So if you're new to the blog, you might not know that I'm going through some pretty major life changes, including getting divorced and temporarily living at home with my parents to save up money to buy my own place (renting with pets is tough, and frankly, I've been ready to own a home for a while). Since I don't want to live at my parent's house for much longer, I'm working really hard to save up the last $10,000 or so I need for my down payment.
The biggest thing I've done to reach this goal is set up a strict budget, which has mostly involved fiddling with an excel spreadsheet for the last few months until I finally came up with some realistic numbers. This has required being really honest with myself about my expenses, including looking ahead to future costs and factoring that into my savings. I've found that opening multiple savings accounts for specific purposes has been really helpful to ensure I never need to dip into my down payment money. For example, I have separate accounts for pet meds and vet bills, car maintenance, reoccurring software and website costs, medical savings for upcoming copayments and deductibles, etc., and I contribute a small amount of money into each one of these accounts every month so that when I do need to pay for any of these items, I already have the money set aside to do so.
On top of that, I've started using another cool app called Daily Budget. Basically, you input your fixed expenses and your savings goals, and then it calculates how much remaining money you have to spend per day for the rest of the month. Every purchase you make outside of those fixed expenses gets entered into the app. If you over-spend one day, then you'll have less for the remaining days. If you don't spend any money one day, then you'll have more later. It's not a groundbreaking idea, but it is helpful to have a little app that instantly does those calculations for you so there's never any question about whether you're over-spending. I guess it helps me feel more accountable and aware of where my money is going. Because it's not like I'm saving 100% of my money. Living with my parents, I think it's pretty important I get out of the house at least once a week and hang out with people my own age. That means spending a little bit on gas, parking, public transportation, drinks, what have you, but using the Daily Budget app makes sure I never over do it.
If anyone's interested in a more detailed post on how I do my budget, particularly as a freelancer, let me know. I'd be happy to share some tricks I've learned.
To get me in this savings mindset, I've also been listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast. He's not 100% my cup of tea, I don't really care for his attitude at times or his political opinions, but I generally agree with his money principles. Basically, pay off your loans and then stay out of debt however you can (excepting a mortgage) by living within your means and keeping a strict budget. Again, it's not groundbreaking, but it works, and I find it's kind of helpful to have a virtual "cheerleader" for my savings and budgeting plans. I think his books are pretty good resources as well if you're looking for some money guidance.
So I'm feeling like I have a much better handle on where my money is going, and now I need to focus on increasing my salary. Getting divorced and having my household income suddenly cut in half has been quite a blow, and I need to make up for some of that loss. Increasing my hours with my university appointment has helped, but I need to take it a step further. I have ideas about teaching an online class and finishing my science writing book to sell on Amazon (and I have a pretty large Facebook group for marketing), but it's so hard to find the time to create new things when I feel like I'm always just barely keeping up with the freelance editing. Add to that my social life, which despite being fairly marginal takes up a disproportionate amount of time because of all the commuting I have to do to the city just to be around people my own age. Sometimes, it feels like I'll never have the time to work on these extra sources of revenue, but I guess if increasing your income were easy, everyone would be doing it.
My ultimate goal with all of this is to get back my independence so I can focus on the things that are important to me, like writing and other creative pursuits. I guess I think of this as the responsible road to life as an artist. Maybe you can relate.
How are your finances these days? Any savings goals or budgeting tips you'd care to share?
July 1 marks my one year anniversary of freelance editing! 12 months of self-employment and not once did I need to dip into savings! I made money, covered my expenses, and even put some away. I'm calling this a major win, A+! Starting my own business was the best decision I ever made, if only because I was able to prove to myself that I could do it. That's a very empowering feeling.
I didn't become a millionaire, but I'm ok with that, because the whole point of starting my editing business was to work from home and have more flexibility for writing and working on my own projects. So how'd I do on that front?
I'd give myself a B-. I definitely wrote more and I even started publishing short stories on Amazon, which have sold reasonably well. But I didn't finish the novel I started last July (nor did I manage to finish it for NaNoWriMo 2016). The first draft is probably two thirds done, yet it's just sitting on my hard drive. I know exactly what I want to do with it, I have all the scenes planned, I just haven't been able to get focused enough to execute.
And that lack of "focus" stems more from the fact that I'm utterly exhausted from reading and editing all day long. This was something I hadn't anticipated. When you read and write for a living, it makes it hard to do it for fun.
