5 New Year Resolutions for the Aspiring Freelancer

2016-New-Years-ResolutionWith the new year, lots of folks cast their minds to a life change. For many, that change involves leaving the 9-to-5 working world and becoming a freelancer.

A while back, I was supervising my son at a birthday party for one of his elementary school classmates. The birthday boy’s father and I got to chatting about work, as dads often do in social situations, and he revealed that he was an engineer. He asked what I did, and I told him I was a freelance writer. When he probed for details, I shared my relatively flexible, work-from-home lifestyle as his eyes widened in awe.

“Oh, man! You’re living the dream!”

I demurred, as I often do when confronted with others’ disbelief, because I know in my heart that as good as freelancing sounds to people who don’t do it, it can have some pretty big ups and downs for those of us who make a living without being tethered to a single employer.

Sometimes I’m asked what the “secret” to a freelance career is. Truth: There is no secret. But there are a few commonsense steps you can take to prepare yourself if you’re seriously considering breaking free of the corporate cubical farm and going out on your own. Here, then, are my five things to do before you become a freelancer. Continue reading → 5 New Year Resolutions for the Aspiring Freelancer

Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

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Call me an overachiever.

It’s not enough for me to just imagine characters and settings and plot and all the tasty ingredients that typically go into a novel. No, I’ve got to go the extra mile and imagine what those characters are listening to, what music might be playing the background of a given scene and what songs would accompany the film version of the story that I spend years imagining in my head.

And yes, I do it all for you, my beloved readers.

OK, not really. The fact is, I can’t help it. I’m an annoying hipster’s worth of musical knowledge packed into the body of a middle-aged prepster. The combination of the words and the music is just there, and there’s really not much I can do about it. Continue reading → Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

In Praise of Unconventional Career Choices

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Spring means many things – renewal, the promise of a fresh start, the fragrance of blossoming flowers – but for the under-20 crowd the only scent during this time of year is the reek of fear sweat and desperation.

Yes, it’s graduation season. Welcome to the real world, kids.

Appropriately, I’ve been chatting with lots of parents (as a 40-ish fellow, I know precious few college-age folks anymore) who have kids either headed to college or making their way into the real world. A common thread among those headed to college is “What shall I study,” while the folks leaving college are asking themselves, “What now?” Continue reading → In Praise of Unconventional Career Choices

Monday Motivation: The Writer and the Altered Mental State

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Back when I wrote a weekly column for my home town’s newspaper, I took it upon myself to occasionally add a hefty dose of weird to my readers’ lives. Many times, this was accomplished simply by my being … me. I could take a while to list all the ways I never quite fit the male ideal for small town Southern life, but that would bore you. Suffice it to say that it seemed like many folks had never read anything quite like the things I wrote, and had a tough time placing me into a box that would make them more comfortable.

After a particularly freaky column – in which I remember invoking the power of George Clinton‘s Parliament-Funkadelic and its funk/sci-fi hybrid Mothership Connection to bring about world peace through a global funk invasion (really, it was magnificent, and for the life of me I can’t lay my hands on it) – one reader pulled me aside that day and said, “Whatever drugs you were on when you wrote this, I want some!” Continue reading → Monday Motivation: The Writer and the Altered Mental State

Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Anyone who’s spent more than 10 minutes reading past posts from this blog know that I’m a fan of fusion – both literary and musical. Some of the best examples of both come when someone known for one genre or style tries something new, or just decides to incorporate elements of the “other” into their own work.

Musically, Prince is one of my favorite examples, since his funk credentials are extensive, but the Little Purple One also has an incredible talent for penning an infectious pop song when he feels the urge. Continue reading → Funky Friday: Finding the Funk in Surprising Places

Today’s Writing Tip: Embrace the Beauty of Crowded Spaces

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If you’ve ever seen or read anything that includes Sherlock Holmes as a character, you already know a very important key to improving your writing – the art of observation.

Holmes, in nearly every iteration, seems nearly supernatural in his ability to deduce information about people, situations and – most importantly – crimes. How does he do it? He observes. He takes ┬áthe individual bits of what he sees, hears, smells, tastes and feels and he pieces them together, arriving at a conclusion based on how all those parts fit together. Continue reading → Today’s Writing Tip: Embrace the Beauty of Crowded Spaces

Power Pop Wednesday: Back From the Capital of Obsfucation and Misdirection, Enjoy Some Smoke and Mirrors

OK Go – The Writing’s On the Wall from 1stAveMachine on Vimeo.

The family and I visited Washington, D.C., earlier this week to do the required introduction of the young ones to Our Nation’s Capital. I might post some pictures if I feel so compelled to share.

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OK, you convinced me with your infernal whining. Here you go.

 

Overall, the city was much nicer than I remember it being during my last trip, when I was my son’s age and it was the 1970 and cities felt it was their duty to be as skanky as possible.

Regardless of the bad rap that D.C. gets from pretty much everyone, I found the people to be exceptionally friendly, and not just in the tourist-centric spots. The streets are quieter, the public transportation cleaner and people just seem generally more polite. It’s a reminder that even though lots of folks in my home state of South Carolina consider it “The North,” the heavy-duty influence of southern Maryland and Virginia made it very much a Southern city. Continue reading → Power Pop Wednesday: Back From the Capital of Obsfucation and Misdirection, Enjoy Some Smoke and Mirrors

Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog

I and my family recently joined the ranks of the dog rescuers, adopting a smart and handsome pointer mix puppy we have named Percy, for no other reason than his given name was Persimmon and we just weren’t cool with that.

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Percy Pointer Puppydog Pruden, in a moment of relaxation.

So Persimmon became Percy and he’s eased into life at Chez Pruden very nicely. Not surprising since, whether he knew it or not, he was scheduled for euthanasia at the high-kill shelter in Greenville, S.C., from which the local group All 4 Paws Animal Rescue acquired him. As I’ve noted to others, Percy and I are now the only two native South Carolinians in our household (although being from Greenville, chances are he’d be a Clemson fan. I just choose not to think about that). Continue reading → Funky Friday: Writing Routine and the Power of the Atomic Dog