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Monday, October 6, 2014

September Update

As a freelancer, September has always been a tough month for me. For most others, I suspect September feels like a return from summer vacations and back to school, where the relaxed vibe of summer dissipates into an enthusiasm to get back to business and get things done. For a freelancer though, there can be a lag. New projects don’t usually trickle in until well past Labor Day (if at all), and if you work alone this can feel like being the last kid waiting to be picked up on the last day of sleep away camp.

While work for me is ‘optional’ here, there is a strong part of me that isn’t quite ready to fully live a life of leisure (I don’t need to work.. but it would be GREAT if I did). It’s not that I don’t like (or even love) the social side of things here in Abu Dhabi for myself. It’s easy to embrace the days with rounds of golf, beach outings, coffees, movies and lunches and stuff.

Maybe it’s the case of some good old German heritage work ethic guilts, or maybe it’s because without having children I feel the need to ‘produce’ or continue to contribute to my world in a significant way. But the reality is that I also make a crap housewife… barely cleaning and cooking, and grousing a bit at some of the errands I have to run.

I remember that very moment this September when, with little on the docket and taking steps to begin an all-out job hunt and launch my ‘personal brand’ (yes, I hate the term too), I looked into my closet for something to wear to a coffee gathering, wondering aloud, “What happens next?”

The answer to my question came just hours later. At a coffee morning a woman from a local art institution made an announcement that she was in search of a writer to join an artist’s retreat taking place out in Liwa.

I nearly jumped over tables to get to her.

Then later that day an editor from New York inquired about whether I’d be interested in participating in a press trip for media covering meetings and conventions (my tourism specialty) in Dubai…

With that, I was back in business (personal brand be damned) and I’ve been in a flurry of travel and activity since.

First came the much needed vacation for John to the amazing place that is Musandam Oman that we took (which I will blog about in depth shortly).

John swimming in the crystal blue waters of Oman.
Then came the five day business trip to Dubai, where for the first time in my life I joined a group of travel writers as a member of the press instead of the hosting ‘flack.’ Not only was seeing Dubai from a meeting and convention travel writer’s perspective with lots of great VIP perks amazing, but I also reconnected with some of my favorite industry writer friends. We visited top properties (Burj al Arab) and took in some ‘only here’ experiences – a trip to the top of the Burj Khalifia, a helicopter tour of the city, a private dhow cruise on the Dubai Creek, etc., etc.

Me strutting my press credentials following a helicopter tour of Dubai
After being accepted to the artist retreat, I turned around and packed my bags for the desert. For the month of October, I’ll be commuting out to the desert, interacting with artists from around the world (there are already artists in residence from Iran, Spain, France, Morocco, Italy, UK and Estonia), learning about the Empty Quarter and the UAE’s trans-formative years (1960s and 70s). 

Sunrise in the Empty Quarter with Art Hub artists
We’ll see what transpires on the writing front as a result… it may be a blog recording the artist’s and my experience, or modern re-workings of Arabic fables, maybe a new screenplay, or merely personal essays on my UAE experience – we’re not sure. As the administrators of the festival keep saying, it’s all an experiment. 

So, I’ll keep you posted. 
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