Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Room of (My) Own

Pink Think: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” - Virginia Woolf

This is my creative space, where I can daydream and write on my laptop while looking out the window. I can also meet with clients here.

This is my "business" space, where I pay bills, plot my projects, and  keep my business organized.
We've been in the new house now for a couple of months. Early on, I thought about posting pics of everything. And then, I thought, no, that's not necessary. I did want to post though, about my office, which is probably one of the most favorite things I like about the house.

In our former rental (which was lovely, by the way), I had no office to speak of, and the lack of space made me irritable (just ask my husband) and unproductive. My piles were ever-growing on the kitchen table, and the kids and I jostled for elbow room.

Now in the new house...the front room is my office. The pics above are in the same room. I feel like Virginia Woolf's quote applies not just to fiction, but to running my business.

I wanted a creative center where I could just sit happily writing (fiction, my clients' books, my op-ed and feature stories), but still be faced out to the world. The leather-like white chairs were a KSL find that I love, love, love...you can sit and sink in for hours.

I made the table from two shelves and some MDF board. The lamp was a splurge from IKEA (I guess technically it wasn't a splurge since it would have cost as much as something from Target, but the color was a splurge.)

The closet office took me a while to configure and to commit to, but when it was all said and done, it was perfect. The granite countertop was a beautiful addition. I can leave my notes and files and bills somewhere and forget about them until I'm ready.

I love this room.
***

Now for a Treasured Stories update...

A little over a year ago, I started a business called Treasured Stories, the impetus (ha, ha, I like that word) being that I applied for a super-cool job I thought was in the bag, but didn't get it.

I had been thinking and praying of a way to bring in extra income to the family while still keeping flexible hours. One day, as I sang to an audience in a rehab/care center, I had an epiphany: that I could help the elderly write their memoirs. And since I'd always wanted to run a business around one of my passions, this was a natural.

It's been a growing year for me. I've learned a lot as a businessperson, writer, editor, book designer, and as a mother and wife. There have been times when I just wanted to quit after a day of rejections. There were times when I was unsure of my abilities when taking on a project.

Slowly and surely, however, I made it through the first year. I owe a lot to my early clients, who trusted me with their projects, so I could eventually show to others that yes, I know what I'm talking about!

It's really helped to have a regular presence in the local paper with my op-ed column and feature articles. I also launched a poster campaign, which some of my current clients have mentioned when they've contacted me.

The biggest lesson for me in the past year has been to stay true to my initial purpose, which was to have a successful business while making time for my family. It's a balancing act, because it's so tempting to just keep working when you set your hours. But one fine day a couple of months ago, I realized that I had to pace myself or I would burn out. And the work that I was supposedly doing for my family's benefit was taking too much away of the fun.

So now I try to put in a day's work and avoid evenings (unless everyone in the family's gone in which case, I work if I want to). I take breaks. I tell my clients I will be on vacation so I give them a realistic timeline.

I've also learned to be calm and steady. Some people will probably never hire me, and that's fine. I can give them my information for when they are ready. And then some people are so grateful to have services like mine, they are super ready to jump right in and are a dream to work with. I have learned that I don't need to lower my fee; I give my clients the best work I can give, and make sure they get their money's worth.

It's been a fun past year, and I look forward to more. I'm glad I'm busy with Treasured Stories but not too busy I can't carve out some time for my other goals in life.

4 comments:

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh I would love an office too!! I know what you mean about jostling space with the kids. I could technically use my bedroom (we have a large bedroom) but the windows are too high up; I cannot work without a window I can look out of while seated. Aren't us writer types demanding?

I also love your idea about writing memoirs for the elderly. The moment I read that, something clicked in me - yes! I've been bugging my mom to write her memoir because she's always written little snippets of her childhood for more over the years, but I want her whole life! And i've been trying to get my dad to fill out a memory book. I hope you post more on this!

Alice said...

Awesome! I love the office. You did a great job with it. I'm impressed with all the writing you're doing too.

Jewel Allen said...

Thanks Alice! :-)

Jewel Allen said...

Margo, I know what you mean about windows! At the rental, I would write on the island just to face "out".

That's great about your mom writing those stories. That's how they start, a collection of stories. I'm happy for you that she has begun them. I've also given my parents memory books, and I have a feeling they haven't filled them out. Best thing to do in most cases is invest in a digital recorder, and next time you have a holiday get-together and people start to reminisce, push the record button! :-)

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