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The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home

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The 30 Second Commute is a comic narrative about the real life of a full-time writer. Stephanie Dickison had been successfully publishing features and articles for over a decade while working a full-time job, but in December 2005, she left the secure world of a “real job” to tackle completing a manuscript that was close to five years old and to take on freelance writing fu The 30 Second Commute is a comic narrative about the real life of a full-time writer. Stephanie Dickison had been successfully publishing features and articles for over a decade while working a full-time job, but in December 2005, she left the secure world of a “real job” to tackle completing a manuscript that was close to five years old and to take on freelance writing full time. Drawing on her years as a book and pop music critic, she delves into food writing and becomes a restaurant critic for a big city website. She starts a blog about new products and services and soon, she and her fiancé have to consider moving due to the product piled up behind the bathroom door. Celebrity interviews, feature articles, and offers to speak about writing are just some of the highlights of what can happen when you get to live your dream. There are also the cautionary tales of what happens when you’re your own boss, saying yes to every offer that comes your way and typing hunched over a rolltop desk for 14 hours a day, but mostly it is a celebration and exploration of a writer just trying to make her way in this crazy world — one word at a time.


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The 30 Second Commute is a comic narrative about the real life of a full-time writer. Stephanie Dickison had been successfully publishing features and articles for over a decade while working a full-time job, but in December 2005, she left the secure world of a “real job” to tackle completing a manuscript that was close to five years old and to take on freelance writing fu The 30 Second Commute is a comic narrative about the real life of a full-time writer. Stephanie Dickison had been successfully publishing features and articles for over a decade while working a full-time job, but in December 2005, she left the secure world of a “real job” to tackle completing a manuscript that was close to five years old and to take on freelance writing full time. Drawing on her years as a book and pop music critic, she delves into food writing and becomes a restaurant critic for a big city website. She starts a blog about new products and services and soon, she and her fiancé have to consider moving due to the product piled up behind the bathroom door. Celebrity interviews, feature articles, and offers to speak about writing are just some of the highlights of what can happen when you get to live your dream. There are also the cautionary tales of what happens when you’re your own boss, saying yes to every offer that comes your way and typing hunched over a rolltop desk for 14 hours a day, but mostly it is a celebration and exploration of a writer just trying to make her way in this crazy world — one word at a time.

30 review for The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    DNF. I was excited to read this book, it sounded like a cosy, humorous book I could relate to since I work from home. It started off cute, I chuckled a few times, loved the work from home references and found myself comparing our daily work lives. Then the second (or third) chapter was about the authors accomplishments. Which I suppose is fine, she’s proud of her work and has achieved things some writers would only dream of, but it felt weird and not what I was expecting from the book. It felt l DNF. I was excited to read this book, it sounded like a cosy, humorous book I could relate to since I work from home. It started off cute, I chuckled a few times, loved the work from home references and found myself comparing our daily work lives. Then the second (or third) chapter was about the authors accomplishments. Which I suppose is fine, she’s proud of her work and has achieved things some writers would only dream of, but it felt weird and not what I was expecting from the book. It felt like a section for bragging, rather than a “comedy about writing and working from home” as the cover states. Then it became a monotonous “look how busy I am” monologue and finally, the part that bugged me most “look how much I know about pop culture and this band and this celebrity.” Meanwhile, being seemingly behind on pop culture. I realize this book was published in 2009 so it’s expected that it would be outdated now. However, I found myself reading references to Nicole Richie and the OC, among many others, that were a few years outdated by 2009. Finally at around 65% of the way through, after a full chapter listing off random band names with no real purpose, I closed the book for good. It felt as though the author was a middle aged woman trying so hard to be relevant with a younger audience, like she had something to prove. It was referenced many times that the author was a restaurant critic and loved food, so I would’ve loved to read about her inside knowledge into that industry or more into her writing process and daily work from home rituals, instead of reeling off random names, titles and bands. It was painful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nola

    A cute, but now very dated blog-style ‘memoir’ about working from home (hint, it’s a lot easier if you’re married to someone with a steady income). The author is sweet, but the content isn’t particularly deep or meaningful. That said, her recent journalism is sharper.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doina Condrea

