Category: Work


And Then There is Work

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being a writer is the fact bills still need to be paid. Even for a lot of published writers a second job is required in order for all to be covered. For me though writing is something I have to do, but as yet it contributes nothing to my bank account. So I work at a regular (or not so regular many would say) job.

It is a job that allows me flexibility to travel to conventions, which is my stress relief from the pressures of that job and general life, so that is a very good thing. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at my job, and despite its peculiarities I like my job. I just wish at times that writing contributed a little something so I could spend more time focussing on that and not need to clock in the overtime shifts in order to pay for my convention habit, and my book habit.

Ahhh the first world problems of a writer-in-training.

 

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A New Era

Wow I finally manage to get some time off (having worked all last weekend) and I do something to my back making it difficult to even sit without being in pain. On the upside chocolate seemed to start the cure cycle – I tell no lie. Pain and more pain and I finally decide to munch into some of my stash and my back starts to improve. Choc obviously is useful for more things than sustaining me when I’m in a frenzy of writing.

This weeks big news though was that I received an offer for a new job. This is awesome. It means I will be leaving retail – big yay; and books will no longer be my living but once again my passion. Retail was taking something I love and crushing it. The really great thing about my new job is that it gives me a better work life balance, or at least it should. A better balance means two really good things; one I get to spend more time with my family and two, I get more time to write. Both of these things have to be good right? Well I think so.

So I have less than three weeks left in retail and I’m really trying to get everything organised so that during my week and a half off I can spend some quality time writing. I am so looking forward to this. Writing and books are my passion they probably always will be that is why I’m so excited at this new era. I have learnt so much working in the book retail side of things and as far as that goes I regret nothing. Now though it is time to move on and I am so excited about this.

Hopefully a change will refresh and recharge me. I have two projects I am really passionate about at the moment and I really want to get them off the ground. Stay tuned…good things are happening.

I hope you have good things going on for you too.

Well That Was Different

This week proved less productive in some ways than I had hoped but that was because I actually lost an hour of writing time at work. Usually during my hour on the till I write when there are no customers, for most of this week I didn’t get a till shift because I was upstairs in inventory. I really liked the change, to be honest I really liked not having to deal with customers.

On the upside as far as writing goes a few things are brewing and settling in my mind. Sometimes the thinking and mulling things over is the important part of writing because even when you’re not consciously working on something various ideas are floating around in your mind. You come up with ideas, discard others and so by the time you get to put pen to paper the ideas just slot into place. That has been what I’ve been doing a bit of thins week, thinking through things. The fun part of this is that then new ideas slot themselves into your story. It’s nice to see how the story grows organically, it is the advantage of not planning everything out, sometimes there are wonderful surprises.

Hmmm!

Life is kind of funny sometimes. I love books, always have, I love reading, but right at the moment I’m not all that keen on my job. I’m just a bit, okay more than a bit frustrated with the place I work, the boss and the customers.

It’s hard enough somedays to get up in the morning because, well it’s morning and I am without question a night person. When you have to get up to go to a job where lounge music in all it’s anaesthetic glory is played all day, maybe you get what I mean. I don’t understand the logic that says because we are a book store the only music that can be played is mind numbingly boring. Then I get asked stupid questions like why aren’t you awake yet?! Hello, music, not a guitar riff or drum beat to be found.

My other frustrations are nothing new, not really. I’d like to change the way the kids department is set out but for some reason requests to section books according to age fall on deaf ears. And as always with retail there are the customers. I had to walk away from a customer the other day when he asked for a true crime book detailing the story of a group of boys going out a raping girls, -‘I don’t know what it’s called or who wrote it but can you find it for me?’ I said sorry I don’t read that stuff and walked away before I could say something rude. Also had a customer ask for a best selling true crime book but nothing girly. It reminded me of the time I was asked where we kept the books written by female authors.

