book deal dreams

As I near my final week of kid-free time (and by week I mean roughly 16-17 hours) to make stuff and write, before spending the summer with both kids in tow nearly 24/7, I wanted to take a little time to recap this academic year of unemployment-by-choice. First, a round-up of the posts I've written here about that decision and throughout the year (I didn't blog as much as I thought I might, only averaging about one post per month):

  • The announcement.
  • lice-themed parody of Hamilton's 'Wait For It'. I include this because I'm a parent, and the reality is this kind of stuff happens more often than you might think, sabotaging hours, sometimes days, of your well-laid creative plans.
  • I had planned to elaborate on the articles included in the initial announcement to quit my day job, above, but only wrote about a couple, here and here.
  • My first day of unemployment-by-choice included a field trip to The Color Factory. I was not overly impressed, despite the price tag and hype, and, in hindsight, shouldn't have been spending that kind of money on that kind of "experience".
  • Now that my most recent office gig was behind me, I could finally write the complete "artists in offices" chapter of the Burning Bridges series, a series of blog posts about my many day jobs over the past 22+ years.
  • I made a few things in the fall before I really got to work in my studio, including this Day of the Dead altar for my past cats. I've also spent much of this year volunteering with and advocating on behalf of Oakland's cat population, through my work with Cat Town and Oakland Animal Services. I volunteer with cats and kittens more consistently at the latter, but have done some administrative work and fundraising for the former. I was even interviewed by KQED and NBC Bay Area about the shelter's staffing crisis. So this post is key to taking total stock of how I spent my year. After all, I wanted to be a veterinarian throughout most of my childhood and for the first couple of years of college, before I switched my major to art. I won't say I haven't researched the cost of vet tech certificate programs.
  • I also saw a lot of art, mostly with my kids accompanying me. I wrote about the first half of the year here. We got out and about a little less in the second half of the school year but I'll write a recap of those field trips eventually.
Waiting for Daphne.
  • A little side project this year has been this Instagram account dedicated to mostly bathroom selfies I take while waiting for my daughter. I spend more time with her than my older son, as she gets ready for kindergarten (because preschool is expensive). I also wrote about these images here.
  • Finally, in January this year, I started making progress on my recent collection of mixed media...stuff, collectively titled 'Heavenly'. I wrote about the beginnings of that project and other stuff I did in the fall to "warm up" here.
  • In late January/early February I began applying to - and getting rejected from - various, local art residencies and exhibition opportunities. I wrote first about my generalist tendencies - problematic when you have so little time and really need to focus - here. Later I wrote about my frustration in the face of said rejection and my decision to pivot to screenwriting here.
  • I've been really into reading memoirs lately, perhaps because so much of my own art and writing are autobiographical in nature. In April, my last post before this one, I singled out 5 reasons why creative folks should read Felicia Day's memoir.

Day writes about her experience with Geek & Sundry, "the more mistakes, the better the story afterwards, especially if there's a happy ending." I feel like my starts and stops make one helluva story, but I'm still working on the happy ending. After all, nobody wants to read a story about a string of mistakes, do they?

Anyway, that sums up much of how I spent the past nine months. But in the spirit of checklists, let's see how much I accomplished from that initial to do list in my announcement last June:

  • I’m writing a screenplay. I need to finish it by next March so I can submit it to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. 

Okay, so this is not finished and was not submitted to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. And the story has changed a lot. But! I did manage to write over 40 pages and I feel pretty good about that. The trick will be finishing it, especially if I find myself in another day job situation at the end of summer. Which is likely.
  • I need more time to make art in my cozy little backyard studio. Preferably before I turn 65.
Yeah, I did this. Just not as much as I'd like and I haven't been successful in getting any of this new work out into the world anywhere, other than via social media. And maybe it's just crap, I don't know. I have also, if I'm being honest, been challenged by my lack of funds to go toward art supplies and any opportunities that require a fee. I've done a few and I've bought some supplies, but I have no money to put into my art practice. None. Nada. Zilch. Such is the paradox of making art.
  • I’m starting a podcast (and/or support network) about(/for) other artists in offices.
I did indeed start a Facebook group and very sporadically post items of interest to it, with minimal but satisfying interaction. I'm also very slowly making my way through the book Artists in Offices. And, most exciting, I took a class, at CCA of all places, with Julia Scott, about podcasting!

