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A Day in the Life: Alicia Eler, principal of Queen Bee Creative (http://www.queenbeecreative.com); arts journalist, writer, curator, and artist at AliciaEler.com; self-employed creative person

8:00 a.m.: I was up until 1:00 a.m. working on a breaking news story for the arts publication Hyperallergic. I received interview responses back from the artist, Taras Polataiko, just this morning. He is currently living in Kiev, Ukraine, so there’s quite a time difference. I check my e-mail in bed before I do my usual 15 minutes of morning meditation.

8:30 a.m.: Finish my morning meditation, pour some milk into my cereal, and fire up the French press coffeemaker. I make it extra strong this morning. I feel like it is going to be a long day. Before I start my work for the day, I do some free writing on paper (not on the computer!) and a creative exercise. I also write down anything that I am nervous about, and any recent dreams. I didn’t have any dreams last night, but a few nights ago I dreamt that I killed hundreds of giant cockroaches.

9:00 a.m.: Catching up on e-mails. I have to reschedule a meeting that I had planned for later today. I reply to a woman who I am trying to connect with; she is also in social media marketing, and we’ve been e-mailing back and forth for the past few weeks. I was introduced to her through a friend on Twitter.

10:00 a.m.: Receive answers from the executive director at a local arts organization regarding a part-time position. I send her an e-mail back saying I accept and can’t wait to start the job. Starting October 1, I will be the new visual arts researcher for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. It is a one-day per week job. This will be just one of the six or seven projects I work on as part of my creative practice. If all I did was copywriting and social media marketing, I would feel totally uninspired and unhappy. I need a balance of art, writing, and marketing projects; one fuels the other. I work best when I am inspired and not forcing ideas.

10:30 a.m.: Take a break to speak with a friend about the new job. Have a quick chat with the special someone in my life. Walk around and try not to look at the computer before returning to work. It is going to be a long day.

11:30 a.m.: I am trying to figure out what to do about a Photoshop project that a potential client handed to me. I don’t know Photoshop as well as I thought I did. I hope I can still do it. I’d like to work with this guy. I’ll figure this out later.

12:00 p.m.: Send off a proposal to a potential Queen Bee Creative client who is an emerging musician. We’ve been going back and forth for a few weeks, and I’m trying to seal the deal. I’ll follow up with her if I don’t hear back in a week. She is constantly on tour.

12:30 p.m.: I take a break to finish editing the Hyperallergic arts news story that I was working on till 1:00 a.m. This piece required a pretty fast turnaround time.

2:00 p.m. Follow up with my fiction editor, who recently workshopped a story that I’ve been trying to finish for the past four years. We make a plan to meet on Tuesday evening. I’ll have the revised story to her by Monday. I can’t wait to get this into the world!

2:15 p.m. I contemplate going for a run. I’ve been doing well this past week, jogging almost every day. I decide to break free from the computer and just do it.

3:00 p.m.: I return from my run. It rained on and off the entire time. Runs in the middle of the day always give me some time to think. [I’m unhappy with] the state of arts journalism and criticism, and am contemplating starting my own publication. I have two editors that I love working with. Maybe I can hire them to edit my stories for a reasonable rate? I also contemplate a dream vision of starting an artist residency. These are the types of ideas that come to me while I’m on a jog. It’s important to take a step away from the computer and think big.

3:15 p.m.: I e-mail one of my editor friends, Jason, and ask what he thinks about my idea. There’s got to be another, smarter way to go about arts criticism and writing. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I watched veteran Chicago Tribune art critic Alan Artner get laid off. He had been at the Tribune for nearly 40 years. I shoot my e-mail off to Jason. I check Facebook, then jump back onto my e-mail and read a few news bits and respond to other e-mails. I go back on Facebook and announce that I am working on this “day in the life” story. Taras, the artist featured in the story I submitted to Hyperallergic this morning, e-mails to ask what’s going on with the story. I tell him that I am waiting on the editor. He tells me that, in the meantime, the story I wrote is getting picked up by TV stations. Jason writes back. He suggests that I apply for the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program. I ask him to be a part of the project. We’ll hash out the details later.

4:30 p.m.: Have not had lunch yet. I meant to stretch when I got back from my run but haven’t yet. I was concerned that my story hadn’t been published yet. I get into a fierce e-mail back-and-forth with Taras and the editors of Hyperallergic. My piece gets published. I feel better. I Gchat with my special someone and tell her about it. I pitch two story ideas to the editor of Canadian Art magazine. I do some Facebook messaging and catch a few friends on there, too.

4:55 p.m.: Need to finally shower and get ready for an opening around 6:00 p.m. Heading out soon. Maybe I’ll find another story to write or a possible Queen Bee Creative client.

5:30 p.m.: I leave my home office for the gallery downtown. I am excited about the inaugural opening of my friend’s new video art gallery. I wonder when the day will end. I check my e-mail on the bus ride to the gallery; the story I wrote for Hyperallergic is getting some responses on Twitter. The editor is e-mailing each one to me. I decide to just keep reading them as he forwards them, but not to respond. I prefer writing when I’m standing still. 

6:50 p.m.: I’m 20 minutes late to meet up with a friend at the gallery. I end up running into at least 10 people I know in the span of about 15 minutes. A few artists ask me if I will do studio visits with them, what I’m up to, and what I am writing about. One artist tells another that she and I did a studio visit not long ago. I smile and nod. I shake hands with friends new and old, and move to the next gallery.

7:45 p.m.: I tell my friend that it’s time to leave the scene. We get a smoothie at a nearby joint, and in the midst of our conversation about being working creative types I tell him that I’m stumped because I don’t know Photoshop that well. He offers to help me. We make a date for Sunday morning. I will buy him coffee and breakfast-y things in exchange for some Photoshop help. It’s good to have creative friends. He’s a videographer, so I’ll definitely keep him in mind when talking with artists who need video work. Perhaps I can refer him some business.

11:00 p.m.: After the smoothie and a long walk with my friend, I head home. I think the workday ended officially around 6:00 p.m. But so often work and creativity and life overlap so it’s unclear when exactly the workday ends. In a sense, I am always working. What’s that adage? If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life? Yeah, that’s it.

11:55 p.m.: I check my e-mail on the train ride home. The Hyperallergic editor has e-mailed me a tweet someone wrote in response to my article. It’s a hammy one and I decide to not respond. Most tweets that occur after 10:00 p.m. don’t make much sense anyway.

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