Want to be a professional author? A successful professional author? To become more than what others are, we must be willing to do what others won't. We must go where they fear to tread.
We must burn our ships.
When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, his forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and yet he gave the shocking order to burn all the boats.
A writer friend of mine died recently. Molly and I weren’t close, but she inspired me through just being ALIVE! When I heard of her passing it shook me…. in the heart, in the mind… to the core. Days later, I’m still walking around with a hole in my solar plexus. I swear it’s there.
Molly only recently discovered she had cancer. She survived a heart attack and strokes, and she simply wouldn’t give up. It seemed living had an urgency to it for her. I remember that feeling. I had it in my 20s, 30s and early 40s, and then I think I simply got a little tired after nursing school. Aches where I didn’t have aches before. Falling asleep on the couch at 10p. I don’t know where that came from! My mind started moving a little slower when writing. Those holes where missing words fall and slowly crawl back starting occurring more often. There should be a vitamin or herb to fix that, but I’ve had to admit that age isn’t for sissies and shit happens.
Sometimes the death of people you know and love changes you. I don’t think that’s the case of Molly’s death, but I’m committed to a change in my writing. For me, Molly was fearless, and I’ve struggled a bit with that in my personal writing. For my clients, I’m FIERCE. For my projects, I need to remember what I’ve come through to get to this place. I’ll remember where I left that confidence. Some of it’s still on the other side of the Atlantic in Rome. Maybe I need to throw a few more coins in the Trevi Fountain to get it back. Worked pretty well the first time.
I didn’t know what I was going to write about today. My lack of motivation? My lack of wanting to write another word ever? (always temporary) My desire to explore living in Hawaii? Couldn’t decide. Nothing inspired me…. until…. ah yes, the fluffy Today Show provided the perfect fun fodder for today’s post: Being Popular on Facebook Will Make You Fat.
These are the days where the muse just says “BOOYAH, now leave me the fuck alone.” And you must comply. And you must write.
The title is misleading, or maybe we’re just so conditioned at this time of year to rethink our Big Mac and large fry habits and sitting on our big lard asses. Face it, we’ve all got some lard back there somewhere. The article, however, has more to do with feelings of self-esteem and THEN our reach for a cookie or other reward (mine would be vodka-based something, but only after 2p.m.). What I’m wondering is, who are these people? They certainly aren’t American college students, according to the American Freshman Study. I don’t see any lack of self-esteem in my friends, and I know middle school kids mostly use Google+. Are these just high school students? Or are they the basement dwelling Cheeto eaters, as MSNBC‘s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough is so fond of calling them?
The article goes further to state that the more time you’re on Facebook, the bigger your credit card debt. Are people still playing those ridiculous coin-based games? Trust me, if you had to work on a real farm…. you wouldn’t.
All I know is that Facebook is not making any one I know fat, we’ve got Reese’s cups and alcohol for that.
In the last 30 days, Barnes & Noble has closed several stores in major markets: San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Manhattan, Austin, Los Angeles, and you can be certain more will follow. The holiday season saw a downturn in sales of the Nook, which is typically the prime time for sales of ereaders. With the closing of 686 Borders stores and 2011 and now B&N going through a wave of closures, will there be any brick and mortar stores left?
Guess it might be a good time for independent booksellers to reemerge from the shadows of the big box stores.
Why was I up at 2:30 a.m.? Because my brain had wrapped up that “sleeping thing,” and I was wide awake. Some writers would simply jump into work and say “the hell with it, might as well get started” or watch TV (is there anything good on at that time?) Yeah, that always sounds like a good idea, but I think taking any extra moments I have (and there are few) to explore more ways to promote or perfect the ones I have, are the best way to do early morning hours.