Hello old friend.

Unfortunately, it turns out podcasting is a little more expensive to pull off well than I imagined (is it considered bad audio to use Voice Memo on my iPhone?) so my goal is to buy minimal gear I'd need to practice with my kids this summer before scheduling interviews in the fall. I have a handful of willing interviewees so, again, I just need more time to pull this off.
  • I'm going to revive my boutique wedding invitation design business. But maybe explore platforms other than Etsy!
I did handle a handful of holiday card orders in November/December and continue to get the occasional ready-to-send card sale in my Etsy shop. But this one's tricky. I'm reluctant to officially call it quits, because if I could make some dough this way it'd be ideal in terms of schedule flexibility and parenting obligations and such, but the truth is, I do very little to promote my business. And there were things I didn't love about it, mostly the fact that, like a full-time job, it took over my life. I'm constantly debating "closing" the business so that, in the very least, I no longer have to pay the fees associated with owning a small business, regardless of income (business license, resale permit, checking account fees, etc.). But I'm hesitant to do so.
  • I’m working on a kids’ book based on the Cosmos series, starring a cuddly tardigrade as Neil deGrasse Tyson.
This has officially moved to my summer to do list, in the hopes that I can work on this during the summer months. In the meantime, you can check out past tardigrade tomfoolery here.
  • I’m planning to volunteer at the cat cafe until they just give me a job.
See above. No job offer yet, but I have been spending a lot of time with cats. Probably too much, if I'm really being honest. But I dig it. 

(Sweet) Caroline. Current foster kitten for Oakland Animal Services.
  • I’m compiling a “quit your day job” bibliography that will eventually be turned into a manuscript for a self-help book with the working title: “Little Boxes: How to get out of the office and into the studio...” (or something like that).
As I wrote above, I only elaborated on two of the articles included in said bibliography. Not exactly a book manuscript. But a girl can dream about a book deal, can't she?
  • I'm going to figure out how to make hand-stitched felt phone cases for Android, minus the carpal tunnel syndrome.
No progress made on this point and I'm 100% okay with that. I would, however, love to sell the handful of ready-to-send cases in my product inventory currently stored in my garage so if you know anyone with a really old Android device (and/or a really small smart phone), send them my way!
  • I’ll be making videos for my YouTube channel “dances with kids” of me, dancing with my kids.
I've made a few videos, some dance-related, some not. I have a video currently in the works for my cat-themed parody of Sophie B. Hawkins' 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover' (Damn, I Wish I Was Your Kitteh. Obvs.) so be sure to subscribe if you want to be one of the first to see that! You won't be disappointed.
  • I’m developing recipes for a cookbook called “Sweet on Oakland: Cookies Inspired by Oakland Neighborhoods".
I started a new recipe for the Dimond 'hood of Oakland in the fall but it flopped and I never really got back to it. This, like the tardigrade kids' book above, has been moved to the summer to do list. You can follow that project here. If you know anyone in the cookbook publishing industry, hook me up!
  • I’m starting a food truck business that serves only peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Each PB&J order comes with a free carton of milk!
Again, nothing. But I have made countless PB&J sandwiches over the past 9 months. I'm sure I'll make a lot more for my two kids over the summer. Maybe I'll get creative. 
  • I’ve signed a NDA and I can’t tell you where I'm going from here.
This was never true, of course. I've signed nothing and I'm going nowhere. But if you want to offer me a super cool, creatively fulfilling, preferably not full-time but still well-paying day job I can do mostly from home, I'll sign an employment contract on August 13th, when my kids go back to school. Book deals also accepted.