What to Do

Two months have passed since I left my employer in Lawton to go out on my own. Leaving without another full-time gig lined up was a gamble, but the job was so detrimental to my health that the decision had to be made — it was them or me. I chose me. The first few weeks off were surreal and, frankly, sublime. As I’ve said before, having nowhere to be is one of my favorite sensations, and I’ve been reveling in it. However, it’s now time to jump-start the income.

Originally, a few people had some work that they wanted me available to do. This is one of the reasons I made the decision to leave corporate employment when I did. None of those gigs has come to fruition yet, though, so I’m going to have to get creative in finding other avenues to the income. Here are a few of the options that have been bouncing around in my head.

Pro Blog. I’ve been kicking this option around for a while, but keep running into two related problems: topic and sustainability. To be successful, a blog needs to cover something other people care to read about and be updated frequently. While I’ve loads to say on a variety of topics, trying to focus on one for a respectable amount of time will be challenging. This blog is fun, but I could not in good conscience monetize it like I could a pro one. Possible topics under consideration at this point include technical writing, telecommuting, life/work balance, and gaming.

Kindle Marketplace. Amazon makes publishing your own work pretty easy, especially for their Kindle e-readers (which are awesome, by the way). I could start with a short story or even document my process for creating great proposal outlines and just go from there. I’ve already read a bit to catch up with the elements of good short stories seeing as how my last literature class was 20 years ago. Topic is once again an issue here, but the gates are open much wider for fiction, and this type of media is fire and forget from a sustainability standpoint.

Contributing Articles. Many websites post articles from contributing writers, and submitting content to these organizations would be great for keeping my brain engaged. Articles also provide portfolio material for prospective clients and employers without running into confidentiality issues with proprietary documents. Plus, the research required for a good article is fun because it feels like homework, and oh, how I loved school.

None of these options is likely to replace my last income any time soon, but they’re great for staying in practice and supplementing my big gigs as they come and go. I’ll keep you guys updated as I get things set up and published.

Note: This post was written with the assistance of the spotted cat referenced in the blog title. He’s sitting with his rear between my typing hands and his front feet on my stomach. Feline helpfulness is unique.

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Back Home

I’ve been off visiting my family for the past week, so this place has been quiet (trying to type more than miniscule updates on my phone isn’t very appealing). Spending time with my sisters and their kids is always entertaining, and I got to spend a lot with my parents, so the trip was definitely good.

Now, normally I curse the 4.5-hour drive to and from their house, but this one was different. Maybe it was the music randomly shuffling across my mp3 player, or maybe it was the weather, but I got some good thinking done while zooming down that blistering interstate. It was the most enjoyable alone time I’ve had in quite a while. Why? It was productive. My meandering, gap-jumping brain came up with a pretty good opening for a short story about an hour into the drive, and I spent the rest of it thinking of possible settings in which to lay that opener.

The idea could go in any direction: horror, introspection, or wild fiction. It would fit neatly into several of the stories that have been living in my head since I was 14, but I’m inclined to make this something new. If you have a preference, feel free to drop me a line. The thinking hasn’t stopped yet.

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In the Kitchen

Let’s be honest. When Brian first started watching Kitchen Nightmares, the show’s concept horrified me. Reality shows are inherently confrontational, and I…well, I’m inherently not. They tend to make me uncomfortable, even the ones that don’t involve lots of yelling. He started watching this show while I was doing something else nearby and I started listening in spite of myself. Gradually I found myself sitting on the couch next to him, and now I’m completely enthralled. Argh.

What got me hooked? Certainly not the yelling, though it’s always justified. Believe it or not, it was Ramsay’s enthusiasm. He seems to love what he does, and his energy infuses people with excitement for whatever it is they’re doing (managing, cooking, etc.). After working with him, people seem to be totally thrilled to be in the kitchen. Watching him get people to open up and listen to reason is fascinating. Each show is usually a horrid situation turned into a happy ending.

The other hook factor is his MO for most of these places: simple, fresh food. After watching a fair number of episodes on the DVR, this idea got to me and I started thinking of different things we could do in our kitchen to get away from the preprocessed box-dinner thing. I started to experiment with fresh ingredients, with new recipes, and with foods I had never dared try to make, and you know what? It’s a blast.

The reason for this post is my realization the other day in the kitchen starting a meatloaf and homemade mashed potatoes with green beans: I was excited and happy to be in there making real food. That was a first. Well done, Chef Ramsay. Well done.

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Long Time

The past two years have been pretty eventful, this last year especially so in the Life Change department. My posts got circumvented by insane work schedules and I once again fell out of the updating habit. Now that I’m footloose and fancy freelancer, we can see about getting back into the swing of things. A separate blog devoted to technical/proposal writing issues might be in order as well. We’ll see!

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