Abra Goes

on theatre, running, writing, and looking up

Archive for March 2008

Writing and Taxes par-tay

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Am I the only freelancer who procrastinates doing taxes? It seems everyone was giving tips back in February, when I still had a glorious month and a half to procrastinate.

This year, about ¾ of my income was from freelancing. The terms ‘1099’ and ‘huge stack’ do not belong in a happy sentence together.

You can avoid this fate and continue writing in your home office IF you set your rates right, among other things. This is a biggie for me this year.

Granted, when it comes to pitching I’ll be more than happy to take any assignment because I only query pubs I want to write for. But when it comes to taking on copywriting and other business writing related clients, the fee scale is as wide and low as the skill level of every freelance writer vying for business.

This week, in addition to knocking out my taxes, I’m researching ways to find and target the best clients for me:

-updating and polishing portfolio, with a spin on the services I am quickest with

-calling through the first quarter of my rolodex

-industry specific inquiries

And as for my website? It’s coming in May, though it may be the equivalent of a bad-ass stick figure waving.

Tax tips for procrastinator-aficionados anyone?

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Written by abragoes

March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Yankees Opening Delay

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On this misty gray day in New York City there are thousands of Yankees fanatics, many who paid upwards of $250 a piece to be at the Yankees’ last opening day at the Yankee Stadium, probably wandering home cursing the rain wondering if they can take tomorrow off for the rescheduled game.

 

Years ago, I got rained out of the only Yankees game I ever had tickets to. Though I’m not a fan of baseball and don’t feel particularly sentimental about the stadium getting replaced, I don’t like picturing a bunch of Yankees fans prematurely disappointed.

 

 

So what do you do when your game gets rained out? Any traditions?

In a country music video, I imagine you could have a picnic in a pick-up truck parked on the field, and then later you play baseball in the rain with your guitar and realize: you can strum a guitar and catch a ball with your bare hands at once. So why would you want to sit in the bleachers as a fan when you know you’re really a rock star?

 

 

 

Written by abragoes

March 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm

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Abra needs a new pair of shoes

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I made my goal for March – 42 miles/ 42 miles.

That’s 126 miles for the year so far.

126 / 500 miles for 2008

Two years ago I bought my first good pair of running shoes. By good, I mean I spent over $25 and did not wear them out after two months. In fact, two years later, I believe they’re still going strong -as long as one doesn’t look too close.

I bought them on sale for $59, grey and pink Adidas that roll forward with each step, support and swallow the road’s impact enough that I can focus on my breathing and not worry about shin splints or throbbing feet.

These shoes are my gym shoes, my running shoes, cycling shoes, March of Dime shoes, and all purpose I’m-going-to-do-something-active shoes. I’ve changed out the gel soles three times and recently added mole skin pads to the back heels because I’ve worn through the inside material and the rough patches were cutting my feet.

Now that visions of 5Ks are dancing in my head and I’m doing 3-4 miles 4-5 times a week, I wonder when and how I’ll first realize that it may possibly be time to consider a new pair of running shoes.

As I’ve mentioned, shopping is not my forte. It brings me no joy. There are way too many choices complicating what should be a simple ‘these are the ones’, grab ‘em & buy ‘em errand.

Alas, my Adidas cannot go on forever or even another year, as I’m beginning to feel the ground’s flat impact. Is it too much to ask for a pair of running shoes that feel like stepping into a soft cumulous cloud, yet spring me forth with stealth and fortitude?

Runner’s World has this guide of the years best shoes this spring – this will be my starting point.

Then I’ll go to Paragon Sports store near Union Square and try on every pair- Paramount has a handy treadmill in the shoe section so you can test drive top choices. Then I’ll go home and Google my shoe choice + discount (coupon code, etc) because I just learned that it’s cheaper to buy shoes online than in store.

Though they’ll likely remain in a box for several weeks, eventually I will lace up my new shoes and head to a great big park to break them in.

As for my magical grey pink Adidas, is it too tacky to use old shoes as planters? And which plant would be most appropriate?

Written by abragoes

March 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Posted in running

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Restaurant Week in Brooklyn

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It’s Restaurant Week in Brooklyn. If you’re in the area, there’s a ton of restaurants to choose from, especially in my neighborhood.

 

For $23 you get a 3 course prix-fix meal that is worth every penny and the service is excellent. RC and I are returning to last year’s restaurant of choice, Long-Tan, a Thai Restaurant on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. Last year I had the best Massaman curry of my life, green tea spring rolls, and a caramelized banana that still haunts my sweet tooth.

 

The participating restaurants range from those small places you save for special occasions, Apple Wood, to favorites that never let you down with familiar atmosphere and friendly service.

