Category Archives: MY Pond

Channeling My Inner Peter Gibbons


For a while now I’ve not been happy with my career trajectory.

And by “awhile,” I mean several years. Heading into a decade actually.

Now technically, I am a writer. I write words. I get paid. I write more words…

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The problem: I don’t like the words I’m writing.

The other problem: I don’t like what I’m getting paid for the words I write.

The third problem: I don’t like the crap I have to deal with while writing the words I write.

Not liking what I write + Not liking the pay for what I write + Dealing with crap while I write =

A PETER GIBBONS MOMENT

I hope that most of you get the reference to the guy who was the hero of all cubicle dwellers in the early ’00. But for those of you who are not familiar with the guy or the movie in which he appeared, check this out:

This is the attitude that greeted me this morning. It’s not the first time, but this go around it was accompanied with a declarative statement:

I’m done.

I’m done working for peanuts.

I’m done writing about stuff I don’t give a crap about.

I’m done with being too tired to work on writing I WANT to do because I have to work on so much of the crap to make ends meet.

I’m done dealing with clients who do not appreciate what I do for them.

I’m done feeling guilty for crocheting, chainmailling or just watching a tv show and not working at the same time.

I don’t like working for peanuts, for people who don’t appreciate what I do for them anyway so I’m just not going to do it anymore.

I’m. Done.

So here is my plan:

By the end of next month, I will have my book completed (“From the Minds of my Family” is the tentative title. I also like “Words with Skip and Mary,” but that might be limiting.) and a solid first draft for my online dating book. No idea what I’m going to call it.

I have two clients that I will continue to work with because I actually enjoy working with them. I will seek new clients, but I’m going to be picky.

I’m going to go back to my first love, which is feature writing.

And finally, I’m going to crochet and chainmaille more, hang out with my granddaughter and watch tv….without feeling guilty about any of it.

Life is about to get more interesting because I’m finally going to, you know, LIVE IT!

ūüôā

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I Struck Down the Soup Nazi!


Well, I helped, anyway.

I’m going to keep this short — I’ll probably post more about it tomorrow.

Every Sunday for the last year and a half, a friend of mine and his wife have been making soup for the local freeze shelter (that’s a shelter that takes in homeless people when the weather is cold). Well, this past week, my friend was told by the Health Department that he could no longer provide soup to the shelter because he didn’t have a commercial kitchen or a permit.

This upset my friend, and as people often do, he posted about it on Facebook. And we were rather annoyed for him.

After doing some research, my friend discovered that although he couldn’t take a whole pot of soup down to the shelter, there was nothing illegal about an individual taking a single serving of soup to another individual.

See where I’m going with this?

So, tonight, I participated in some civil disobedience. Yes, it was technically still not legal for him to serve the soup, but since individuals delivered it, it was okay.

Sorta.

Well to me, and the rest of us who pitched in, it was perfectly okay. Matter of fact, a good time was had by all.

Anyway, that was my first act of rebellion since college. Felt good. Might have to see what else I can get myself into…

ūüôā

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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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Why Content Writing?


I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. Why do I want to make a writing career out of writing “fluffy” articles about “How To Recycle a Modem” and “How To Cash a Jury-Duty Check.”

My response: “Why not?”

But, Quillie, you could be writing feature articles in big name magazines. You could be interviewing and writing about politicians, famous people, successful business magnates. You could write a best-selling novel…a Tony-winning play, an Emmy or Oscar-winning script…but instead you write, “What Determines If You Qualify For Rapid Refund”!

Why, Quillie, why?

My response: Because I want to, that’s why.

But…but…you could be making WAY more money than you are now! You could have bragging rights about where you’ve been published! You could be a success!

My response: Been there, did that. Got the t-shirt. Donated it to Goodwill. And I am a success, thank-you-very-much.

I’ve been around the freelance writing block more than once. I know the stores. I know the homes and the churches. I also know where the scary man with the van and the bag of candy is parked, the corners where the winos that just want my money slink out of, and where the smooth-talking Pimp likes to pick up the unsuspecting and¬†naive, making big promises to make them a star if they’re nice to him for just a little while…

Yes, I know the business. Sometimes, I think I know it all too well.