Promoting can be fun. It can also be tedious and confusing with so many avenues available. There is always a time factor involved in any new promotion avenue… and aren’t there ALWAYS new avenues? I have a book on Google+, which I’m on, but I know I’m not making the most of that platform. It’s still new for business, but Chris Brogan is a guru you should follow and bow down before as a Google+ deity. I also just received a book on Pinterest for blog promotion. I didn’t know that was possible, but if it is, I will find out how to maximize that avenue as well. And today I just read that Goodreads is going to sell books. It’s not a maybe, it’s happening soon. Yes, I’m on Goodreads, but no, I’m never “on it.” I was just thinking yesterday that I’d like to find a way to squeeze more hours out of the day to concentrate on the bones of the business. Apparently my subconscious found it for me.
I’m backing to collecting Xs in the New Year. It’s one way that maintaining an everyday exercise routine always worked for me. I take a calendar, put it near my workout spot (currently my yoga mat in my bedroom) and for everyday that I work out, I put a big red “X” on the day on the calendar. I use a wall calendar so I can motivate myself to collect a month of red Xs. The visual spurns me on to get another and another and another…
This year instead of simply going back to a yoga practice (which I love, but which also seems to drop off over time), I changed my MO. I revamped my space, made more room for the mat, put a copy of “Yoga Cures” by Tara Stiles on the floor next to the mat and slipped the calendar under one end so I can see the Xs as I’m posing. I made the space inviting by putting my tools nearby and positioned the mat so if I walk toward the door, my foot has to touch it…. a tactile reminder. Most importantly, though, I didn’t wait to start on January 1. As soon as the space was ready to go, I began, as in the second after the space was set. No time like the present! So what are your health goals for this year?
I don’t say no often to clients. I like working too much and my daughter likes clothes and food. Sometimes, however, even when I could use the work, I say ‘no.’ Why?
Well, most of the time it’s that the work is too involved and other projects would suffer. My clients are fairly flexible, and I can move things around if something comes up. My clients also know I’ll work late if necessary, or on the weekends if I’ve had to delay their work for something that came up. I have a teenager and elderly parents, shit happens.
For the New Year, I have a new rule and that is: if my personal work (blogs, ebooks, etc.) has to be pushed aside to take on a project, I won’t do it. Nope. I gotta take a stand for my shit. The muse will take away my words if I don’t use them for good, and the “good” is for more than just my clients… it’s for me, my career, my daughter, our lives… and damn, just good karma in the world. I’m an RN, I know shit about health that can help people. Don’t want to be a hospital frequent flyer? I can help. I know stuff about preventing your flippin’ coronary artery disease, your depression, your asthma, (and lots more) that the doctor won’t tell you because he doesn’t know himself! He knows pills. And I can pick apart any goddamn study, I don’ t care if it’s done by Harvard or Yale, that will dispel “new research shows….” God I get sick of those pronouncements!
BUT. If I don’t make the time to put my ass in the chair and work on MY projects, time passes, and I’ll lose years. I refuse to wake up at 104 and wonder where the time went. That’s just not happening.
Writers, especially freelance writers, ALWAYS, let me say that again, ALWAYS have more than enough ideas of what to write about. We have lists of articles and book titles just waiting for us to sit still long enough and with enough time and hot coffee to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Damn thing is, there are only 24 fucking hours a day to do it in! And 6 of those have to be spent laying around! If I could write in my sleep, I’d do it. Shit my daughter says I talk in my sleep anyway. Where’s DragonNaturallyFuckingSpeakingforSleeping? Imagine the work I could get done in six hours. I’d be writing a book a night! Maybe then I could say ‘yes’ more often. Oh wait, I’d still have a teenager and elderly parents. Scratch that ‘yes’.
I don’t have a tattoo, but if I did, I would probably want a literary quote. Check out these tattooed words of wisdom from some brave folks. I say brave, because when it comes to a needle near my arm, it had better be absolutely necessary; I don’t favor getting jabbed for fun!
I started my blog back up over at The Mean Nurse, no, it’s not a WP blog, it’s on that other popular blogging spot. Check it out. That’s where you’ll find the nurse type stuff!