So what's the solution? Maybe treat fiction writing like it's a real job and not some side-project or hobby. I know I also need to write in the morning, which has always been my preferred habit, rather than waiting until the end of the day after I've already tired myself out with editing jobs.
The other thing I need help with is staying mentally organized. Each time I take a writing break, and this one with my novel has lasted several months now, I pretty much forget where I've left off, what plot has been established, which characters know what, etc., and figuring that all out again sounds daunting. The answer is to simply read what I've already written all the way through, but we're talking about some 30,000 words here. That's a lot! And I'm already reading and editing ~5000 words of technical writing a day for my ESL clients. It adds up.
But there's really no other answer than to dive back in. I can't stand an unfinished project, and even if there are other genres I'd prefer to be working in at the moment (my short stories are especially off genre for me and I'm sick of writing them), I still feel like this novel is something I need to finish because it has potential (in my opinion). I can't throw away a half-way decent try just because I'm a little tired. I only need to manage my time better.
Got any tips for that? Maybe having a writing partner would help keep me accountable. I'm pretty good at meeting internal and external expectations (I fall somewhere between an Upholder and Obliger on the four tendencies scale), but I always make external expectations a bigger priority. This is how I'm able to meet my clients' deadlines, but it also means that I'm only very productive in my writing when I have virtually no external expectations (and when does that ever happen).
So for this next year of freelancing, my goal is to make writing a bigger priority. Paying the bills is great, but the whole point is to achieve my creative goals: publish good books that make people happy.
So does anyone want to partner up? It could be as easy as a weekly email checking in with each other about how we did on our writing, or really anything if you have a different goal in mind. Send me an email (email@example.com) if you have any interest. I would love to do it.
p.s. Please don't judge my editing skills based on this blog post or others. I'm writing this at 10 pm, which is not my finest hour of the day.
I've got a to-do list that's a mile long (actually, it's several index cards long). There's always a list of things I want to write. Novels, short stories, non-fiction e-books, blog-posts, emails, etc.
And lately, I've stumbled onto something that I think a lot of people have already figured out, but as usual I'm slow to learn the rules to any game.
Basically, re-use your content.
On my editing website, I have a small blog where I talk about basic grammar mistakes that I notice scientists often make in their manuscripts. I write these posts because I'm interested in grammar, but I also use them to market my business to some degree. So for example, I wrote a post about the difference between the abbreviations "e.g." and "i.e." and then I posted that link on Facebook. That link brought people who were interested in learning how to use those abbreviations to my editing website, and now maybe they'll use my editing service at some point in the future. Basic web 2.0 marketing.
So that's great, but it's certainly time consuming. Writing those blog-posts sometimes keeps me from writing fiction or non-fiction at the end of the day because I'm exhausted. I feel like my brain gets used up.
But then I realized that I can kill two birds with one stone. Because I'm also trying to write an e-book for scientists on how to become better writers by learning some simple rules and tricks. Maybe you're already seeing the connection...
So now when I write these grammar-focused blog-posts, I just copy and paste them into my working draft of the science writing e-book. I'll revise it later to fit into the appropriate chapter. So I turned one post into two uses. Win win!
Here's another example. The other day I was reading All & Sundry's blog-post about meditation, which inspired me to write this long and detailed comment because I'm really interested in that topic. Well I wound up adapting that comment into a blog-post here. I figured, hey, I spent a lot of time writing that comment, why not expand it?
I'm calling this BOGO writing, buy one get one free. Obviously, you have to be careful not to overdo it (I think a lot of bloggers who have written "books" make this error by repackaging old blog-posts, which just ends up pissing off their readers). But if you've written good content once, why can't it be used in a different context when there's virtually no overlap between the readership?
I guess it's an example of working hard AND smart, something I've always struggled to do. I can work like a dog, but dogs aren't that smart...
Do you ever BOGO write? Is it a no go or a yes go?
I have a hard time getting started on work. Sometimes, I'll wind up dithering away one or two hours before I finally start editing. It sucks, because those one or two hours come out of my personal writing time. And every day I tell myself I'm not going to procrastinate (except it's not even procrastination exactly, it's more of this inability to start anything), but I usually wind up doing it again. I've struggled with this since I was kid. Writing school essays was never hard. It was starting the essay that would send me into a near panic every. single. time. And then once I got over that panicky hurdle, I'd be perfectly fine again. It's a weird type of anxiety.
