Category Archives: Reality Check

New Directions


For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing.  In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.

Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.

I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.

But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…

But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.

A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.

In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.

It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.

Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.

Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.

Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.

But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game.  The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.

I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.

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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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Wow…


You have all rendered me speechless. Almost. 🙂

As a writer, sometimes you like things you write, and sometimes you merely peck out what you can and hope it’s not the drivel you are sure it is. It’s the nature of the beast. There are three truths you quickly learn as a writer: #1 — Not everything you write is going to be brilliant. #2 — A writer is often his own worse critic.

But then, every once in a blue moon, you write something and you know it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Something you are totally proud of.

Yesterday’s post was one of those moments.

However, even though as the writer, you love it; even though you want to print it out, put it in a frame and hang it on your wall, you still pause before you hit the submit button. Why?

#3 — Just because YOU love it, that doesn’t mean your readers will. And if they don’t love it…

Well, there really isn’t a worse feeling for a writer.

So you can imagine my elation and excitement when the comments and emails started rolling in about my post. I smiled with every comment, email, retweet and share.

I’ve been doing a lot of smiling.

So, thanks to all of you for showing my post so much love. To my new subscribers, welcome and I’m glad you’re here.  To my old fans, thanks for the support you’ve always given me. I will do my best not to disappoint.

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I really didn’t know what I was going to write about, or if anyone even wanted to read what I had to say. I just felt compelled to share. My outrage. My joy. My amusement.

Okay – mainly my outrage, but with a tinge of amusement thrown in, because quite frankly, if I couldn’t some sliver of humor in this world’s craziness, I’d be a quivering mass under a desk somewhere.

So, you can count on me to continue to shine light on the absurd, the ludicrous and the deplorable. I will continue to rail against stupidity and the wrongdoings of others. And I hope you stick around for the ride.

The trip’s a helluva lot more fun with someone riding shotgun. 😉

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An Open Letter to Liz Trotta


By now, I’m sure you’ve seen this, but just in case, check out the link and watch the video:

Raped Too Much

Go catch up if you need to. I’ll wait…

<insert Jeopardy theme here>

Caught up? Good. Below is my open letter to Ms. Trotta.

Dear Ms. Trotta:

A friend brought your statements on Fox News to my attention. I have to say, your statements triggered a strong response, and I’d just like to share some of my thoughts with you.

Shame on you, you condescending, self-absorbed, ignorant and overall poor excuse for a human being.

I have been trying trying to figure out what you were really saying. I didn’t want to allow myself to believe that you actually, actually believe that women in the military should expect to be raped. I was trying, (trying!) to rationalize your statement of “raped too much”. I mean, surely you meant that it shouldn’t be happening at all, not that there is an acceptable level that must be allowed because, and forgive me for putting words in your mouth, “boys will be boys” or “men just can control themselves when they are in close contact.”

Oh wait, that last part, “in close contact”, you actually did say.

I’ve spent the better part of my day trying to believe you were not placing the blame of rape on the victims instead of where is actually belongs — on the individuals who are so lacking in respect and love for their fellow human beings, they choose to bolster their self-respect and exercise their power by inflicting pain on someone else in the most disgusting and heinous way imaginable.

But I’m not that naive, and as much as I wish I could be, I’m forced to face this fact: you are a sub-par human being. How dare you state that women who choose to serve their country should do so with the acknowledgement that their male counterparts might rape them. How dare you make rape a “work hazard.” And how dare you cast such a disgusting pallor on the decent and good and kind members of our military.

I’m sick and tired of people treating rape as if it’s just a plot point in a bad romance novel. I’m sick of people assuming she “asked for it” because, obviously, she was someplace she shouldn’t have been, wearing something she shouldn’t have been wearing or trusted the wrong people. Because all of the excuses, rationalization and explanations does not negate this: a rapist rapes because he wants to and the action falls on his shoulders.

I am going to assume that you or a loved one has never been through the experience. You are fortunate. Many of us, however are not, and your words are a slap in the face to the victims and their loved ones who have had to endure the act and live with the aftermath.

So, again, Ms. Trotta, shame on you. Shame for taking the blame from where it should be. Shame on you for selling out your fellow women. And shame on you for using your position to share your obviously skewered, twisted and pathetic understanding of what rape actually is with the world. I can only hope that others are as outraged as I am and take action to make sure you are yanked from your bully pulpit and never have an opportunity to spew forth your nonsense ever again.

They say that women are the “weaker” sex. Personally, I think anyone who has to rape to feel powerful is weaker than any woman could try to be.

