Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Resolutions? Really?

Here it comes! Are your plans in place?
Image by Salvatore Vuono

It's that time again.  Time to make a bunch of promises to myself that I will surely break by January 3.  Maybe I can try calling them something different.  How about goals?  Ugh.  That just reeks of rah-rah you-can-do-it life coaching strategies.  All that positivity makes me ill. Can we call it a plan?  That sounds pretty good.  I like to make plans. I probably would have made a good project manager.  I make the plan and someone else has to follow it?  Sounds good to me!

Back to the topic at hand.  My plans for the new year contain many of the old, perennial favorites, but I'm actually heading in this year with some decent strategies in place.  I just need to keep up the momentum.  Here's my PLAN for the 2012:

1.  Live healthier (and hopefully drop some weight).  I've already put this plan in action.  I bought a book from someone about dealing with all that inner junk, to help work on the outer junk.  I know that I definitely have a lot of baggage in this arena, so hopefully this will help.  Can't hurt, right?

2.  Get my money issues in order.  This is an ongoing project over at the other blog.  It's at least something that I'm always conscious of, so hopefully that will keep things going in the right direction.  

3.  Keep the house in better shape.  I am a terrible housekeeper.  I just don't know what it is, but I just plain loathe housework.  And the poor house reflects it.  I don't quite have a strategy for this one yet.  Obviously the simplest strategy is "pick up as you go," but just like the simple strategy for weight loss is "eat less and move more," there's something getting in my way.  If it were that easy, there wouldn't be a whole shelf in the library dedicated to it, right?

And now the writing goals:

1.  Get that stupid city license.  I have the paperwork I need for it (finally), but thanks to holiday money issues, I wound up having to wait.  First paycheck in January is paying for that darn license.  Then I'm going to put my local marketing plan into action!

2.  Finish editing the novel.  Ugh, I know.  I've been saying this forever.  My poor baby is just sitting there, neglected.  I need to just get over it and get it done.  I find it harder and harder to work on projects that aren't actively paying me at the moment.  I need to set up a plan for that darn thing and make it happen.

3.  Start marketing magazine articles more aggressively.  My first real printed magazine article is coming out in March.  At that point I'll have a solid clip.  I plan to drop that clip all over town.  I'm thrilled that I have cultivated a positive relationship with the magazine.  They want me to do more work for them and I'm really excited about that!  Speaking of which...

4.  Get that e-book done. The magazine wants to promote it.  A nationwide ready-made audience ready to read my work?  What the hell am I waiting for?  I think there's a fear factor here, and I'm going to need to deal with it.

5.  Keep working on improving my productivity and efficiency.  It's getting better, but there's still work to be done.  I found a nifty little toy yesterday.  An online stopwatch.  So simple it's almost stupid.  But it kept me focused for long stretches of time, and I really got stuff done.  Good deal.

What will you be working on in the coming months?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Talents I Don't Have

Yeah, I can't do that either.
Photo by maya picture

I usually try to avoid holiday parties.  I’m not one for enforced frivolity, so most of the time I wind up sitting in the corner, clutching a soda and chatting with the one person I know (other than the host, who is usually never seen).   I attended this one for a few reasons: 

  1. The hostess was someone I wanted to get to know better.
  2. My husband’s band was scheduled to play.
  3. I was actually encouraged to bring the kids.

The party was intended to serve two purposes.  Not only was it a holiday celebration, it was also a kind of housewarming.   The couple who were hosting had purchased the house about a year ago, for a steal.  Of course, when you purchase houses for a steal, you also know that you are going to be renovating the heck out of them, and this was the case here.  When I heard stories about how bad the house was when they bought it, it blew my mind. 

The house was gorgeous.  Restored hardwood, high beamed ceilings and so many wonderful, decorative touches all over the place.  Our hostess is an artist.  She makes the most beautiful handmade dolls you’ve ever seen.  As I received my tour of the house, I couldn’t help feeling jealous.  I wanted to live in this beautiful house, but I know that if I had been in the market and had stumbled across it, I wouldn’t have been able to see the possibilities it presented.  I simply don’t have an eye for that kind of thing.

There’s a lot of talents I don't have:  

  • I am not artistic.  I cannot come across some random object and imagine a new way I could use it to decorate my home.  I can't even draw, past a quick sketch.
  • For that matter, I have a terrible time keeping my home picked up and free of clutter.
  • I am not musical.  I cannot imagine new music or tunes I haven’t heard before.  I can’t sing either, although that doesn’t stop me from belting along with the radio.
  • I can’t play first-person shooter video games.  I get lost and confused, and I have a terrible time trying to aim.

But there’s so many things I can do, and when I’m feeling envious of someone else’s talent, I need to remember the ones I have:

  • I can turn a phrase and create readable and enticing prose.
  • I have a good eye for detail.
  • I have a logical approach to life, allowing me to solve problems with little trouble.
  • I make friends quickly and easily.
  • I can solve logic puzzles that other people see as indecipherable.
  • I can cross-stitch, creating my own beautiful works of art. 
  • I can cook delicious dinners for my family, embellishing as needed.

That’s not half bad, actually.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Tragedy of Errors

If only it was this easy...
Image by Salvatore Vuono

I was so disappointed in myself recently.

