December Writer’s Life: How much I made & wrote in 2017 during the #yearofwriting

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Well, here we are. It’s the end of my #yearofwriting and I have some hefty writing goals to live up to. I’ll get into more of that later in this post, but first I just wanted to talk about December. What happened in December?

Well, for one, it was a VERY busy month for me personally. Not only did I have plenty of socializing and family things to do (what with the holidays and all) but I also got married at the end of the month. Yes, that’s right, I did a big thing and ended my year as a married lady. But enough about that because, really, you’re here to read about my writing, right?

So here’s the deal: December was pretty much a wash for me, work-wise. I didn’t really pitch (except follow-up with a couple of editors) but I did write a ton of stories that were previously assigned. The one new story that I wrote was actually for Glamour, which is one of my absolute favorite magazines. THAT was a huge win. I also started a new blog on Medium called Married Feminist and wrote my first post the day before my wedding. Hooray! Otherwise, here’s what I wrote this month.

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

The month definitely went very well for me, honestly. Although I didn’t have a huge variety in where my pieces were published, the pieces that I did write and see published were very, very exciting. Other than loving my Glamour piece, I am also particularly proud of my story on 2018 health trends, writing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Rosa coming out as bisexual, what it’s like to date an introvert when you’re an extrovert, and why it’s really not cool when people try to label me a “half-Latina”. Plus, I finally go to write about my Copenhagen trip!

All in all, I am increasingly proud of the work that I am doing for my regular publications, primarily HipLatina and MamásLatinas, and plan to continue to do more for and with them in 2018. And, above all, as I was hoping for last month, I hit my financial goals once more AND also a pretty sweet word count.

How much I wrote: 27,828 words

How much I made: $2000

I’m really curious to see what my “how much I wrote” and “how much I made” totals are for Q4 and for the year but, all in all, November and December went really, really well for me. It’s been really fun keeping track of these numbers to see how successful I have been.

If I were honest with myself (and with you), then I would say that this hasn’t been easy. Keeping track of everything I wrote and how much money I made was kind of exhausting, but really fun too. I was nervous a lot of the time and didn’t have solid financial goals for each month until the end, but it still feels like a HUGE accomplishment to have tracked the entirety of my 2017 to see how everything went down. And YAY for making my financial goals in December!

Pitches sent out in December: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 2
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 1
Pitch acceptances: 1

Okay so pitch-wise, I didn’t do much in the month of December. What can I say? It was a busy month and… also, I didn’t really plan on pitching. I was busy just keeping up and doing everything that I needed to do for work while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on wedding planning and doing holiday stuff and I don’t even know what else.

I think it’s absolutely okay, though, that pitches were just not on my priority list this month. The good thing I did is that I followed up on some of my pitches and got an acceptance from Glamour for doing that. Woo!

And now, for the big math…

Quarter 4 totals: 

How much I wrote: 78,045 words
How much I made: $5,325
Pitches sent out: 10
Pitch acceptances: 1

I have to say: Quarter 4 went really well! Not a whole lot of pitches or acceptances (as predicted) but my word count was high and the money I made was pretty sweet. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I *can* do it. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, a lot of days of being stressed and overwhelmed and needing to practice self-care, a lot of naps and sleeping in because I need the mental break, and a lot of freaking out to my wonderful (new) husband Adam (who is thankfully always there to listen to my rants, no matter how often or how lengthy they get).

But ultimately, it was a big year of learning and I am glad for every step that I took to get here. My original writing goals for 2017 were difficult, but I accomplished almost all of them. And the ones I didn’t accomplish was mostly due to me changing my mind or deciding to take my career in another direction, and that’s okay too. So how did I do over the year, overall? Well, let me take a DEEP BREATH and tell you:

Year-end totals: 

How much I wrote: 277,889 words
How much I made (freelance writing): $19,451
How much I made (freelance editing): $42,930
How much I made (total freelance): $62,381
Pitches sent out:
 92
Pitch acceptances: 16

WHOA.

