new sample in your portfolio, every new connection on LinkedIn increases your chances of getting work. It’s an exponential process — well, sigmoidal, only because of the human inconvenience of sleep.