Putting food on my family

August 9, 2015 in Freelance, Misc, On Writing


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.

What the heck has been going on?

May 15, 2013 in Blogging, Exercise, Misc


I checked my blog this morning and saw that the last time I posted was May 1, or two weeks ago. That is not acceptable. It’s not like I have nothing to write. I saw Trance a couple of weeks ago, and of course, Star Trek: Into Darknesslast week. There are two books I need to review, and the final posts from the back end of my trip to Japan in MARCH are still outstanding. So what the heck has been going on?

I don’t really know. It’s like I’ve been sucked into a vortex where the space-time continuum is all out of whack. The other day my sister responded to an email I sent her. I thought it had been more than a month, but as it turned out it had only been a week. Same thing with this new credit card I signed up for. I was fretting about not receiving a bill for the first month, which I was convinced had passed ages ago, but again, it had only been a couple of weeks. It’s like I’m living day by day without being conscious of the passage of time. I’m enjoying life, but I’m also in a weird daze where all days kind of melt into one because of the familiarity of my schedule.

I have also been busy with a couple of freelance cases. I started my first subtitling gig, for a short film, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Nothing better than watching movies while you work. The other thing is a pain in the assbender that had been dormant for a couple of months, but suddenly decided to pop up just when I was ready for a break. And there is a bit of a pay dispute too, so hate is all around for those douchebags. (They take more than 10% of the agreed payment, and when I ask they call it “taxes” and say I’ll get it back next year when I do my tax return. Why has this never happened before?)

Apart from that, not much else. My growing son takes priority, of course, and then whatever free time I have left I have invested in my renewed exercise regimen. I’m officially back, and I’m feeling much fitter, even though the schizo weather has been leaving me restless and deprived of quality sleep. I’m watching more TV shows — Game of Thrones, Touch, The Mentalist, The Good Wife — and I’ve recently ventured into the world of free classic books available on my new iPad mini. First up, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The 2009 film version starring Prince Caspian sucked, so I am hoping the source material will turn me around.

It is my hope that whatever I still need to get out of the way will be settled by the end of this week. Then shall begin a glorious Golden Age of blogging. Stay tuned.

When things are just…shit

March 8, 2013 in Best Of, Blogging, Misc


Parental guidance recommended

I’m officially in a slump. The original title of this post, back when I was initially planning on writing it about a week ago, was supposed to be something like “I’m back, baby!” or something similarly enthusiastic. But honestly, I just don’t have it in me right now.

Things have been, for lack of a better word, shit. Apart from a child who keeps getting sick from all the little viruses hanging around, the real scrotum crusher has been work. Generally speaking, I like my job, but I’ve recently had a temporary role change from writer to editor (for a couple of weeks) due to our top editor heading overseas to cover a conference and another leaving for greener pastures. The role requires a lot more work than I am used to, which means I get virtually no personal breaks during the day. The bigger problem is that I get all the hard articles, which take forever to do (some are almost complete rewrites), while the other editor gets all the easy ones that require hardly any editing because the bosses don’t trust that he can do a good job. I still haven’t figured out if it’s laziness or incompetence, though I suspect it might be a fecal cocktail of both.

Yet still, we get roughly the same number of articles to do, which means the other guy can spend half his day dallying with the fairies, whereas I am flat out from the get-go. Part of me wants to complain, but the other half tells me its for the best because I just can’t stand publishing sub-standard copy. Oh, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to fix up stuff he’s flubbed. Consequently, work these days often feels like this:

The other thing that’s been getting up my nose is the freelance gig that simply refuses to go away. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s for the Tourism Bureau, which is good, but the person I am dealing with on the other end is the most incompetent turd I have ever had the misfortune of coming across, which is bad.

Let’s see…where should I start. How about not having a freaking clue what sections she has sent me and what I have sent her? Is it that hard to keep track of emails and files? How about telling me it’s finished and then realizing later that she FORGOT to send me a major section? How about telling me after I spent hours on a section that, oops, she sent me the wrong version and I have to do it all over again? How about telling me AFTER I finished a section that the client needs to rework the original copy and that I have to do it all over again? How about sending me a scan and a file with no explanation whatsoever other than “please let me know if you have any questions”? Yeah I have a question: what the f%*# do you want me to do with the shit you just sent me? How about picking up your phone? How about returning missed calls? How about sending emails to the email address I told you to send it to? How about writing an email that ordinary humans can decipher in less than an hour? Aaaaargh!

Consequently, my after-work hours often feel like this:

(By the way, how is it consistent that Ibaka (in the first video) only got a fine after not getting ejected, and Bynum (in the second video) got a suspension after getting ejected as well? Is the stomach less serious than the nut sack?)

So yeah, not happy Jan. I guess that’s number 1,873 in my list of “Things to hate about being a former lawyer” — you deal with competent people for so long that you take competence for granted and when you head out into the real world and meet incompetent people it blows your mind.

Right now I’m getting home exhausted every night and feeling like I can’t be bothered to do anything. Writing blog posts or reading are supposed to be cathartic experiences but recently they’ve felt like a chore, so instead I’ve just vegged out on the couch or played Candy Crush (I hate you, level 135!). My plan to start exercising again is still not quite off the ground. I did about 40 minutes of yoga the other night and woke up the next morning feeling like I just swam the English Channel. First world problems still suck.

