After the Workshop

You might not know this about me but I am a graphic facilitator. That means…it means a lot of things. I facilitate meetings (i.e., help the meeting get where it’s going) by using large-format paper and markers to draw out the conversation. You can see more here.

I spent three days last week at the Grove Consultants’ Advanced Visual Facilitation Workshop. It was phenomenal. I’m a pretty advanced graphic recorder (I’ve done lots of meetings where I just make the drawing and someone else facilitates the meeting) and I went in hopes of bolstering my facilitation practice.

I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but I’ll definitely be putting up a more extensive blog post on my website soon.

The workshop was in San Francisco, which was awesome since I’ve never been anywhere in California. I didn’t get to do too many touristy things, but it was still an amazing experience.

And for those of you wondering, YES I am really  behind on my Summer of Snail Mail letters!

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Career Counseling

I think I need a tri-fold business card. Lately my ‘work’ (it’s not really work yet, since I’m not being paid for most of it so ….yeah) entails copywriting, graphic recording, and cakery.  I’ve had some interesting client experiences in the last month or so. Tell me what you think.

Copywriting A few posts ago I told you about the guy who contacted me about ghostwriting. I predicted he would disappear. I was right! Before I even did the whole proposal thing! Maybe THAT’S why they call it ghostwriting… Clients become ghosts. Anyway, I kept emailing this guy and giving him all the times that week that I could meet with him. He works out of town a ways so it had to be a time that I could spend an hour to get there and an hour back. Finally, I called him and left a message. And…nothing. Never gonna hear from him again. There is a part of me that is afraid that I MISSED my big opportunity but most of me knew this was coming and it’s fine. I can only meet you halfway.

Then I got a call from a guy who wanted to talk about handing some of his work off to me. He’s like…the kind of copywriter I want to be when I grow up. Totally sustaining himself and his family on freelance copywriting work. LOVE that. He passed me a project right away and I didn’t charge much because it’s a test-drive sort of thing, I think. He didn’t give any feedback either way. I’d like to know if it was what he was looking for or not. I want to encourage this potential connection.

Next I got a call from a guy who’s starting up a company and is looking for a writer to do the writing. He gave me some materials so I could create a proposal. The materials included a proposal from the marketing/web design company he’s using. I’ve worked with this company before and the woman who runs it – again, kinda like to be her when I grow up – and I know they charge three and four and five times what I could charge. I agonized over my proposal! (SEE: MONEY, below) I sent it in and now…we wait. Hate the waiting.

Graphic recording Not much going on here, except two little things: I went to the headquarters of the networking group I’m part of and did a mural on the whiteboard about what they’re about. It came out awesome and soon I’ll have pics up at http://www.sarathompsonwrites.com. It’s a good venue to showcase the work. Then, I got an email from a state university here in Kentucky asking what I would charge for a day of graphic recording. When I didn’t hear back, I emailed and asked if they had any questions and they came back with, “We’re not using you.” I wrote back and asked, in effect, why, and never heard back.

I’m frustrated by not being able to explain graphic recording well enough that people go YES COME DO THAT AND I WILL PAY YOU. But I will keep on trying until I run out of cake.

Speaking of cake…

Cakery Since I’ve been out of work, I learned some cake decorating techniques. My mom gave me a gift certificate for classes and by clever use of JoAnn’s coupons,I managed to
do it pretty cheaply. I just completed my second real job – 525 cake pops for a friend. I have a business card and I’m preparing to create a page on facebook and possibly a
twitter account. I’m also working with a friend who did wedding cakes for 34 years and has graciously agreed to sherpa me through some cakes – as soon as I can get someone
to take me on.

I like where this is going. I like thinking of doing all these different things to support myself and my family. What I need now is more clients on all three fronts.

Learning Lessons

Last week, I worked for what I’m thinking of as my first “real” client for my graphic recording practice. It was a nonprofit’s strategic visioning session and I was there to graphically record the day’s events. When I say first “real” client, I mean it was the first time I had to negotiate the whole kit and caboodle from the fee to logistics. The marketing director called and we talked about what I can do for the group, my price, etc. And was that ever stressy!

I am not good at negotiating price when it comes to my work. I know I do a good job, I know I’m valuable, but it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on my time and talent. But I stuck to my guns and was hired for two different day events, one last week and one in February.

I learned a couple lessons. The facilitator had never worked with a graphic recorder and when I called to talk with her about it, I didn’t do a good job of making sure we were on the same page. What I didn’t want to happen was for us to be two disjointed entities in the room – her leading the strategy and me off in my own world. And that’s exactly what happened. She had to be reminded to introduce me, and then she did her own drawings up front.  I take credit for the breakdown. I should have been more assertive about how I wanted things to work and it would have led to a more productive meeting, the client would have been happier, and it would have been a more cohesive meeting overall. But nobody threw a rotten tomato at me which is good…

The real surprise of the day, the real gift from the Universe, was how I ended up with this job in the first place. It didn’t all click together until the very end of the day.

