Category Archives: I’m a Professional

Good Editors Harsh Your Buzz

Disclaimer: I do not promote or support non-consensual face editing, whether it be by Copy Editor Cat or anyone else.

At the moment, I work with an amazing editor. Not only does she have her own content brand and some notable clients, but she is incredibly knowledgeable, patient, clear and generous. In a world where one can end up working for pennies on unpredictable schedules with clients who think writing takes as little time as typing, this is something to celebrate.

Something else I appreciate – she doesn’t let me get lazy. It’s easy, after working with the same editor on recurring assignments, to get a little soft, and autopilot through the week’s piece. While I should treat each new article like the first for that end client, I realize I sometimes simplify sentences that could say more, and don’t give due attention to cited sources. Fortunately, my editor has a good eye.

Better yet, she has a cool head and patient hand. At this stage of the writing game, no editor feedback is more unsettling than some, and detailed, constructive feedback is a must for a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship. Oh, and if that editor is paying you properly for your time, addressing that feedback is also a must.

When I left my full-time-with-benefits, nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday gig to become a freelance writer, I was ready to be happy with any job from any client, despite having experience and a degree. For a while, that readiness served me and my nerves well. Still, I’m glad to be through that period. I’ve been fortunate to connect and work with some fabulous people, who are lovely not only as professionals but as humans. Lovely humans who know exactly when I need to sit up straight and pay attention and keep getting better. It’s well worth the buzz kill.

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Image Search Learning Curve

For the most part, I don’t deal with digital images. I do words.

Not to say I’m unable to work with images on a computer. I can, and often do, find, resize, edit (ok, mess around in MS Paint with) and upload pictures for various blogs and websites.

Still, I’m no expert. I’m ashamed to say how long it took me to learn about finding images licensed for reuse and that sort of thing.

A couple weeks ago, I learned one more detail about online images – “labeled for reuse” isn’t always enough to free up the file.

You may have seen my article about remembering yoga a while back. I posted it with a generic, labeled-for-reuse photo I found through Google images. However, within a week, it was gone, and replaced with a graphic about “No Hotlinking.” Confused but accepting, I found another free image. Days later, the same thing happened. I dug a little deeper, and realized the replacement image was from a stock photo site that didn’t want my money, but for me to download the picture and host it myself for the protection of their servers.


Obviously, I don’t want to steal the images of other creative workers. I do want to have a good relationship with those I respect online. Further, I don’t want my blog to look like it’s run by an amateur (despite being, in many ways, an amateur). This means a little bit (just a tiny bit) of extra work on my part.

When you find free images, check to make sure they’re free for download, hotlinking or however you want to use them. Don’t want that learning curve to show itself unexpectedly, do we?

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Lesson Learned


I have no idea how it happened.

Typically when an editor asks that a document be resent, it’s a simple matter of having attached the wrong file or needing to recreate the same document as a different file type.

However, this week, I somehow managed to save and send something that appeared as nothing but Wingdings and white space. And when I dug around to find a clean version, I came up empty handed. I had an “o4 File Type” and an increasingly sweaty brow.

Fortunately, I managed to recover the text by opening with Wordpad, and relatively quickly get everything into a nice, and even slightly improved, second version.

Now, this is all pretty boring stuff for most, and an admittance of my imperfection as a human and a freelance writer. But it brought two things home to me:

  1. I have a gem of an editor in this client. She is patient, communicative and highly organized. As I so often am, I am deeply appreciative of the professionals with whom I work.
  2. Pay attention all the time, to everything. I’m still getting used to a relatively new computer, and am guessing my mistake was something stupid and completely avoidable. For now, I blame my ignorance of Windows 8, but that can’t last long.

On those days when we feel like inadequate versions of ourselves, and want nothing more than to be 10 or 17 or 23, it’s good to remember that now is what we looked forward to all those years ago, and a lot of good is welded to these fields of learning and monotony and anxiety.

With that, I sign off for the week and take myself to Craft Night with the girls. To your weekend!

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Wordy Mornings, Udon and Ice Cream

ben and jerry's carmel laptop

These two make a great couple

Most of the time, I’m on a second shift schedule. Husband’s job occupies him from 2pm until 11pm or so, and has done for nearly four years now. It was tough when I was 9 to 5, but when I went freelance, I shifted my day back about five hours, and got reacquainted with my boy.

