Dilemmas and Dead Ends

Of late, I’ve been dipping my feet a little into the Editing end of things.

Yes. Editing with a capital E. Heh.

I’m mostly a writer, but given how I’ve been working in an editorial environment for a good few years, I believe I have gleaned enough relevant wisdom to take on some small editing projects.

So I have mustered some courage and had a go at the smattering of editing roles that have landed in my lap in recent times. Can’t 100% say that I’ve always handled them well, but I do think that I gave each of them my best shot.

What I’m here to talk about, actually, is a terribly upsetting predicament that unfortunately seems to be a recurring theme in my editorial dealings.

You might wonder what exactly I’m going on and on about, my dear Reader.

Well, it’s simply this: So many people out there seem to be unwilling to pay a decent fee for editing services. Well, writing services too. Probably just any form of editorial services, I guess.

Now, I know I need to tread a bit carefully here as I discuss this topic.

Generally, I don’t like to talk about my paid writing gigs because I don’t think it’s particularly professional to quote experiences I have with clients (or potential ones). However, I’d like to say a little bit of something here because I think it’s a point worth bringing up.

With no mention of specific names or incidents… dear Reader, please tell me…

How is it you can spend thousands on a single inanimate object (like a smartphone, for example) and yet stinge so much on remunerating your (quite literally) poor writer/editor?

A smartphone costs thousands because so much effort went into sourcing and assembling all those tiny electronic components that, when put together, can work magic and mysteriously connect you to the rest of the universe as found on the World Wide Web.

Well, now. Let’s take a moment to consider this, shall we?

Just as much effort goes into sorting out your words from your sentences, rearranging your sentences into intelligible paragraphs, and building your paragraphs into a compelling story.

In fact, I think it’s highly probable that there are so many more words in your manuscript that require processing than the number of parts that you find in your average digital device.

But it’s alright, I suppose. Go invest your resources into those items that quickly depreciate over time.

Words written have the potential to be immortalised. To earn you a far reaching good reputation that might result in the wise things you said being quoted for generations to come.

Oh, but you don’t care, do you, my dear Reader? Forgive my sarcasm. Perhaps it’s just a temporary bad season for me.

Well, anyway, in case you might have been wondering about the title of this post…

Here’s the dilemma: Should fees that I’ve quoted for above mentioned editing tasks be lowered for the sake of accommodating the (somewhat unreasonable) demands of potential clients? Or should I let dead ends run their course since it’s good to do your work with dignity and to be paid what you’re worth?

Hmm.

Let me know what you think. Although I can wager a guess already as it is.

Out

It’s April and I’m out of work.

Or at least that’s how it seems right now as I was more or less dismissed with an “I’ll get back to you later, I’m working on something” response from the client.

My guess is nobody would want to pay a freelancer like me at this time since finances may be tightening and the prospects for future business income may seem pretty bleak at this point.

Ah well. It’s not the first time that I have been without work since I began this full time freelance venture. It’s just that I can’t recall when this last happened, or how long it lasted (usually not long).

Anyway, it’s not good to leave my writing muscles unflexed throughout this period of work inactivity, so I guess the best way to stay in shape (mentally, I mean, mostly) is to find outlets where I can continue to write in some form or another.

I’ve been contemplating starting a social media mini series. I haven’t completely decided what it will be about yet, but I’m thinking something with positive vibes or a theme of hope would be good since there is so much fear and rumour mongering and depressing news going around lately with Covid-19 still in circulation.

Another thing I’ve sort of halfheartedly done (because in the past I usually fail at it) is sign up for the April Camp Nano. I couldn’t decide what to write about there, so tentatively I’m designating it as a collection of short stories, which I will write at random. Unless of course, some sort of direction or theme emerges along the way.

Meanwhile, life at home carries on in its usual fashion.

Today is just slightly out of the norm only in the sense that both hubs and I are already awake at 6+ in the morning (it’s usually only me) and there is activity in the kitchen already. Oh, and the Eldest One was awake out of the blue too (but hopefully, drifting back to sleep soon).

A grocery run may be imminent, and I do not look forward to finding out what is left or what dire straits we may actually be in soon. Sigh.

I’ve told myself I should write something here other than always journalling about real life. But I can’t seem to grasp any useful topic at the moment. I shall try next round, my dear Reader.

May your day today be brighter than the former, and may rays of hope shine amidst the darkness of your little corner.

In between

Dear Reader,

How is it like in your corner of the world today?

It’s Day #3 of the Restricted Movement Order here in Malaysia.

I am up early ahead of the rest of the family. Expressing breastmilk in a silicone collector as my youngest is not awake to nurse. Next in line for list of activities would be to put the cloth diapers into the washing machine and to gather the trash for my husband to take out when he goes out to get groceries.

Unlike many other families within the Klang Valley, we did not stock up food in anticipation of the Order. We only bought enough to last us for about a week during our last grocery run, and the week is almost up. Hence, I will need to plan meals very soon (within the next hour or so), and wake my husband to get to the stores as early as possible since we don’t know what stock levels are like in our neighbourhood stores yet.

