Category Archives: Jill-of-All-Trades

My Return to the Beginning of the End of the Start


Hi everyone,

They say the first step to conquering a problem is admitting you have one.

I’m floundering.

There I said it.

I have spent the last couple of years going through the motions. I’m all of the things I said I wanted to be, but low-level and or barely. I’m kinda tired of being a “kinda” writer. I’m tired of being a “sorta” jewelry/accessory designer and creator. I’m tired of “kinda” dating, being “sorta” social…

This ish is getting old. No, it’s been old, I’m just owning up to it.

I thought posting videos on YouTube was the answer, but all it really did was illuminate the fact that I had NO IDEA where I wanted my life to go. I want the platform to mean something, to stand for something. I want to use my channel to ultimately help those who need it.

But damn if I can figure out how to get there.

So, I’m starting over. No “sorta” or “kinda,” just “.”.

However, I’m not sure where THE beginning is. If I take it ALLLL the way back, I caught the craft and writing bug practically at the same time. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 10, and I first discovered crafts were cool that same year as well.

I honed my writing and I know that my passions lie in personal essays and How-to/Help topics. Anything that helps someone is fair game. Craft wise, I lean toward crochet, chainmaille and Native American loom beadwork. I do other crafts as well, but these are the ones I always have supplies on hand for projects when the mood strikes.

As a weird aside, I include commentary on political and social issues a form of helping people. We’ll never get along without an open dialogue and free communication.

So, to summarize:

I’m a crafty writer who enjoys helping people via crafts and social commentary via YouTube.

A video of my making scarves with beaded uplifting quotes for everyone coming soon!

I kid…I kid.

Sorta.

I do want to figure out a way to combine all these interests. So, maybe I’ll record (a how-to?) me making a craft item that ties directly into a social issue I want to discuss, sell it and donate part of the proceeds to a charity.

Huh…

That just might work. What do you think? Let me know!

Anyway, this is my attempt to figure out my life and help others at the same time. Think it could work? Think it has a fighting chance? Again, let me know.

 

 

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Kim’s Excellent Auditing Adventure (aka The time the crazy rode shotgun)


Okay, so today this happened:

The day started normally enough. I got up, got some coffee and waited for Diva to get ready for work. I dropped her off and proceeded to start my work day. Many of you know that along with my freelance writing and jewelry design gigs I’m also a mystery shopper. Well I’m also a quality auditor for gas stations, and today I had a route I needed to complete. Seven stations in one town.

I get to the first station and I’m doing the spiel. Let the station know I’m there. Give them my letter of authorization (LoA…remember this, it will be important later), then I take pictures and complete the inspection. I’m walking back to my car and a woman approaches me.

Woman: pretty gutsy casing the joint during the day.

Me: Yeah, I’m not planning a robbery, I’m doing a site inspection.

Woman: Oh, of course (wink wink nudge nudge)

Me: Yeah…okay bye.

I get in my car and drive to the next location, all of two blocks away. Do my thing again, alert the station, hand over the LoA, take the photos, do the inspection (from now on, I’m referring to this as ‘Do my thing.’ As I’m walking to my car, guess who approaches me again? Yep. Lady from station #1.

Woman: What the hell kinda heist are you planning?

Me: No heist. Site inspections.

Woman: Good. Glad you’ve got your story down. Makes it way more believable if the cops find out.

Me: Yeah…sure. Bye.

As I got in my car, I thought, “Great, crazy lady is following me thinking I’m going on a crime spree. My luck she’ll say she wants in on it.” I start the car and headed for station #3, which is five or six blocks down the street.

You know, you’d think that I would have learned by now that speaking things aloud to the universe is inviting the universe to act. Apparently I haven’t learned that lesson because, sure enough, after I did my thing…

Woman: Look, if I can anticipate your next move, the cops will. You need a partner, I volunteer me!

Me: Thanks for the offer, but I work alone.

Woman: That’s never a good idea. There should always be two in a heist.

Me: Sorry. Loner.

Station #4:

Woman: I’m an excellent driver.