These days, all three of us are late to bed and late to rise. I realize this will have to change before Iris starts school. But, for now, it works. One of the best parts – on those rare occasions that we go out at night or to a party, we’re still wide awake at midnight as our old drinking buddies with “normal” schedules are swiftly losing steam. Makes me feel young(er)(ish).

Of course, when work is plentiful, I often wake early to squeeze in a little writing before my babes get up. While I do not at all like the jolt of an alarm, or the foggy effects of too little sleep, it always pays off. This past week has seen lots of early mornings, and I almost cringe at the amount of sitting I’ve done. Still, my bank account is soooooooo much happier now, and I’ve once again enjoyed client relationship building. The content folks for whom I work regularly and on a recurring basis are pretty much awesome, and I am endlessly, endlessly grateful for the work, the connections, the respect and the professional growth I receive from them. This is why I left the office. This is how I know it was the right thing to do.

Even better, hefty work weeks mean treats! I pulled my first all-nighter in a long time Monday night, and was not really feeling like food prep come Tuesday evening. So, I ordered too much sushi and udon take-out from XO Asian, picked up some New Holland brew and threw in two pints of Ben & Jerry’s. Once that umpteenth wind came around, I was good to go. There’s nothing like a delicious reward for a job swiftly and (according to my editor) successfully done. And, we’re giving House of Cards a second chance, and I like it. Wishing there was another season of Bob’s Burgers on Netflix, but this is nothing to complain about.

Not when there’s more Karamel Sutra in my freezer.

Lovely weekend to you!

ps-> I came across this strange little thing in looking for the first link in today’s post. I had to share it because it’s weird, and it also mentions udon.

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Whim & Fancy Will Win Out

gandalf dumbledore aslan meyer facebook

The Trinity of Epic Fantasy

I know I should be using my skills as a writer to spread knowledge. I am drawn to information about health, equality, progress, kindness, science and happiness, and am passionate about sharing it with anyone willing to listen.

There’s no excuse for isolating myself from the real problems of the world, and getting lost in the musings and ego of my own creation. How selfish. How impractical. Aren’t there plenty of great storytellers out there already? I should be saving the world – not pretending I live in a fictitious one.

But I’ll tell you a secret. I want to be shut in a room and told to write something fantastic and entertaining; no coming out until I do. Meals will be delivered by a vegetarian chef who has taken a vow of silence. Music is allowed, but no Netflix. Internet use will be restricted to quick searches for writing purposes only. Writers get time in the yard for cardio exercise and a yoga mat will be available from 5 to 6pm.

A younger me wrote creatively all the time. Now and then, she produced something decent (I had to muster the courage to look). A younger me did not associate writing with money or time management. I had endless hours to “get in the headspace” and stop judging every stupid idea. A younger me did not have Facebook or a tweeting schedule. A younger me did not have a two year-old.

I have friends who write creatively on a regular basis, and I both envy and admire them. Not that I would trade my life and its daily responsibilities. Not at all. But when I made the decision to get a degree in creative writing is was to let myself feel and imagine. How could I know how hard that would become? Anyone who can do that, and continue to love it, is a rockstar.

There is an epic story in me somewhere. I’ve been thinking about it for years. Details and themes have changed over time, but much of the core remains, and I think it could be good. While I might not waltz my way into the trinity referenced above, the whim and fancy that have driven me since childhood might just find a way.

Here’s hoping that simmering through gradual onset adulthood is a trick for making creativity worthwhile.

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Winning Freelance

mom glasses blonde toddler daughterIf I’m being completely honest, I’ll say freelance writing is tough.

Sometimes it feels like a pointless chase, accompanied by an empty bank account and too many dead ends.

This is not one of those times.

Over the recent months, I’ve been fortunate to connect with a few new, amazing clients (and friends – you know who you are). In fact, I’ve actually turned down good work due to a full plate. Better yet, I’ve purchased items without worrying about dipping into the red. Rather than living like a poor college student, I’m beginning to organize my finances like a parent in her 30s.

Most happily of all, I haven’t searched local job listings in weeks. This is what it’s all about.