Just… whoa. Looking back on the year, I honestly cannot believe that I wrote almost 300k words. Do you know how much that is? That’s, like, three to four books. I basically could have written three or four full-length books in the year, and it’s absolutely insane to think of it that way.

As a journalist, I have honestly never thought about tracking my words in this way. I know that I have written a lot in years past, especially in my time as a staff writer for MamásLatinas, but this felt ASTOUNDING to me. I mean, truly astounding in that I could have never imagined that I would write this much in a single year. Doing this—truly doing it—during my first full year as a full-time freelance writer and editor, I’m so very proud for how much I was able to accomplish.

Beyond the word count, though, is looking at my finances.

My goals for this year was to save for my taxes (which I did!) and to publish in 17 different publications (which I also did!). I also wanted to launch a newsletter (which I didn’t) and finish my memoir book proposal (which I did, though I am still editing it). When I revised my writing goals for 2017, I added earning $2k a month in freelance income and also publishing five travel articles before the year’s end. Here are those articles:

All in all, I think I did pretty well. My income this year is pretty much in line with what I was making in my last year as a full-time staff editor, which was a big (secret) goal for me this year too, so I’m very glad for that. And, beyond that, I also had a 17% pitch acceptance rate—and that’s pretty awesome, too.

There’s a lot more I will be reflecting on in the coming weeks and likely months and even years, but all in all I would say that my #yearofwriting was a HUGE success. When I started this, I really wanted to know exactly how much I was writing and how much money I was making. It was all in an effort to improve my writing and grow my career, and boy did I!

For now, I will close out 2017 and say this: If I can do it… Start cold pitching for the first time in my life, give up a good career in NYC to freelance, work on a memoir while also working, get part-time and regular writing gigs, and earn a real living… All while having a personal life and taking plenty of time for self-care, not working evenings or weekends, enjoying my life AND my work… Then you can too, baby.

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I love brunch and he loves pizza, so let’s get married!

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When Adam and I first met, I discovered that my date absolutely LOVED pizza. So, for our fourth date, I made us pizza for dinner after a rousing two rounds of mini golf (I lost both times).

Shortly after, Adam discovered how much I loved brunch and took me to his favorite breakfast café—where we still go back time and again.

And so, our first inside joke began: He loves pizza, I love brunch.

As we learned more about each other, my adventurous foodie spirit and recent move out of NYC led me to joke that I was going to start a blog devoted to my love of brunch and his love of pizza. In my dreams, the blog would be all about exploring my new life in southwest Florida with my partner where we try new pizza and brunch places every week.

Unfortunately, that blog never materialized and trying two new restaurants a week turned out to be unsustainable. But that adventurous foodie spirit won out and we did get to and still continue to try new pizza and brunch restaurants when we can. (Well, and other things on occasion too, of course…)

Earlier this year, Adam and I began to plan our wedding long before we became officially engaged. We talked about what we wanted (a small wedding), where we wanted it (in Chicago where Adam is from) and what we wanted to do for it. After announcing our plans to marry to close friends and family (and eventually on Facebook), we started to make the plans… or not.

Because we had already decided that we wanted a small, casual wedding, I didn’t initially feel pressured to begin the “wedding planning” process. The most I did was occasionally look at pretty dresses online and listen to the Bridechilla podcast.

Sometime over the summer, I was in a DSW and found an adorable pair of shoes that I instantly decided were the shoes I wanted to wear on my wedding day. Shortly after, I had a gift card to TJMaxx and bought some lingerie. After that, Adam and I gathered the emails of everyone who we planned to invite to our wedding (we had the guest list planned before we “announced” our engagement) and I sent out our Save-the-Date emails. Since our wedding will be small, hopefully cheap and we want to make it environmentally conscious, we didn’t really feel the need to do things like take engagement photos or send out paper Save-the-Dates.

I even went so far as to buy my wedding dress (off the rack and it fits *perfectly*) over the summer and most recently got a pretty headband because I figured out how I want to do my hair.

