What I’m Reading — So Far in 2017

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My reading has been a little bit slower this year, although I raised my goal slightly from in 2016 and again this year to 52 books so that I could attempt one book per week. Smaller books and graphic novels usually pad this number for me, but even those have been few and far between. So far this year I have read 30 books and I need to get on the ball if I’m going to make it to my goal. I never went over any of the books I read in 2016, so I should probably mention that was the year I decided to dig into Stephen King’s work. Lots of his titles on my list over the past two years, although none appear in this blog post.

I started off the year with 17 Carnations: The Royals, The Nazis, & the Biggest Cover-Up in History. If you enjoy history in any way or wonder about how close the pendulum came to swinging the other way — pick this one up. They dodged a bullet (probably more than one) when that guy abdicated. This is a great look at how normal middle and upper-class folks almost let the whole thing happen and if you have concerns nowadays with the way things are going then I suggest you pick this up. I will say it’s a little dry in parts, but I found it enjoyable. Great for people who enjoy Downton Abbey and hate fascism.

At the beginning of the year I started the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and I have been swept up in all of that intimate intrigue and drama that springs from a friendship formed when two girls are very young.

There’s something deliciously small town about it, with everything that happens in the neighborhood, even though it’s all taking place in the middle of Naples. It follows their lives throughout their childhood and adolescence, and as the second book starts we’re just reaching the wedding of one of them. I feel like all of it is a very accurate depiction of friendship between women and how it can be equal parts love and devotion and competition.

I’ve had to force myself not to rush through, although by the end of the second book there was no going back and I had to get to the third. I’m saving the fourth so I can savor it. You’ll like these if you like Anne of Green Gables and The Godfather.

I read Walden and still paid my taxes. BUT IT WAS PAINFUL. In other news, I’m in love with a man who lived in another century, which will shock no one. Read it if you want a classier Bear Grylls experience.

Bruce Cannon Gibney makes a compelling argument in A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America for why things are in the state they’re in and I think everyone should pick this up and give it a little thought. Basically, selfishness doesn’t work. It might be working for you RIGHT THIS SECOND, but somewhere down the line it is going to come up and bite you in the behind, likely while you are waiting for someone to turn you in your bed while you lay in a nursing home. Lucky for you you’ll be far past the point of knowing or caring at that point, but hey, those government programs you didn’t want anyone younger than you to enjoy were great while they lasted for you, right? It’s not quite as inflammatory as I’m making it sound and certainly worth your time to pick up and give some thought.

Lastly, I picked up Anne of Green Gables again for my first reread as an adult and it was such a different experience for me this time around. Much like going through Gilmore Girls as an adult and feeling more compassion toward Emily than anyone else, the story of Marilla is what got me this time. If you were a fan of the books or movies as a kid, but haven’t read them as an adult, you should pick this up and read it while focusing on Marilla. So worth your time.

Giving Up the Ghostwriting

For years I’ve meant to sit down and write about my experience with the ins and outs of freelancing, what it is like to deal with clients on a daily basis, the pressures of getting out there and finding the next job while you’re writing like mad to keep up with the one you currently have going, the heartbreak of lost contracts (umm…did you just ghost your ghostwriter?), and what it’s like to be down to your last roll of toilet paper.

Just kidding on the last one. It was never that bad, but sometimes I do get down to the last roll because I’m not so great at planning and I keep it in the hall closet outside the bathroom and then I’ll look and it’s like the opposite of Christmas morning. Surprise! No toilet paper. It’s a character flaw.

It’s like the opposite of Christmas morning. Surprise! No toilet paper.
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I never sat down to write what I imagined could be a series about freelancing or, more specifically, ghostwriting. I did have a draft started about how it was easier for me to write 20k words in a day than to get in 20k steps. I love my FitBit, but honestly can they not think of something that gives that kind of feedback to writers? Good for you! You’ve sat in that chair for the past 4 hours and cranked out 2 incredible chapters! You’re ahead of Marisa! I use Marisa as an example because we regularly have a FitBit challenge going on and I have literally been ahead of her ONCE and I think it was because she was trapped under a pile of papers she was grading.

For one thing I was far too busy writing for work to make myself write a blog post, paying the bills, taking all the trips I’d wanted to take for most of my life, getting my life in order after my marriage ended, and just generally trying to survive and figure out what normal life looked like for me and what I wanted out of my future. You know, really light, fluffy things.

One day this summer I’d finally had it. In truth there was probably a build up to it. If you’re familiar with the Four Tendencies I am an Obliger. Sometimes, when the pressure is on and things have been cooking for a long time, obligers do this “obliger rebellion” thing and basically go nuclear, which is my MO 100%. This isn’t working! I’m stopping right now and finding a different thing! It was a long line of things that led to it. Not feeling a lot of support. Having a client who didn’t stick to timelines. It led to a lot of financial pressure and for me that is STRESS. I had been expecting quite a large sum of money over 3 months. At the end of 2 months we were only 1/3 of the way through the project because of delays on the client’s end. I’ll leave specifics out of it, but suffice to say that it became very clear that for the client this was a hobby that made lots of fun money on the side for him, while for me it was a living — and one that I wasn’t making much of.

So I applied for two jobs and I told myself that if I got an offer I would take it. If I didn’t then I would take it as a sign that I needed to stick with what I was doing for a little longer. Getting back into a traditional job wasn’t something that I had ever pictured myself doing again because I love the freedom of freelancing so much. But real talk for a minute? TAXES, Y’ALL. Holy smokes. I needed something a little more stable, needed to know when my paycheck would be in the mail, and be able to plan a little for my future. While I loved the freedom, I was absolutely tired of everything in my life being up in the air at all times.

I got an interview and I walked out with a job. I realize how lucky this makes me and Now I’m up at the crack of dawn and I’m done in the early afternoon. It’s good, fun, never-boring work and I know exactly when I’m going to be paid. The other great thing? I’ve got 26 books under my belt over the past 3 years. I did a ton of writing, got paid well for it, and now I am only writing for myself. Currently I’m too exhausted to get much done, but that’s where I am on everything. It’s possible I might pick it up again in the future, only if I do it will be on my terms with projects that I love and want to do, not things that I take on because I need the money.

(Any questions about ghostwriting? I might still try to put together a post about it.)

Sunday Morning Coffee

I’m waking up early again, thanks to my new schedule (more on that tomorrow) and thanks to that, sleeping in on the weekends looks more like 7am than 10am these days. Let’s face it, I could never sleep very late. So here I am, coffee in hand — Sprouts Mexican dark roast, listening to a romance novel (When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James), putting together a list. It’s been a little while so I’ve got a few things I think you’ll enjoy.