Tag Archives: powering through

Hi There!


I know, it’s been a while, I’m sorry. If I had to describe the last six months of my life, I’d have to say it looked something like this:

tangled ball of yarn2

Between health issues, work issues and an overall displeasure with my life’s path, I knew changes had to be made. But look at all that tangle and mess! Where does one begin?

Well, I started with the obvious. I started taking some meds and I started changing up my diet. I’m still getting around to exercising more, but since the meds seem to be working, I’m dealing with less pain so now I can seriously look at the exercise options.

I also made some professional decisions. I went back to a regular, 9-5 day job like normal folks.

Yeah, stop laughing. It was worth a shot. It didn’t last long but I did learn some valuable lessons. No, I’m not sharing them here, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

There’s something I’ve always known about myself that I tend to ignore for a myriad of reasons. I don’t “do” normal. I don’t think normal, I don’t react to things the way normal people do, my brain has some different wiring. And I’m okay with that, until I start to believe when people say I shouldn’t be okay with it. When people (who for the most part only want me to be happy) tell me that if I just “play along,” or “play the game,” or “think of it as a role and I’m going for the Academy Award,” I’m tempted to buy into it because quite frankly, being me is exhausting. So, I try it. Then I quickly remember why I stopped playing along in the first place.

Because you see, as exhausted as I am being me, at least I don’t feel defeated. As tired as my own brain makes me, at least at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and stare down my own reflection. And as weary as being me can make me, at the end of the day, I’m proud that I am who I am and when I get up the next day, I’m ready to do it all again.

If that’s not enough for some people, if the real me isn’t good enough, I really don’t give a damn.

Okay, got a bit off topic, but apparently I needed to say that, so there you go. 🙂 Now to the real reason for this post: I’m switching this blog to writing only. That’s kinda what it was supposed to be from the beginning but me being me, (see I get in my own way!) I kinda let it become a catch-all. Well not anymore. This blog is about writing. My books, articles, rants about clients, all that will be here. My personal thoughts have a new home: Unapologetically Mocha. Follow me over there for my thoughts, feeling and rants about the world.

This is just my attempt to unravel the tangles and make my life more doable. If I had to wager, I’d guess my life currently looks like this:

not so tangled balls of yarn

Progress! 🙂

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Nailed it!


One of my birthday gifts was a nail appointment. So Tuesday the Diva and I headed to the salon to get our nails done.

Now, I like getting my nails done. I like how they look when they’re done. But considering I spend hours pounding keys, working with wire and metal and tools, to say I’m rough on a set of acrylics would be an understatement. But again, I like how they look so get them done once in a while.

I was at a loss as to what to get on them. I knew my desired length and shape and I knew the color.But what to get on them…

Then it hit me. They should serve as a reminder of what I do. So..

 

So, I havea question mark on my thumb, an exclamation point on my index finger, a semi-colon on my middle finger, a colon on my ring finger and a comma on my pinky. Yes, I picked each one for each finger for a reason. No, I won’t tell you, but feel free to post your guesses in the comments. 🙂

 

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I’m a total waste of space!


I have a million lot of things I need to get done, but my motivation is in the negative numbers. After being sick for a month, getting the oomph  to get anything accomplished has been really really tough. Though I’m no longer coughing, wheezing or hacking up a lung, I’m still so freaking tired all. the. time. It makes me rather sad.

But, I will power through. I will prevail. I will accomplish all the things I have to do this month. This week. Today.

Okay, so maybe today is shot since it’s 2 am, but if I power through for just a little longer, I can say a got a good great head start for tomorrow. And that’s something to be proud about, right?

Okay, I am off to write some words that must be written. Well, more words anyway, since this blog post needed to be written too. Like yesterday’s post, since I’m still up, it counts as being on time for the day. Go me.

I swear, one of these days I’m going to write a post about something, instead of several posts that are basically a lot about nothing. We don’t need a blogging Seinfeld. Sitcom Seinfeld was plenty.

Okay, off to work for a few before I hit the hay. Namaste my friends. 🙂

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**Tap tap** Is this thing on?


