Freelancing Diaries: Part 5 — New Year Resolutions and Clients!

January 3, 2017 in Blogging, Freelance, Japan, Misc, On Writing, Travel by pacejmiller

clients

Wow. So here we are, 2017. I feel like I’ve been neglecting this blog. Looking back, I realise I only posted 3 times in 2016! Three times! But it’s all about quality, not quantity. Right?

2016 was just a crazy year. One of the most important, rewarding and challenging years of my life. I jumped ship from my employer late last year to embark on my freelancing journey, full of anticipation, excitement and trepidation. What I ended up experiencing was unlike anything I had expected. 

For starters, I thought I was going to struggle some months finding work, being a new freelancer and all. As it turned out, the exact opposite came to fruition, as I was bombarded with shitloads of work pretty much from straight after Chinese New Year in February, all the way until…well, it’s still going. In a year of 365 days, I’m fairly certain I worked close to 350 days, and that’s including this week I just had off vacationing in Japan (from where I type this post). I actually had to turn down about half a dozen projects in the lead-up to this vacation just so I could keep this week free, and I still have a bunch of stuff waiting for me as soon as I get back. There was literally one week (in September) where I didn’t have anything on my plate, but on every other day of the year there was something hanging around on my “to do” list. In fairness, on some of these days I worked for maybe only 20 to 30 minutes, but always having something to do feels so different to having a completely “free” day.

On the other hand, I was dead wrong in thinking that freelancing meant sitting around in a cafe for a couple of hours a day and doing whatever else I wanted the rest of the time. Yes, I did sit around in cafes quite regularly, but I had ZERO time to do any of my own stuff. Work and money took precedence, and this meant less time writing (on my blogs and on my projects) and less time with my family. After working out intensely for the better part of two years, I did virtually no exercise at all this year. I didn’t gain much weight but the waistline doesn’t lie. A good measuring stick for how free I am is how up-to-date I am with my movie reviews — right now I’ve got around 60 reviews outstanding. It also meant my wife had to shoulder a heavier burden with the housework and looking after the kids, even though I was pretty much at home most of the time.

In all, it was a year of unchartered waters where I learned a lot and tested my limits. I was better off financially than I thought I would ever be from taking the plunge into freelancing, and it was indeed very rewarding to be appreciated and valued for work that I took personal responsibility for. It’s just so different to working for someone and getting a pat on the back. However, I hated that I had no time for myself and how my health deteriorated throughout the year.

I’m currently battling topical steroid withdrawal, which is the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In short, I’ve had eczema since childhood and gradually and unwittingly developed an addiction to topical steroids, which artificially suppress inflammation and mask your underlying health problems, whether it be your gut, intestines, liver or kidneys. And they also suppresses your adrenal glands so much that they stop producing cortisol. While it is still not accepted by the general medical community, there are now doctors who believe adult eczema is actually an iatrogenic condition caused by topical steroid use (check out the ITSAN website to find out more). The only cure, unfortunately, is to go cold turkey and suffer through a long and traumatising process in which you allow your body to heal naturally over time. My entire body flared up almost immediately as expected, and the intense, deep itching and flaking skin is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (sleeping well is an impossibility). I’m doing everything I can to speed up the process, such as following a strict diet (no wheat and other grains, dairy, eggs or sugar) and taking supplements and Chinese herbal medicine to heal my gut and improve my general well-being, doing acupuncture, light exercise and even meditation and deep breathing exercises. For most people, the withdrawal process can take a year or even several years, but I’m hoping to buck the trend. I go through good days and bad days like everyone else, though it seems I’m not as serious as a lot of other cases I’ve seen and I’ve already made remarkable progress in just 6 weeks. Hoping to kick this debilitating condition in 6 months, but it will require a lasting change in lifestyle to keep it at from ever coming back.

Anyway, so my New Year’s resolutions for 2017 are simple. First, work on my health — both physical and mental. When you go through something as harrowing as TSW, it makes you appreciate a healthy body and mind so much more. Secondly, I need to find time for my own writings. Whether it is getting up earlier in the morning, watching less TV at night or spending less time on my smartphone, I need to make some sacrifices to get shit done. This year is really now or never. 

Both of these hinge on the main topic I want to talk about in this post: Clients. I’ve dealt with more clients than I can count over the past year.Clients can make a project enjoyable or a nightmare. Some can be great, and some can make me facepalm just about every time. The thing is, you never know what you’re going to get, and often initial impressions can be deceiving.

