The writer’s week (hack, cough, wheeze)

Some of you may have noticed I’ve slowed down the frequency of when I post. After three and a half years and 1,300 posts, I’m a little pooped.

Truthfully, while the blog adds five to 15 new subscribers every day, readership is stagnant, which has dimmed my enthusiasm. There are only so many hours in the day, and most them I have to devote to income-producing work.

But I’ve been busy as hell, even if less visible here.

I loved my hooky day last Friday, feeling healthy again for the first time in three weeks. As North American readers know, we’re in the middle of a major flu epidemic. So I thought, great! I’m healthy again, and did the usual Kelly thing, of 0 to 60 in six seconds. Everyone in our family seems to run at two speeds, reallyfast or asleep.

Saturday I spent much of the afternoon — sexy! — reading three white papers about the use of mobile technology in retail, an issue I needed to understand before some meetings later this week. Then I spent more time on the phone grilling two friends in Silicon Valley, who understand tech, about an idea I have so I could start to see every possible problem and obstacle.

Basically, I’m living the very story I wrote, trying to reinvent myself and transfer some of my skills, knowledge and contacts into a few new areas, especially ones that pay a lot better than journalism. In March 2007, I kept working (while ill) and landed in the hospital with a 104 degree temperature with pneumonia. Three days on an IV taught me that when I get sick (rarely), rest.

(Oh, right, here I am anyway.)

This time, I’m checking my temperature very regularly, that’s for sure.

Sunday was fun, as my New York Times business story about people over 50 re-inventing themselves professionally climbed the charts — to 4th most read and 4th most emailed of the entire Sunday paper. Then 258 people commented, from Moscow to Brazil.

It was highly instructive!

I thought Clare Novak, a single 58-year-old, had made a really interesting and adventurous choice by moving to Islamabad to work. But about 95 percent of commenters were appalled — at her choice of country (it’s work!), at her restricted lifestyle there and by the fact (hello, recession?) she even had to leave the United States in order to get a decent job.

Many people — fairly — criticized me for not explicitly mentioning or addressing the elephant in the room, age discrimination. But I felt there wasn’t much to say other than it’s rampant and illegal.

Monday morning, I took a jazz dance class and almost-sort-of-maybe did a pirouette for the first time in three years, wondering how my new hip would hold up. Then I drove into Manhattan to meet a software executive for a business lunch, a man who made me an interesting business proposition to work with his company. I’m not sure where it will lead, but it’s heartening to feel I have value beyond journalism and publishing.

I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Big Show, the annual convention of the National Retail Federation, a place I need to visit to keep up on trends, say hello to contacts and gather story ideas. But to reach the Javits Center meant taking the commuter train and bus, then standing and talking for hours…exhausting and very likely exposing me to tons of germs.

English: aerial view from Empire State Buildin...
English: aerial view from Empire State Building West to One Penn Plaza and Jacob Javits Convention Center at Hudson River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Wednesday morning, I was ill again. As I sat there idly reading email, BBC’s World Have Your Say suddenly asked, from London, if I could watch Obama’s speech on guns — and respond to it, live on the radio, for an hour. Luckily, Javits is a short easy walk to the BBC’s offices, so I did it.

We lost half the show’s time to the Algerian hostage crisis (that’s the news biz). I made some notes and dove in anyway.

Weary, frazzled and increasingly  impatient with the tedious rhetoric of gunners, I told one guest of his “insane paranoia” — which resulted in a hateful email from a listener within hours.

Time to go home and sleep and drink tea.

Advertisement from December 1922 issue of the ...
Advertisement from December 1922 issue of the Ladies Home Journal, showing use of abbreviation “Xmas”. Artwork by Coles Phillips. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’m typing this from the sofa (big exciting change from bed!), warm and calm and enjoying silence. I have been busy pitching a bunch of ideas to everyone from Glamour, Country Living and Ladies Home Journal to a Canadian business magazine. I turned down an offer of $350 from a Canadian newspaper for a story that would have been picked up nationally by their chain (for no additional pay) and would have taken me at least five hours to produce. I try to be thoughtful about what work I commit to. At this point in my life, there are opportunity costs to filling up my work sked with stuff that doesn’t matter much or pay well.

I cashed checks from two private clients for consulting, checked in with the fabulous C. who is putting together my marketing materials for Malled speaking engagements, and set up four phone interviews for Monday and Tuesday. I feel a little better today and plan to sleep all weekend.

I still have to finish two stories next week before we head up to Canada, where we’ll visit my Dad, see friends and I have meetings in Toronto and Montreal.

How was your week?

28 thoughts on “The writer’s week (hack, cough, wheeze)

    1. (blushes)

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s pretty much necessity as much as work ethic — it costs a lot to live (decently) in downstate New York where even the stupidest costs just keep rising and rising, whether the bridge toll that’s now $4 each way that was $1.75 barely three years ago, or my garage at my apartment, up to $75/month from $60 (with no improvements made to it.) I sure can’t jack up what I charge clients that high — and journalism pay is way down. It’s now a real scramble now to earn the income I want and need to move past boring/miserable subsistence, and save for retirement and travel. My ballet ticket Tuesday was $67; my city garage parking on Monday $30…there’s $100 gone in two easy gulps.

