Tag Archives: career

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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Independence Day

For those of you who know me from Facebook, you know that June was a roller-coaster month, career-wise. Landed my biggest gig ever — just to see it crash and burn because of a lack of communication. My laptop died, so I had to scramble to buy a new one — something I might not have done had it not been for the tight deadline for the new gig — that crashed and burned. Gave up a lower paying client because they refused to understand that sometimes other work might come first, so I would have more time to work on the new gig —

that crashed and burned.

Did I mention the new gig crashed and burned? LOL

I learned a valuable lesson, a lesson I have been preaching to other writers for *gasp* over a decade: Don’t rely too much on one client. It can come back to bite you.

Consider me bit..er..bitten…

Anyway, lesson learned.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t give up all my clients. I still have several others with whom a have a good working relationship. And also in the matter of fairness, the client I gave up was not only low-paying, but dare I say it — was also a pain in the keister. I’ll work for low wages if I enjoy the work and can do it quickly, but don’t act like you’re doing me a favor by letting me write for you and expect me to drop everything for you because you mismanaged your time.

The mistake I made can be summed up in three words:

Forsaking all others.

You can treat your clients like a partnership, but you can’t treat them like a marriage. As soon as you shift all focus to just one client, the others suffer and it’s the same as not having any other clients. That kind of focus is great for a marriage, but it’s lousy for business. And that was the mistake I made. I put all my other clients on the backburner, and now, instead of having one of my highest earning months ever, June has been one of my lowest.

Yes, lesson learned.

Now, onto the reason for the title of this post. I am declaring independence from my old thinking and old ways. I’m going to try and make money from my writing in other ways. Ways that will allow me to write what I want, in the voice I want to use. Snark included. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll post links to my new material as they become available. If you like my Facebook statuses and the comments I share on the links I provide, you will most likely enjoy my new writing venture. I’ll keep you posted.

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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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So, I am several posts into this blog, and it just occurred to me: y’all have no idea what I write about.  Maybe I should remedy that.

I write everything!

Oh, come now, surely you’ve figured out that I’m a smart-a$$ by now, haven’t you?

But, to be honest, my response isn’t all too far from the actual truth. I refer to myself as a Nonfiction Generalist. There really is not a topic I cannot write about. But, of course there are areas in which I both prefer and excel.

Here’s a brief list of things I have written about in the last week:

  • Scabies
  • Itches of the really REALLY icky kind
  • Feline depression
  • Dog warts
  • Blogging
  • Twitter
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Dehydrating food in an oven’s warming tray
  • The differences between a Bachelors in Arts and Bachelors in Science
  • Current news events
  • The happenings in Japan

And this is a typical week. It’s rare when I spend more than one day a week on one topic. However, it does keep things from getting boring and I’m always learning something.

And this week is going to be just as diverse, but with an extra twist — I landed a new client and I’m trying to learn their template system and the writing style they prefer. That’s always an interesting process.

OK — but back to the actual topic of this post. I write a lot of business articles.  A LOT. I write very few articles about writing. I write rudimentary medical articles (as in I can define a term or take a condition and explain it), a decent amount of legal articles and the periodic craft/hobby article.

Anyway, that’s me and what I write about? Feel free to comment and let me know what you do.

OK — back to work I go!

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I’m A Writer?

On an almost daily basis, someone asks me the following:

“When did you become a writer?”

“Why did you become a writer?”

“When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”

“How did you become a writer?”

I don’t think I’ve ever asked a doctor or a lawyer when, why or how they decided to enter their professions. Didn’t ask my mechanic the last time he fixed my car (though, in hindsight, considering what he charged me, I should have!), nor have I asked my hairdresser, cop buddy or my mother who is a retired nurse any of these questions.

However, all of the specific people I mentioned above (read: Hi, Mom!) have asked me repeatedly. And if they have asked, I’m sure many others have wondered.

So, with that in mind, here is when, why and how I became a writer.

The short answer: I don’t know. It just happened.


Sure, I could lie and say I had some great epiphany while walking in the forest, or near the ocean or in the desert, but it wasn’t a spiritual revelation.