I’ve learned a lot about how to deal with clients since becoming a freelancer. The most important thing is to always be professional, even when you feel like you have established a connection and have become friends. That means being friendly, responding to emails and calls, maintaining open channels of communication, and always adhering to deadlines. I’ve found that, if you simply act professionally, clients will really appreciate you and will keep giving you more work. They may even recommend you to others. I’ve frankly been a little shocked at how much clients appreciate it if you just do the job you’re paid for and do it on time. Apparently a lot of freelancers aren’t like that, which is pretty shocking if you consider that’s what they’re supposed to do for a living.

There are so many things that go into a client relationship. It’s more than just them giving you work and you sending it back. Sometimes they require invoices or there are forms and agreements you have to sign. Sometimes you have questions to ask them and vice versa. Sometimes they give you feedback and you have to amend your work accordingly. It can be surprising just how much back and forth there is for a single project.

The key is to be your own boss and be disciplined. Set yourself realistic deadlines and get started early so you never leave anything to the last minute. It’s always better to give yourself a little more leeway because things you haven’t planned for always have a way of inevitably popping up. Maintain good files and archives so you can find your shit when you need it. Ask questions whenever you’re not sure. In fact, always ask a bunch of questions to clarify anything you’re not sure about right at the beginning. There’s nothing worse than a money dispute when you’re halfway through the work or at the very end. You need to be very clear on exactly what work you’re doing. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been duped by clients and friends into doing things I should not have done or accepting cases for much less money than I ought to have been paid. When someone says it’s a “proofreading” job, make sure it’s not actually “extensive editing” and “fact checking every line”. When someone says “editing”, make sure it’s not “completely rewriting everything”. I find the best course of action is (unless it’s someone you’ve worked with before and really trust) to always ask to see the work before you agree to do it or at least a sample. If they can’t show you anything in advance, make sure you give yourself some wriggle room in case you want to say no or extend the deadline later. Negotiating and dealing with clients a nuanced skill that develops over time with experience.

Up until recently, turning down work was always a problem for me. As most of my clients are relatively new, it’s hard for me to say no to them regardless of how busy I may be with other work. In this line of business, unless it’s a long-term client, if you say no once, chances are you will lose that client because they’ll just go with someone else and stick with that person thereafter. As a result, I would always end up with a full slate and then accept more work on top of that, leading to late nights and added stress, further compounding my health problems. Next year I will endeavour to take on no more than I can take. If I have to lose money because of that, then so be it. Health has to come first in 2017.

Some clients, no matter how good you are on your end, will always be hopeless. One of my oldest clients is a publication that is very famous but has not been relevant for quite some time. I’ve dealt with numerous people from that company, and with the exception of one responsible individual, all of them have been pathetic. Once, apart from an editor jumping in at the very end and butchering my work without any dialogue, they also published my name wrong on the freaking article. It would usually take 2 months to receive any money from them, but sometimes they would “forget” or send the wrong amount, and I would have to email and call them a bunch of times, create spreadsheets and graphs and all sorts of shit to explain to them what they did wrong and what they still owe me. The amount of time I spent on all the extracurricular stuff was probably more time than I spent on the actual work. And their employees are the type that would bombard you with emails and calls whenever they need something from you, but whenever you need something from them, they would ignore all calls and emails. I don’t mean temporarily, either. If you don’t chase them up, they’ll pretend you don’t exist. One time there was a particular employee who kept sending me the wrong files with unprofessional, incoherent emails, and laugh things off when I ended up wasting my time on work that didn’t need to be done or work I would have to rush to finish because she forgot to send it.

On the other hand, one of the best clients I’ve ever dealt with is a church in the US. I was a little wary of them at the start because they genuinely seem like a cult and are annoyingly polite, but once I got to know them a little better it was all smooth sailing. Apart from paying great, they outline clearly the work you have to do for them in an agreement and pay you half upfront. They respond to questions almost immediately and are flexible when you need to be. I love working with them. And they pray for me and bless me a lot.

Sometimes, however, things can turn sour with a client fairly quickly. Until last month, I kind of had a falling out with an old client, which happened early in the year. I undertook a tiring interpretation gig from them at a fixed price. It ran for five days on a set schedule, but when the sessions kept running over time, my contact person told me to jot down the actual session times and she will help me ask for more money if it gets excessive. Of course, it did get excessive in the end and I informed them as such, but it seemed my contact had made a promise before checking with her boss or they backed off their initial promise of paying more. Either way, it got a little awkward as they started making excuses and even suggested issues with my performance, though I had received nothing but praises up until the dispute arose. I didn’t push it in the end and was happy to put it behind us, but it was obvious my contact felt embarrassed by the incident and shied away from asking me to do more work for them. I did do work for their other departments, but for eight months (from March until November) I didn’t hear anything from my contact at all.