      Would I work this hard if we had no mortgage or didn’t get whacked with thousands in car repairs this year? Probably not! I don’t love working this hard. But I hate being broke more.

  1. Lynn Daue

    Gosh … I spent mine volunteering at my daughter’s preschool, registering our car, and avoiding email. Your week sound much more interesting than mine!

  2. This week: first mammogram appointment ever. It wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be but hoping not to repeat it soon, if you know what I mean.

    A bit off topic…You mentioned that you’re going to Montreal for business. I’ll be there for the first time in April. I’d love any recommendations about restaurants or neighborhoods to visit.

    Hope you feel better soon.

    1. Good for you! They are not fun but important.

      I haven’t been there in a few years — maybe five? So I am not sure my recommendations would be useful. Neighborhoods to visit include the Plateau, St. Laurent and the Atwater Market, a fantastic/huge farmers’ market. Old Montreal is also charming, with narrow cobblestoned streets and some very trendy hotels, like the Nelligan. Westmount is sleepy but elegant (some nice shops on Greene Street) and Ave. Laurier is chic and very French.

      Take lots of time to stroll St. Denis…lots of great shopping and cafes. My favorite homegoods store is Arthur Quentin (pronouned Ar-toor Kahn-teh). Not cheap but such lovely things!

      I do love Beauty’s, a diner from 1942.

      1. You’re not the first person to mention Beauty’s Luncheonette. That is definitely on the list.

        I always like to get away from the tourist areas if possible and get into the neighborhoods where locals live. I think these suggestions will fit the bill. Thank you very much.

  3. I feel like such a slacker compared to you.

    Here I was patting myself on the back for finally getting some things in the mail that have been staring accusingly at me for longer than they should have. One small package is winging its way to you now. Disregard what it says on the customs label, John mailed it for me and something got lost in the translation.

    I hope you feel better soon and thanks for sharing your work week, I’m feeling inspired to do more with mine next week although I actually did more than the paragraph above implies.

    I finished my week with a trip to the hospital tonight. I had an opportunity to try out the NHS emergency response to my kitchen accident. They did a great job and no one asked me for an insurance number or a credit card.

    Total cost to me … 0

    1. Ouch!! Hope you are OK…The Times food section this week actually did a story on people getting badly injured using things like mandolines and immersion blenders. I was given a mandoline years ago but won’t touch it and know a woman who was badly cut using hers.

      Can’t wait for the package. So fun!

      Admittedly this was an unusually crazed week; because of the NRF conference, I really had to prepare more than usual. Normally I refuse to work nights and weekends. I would make a lot more money but I prefer time to play, rest, recharge. I also have a new idea that is so new to me (tech) I have to learn a lot to see if it’s actually viable.

  4. Miss Molly

    Wow, I’m exhausted just reading about your week! No wonder you are tired AND sick! And here I haven’t been blogging as much because I thought I was busy.

    Take care of yourself and get well soon. Healing vibes coming your direction.

  5. Sleep and a good mug of tea. I couldn’t recommend better rejuvenation!

    My week has been COLD. 100 deg F to 32 deg F (and below)! I’m wearing 4 good layers, plus scarf, gloves etc and still shivering. I was walking around in downtown Seattle, face numb from the cold, and there was a young bagpipe player busking in a tshirt. A tshirt!!!! I got colder just looking at him!

    1. Two of those layers MUST be cashmere and/or silk…think, silk glove liners or very thin Polypro leggings (available — I hate to say the words! — at The North Face or REI or Patagonia. Seattle will be crawling with that sort of gear.) Scarf must be wool; gloves must be wool-lined (preferably cashmere.) Hit all the best vintage stores and you can score a few cashmere turtlenecks for cheap. Nothing beats it. (Except — sorry — fur. I wear both and stay cosy and unencumbered by weight and bulk.)

      Cotton is useless. Get a couple of pairs of very good, thin wool socks. They will make a BIG difference. (We used to sell a lot of them at The North Face to private jet pilots (!) who would get cold standing around waiting for their billionaire passengers to show up.) Oh, the weird shit I know! 🙂

      1. Thank ye kindly ma’am.

        I have so much love for REI – hitting the online store as we speak. Didn’t even think of vintage shops! Am going to look for some when I am next in the city. I’ve discovered that as long as I am in motion I’m ok… it’s a good incentive to keep moving!

      2. Took your advice re material, and found myself a woolen jumper to wear underneath everything else. And my goodness. I am warm. And shed a layer. Good lord. Thank you for mentioning this thing about material. Indebted!

  6. Aww, Caitlin, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sick. I hope today was a better day. My week was a blur, and I’ve been on the edge of sick for a few days. Not so much I’m actually sick, just enough to have me feel like I’m dragging.

    For what it’s worth, I completely agree with your above comments re which fabrics actually keep you warm.

  7. KInda like your week without the checks, the articles and being on the Beeb. I hope this damn cold knocks itself out this week. Being sick totally messes with my chi!

    Feel better soon!

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