Well, we’re a quarter of the way through the year. Already!
Here in Québec, it couldn’t come soon enough. January, February, and March are by far the toughest months of the year. It’s cold, dark, and it usually snows a lot. This year wasn’t any different. Especially in March: we had a blizzard drop over 2 feet of snow in La Prairie. Some areas received over 3 feet! That’s a bundle, even for us!
Needless to say, I’m glad the worst of it is over (even if it is snowing here this morning). Because this first quarter of the year was rough.
Sunday Wet Sunday
On Sunday, February 26th, as I was going down to my home office to finish off a project for a customer, I landed in a few inches of cold water. I turned on the light to find out that the basement had been flooded overnight. The entire area was covered in about 3 inches of water.
After making sure everybody was safe, it was time to assess the damage. My PC, which sat on the floor, was flooded. Obviously, it wouldn’t start. I panicked, as I had not backed up (yes, stupid me) the project which was due in a few hours. Fortunately, the hard drive was safe, so I was able to remove it and insert it in an external casing, which I then connected to my laptop. I was able to finish off the project and deliver it on time.
Overall, we were lucky. We lost a set of bookcases from IKEA which we’d assembled to look like one built-in unit and three other IKEA units. I love the furniture from IKEA, it’s affordable and good quality. But, since they’re made out of presswood, once the water penetrates the unfinished wood at the base of the units, they’re toast. We also lost a few notebooks, dictionaries, and books which were on the bottom shelf of a storage unit in my office. Most of the electronics were fine. Luckily, my PC was salvaged, thanks to a good tech who took it apart and cleaned it thoroughly.
It took a little more than three weeks to redo the entire basement. Three weeks of noise, dust, and countless trips to the local hardware centers. But it was worth it. The new basement is absolutely gorgeous, thanks in large part to my girlfriend’s great eye for interior design.
Business: slow start out of the gates
When I started out as a freelance writer, last summer, I knew there would be good times, and there would be bad times. I only hoped that the good would seriously outweigh the bad. And it has so far, thankfully.
But things have been slow since the beginning of the year. My biggest customer, who kept me busy for the last few months of 2016, has been awfully quiet so far in 2017. This is government-related business, and the Canadian government hasn’t been sending them much work lately. So, in turn, I haven’t been getting much from them.
And losing my home office for a month didn’t help, either. I was a lot more comfortable working with my dual-monitor set-up (a must when you’re translating) and all the other tools I didn’t have access to when I worked on my laptop in the dining room or on the couch.
So, in between trip to IKEA or to hardware centers, I chased some leads. I got my hands on a list of translation agencies and applied to a bunch of them, even did a few trials for a couple of them. I’m waiting on the results.
My virtual network helped out a lot in landing new business, too. Just last week, in fact, I started doing work for another translation company. They were referred to me by a Facebook friend who heard they were looking for translators and suggested I send them my info. I submitted bids to other prospects, but didn’t get their business.
You win some, you lose some!
An Unexpected Call
Two weeks ago, the phone rang. I picked up, only to hear the voice of the HR manager from my last full-time job.
As we the conversation began, my mind was racing. I had no idea why she was calling me, out of the blue. It was unexpected, to say the least.
I thought she wanted to talk about an old colleague, maybe ask me about his or her work, something along those lines. But no.
She wanted me to come back to work for them! Turns out one of the members of my old team has to take a leave of absence, so they needed someone to fill in. And my name came up, so would I be interested?
Now, keep one thing in mind: my business was slow, and we’d just spent a ton of money fixing the basement. The trip my girlfriend and I were supposed to take to celebrate our 40th birthday had been postponed.
So, accepting her offer was a no-brainer, right? This would give us the funds we needed, easily.
I turned her down. I wasn’t ready to sacrifice everything I’d worked for for the better part of a year.
Sure, things weren’t going as smoothly as I hoped they would.
But I wasn’t ready to quit. I have a lot of fight left in me.
With all of these obstacles out of the way, I’m expecting things to pick up over the next 90 days.
First of all, the Canadian government has some new money to spend, so I should be getting more jobs from the agencies I work with. One of them has already asked me to be available next week, in fact; they’re expecting an increase in their workload. Good news!
Secondly, I’m working on my first blog post for Horkey Handbook, a web site operated by freelance writer extraordinaire Gina Horkey. It will deal with professional networking. Stay tuned for more on that.
Finally, throughout all this, I managed to keep working on my fiction. While I was home(office)less, it was actually easier to do that than to translate.
Late last year, I signed up for the 365 Writing Club on Facebook. This is a challenge intended to get writers writing everyday, which I’ve always had trouble with. It’s mainly a Facebook group where writers from around the world hold each other accountable to their daily goals, and there’s an online spreadsheet where we must enter the number of words we’ve written every day.
Sounds silly, but it works. So far, I’ve missed only 1 day of writing (March 25th) since the first of the year. As of March 31st, I’m up to 124,500 words written. This includes fiction writing, blog writing, copywriting, and translating. That’s an average of nearly 1,400 words per day!
Come to think of it, maybe things aren’t going so bad. Everything happens for a reason, after all.
Thanks for reading, folks. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and visit my Facebook page to stay in touch.
Until next time,