So, why do I choose to write content when I could be writing 1,243,675 other things? What it really boils down to is this: I write content for two reasons. I enjoy it and it’s easy.

Yeah, I said it. It’s easy. Lemme say it again:

E-A-S-Y.

Now before you accuse me of taking the path of least resistance, let me make one thing perfectly clear: You’re right. I AM taking the path of least resistance. For once, I’m not killing myself to accomplish a monumental task. I’ve done hard. I ¬†was good at hard.

But hard is, well, hard, and after a while, you get tired.

Hard work is hard work. Hard work makes you tired. Exhaustion from hard work can make you resentful…

Resentment of hard work can make you walk away from a career you loved…

For five years.

So, why did I make the leap from traditional freelancing to content writing?

Because I could. What the hard work taught me was how to optimize my time and turn my interests and talents into marketable areas. It taught me how to research quickly and effectively, write fast, and ask the right questions the first time. In other words, hard work taught me how to work smart.

I mean, jeez, people, of course I know I could be writing for national magazines and/or newspapers. Of course I could write a novel or a screenplay.

But I don’t want to. That’s not where my heart is right now.

For now, I enjoy answering the easy questions. If someone wants to know how their social security benefits are calculated, I am more than happy to answer that question. If a small business owner is struggling to choose the proper organizational structure, I’m thrilled to explain his options.

Because what is easy for me to explain might be causing others to lose sleep while looking for that information. And I get a great sense of inner satisfaction knowing that I provided information to someone seeking an answer.

It ain’t about the Pulitzer, Emmy, Oscar or Tony for me. It’s not about being able to say, “I’ve got a feature in “——-” this month.”

It never was. Not to say one day it won’t be, but for now…

Life is easy, and I’m glad for that.

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Question for the class…


So, I posted this question on my Facebook page today:

Question for my business-owning, self-employed, entrepreneurial friends –what are your biggest concerns about running a business/being self-employed? Also, if you’ve considered starting a business, what do you consider your biggest obstacle?¬†

Seemed like a perfectly good question to pose here, as well.

I’m working on a series of articles for a client regarding Entrepreneurship, and I would appreciate feedback from fellow entrepreneurs, business owners and the like. ¬†Not sure where or when the articles will run, but as soon as I know, I will pass that info. along.

And seeing that I never ask a question that I would be unwilling to answer,  here are my responses to the questions I posed.

My biggest concerns about running ¬†a business and being self-employed: getting everything I need to get done, done and not screwing things up in the process. ¬†I wear several hats, see. I’ve got a decent freelance writing career going (again!) and I have my jewelry business. There are times when I am so busy, I forget to eat and sleep becomes a series of catnaps between deadlines. There are times when I think, “Ya know, K, maybe you should scale back the number of articles you write, or decline that client’s job offer. Or maybe you don’t have to attend that jewelry show after all.”

Then I laugh (sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud), take another sip of coffee and go back to work.

Cuz, that’s the thing — yes my gigs ¬†are work. Yes, sometimes I don’t want to do any of it. But there is nothing else I want to do more. ¬†Writing and ¬†creating jewelry are more than just a profession — they are my passion.

Which leads me to my other big concern — sometimes there IS such a thing as too much passion or dedication to your work, ¬†especially ¬†if it constantly bleeds into other aspects of your life.

Or, if you listen to my daughter, completely takes over.

Admittedly, if my professions were the Borg, I would be considered assimilated. I do spend the lion’s share of my life working. But even I question the cost at times. So, it’s important to strike a good balance between work and life. I’m still looking for that balance. I’ll let you know when I find it.

Probably through a blog post.

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We Can’t Save Everyone…


A friend posted a link to¬†this article¬†on Facebook. Go ahead and read it, and then come back here, I’ll wait…

Did you read it? OK — what was your reaction.

Several people have mentioned that this story made them cry. OK — I can understand that reaction, but honestly, I don’t think that was a strong enough reaction, at least not for me.

This story pissed me off.

Big time.

This little girl’s world failed her. Not just her crazy parents and grandmother — not just the plethora of social service and state agencies that were supposed to be monitoring her situation –EVERYONE

Including us.

Yeah, I said it. US. Society in general let this little girl die, after living a torturous four years.

“How?”, you ask? Well I’ll tell ya.