I’m hoping to post here more often as well. Client work does take up much of my time, but it’s time I make time for my stuff too….. like updating my ebook and publishing MORE! MORE! MORE!
I’ve been woefully neglectful of this space, but sometimes it comes down to how much writing I already do. I’d write more if I had a very light tablet device with an awesome keyboard. MS Surface you can’t get here soon enough, and this might be the first time I buy first-generation anything!
As I read and listen to the state of the economy, and I see that manufacturers are downsizing their projections for increased production over the next 12 months, I keep wondering when the pundits and even businessowners are going to get it (maybe some have, but they are a silent minority). The reason our economy is in slow recovery and that manufacturers are cutting production doesn’t solely rest with President Obama or Wall Street or with the fact that people are scared of buying. Having listened to people talking while I waited in line or sat in a restaurant, I’ve been hearing a few recurring themes that I used to only hear at my parents’ and grandparents’ houses:
- We’ve learned or we’re learning that we don’t need as much stuff as we thought we did.
- We didn’t need the stuff we bought in the first place so we sold it or gave it to someone and now someone else has it, and they don’t need to buy it in a store.
- The damn thing has still got some use in it.
- We learned how to fix it.
- We learned we had something else that worked just as well, if not better.
- We’re sharing with a neighbor or family member.
- We made something just like it using our own hands and stuff we had around the house or found at a hardware store.
- We lost it, but didn’t miss it for so long that we’re not planning on buying it again.
- We’ve stopped buying into Madison Avenue‘s idea of what we need to be happy and we’ve learned to define ourselves.
- Craigslist rocks.
With the economic downturn, we learned to “make do” more often. I know plenty of people who went back to cooking more at home (the slow food movement grows), and even trying their hand at growing some vegetables this year. Even I cook more now from scratch, and I’ve never not cooked from scratched. Lots more people are buying things “online” in a manner of speaking…. they FIND it online. I’ve shopped more on Craigslist this year than I’ve EVER shopped at Amazon.
More people are turning to less expensive and less “frazzled” lifestyles. I’ve had a lot of friends just “check out” of social media altogether and stop leading their lives online, especially the ones who have become grandparents and the kids are local. I’m thinking about it, not the grandparent thing, the social media thing. I remember the freedom of NOT sharing; those days BEFORE Facebook and Twitter. I think those were the minutes I had at the end of the day to read a book, that is before I bought a Kindle. I can’t do it, of course, writers need the Internet. Or do they?
The Fallacy of Keywords from Google’s Matt Cutts I’ve been spouting it for the past year now… keywords don’t matter as much as everyone thinks, and those people you’re paying to SEO the hell out of your articles and sites are taking you for a ride. Good content. Good content. Good content. Google has been saying it for over two years… create interesting content that people want to read, share and link to, and your site will blossom.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tell this story because I was 15 when it happened, and I can still remember being terrified because although I didn’t know at the time that I was dying and my body was going into shock, I knew something was terribly wrong. For a time period reference, I will hit the half century mark tomorrow, March 7.
I was a shy teen that studied hard, did what my parents told me to do and got good grades in school. I had a couple of good friends. I worked at my dad’s office every Saturday morning and summers since I was 12, answering phones and typing. I was responsible. I was a good girl. My hormones; however, couldn’t make up their mind as to whether I was a child or a teenager. This was the second time within 18 months that my period was screwed up. I couldn’t stop bleeding. The first time I landed in the hospital and had to undergo a D & C, the common procedure for an abortion, where the surgeon scrapes the inside walls of the uterus. The first time, my mother was more cognizant of the length of my cycle. This time, she wasn’t.
I was walking up the steps of my school. The building was old and a flight of stairs was more like a flight and a half. I had to take two flights to get to the next level. By the time I’d reached the top, I could barely breathe. I had been late getting out of a class, so there was no one in the hallway to see me struggling just to stay upright. I made it down the hallway to the office, by hanging onto the walls. When I breathlessly told the secretary that she needed to call my mother to come get me, she appeared annoyed and told me to stand there and wait (there were no chairs, but there was a room with a cot behind her). I told her ‘no’ and headed for the cot. I heard her talking to someone else in the office saying ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She wants me to call her mom.’