Me: Me too, plus my insurance won’t cover you.

Station #5:

Woman: I have an excellent eye for detail.

Me: Without looking, how many lights are on under the canopy?

Woman: Uh…

Me: buuzzz! Too late, we’re in jail and it’s your fault. Thanks for playing.

I get to station #6…no sign of her. Did she give up? Did I lose her? Did she find something more amusing to do? After the nanosecond I took to ponder all that, I finished the gig and jumped in the car in the hopes that I could get the last site done..just in case she decided I was interesting again.

I get to the last station. There she is. With the station attendant.

Me: Seriously?

Woman: Told you I knew what you were doing.

Me: Lady you don’t know what you’re  doing, let alone what I’m doing.

Woman: Well you won’t be casing this joint!

Me:  (To the attendant)  I’m here to do your site inspection.

Attendant: Do you have a LoA?

Me: Yep. (hand over the letter)

Woman: That doesn’t mean anything. Any witless moron could make one of those.

Me: And yet here you stand without one.

And with that, I finished the inspection and left.

Now I’m at home thinking about all the ways that could have went wrong. But you know what? It didn’t and therefore it lands in the “must blog this because this only happens to me” box.

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An Introduction of Sorts…


Over the last couple of days, I’ve been called quite a few things. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Feminazi
  • Witty
  • Bleeding-heart liberal
  • Opinionated
  • Unfair
  • Eloquent
  • Unbalanced
  • Brilliant
  • Hateful
  • Sarcastic
  • Big-mouthed
  • Bitchy
  • Smart

I’m shocked “stupid” wasn’t bandied about, but hey, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. 🙂

Just for fun, and by way of an introduction to my new followers (Hello and Welcome!), I’m going to offer my opinion on each of these descriptions. Cuz, y’know, why not.

Feminazi – If refusing to remain silent while men wage war against women’s rights, shouting down loud-mouthed blowhards, and demanding that women have not equal but the majority say over what goes into and comes out of their bodies makes me a feminazi, then by God, I’ll carry the scepter, and wear the tiara and sash proudly while I take care of my family, build my career and have sex when and with whom I choose, thank-you-very-much!

Witty – Well, thank you. I’d say I try, but honestly, I have to try harder NOT to be humorous. That’s not meant to be conceited, I really have a hard time not letting some sort of humor leak into everything I write. When you write dry, boring copy for a living, fighting the urge to be (or attempt to be) funny is hard. That’s part of the reason for why I blog. *I* need an outlet. 🙂 Imagine a bowl of bran flakes….with a fruit loop in thrown in. Finish that joke however you wish.

Bleeding-heart Liberal –  Not really a fair assessment, and I will explain why later.

Opinionated – Gee…me? Nah, I don’t have an opinion on anything. And even if I did, I would never, ever deign to share it.

Unfair – I think that assessment is unfair. I try to show all facets of an issue before offering my opinion, unless the issue is so ridiculous that there is really no other facet to show other than the ridiculousness of the issue.

Eloquent – Thanks…I try! Not very eloquent, but heartfelt!

Unbalanced – Now see, I don’t know if the person who said this meant “unbalanced” as in only showing one side of the story, or “unbalanced” as in I need to be fitted for a straight jacket and prepped for a frontal lobotomy. Then again, it could mean both. But to quote Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory), “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.”

Brilliant – Really smart? According to the tests, yes. Am I capable of moments of brilliance? Of course. We all are. But brilliant? Nah…I just know what my gifts are and try to use them to their fullest as much as possible. But thank you for the compliment!

Hateful – Nope. I’m not a hateful person. I don’t hate anyone or anything. Hate is a wasted emotion. You spend all this time hating someone, but you never tell that person why you hate them. So, they’re off living their life, smelling flowers and whistling a happy tune, and you’re curled up in the fetal position on your bed, suffering from migraines, ulcers and for the life if it, cannot understand why you’re leading a miserable life. What’s wrong with that picture?

