Do the work or take your chances

I’m a bit deflated at the moment. A bid I worked pretty hard to research and get right will go largely for naught because some out-of-town outfit has underbid us by half based (presumably) solely on the bid documents, which I know to be incomplete and on occasion contradictory.

This is called “buying a job” and there’s no defense against it unless you are also willing to take a loss on the project.

Here’s my policy: $0 is still better than the -$X you lose bidding a job for less than your cost.

The end client – an arm of the county government – will have no choice but to accept the lowest bid. Good luck with that.

I have added a new post to Writing Made Visible about e-books – a subject of much discussion on this site as well. In particular, let’s go back to Mike Stackpole’s Authors Can Be Stupid series of blogs:

This is from the yesterday’s addition to that series: …A Brief Note on Self-Publishing – which attempts to summarize the previous eight posts:

I do not believe that even digital self-publishing is easy. I believe it is simple, and there is a world of difference between those two things. Establishing your own business is hard work. If you don’t put that work in, you will not reap the benefits of your business, pure and simple.

At this writing, Mike (he’s local – we’ve met) is still going on about this.

Now that we basically know that autism is unrelated to vaccination, a bigger, better study links the condition to older parents. But before you panic – here’s some perspective:

“This study does not say advanced mother or father age causes autism,” [Study co-author Shanie F] Dawson tells WebMD. “This is one risk factor among many factors that contribute. In the majority of cases, we are not going to find that any one factor accounts for any individual child’s autism. Parental age is just one risk factor that is interacting with other genetic and environmental factors that lead to a child developing autism.”

I have my 2010 Writer’s Market! (Happy birthday to me!) Among the discoveries from my initial skimming of the pages: there seem to be moire markets fro graphic novels than middle-grade fantasy novels. Here I sit with a head full of ideas that would work well (or better) in that format, and all I have to show for it are words – dull old-fashioned words.

OK, I’m 95% there in terms of pro-quality copy (don’t judge by this blog – I never do a second draft here). I’m only 65% there in terms of  pro-quality illustration – and I am woefully under-equipped. While I’m sure I have the talent to get to 75%;  I’m not certain I have the talent to get to 90% – which is the threshold to start asking for money.

That leaves me with two choices:

  1. Find reliable collaborator (which is a huge challenge – especially among middle-aged adults with lives and jobs. A Collaboration involves 2-3 times the time commitment vs just banging the thing out by yourself.)
  2. Become a better artist. I’m not certain if my talent ceiuling goes high enough, but I won’t know by guessing. So I’m going to commit to drawing something every day – and re-educating myself in the craft. The we shall see.

Meanwhile, if you are a competent artist withtime on your hands – Boy do I have some ideas for you.

And I’m hanging onto my notes about that job. The whole project is swarming with free-floating chunks of magical thinking and when those pieces collide with reality, doors may open unexpectedly.

Now you know.

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Three very different challenges to my sanity

First, some notes from my daughter’s birthday party last weekend:

If you give a seven year old a whistle – you will end up taking it away from her. This particular girl never grew tired of blowing her whistle. At first, we wondered about her sanity, but soon feared for our own.

“That’s a pretty whistle you have. Can I see it for a second?” … [CRUNCH!]

I didn’t really do that to her. But I thought about it – a lot.

There’s probably a good transition into Sunday morning talk shows from there, but the kids do not actually sleep at sleepovers, and most of my Sunday was spent putting out the nmerous little fires when exhausted children try to play with one another – or simply eat breakfast.

On Moday, I learned about bid bonding – the insurance bond contractors must provide to bid on a project. I won’t bore you with the details – but that’s what I learned.

Bidding a project isn’t about the math. It’s not that difficult to figure out the amount of money you’d prefer to get for doing a project. The tough part is deciding how far below number A you’re willing to go to get the bid – and then living with that decision. Isubmt that bid today, and then I’m done with spreadsheets for a while, and I’m back to the part of my job that requires a five-point safety harness.

Tuesday we did taxes. I learned that mileage fr your day job, your sole proprietorship and non-profit activities all use different calculations, and that those calclations changed md-way through the tax year. Even so, around 1400+ miles driven to write the hiking guide. Didn’t wipe out my profit (for tax purposes) but it came close. (I also bought a lot of hiking gear – which is all business expense in my universe).

How did we do our taxes before Excel?

Now You know