On election night, I didn't go to bed until close to 2 am. It took me that long to accept that Clinton had lost. And as I was curling up under the covers, this thought popped into my head: "I just want to disappear into my story."
The other day, my husband and I were driving home from D.C. It's a long drive, and sometimes when I'm bored, I think of things that make me laugh.
"What are you laughing about?" my husband would ask.
"Oh, just about how I used to play basketball in a turtleneck."
Many miles later:
"What are you laughing about now?"
So I told him the story about the time I was in the bathroom at my old job when I overheard a student ask another girl if she had a tampon. She didn't. But I always kept a tampon hidden in the bathroom, behind this random bowl of potpourri. So I opened the stall door and said, "I have one!" and showed them my hidden stash.
"Did they think that was weird?"
And that's why I was laughing, because it was only at that moment, sitting in the car somewhere on I-85 did I realize that eavesdropping + popping out of a random bathroom stall + revealing a hidden tampon might be considered a little strange...
"I think they were equal parts horrified and grateful."
My pets have weird nicknames:
Hans (grey cat): Hansy, Dazzler, Gremlin Cat (he's very impish)
Bunbun (siamese cat): Bunny, Buntaro, the Bunbun (we joke that he's so dumb, he doesn't understand that "Bunbun" is his name, not his species)
Hammie (german shepherd): Ham Sandwich, Hamberlina Jolie, Muffin Chomper, Nose Tube (cause her head is pretty much just a giant tube for her nose).
I don't know why I felt like writing these thoughts down. They've been bouncing around in my head for a few days. Maybe it will be fun to read them again later.
I think a lot of people take stock of their lives around this time of year. Maybe you're in the middle of trying to figure out what you really want or what you want to do with the rest of your life. Maybe you're debating whether or not to go back to school. But what degree? And at what cost?
When I was growing up, there were two competing messages:
But they're both bull shit.
Do what you love? Yeah, have fun figuring out how you're going to pay $200k in student loans with a fine arts degree. I almost did that. I got into NYU and for about a week, I was so sure I was going to go to film school. I would have loved doing that - but it just wasn't a good idea, and I'm so glad I didn't. Can you imagine? $200K to probably never make a movie? I can never make a movie for free.
Do what makes money? I have a lot of friends and some family that have done this, and they seem to be uniformly miserable. How do I know this? They freely admit it. They make tons of money, but they never to get to use it. Plus, they seem stuck. Like they know what they're doing sucks, but they can't bear the idea of making less money, so they have to keep going. No thank you.
So if those two options are no good, how the heck do you figure out what do with yourself?
I'm only 30 years old, but if I had any advice to give it would be to do what you're good at.
What's the one thing you can do better than anyone else? Don't get judgemental, just be honest. What do people complement you for? What have they offered to pay you to do?
For me, it was editing. Starting in the 5th grade, my teachers would have me help other students with their writing. Friends asked me to edit their college essays. In graduate school, editing was practically my second job.
But it took me 30 years before I figured out that I should probably take this talent a step further and turn it into a career. And once I did, everything kind of worked out. I made just as much money freelance editing this year as I had at my old full-time job, and I was able to do that because I'm good at it (although please excuse any typos in this post, I'm writing quickly).
It wasn't what I wanted to be good at. I wanted to be a cartoonist, but I think I correctly concluded that my drawing skills weren't ever going to be strong enough. Then I wanted to be a scientist, but I was never that good at asking the right questions, and I think that's because I was never curious enough. I liked using my brain analytically, but I didn't read about science in free time. It didn't interest me as much as it should have if I wanted to make a life-long career of it. But I did it because it was challenging , it helped other people, the money wasn't terrible (it was never that great, though), and it was certainly socially acceptable. To be honest, that last reason was a big factor in my decision to get a Ph.D.
But I wasn't that great at science. I mean I was ok. I got results, I published, but it was always a struggle.
Editing doesn't feel like a struggle. It's hard, but it feels natural. That should have been my hint that editing was a good career track for me. But nobody taught me to think that way.
I wish somebody had. Then I would have spent less time trying to force myself into a role and a career that was never going to be a great long-term fit. I wasn't thinking about what career I would be really good at. I was worried about what other people thought of me and the sort job I should have to make them proud, comfortable, even envious.
Fuck all of that. Who cares what other people think. It's your life. Do the thing you're good at, work hard, and success will follow. I really believe this.