Sarcastic – You must be new here. Cuz I can hide my sarcasm for about five whole seconds. It’s harder to control than my humor. Don’t believe me? Check out practically any other post on this blog — sarcasm enters around word 50 (sometimes earlier) and doesn’t leave until I end the post. But I really think I’m more snarky than sarcastic, but oh well, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. It was still a swing and a miss in the insult department.

Big-mouhted – I think this one is a bit off the mark, and really doesn’t make much sense considering this is prose and not spoken word. If I wanted to be a big mouth on screen, I’d have to TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPS AND BOLD IT SO I’D BE SURE YOU SAW IT. I’D ALSO ADD SEVERAL COLORS SO EVERYTHING STOOD OUT, AND USE LOTS OF “!!!!” TO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTOOD MY POINT!!! 

But that’s not how I roll, so nah, wrong again.

Bitchy – Yeah, I can be. I don’t argue that. Matter of fact, I embrace my inner bitch. I wish more people would do that, there would be much less heartache in the world.  But I really believe I’m bitchy only when justified, and I don’t think I’ve been particularly bitchy in this blog. But I have had my moments. LOL

Smart – Yeah, okay. Thanks. 🙂

So, that’s what others think of me and how I feel about what others think of me. Now, here’s who I know I am:

I’m a woman with an opinion who is not afraid to express it. If I read, see or hear of an injustice, an act of stupidity or other uncalled for occurrence, I will drag it out of the dark corner where it is trying to hide and expose it for what it really is. I will defend the things I believe in until I’m hoarse and my fingers bleed. If you come at me, take your best shot, cuz when I fire back, I. Won’t. Miss.

I’m a liberal who believes that those in the position to help others, should. I also believe that once you’ve been helped, you need to move to the other side of the column and become a helper yourself. If you don’t — if you continue to seek help when you could do for yourself, or you refuse to help others as you were helped, you’ll have to answer to me. And you’d better have a damn good excuse.

I believe that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to bitch. Spare me the “my one vote isn’t going to make a difference”, “the whole political process is rigged” and “our voices aren’t heard anyway” mumbo jumbo. Even if any and all of that is true, our forefathers died so we could vote. If we end up in a situation you don’t like and you did nothing about it, other than complain that the system is broken, I don’t want to hear it. Move on.

I believe everyone should have the right to love who they want, and if they want to get married, they’re crazy more power to them. (Did I mention I’m divorced? lol)

I’m a writer, a designer, a mother, a daughter a sister and a friend. I love deeply and am loyal to a fault. I’m kind to furry woodland creatures, share my toys and color inside the lines (usually).

But most of all, I love being here. It’s beats the hell out of the alternative. I’d rather smell the daisies than push them up from the other side.

And that, ladies and gents, is who I am, or at least a brief synopsis. And that’s who writes this blog. I hope you’ll stick around and see what I have to say. I’m sure it will only get more interesting as the months progress.

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Write What You (Don’t) Know


The past couple of days I’ve been extolling the benefits of being a generalist with a specialist bent. Again, as I’ve mentioned, to survive as a freelancer, you have to be able to write about a variety of subjects with authority. For the most part, the key to doing it is having decent research skills.

Now, I pride myself on my ability to find just about anything online. If there’s website, blog post or even a tweet about a subject, I can find it.

Until today.

I’m writing an article on troubleshooting a Kenwood washing machine. OK — first off, I didn’t even know Kenwood made washing machines. I thought they made car stereos and walkie talkies. Didn’t know they were into appliances as well.

Turns out, they are a big European supplier of household appliances. So, there was a new nugget if information for me.

So, now I’m on a mission to find an owner’s manual for a Kenwood front-loading washer. And I’m striking out.

Big time.

Blah.

Kenmore manuals. Everywhere. Whirlpool manuals. A plethora. Want a manual on the Neptune, Elite or Oasis? I got ya covered. But damn if I can find anything on a Kenwood washer. I barely uncovered that they exist.

So, I have a request. If anyone knows anything about these washers, could you tell me where I need to look? I’m not above turning over any stone, but I’m running out of them. So, I’m doing what any good researcher does when he hits a wall. I’m peeking over it and seeing if there’s anyone on the other side.