That said there are some customers I love spending time with. The ones who listen, or know what they are talking about. Truthfully though I am getting a little sick of people saying they don’t need help with a tone that says ‘you couldn’t help me I’m looking for kids books’. Hello kids book specialist here! I also am a little sick of the statement ‘my child is a very advanced reader,’ and variations there of. Yes I’m glad your 8 year old has a good vocabulary but it’s not the word but the topic content of the stories that can make them inappropriate. ‘But my child is a very good reader…’ ‘Fine yes then, that paranormal romance book is a great choice for your 8 year old son’.

It will take a lot more than this to get me to turn my back on books, it is a life long love affair and one never likely to end (I love my kindle too and according to my boss that’s not a good thing), however I think I am hitting the end of my time as a bookseller. The passion ebbs and flows so at the moment.

Of course I’m unlikely to stop writing either. On that note a good thing happened this week. Sometimes when you write you’re not really happy with what you are doing. It’s inevitable. With this fantasy project having become two books instead of one, I’ve been battling to find a way into what will be the first book. Oh I already have a chunk of the content and I know the story, what I didn’t have was a suitable starting point and tone. This week though, as I started linking  a couple of scenes together it came to me. And just like that pieces slotted into place and the flow felt like it was there. Yay!

So onwards with the writing  and in the mean time I shall be contemplating a future outside of retail.

Heading Into Last Few Days

NaNo has been tough. But then I guess that’s the point, if there wasn’t a challenge what would be the point?

Last weekend at its start, I was way behind and I managed to catch up. As it stands my online account looks behind but I am up to date, if not ahead of my word count due to the fact I create with pen and paper. Now I just need to stop procrastinating and watching crime shows and action flicks and type.

On a totally different yet still industry related topic, this week saw Matthew Reilly come into store for a signing. yes I am unashamedly a fan girl. I got to have a nice little chat with him, more than just the standing in line and saying I love your books man. There have got to be perks for working in the job I have and this is one of them.

Thank you Matthew Reilly, a definite highlight of the week.

Book Stores

I have been doing a whole lot of thinking about book stores and my job recently. It’s no secret that for the most part I loved my old job. I love kids books and books in general and I loved the people I worked with. In all my working life I have never worked with a bunch of people who I got along so well with. In some ways we were like family. Now though I am struggling and all that’s changed is the store I work in. Oh and of course the size. But that single change in actuality is a huge thing. The atmosphere is so different. It is stifling and so very conservative. Everything from the attitude to customers and the business to the damn muszak that is played repeatedly everyday.

This combined with losing out on another job have given me cause to think about a few things.

One thing I know is that I still love books, that is never likely to change. I really am starting to believe that bookstores need to change. I know so many people who don’t buy their books from bookstores for various reasons. For me though part of what I think the problem is, is that book stores seem to be stuck in the past. They seem determined to not to embrace the present and the future. Specialty stores work well because they have a hook, but stores that have a ‘shhh we’re a book store, be careful, be quite and move on’ attitude are really going to have to think it through.

The other thing is as a specialist my work is happy to take advantage of the huge number of hours I put in building up my product knowledge and I’m happy to share my knowledge with the customers but I have to admit, a bit selfishly I’m sure, that I object to them expecting me to provide for them answers to a large number of customer questions for when I’m not there. I don’t get paid for my extra hours and I don’t get paid for training up the other staff. When I made a comment about it I was told it wasn’t about me but the business. Hmmm.

For me it is about me and looking after my family. There is no way I am going to put someone else’s business above my family.

I love books but unless the industry is willing to make some drastic changes…

 

Writing Again

This week I actually got some writing done. In amongst everything else I’m doing I came up with a cool short story idea and got the chance to put pen to paper again.

It’s strange I write pretty much every day, I’m never without a notebook or three, it’s just most of what I write these days are reviews. Sometimes that makes me a little sad. Don’t get me wrong I love the reading and I quite like writing reviews, I just really want to have people reading my stories. It’s what I’ve wanted since I was a kid. So there are days when I wonder if starting my review blog is a cop out of some sort. You know I can’t do what I really want so I settle.