I still have a million more stories to tell about clients I’ve heard about, such as ones whose companies go bust or those who literally run off and hide. But I’ve got to go pack for my return flight. I’ve already got plenty of work waiting for me when I get back.

Making things happen in 2016

January 1, 2016 in Blogging, Freelance, Misc by pacejmiller

2016

I’m writing this post as we count down the minutes to 2016.

2015 has been an interesting and somewhat tumultuous year for me, with the usual ups and downs but with higher than usual highs and lower than usual lows.

As usual, I started off the year with big ambitions, though it didn’t take long before I sunk back into laziness and getting sidetracked by excuses. The first three-quarters of the year was not particularly eventful. I sleepwalked through my job, stayed fit for the most part, did some reading and not as much writing as I wanted to. I watched TV shows, loads of movies, and spent a lot of time with the family and the kids. I was content with my situation but not content with my usual lack of motivation to move forward. The most eventful change was probably the decision to switch my movie reviews to http://spoilerfreereviews.pacejmiller.com/.

And then, as often is the case, life threw me a curve ball. The website where I had worked for nearly four years suddenly got shut down, and I had a big decision to make: to be transferred to a group like everyone else, or venture out on my own to be a full-time freelancer. I chose the latter. In many ways, the decision was made for me because the powers that be were so incompetent that I lost all faith in the promises they were making about the transition. As far as I know, those suspicions turned into reality.

Around the same time, family things — like death and health problems to loved ones — put my life in a bit of a tailspin, and for the first time in a very long time I fell into a mini-depression, albeit one I knew was temporary.

Once the smoke cleared, things started to turn around, and I haven’t looked back. When bad things happen it puts things in perspective, and the last couple of months have been super busy but also really fantastic. I feel like I’ve finally found the passion for my work again because I actually care about what I’m doing. The amount of effort I put into my work actually affects my income, which hasn’t been the case for years.

Business as a freelancer has been surprisingly good right from the get-go — perhaps a little too good because I haven’t found time to write at all — but obviously I shouldn’t complain. I’m looking forward to staying busy in a spectacular 2016 — settling into a routine, growing more efficient, reading every day, writing every day, getting back into fitness, watching a lot of awesome movies and TV shows, and spending plenty of time with my family.

That’s all for now. I’m going to let my actions do the talking.

Happy New Year!!!

The Freelancing Life

November 20, 2015 in Best Of, Blogging, Freelance, Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

There hasn’t been much activity on this blog for a while, and for that I apologize. The last few months have been one of the most tumultuous periods in my life for a long time, with a lot of things happening both personally and professionally.

Life update — the end of an era

Apart from the usual grind of looking after two young kids, a close relative passed away unexpectedly, which hit me very hard, and there were three additional incidents where other family members had to visit the emergency room for various reasons. It was one scare after another, and each time something happened it took a little out of me.

Professionally, I once again find myself on a different path, and it’s turned out to be a bit of a dream come true. For those who don’t know, I had been working at an online newspaper writing and editing mostly semi-translated articles for close to four years, and mid-September, we were suddenly called to an impromptu meeting one afternoon by the editor-in-chief.

It is a place where meetings are rare, and nothing usually ever comes out of it. Just a month or so prior we were told that there would be a restructuring, with our paper moving from under one unit to another. It was painted as an administrative issue only and some staff members were privately assured that nothing would change. So naturally it was concerning that a meeting was being called again so soon, especially when friends outside of our company had been messaging some of us that very morning, asking, cryptically, whether we were okay.

And this is no joke, but every time we had a meeting we would joke that the paper was probably being shut down. We knew it wasn’t the most professional or stable of places, and often I felt like we were just a bunch of amateurs mucking about and were somehow getting away with it. So of course we made the same joke again before this mid-September meeting, and it turned out that this time the joke was on us. The editor-in-chief kicked off the meeting with a description of how wonderfully our paper was performing, which I knew was a bad omen. Sure enough, the next thing he said was that the paper would be shut down “temporarily” due to the fact that the conglomerate had been hemorrhaging money at a rate much worse than they had expected.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. The company was built on a culture of schmoozing and sucking up to superiors, and few managers were really putting in any effort into driving the business forward. My own superior, for instance, promised many things — some even as early as when I interviewed four years ago — and none of them ever came true. He said he would rearrange our work days so that we’d only have to work on weekends every now and then (fail), that we would have regular seminars to teach us how to be better writers and journalists (fail), that we would have regular meetings to keep everyone up to date (fail), that we would create sub-groups to specialize on certain areas (fail), that we would start marketing our paper and build relationships with other papers (fail), that we would start publishing advertisements so we’d actually make some money (fail) — the list goes on. That’s right, in four years, he didn’t make a single one of these promises come true.