All in all, though, wedding planning has been pretty quiet. To be honest, our summer was mostly filled with other things—such as planning for our  dream European vacation that I am calling our “engagement moon.” Because our wedding was so far away, there just wasn’t much to do.

And now… We’re just over six months out and I feel like I haven’t done a thing.

But I am determined not to be one of those people who spends the next six months talking only about my wedding and obsessing over it. I don’t want to be a bride who loses weight due to stress (in fact, I am perfectly happy with my weight as it is) and I don’t want to end up fighting with my fiancé because all we do is wedding planning. I refuse to be one of those people, period.

So when we got back from Europe a couple weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to start wedding planning—but where to start?

Being one of those stubborn people that believes that our wedding should be ours and ours alone to decide, I went back to the beginning of what we loved: pizza and brunch.

From the very beginning, we both knew that we wanted to do something at his family’s favorite pizza place, Lou Malnati’s. So that was fairly easy. Then one evening, I thought: “What if we also do brunch?!” and it all clicked into place.

Once I told my idea to Adam, he completely agreed that it seemed very “us” to include these two things that we both love, that we loved individually before we met and now love as a couple, in our wedding.

Although we still haven’t booked anything, I feel good that we came to a mutual decision about what we truly wanted to do at our wedding. And although there might be some people who may not be as into the idea, it is very special to us.

Though I admit: I still had a few doubts about our decision to do a “pizza and brunch” wedding, so I joined some Facebook communities for brides and posted about our plans there. Quickly, I received responses from many who said that our wedding plans sound lovely… And, okay, maybe I shouldn’t need someone else to tell me what I already know, but that’s just my anxiety talking.

The point of this is that I am so proud that Adam and I are able to talk about, and agree upon, what we want for our special day. We also constantly acknowledge that this will be just one day in the rest of our lives together and, although we want it to be “special”, it also won’t be the Best Day Ever.

Instead, it will be a lovely day where we are hopefully surrounded by all of the people we truly care about… all while eating some pizza and brunch, of course.

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September Writer’s Life: Hurricanes & a real vacation [#yearofwriting]

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What can I say about the month of September? To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. The truth about this month is that I almost didn’t work. First of all: I had a pre-planned vacation for a good chunk of the month.

My fiancé Adam and I had been planning our trip to Europe ever since I surprised him on his birthday with concert tickets to see one of his favorite artist who was going to be giving a once-in-a-lifetime concert in Tilburg, The Netherlands in September. We decided to visit Amsterdam for a week and pair that trip with two cities in Germany: Cologne and Frankfurt.

Other than that, however, Hurricane Irma struck our hometown in Southwest Florida and threatened not only our home but also our travel plans. Thankfully, our home was mainly unscathed and we made it to Europe as planned. The only problem came in that, because I was so busy and overwhelmed by hurricane prep, I had no time to do any kind of writing in the week and a half before our trip. And, of course, the two September days after we got back were primarily spent catching up on everything.

So what I am saying is this: Excuse me if this month seems less-than-ideal in terms of my #yearofwriting progress.

What was published: 

Basically, all of the pieces that were published under my name this month were all things that I wrote the month before. But that’s okay. When you’re faced with a hurricane and a two-week vacation, life happens. And it’s really important to let life happen, I think.

I did write one piece, the 12 Foods Every Cuban Grew Up Eating for HipLatina, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15-October 15). Definitely proud of that one!

How much I wrote: 3,749 words

How much I made: $100

The one great thing that came out of writing this month is that, encouraged by my incredibly supportive partner and fiancé Adam, I made some real headway on my memoir, Moscow Chica. He basically forcefully encouraged me to spend Labor Day weekend on the project, which I did. Happy to report that my book proposal is close to being done. And I definitely could NOT have done it without his not-so-gentle nudging.

Pitches sent out in September: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0

Obviously, since I had NO time to write, I also had no time for pitches this month. Oh well. I think I can just shrug this one off and tackle some SERIOUS pitching in October, which will be my first full month of being back on the full-time writing horse. (Um, is that a weird thing to say?)