Bet you guys thought I fell off the planet, eh?

Nope. I have simply been too busy to blog. Even my friends on Facebook have noticed I’ve been less vocal of late. But I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, so I thought I would catch you all up with what’s been going on.

I’m Working…A LOT

I have several clients which are keeping me very busy. This is a good thing, since for the most part, they all pay a fair wage, and I enjoy the topics. It’s not all moonlight and roses, but it’s not thunderstorm and daisies, either.

Okay, I actually like thunderstorms and daisies, so that wasn’t a fair assessment, but you get my point.

I’m Working on the house…A LOT

We’ve ripped up five rooms of carpet, stained five floors and now we’re laying time. Eventually I am going to tackle the upside down fruit wall paper in my kitchen…just as soon as I can bring myself to look at it long enough and measure.

Yes, I said upside down fruit wallpaper. And not just any fruits…we’re talking pineapples. mangoes. Grapes.

Yeah, it’s bad!

But it’s starting to come together. Slowly, but surely.

I Went back to school. Again.

I bit the bullet and started my PhD program. I’m studying E-learning and Instructional Design. I think I’ve lost my mind.

Check that, I know I’ve lost my mind. But it’s a means to an end, and I’m sure once it’s all over, I’ll be glad I did it.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

This Area Is Intentionally Left Blank

I might have some good news to post here, but I don’t want to jinx myself, so I won’t say what it is about.

And that, ladies and gents, is what I have been up to. But I do want to leave you with one pearl of wisdom before I delve back into work. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blog posts on how to become a writer. The information has been interesting, but frankly, unnecessary. You don’t need a 2,000 word blog post to tell someone how to be a writer.  I can do it in less that 100 words.

Ready? Here goes:

How To Become a Writer 

By: The Classic Quill

Step 1: Write.

Step 2: Write some more.

Step 3: Submit what you write to people who need what you write.

Step 4: Keep writing.

Step 5: Ignore those who ask if they have possibly read what you’ve written. They probably aren’t your intended audience anyway.

Step 6: Read. Read for fun. Read to see what to do and not to do. Read those whose work you love a respect.

Step 7: Did I mention WRITE?

Step 8: After a few months, look back at the first three things you wrote. Cringe and laugh. Tweak if as necessary.

Repeat Steps 1 through 8 for the rest of your life.

And there you have it. The only way to become a writer, is to write and submit what you’ve written. It’s not rocket science. Yes, there is a bit more to it, such as learning to research markets and determine a publications needs and tone, but those things don’t matter if you don’t write.

And with that, I’m off to practice what I just preached. 😀

 

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No More Do-overs!


I have a game on my phone that I play a lot called Basketball Shot. Basically, you flick the ball in the hoop as fast as you can, and try to score as many points possible in a set time period. Each level has a score you have to beat to advance.

Well, being the geek that I am, I pretty much figured out early on that you want to pad your score as much as possible in the early stages, because as the game progresses, there is less time, but you still have to meet that level’s score. So, I have benchmarks set that I have to meet in each of the first three stages. If I don’t meet them, I reset the game and try again.

A couple of days ago, as I was about to reset the game for probably the tenth time, it hit me. I’m addicted to do-overs. If things don’t go well when I first start them, I either chuck the whole project and start again, or more in my nature, I move on to something else. Another way of looking at it — if it’s too hard, I look for something easier. Something I know I can accomplish without even trying.

I cannot tell you how many opportunities I’ve missed because of this mindset, and I’d bet you’ve fallen victim to it as well.

  • Have you ever seen an ad for a job that you would love to have, but one of the qualifications would take you out of your comfort zone, so you didn’t apply?
  • Have you ever turned down a writing gig because it would require you to do something you’ve never done before (interview a client, cold call business, write in a style format you didn’t know)?
  • Talked yourself out of doing something you really wanted to do because it might require a risk of some sort (relocation, pushing other work to the side, others might gripe about it)?

