The Spice Of Life
Variety, they say, is the spice of life. In which case, my working week has been particularly flavoursome!
Since coming back to the UK nearly a year ago, I’ve been juggling a number of different occupations in order to earn my daily bread (and stay freelance).
This week combined three of my current careers – teaching, gardening and journalism.
I spent Monday teaching English to four classes at a language school in Bournemouth. That was a long day but I enjoyed having a roomful of students from different countries. Quite a contrast from the previous six weeks when – for several days a week – my only student was an 11-year-old Saudi boy.
One-to-one teaching can be more productive but it’s also very intense and quite hard work. Particularly when it turns out your student has ADHD! (Wasn’t told that until week three but at least it explained why it was hard getting him to focus and I didn’t worry quite so much about our rate of progress afterwards.)
On Tuesday I spent four hours digging a pond for a gardening client. Not so much brain power required – just gallons of water to drink as it was extremely hot, particularly after meeting the compacted flints about 18″ down.
Wednesday I really went back to my roots, working as a sub-editor for our local newspaper. It was a bit strange being there – journalism was my first career but this was my first time working in a newsroom for about 15 years.
However, newspaper sub-editing isn’t that dissimilar to editing a novel. The content is different but a lot of the same basic rules still apply – getting the punctuation, grammar and story structure correct is crucial. Unnecessary words are also ruthlessly eradicated.
Every newspaper also has its own linguistic and stylistic quirks. Which is why one of the the first things I was given was a copy of the paper’s style guide. Maybe it’s something every writer should have – as a reader I can cope when writers break ‘rules’ but they’ve got to be consistent or else it’s just sloppy.
Today I finished the pond.
During my unpaid hours I’ve also managed to devote some time to my career as a writer. Part of that was tied up with phoning the IRS in the States so I can get an exemption certificate and persuade Amazon to pay me all of my royalties rather than withholding 30%. (Huge thanks to Samantha Holt for letting me know I didn’t need to waste a day going to the US embassy in London!)
Hopefully, once Amazon get my letter, I should get all my royalties. The next step is some paid promotion for a couple of my books in a bid to get sales back up. (Didn’t seem quite so much point when I wasn’t getting all my money).
And – hurrah! – I’ve also got a reasonable bit of writing done this week. Now on the last main scene of White Rabbits…
So. Got to dash, there’s a showdown to write.