Quarter 3 totals: 

How much I wrote: 61,336 words
How much I made: $3716
Pitches sent out: 4
Pitch acceptances: 1

Here’s to the end of the year going MUCH better than Quarter 3!

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The first time I said “I love you” in a relationship

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Exactly one year ago today, I said “I love you” for the very first time in a relationship.

That might sound crazy for a variety of reasons: I am 31 years old, I have been in at least two other longterm relationships (lasting two years and 11 months, respectively), I was single and actively dating in NYC for several years, and I have met some good people.

But I’ve never fallen in love.

During my previous two relationships, I actually did think I was in love at various points throughout those times. But it was never acknowledged by me or the person I was with. At the time, it was a very frustrating situation.

My first real boyfriend, who I dated for two years, came from a very emotionally closed off family and once admitted that he’d never even heard his own mom say that she loves him. Although I hated that he never said it to me (that is, until months after we broke up!), at the time I was stubborn and didn’t want to say it first or say it when I knew that I would never hear it back.

My second boyfriend was a bit of a different case, but being emotionally unavailable was his thing too. We both acknowledged having feelings for each other, but the word “love” was never used or discussed. In fact, it was probably out of the question considering how messed up he was from previous relationships and his own desire to want to keep me at arm’s length.

I remember both times feeling that there was something wrong with me, questioning why these men couldn’t open up to me, and ultimately realizing that I was attracted to emotionally unavailable men.

I spent the next five years dating on and off. To be honest, my career was starting to take off and I didn’t have much time for finding love. But I also was afraid of falling into those same traps again, and so my relationships while I was “single” didn’t last very long. Usually anywhere from a couple of dates to a few weeks, there wasn’t time enough to get to know anyone very well and, to be honest, nobody was interesting enough to get me out of my comfort zone and force me to open up.

Until I met Adam a year and a month ago, that is.

What made meeting him so special was that I was probably in a perfect storm of being in the right circumstances, the right place in my life and finding the right person.

Here’s the circumstances: I had just moved out of New York City and that toxic dating scene, I had taken a step back in my career to refocus on what I truly wanted, I had entered recovery to deal with some of my addictive issues, I had a long dating break and I had just turned 30 years old.

Meanwhile, being in the right place in my life meant that I was finally emotionally ready to be in a real relationship, I knew what I wanted in a partner and in a coupledom, I had the ability to open up and I could see myself having a future with someone that wasn’t just myself. For possibly the first time ever, I had the capacity to include someone in my life in a non-selfish way. I was willing to accommodate another person into my life and I was even kind of excited to do so.

And, of course, Adam was the right person.

There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind about that. He is the kindest, sweetest, most generous person I could have ever hoped to meet, and knowing him has made me stronger in more ways than I could have ever thought possible. He met me at the lowest point in my life and he has been a huge part of making the last year one of the best in my entire existence.

But the thing that really continues to surprise and thrill me is the love that we share.

Before him, I thought I had been in love… but that quickly turned out to be WRONG, wrong, wrong. Not only had I never actually said the words “I love you” out loud in a romantic way, but I had never really felt them either. I think I had been close a few times, sure, but nothing like the kind of love that I feel for Adam.

We kind of joke about how love came easily for us. We went on our first date last April 30th, then went away together two and a half weeks later and fell in love.

I will forever remember the exact moment when Adam told me he loved me (and yes, he said it first!). We were lying in bed together a month and a day after meeting, and I had been dying to say “I love you” for weeks. In fact, I had kind of slipped up a couple of days before but thought I had saved it by turning the phrase into something else. Turns out, he knew exactly what had happened.

But anyway. Leading up to the words, he told the story of us going away two weeks before and the very last thing we did on our trip together. And then he said it: That’s when he fell in love with me.

My heart soared, and I said it back right away.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Looking back a year later, I am really glad that I never said those words to anyone else. It’s been an incredible year of being in love and happier than I could have ever imagined, and lots of growing as a person and as a partner. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Happy “I love you” anniversary, Adam… from your fiancée who’s even more in love today than I was a year ago.