The one that did come true, eventually, was updating the look of the website. That was a promise made during my first interview, and for the last two years we were told it was “imminent.” And do you know when we updated the website? Two weeks after he announced that the paper was shutting down in six weeks. Yes, we finally updated to the long-awaited “new” website a month before it was shut down.

Another hilarious sequence of events took place when the chief decided that we were going to buck the digitization trend by creating a paper version of our online paper. A monthly digest, if you will. We hired a designer and reallocated one of our writers to manage the new magazine. That’s right, two people to create a 100-page magazine every month. Even bought a brand new Apple computer and a color laser printer and everything. As it progressed, this monthly magazine somehow morphed into a “semi-annual” magazine, and then a “yearly” magazine. And then one day, poof, the entire project was called off. Four months of work and the hiring of a brand new staff member for this sole purpose, all for nothing. And there wasn’t even a “WTF just happened”? There was more or less a collective silent shrug, and everyone went back to work pretending it never existed.

Anyway, the outcome of the meeting was that the paper would be closed down by the end of October, but that most of us would keep our jobs and be relocated to join the Chinese-language newspaper in the same building. A few of my ex-pat colleagues were shown the door with just a two-week notice period. As for who will get to stay and what work they will actually be doing in their new roles, the chief told us we’d find out by the end of September.

Naturally, the days turned into weeks, and nothing was said. A few of us managed to individually corner the chief on separate occasions, but the answers were always vague and non-committal. The only assurance I received was that I would be safe, and that everything would be sorted out “shortly.” Later on, we pieced together the fragments of information we each received and basically understood that: (1) whoever hadn’t already been shown the door would probably get to stay; (2) we’d be moved from the comforts of our current floor to join the other media losers in the depths of the basement (literally); (3) our workloads would be reduced towards the end so we could start testing out the new roles on the new systems; (4) we’d work on firm-issued laptops instead of our current desktop computers and sit together on long tables in open plan; (5) we’d have freedom to choose to write whatever we want to write; and (6) if we didn’t like our new roles we’d be able to apply for a redundancy package within the first 45 days.

Initially, I kind of wanted to stay. It was a safe job that paid well considering how easy it was, and the work hours were stable and normal. And I salivated at the idea of being able to write about what I wanted to write, a stark contrast to the existing situation where I got tossed most of the longest and hardest articles on the most difficult topics — and was still expected to produce the same number of articles as everyone else. The main concern was work hours — we were told there would probably be morning and night shifts — and with my family commitments it wasn’t something I was looking to accept. But the chief told me the new hours would be “flexible,” and it was suggested to me that I’d probably be able to keep my existing schedule, though as with everything else, it was “yet to be confirmed.”

Shit dragged on like this until late October. About 10 days before the official end of the paper, there was an update: even after we are technically transferred, we’d stay on our current floor (the top floor) until the end of November, and we’d get laptops by the start of the final week of October so we can start trying out the new roles to see how we like it. The 45-day cooling off period disappeared like a fart in the wind, and the redundancy application date was set in stone at the end of the first week of November. In other words, I’d have 10 working days to decide my future.

The decision was expedited when we had another meeting on the Tuesday of the final week. Needless to say, we had not received our laptops by then, and my workload was actually being ramped up as certain people had already left, meaning I was both writing and editing, sometimes at the same time. At this final meeting, we were told that: (1) the laptops might not come until next week or beyond; (2) we’d still have to work shifts, from 9am-6pm or 1pm-10pm, with everyone having to work a weekend day about once a month from 10am-7pm — and that everyone’s schedule would be different — but no final roster was set and that each person’s exact times would decided “shortly”; (3) we’d have to choose our own stories but with “guidance” from the chief to ensure we’re on the “right track”; (4) we’d be posting our own articles on the website and have no one to edit our writing, but there will be a fine each time someone spots a mistake; (5) everyone would have their own personal page with all their articles, the number of hits for each article, and its “star” rating from readers — this will be used to determine performance.