When my contact called me, he mentioned that he’d found me through a staff member. He mentioned her name and I jumped to the assumption that this staff member had been to see an event at the Big Corporation I used to work for and had seen me graphically record a keynote and some other things. I got to the site Thursday morning and spent time setting up, meeting some folks, etc. I’m on my feet pretty much an entire event, thinking, writing, wrangling paper. By the end of the day I’m usually pretty fried. There I was, cleaning up my space and getting all set to drive home in the snow, when a voice said, “You must be the writing spider.” The voice was attached to a tall woman in an awesome skirt followed by a boy. Turns out, she’s my blog friend Ellen there with her son. She knows me from this blog, and I know her from her blog, and we are both Bluegrass writerly-type people.

Like I said, I’m pretty fried at the end of the day. I’m sorry, E, it took me a few minutes for everything to fall into place.

Ellen and I had never met, never talked in real life, but  she sent my info to the marketing director of her organization who in turn hired me to come do this work I’ve been wishing/hoping/dreaming of making a living at. (In another strange turn, I went to high school with the marketing guy.) In fact, I bought a necklace that reads “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” I spent my entire ride home being amazed that this happened. (Well, I spent a lot of time freaking out about driving home in the blizzard of ’11, too.) This is the type of thing I’m asking for from the Universe. Send me people to recommend my work so that I may be paid for something I love doing. Ellen and I had a nice chat before I trudged out into the snow and I’m just tickled that she’s my first blog friend meeting. I hope there are many more.

If you want to learn more about my graphic recording and other stuff, go here.

The Writing Spider Goes all Metaphysical on Your Ass

It’s only Wednesday and it’s been a strange week already.

Monday, one of my very closest friends told me her mother had passed away that morning very unexpectedly. C has a weird relationship with her family (I know, who doesn’t?) and I know she was totally unprepared for this. Her hometown is an hour away so I can’t really be a bigger help yet but I still feel very upset about it. I think she could use more support.

We managed to sell our jacked up Infiniti which involved an hour of driving and talking and going to get the title notorized, and also a stop at the buyers’ home so that one of them could use the bathroom. (We offered our own guest bath but her brother blurted, “SHE CAN’T USE OTHER PEOPLE’S TOILETS. IT’S A FEMALE THING.”) The car’s rear quarter panel was smooshed in by a woman talking on a cell phone and with a bunch of yappy kids in her mini van.

Another friend called to ask for a ride home after she locked her keys in her car.

Another friend needed my help with her Halloween costume, just a nip and tuck on the old Singer sewing machine.

One of our darling ferrets, Sgt. Pepper, is pretty sick with what is probably adrenal disease (common in ferrets) and I spent 3 hours at the vet yesterday having thought I could drop him off and being told, no, you must wait, which meant no breakfast for me which makes me spacey. And he’s still not well. As a ferret owner, you become prepared to lose them quickly. Their average lifespan is 6-7 years though we’ve only had one to pass that mark at 9 years. A couple years ago, we lost 3 in 3 months. It never gets easier to lose a pet, even if you know it will ease their suffering. I know he’s still around and still kicking, but its hard not to think of the potential situations.

Husband has been working on Improving our Home which means the house is a capital D Disaster which makes me uneasy. Also, I’ve hit my limit on Housecrap and will soon do a huge PURGE because we’re at the limit, I feel for excess STUFFAGE.

Deep breathing.

I’ve been listening to some motivational-type podcasts the last few weeks and trying to get straight in my mind what I’m here to do and what I want. I mean, in this world, in this lifetime. It comes down to writing. That’s it. Becoming a full time self-employed writer person and graphic recorder/facilitator. (Shameless plug: sarathompsonwrites.com) When all this stuff popped up this week, I had to wonder what the Universe is trying to tell me. Everything happens for a reason in my world and I’m still sorting out some of it, but my big epiphany was not that I want to do full-time writing/graphic work. That’s been floating around for a while.  It is that I’m in my current full-time job to learn some specific skills that I will take with me to make that dream even richer. I can’t quit my job right now. Husband doesn’t have a full-time gig and we need insurance and stability etc etc.

Thinking about this job as a stepping stone in my path is such a huge silver lining for me. After the weirdness of the week, after feeling unsure about this “new” job (after 5 months), I feel some stability that might prove to be an anchor in the coming time. I loathe wasting time and too much inefficiency makes me cringe so reminding myself that purpose exists for everything is a huge buoy for my spirit.

That concludes our walk down ponderous lane. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internets. Stay tuned to The Writing Spider for more Thug Life adventures, witty commentary, and assorted and sundry words.