blog writing, books, humor writing, personal writing, writing

A Major Award

lampTwo notable things have happened in my life recently:

(1) My silly little book was named the winner of the Discovery Prize in the Poetry category of the 2014 Book Awards from the Writers’ League of Texas, and

(2) I actually wrote something on my humor blog, The Bean, which never happens anymore.

If you want to know more about both, click on over and read up. And hey — enjoy it while you can, because the last post I wrote over there was eons ago and it’s not likely the next one will come around anytime soon. (But then again, you never know… I’m a loose cannon.)

lune_melies-300x300

Lots of Xes and Os…

Beej

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blog writing, collaborations, humor writing, personal writing

Co-Written With My Five-Year-Old

When I’m pressed for time and just can’t get the creative juices flowing, I often depend on my 5-year-old son Sam to write my content for me. He’s brilliant, hilarious and clearly a chip off the old block. Here’s a post we “co-wrote” this weekend for the grand finale of Funny Not Slutty’s 80s Week:

5-Year Olds Just Don’t Get the 80s

blog writing, personal writing

Kidding Around Austin

For a while last year, I played around with the idea of running a local mom-review kind of blog, which I called Kidding Around Austin. I kept up with it for a few months, doing reviews of local spots for family fun, and I really loved it but then freelance work started pouring in and it ended up on the back burner.

I couldn’t bring myself to kill the blog altogether; just really loved doing those little reviews and I always thought maybe I’d give it another go. Now, I think I’m ready.

Before I resurrect it, I wanted to share a few of its past reviews here. Really had fun with this last year, and I’m looking forward to starting it up again!!

(Keep in mind, this is a personal review blog and language will be salty — it’s just how I roll, y’all.)

blog writing, personal writing

The Power of Blogging

I want to say something about blogging.

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while now and, like anyone else, I’ve had my ups and downs. It’s the natural progression of a blog, I suppose, an evolution that we all go through on some level — at least, those of us who love it do.

I’ve loved the blog, I’ve hated the blog. I’ve felt insecure about it, I’ve been unbelievably proud of it. I’ve seen it as fun, I’ve seen it as work. I’ve walked away from it only to find that I missed it terribly.

Some days I can’t imagine writing a blog post, but I can’t even begin to imagine not having a blog.

It’s been a great springboard for me to other things. It’s challenged me and made me think and given me the confidence to try things I never thought I could do.

But more than any of that, it’s introduced me to an incredible network of people. Talented people. Smart people. Funny people.

Friends.

This week, I lost my job and while it wasn’t unexpected, it was still a pretty jarring experience. Being the obnoxious bigmouth that I am, of course I wrote a post about it – OF COURSE I did. I told the story with my trademark potty-mouth and complete disregard for my own best interests, hit “publish” without hesitation, and then immediately started to second-guess it. I mean really, what blogger HASN’T heard the infamous Dooce story? Don’t we all know someone who knows someone who’s lost out on the Job of Dreams because they got googled?

Still, in the end I decided to let the post stand, consequences be damned. Because (1) it was all true and (2) it made me laugh. Which was something I really, really needed to do at that time. And if it made ME laugh, it might make someone else laugh, and THAT seemed to make the whole experience worth it somehow.

So I left it up and waited for the inevitable professional backlash.

But you know what I got instead? Support. Lots of it.

Within 24 hours I had at least seven job leads, all from people who’d read that post. I had comments, phone calls, messages on Facebook and Twitter – some from people I’ve known forever and others from friends I will never meet. Most just wanted to offer their support, but a few had real leads for jobs that I might actually get. I’ve had serious conversations with two people in the last two days about possible long-term freelance gigs — both of which came DIRECTLY from that post.

I’ve been looking to go strictly freelance for a while now, but I’ve held on to that crappy old job because it was stable and I was terrified to take the final leap. Now that leap has been made for me, and while it sucks that it went down the way it did, my reaction has been anything BUT what I would have expected.

I’m scared, sure, but I’m also confident. Optimistic. HOPEFUL.

Whatever happens next, I know I’ve got some amazing people on my side. And I have my blog to thank for that.

Not everyone is a fan of blogging. A lot of people I know thumb their noses at it or consider it a waste of time. More than once I’ve heard “I just don’t understand WHY you like it so much.”

Well, this is why.

It’s not because I might end up getting work through my blogging connections — although in this time of uncertainty, that’s a pretty great thing for me. And it’s not because so many people seem to appreciation the situation I’m in and my ability to make light of it — although that feeling really does make me glow.

It’s because I’m part of something bigger than myself, and I feel that, and in times when I really need it, it gives me hope.

And that’s a pretty powerful thing.

————-

Originally published on BlogHer.com, April 22, 2011

blog writing, personal writing

Diversity

As I get further into a strictly-freelance career, I’m finding the road paved with tough choices. It all feels very make or break as I try to identify my work in a way that will make it the most appealing to potential clients — my “brand.” One of the biggest choices I’ve had to make so far? Diversity vs. The Niche.