It sucks if what you're good at isn't the thing you love, but at least it will provide support so you can do the thing you love in your free time. Also, do you really want to turn your favorite activity into work? That would kind of suck.
Anyway, just my two cents, as always. Do what you're good at.
I've never had much success with New Year's resolutions...except for one.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to feel more "put together." I wanted to feel better in my clothing (this is along-standing issue I've had about dressing sloppily).
But instead of resolving to "dress better," I decided I would make one very small change: to always wear matching underwear. Nothing fancy. But my top and bottom would match.
I achieved this by throwing out all the random underwear I owned, especially the ones with goofy patterns and colors from Victoria's Secret, and then I went to Macy's and bought 5 pairs of black underwear and 5 pairs of nude at one of those sales they periodically run. I already owned two black bras and two nude bras. Then when I got dressed each morning, it was a snap to either choose a matching black or nude "set."
5+ years later, my underwear still matches using this same system, and even though no one else can tell, it does make me feel slightly more polished.
I think what made this "resolution" succesful was that I framed it as a small, concrete change that I could make in my life fairly easily. Apparently, making a decision as convenient as possible is one of the best strategies for establishing a habit.
So this year I'm going to try the same thing.
Instead of "I will lose weight," I'm going to:
Instead of "I will save/make more money," I'm going to:
Instead of "I will write more," I'm going to:
I might add more little changes as I think of them and write them here so I can come back to this list if I'm feeling off-track.
None of these things are ground-breaking, but I think they will add up and help me achieve several goals I have for the year, which include:
There may be more, but this is what comes to mind right now.
What are your goals for this year? What small, easy changes can you make to achieve them?
So, I finished The Shell Collector yesterday, which is a book of short stories by Anthony Doerr (who won the Pulitzer Prize last year for his novel, All the Light We Cannot See), and honestly I was a little underwhelmed. That's unfortunate, because The Shell Collector happens to be one of my mother's favorite books, and she's been trying to get me to read it for years. (I'm always about three to five years behind on any book recommendation, though I eventually get to them). The fact that I didn't like a book that my mother probably ranks in her top ten just further supports my theory that reading is a lonely thing, and you should never expect to bond with anyone over your favorite books. What's sublime to one reader is tedious for the next.
Personally, I just don't care for hyper-descriptive prose, which Anthony Doerr is admittedly very good at. I can see the talent, but it's not my cup of tea. I found the descriptions of every little thing distracting from the story, but maybe that was intentional, because except for "The Hunter's Wife" and "Mkondo", I didn't think any of the stories were very interesting. They felt repetative, particularly in terms of plot and character.
Mabye Doerr wanted to focus more on the prose style, which was lovely at a microscale, but also overwhelming at the macro-level. I can only imagine how many hours he spent getting each word just right, but it was too much for me. I guess I'm more of literary minimalist. I find that a single beautiful line in an otherwise functional paragraph has more impact than pages and pages of pretty words strung endlessly together. The only other book I've read by Doerr is Four Seasons in Rome, which again was beautifully written, but I was pulling my hair out by the end, wondering how anyone could make Rome sound so boring. Something has to happen for it to be a story, and it has to be believable .
For this reason, of all the stories in The Shell Collector, I disliked "The Caretaker" the most because it was utterly ridiculous. It's not possible to live in the woods for months eating beries and seaweed. You will starve to death, or more likely, give up and find someone who will give you food. Krakauer did a pretty good job of explaining the research on that in his excellent book, Into the Wild. So I think it's misguided to tell stories in the style of realism about people who hide in the woods and neither freeze nor starve. Sorry, it's just not happening. Please find some other way for your character to "grow."
Anyway, despite these criticisms, there's no arguing that Doerr's a great writer. He's just not the writer for me.
The Shell Collector, however, is just the latest book of short stories I've been reading. I don't know if it's because of my job, but I've been finding it harder to focus for long periods of time when I read. If I had any major complaint about making a living as an editor, it's that it has made reading into a job rather than a pleasure, and that feeling spills over into my down time.
So for the last few months, I've mostly been reading short stories, because they're fairly quick and I can switch around between different collections. It's just one way that I've been unconsciously dealing with my shorter reading attention span, which I think is understandable given that I spend hours every day reading very critically for other people. I only ever list the books I've completely finished in my reading list, so you don't see all the Cheever, Breece D'J Pankcake, and Phil Klay stories I've been reading at the same time, but anyway, that's been my reading pattern for the last few months.
