I've been out of the loop for a while on a leave of absence for a whole butt load of family issues, but I will be jumping back into the swing of things come this August. Yikes!
As to what I have been up during my absence...well, a lot...almost too much and I feel burned out. When I took the leaves of absence I was deathly afraid that my writing skills would go to pot. Idle minds are the devil's workshop and all that mess, so I applied for a freelance writing gig with a local newspaper published east of the river called "The Reminder News." It was a way for me to explore my non-fiction side for a while, as well as sharpen my photography skills (a hobby of mine) as they required photos to accompany the copy. It doesn't pay much ($35 per article) but I wasn't doing it for the money; I needed writing samples to use for other writing jobs I might apply for in the future.
After my first few baby steps (the publication of my first article), I plunged whole in and started cranking them out, some times covering two to three stories per week. Since October of last year I have pumped out 25+ articles for the East Hartford and Glastonbury editions of the paper. I still freelance for the paper but I take few assignments; I'm at the point where I can be picky about what I cover.
One good thing that came out of all these assignments was the sharpening of my photography skills. I had been interested in photography for what seems likes forever in my book, but I didn't start learning the science and art of photography until 1999. With every story I covered, people would ask me to forward them the photos so they could use it for their Web site or whatever. After a while I said to myself, "Self? It's time to start charging these people!"
So that's what I'm doing, I'm charging people. I started a photography business and launched my Web site: http://www.overtonphotography.com/. By the way, don't be too impressed with the site should you decided to visit; the site is a template I pay a subscription for. Anyway, to get the word out, I started attending women's business luncheons (well, just one actually) and the whopping $35 fee for rubbery chicken and rice paid off. A women-owned business contacted me last week and hired me for two jobs to do some product shots for marketing material. This is the fruit of my labor from one of the jobs:
Yummy looking, isn't it? The plus for this shoot was that all the cookies were baked specifically for the shoot so I got to take home free cookies of every kind you could possibly imagine once I was done. Yeah, I know, it's a tough job....
I guess that's it for now. So to all you writers, I recommend branching out into a different art medium, be it music, photography, painting...explore the other facets of your creativity. It's a lot of fun and oh so surprising.