The meeting was a relief for me, because I had remained torn about whether or not to stay. Even if I were allowed to work 9-6, unlike everyone else, nothing else appealed to me. With the laptops not arriving until after the switch, it meant I would have less than five days to experience the new role. And though we were told that we’d be technically allowed to choose our own stories, I got the strong sense that it would not really be the case. The fines and the personal page — essentially for naming and shaming (another wonderful part of the firm culture) — effectively sealed the deal. I knew it wasn’t all the chief’s fault — it was clear that the firm was mired in bureaucracy and the higher ups couldn’t make up their minds because they were all desperate to save their own asses. That’s what happens when there’s zero accountability and no incentive to do anything until the shit hits the fan.

So immediately after the meeting, I went into the chief’s office and told him I was taking the redundancy. I did some calculations, and with the redundancy package and freelance income, I was actually better off financially in the short-term, at least over the next six months. The plan is to generate enough contacts and steady freelance work to make the arrangement work over the long-term, and if not, I’d have to find a proper job.

PS: In hindsight, I absolutely made the right choice. My former colleagues were booted to the basement in the first week of the transition as opposed to after a month, and as of now they are still yet to receive their laptops. They actually moved a few of the desktop computers in our existing office downstairs into open plan for people to share. And it’s apparently been hectic and stressful, with odd shift rotations, little choice to write what you want, and pressure from the chief to get more hits. Can’t say it’s a surprise.

The freelancing life begins

So despite the fear of instability and uncertainty, I jumped at the opportunity for a freelancing life trial. It was my dream before I joined my translator job to freelance exclusively, but it was simply impossible without the requisite contacts and steady stream of work. Over the past four years, however, I have managed to build up a small network and some regular clients, so it’s a good foundation to build on.

I think I’m going to have to do a series of posts about what it’s like to be a freelancer, because there’s so much about it that I never thought through before I embarked on this path. It’s been a bit of a rough start, to be honest, because there’s so much unanticipated random stuff when you leave an old job for a new one. After a week of rest, movies and expensive food, I started dealing with the post-employment paperwork, updating CVs and LinkedIn, chasing up the company for stuff (typical), communicating with government agencies, dealing with insurance issues — all while trying to finish off existing cases I already have and trying to find new clients, as well as establishing new systems for more efficiency. And when you have more free time in theory, guess what? You end up getting asked to do more stuff, with family and the kids in particular.

On top of everything, I took on my first live interpretation cases for a film festival, which basically wiped out an entire week because I was too nervous to focus on other stuff and had to make sure I was well prepared. It’s been a bit of a wild mess for the last couple of weeks, and I still have cases outstanding that I really should have gotten to already, which makes me feel terrible.

The days have just gone by super quickly and I feel like there is not enough time in a day to get to all the things I want to. And I really need to build up my efficiency and motivation after working at a place that not only encourages but cultivates inefficiency and laziness. I am 100% serious about this. For four years, any hard work I put in was rewarded only with…more work. Basically, if you finish an article, you get another one. There’s no quota or maximum daily number of articles you must do, and you can’t leave early, so there’s no incentive to work fast. So if you’re super efficient and diligent, you could end up doing six or seven articles a day. If you’re completely lazy and unmotivated, you could do two a day. It makes no difference. No one says anything. There are no performance reviews. Maybe your end-of-year bonus will be affected a little, but we’re talking about a maximum difference of about half a month of salary. Even if someone started off in this job by coming to work on time every day and working really hard all throughout the day, what do you think will happen to them when they start seeing that their colleagues are always coming in one or two hours late, taking three or four hour lunches plus afternoon naps, and doing less than half the work they’re doing — with absolutely no consequences? Doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. And this was the type of work environment I was in for four years. I did my fair share of slacking off like everyone else, but I’m glad to say I maintained some dignity by at least ensuring that I did a certain amount of work at a certain quality every day, which made me a rarity.

Anyway, I’m hoping next week will be a new week where I can start sinking into a bit of a routine. Once that happens I’ll be able to focus on systematically punching out the existing cases and prowling for new clients and projects. Still, I’m already enjoying the freedom, the nature of the work, and the sense of being my own boss. Makes me want to do the very best I can every time.

What about the writing?

I’ll be truthful: one of the main reasons I wanted to have a go at the freelancing is because I want to free up time to finally finish my two books, and perhaps a screenplay I’ve had in my head for a while. I realized this was an opportunity that will never come around again, and I wanted to grab it by the balls.

