Writing life and the side hustle

Fiona Stocker Writer at desk
Early this year I had one of those ‘oh shit’ moments which I’ve since learned is commonplace in a freelance writer’s life, when you realise that you haven’t actually got any work.
Writing a book is quite an undertaking and since late last year I had been working with my publisher on the structural edit of mine. It was read by an editor and sent back to me with a report and changes marked in red. Going through the entire manuscript and re-writing and making changes took a long time. Longer than anticipated. Everything else got put on hold. Since this happened over the Christmas holidays, pretty much everything stopped anyway. Hence the ‘oh shit’ moment in January. ​

Saying multiple prayers to the gods of freelancing, I sent a whole load of pitches out and did some research on how to pitch properly. It seemed to work. I got good responses back, and suddenly there were articles to work on.Then I landed a small part-time contract too. Suddenly it was Easter, then school holidays again. And this past week, it has been chockablock.

This week I’ve been visiting wineries and meeting winemakers. If only we had scratch n sniff Internet – wineries smell amazing during vintage when the grapes are being crushed.

Tamar Valley winery
I’ve also been juggling the kids, like hot potatoes. We had people staying on our farm in the AirBnB accommodation so sheets had to be changed, gourmet food provisions purchased. On Wednesday it was Anzac day and we went to a service, where one of the kids played in the band. The family had to eat, so the supermarket had to be visited.

Through all of this was the knowledge that I desperately needed to get to the copy edit of my book, which was waiting in my inbox. On Friday, the publisher chased me about it.

So that’s what I’ve been doing today. I’ve gone through 243 pages of corrections, most of which required nothing more than a click to accept a minor punctuation or spelling change, but some of which required thinking and rewriting. There were 167 uses of the word ‘just’. Now there are (just) 64.

The week to come is no less chockers. Tomorrow (Sunday, the day of rest), I’m visiting a local food maven who is making ham using a leg of pork from our farm. She’s doing this with the head chef from Saffire Freycinet, voted the world’s best boutique resort, no less. I’ll be interviewing him and writing something, I know not what yet, for a publication, I know not which.

Curly Haslam-Coates and Oliver Stocker with leg of ham
Then it’s two days of a Freelancers Festival in Launceston. Wednesday sees me interviewing chef Analiese Gregory during the Great Chefs Series, and from Thursday to Saturday I’ll be on our stall at Agfest, selling gourmet sausages in a roll to hungry punters. Sixty thousand of them. Not all of them will want a sausage, but it will be busy.

Next Sunday, I’m having the day off.  ​

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