Ask any freelancer and they’ll fall soundly into one camp or the other:

  • Team Diversity: You HAVE to be diverse in this business. If you can’t write about everything, you’re narrowing your own opportunities.
  • Team Niche: You absolutely MUST specialize in one area. No one will want to hire you unless you’re an expert in their field.

So which is it?

Personally, I’ve chosen to embrace the “Diversity” approach – mostly because my portfolio’s patchwork-like properties fit in well with that strategy. My past and current work is all over the map — blog posts, magazine articles, technical manuals, marketing blurbs, whatever pays the bills. Subjects run the gamut from child safety to staff bios to cheesy Hallmark holidays to haute couture. I currently have four blogs –(1) a potty-mouthed, ridiculously obnoxious humor blog, (2) a family-friendly blog about local Austin activities, (3) a professional blog that “sells” me and (4) an anonymous journal where I purge the evils of the day (and no, don’t ask — I’ll never tell).

Specialize? I wouldn’t even know where to start!

I suppose it would be nice to be an “expert” in something other than spilling coffee on myself (which I do with alarming frequency). It would be great to have a steady, stable income pouring in from work in one particular subject, without having to research and question and learn for each piece from the ground up.

But that also sounds kind of boring.

One of the things I like most about this freelance gig is the variety it lends to every day. It’s such a refreshing change from the vanilla condition of state government work.  A niche might bring me a steadier stream of work, sure… but what about variety? What about challenge?

The jobs I get the most excited about are the ones most unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I was recently approached to write a series of racy short stories for a local erotica magazine, which is completely outside of my comfort zone, terrifying, nerve-racking — and I could not be more excited to get started. I can’t imagine I’d get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling very often if I were a purely “niche” writer, and for me, that’s a deal breaker.

So in the grand battle of One Focus vs. Many, I’m happy with the side I’m on. Now let’s see where it takes me!

blog writing, personal writing

Swimming

The other day someone asked me what it felt like, jumping from a steady, stable day job into a fresh start as a freelancer. My answer? So far, it feels a lot like diving headfirst into a pool of freezing water, right in the middle of winter. I’ve plunged from the warm security of a full-time, corporate job into the icy cold waters of freelance — and right now, my lips are a little blue.

When you take a dive like this, it’s a shock at first – of course it is. I knew that before I ever even stuck a toe in the water. But here’s what else I know: My temperature will adjust. As long as I keep swimming, my body will continue to warm. The harder I work, the more comfortable I’ll feel.

Before I know it, getting out of this pool will seem impossible. The water will seem too warm and cozy to abandon. Just lifting one hand from the deep to feel the air around me will leave my fingers frosty.

For the moment, I’m treading water. An amateurish dog-paddle and my trusty water wings are all that keep me from sinking. But pretty soon, I’ll ditch the floaties and start swimming on my own. I’ll keep at it, lap after lap, and before you know it, I’ll be swimming the 100-meter medley without ever even taking a breath.

Yes, my teeth are chattering a little right now. But it’s only a matter of time before I give Michael Phelps a real run for his money.

blog writing, personal writing

Optimism

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about optimism and what it can do for you.

I’ve spent the last several years in a job that has paid the bills but has never made me feel passionate or excited about my work, and I’ve recently made the decision to cut back my hours and use my new extra days to pursue a strictly freelance career.  I’ll be giving up company-paid health insurance, profit sharing, 30 percent of my vacation and sick time, and the stability of a full-time job – not to mention the dramatic reduction in income I’m about to face.  Given the current economy (which EVERYONE keeps reminding me about), I’m putting myself in a scary, scary position.

And I AM scared.  I’m really scared.  But you know what else I am?

HOPEFUL.
EXCITED.
OPTIMISTIC.

For the first time in my life, I’m taking charge of my own future and not letting fear dictate my next move.  I’m taking a huge chance and all I can see is the opportunity of it all.

That’s kind of an awesome place to be.

I won’t lie, there are times when I ask myself What on Earth are you doing? and my pulse races a little when I realize that the answer is, I don’t really know.  But whenever those feelings of fear and uncertainty start to take over, I force myself to step back, take a deep breath, and repeat this to myself, over and over:

It’s going to be a great year!

As I begin networking and putting myself out there for others to meet and hire, I’m trying to let that optimism seep into everything I do.  I want the people I deal with to FEEL it.  I want them to know how excited I am to be doing this, how happy I am to be in charge of my own career and life for the first time since I started working a zillion years ago.  I want them to know that my optimism will extend to the work I do – and not in a cheesy, over-the-top way, but in a Wow-this-writing-is-fantastic! kind of way.

I want them to know that I’m passionate about this career path I’ve chosen, and even if the work I do for them comes on a small scale I’m still glad to be doing it, because for me it’s all about independence and learning and growing and CONNECTING with others.

If they feel that from me, they’ll WANT me on their team – and there’s no place I’d rather be.

This optimism I’m feeling is doing more than just easing my fears.  It’s making me happy.  It’s motivating me to start taking more chances and really putting myself out there in a way I never have before.  It’s opening me up to ALL possibilities.  And I think it’s making me a better writer, too.

It really IS going to be a great year!