My mother came to get me, took me home and called the doctor. After she explained my symptoms, the doctor told her to take me to the ER. By the time we got there, he had already phoned in the orders to admit me. As long as I was sitting at rest, I could breathe. After taking my blood (like I had any left), the nurses put me on IV fluids and left me and my mom to simply wonder what would happen next. The next time I saw a nurse, she had a bag of blood in her hand. I was told only that “it would help me” and that I was going to get “a couple of them.” By the time they hung the fourth pint of blood, I was in full panic mode. I broke out in hives, I started crying. I knew from Health class that a kid my age had about six pints of blood TOTAL in them.
To slow the bleeding and bring my hormones to their proper levels, the doctor put me on birth control pills because they contain….. HORMONES. I pleaded with my mother that there must be another way, another pill, something different! I was 15 and was worried about the stigma attached to “the pill” would be that I was a teenager of loose morals. I was especially terrified that other kids would find out and that boys would call me names or think they could have sex with me. I begged my mother not to tell anyone. I was also convinced that the pill probably wouldn’t work. How could one little tiny white pill possibly stop what turned out to be severe hemorrhaging? Each time my mom left the hospital, I was convinced that I would probably never leave. But four days later I did leave; the bleeding had slowed considerably. Instead of going through four pads an hour, I was down to one and it lasted longer and longer as the hours ticked by.
So when politicians and idiots on radio, television and social media express OUTRAGE that insurance companies should pay for birth control pills and personally attack those in favor, I want to ask them, would they prefer that a 15-year-old die because their parents can’t afford the prescription when the cost is so minimal compared to a life? The woman Sandra Fluke was talking about in her testimony had already lost an ovary that could have been saved if she’d been able to get a prescription contraceptive covered by insurance. Would they have her lose the other? Get your facts about contraception straight before you open your stupid mouth and prove yourself an idiot. Aren’t there enough in the world already? Do you really need to add your voice to them? You will be taken down by the smart people. The women. And the men who educate themselves about women’s bodies and their physiology.
I walk the Earth because birth control pills saved my life. I’ll bet a few people in my life, including my parents and the daughter that I had are happy I’m here.
Every writer has dealt with that massive, invisible beast that plants itself squarely on our desks, preferably in front of our computer screens, and leers at us in a mocking sort of way, just daring us to get anything accomplished. Sometimes this beast teams up with Facebook or another soul-sucking website and we lose hours without knowing where they've gone.
I can’t overcharge. I simply don’t have it within my heart to charge what some writers say are the market rates for writing, especially when those so-called writers have little to no formal training or college degree, aren’t the Managing Editor of the NBC Nightly News (no college degree, but he’s Brian F*g Williams), and are hocking their “exclusive training sessions” for $600 a pop. Seriously? They tout charging $2,000 for a single article. Are they penning it in calligraphy with gold ink or their own blood? Let’s get real. They’re not saving someone from dying, which as a RN working in critical care I’ve done hundreds of time and earned a lot less.
I take crap for writing at rates that keeps the water at ankle level because that’s where my expenses lie. I don’t have a six figure lifestyle, so I don’t need to make a six figure salary. My brain works fast. Years of training in law firms to meet 4p.m. filing deadlines and code blues as an RN did that. My hands work fast most days, unless I’m having a. Captain. Kirk. Day. Where. Brain. Fingers. Work. Together. Not.
I used to crank out 4,000 words in an hour without breaking a sweat. I’m slowing down, but it’s still around 3500 words when I’m inspired and don’t have interruptions.
