Twenty-five Seven – Getting Published

 

my kids sleeping. when they were little.
my kids sleeping. when they were little.
  • Sleep in
  • Flip through a magazine
  • Lay by a body of water
  • Write more
  • Chat on the phone

This reminds me, I wrote an essay — a  tribute to sloth in an overachieving culture wherein I advise you to:

  • do less
  • stay off the grid
  • aim low

This appeared in this weekend’s Times Union commentary section. Proud.

Maybe if I had a second extra hour, I’d spend that time querying other magazines and newspapers with my funny, short essays.

I sent that essay to the newspaper as part of my challenge to query 7 places in 7 days. I may challenge myself with that again. But maybe in November, because in October my challenge is to post every single day. And besides that, I’m a little lazy.

Need. more. coffee.

This post is in response to the Daily Post:

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?

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BlogHer

“Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself,” Ree Drummond advised on her keynote and then proceeded to sing Endless Love to her dog on the big screen. Host of the Pioneer Woman blog, a bunch of cookbooks, and the number one food show for women on Food Network, it all started with her self-deprecating stories on her blog.

This BlogHer Chicago conference is all about the power of a small story to make a big change.

I only have about 20 minutes before I run back to McCormick Place to hear Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In. I am sleeping on my mom’s couch. (Thanks!) Here are a few highlights.

Kathleen Sebelius gave the keynote on the first day. We are in good hands in this country with Sebelius as secretary of health and human services, rolling out the health care. “Women put their health last,” she said. Not me, I vow.

Sebelius drew applause when she talked about the need for mental health coverage. With health care for all coming soon in this country, “62 million people will have access to mental health that they don’t have it today.” And this, “Depression is real.”

Secretary Sebelius advocated for more women in decision-making positions, be it in corporate boards or elected offices.

“Take a risk,” Sebelius said. “Kick a door open. Put yourself in.”

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Yoga in Millennium Park, sponsored by Yasso yogurt, was awesome. The drizzle on my yoga mat stretched me. Then, I felt grateful when a bit of blue peeked through the clouds.

Other highlights for me were the panels on caregiving, podcasts, Instagram, and essay writing. Guy Kawasaki spoke at lunch. He gave the example of NPR as a place with great content that’s earned the right to host a telethon a couple of days a year. (Not to self: provide great content, only then host a telethon.)

Kawasaki is is a huge fan of Google Plus. He said it is for your passion, whereas Facebook is for your friends. And he referred to his four kids as “my four start-ups.”

I loved when Elisa Camahort asked Kawasaki, “Four kids, a lot of work — how do you do it all?” He acknowledged that he has three women making him look good — a wife, a nanny, and a @PegFitzpatrick, who happens to be my #blogchat Twitter friend.

And that reminds me, for more updates, you can follow me on Twitter at MaryBethC for more on BlogHer. But right now I’ve got to run back to the conference and lean in.

Freelance work

I am working on a very short novel. I am working on my business. I am working on myself. I wonder if any of these things will work out.

I believe that I already have everything I need. I try to know, deep down, that all I want will come to pass. Yesterday I announced that I’m going to lead workshops for the International Women’s Writing Guild summer conference and in May I’ll be performing on Mother’s Day with the Listen To Your Mother Show. These are dreams that have come true for me.

Still, sometimes I think it’d be a heckova lot easier to just get a job and show up every day. And do what’s asked of you and then go home.

Sometimes believing in myself is a lot of work.

Speaking of work, I have a freelance assignment due tomorrow. A small part of me does not want to do it. Okay, a big part.

I like doing what I like doing, promoting my own workshops. (Come to the Adirondacks for a writing and collage art getaway! May 16-19) and my new biz (Am getting my new website up and running.)

I like my own stuff. But once I throw myself into something, even someone else’s something, I get into it. The problem is the throwing myself in. It’s like when you’re standing on the edge of the pool, hesitant to swim. You just have to jump.

About freelancing, here’s my truth — I love accepting a job; I love interviewing people; I like collecting the check. All the middle part, after the interview and before the job’s complete, all the writing and rewriting and fact checking, that’s a pain.

Imagine
Remembering to take time to imagine. (I was in Central Park on Sunday. So restorative!)

Happiness on Social Media

Life has been a bit of whirlwind. Only today does it feel like the the dust has settled. And it’s a rainy, dreary, depressing day.

After the kids’ and my spring break trip to Chris’s cousins in Boston and Nantucket, I led a blogging workshop at the Indiana Writers Center and a social media workshop at Religion Communicators Council, both in Indianapolis. Then I visited family in Chicago. It was all great.

I went solo on this recent trip to Indy and Chi-town. And the adage is true: you travel faster when you travel alone. But maybe fast is not always best.

Since taking this MOOC with MIT and last week’s keynote from Daniel Sieberg (I dig Bill Aiken’s summary of Sieberg’s Keynote), I’m asking myself these questions about my social media habit:

Is social media really making me more creative and connected?

Am I using social media only to market my stuff? Or do I really want to get to know you and your stuff too?

Am I oversharing with all my blogging, tweeting, Facebragging, instagramming?

See, I bumped into a friend on the street yesterday and she asked me how my spring cleaning was going. My first response was embarrassment. How did she know I was spring cleaning? But then I remembered my joke on my FB status. I’d updated, “While spring cleaning this morning, I found $3 – who says housework doesn’t pay?”

I felt a little flattered and a little naked. Truly, I write so people will read me.

So, on one hand, I worry if no one will read me, and then, on the other, I worry if people will read my stuff and react. (I write like I dance, like no one is watching me.)

