Last week my post – “The Life and Times of a Sci Comm Freelancer” went up on the Canadian Science Writers Association Blog. In that I describe the various categories of work that come across my desk as a freelance science writer.
Today I’d like to dovetail onto that post by talking more specifically about some of recent writing projects I’ve been working on. Some of these are freelance gigs of the types I discussed over at CSWA. Some, like the guest blogs, are volunteer work. And some are my own projects and promotional work.
I’m doing this to give you a glimpse into the writer’s life, but I do have an ulterior motive: what you are about to read forms my list of excuses for not blogging here.
So here we go… a grab bag of things I’ve been working on over the last three months.
Science Centre Exhibition
Since January I’ve been researching and writing interpretive panels, labels, captions, instructions, and interactive content for a new science centre exhibition on homes and community. Topics include “green” home construction, community building, power generation, energy conservation, and urban planning.
Book Proposal Course
From January through March, I took a 10-week online course through Creative Nonfiction Magazine on how to write a nonfiction book proposal. While I already had a draft written, I had little confidence in it. I needed someone with experience to give it a solid once over.
The course entailed reading, writing exercises, drafting proposal sections, revising, and writing peer reviews. By the time I finished I felt confident that I had all the pieces necessary to assemble a polished proposal.
In April I pitched my book to an agent. Writing a pitch (cover letter + 2-page summary that covers your book, your qualifications, and your plan) is quite possibly the most demanding exercise in “writing short” that you will ever do. So much to say in so few words — each of which must be put on trial for its life.
After days of slash and burn editing I was finally happy with what I wrote. I sent it, along with a sample chapter, to the agent and settled in for The Long Wait —three to six weeks their site said.
Blog Posts Elsewhere
In addition to the CSWA post linked above, I also wrote “You’ve Got Mail! And Everything Else,” a post on resisting the pull of social media for the Science Borealis Blog.
Submitting and submitting some more
I’ve been submitting pieces to various magazines, so far without a lot of luck. I’ve several times resubmitted a piece on urban bears that got shortlisted at Creative Nonfiction Magazine. It still hasn’t found a home.
I also wrote a short piece and submitted it to Orion Magazine. Am still waiting to hear on that.
I have two pitches out to magazines for stories I’d like to write. <*crickets*>
Eight days (not that I was counting) after I pitched my book to the agent, she emailed me back and asked for a full proposal (!)
Of course they have their own format so I spent two entire days rearranging and rewriting all my pre-written sections to fit their requirements.
Then, after several more bouts of obsessive editing, I sent it, along with another sample chapter, and settled in for the next Long Wait. Two to four months says their website. It has been 13 days …
Over the last month I’ve written and submitted proposals in response to two government RFPs. One is to write for a cultural history museum project. The other is writing for a permanent insect exhibition (live animals!) in a natural history museum.
While either would be fun work, I’m really excited about the second one. I’ve partnered with another writer in order to meet every last requirement of the RFP. If we get the gig, I’ll introduce you to her.
RFP responses involve an immense amount of work. They run 30-40 pages and no two are alike. Requirements are lengthy and painfully detailed but often poorly explained. The due diligence is more exhausting than the actual writing.
Everything has to be answered precisely and measurably. If they ask for “3 projects where you wrote about insects” you had better number them 1, 2 and 3 and explain exactly how they are relevant. Do not expect the contract manager to know that Drosophila melanogaster IS an insect.
Manuscript Review & Critique
For members of my writing critique group I’ve read and critiqued hundreds of pages of manuscripts over the last couple months –from young adult novels to literary short fiction; from contest entries to book synopses.
Digital Literacy Research & Report
I’ve just partnered with a researcher to produce a report for a proposed museum on the digital literacy of the local community and how to best reach those people with digital media.
Education & Training Apps
I’ve also just started working with a company that is developing training apps for organizations. They need a writer to translate corporate-speak to English. (Hint: never use the word solutioning.) We’re still in the early stages and I’m writing a proposal for how we can work together to best serve their clients.
And finally … The Book
I haven’t talked a lot about my book on this blog because it isn’t real until I have a publisher. Until then, I am just one in the ranks of millions claiming to be “working on a book.”
Once I land a publisher then I will officially announce it and start talking about it. Meanwhile, suffice to say, I have a collection of essays that I’ve been working on in between all the other projects.
To write beautiful words. That’s all I ask.
Oh pshaw Kimberly. Surely you shoehorn in one more task, project, idea, interview, review, proposal, photograph into your life. You are one busy but focused writer. What a pleasure to read this snapshot into a writer’s life: the Art of Multi-tasking. If that agent has any smarts, she’ll grab you pronto because you really are a working writer.
Wow, I’m exhausted just reading this! I’m sure many freelance writers find themselves endlessly responding to comments like, “Oh, you write from home? That must be so relaxing!” I think you’ve given us a window into the real effort that goes into a writing career. Thank you for that. OK, back to work now!