So far, I’ve had even less time to work on these things than when I worked a full-time job. This blog post is the only writing I’ve done in months apart from a few movie and book reviews that were mostly composed on public transport. Again, this is something I hope will change. My ideal day once the dust settles would be half an hour to an hour of reading every morning and at least an hour to work on my own writing. Perhaps one day a week I’ll be able to write a blog post or two instead, and another half day I’ll use to catch a movie or go out and about. Not sure if I’ll ever get close to this dream, but I’m going to start doing everything I can to reach it.

Wow, that was some rant. Sorry.

Putting food on my family

August 9, 2015 in Freelance, Misc, On Writing by pacejmiller


lance

I was supposed to have started working on my book projects last month, but as of today I’ve still done jack squat. The excuse this time: making money.

I’ve always welcomed a bit of freelance work on the side as a supplement, though that aspect of my income has been sporadic at best. Some projects are great, while others are awful, and it’s usually hard to predict which before you agree to take it on. This year things have been more stable as I’ve built some repeat clientele and long-term collaborations, and last month everything suddenly exploded, especially towards the end of the month.

Just when I was getting in the mood to do some writing I was bombarded by five separate projects, all with relatively tight deadlines. The annoying thing is that some of them feed the work to you periodically and just when you think you’re done they send you more. And the shit clients tend to take forever to get back to you if you have a question, but when they need something from you they are always, without exception, in a massive hurry.

It’s frustrating especially because the state of the market is not great, and most of the time the clients can’t tell if your work is vastly superior than others, meaning it is difficult to charge what you deserve. And if you do charge what you deserve (at least by market standards) they’ll probably just go to someone else.

The problem is exacerbated by my analness. I just can’t stand when something is not up to par and just have to fix it, even when it doesn’t really concern me. Like this theatre production I was doing translations for had split the work between me and another freelancer, and just hours before opening night, they send me the “finished” slides so I can help fill in some of the blanks. And of course, I reviewed all the slides and saw how shit the translations were by the other freelancer, and I couldn’t help but fix them up along with all the other careless formatting by the production staff. They really appreciated it but I knew I wasn’t getting any more money. In fact, I had to chase them up for payment (which I hate doing but have had to do more than a few times).

I bitch, but when you get the opportunity to more than double your monthly income you just have to take it. As an eloquent leader once said, “I know how hard it is for you to put on your family.”

bush food

Besides, even when you add up the hours from my day job and the freelancing, I’m still working a lot less than I did as a lawyer. Plus I find the work relatively easy and stress free, so it’s a world of difference I’d gladly take any day of the week.

The onslaught is actually continuing but I hope things will slow down after this week so I can finally get to what I’ve been meaning to do all year. The good news is that I’ve been reviewing films like a trojan whenever I’ve been on public transport and have about 10 movie posts completed. I’ll release them gradually over the next week.

PS: Also looking to get back into reading after a long hiatus. Nothing gets me in the mood for writing like reading.

The Clock’s Ticking

July 5, 2015 in Blogging, Misc, Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

Clock

Is it just me or is time flying? Can’t believe it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. Health issues, visiting relatives, family roadtrips, work, freelance gigs, NBA free agency and general laziness have kept me from being more active than I should be. Hopefully, that is about to change.

About a year ago I made a pact with a friend, a bit of a dreamer like me but with more outlandish ideas about doing something with their lives to get out of the rat race and make the world a better place. We like to dream big, but like most people, seem to lack the persistence and resolve to follow through. So we decided to promise each other to take the initiative to get something done. Set a goal and work towards it. We decided six months or even a year was too short to get our butts moving, so we aimed for 18 months — the end of this year.

My goal was simple: to complete a first draft of something, be it a novel or a screenplay. There were times throughout the past 12 months where I have gotten into a couple of my pet projects, with great passion and enthusiasm, but never for very long. And now I don’t have very long left. Six months to produce something so I can keep up my end of the bargain.

To be honest I’m not optimistic. I was wrong in thinking that starting is the hardest part. The hardest part is always keeping it up the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. I’ve started so many times over the past year, only to stop after a day or two for whatever reason. The key is to not view that as a stoppage, but a bump in the road before getting back on track again.

Here goes. I’ve got a whole bunch of posts lined up and almost ready to post, so I’ll spread them out over the next week or two to give myself some breathing room to get into it without neglecting this blog. I’m still watching movies so reviews will keep coming.

Wish me luck.