 

This meal is a treat and probably the only time I get my own desert! For some reason, Brooklyn is terrible at promoting Restaurant Week. I do hope it continues to grow … a great way to boost the local economy.

 

In fact, I wonder if there’s a calendar of all of the restaurant weeks in the country as this would be a tasty factor in scheduling travel plans.

Written by abragoes

March 27, 2008 at 3:16 pm

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Writing with or without the ZONE

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37.76 miles ran so far for March – 4.24 left to my goal

Though an outdoor course kicked my bum this weekend, thanks to the beautiful weather, I am making progress, getting better at running. My favorite moment is when your body kicks in and there’s no room to think. You’re just running.

This place exists in writing, too – when you’re in it and too busy building the content to step back and doubt or judge. I haven’t gotten there in a while as my writing time comes in small chunks of 1-3 hours instead of the 5-7 hour stretches I once had the luxury to work in.

I’m learning to work with time constraints as far as organizing my research, imposing deadlines, and outlining as much as possible. But I have yet to locate the express line for getting beyond the words on the page…to thinking faster than I can write.

Running is not getting any easier, but I’m enjoying it more with practice.

Writing is a craft, but it’s also a job and if I want it to be my livelihood I’ll have to make do without the zone. Still, I’m not taking down that picture of my future writing room with a small wooden desk, and a big window where I will one day sit for hours and hours writing, disconnected from the internet and an IV of coffee plugged into my arm.

(sigh)

Written by abragoes

March 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

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The bumpy trail to a 5K

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The minute I step on the treadmill or out my door, I imagine hundreds of runners passing by and a finish line 3.1 miles away – unreachable, impossible, the alfa of my omega.

I want to run a 5K, but the thought of actually doing so fills me with a hopelessness equaled only by the thought of running a full 26-mile marathon. Impossible! It’s the same defeatist voice that interrupts my Hungarian lessons, smirks at playwrighting, and shoes my finger from the send button after I finish writing a query.

With running, defeatism physically manifests–Anxiety turns my legs to rocks, sneakers shrink or my foot expand (does running make your feet grow?), my head won’t stay level, my shoulders are too heavy, my back hurts maybe its my heart that hurts, I can’t see. I try not to look at the clock or my distance, but the gym is playing ‘My heart will go on’ and if I don’t look at my distance I will fall over. –And it’s not usually until my third mile that it passes.

 

I read that there are 7500 5Ks each year in the US alone- many of these are in places I’d love to visit on foot. Runner’s World even has a handy tool that helps you structure a training program. Training program?

Like writing, running is something that you have to DO and DO often if not daily. It’s not a surprise that so many writers are also runners. Like facing rejection, you can’t be afraid to hit a wall (as long as you are in tune with your body and how far you should push yourself). It doesn’t hurt forever.

With that I print out my training program, which I’ll transfer onto an index card each day and will not peak ahead. Per Runner’s World’s recommendation, I’m staying in the present. This training outline is way more intense than my current goals, but I’ll take it in stride.

I like Jen A Miller’s post on her approach to running. My new goal is to isolate the pressure that’s always gone along with running. It doesn’t work for me.

Written by abragoes

March 19, 2008 at 11:42 pm

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T – 14 weeks

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In theory, I’ve been working on rebuilding my freelance career since November, but actually, while I have been writing and writing, I have also totally neglected to consider the business side.

 

With 14 weeks to freelance lift-off the business side of things is piping up. 14 weeks is not a long time at all. I’m hoping it’s enough time to increase my freelance income to at least match what I bring home from my current full time commitment.

 

From what I gather, most people preparing to go freelance either wait until they have 6 months of income saved, or they manage to match their current full time salary. This is an essential challenge because one of my primary goals this time around is to treat my work as a business, not a means to avoid working in an office. Though my previous 3 ½ years as a freelancer taught me to sell myself, I rarely felt in control of my own livelihood, and I never stopped hustling. I’m not looking for easy street, I’m looking for control.

 

Realistically, based on past numbers, article sales will account for 10% of my freelance income to start. While my intention is to aggressively shift this balance, I do need to address where this other 90% will come from.

 

Here’s what I’m working on this week:

  • Drafting Business Plan
  • Outlining components of website and creating a time line for construction (launch in May)
  • Brainstorm how I can specialize and pitch my experience and skills

I’m curious to know, dear freelancers, what was/is the most important thing you did to make your freelance business viable?

RUNNING UPDATE – 107 / 500 MILES FOR 2008

23 / 42 MILES FOR MARCH

Written by abragoes

March 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm