(aka Holy cow but this changes a lot. A lot, a lot. What in the hell am I going to do?!)
So, last night I was rambling about something was needing to ‘give’ and how I just couldn’t do everything anymore. Going by the recently-hired-first-to-be-fired mentality I was totally thinking that eHow might be the thing to go. Um, yeah, about that…
Had a bit of a chat with the West Coast after work today and, well, there’s serious opportunity here. Mega opportunity. Like, making me rethink priorities kind of opportunity. But the cost would be increasing my writing quota which would directly impact my other interests. Is it a) doable and b) worth it?
From a purely financial standpoint well… I’m salivating. I mean, I’m not going to post numbers (that would not be right to do) but it certainly makes my per-hour input more commesurate with the value of my time.
From a time standpoint, I’d have to be much more strict on myself writing-wise. Granted, the last month of going to All Saints on Wednesdays is really paying off as far as productivity goes. Two hours there usually gives me an opportunity to do most of the edits on the previous week’s article and write the draft of the next. That’s not all that bad. Right now I have an obligation to publish 3 per month. If I go with the proposed, uh, upgrade, I would be obligating myself to publish 7 per month. Now, if I really simplify it, that just means doubling my writing sessions, right? I mean, 4 weeks a month give me 4 writing slots (so that’s 3 articles with one week to spare or get ahead for the next month). And if the month has 5 weeks (one a quarter does, you know), then that’s another week of wiggle room. If I just changed my schedule to two writing sessions a month then theoretically I’m covered. As long as there are a couple days between each to clear my head between the draft and editing it shouldn’t be a problem. I mean, really, how is this any different than taking a second, very part-time job somewhere?
I’ll tell you how: content. Do I have it in me to come up with seven actionable, monetized topics a month? There’s the rub. So it’s a matter of confidence, right? Now, some of you are probably thinking I’m pretty much at critical mass for self-confidence which, some days, is true. At least that’s what I’d like people to think. But I have a healthy amount of self-doubt and self-criticism to balance that self-confidence, and right now that’s Big Issue #1.
That means there’s a Big Issue #2, right? Yup. Time management. Okay, what was I whining about last night? Right: not having enough time to do everything. What was I berating myself for today at work: the current trend of poorly managing my time at home in the evenings and on weekends. In fact, before the phone coversation this evening, I was already starting to think that I needed to get back to parcelling out my evenings into workable blocks. So, in a way, this eHow opportunity is coming at just the right time to really make that plan workable. To really give me incentive to implement. Right!
But no matter how well I schedule things, the fact of the matter is that I have approximately 5 hours an evening between dinner and bedtime (because sleep really isn’t negotiable) and, let’s say, 15 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. (5 x 5) + (15 x 2) = 55 hours to play with. Sounds like a lot when I put it that way. But, as Palmie reminded me, all work and no play is never a good idea, so let’s say a hour an evening during the week and 2 or so each weekend leaves me with 46 hours or so. Still not bad. I should be able to work with that, right? Maybe? Of course, there are always those weeks when nothing wants to work and I need to veg a night or two and, well, it’s unrealistic (if I’m looking at this as scheduling my off-time as ‘on’) to ‘work’ seven days a week, so probably the more realistic number I’m dealing with is in the range of 35 between littles odds and ends and life just intruding.
So, say, 10 hours a week for eHow (that gives me two writing sessions plus some time for photographing or illustrating points, more thorough editing and uploading). How much time does Random Acts… take? Let’s see, each strip has to be scripted, sketched, inked, shaded, scanned, digi-prepped, uploaded, and activated. All in all, rough estimate, I’d say that takes about 10 hours a week as well (some more than others and I really need to start building up a buffer again, especially if I proceed with eHow). That leaves me 15 hours a week (or, basically, Saturday) to do everything else I want to: webstuff, research, SCA meetings and events, officer stuff for SCA, home dec projects, throwing parties, creating new projects, cleaning house, doing laundry, shopping, checking emails…
So here’s the big question (which I also asked Palmie in a rather rhetorical way): Do I really want to commit myself to becoming a writer?
I mean, I’m sorta heading in that general direction lately. Between the comic, the graphic novel languishing in an incomplete text file, NaNo for 4 years with no signs of stopping, even this blog… I tend to do a lot of wordy stuff. I’ve always enjoyed researching, and teaching fun things (and eHow combines both of those interests) and I am capable of doing it… But am I ready to make that sort of committment. I mean, this would mean pretty much having two non-work interests: writing and webcomics (with some crossover on both fronts, so maybe it’s only one interest) in order to accomplish anything.
But the benefits. First, of course, there’s the money. The pay would be good and, hey, being paid for an ersatz hobby? Kinda moves it up in the rankings a bit if you know what I mean. Second, there’s the exposure. I mean, on the internet it takes a lot to get noticed: a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of luck.
I feel like I lucked into this writing gig by being in the right place (or rather, the right listserv) at the right time and putting myself out there even though I really didn’t have the qualifications they were getting from other people (not that I beat anyone else out, I just had interests I could write about that others hadn’t so far). So there’s one out of three. Time, well, time’s flexible not in how much we get, but how we use it. I’ve already pin-pointed on paper at least how I could conceivably accomplish the task time-wise. So that’s two. Three is effort: am I willing to commit to the effort? Still thinking.
Third, is the credibility. This goes a bit with the exposure ‘plus’ in that if I put forth the effort and make the time, I can turn my luck into what? Into readership for Random Acts… Into maybe getting a real publisher for the graphic novel. Or maybe a publisher for the non-graphic novel. Maybe I get noticed by someone else and get a better or complimentary offer. That’s a lot of very tempting maybes… And can we say that next year’s D*C could be 100% write-off? (well, except meals, there’re only 50%)
I told WestCoast that I’d have an answer in a couple of days. This change, by the way, would kick in next month. And the 7-article obligation might be changing depending on the implementation of some other site features in the hopper that would decrease the standard article needs in favor of some alternative content. Now, let me tell you, I am all for those additional ideas coming into play and they would fit very easily with my current style and so forth (but I won’t spill what it is because I wouldn’t want to be sharing company secrets).
Tonight I’ll do a bit of research on some of the ‘competition’ to see about some changes I talked about with WestCoast. Also I’ll do some brainstorming on content and if I can get together 3 months of topics (21 titles) then I’ll be good for the rest of the year and will be that much closer to saying ‘yes.’ The big thing that will desparately need to change is my level of SCA involvement. Already I don’t have time to do everything I’m trying to, and that tends to be a source for a lot of the larger committments. Again its a cost-versus-earning comparison and, unfortunately, Med.Rec. doesn’t pay for most of us. Granted, it’s still an expert vertical for the time being (though that may be changing due to target demographic reasons) so I’ll still be in, I just can’t be uber-helper-monkey anymore and I may need to discuss some prior committments with some others at the meeting Thursday, or maybe before…