Category Archives: history lesson

Average?


Interesting Opinion column in the New York Times today. In his column, Average Is Over, Thomas L. Friedman states:

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.

Well, for some  it’s over. But for some of us, average never got started. Average never even existed.

When I was a child, my parents drilled it into my head: You won’t get anywhere in life doing just the minimum. If you want to succeed in life, you have to give at least 110%.

(You see, to my parents, 100% WAS the minimum.)

They never explained why, and I never asked. It was just an accepted fact in my house.

Of course, it didn’t take me long to find out why this was a requirement.

I learned two lessons in life very early: You can’t be black and average and you can’t be female and average and expect to get anywhere in life.

And if you were both, well, you’d best get used to having to be awesome.

Yes, I had to be awesome to be seen as average. I had to be spectacular to be good and I had to be damn near perfect to be awesome.

Every. Damn. Day.

The pressure isn’t as great now as it was, because now I’m somewhat established, but that’s not a work ethic that just evaporates. It’s as much a part of me as breathing and writing. I don’t think I could half-ass something if I wanted to. Average isn’t in me, because I could never allow it.

So, it rankles me a bit that some people who have gone through life being average are crying foul that just won’t cut it anymore.

To them, a question: What was it like?

What was it like to just do the bare minimum in college and still get a decent job?

What was it like to just do just slightly above the minimum required, and still get promoted?

What was it like to write mediocre content, but still land private clients or plum assignments?

I’d really like to know, because I’ve never had a chance to experience it. Cuz, you see..

While you were busy skipping class, getting Cs on tests and partying, I was studying. Cuz I needed at least a B to match your C if I was going to get recommendations from teachers and advisors.

While you were working an extra 15 minutes a week, and going home to your family, I was working 10 extra hours a week, and going home too tired to deal with mine. And we got promoted on the same day.

While you were writing crap, our supervisor was giving me your work to correct, but you still got the credit. And the accolades. And the bonus.

So, now that you have to do what I did, you want to whine about it? Seriously?

Boo frickin’ hoo.

It will take some adjustment, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to adapt. Just like, now that you can’t be average anymore, I’ll have to adjust my game as well.

The difference is, I’m used to it. Catch me if you can.

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It Might Be a Cliche…


but as a freelancer, you should always have more than one egg in your basket.

You should have more than one basket.

Hell, if you can swing it, you should have more than one chicken farm. Or duck farm, or ostrich…

Whichever egg you prefer, have more than one farm. And more than one bird.

This makes sense to some of you, while others are thinking, “What is she talking about? Why is she going on about chicken, ducks and eggs?”

Remember in yesterday’s post I linked to a post I wrote a while back? Well the subject of that post has done a disservice to its writers yet again, and as bad as the situation already was, it just got worse.There are a lot of scared writers over there right now.

I vacillate between wanting to scream “I told you so!” and feeling sorry for them. Even when you’ve warned people repeatedly that they are on a road with nothing but a big brick wall at the end of it, you still can’t help but feel your heart sink to your stomach when they smack into it head-on. That’s how I feel tonight.

But what gets me — there are still people over there that are adamant that this too, shall pass. They aren’t looking for other work because they like working there too much.

Uh huh.

And you have the ones who insist on being optimistic. This is just a period of adjustment. All companies have to change their models from time to time. It can’t stay this bad forever.

And they’re right. It can still get worse.

Now, admittedly, I didn’t burn that bridge completely, because I want to see the famous final scene. Meaning, I want to know what kind of company they eventually evolve (or devolve) into. But I’ve long ago given up any hope (hope?) that they would be part of my income. But judging from what I read earlier, for some that place is their only income.

Still.

C’mon peeps — it’s time to get real. If you’re gonna make it as a freelancer, you can’t depend on just one client. You need many (MANY) different clients to freelance well. That is the first rule you should learn when you decide to freelance, because if you break it, it will end your freelancing career. And many people are realizing that tonight, as they start to look for B & M jobs.

So, to those who were caught off guard by the happenings of today, I’m truly sorry, and I hope this served as a wake up call for you. Get some chicken, ducks and other birds who lay eggs and cultivate as many as you can. Gets lots of pretty baskets. For now, sadly, it seems like you have all the time in the world to do it.

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It Ain’t Just Semantics, Folks.


I just had one of the most aggravating/amusing “discussions” of my writing career.

Remember the client I fired a few weeks back? Well, I still had some outstanding articles that hadn’t been approved, so I’ve still had to deal with them to a degree.

Today, the last of the articles I wrote went through — for the exception of one. It was returned for an edit with a note:

“Replace all instances of “Republic” with “Democracy”. This is not China. It’s the US.

Ooooookay….

Now, I could have just made the changes, sent the article back and been done with this client once and for all. That would have been the simple thing to do. The practical thing to do.

I can hear you all laughing now. Yes, but it wouldn’t have been the ME thing to do.

So, I shot back a reply:

Yeah, sorry, but I can’t make those changes. You see, although I am well aware this is not China, that does not change the fact that the United States is not a democracy, but is indeed, a republic. You see, in a democratic society, when you vote, the majority rules. In a republic, a democratic process is used to elect officials to represent everyone.

Does this sound vaguely familiar to you?

So, no, again, I won’t be making those changes. Do with the article what you will.

I figured that would be the end of it. They’d reject the article, I wouldn’t get paid for it, la la la la life goes on.

10 minutes later….I get this reply:

“WE ARE A DEMOCRACY. And I find it extremely UNAMERICAN of you to argue otherwise. You should be ashamed to call yourself an American. We’re rejecting your article, and you will no longer receive any work from us. We prefer to work with those who love their country.”

Wow…just…wow. This company has lied to me, refused to pay me and accused me of stealing. And now I’m unAmerican.

So, you know what happened next…

Dear Sharpie Sniffing, American History Challenged Editor:

I find it amusing that you would dare question my patriotism when you are too ignorant to even know the facts about a country you profess to love so much. You can capitalize democracy as much and as many times as you’d like; it still won’t make the U.S. a democracy. I’m ashamed you call YOURSELF an American, since you put the “Stupid” in the ‘Stupid Americans’ moniker we have around the world.

Do me and other writers with whom you will undoubtedly have this conversation a favor: put down the crayon and pick up a history book. Google it. Go to Wikipedia. Ask your mom. Hell, ask the next person you pass on the street during recess — I don’t care how you find out — but learn some American history. Stop embarrassing yourself. Stop embarrassing me.

Which brings me to this, re: not writing anymore articles for you — let me devolve back to the third grade for a moment. GOOD! I DIDN’T WANT TO WRITE FOR YOUR STINKIN’ COMPANY ANYMORE, ANYWAY, AND I FIRED YOU FIRST!! :PPPPPPPPP

I’m officially done with you. Shred my article, and if I see anything that remotely resembles it on any website for which you provide content, I will come down on you and your company with the sound and fury of God’s thunder. Don’t think I won’t sue you. It’s the DEMOCRATIC way.

Deuces.

Me

Haven’t heard back from them yet. I’ll keep you posted.

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