Last night, I felt a little tired of short stories and annoyed at my inability to settle down into a novel, so I picked up The Left Hand of Darkness, but I couldn't get into it. Then I found a paperback copy of Ringworld that I borrowed from my Dad's library collection over Thanksgiving, and fortunately that one has sucked me in. Thank god, because I needed to shake up this pattern, especially after the disappointment of The Shell Collector.
What are you reading these days?
Sorry for the lack of updates over the last week or so. I've been editing almost non-stop (I basically took an afternoon off to eat turkey, and then it was back to work). But you know what? That hard work pays off. The graph kind of says it all.
Because this month was the first month since I started working at my editing business full-time that I made virtually the same amount of money as I did at my old job. I think that deserves a moment of recognition!
It was scary leaving my old job. I really worried about whether I'd ever make decent money again. I figured I'd give myself a year or so to get back to my previous income level, but part of me didn't think even that would be possible.
The fact that it only took 5 months is kind of shocking. I wasn't making crazy money at my old job, but at least I'm not making less these days. I'm really proud of that. I've worked so hard to build a strong client base and it seems to be working. I'm getting a lot of repeat business. I have a part time university appointment as the personal editor for a professor. And I'm still thinking of new ways to expand the business.
For example, I've been thinking about offering seminars to graduate students in my area, because I see these kids making the same mistakes over and over again in their manuscripts. I know I could teach them how to write better scientific papers. I know the tricks. It's not hard, but someone has to teach you these things, and a lot of professors just don't have the time. I've also been thinking about writing a little book on the topic. Like Strunk & White, but specifically for scientists. I'm sure a book like that exists, but I'd want to write one that's more accessible for ESL scientists.
Anyway, just wanted to share my good news. I do my bookkeeping on the first day of every month, so it was kind of a pleasant surprise today to see how well I had done!
Sorry for the lack of posts around here. Been a busy bee on the editing front. Also remember that cold I told you about? Took me a solid 3 weeks to get over it. Seriously, this horrible cold has been an epidemic in Chapel Hill. Seems like everyone I meet has "just" gotten over it.
Despite feeling less than 100%, my husband and I managed to take a quick visit up to D.C. to see my parents and squeeze in a sail. Fall sailing is the best. The wind was pretty strong out on the bay (gusting up to 24 knots!), but once we got the sails double-reefed it wasn't too bad. Here's a picture of my dad. Doesn't he look happy?
I think sailing is his favorite thing to do in the world. It's one of my favorite things to do for sure. We sailed to Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore and had the most amazing crabs at Waterman's Crab House. They were so big and sweet (crabs get huge in the fall). Lately, I've had an itch to move out West, but I'd definitely be sad to be even more land-locked than we already are in Chapel Hill. Maryland is a pretty nice state if you know how to take advantage of what it has to offer (the water, mostly).
On the editing front, business has been good. Maybe too good. I'm getting loads of jobs, but then I feel like I'm always scrambling to keep up. I definitely need to start charging more. I have about 5-10 professors who have been giving me great repeat business, so I think they see the value I add to their research, so maybe it's almost time to start inching up my rates. I spend way too many hours on their manuscripts for how much I charge. This has been a reoccurring problem for a while now.
I don't mind working that hard, but it kind of defeats some of the purpose of starting this business, which was to free up more time for me to write. I'm sure some of you more experienced readers out there could have seen this coming. Starting a business is really, really hard work, and I feel so much more motivated to succeed than I ever did when I was working for somebody else. But that also means I haven't had nearly as much time to write as I had hoped I would. There were some quiet weeks over the summer when I had few editing jobs and could write all day long, but I haven't had a single day of that kind of "free time" in weeks. Part of the problem is I'm just not making time for myself to write, but then again, I'm also pretty exhausted trying to meet editing deadlines.
