Friday, October 18, 2013

Guest Post for NaNoWriMo!

Hi friends!

Well, I don't know about you, but I am busy gearing up for NaNoWriMo this year. As Chicago's only municipal liaison, I have my hands full! I did do a guest post for NaNoWriMo Prep, though, so hop on over and take a look!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What will you be doing - pantsing or planning?


Friday, August 16, 2013

What I'm learning

2013 is already 2/3 over. Can you believe that? This year has been a huge one for me in terms of transitions. I left a job that, in the short year that I was there, almost turned me into something completely unrecognizable. I started a business - well, two, actually. We moved from our little condo into a little house with our new little dog. I've formed closer bonds with new people, and learned quite a few new skills. And we've had quite a few ups and downs - career and job struggles, the frustrations of moving, planning a family in our future, and learning new ways of coping with stress. In short, it's been a real year for growth. Here are a few things I've learned:

1) Trying to please everybody is a wasted effort. I've always shied away from confrontation, because I just generally want to be liked. I've always been a bit of an introvert, too, figuring that people won't talk about me as much if I don't give them material to work with. But the fact is, people are going to talk, and they'll always find something to criticize. It's been an unexpected blow to me to find that, despite all my efforts to be Ms. Perfect, not everyone thinks I'm great! And that people tell other people that I'm not great! And they don't say everything about me to my own face! I'm not sure if it was my giant ego or just being wrapped up in my own little world, but this shocked me, and made me realize that I may as well do and say what I want after all rather than trying to be some convoluted contortion of what other people think is OK.

2) Just ask. The worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no. If they act grumpy while they do it, it's their problem, not yours.

3) It's not as bad as you think it is. You lose a client. Someone gets pissed off at you. You'll find another client. There are a bunch of people who are not pissed off at you. Get over it, move on.

4) It is possible to function on less sleep than you think. No, seriously. Some of my best work in the last 4 months has been done on 2 hours or less. That said, you also need to catch up on sleep once the busy time has passed.

5) You don't have to be busy all the time. This was so hard to figure out when I first left my job in March. I had days where I was spinning my wheels, and it sent me into a big panic. I kept wondering what I was doing wrong. The answer: nothing. I just wasn't used to having down time or having nothing to worry about, so my body was automatically sending those "panic" signals through because that's just what it was used to doing. I can't even imagine what it would've been like if I stayed at that job for more than a year, and how hard it would've been to come down off of that cliff.

6) Your work will expand to fill the time you have. This lesson is really hard for me. Give me two assignments that are completely identical in terms of scope and skill. Put a deadline on the first one and give me unlimited time to complete the second one. The first one will get done in a snap. The second one? I will work on it until I'm dead, and I'll do nothing else productive while it's pending. I will look at it, write a sentence, go check Facebook, make a burrito, come back and write another sentence, check Facebook again, play with Scout, rinse, and repeat. Then I'll complain the whole time about how long this stupid assignment took me to finish!

7) There are people who will never take ownership in anything. These are the people you work with who leave their assignments unfinished for you to pick up after. These are the people who do not hold themselves accountable and do not care that their sloppiness screws you over. These are people who shove their work off on you while they get to go home each day at 5:30 while you stay until 8 and 9pm. They think it's okay that they forget to do things, because it comes down on your head instead of theirs, and that's fine with them. They will never do more than what you ask them to do, they will never take responsibility for organizing a project, and they will often do less than what you ask them to do. At some point, you have to stop putting up with them. These people are not grown-ups, they are over-grown kids, and it's not up to you to pick up after them. It's OK to let them fail and to let them take the blame for failing.

Anyone else have any lessons from 2013 to share in the comments?

Monday, April 29, 2013

I require discomfort

I am surrounded by coziness.

My law office has a comfy desk and office chair; it is very official looking, with degrees on the wall, and it is clean and filled with inspirational items; really, it's very feng shui, if I do say so myself, mainly because my mom picked out most of the decorations. I wouldn't be able to decorate a blank piece of paper if I were given one colored marker and a stencil.

Our reception area is also very comfortable; we have a leather-ish sofa and leather-ish chairs, a coffee table, and again, my landlord-type-person is quite the stylish decorator, so it's the perfect space to set up a well-organized mind to work.

My home also has a very nice desk; it is smaller, but it is made of old-looking wood that gives off an air of competence and "you should work here." It has lots of nooks and crannies for organizing things and a lamp on it for my poor tired eyes.

We even have a fantastically comfortable leather sofa in my house. I have slept on this sofa on many occasions, usually unintentionally. It beckons with cushiony goodness for weary bones.

Of all of these options, which one do you think I select for getting the most work done?

If you picked "Option F, None of the Above," you'd be correct.

No, my workspace of choice is sitting on a bar stool at my kitchen counter.

It's very uncomfortable. While it's a cushiony bar stool, it is nonetheless a bar stool, and after 8 to 10 hours of work, my lower back is usually screaming at me to stop. There is also absolutely no room on this counter. It's usually crammed with discarded junk mail, half-finished household projects, and dirty dishes. It also gives me a prime view of my kitchen, which, despite our best efforts, is typically a great big mess.

