An ongoing occasional series on my life as a full-time writer in New York. Maybe surprisingly, little actual writing is involved — and much rejection (and patience) is pretty standard. This week included two writers’ deaths and the loss of $2,000 income.
Exhausted by attending BlogHer, a 5,000 participant conference in Manhattan on Friday and Saturday, I took the day off for R & R. Slept in the sun by our apartment pool. Bliss!
Started researching the weekly personal finance blog I write for Canadians, focused on the move by one bank to shut down accounts of Iranian Canadians, in order to comply with federal regulations. Knowing that bank and government PR people are slow to return emails or calls, best to start now — my deadline is Friday.
I need to order books for my Neiman-Marcus event in September. Since I have to pay for these books myself, even with a 40 percent author discount, I don’t want to get stuck with unsold merch and a credit card bill. Sigh.
Phone meeting with a new-to-me client who is, (blessedly highly unusual), unhappy with the 2,000 word magazine piece I just handed in. We spend 30 minutes wrangling. Not fun.
Call an agent who’s seen my third book proposal, but didn’t like it as is, to determine if he wants to work on it with me anyway. Check in with my assistant in New York and assure my assistant in Toronto I’m really not ignoring her. I am, though. I’m swamped and feeling really distracted.
One of my toughest daily challenges is setting priorities for what’s urgent as I constantly toggle between meeting deadlines, finding new work, marketing my book and doing the work already in hand.
I get a last-minute email invitation to attend a presentation in Manhattan by a Harvard Business School professor writing a book about retail work, as I did. But she’s getting inside access to senior corporate executives. There are 29 people in the room, from retail workers to reporters to union reps. It’s fascinating work and she’s a lively and personable speaker. I’m honored when she asks if she can use my book as part of her research.
I’m meeting at 6:30 with a very senior editor at a major newspaper, ostensibly to be social, but I’m also curious if I’d fit there as a staffer. I have four hours to kill before the dinner, so I go to a French movie. It’s a hot, humid day and sitting in the cool darkness eating popcorn and being transported to early 20th century Provence is heaven.
Scrambling to finish my personal finance reporting.
I sit on the volunteer board of a writers’ group offering emergency grants to those in need; I learn that one of our board members, 76, has died.
Checking in with colleagues and editors and a possible new agent to see where things stand with my book proposal.
Had the idea to create a new conference for women over 40, so I’ve been emailing and calling a few people to see if they’d be willing to brainstorm it with me. I go to the local hotel and get their rates for renting a room and meals for a meeting — sobering! Immediately see why conferences need sponsors!
Get an email from the Decatur Literary Festival wanting me to update my site on their website. Need to send bio, headshot, cover of my book and a brief description of it. I’m really looking forward to this event, but nervous that — as can happen — no one will show up to hear me speak or to buy my book. I have several friends living there, one of them author of a terrifying book about MRSA, who want to get together socially. Will I have time? Have to check the website to see how many parties I need to attend! It’s a rare, fun chance to meet a lot of other authors.
I wonder if getting another fellowship would help me, financially and professionally and check out the Knight-Bagehot, which offers $50,000 to study at Columbia University. Everyone who’s won in the past two years is 20 years my junior and has a staff job. I email the program director to ask if applying is even worth it.
I call a local library to ask if I can do a reading. They say no.
Drop off the car for repair — $200.65, $100 less than I’d expected. Yay!
A friend emails to ask my advice about how to choose an agent — as the Olympic athlete she has written about has won a gold medal and is now on everyone’s mind. I steal an hour of work-time to watch synchronized swimming, cheering loudly for the Canadians. As someone who used to do synchro, I’m in awe of their skills.
Awaiting word on pitches to Monocle, The New York Times, Marie-Claire, Hispanic Business and others. I read a few stories in Bloomberg Businessweek and now want to send a copy of “Malled” to the CEO of Ann Taylor, a women’s clothing retailer here, and to the new head at J.C. Penney.
A friend has suggested I update my website to attract more paid speaking engagements, so I have to start reaching out to people for testimonials.
I need to request a copy of the raw manuscript from a client whose thriller I edited last summer to possibly get more freelance editing work from an agency.
Talk to my personal finance blog editor, who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Typically, I often work for years with editors or clients I never meet. It’s our first personal chat in the three months I’ve been writing for him.
Learn of the premature death, of cancer, of David Rakoff, a fellow Canadian writer in New York — at 47. Sad news, and another terrific talent lost.
The magazine editor who hated my story kills it with no offer of a kill fee for my time and work. I’ve just lost $2,000 of income I’d counted on. Haven’t had a story killed in years. Nice.
Call five regular clients to see if I can snag some assignments to make up for that lost revenue.
Referred a colleague in Seattle to one of my editors.
Invited my assistant to come for dinner. She’s been working hard on a tedious set of tasks for me, cheerfully and well. In addition to two part-time assistants (one at $10/hr, one at $13/hr) I have a cleaner in twice a month ($25/hr.) When I hear the phrase “job creators” I look in the mirror. My income may have many fewer zeros than Corporate Kings, but it’s also paying others for their skills.
Head to the gym, where I actually have time (on the elliptical) to read magazines.
How was your week, my dears?
10 thoughts on “The writer’s life, this week anyway”
Thanks for sharing this Caitlin. I appreciate your honesty and find it a breathe of fresh air as I sit in a Ljubljanan cafeteria scrambling to meet deadlines (instead of enjoying my travels in this beautiful Slovenian city). Nice to be reminded that hard work and let downs are just part of the game.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is being less than truthful — or is at a stage of their writing worklife few people attain.
Kind thanks for the link, honey! We will find time in Decatur – but it is a great festival for networking and I will be completely supportive of your putting that first!
We have to make some time.
Hope the link brings you some more readers!
You may enjoy one of my past weeks I blogged about… If not that’s okay too.
Loved it! What a life…
Writing is, I think, the only business where work can be done in good faith on agreed sale, and then the work is neither used nor paid for. You wouldn’t tell your plumber, ‘sorry, I don’t like the look of that extra bath now, so I won’t pay you for installing it’. But writers have to wear that, and there’s little or no comeback either. It’s happened to me more than once. Sigh.
Normally, I have a contract with a kill fee so they do have to pay me something. Like a fool, (referred by someone I trust) I did not in this instance. Never again.
🙂 I have family visiting. Stealing time from everything, in a good way. Having kids about the house fills it up quickly.
Sounds lovely. Enjoy!