Sure, you had your reasons for why you walked way from these opportunities, but were they good reasons?

So, I’ve decided: No more do-overs. No more walking away from opportunities because of fear of the unknown, or because it might be hard or I might fail.

In my head, the only real way to fail is to not even try, or worse, to try and give up because of what might happen. This is no longer acceptable.

I decided several years ago that, I was really only going to pursue things that made me happy. I guess I should have included the caveat that some of these things might be hard, but to go ahead and do them anyway. But I guess its never too late to change ones life philosophy.

So, no more do-overs or resets for me. I will do my first three stages as well as I can, and play the game out to its natural conclusion. If I win, great, if I don’t, at least I can say I stayed in the game til the end.

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Just To Reiterate…


For the last couple of hours, I have been reading posts in a clients’ forum. Many of you will know of whom I am referring. Those that don’t, keep reading anyway, because, well, just keep reading. 🙂

Anyhoo…today I’m reading such nuggets of wisdom like:

“The Internet is dead for writers. There is no longer money to be made writing on the Internet.”

“Blogs are dead. You can’t make money writing on or for a blog.”

“Content mills are dead. You won’t be able to make money writing for content mills.”

And from a previous day, “Generalists are dead. You can’t make money as a generalist writer.”

Hum…

So, what, I’m supposed to pick a topic and go door-to-door and ask to write about it for the business? Are you saying I HAVE to return to print media?

Oh, wait — “Print media is dying. Soon you won’t be able to make money writing for print publications.

Uh huh…

Do you all know how utterly idiotic you sound? You are basically saying that soon SOON…a writer will not be able to make a living…ANYWHERE, ANYHOW.

Really?

C’mon folks, enough with the doom and gloom. As long as there are people who need to say things, but don’t know how to say them, writers will have work.

As long as things need to be sold, writers will have work.

As long as people continue to read, writers will have work.

(OK — so that last one if kinda iffy, but I still stand by the statement, for now.)

But my point is, just because the genre is changing and just because the format is evolving, this does not mean writers are going to go the way of the dinosaur. Sure, there will be businesses who decide they can “do it better, since, really, how hard can writing be? I did get a B- in English in high school after all,”…

But the savvy business owner quickly comes to his senses and hires a professional to fix what he created.

Now, yes, this does mean that as writers, you might have to develop a new skill set, but hey, researching and learning new things and writing about them is a large part of what you do as a writer anyway, so this truly should not be a daunting task.

Especially if you’re…*gasp* a generalist. (Or a generalist with a specialist bent.)

So, folks, don’t put down your pens or close your word processing software just yet. We aren’t going anywhere!

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Day 11, Post…er…


I don’t know. I’m not really keeping count. I’m doing good to know it’s day 11. LOL

Spent the better part of the day applying for new gigs. Some were for content mills, others were for, well, not content mills.

Still haven’t decided to re-try my hand at feature writing. As much as I enjoy creating unique article angles, interviewing people and writing features, I really did not enjoy the adminstrative end of it all.

And no, I don’t mean the query letter. I got pretty darn good at writing those. It’s the other backend stuff that drove me batty. Namely, the waiting. Seems like I was always waiting for something.

Waiting to hear about a query.

Waiting to hear if the article was accepted.

Waiting to get paid.

Waiting. Always with the waiting.

Bleh.

Now, I’d imagine, I’d hope the process has sped up a bit, what with email, instant messaging and even Facebook, but the one drawback to writing for content mills (or at least the ones I write for) is the almost instant feedback/results and relatively quick payment for my work has made me impatient. We are living in an instant gratification world, and I’m an instant gratification girl.

(Sorry, Madonna).

But really — having to wait days, even *gasp* a week to hear back on a query might send me up a tree. Of course, I would have other things to work on while I waited, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. And I did just spend a day applying for other places to write and I haven’t melted into a puddle of goo yet, and it’s been all of 12 – 14 hours…

Hum…

Well, I think I’m going to continue pondering whether I’m going to go the features route again. Until then, Imma just keep on doin’ what I’ve been doin’.

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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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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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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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