For several months I’ve focused on improving my web site, tracking its results, and posting to my blog more regularly. I’ve seen some slow movement but no assignments. It’s a very competitive market out there, and a lot of other folks are looking for work also.
I have worked on a couple of interesting projects lately. A couple of weeks ago I had a series of email exchanges with the editor of the online New York Journal of Books that is still in the beta stage. He is looking on LinkedIn for book reviewers, and I sent in a sample. I acknowledged that I had not done a book review before, and it showed. He was kind enough to explain the rejection and exactly where the problems were. Basically it is a very specific type of genre writing, and I wasn’t able to easily “change gears” from the personal style of writing I’ve been doing on the blog. In other words, it was too much about me and my reaction to the book rather than an insightful examination of the book’s content, author, style of writing, etc.
I’m working on an entry to the Writer’s Digest annual essay contest in the memoir category. I entered their sub-published book contest five years ago, but I’ve never entered any of their other contests although I took a couple of their online workshops and have subscribed to the magazine and to the online version of Writers Market for years. I have a retired English profession who prooftexts and edits my essays, and he has offered encouragement. (I’ve always been a poor proofreader. I rewrite a lot, and when I’ve seen the text too many times I just don’t see the words anymore—I’m thinking ideas, context, sequence, etc. rather than spelling or grammar.)
I was distracted last night with computer printer problems and bought new ink jet cartridges at Office Max this morning only to find that it’s working OK. Computers are great when they work, but are very frustrating when they don’t. I found that Epson has a lock on sales of their cartridges. They sell the printers cheap and make money on the supplies. I have been buying remanufactured cartridges online for about half the OEM price, and they have worked OK up until then. Between the little glitches that show up from time-to-time and the seemingly almost continual updates to my software programs, the computer operational distractions from actual work are significant.
I tend to work in the morning on the computer and do my errands in the afternoon and socialize in the evenings. I had something every night for three weeks and that also took a toll on productivity. My problem usually has not been writer’s block as much as just being lazy and not inspired to work at it, which means spending a lot of time marketing as much as actually writing. Even well established writers have to keep looking for new or repeat business. Unless you’re a real star business doesn’t come to you. I’ve been unwilling to get into email marketing even though one of the top copywriters says that’s where the money is rather than writing for content. He sells and resells his own work from 30 years of writing and then sells other folks material after the copyright has expired. I bought one of his old books on discount from Writer’s Digest and a set of DVD’s from his web site, so I guess it works. It’s legal, but I’m not sure it’s ethical.