I’ve always liked to write. I wrote my first short story when I was six, received my first writing award when I was seven and won my first writing competition when I was eight. Teachers constantly commented on my writing abilities. The term Gifted Writer was all but tattooed on my forehead. I rocked essay tests (to the chagrin to one high school history teacher  who thought giving an essay test was the ultimate way to humiliate his students), and while my college classmates were sweating coming up with a 10-page paper, I was striving to shave away the five extra pages I always seemed to have.

Outside of school, I wrote for fun. I finished my first novel when I was 12. I wrote a bit of poetry when I was in high school, and always kept a diary or journal.

But even with all that writing;  even after reading Master of the Game and The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and wanting to write Just. Like. Them…

I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

Years passed. I still wrote, but mainly for myself. I because a business consultant, business teacher, and eventually a proposal writer.  But even when I had a job with “writer” in the title, I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

Even when I wrote a column for two publications and provided business articles for several others, I STILL didn’t consider myself a writer. Writing was still just something I did…

Then one day, about 4 years ago, I was hanging out with a group of friends, and someone I only knew in passing asked me what I did for a living. Before I could answer, another friend replied, “She’s a writer.”

My friend’s bestowal of the title kinda shocked me. I started to protest, but then my friend continued, telling the other friend about things I had published and what a great writer I was.  I was forced to smile and nod acknowledgement, even though it still felt like phony to me. Sure, I wrote for a living, but in my head, I wasn’t a writer.

A few weeks later as I was preparing to back up my hard drive, I opened my “Documents” folder.

I had over 1,000 documents that I had written. Papers, articles, business plans and other writing projects I had completed, in folder upon folder.

That’s when it hit me. I might not believe my own press, but my friend’s pronouncement of me as a writer combined with a vast array of documents I had actually written could not be denied.

I was a writer.

And I’ve been one ever since.

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Why A Writer Needs A Blog

The above was the title of a blog post I wrote as a featured writer for Writers Access.  The post went live today, check it out here if you are so inclined.  And if you really love me, leave comments. 🙂

But here’s the thing. The post on the blog — is the SECOND version. There was a first version…a less..um…shall we say mainstream version.

Here is the original, much more snarky and in many ways more realistic reason why a writer REALLY needs a blog.

There’s a plethora of reasons for a writer to have a blog. One of the more obvious is so readers can catch a glimpse into the personality of the authors they follow. Somehow, learning your favorite author’s three-year-old throws temper tantrums in WalMart over a package of Skittles makes the incident in KMart with your toddler the day before seem less catastrophic. It’s also a great way for a writer to keep his fans up-to-date with new releases, book signings, newly published articles or conferences he is attending.

But there are more personal reasons why a writer should have a blog, at least for me. I’ve been a writer for twenty (mumble mumble) years, and a blogger since 2001– well before the blogging craze. But I knew from Post #1 that a blog was a good idea for me, and for more than professional reasons. So, why do I, a writer, have a blog?

So the voices in my head will shut up.

OK, before you track my IP address and inform the local authorities that there is a crazy women in their midst, allow me to explain. As a writer, my strongest skill is the ability to convey information in a way that others will understand. To accomplish this, I read voraciously, take a lot of notes and commit a lot of facts, figures and general bits and pieces of data to memory. Sometimes this information takes on a life of its own, but try as I might I cannot fit it all into an article on Business Finance, Feline Depression or repairing a hitch on a Ford F-150. But that doesn’t stop the information’s demands to be used somewhere.

So what’s a writer to do when the voices in her head band together, threaten to revolt and perform a frontal labotomy from the inside? She finds an outlet for them so they’re heard by someone other than her. First I tried a journal, but that didn’t satisfy my narcissitic nature. (Oh, c’mon, admit it — all writers are narcissitc — it’s the uncontrollable need to share information that drove us to start writing in the first place!)  I tried speaking the words out loud, but this just made me look crazy. (Beleive me when I say wandering around mumbling to youself will cause others to question your mental stability.) it was obvious that I needed to find a way to blend the eviction of the voices with my need to share information.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I blog. These pieces of information can finally vacate my hopelessly cluttered gray matter and become blog content on a page hosted by WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr. They’re happy, I’m happy — happiness abounds.

So, if you’re overflowing with information, start a blog. The extra information finds a home, and your head will be much quieter.

And no one will threaten to size you for a straight jacket.

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