    Disclaimers: This book will make you love: 1. Stephanie Dickison; 2. Food; 3. Writing. First, a bit about the writer of this little gem: -Hilarious; -Smart; -Blogger; -Torontonian; -Cat owner; -Food enthusiast; -She’s done it all (contributions to reference books; pop-culture, music, skin care, book, and food reviews for various sites and publications; interviews with celebrities and even a casual pool game with Stephen King). This book is for anyone who is curious about a freelance writer’s life. The great Disclaimers: This book will make you love: 1. Stephanie Dickison; 2. Food; 3. Writing. First, a bit about the writer of this little gem: -Hilarious; -Smart; -Blogger; -Torontonian; -Cat owner; -Food enthusiast; -She’s done it all (contributions to reference books; pop-culture, music, skin care, book, and food reviews for various sites and publications; interviews with celebrities and even a casual pool game with Stephen King). This book is for anyone who is curious about a freelance writer’s life. The great thing about this book and what I respect about Stephanie is that she did not just focus on the perfect. Whoever thinks a writer’s world is fabulous 24/7, read this book. The 30-Second Commute will let you know about the pros of freelance writing that Stephanie has experienced (making your own schedule, trying different skin care products and restaurants, having your cat nearby to pet whenever you feel like it, having your kitchen just a couple feet away) and cons (not having a stable income, crazy deadlines, eating way too much and having to write about all four duck dishes and three desserts that you ate in one night, having to describe all the new and ridiculous genres of music that keep sprouting out of nowhere). Indubitably confident, real, clever, funny and sometimes snarky (you who gets writing projects because of who your parents are, yeah you! “You know who you are and we do too, you’re not fooling anyone”), this book made me laugh, inspired me, reinforced a few things I already knew and taught me things I did not. It’s honestly worth reading this book whether you are considering becoming a writer or not, even if you’re just curious about a freelance writer’s world or you want a laugh or you want to get to know Stephanie.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    The 30-Second Commute is a glimpse of a freelancer’s life. Those seeking a how-to guide should look to a number of other titles, though there are some insights that can be gained. Dickison makes it clear that her life is not all about hanging around the computer in her pajamas waiting for inspiration. If someone reading this book was hoping being a freelancer would allow him or her to live such a life, it quickly becomes clear that doing so doesn’t lead to success. A series of lists throughout t The 30-Second Commute is a glimpse of a freelancer’s life. Those seeking a how-to guide should look to a number of other titles, though there are some insights that can be gained. Dickison makes it clear that her life is not all about hanging around the computer in her pajamas waiting for inspiration. If someone reading this book was hoping being a freelancer would allow him or her to live such a life, it quickly becomes clear that doing so doesn’t lead to success. A series of lists throughout the book show just how much has to get done each week. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of reviewing books, music, and restaurants. In the section on music she writes about the ridiculousness of the genres and the elitist snobs who despise the mainstream bands she has in her CD collection while also discounting her suggestions of bands they’ve never heard of simply because they’ve never heard of them. I was laughing out loud.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vegetable Person

    Rereading this after five/six years is interesting. I still think the book is entertaining and light and offers a candid look at the life of a full-time freelance writer. I don't mind the vignette(ish?) format. She seems like an interesting, intelligent person who has been quite successful in what seems to be a difficult career. But I'm not always fond of her writing style, here and in her blogs -- for someone who makes her living writing, quite a bit of it feels sloppy. From what I've read of h Rereading this after five/six years is interesting. I still think the book is entertaining and light and offers a candid look at the life of a full-time freelance writer. I don't mind the vignette(ish?) format. She seems like an interesting, intelligent person who has been quite successful in what seems to be a difficult career. But I'm not always fond of her writing style, here and in her blogs -- for someone who makes her living writing, quite a bit of it feels sloppy. From what I've read of her review blogs, the criticism aimed toward her writing -- that it's "not critical enough" -- may not be totally unwarranted. As someone who has similar experiences even in a somewhat different field (deadline anxieties, writing nonfiction and not novels, the difficulties of describing music, the research involved in writing reviews), I did identify quite a bit with what she had to say.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dean Ezra

    An interesting idea for a book, showing how freelance journalism (food reviewing in this case) really works. I started reading this because I had been doing contract work from home for about a year and wanted to see how other people handle it. The thing is though, whilst the book starts with lots of promise and some fun stories, it soon becomes very repetitive and hard to finish. There is just too much description of food! I understand the writer is a foody, but most of the descriptions are just n An interesting idea for a book, showing how freelance journalism (food reviewing in this case) really works. I started reading this because I had been doing contract work from home for about a year and wanted to see how other people handle it. The thing is though, whilst the book starts with lots of promise and some fun stories, it soon becomes very repetitive and hard to finish. There is just too much description of food! I understand the writer is a foody, but most of the descriptions are just not relevant to the story. I found myself rather bored at points. If you love food and maybe want to hear some real world stories about how journalist freelancing works, maybe you will enjoy this, but I got very bored after a third of the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Rosen