Help? Please? Hello?

Thanks in advance. Guess I’ll go write about gluing stainless steel plates to a wall now…

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Not Doing the Work For You…


Remember yesterday I mentioned that one of my clients was scaling back and there was pandemonium and rioting in the virtual streets of that client’s writers forum?

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how I described it, but I should have…

Anyway, so now, some of the panic is wearing off and people are asking, “So where can I write now?” A few people are throwing out some ideas of places that are hiring others, but the vast majority (well, the majority that is responding to the posts. The vast majority of those reading the posts are keeping their mouths shut), are saying things such as “Google it.”

This is causing some a great deal of stress. Know what I say to that?

Dude, pick a new profession. If you can’t use Google to find work on the ‘net for WRITERS then maybe you should do something else. Like basket weaving. Or professional badminton. Anything but writing.

As I said in my last post, as writers we are expected to be able to research and write with authority. See, it’s the research part that’s important here. If you can’t (and I’m throwing out a bone here) type “write for us”, “needs writers” or “freelancers wanted” into a search engine and follow the links? How in the hell did you manage to write any article for anyone?

So, let’s just call it what it is: you want people who have spent hours upon HOURS searching for writing opportunities to just hand you that research because you asked for it.

Really? REALLY?

This ain’t The Waterboy. I’m not Coach Klein, and you ain’t Coach Beaulieu. I ain’t handing you my playbook (though I did have those pumps in several colors in the 90s…)

But I digress. If I did the work to find the leads to get me the jobs so I wasn’t in full-blown panic when I got the dreaded “We’re cutting back so maybe you should go with Plan B for your income needs.”, then you can too. Google IS your friend. So is Bing, and Yahoo and any other search engine that gets the job done for you.

So, go forth and be the good little researcher and writer I know you can be. And if you choose not to, that’s fine. That’s one less person in the freelancing pool.

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Long Live General Knowledge


So, I got an email from one of my regular clients yesterday, basically announcing that, although the sites I write for will live on, the opportunities to write for them are going to decrease dramatically. This email wasn’t much of a shock, because opportunities to write for this client have decreasing steadily for a while now.

Now, of course, I’m not the only freelancer who writes for them, so getting the email wasn’t a personal affront to me. However, others seemed to view it differently.

For months….months I have been preaching that it is folly and freelancing suicide to depend on just one client, or one type of client for your bread and butter. Companies fold. Companies scale back. Companies execs wake up one morning and decide they don’t like this group of people, and *poof* those people are on the outside, looking in.

I’m not going to lie and say that the scaling back hasn’t hurt. As I mentioned a while ago, I had grown too dependent on this client and other like it, so I’ve been working on branching out for a while now. So, although the news isn’t great, it’s not going to kill me either. I can find work elsewhere. I’ve got skills and enough general knowledge and experience in the freelancing world to make it work.

Which brings me to the reason for the title of this post. A few weeks back, a fellow writer made a statement that ruffled my feathers a bit. She stated that generalists were a dying breed and that the only way to make it as a freelancer was to carve a niche, and stick with it.

Uh, pardon me?

You’re trying to tell me that it’s not a good idea to have knowledge in a variety of areas? You really expect me to believe that it is better to stick to one knowledge base and skill set…as a freelance WRITER?

Um, that’s as suicidal as sticking to one client.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t good to become an expert in an area and tout that expertise. I do it all the time with my small business knowledge and growing expertise in social media marketing. What I’m saying is that along with that expertise, it can’t hurt to be able to write on a variety of topics. So, yeah, I can write about small business startup concerns and how to launch a social media campaign with authority, but I can also explain how to troubleshoot a washer, how to get rid of a skunk smell in your furnace, and give men 10 reasons why they are still single. As writers, one of our strongest skills is the ability to research and write knowledgeably on a variety of topics. You cannot survive as a freelancer if you only write about one topic. Not to mention, it would make the freelancing gig incredibly boring…

And if I wanted to be bored, I’d go back to a brick and mortar job. To toss out a well-worn cliche, variety is the spice of life, and it’s a freelancers bread and butter.