However, I am glad to say, the light at the end of the tunnel is not that far away. I’m working over the weekend but then I’m off to Japan next week for a little break with the missus. This will be the first time since I started this blog that I’ll be heading to one of my favourite places on the planet, so be prepared for some awesome posts. And when I’m back I’ll be back to being a writer at work, and hopefully the freelance gig will finally be put to rest.


PS: Another reason it’s been quiet around here is because I ran into some problems with my website. Apparently some cache plugins was giving my host server a lot of inodes, which was stuffing everything up. Yeah, I didn’t know what the heck they were either. Actually, I still don’t, but at least it has been fixed.

I’m still here, I really am

February 28, 2013 in Blogging, Misc

Man I feel like an In-N-Out Burger

Man I feel like an In-N-Out Burger

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I just want to assure everyone that I am still here with a quick post.

In short, it’s been hectic. All plans and dreams of settling into a routine have been trampled, spat on and stuffed into closet of dirty wet rags. The major culprit is this freelance gig that’s been tearing me apart! It was supposed to be an easy proofread for a government tourism booklet — at most a light copyedit — but instead it has become a full-scale rewrite and retranslation that’s taking me far longer than I could have ever expected. I’m nearly there, but not quite there because there are always potential spanners when it comes to government agencies. You know how it is, and if you don’t, you should.

The other thing was the Oscars on Monday (Taiwan time), for which I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in a one-day gig helping out as a translation/film consultant for the local TV broadcast. It was a long day but it was fun and exciting, and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people, all of whom I hope to cross paths with again soon. I’m going to write up a post on that experience pretty soon along with my thoughts about the Oscars in general (including host Seth MacFarlane). It’s gotta be done.

Anyway, much of the time before that day was spent trying to catch up on the movies nominated for the Oscars, in particular the best picture titles. I never ended up getting through all of them, but I still intend to do so. There’s only Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild left for best picture, but I’m also hoping to be able to get to The ImpossibleThe Master, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom and The Sessions as part of my Oscar movie blitz. I’ll be reviewing all of them, along with the other nominees I’ve already seen, such as Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln and The Invisible War. I’ll get there…someday.

Work has also been somewhat of a nuisance because I’ll be very busy here for the next couple of weeks. It was unavoidable and certainly foreseeable, but still, it sucks feeling like you’re running on adrenaline most of the time.

That’s all for now, but as a butt-groping, nanny-impregnating governor once said, “I’ll be back.”

Freelancing is lancing my free time

February 19, 2013 in Blogging, Misc, On Writing, Parenting

Anyone recognise where this is from?

Anyone recognise where this is from?

You may have noticed that things have been a little slow on this blog lately. It wasn’t supposed to be. In fact, I was supposed to be posting up a storm over this recent nine-day Lunar New Year break in Taiwan. Instead, I took up a freelancing gig, and it’s been killing me. Killing me, I tell ya. As the great Tommy Wiseau would say:

Freelancing jobs are always a dilemma when you also have a full-time job. On the one hand, it’s nice to get a bit of extra cash, but on the other, you are voluntarily adding all this pressure on yourself and destroying whatever free time you might have. When you have a one-year-old baby to look after like I do, free time is more precious than diamonds, and if you’re not desperate for money it’s always tempting just to say, “No thanks, I’d rather sleep, or read, or watch The Walking Dead or a movie, or exercise, or play video games, or do whatever the hell it is that I’d rather be doing.”

This is why I’d actually been turning down quite a few freelancing opportunities as of late, though this new one that I took on was from a regular client that paid relatively well and was a good opportunity to establish more crucial contacts. Freelancing, as I learned from that ultra-successful, US$600K-a-year  freelance writer Robert W Bly (I reviewed his freelance guide here), is all about connections and getting repeat business. You can be the best freaking writer in the world, but you’re not making any money if people don’t know who you are. That’s why there are all these horrible, horrible writers and editors earning great money doing freelancing full-time, while decent or even very good writers and editors prefer to work in steady jobs and not worry about where their next paycheck will come from.

As usual, I have underestimated how difficult this current freelance gig would be. When I first saw it I estimated roughly four days — mostly during my “spare” time at work. Instead, it has killed almost all my free time from the Lunar New Year break and I’m still not finished. Part of the problem is me being slow and too meticulous and distracted with other things, but it’s incredibly frustrating nonetheless. This one gig has essentially derailed the longest holiday I’m probably going to have this year. It’s also set back my plans to start exercising regularly again by at least another week (I really need it too, after eating like a pig over the break). And don’t even get me started on the PS3 games I’m supposed to be playing. I have literally not switched on my PS3 since finishing Sleeping Dogs in late November. Meanwhile, my food and movie blog posts continue to pile up. At this rate, I’ll never get back to working on what I really want to take another stab at — my novels.

It has me wondering whether I’ll ever take on another freelance case. Well, I’m sure I will, and I’m sure I’ll be bitching about it like I am now once I do.