Perhaps the traditional employer-employee relationship isn’t for you. Maybe you have a skill that isn’t being used, and going stagnant in a job that doesn’t let you grow. Likely, you’re drawn to the idea of working on your own terms and schedule, and taking time off as needed, and wanted, to go live in the real world (or on the beach).

That’s going to mean hard work and time. It requires interacting with people who recognize and appreciate your skill, and developing real relationships with professionals who actually understand what you do. Further, you need to seek out the truly valuable opportunities, rather than swamp yourself with jobs that demand too much and pay too little.

Freelance writing is not making me rich. It’s not making me famous. But it is letting me control my own career, and see way more of my husband, daughter and friends than I would with a traditional job. Win. So much win.

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Freelance Education: Computators and Interwebs

computator buttons wheelsI am constantly astounded by how little I know about computers, the Internet, computerized services on the Internet…

Fortunately, I get to learn stuff like this when I’m researching work assignments. One of my favorite things about being a writer is venturing into uncharted territory every time I take on a new client. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to delve into hospital culture, alternative health, solar energy, travel, memorial stones, HVAC systems and so much more.

These days, I’m spending a lot of time writing about Internet hosting and the vast landscape surrounding it. In some moments, I feel a bit behind the curve, as I scramble to decipher the cryptic terminology of Web development, or look up, once again, an acronym for some programming language.

Still, it’s all part of my education, and kind of a must for a freelance writer. Better yet, many of the folks with whom I’ve worked, both now and in the past, are patient, guru-like sources of knowledge and structure. Invaluable.

When you consider a freelance career, or writing of any sort,  recognize that your expertise is limited to a craft. Know also that clients will want you to be experts in their topic. Think of it as free (heck, paid!) education, and soak it all up.

Lovely weekend to you!

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The Assignment that Never Ends…

never ending wood board road

In the past, I’ve had work assignments that were big, and seemed like they’d never be over.

The one I completed last night took the cake.

While it was technically due by 5pm yesterday, most writers working on the numerous parts (myself included) were finding the articles to take significantly longer than expected. Our overlord (a very nice guy, incidentally), allowed us until today to finish, and you could hear the collective sighs of relief from our various remote locations across the country.

Perhaps it was all the Dutch names. Maybe it was our general unfamiliarity with the Dutch landscape. Or it could have been the monotony of the keywords. I like to think it was all of these, tossed in with some characteristic writer procrastination.

Whatever the case, I felt as though I’d be writing these pages for the rest of my life. Even as I chipped away at the individual pieces, the pile never seemed to diminish.

Sadly, there are times when being a writer is the primary thing that destroys my inclination to write. Specifically, professional freelance writing sometimes leaves little energy for the screen time and thought process of personal creative writing.

By the end of the typing marathon, all I wanted to do was eat carbs and watch Dracula.

Still, it’s worlds better than limited lunch time. There are always those green patches on the other side, but I’ll continue to graze over here for a while.

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Freelance Uniform Uniformity

woman comfortable clothing by stairsI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of the best things about working from home as a freelance writer is being able to wear whatever I want.

Please realize that I do like to dress up, and understand that professional clothing serves to boost the awareness of professional behavior. But I don’t care who you are – you don’t want to spend 40 hours a week in tailored clothing and heels. If you do, you likely maintain an attendant who sees to the cleaning, pressing and storing of said articles.

Anyway, pictured is my current work uniform. In keeping with my desire to exercise responsible consumerism while also wearing pretty lounge pants, I requested another pair of Punjammies for Christmas. Yes, I still catch flack for living in pajamas. No, I have not come to care.

It’s Friday, my lovelies!

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Freelance Connections: Kindred Clients

kindred spirits Anne Green Gables

There was no question about the image that would accompany such a title.

I don’t make a habit of becoming overly friendly with my clients. While there is certainly always pleasant chit-chat and some insight into personal lives, we’re both there to get a job done, and don’t tend to form deep, personal connections.

At the moment, I’m working with a local custom home builder, and part of that work is developing biographical material for their site. The designer – a woman I believe to be around my own age – sent me an email the other day with some information about who she is and what she likes. I was glad to see that she enjoys cooking from scratch, makes a serious effort to lessen her impact on the environment and uses humor as therapy.

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