    I wrote a lengthy review. The internet crashed. This is the short version: This is a book that spends most of its time talking about how awesome Dickison's job as a restaurant reviewer is. There's some interesting stuff closer to the beginning where she actually talks about life as a freelancer. Then she spends most of the rest of the book talking about food, alcohol, and eating too much. Don't bother, unless you're already reading her blog or you're interested in a mundane recap of the life of a I wrote a lengthy review. The internet crashed. This is the short version: This is a book that spends most of its time talking about how awesome Dickison's job as a restaurant reviewer is. There's some interesting stuff closer to the beginning where she actually talks about life as a freelancer. Then she spends most of the rest of the book talking about food, alcohol, and eating too much. Don't bother, unless you're already reading her blog or you're interested in a mundane recap of the life of a Toronto restaurant critic.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pibble

    The first half, about the writing life, was interesting. As a freelancer myself, it was nice to read another person's ways if coping with deadlines, self-motivation and the all-important question of whether to get dressed in the morning. The second half I skimmed. The chapters at the end about reviewing restaurants I skipped entirely. Not interesting and, frankly, were icky to read. It contained a lot if material that felt like it was added only to reach a particular word count: to-do lists, inv The first half, about the writing life, was interesting. As a freelancer myself, it was nice to read another person's ways if coping with deadlines, self-motivation and the all-important question of whether to get dressed in the morning. The second half I skimmed. The chapters at the end about reviewing restaurants I skipped entirely. Not interesting and, frankly, were icky to read. It contained a lot if material that felt like it was added only to reach a particular word count: to-do lists, inventory of her office clutter, and her entire Wikipedia profile.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ava

    A fun and insightful look at life in the growing, uncertain world of freelancing. For anyone who's taking the plunge and following a dream of becoming a writer this is a must read! For anyone that's considered it, you'll love reading about what you're missing! And what foodie hasn't wondered about the life of a food writer? I have and most loved Stephanie's stories about that. A fun and insightful look at life in the growing, uncertain world of freelancing. For anyone who's taking the plunge and following a dream of becoming a writer this is a must read! For anyone that's considered it, you'll love reading about what you're missing! And what foodie hasn't wondered about the life of a food writer? I have and most loved Stephanie's stories about that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mathis Bailey

    This book is like ' The Devil Wears Prada', meets ' Legally Blonde', meets 'Julie and Julia", all in one. It's witty and fun. At the end of the day, she's just a homegirl that's trying to get ahead in the writer's world. I think anyone who's thinking about becoming a writer should have this piece of wisdom in their repertoire of books. This book is like ' The Devil Wears Prada', meets ' Legally Blonde', meets 'Julie and Julia", all in one. It's witty and fun. At the end of the day, she's just a homegirl that's trying to get ahead in the writer's world. I think anyone who's thinking about becoming a writer should have this piece of wisdom in their repertoire of books.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Terrifically funny, this is a wonderful insider of a writer, food expert and adventurer continuing to discover a city of extraordinary and diverse cultures. An absolute must read for entertainment or pure escape. Take this book - curl up on a chilly night or head for the beach on a hot sizzling day - would fit the bill every time!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Stephanie Dickison tales us along on her journey as a freelance writer. Funny and straight forward. She lets us in on the pros and cons of being one's own boss and working from home. Full of wit and charm. Anyone considering becoming a full time, work at home writer should pick up this book. Stephanie Dickison tales us along on her journey as a freelance writer. Funny and straight forward. She lets us in on the pros and cons of being one's own boss and working from home. Full of wit and charm. Anyone considering becoming a full time, work at home writer should pick up this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Found the first half pretty great (besides the awkward chapter about wanting to be a dirty writer). The second half was about the importance of music and food in her life and was really hard to drag myself through.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rukshana

    Reading another book about work...can you tell what's on my mind? Reading another book about work...can you tell what's on my mind?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gil Segev

    Funny and really relevant to my life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

  17. 5 out of 5

    Myk Pilgrim

  18. 5 out of 5

    Domenica

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ola Fagbohun

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marta

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jan Kellis

  22. 5 out of 5

    Faiza Venzant

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alison Simpson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cdjokoto

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rob Bignell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe Jane

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