However, starting with law school and moving up to the present day, I have yet to find a place where I can accomplish more on any given day than perched atop this precarious stoop, hunched over my laptop, juggling paper and various electronic devices. I credit this barstool with my graduation with honors from law school, my first novel, and now, my successful law practice and freelance writing business.

Go figure.

This is of moderate concern, however, as the house we are moving into in a few weeks doesn't really have space for a countertop and an uncomfortable bar stool. I'm therefore fielding suggestions on uncomfortable places I can continue this practice. The only real requirements are discomfort, an electrical outlet, and a WiFi connection. All other amenities are, clearly, optional.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free for Kindle for the rest of the day today!

Just a heads-up, in addition to being able to get a free sample of the first 3 chapters on Wattpad, today On Her Own Two Wheels is free for Kindle on Amazon! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Find it on Amazon here

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not another failed writer blog

Photography by Ivan Prole,
I've been on a sabbatical. And, honestly, I think I did it wrong.

See, a sabbatical, to me, means taking time off from what you usually do in order to do something that you would much rather be doing. Instead, I had to stop doing what I really wanted to do in order to focus on the things that I really, really didn't want to do, not one little bit, not at all.

Such is the life of a lawyer. So I thought.

In March, after one of the longest years of my life, I quit my steady paycheck job (I won't call it well-paying, especially given the ratio of my salary versus hours worked, although I did manage to make ends meet for a little while), and set off into the great wide world of being a solo practitioner.

I couldn't be happier with this decision.

It's only been a month, but my quality of life has improved dramatically. My clients love me more, I love them more, and I love what I do about 1000% more (yes that extra zero is intentional). I'm connecting with people and looking them in the eye, as opposed to meeting them with a glassy-eyed, barely-there stare. I'm awake.

And, an unexpected benefit, I get to write more; in fact, some of my freelance clients came back to me, and I have a nice steady side income doing even MORE of what I love.

Does anyone have it better than I do, really?

The aftershocks of my prior life are still resonating. When I get done with work at 6pm instead of 8pm, I feel a colossal pang of guilt. Sometimes, if things are slow, I feel crippling anxiety and uselessness, even though the initial numbers are comforting. It's weird the psychological loops we get caught up in, isn't it? I may not have as many hours of work. But they are meaningful hours. And that's important.

I'm still adjusting to this idea that work can consist of things I like to do, instead of things I have to suffer through. I'm glad that I'm coming to this realization now, instead of later, before I suffered some permanent damage.

And now, if I really want to, in addition to being the lawyer I always dreamed of being, maybe I can also be the writer I always dreamed of being.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just a reminder: On Her Own Two Wheels free this week for Kindle!

Hello Friends!

Just wanted to remind you that my debut novel, On Her Own Two Wheels, is free on Kindle from Amazon this week only! You can get your copy here:

I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's been a while/Yes, I'm young, get over it

Hi Friends.

So, I haven't blogged in a while. Between being disappointed with my outcome for NaNoWriMo, the holidays, and various other factors, I've been excusing myself from blogging for a while. Well, today (and yesterday), I am home due to illness. I figured what better way to break up the marathon of Big Bang Theory episodes than to write a little bit.

Something that happened to me in the intervening time between blog posts: I turned 30 earlier this month. And it seems like ever since I turned thirty, people I don't really know are going out of their way to tell me how young I am. I expect it from my family members and similarly situated friends - blah blah, thirty is nothing, blah blah - but as an attorney, it's a little off-putting to have people tell me how young I am all the time.

I'm not sure if it's hubris or just general annoyance, but it gets frustrating when I walk into a consultation and the first thing out of my potential client's mouth is "Wow, you're young." Well, yes, I'm younger... than you are. That's the case probably 75% of the time, if not more, especially with my estate planning clients. But what gives people the urge to just blurt it out?

There's a lot of assumption in that statement. "Wow, you're young." It's true: I don't have too many wrinkles and I somehow have yet to find my first gray hair. I haven't been bestowed with the wisdom that having children gives you yet, and I know becoming a parent is something that really causes someone to change and learn a lot. But, by the age of 30, I'd like to think I've lived a little.

I've survived the first three years of marriage (as has my husband). I've had a few rotten jobs and been concerned about making ends meet. I've written and self-published a book. I've had my "top of the world" times and a few times of ill health. I've survived 19 years of schooling, the bar exam, and periodic unemployment. But especially in the last year, I've lived out the responsibility of having to fix other people's problems for them - and they've been some pretty big problems.

Yes. I'm young. But there's no need to try to put me in my place by pointing it out. Because most of the time, people are coming to me for help. And those 19 years of schooling, plus my own experiences, have given me some pretty powerful tools to work with.

Overall, though, I'm pretty blessed; most of the people who tell me how young I am at first end up retaining me anyways, so I must project some kind of air of competence. Short of costume makeup and spray-on gray hair, I don't think the comments are going to stop anytime soon. (Just once, I'd kind of like to retort with... "Wow, you're old," but I don't think that'd go over too well.) How do you deal with it when people initially try to write you off with comments about your age?