Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Rescuing Memories from My Chemo-Brain

quitting work memeGod, I love Google Drive. Writing a scene today triggered a memory of mine from 2013. I wrote a resignation letter to my boss at The Shittiest Job Ever™. And this letter? It was something else. I remember telling my dad about it at the time and he was like, “I’m not telling you not to send it, but are you sure it’s wise to leave like that?”

He wouldn’t have been a very good dad if he hadn’t wondered out loud about my maybe possibly kinda burning bridges. But I was 33, not 23. So believe me, I had thought the damn thing through.

“Dad,” I said, “You don’t understand.”

The letter WAS TWO WHOLE PAGES LONG and CC:ed to HR not just because it was standard procedure but because they also needed to have it spelled out that there were capital-R Reasons I was leaving without giving the standard 2 weeks’ notice. It was the most fuck-you thing I’d ever written that didn’t contain any actual cuss words.

Anywho, I was thinking, Gee I really wish I had saved that, when I  vaguely remembered sending it to a co-worker and a couple of friends via email after the fact. I searched Gmail for “resignation letter” and found the link (that I’d sent out more than five years ago) to the Google Drive doc. Was it still there? I clicked excitedly. Yes!

Reading it opened a memory floodgate in a corner of my brain that was just collecting dust post-chemo. I don’t have plans to write at any length about that job in my memoir because it’s largely irrelevant to the story I’m telling, but a steady trickle of memories from that same period started pooling at my feet—memories that I had only partially been able to recall began flowing in much more complete form. Which, you know, makes writing about them exponentially easier.

As of today, I have 34,027 words in my first draft.

Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Emily Writes a Memoir

adult coloring page wallpaper

So, that whole writing a book/memoir* thing? It’s still happening. Somehow I’ve managed to type up more than 25,000 words. That puts me halfway to my goal of 50,000 words for the WIP. (Oh my God, I have a WIP!) Now, I do have a pipe dream of getting this thing traditionally published someday because: medical bills, so 50,000 might be a little light in the end. But for today, drafting something that long is monumental. Feeling well enough to slog out a thousand words a day is even, uh, monumentaler?

Here’s the reason I’m so giddy about this project: I’ve been writing professionally for more than a decade, but always for someone else. Even when clients found me through my blog and said, “I love your voice! Write for me!”, in the end most wanted to make the thing theirs. Totally understandable, BUT! having this chance to write for me—about only the things I want to write about, in no one’s voice but my own—feels surreal, and a little indulgent. Even though I know I’m only afforded the time to do it because I’m tumored and disabled. Dan is super supportive and is picking up the domestic slack while I disappear inside myself for a few hours a day, probably because he wants me to make him look good when it’s time to write his chapter.

It’s already apparent my FitDesk hours for September are going to be less impressive than last month, but I’m making my peace with it. Yeah, I know the whole point of the FitDesk is to be able to work and ride, but I really like writing on the couch.  I still try to ride regularly and color (see above), but I’m not feeling robust enough to pedal for 90 minutes a day and squeeze in a couple hours of writing. Chronically sick bodies require an abundance of rest, you know.

That’s my update. I’ll see ya when I see ya.

 

Coloring page taken from Art Nouvuea: Coloring for Everyone.


*Even though “memoir” is technically what I’m writing, and I love reading the genre, I hate the word “memoir.”

Writing & Freelance

A Look at the 3 Top Places to Find Freelance Writing Work

Naturally, part of my preparation for possibly re-entering the world of freelance writing after a couple of years away includes checking out the current job-hunting landscape. So I put “freelance writing jobs” in my browser’s search bar and checked out the top three results the search engine spit back at me. Here are my thoughts.

Upwork 

upwork

I mentioned that I’d already created an account at Upwork in an earlier post. There are a lot of job listings there—literally hundreds upon hundreds. Some gigs pay well, some pay not so well, and some offer downright insulting pay.

Upwork charges a fee for using their board. There are still ways to get paid precisely what you’re worth (just determine your hourly rate or fixed price and tack on 20% when bidding) but it’s still a little unsettling to kiss that 20% goodbye. Does the site provide enough value to justify the cost? Well, that’s something each freelancer has to decide for herself.

Contena

contena

I got started by registering, but was immediately turned off when I started getting their onboarding emails. First I was told there’s a waitlist to get in. Then, lucky me, I was accepted. (Wow, I must be special!) Then I find out what it costs to use the site. The cheap plan is $99/mo. The premium plan is $199/mo.

Jesus.

And these guys are not shy about going for the hard sell, either.

“With Contena Gold, you’ll learn how to go from zero to hero as a freelance writer with complete access to Contena Academy 2.0. Contena Academy is our complete 6 module video course that will help you to create everything you need to launch a great writing business.”

What I find the most disturbing about Contena is that until you pay, you can’t even look at the details of the jobs posted. I’m not into buying things sight unseen. And the skeptic in me if the list of titles is even legit.

I’m not saying this site is shady or that it doesn’t provide a valuable service for a specific kind of freelance writer, but it’s definitely not for me. I feel like I need to take a shower now.

FreelanceWriting.com

freelancewriting

There were quality listings here that seemed to be scraped from various other sites on the internet. You can filter their postings to cut down on clutter and take a closer look at the gigs that appeal to you.

After finding one I thought might be interesting, I clicked on the “apply here” button a couple of times before finally being led to a completely different site to submit the job proposal. Hmm. The extra clicks are a minor inconvenience. I have bookmarked the site though. It could be useful.

There are lots of other freelance writing job boards like FreelanceWriting.com that either collect links from around the web or offer paid ad space for companies looking to hire freelance writers. I landed some great projects scouring these kinds of sites previously, but I’m not sure they are the best use of my time now.

 

Brain Tumor

Best Bundt Cake Ever

pistachio cake 2“Hey, Em,” Dan said. “I noticed the cake stand has been empty for a while.”

I laughed. “Dude, it was just washed last night. It’s only been sitting empty on the dining room table for, what? Twelve hours? Not even twelve hours!”

But, point taken.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “you go to Meijer and get the stuff I need, and I’ll make you a cake. You pick the flavor.”

Twenty minutes later, Dan had returned with three cake mixes and nine boxes of Jell-O pudding. “The grocery gods heard my cries for cake and decided to hold a 10 for $10 sale on cake mix and instant pudding!” He held a plastic bag aloft.

The recipe below is adapted from Dangerously Delicious’s Pistachio Pudding Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ingredients

CAKE MIX
1 box yellow cake mix
3 boxes pistachio pudding dry mix
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 C milk
1 C sour cream
4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all cake ingredients in stand mixer and pour into greased bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place cake on serving plate and cool.
  4. Skip the frosting.

Emily’s Notes

Change the flavors! The pistachio cake is delicious, but last week we swapped chocolate cake and pudding mix, and it was heavenly.

This batter is thick and heavy. The original recipe says to use a hand mixer, but the motor in mine just couldn’t hang and I’m still to weak to mix this effectively by hand. I let the Kitchen Aid do the heavy lifting for this recipe.

This cake is really dense and really delicious and just the right amount of sweet for me. After trying it with and without frosting, I prefer it without.

Yes, I wrote about this cake once before, and I am writing about it again. It’s that good.

Brain Tumor

One Year Apart

 

The picture on the right is from one year ago today: August 23, 2017. It popped up in my Facebook memories, and I was like Whoa! I am not just 45 pounds heavier, I’m also swollen from taking steroids. (Dexamethasone is a wicked drug.) The picture on the left is one I took this morning, because I wanted a side-by-side comparison.

I don’t have a lot to say about it other than I am fascinated.