We are a self-centered society. Unless something is happening at the tips of our noses or in our front yard, we think we don’t need to get involved. Sure, we read stories like these and think, “Oh, how tragic, that poor poor little girl”…

Then we go back to playing Farmville or posting pics from our last vacation.

Why? Why do we do this?

The two responses I hear most often:

1. We can’t save everyone.

2. I can’t make a difference by myself, so why should I try?

I swear to God, when I hear those responses, I think my head’s going to explode. Those two phrases have become the excuse mantras for not saving ANYONE.

And quite honestly, I think both phrases are a big, heapin’, steamin’ pile of bull.

I know this is an unpopular and unpalatable stance for many, but it DOES take a village to raise a child…

Especially if the village the child lives in is overrun by idiots. Someone has to take a stand for these kids. I don’t give a damn if anyone helps the adults in the village (well, I do care, but they aren’t the subject of this post at the moment), but these kids’ only crime was being brought into this world to people who can’t or won’t give a damn about them.

This. Has. To. Stop.

Whenever I go off on this sort of rant (and it happens OFTEN), someone always asks me what we should do about it. Well, here ya go —

In cases such as the one mentioned in this post:

1. If you see a child being abused, report it.

2. If you know a child is in danger (especially a relative), GET THEM OUT. One of the most disturbing parts of this story for me was that several of that little girl’s relatives suspected someone was amiss, but didn’t act on their suspicions.

3. If you have any involvement with social services agencies, pay attention to what is being said (or not said) by staff members.

In general:

PAY ATTENTION TO SOMEONE AND SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOURSELF! Yeah, I’m screaming. I know it can be uncomfortable to see things we would rather ignore, but ignoring the issue does not make it go away. Someone has to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Someone has to help this next generation — they can’t help themselves and we are failing them. And if the next generation fails, what do you think will happen to society as a whole? We can no longer wait for someone else to come along and do the hard work. No more excuses.

So, maybe we can’t save everyone. Perhaps some people will “fall through the cracks” (Lord, how I detest that phrase!). But dammit, that is no excuse not to try.

PS — this may seem to be a strange post for a writer’s blog, but it’s here for two reasons:

1. my Other blog site is down for maintenance.

2. As writers, we need to lend our voices to the issue. I mean, that’s why we write, is it not, to inform? To educate? To offer our opinions….?

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Catfish, Trout or Tuna?


I love a good piece of fried catfish, though fresh tuna in a salad is rather yummy as well. Not a fan of trout.

But that’s not really what this post is about. Go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, the reason for the title was to segue to this question: Which would you rather be: a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

Ponder that for a moment. I’ll wait.

insert Jeopardy Theme here

Know your answer? Good.

Anyone who has been in the writing field for more than five minutes knows three things: it’s pretty cutthroat, you need a thick skin and for as large as the industry is, is a pretty small community. To get anywhere, you have to be determined, lucky and resilient. ¬†Skill and talent helps, but as we’ve all witnessed at least once, this is not really a requirement.

For years I wanted to be the BIG FISH IN THE BIG POND. Anything less than that would have meant failure.

Well after years of working and sacrificing my family and social life, the best I managed was medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pond.

But that was enough to tell me one thing — although I might like to be the Big Fish in the Big Pond, I was NOT willing to do the things I would need to do to get there.

My grandfather had two sayings that I still embrace:

Pap-pap saying #1: Locks are for honest people.

Pap-pap saying #2: No man has ever become rich without stepping on the backs of others.

Both of these sayings have molded how I have treated my career. I am more than capable of being a big fish, and in many ways, I am. What I am NOT willing to do, however, is kiss up, step on and screw over other fish to be the big fish in the big pond. I’d first become the diner special of the day or sacrifice myself for sushi.

So all that to say, I’d rather be the big fish in the small pond. I prefer helping the smaller fishies, and if they use me as a springboard to the big pond, more power to them. ¬†I’m happy in my small pond, doing what I love, snacking on kelp and happily swimming in my self-made paradise.

But a warning to all you small fishies out there that are looking to usurp me and the medium and big fish that couldn’t hack the big pond — don’t think I won’t bite you. This is MY pond. I might¬†prefer¬†kelp, but don’t think I won’t eat a goldfish, trout, catfish or tuna that tries to cross me.

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