However, Ms. Trotta, you are the exception. You are as weak as they come.

Signed

One Fed Up Woman

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Thanks, Facebook!


Today, Facebook, you managed to both annoy and entertain me.  Now that more people are being converted to the new Timeline, I’m getting a bunch of visitors that are friends of my friends (but not friends with me).

For the most part, it’s been pretty uneventful, and I’ve even added a few of them as friends as a result of conversations we’ve had. So, that’s cool.

But

(Isn’t there always a but!)

Every once in a while a friend of a friend is not, well, friendly.

This first happened a couple of weeks ago. A friend of a friend made negative comments about something I posted. We had a brief back-and-forth, and basically, I told him to go away.

Then there was today.

I posted a picture of a truck covered with bumper stickers…I’m not going to post the pic here because I don’t want to take someone’s Facebook life and put it out in the Interwebs…but the picture garnered a decent amount of attention from my friends…

And this friend of a friend. He spent the better part of the day trying to convince me and all other commenters why we were wrong to think/believe what we did. And he was rather condescending about it, not to mention he contradicted himself more than once.

My friends, of course were not going to back down — I even had friends of friends chiming in to argue with him. It was a rather enjoyable scene. So much so, I kept my opinion out of it…for the most part.

I think these types of friends of friends need a name — I vote The Truth Bringers. They come onto a stranger’s Facebook page, and proceed to tell the page owner why they and their friends are wrong. They are trying to shed light and knowledge on the obviously unlearned (and probably unwashed) masses. It is their sole purpose in life to convert us to their ways…

Which means it is OUR purpose to smack them around, then kill ’em with logic until they are forced to utter phrases such as, “I’m not going to try and convince you anymore.” and “You’re all stupid poopy heads!”

Or something like that.

So, thanks Facebook for the entertainment today. I appreciate it, and I look for more to come.

Cuz, I’m sure there will be more.

PS — if one of my friends goes on your page and acts like a Truth Bringer, let me know. I doubt it will happen because I have the COOLEST, SMARTEST FRIENDS ON THE PLANET, but just in case, I’ll take care of it.

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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’s Not Supposed To Be Easy


Today has been an interesting day. It seems like every other conversation, every other tweet, every other Facebook status has been someone complaining about a situation — they don’t like their jobs. They don’t have enough money. They can’t get x,y, or z. The gist of it all is: Life is hard.

Well, no s&*^, Sherlock. Yeah, life IS hard. If it wasn’t would you appreciate those brief fleeting moments when it isn’t?

If you had a truly easy life: all the money you ever needed, all the friends in the world, a job you loved…would you appreciate it?

No, you wouldn’t. You would grow to expect it. If you can’t be honest about it, then I’ll have to be honest for both of us, because I know I’d take it for granted.

That’s why, even though it bugs the hell out of me at times, I’m glad I have to work for what I have. Every new skill I gain, every new client I land, every check I cash — I know I worked for it, and I worked damn hard to get it. Nothing has been handed to me…ever.

And if I had to choose between working for it and having it handed to me, I’ll take the work. I don’t want to live on Easy St. Easy makes you complacent; it takes away your motivation and your drive. And when you are no longer motivated or driven, that’s when the rug can get pulled out from under you. Don’t believe me? Reread this.

So, to those who are complaining that life is hard — yep, it is. Accept it and keep pushin’. If it gets easier, find out what else you can do. Cuz, as soon as it gets easy, it can all slip away.

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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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And We’re Back!


And what did we learn?

Were you inconvenienced by the Blackouts today? Cranky that you couldn’t access Wikipedia to answer that burning question, who played Sgt. Howie in The Wicker Man?(Edward Woodward in the original, Nicholas Cage in the remake.) Couldn’t get your Redditt fix? Were some of your favorite Flickr pics unavailable?

If any of this bothered you, if you had to change the way you did one thing today, then you can begin to understand why SOPA and PIPA need to be stopped. Now, I agree that piracy is a pox that needs a vaccination — I’ve had my fair share of articles, essays, columns, etc. pilfered. But not at the expense of losing everything. Just because one idiot opts to steal software, music or someone else’s work does not mean all the sites on the ISP he happens to use should be wiped off the planet, nor should it mean an ISP or DNS should be blacklisted as a pirate.

So, now that things are back to normal, what will you do now? I hope you contact your congressman and tell him/her that there must be a better way than to give in to some lobbyists. Lobbyists who aren’t looking out for the public good — just their own bottom lines. There has to be a better way.

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