I was looking over my website and seeing what needed to be updated and what needed to be changed and deciding whether to add anything when I came across a HUGE error.  While that might not be a big deal to some, for someone who edits for a living, having a glaring spelling error splashed across the page is not exactly a great advertisement, y'know?

I thought back on every time I had laughed at a flyer advertising "proffesional proofreading" and winced.  Bad karma, indeed.  I quickly fixed the error, but I wonder how much damage has been done?  How many times has someone considered me for the job, then seen my website and that horrible mistake and laughed at me?  Maybe posted my error on some social network for others to see and laugh at?  Ugh.

I have a couple excuses, of course.  One, I can't work on the website in Google Chrome (my preferred browser).  One of the many excellent features of Google Chrome is that it has a spell-check function.  It helps me catch dumb errors that I make before they go out to the world and embarrass me.  (See how I spelled "embarrass" right?  Yeah, thanks Google Chrome.)  Currently there's a red squiggly line under my misspelling of professional up there.  It's just taunting me.

My second excuse is that it's just really hard to edit your own stuff.  I think that's the worst part.  I would have caught that error in someone else's work.  But because it was my own work (and we all know editors are infallible), I completely missed it.  I didn't check it as carefully as I would have checked something I was being paid to check.  Or even something I was volunteering to check.  I guess that isn't really an excuse.  It's just what happened.

I fixed the error.  I'll have to go through the whole thing again with a fine tooth comb, looking for anything else that might have slipped past me.  Maybe I can pretend someone else wrote it.  Or put my pride aside and ask  someone else to look at it and find errors I've missed.

Oh well.

When have you been "caught with your pants down" (so to speak)?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gifts for the Writer on Your List (hint hint)

Got a writer on your list this year?
Photo by Naito8

Ah, December.  That wonderful time of year when everyone panics, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list.  Perhaps one of those people is a writer?  Check out some of these -- your favorite writer is sure to appreciate them!

  • Writer's Market -- The most recent copy of the Writer's Market or a subscription to WritersMarket.com.  This book is practically the Bible for any writer trying to publish work in the print market, either fiction or nonfiction.  Having up-to-date information will save a writer time and money.
  • AP/MLA online style subscription -- Many writers, especially those who work online, are required to use one of these style guides.  Having an online subscription will give them the information quickly and easily, with search functions and updated information throughout the year.
  • Books -- Most writers are already readers.  You can pick up some great books about writing, like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or On Writing by Stephen King (two of my favorites, anyway), or you can get a gift certificate to a local bookstore.
  • E-books -- If your writer has an e-book, a gift certificate to Amazon (for the Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (for the Nook) can keep your writer in words all year. 
  • Digital voice recorder -- I like to keep a recorder next to my bed.  I often get ideas for articles, stories or even blog posts just as I'm drifting off.  I can grab my recorder and take note of whatever I'm thinking so I don't forget it later.  I also like to have it in the car, in case I notice a potential client.
  • Netbook -- I love my netbook.  It's nice to be able to write wherever I please, and it's highly portable. If you are feeling particularly flush this year, get your writer a netbook!
  • Conferences -- Tickets to writer's meetings and conferences can be a hot commodity and are often pricey.  Find out if any conferences are coming up that your writer wants to go to and pay their way.
  • A subscription to a literary magazine -- Does your writer read any magazines regularly (or would she like to)?  Take care of this year's subscription.  
What gifts have you given writers?  If you are a writer, what is the best writing-related gift you have been given?  What else belongs on this list?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh yeah, and I'm an editor too!

Editing = zen
Photo by ningmilo
When it comes to this blog, writing tends to get a lot more love from me.  Part of the reason for that is because I don't spend lots of time going over each post with a fine-tooth comb, looking for errors.  It's fairly embarrassing to have your errors pointed out to you in a post that's supposed to be about how to avoid errors.  It's a bit more acceptable to have errors pointed out in a post about writing because hey!  I have an editor to take care of that!


Editing my own work can sometimes be an exercise in frustration.  It's so easy to miss our own errors, isn't it?  When I worked in pharmacy, we had whole staff meetings devoted to this concept.  We see what we expect to see.  It's also why you always want your pharmacy to have someone else double-checking every order that goes through.  While a misplaced apostrophe just looks ugly in a written piece, a misplaced decimal point on a prescription can kill.

On the other hand, editing someone else's work is, to me, a game.  It's fun.  Each little error I find is a small victory.  Yes, I'm one of those people who gets a thrill out of word searches.  I adore logic puzzles.  Portal 2 is probably my favorite video game.  Solving puzzles is fun, and fresh copy, riddled with errors, is a puzzle just waiting to be solved.

When I initially got into the writing/editing game, I thought I was going to be focusing on editing.  My question was, after all, "How do I get paid to read?"  I found a great volunteer gig editing for a nonprofit news site.  My year there has almost come to an end, but I plan to stand on.  Why?  It's fun!  And I'm good at it.  I fill up my proofing form nearly every time, and I find far more errors than the other editors.

I've edited articles for other people, and I want very much to start landing some bigger gigs.  I'm waiting to hear back on the pharmacy technician certification position, but I really hope that comes through.  As fun as writing is, I sometimes find myself stressed out by it.  Editing is a relaxing sort of zen activity for me.  I'd like to do more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Link Love!

Yours truly is a guest poster now!

Come see my post (a follow-up to "The Productivity Game") over at Anne Wayman's excellent site.