From what I heard from a friend staying in another part of our city, it was crowded at the shops within their community. I certainly hope there won’t be too much of that where we are at.

I’ve generally always thought of where we live as being one of the quieter, less noticed part of Petaling Jaya. And yet, we kept hearing of Covid-19 cases in several nearby areas, giving us the notion that the virus is literally all around us. The most disturbing was the case of a preschool teacher who got it. This preschool had been opened recently at the mall where we normally go for our grocery shopping.

My husband only started taking this Covid-19 pandemic more seriously after he visited that mall on one of the days where they were still disinfecting the preschool and screening all shoppers seeking to enter the ground floor (where the preschool was located) for any signs for fever.

Now he finally wears a mask or brings a long a small bottle of hand sanitiser while he is out. He promptly cleans his hands upon his return from a trip out, and changes his clothes. There was an occasion where he even decided to bathe right away.

For our household, things aren’t too different during this Order than they are at regular times. This is because my husband and I are both self employed at the moment. A situation at work worsened around the time our youngest was about to be born, and so he left his full time job and has been in limbo since.

At the time the Order was issued by our Prime Minister, he had already begun taking on projects for this new consultancy gig he has embarked on. There had been relatively positive signs lately, and several possible work projects have been popping up.

On my end, my freelance writing work was finally beginning to settle into a routine after the abnormal activity I had over the past few months where I was serving a new client in a temporary role that ended in February.

Now everything is more or less slowing down due to the Order. We are wondering if we will get paid on time. Or whether there will be multiple delays and even a lack of work opportunities in the near future.

I know there are families out there with an even bleaker outlook to their household income sources than we have. Some cannot even work at all right now because their jobs require them to be out, or to be meeting people. There is no Work-At-Home option for them. I wonder how they will cope.

It’s only supposed to be a 2 week exercise, but my husband and I anticipate that this Order will be extended beyond just a fortnight. As it is, with the way many Malaysians are behaving, we might even see a far greater spike in Covid-19 cases. The thought is chilling.

I think of my two very young kids and I worry. They are happy with us at home at the moment. But will we be able to keep them happy and well once our funds run too low? Can we continue to afford preschool for our eldest one?

And what sort of world will they be growing up in, given the terrible turn of events that we keep seeing both on a local as well as global scale? I sometimes wonder if it would have been kinder to have not introduced them to this cruel, cold world.

But as I tried telling my husband last night, perhaps the best thing to do at times like this is to just keep looking ahead. To just keep focussing on the very next step. Because I think that’s all we have the capacity to do right now.

It’s daybreak now and I must go. I hope things are brighter where you are, my dear Reader. Till I return, I wish you a good day.

Phases, changes

I saw her today as I was about to get out of my car and head back to my apartment.

Her back was turned towards me, and there was confidence in her stride. She wore fairly fashionable clothes. Attire that probably contributed to that healthy sense of self-esteem she seemed to embody.

She was walking to her car, obviously with somewhere to go. At this hour, it would undoubtedly be an office of some shape or form. Or, at least, to a venue where a work related appointment awaited.

Before long, she was behind the driver’s wheel and then off she went, into glorious realms unknown.

I was her, once, not so long ago.

I would wake up just in time for breakfast and to groom myself and look presentable for work. I would rush off hoping to reach the office in record time. (Or at least before the boss arrived or noticed).

I would only have myself to worry about for most of the day, while only occasionally relating to my boyfriend/husband. And eagerly awaiting for the next moment when we would meet again.

Now though, I have to rise early every morning and rush to prepare breakfast and to get a little boy up and ready to face the world. My morning commute consists of a school run, followed by a return to the quiet yet familiar surroundings of my home as I spend the next few hours alone till my son is back from school.

Work for me takes place whenever and wherever I can find the space and time to do so. The main objective is to get it done, and to have it completed by the deadline I’ve agreed to with my client.

I rarely have time to myself, and most waking hours are spent attending to the needs and demands of my son. My husband and I chat throughout the day about our son, and other household matters like what to cook for dinner or what has run out in the kitchen inventory and hence, needs to be picked up from the grocery store on the way home.

Life has indeed taken a different turn, with its own new set of challenges, but I tell you truth: I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Bucks bunny

Here’s something that has been bothering me lately: Our family’s lack of finances and how it could be better.

I’m no entrepreneur, but now and then, I do entertain thoughts of trying out this or that thing. And thinking, maybe this will help with the finances. Perhaps it could be the breakthrough we need.

And then I sit on the idea and wait.

Or I tell it to my husband, only to get discouraged because so far, he hasn’t ever become too excited about any of the thoughts which I have shared with him.

At other times, I would reflect on my freelance writing career. And then feel bad that it doesn’t quite bring in the kind of income that I had hoped it would.

Where some of these situations might have motivated someone else to take action, for me, it often just discourages me.

I am by no means an Energiser bunny. Even less so a bucks bunny.