But all of that kind of pales in comparison with the other issue we've been dealing with at home, which is Lyme's disease. A few weeks ago, my husband was collecting fire wood out the woods and then a few days later he found a strange rash on his leg that itched like crazy. It looked like this:
In this neck of the country, we are very Lyme's disease aware. Deer ticks hang out in leaf litter, so my guess he got bit while he was collecting fire wood. He went to the doctor and came back with a 3 week course of antibiotics. Good thing he did, because even after taking the antibiotics, he started to develop symptoms: painfully sore/stiff joints, especially his knees, a serious fever, chills, congestion, etc. They say that the early-stages of lyme's disease is like a really bad flu, but I think the pain goes beyond any flu I've ever had or seen. It's like every immune response in his body suddenly turned on, and all his nerves are on fire. He describes it as a constant, deep aching or shooting pain. My husband is one of those people who hates taking time off work, but even he's very willingly stayed home these last 3 days and pretty much hasn't gotten out of bed. It just hurts too much to move around. It's really hard to watch him suffer like this (he's in serious, serious pain) when all I can do is try and make him as comfortable as I can, and ensure he's drinking lots of fluids and taking his medication. Poor guy, especially since he just got over his own horrible cold a few weeks ago. He just can't catch a break.
Way too much sickness going around here, lately. Just a lot of bad luck, I guess.
Anyway, I think we might go back to the doctor and see if they can't prescribe any stronger antibiotics. I know a lot of people who have had Lyme's disease (friends and family members) and all of them say to takes at least 3 weeks of antibiotics, and maybe another round to really get rid of all the symptoms. Fortunately, the doctors around here don't seem to be that resistant to treating it.
Wish us luck.
Something weird happened when I got sick last week.
I started reading Buzzfeed articles in French.
First it started with an English article about Marie Teller's search for the best chocolate croissant in New York, using the choclatines of her youth in southwestern France as a standard of comparison.
It was a pleasant, easy read, not too obnoxious in the way Buzzfeed articles usually are, so I clicked on Teller's name to see what else she'd written.
Apparently, quite a lot, and most of it in French, as far as I could tell, which makes sense she's the senior editor for Buzzfeed International.
I used to be pretty serious about French in school. I don't know why, I just really enjoyed it. Despite my past ten-plus year foray into science, I would say my brain is actually hardwired for language (hence, the writing, the editing business, etc.). My school offered French at a very, very basic level starting in Pre-K, and each year it ramped up a bit, until we were learning how to conjugate verbs in the 5th grade. I took French for all four years in high school, and was one of the few people in my senior year AP class, which was kind of awesome, because we just sat around a table and did our best to chat in French and read very simple novels, like Bonjour Tristesse, Suivez-La Piste, Le Petit Prince, Le Petit Nicolas et Les Copains, etc.
I even took conversational French and advanced grammar in my freshman year of college, but after that, it was clear that if I wanted to continue studying French, I'd pretty much have to major or minor in it, and I wasn't interested. So that was it for French, and I haven't really used it much except for the odd European trip here and there.
Isn't it funny how that works? You spend a huge chunk of your youth studying something, getting decent at it (comparatively speaking, I was never, ever close to fluent), and then one day the classes just stop.
That's how it was for me with piano too. I'd played since I was five years old, and I played all the way through college, studying pretty intense classical piano with this lady. But once college ended, I didn't have time to keep taking lessons, so I just stopped. Every now and then, I try to sit back down at the piano, and I can still play, but I'm not nearly as good as I used to be. It's kind of sad.
So French was like that. I used to be pretty good, but it's use it or loose it. Or so I thought.
The funny thing is, this stuff comes back if you try it again. I don't know why reading French Buzzfeed articles felt so good while I was sick and struggling to get through my editing jobs, but I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that it allowed me to give the English side of my brain (obviously, the vast majority of it) a rest.
I love to read, but now that I'm doing it professionally (and doing it last week under physical duress), I honestly haven't been enjoying it as much for fun lately. It's like, I read all day long, and at the end of the day, I just want a break. But I still want to hear a good story - I'm just too tired to read one. The struggle is real. (And books are pretty much my only option here, since we don't have cable internet.)
Or, so I thought. Turns out, I'm just too tired to read more English. So I started reading some of Teller's Buzzfeed articles in French, and they're so simple, that even someone as out of practice as I am can follow along. When I don't know a word, which is often, I just google translate it (but not the whole sentence, that defeats the point). Also, I really like the French comments, which are also fairly easy to read.
Anyway, I just thought that was interesting. The brain - what a mystery. It's like when my grandmother had Alzheimer's. She couldn't remember the name for a coffee mug, but she could still play beautiful improvisational piano. For whatever reason, that part of her brain continued to work. And right now, as I'm coming out of this cold and still busily editing every day, it turns out my French (reading comprehension anyway), still kind of works, and I still enjoy it.
French Reading Level - Buzzfeed