If my rates undercut other writers, and they think I’m taking work away from them or making it harder for them to make a living, I can’t worry about that. Seriously. The marketplace is global and India undercuts all of us. Marketplace rates are only significant if you’re working locally. If a New York client is hiring writers local to New York, he’s going to pay a pretty penny. If he offers the work up on the Internet, writers shouldn’t expect to get New York rates when they’re sitting in Portage County, Ohio. If you’re sitting in NY and applying to an Internet-based project, you are now competing with the Ohio writer. Don’t bitch when you get screwed by your own arrogant rates. As an RN, I couldn’t say “hey, RNs in California are making double what I’m making to do the same thing….” Why do writers think they should be paid this way?
If I don’t have to do a lot of research and can write the article off the top of my head and point to references I have memorized or have handy in my writing references binder; if I can get an email quote from a reliable source and send the copy back with confirmation, all within a day, am I REALLY going to charge $2,000 for sentences that I do not have to agonize over and rewrite again and again? No. I am. Not.
Gandhi offered that one of the 7 Dangers to Human Virtue was Business Without Ethics. Overcharging is unethical. And I’m not going to apologize for not overcharging simply because my not doing so makes it more difficult for someone else to make a living. I raise my rates every year and at the same time I reevaluate my expenses and cut back further if possible or get some of them back in line. I don’t say “mama wants a $600 new smartphone, time to raise rates,” or “air travel for vacation is going to be way more expensive this year, time to raise rates.” It’s more like “hey, my computer is eight years old and on its last legs and before it crashes I’d better invest in a newer one… which one gives me a decent processor?” and “I need a couple new back tires if we want to take a longer road trip this year.”
I didn’t grow up in a family that spent a lot. My parents saved. My dad retired in his 50s from his own business because he could. I don’t see myself doing that because I love what I do. (So please throw pen and paper in the coffin.) I know how to live within and below my means. I expect a fair wage for fair work, and that’s what I charge. If other writers have a problem with that or think I’m putting them out of work, I’m still not cheaper than writers from India, so go bitch at them.
If you’re considering which hospital you’d like to take out your appendix or clean out your arteries, maybe it’s the one with the best symphony tickets. Or maybe you’d like to drop some money at a casino after your knee replacement, or is free parking enough?
Personally I’d rather see less expensive healthcare, or more staff hired to alleviate the patient load put on so few, but I’ve worked the system from the inside and I know what’s needed. It’s not the perks, hell the people that work there don’t even have time (or interest, sometimes) in using the perks that they’re offered. The last place they want to be is work, hanging around for the perks.
If the loyalty rewards help the hospitals stay in business, great, but they do better hiring an extra nurse or two. I know I won’t be looking for a hospital’s perks to demonstrate my loyalty, I’ll look at their patient satisfaction scores for hot spots.
I keep wall calendars in the important rooms in my house: the kitchen, the office and usually my bedroom. This year; however, I didn’t find one that I liked for my room. Borders was going out of business, its replacement, Books-A-Million didn’t have a great selection when I first visited. And after looking over my past calendars, I decided against putting one in the bedroom. I don’t really need it. My cellphone is always in my room when I’m in there, and it has years of calendars on it. Instead I simply folded up the month part of one of my favorites and left the photo hanging on the nail.
You’d think with my travels and bucket list I’d have some exotic locale to gaze upon every waking moment I’m puttering in my favorite room, but that’s not what I hung up on the nail. I picked a garden calendar, and not one of those fancy schmancy English ones. This one is simple and rickety. And I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that I need more simple rickety time in my life. I’m itching to get my hands in dirt and start planting my garden. This non-existent northeast winter has got me aching for blooms, dagnabit! And I want the hot weather too so my sunflowers that are going to shade the front of my house will rise taller than the windows.
For all the pictures in my garden calendar I don’t see one cellphone, computer, ebook reader or MP3 player. I see no noise, but I hear birds singing. I hear something rustling in the bushes. I see a quick rabbit hopping away from my spinach and lettuce. And I see me, weeding, pulling, picking…..
Yep, I’m definitely not searching for a ‘real’ calendar for my room. Don’t see one of those in the garden either.