I try not to dwell on it though. I still have ideas and still scribble things down, it’s just so much of my time is taken up reading other peoples books and writing about them. It is funny in a way because nearly every book or interview about what it takes to be a good writer includes the tip to read, and read, and read some more. I suppose on the up side I’ve got that down pat.

A funny thing happened at work this week. One of the people I work with asked me to tell her all about the kids books I know. I turned around half joking half serious and said what if I didn’t want someone else using my  knowledge for their gain and I got a lecture on how it’s not all about me and I should know it’s about selling books. Wow, I even less wanted to share what’s in my head after that. The thing is what if I don’t stay at this job I don’t want to give them all my knowledge any more than I want to give them all my contacts, in a way I am kind of feeling used. I love books and I want to put them into people’s hands but it’s hard when in some way it just feels like you’re being used for what you can give them not for what they can give back (the people you work for).

Here’s a thought, you want to know what all these books are about how about you pick one up and read it?

Oh and in brief, when people who work in books bitch and complain about e-books/e-readers and people downloading free books illegally, then turn around and say they download all their movies instead of paying for them, do they even see how stupid that looks?

My Writing Brain

Over the last couple of weeks at work I tried taking a notebook with me to the register so I could write when it was quite. I managed a little not a lot, in a way though I have to say I viewed this as a success. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get into writing anything longer than a few thousand words and so even writing snippets for my second fantasy novel has been a good thing. In some ways I feel I should be able to do more and so I feel disappointed in myself. On the other hand I know I’ve been putting so much time and effort into reviewing and establishing the website that something had to give, and to be perfectly honest with all that was going on at work it has been particularly difficult to find myself in any sort of head space to write especially anything even remotely useful.

So now I find myself having a week off in which I had planned to knuckle down and find my writing brain, unfortunately I didn’t realise until about a week ago that my week off was the first week of the school holidays, so I guess I may have to be content with a few more baby steps in the right direction. I am confident I will find it though it would help if I had a map.

 

Another Week

It is very tempting to not write anything this week, mostly because there is nothing good to say. Or at least that is how it feels.

Work has been tough and sad, it is so sad watching the section I put so much time into collapsing down to nothing. It’s also sad watching the rest of the store disintegrate as well. Then there are all the silly customers who thing we want to answer the same three questions all the time; ‘are you closing?’ ‘when?’ ‘why?’. Then there are the annoying ones who say things like ‘where are you going to be able to work after this?’ It’s none of their business but so far I’ve restrained from saying anything particularly rude.

I have almost finished one of my short stories for a submission. That’s on the good side. On the bad side my submission for my novel has been rejected and while I know that is a large part of the business it came at a really stressful time for me. Also I’ve been contemplating that, while I feel strongly about my YA project I wonder if I may not be better off letting it go. That’s the thing about writing, sometimes you really have to just let go of some ideas that you really like.

I will not give up. I haven’t yet and I’m not sure I know how but right now I’m feeling a bit down. The highlight of my week has been the good stuff that has been happening with TheKylieVerse. I have also done a lot of really good reading lately and that’s not a bad thing. I love Tamora Pierce, Michael Pryor and Ally Carter among other authors but these three have made this week better, so thank you guys.

I’ve Done It Again

Yes, though not to quite the extreme that I have done before.

Yes I have allowed a deadline to creep up on me. It’s all good though. I’ve had a lot of trouble motivating myself to write, what with all that’s going on at work (or lack there of ) hoping I can find a new job and all that goes with it.

On the plus side, this time the story I’m submitting is one I’ve already started, in fact it’s almost written, or at least the draft is. It also is a story that has been flitting around in the back of my mind while all the rest of everything has been going on.

I’ve also done some great reading lately; Abandon by Meg Cabot, Moment of Truth and Hour of Need by Michael Pryor, The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Reading is a great balm to the circumstances, though I am wondering if my sugar (chocolate) intake has increased.