So, to all my fellow generalists, keep doin’ what you’re doing, and ignore those who tell you that you’ll never make it as a freelancer. If they still want to argue, send them my way. It’s hard to argue with someone whose been doing it since 1996. And to those of you who are niche writers, good luck to you, and I have you have a niche B. And feel free to try and prove me wrong.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have three social media articles to write and then I need to explain how to hide an ugly bay window, remove scratches from a butcher block table, and detail the various sizes of dormers.

Diversity…it’s a good thing!

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Change Is In the Air


So, it’s the last day of the month, and as I review my activities for the month, three words spring to mind.

So Not Impressed.

This wasn’t a good month for me, on several levels, but I’ll focus on the work-related ones here. My volume of work was WAY down, and I felt it in more ways than one. Content writing slowed, partly due to a lack of things I wanted or felt I was qualified to write. This is the first month I failed to gain a new client, and my current clients have slowed. Not exactly how I wanted to end a fiscal quarter.

The things I did write, while they were good, left me rather unsatisfied. Most of the things I love to write about weren’t plentiful, so I found myself writing about things I could really not give two flips about. Again, what I did write, I wrote well and my clients were satisfied, but past that, meh.

So, I guess it is time to revisit getting back into the feature writing game. for a while there, I was making a pretty good name for myself, but I got tired of the merry-go-round or query in May for an article that might run in November and pay out in January. With all the technological advances, I’m sure the process is shortened, and I really do miss delving into a topic and doing interviews…I don’t know…

I just know I need to shake things up a bit. Doing what I have been doing worked for a while, but now I think its time to branch out. If not feature writing, then maybe the radio show idea I’ve kicked around for a while — or maybe something else entirey. All I know is that a change is a’comin’, so stay tuned!

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Jill of All Trades


Every once in a while, someone asks, “What did you do before you became a writer?”.  I seldom participate in these conversations, because I’ve always been a writer.

Now, if you want to know the jobs I’ve worked other than as a writer, well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

So, for fun, here is the list of all the jobs (or at least one ones I remember) I’ve held since I’ve been old enough to have the Feds and the state pick my pocket…er…I mean earn a paycheck.

  • Babysitter
  • Waitress
  • Tour guide for Victorian homes
  • Assembly line worker (lawn mowers)
  • Assembly line worker (food processing plant)
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Teacher
  • Tutor
  • Maintenance worker
  • Hotel Maid
  • Check Processor (ran the machine that recorded bank transactions for the day)
  • Check Processor (hand-checked daily credit transactions)
  • USDA Compliance Agent (I went around to grocery stores who applied to accept food stamps and made sure they qualified. This actually was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had.)
  • Proposal Writer
  • DSL Tech Support
  • Cable Tech Support
  • Computer Tech Support
  • Telemarketer
  • Small Business Startup Consultant (still do this now)
  • Hat/Coat Check
  • Receptionist
  • Telephone operator
  • Dispatcher
  • Bookkeeper
  • Cashier
  • Vacuum cleaner Salesperson
  • Retail
  • RL Polk Surveyer
  • Telephone book delivery
  • Jewelry designer

Those are the jobs I remember off the top of my head. I didn’t count the 3 hours I worked at Wendy’s. Didn’t seem fair. I also did not count the five years of being a Candy Striper or nine years as a chat host on AOL, though both of those volunteer positions took up WAY more time than any volunteer position should (but I loved every minute of both!).

What all this work experience has done is give me plenty of fodder for my writing. I also met some very interesting people along the way, some of whom I am still friends with now. I also learned that, even in jobs where you think you aren’t learning anything practical, you come away from the job with a new skill set. For example, I know how to remove the core from a head of lettuce without slicing it, can tell you what every number on the bottom of a check stands for and the materials in a stained glass window.

So, I’m a Jill-Of-All-Trades, Master of Some, but learner from them all.

So, what interesting jobs have you held, and what lessons did you learn?

 

 

 

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