In our last MOOC session on motivation and learning, Natalie Rusk mentioned that the keys to happiness are purpose and belonging. That these lead to personal growth. Maybe social media is for the social good when it encourages all of us to belong, to be purposeful, and to grow together.

Maybe when the rain stops and the dust settles some more, I’ll figure it all out.

Until then, here’s where I market my stuff on my social media — I’ve still got room in my Writing Retreat 4/25-4/28. And I need a few more good writers to make the weekend happen. We can discuss our digital diets over a nice long, leisurely dinner together.

One hour off technology

Writing and Mothering and Listen To Your Mother

pink buds blooming
Across from my apartment, things are starting to bloom.

Fixing the Problem

What problem does your business solve?

My friend Jolain told me that when she started her clothing line years ago, her goal was simply to make beautiful clothes. She said that wasn’t enough.

“A business has to solve a problem,” Jolain said.

When Kelly and I launched our new biz, we figured offering first-class writing workshops at non-luxury prices would answer a writer’s problem.

A writer’s challenge includes the need to:

  • be a part of a community
  • get published
  • find a sanctuary for dangerous writing
  • make time for writing
  • nurture creativity and beauty in a society that overlooks the arts.

Our biz does all that.

We use Field Notes to keep score when we play cards.

This morning I listened to a podcast about traveling salesmen (at Field Notes Brand, a company my brother co-founded). Ron Solberg praises the tenacity and brilliance of the early traveling salespeople who often sold books. And the customers appreciated how the salesmen delivered news, as well as products. They liked the free samples.

“The trick really was volume, the number of stops you make,” Solberg said.

And more winning advice: “Take advantage of the moment.”

In a sense, when I started the biz, I wanted to make and nurture beautiful writing the same way Jolain wanted to make beautiful clothing. But I am learning to sell as well as to create.

As a small business owner, I need to sustain my biz, so I must do both sales and art. And for both, I need to value beauty, tenacity, hard work, and being in the moment.

Secrets of a Freelance Writer

the view from my old office, yesterday.

During yesterday’s long lunch with Hal, he mentioned casually, “You should be making about $2,500 a week freelancing.” Gulp. I reminded him that unemployment pays $405 a week. Next to my computer sits a book from my sister a few Christmases ago: Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 a Year by Robert W. Bly.

Since that 2nd edition, the third edition’s out. A potential freelancer’s pay’s shot up to $100,000 a year. Okay, great, let me get going.

I cracked open the book, looking to get on that $2,500/per week thing. Here are some tips (based on Bly’s book):

  • manage time well
  • be concise
  • get to the point
  • keep the client satisfied

All good. And here are some of my tips:

  • let go of the guilt for asking for any pay at all
  • make your promotional material pretty (like website, biz cards)
  • turn it on time
  • network well
  • give clients more than they asked for

I added that first bullet point, because I realize I have guilt for making money and guilt for not making money. (In yesterday’s post, I admitted to feelings of guilt for indulging in any activities that please myself only and do not please others.) Thus, I have to let go of all guilt, even about gilt!

I am letting go of my excuses for not pursuing the almighty dollar. Yes, yes, I was born a girl, raised Catholic, worked for a Christian group. I have believed (even unconsciously) that money was the father’s job. That the pursuit of money made me selfish or materialistic. That other people had greater need than me so let the poor suckers have my money. That I am artist so I must suffer and live in poverty.

Be direct and unemotional. This book advises you not to make the same mistakes she did.  I love and relate to her honesty.

None of this is true. And I felt affirmed in my quest for asking for top dollar after reading Mika Brzezinski’s book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth. Mika faced and overcame the same problems I have with money. Her advice is:

  • be yourself
  • sponsor or mentor one another
  • stay matter of fact (don’t get emotional, apologetic)
  • I should have told Hal what I really think about making money. Money is just energy. To make more of it, just insert yourself into the energy’s flow. I buy that.
  • And I will get on it, right after I finish reading another book. And blogging.

A Long Winter’s Nap

Tabata, my sister's cat. She doesn't care much...
I get sick of cat photos but this one’s cute. (Photo credit: creative commons, Wikipedia)

Yesterday the weirdest thing happened. I had a lot to do, so I napped. I never nap. I only napped when I was pregnant.

I felt guilty for napping. Guilt is my fall-back feeling for doing anything that does not improve the house, help my husband or my kids, earn money.

After all, I had to:

  • Clean the house. (The cleaning lady couldn’t come due to the impending storm.)
  • Write a proposal for the Players Club about a January blogging event.
  • Say yes! to a request to lead a social media workshop in April 2013 at Religion Communicators Council gathering in Indianapolis.
  • Begin a magazine writing assignment.
  • Watch the president’s acceptance speech. (Couldn’t stay up on election night to wait for Romney’s concession!)
  • Help my husband with bill-paying.

So I napped. I slept for two and a half hours. I woke up groggy, confused. I had dreamt I was at a racetrack with my son and I was drinking champagne. It was a warm afternoon and I was enjoying our shady spot. I wanted to stay asleep.

My kids chased each other with snowballs into the apartment building.

The kids come home from school, dropping their backpacks by the front door, noisy and hungry for a snack or attention.

But I couldn’t help them. I couldn’t remember who they were, who I was, or where I was. It took me half an hour to feel right. That’s why I never nap. It’s discombobulating.

I know I’m tired because I’ve been waking early to get the kids up to their bus and get to my 7:30 am guided meditation class.

In meditation yesterday morning, a long-haired dude sitting next to me was falling on my shoulder, snoring away. It threw me off my meditation game.

My nap threw me off too. Since it snowed last night, I’m wondering if maybe I was just getting ready for a long winter’s nap.