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It’s been a year since the start of my rom-com love story

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Last July I wrote about how my life turned into a rom-com cliché and that I was okay with it.

It was a post telling the tale of how I met Adam unexpectedly shortly after moving down to Florida. As you now know, the past year has been especially challenging as I slowly climbed out of the darkest place I’ve ever been to in my life. Meeting him had a lot to do with finding the courage and strength to turn my life around, and I can never give him enough credit for the love and support he has shown me.

This past weekend, we celebrated our one year anniversary by going to the beach in Marco Island, FL, and spending a lovely day together. Doing a little day away was incredibly fun, and I am even more excited for part two of our anniversary celebration this coming weekend. We’re heading to Fort Lauderdale for a mini-vacay weekend, where we will stay in a fancy hotel and see Matilda the musical on tour. It’s a particularly perfect celebration of our two interests — since I’m a huge Broadway fan and he loves the work of Tim Minchin, who wrote the music and lyrics.

Since writing my initial post about Adam ten months ago, not much and a lot has changed. For one, we’ve now perfected our little love story. Whenever someone asks, it typically goes something like this:

I left NYC and moved back down to Florida at the end of April. Out of boredom, I turned on all of my dating apps back on a few days later and, exactly a week after the big move, we met for coffee. It was a four hour first date, followed quickly by a two hour second date and a seven hour third date. He was my first date after moving down to Florida, and quickly became my only one. We fell in love when we went away together on long weekend just two and a half weeks into dating. I moved in after a month and a half of being together. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Our incredible little rom-com cliché of a love story is still going strong a year after that first coffee date. In fact, we revisited that coffee shop on our six month anniversary and again this weekend. We shared dessert just as we had that first day and laughed about how my mom interrupted our date at the very end (yes, really!).

Adam still teases me about how I rushed off into the bathroom to compose myself after that, and I still joke that I can’t believe he asked me on that second date despite my mom showing up. But hey, when you know, you know, right?

That’s the mentality that has perpetuated our relationship from the very beginning, and it still holds true today. That’s not to say our relationship is perfect or ideal all of the time. We have our fights and have to get through difficult situations just like any couple. But what I wrote last July, about how I couldn’t have even dreamed of a relationship this great, is still true.

He is still the most incredible, generous, sweet and kind man that I have ever met. His love for me and support of me (and my career) has only continued to grow. In fact, he even gave up drinking shortly after we met because I’m in recovery and he wanted to be there for me. Even this gesture — giving up something he enjoys and has no problem with just because he loves me so incredibly much — has meant the world to me. And to be honest, I feel much stronger in my sobriety because of his constant support there.

The most incredible thing I have felt in this past year, though, is that I truly have a partner in life. I wrote recently that marrying a man doesn’t make me straight (ya know, since I’m bisexual), and he supported my piece. Anything that comes up, even fights and issues within our relationship, we deal with in the best way we can and ultimately come out stronger on the other end.

Now that it’s been a year, I realize that I am happier than ever. A little over a year ago, I didn’t know what it meant to be truly loved and I didn’t know what it meant to be in a relationship where I didn’t have to constantly question that love. But with Adam, love came easily.

I’m still a little surprised at how we found each other… Two people that ultimately don’t belong in Southwest Florida, that don’t fit in here, that shouldn’t even really be here in the long run. But we did. And now that we have, that feeling is incredible.

The feeling of not having to second guess myself or second guess my partner’s feelings for me is pretty incredible too, to be honest. I love actively planning our future with him, and I love that we constantly talk about spending the rest of our lives together.

I know that life doesn’t actually end when you’ve found your “happy ending” relationship, unlike what those rom-coms would have us believe, but I’m glad to see that the right relationship (even after so many wrong ones) does lead to many, many happy times.

And now I have a year of happy times to look back on and, say, roughly 57 more years of happy times to look forward to.

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