In appreciation of the Internet and everyone in it

standard February 6, 2009 1 response
Over the last couple years I have been blown away again and again by the love and support that pours out of the blogging community. Recently that awe has extended itself to embracing the kindness shown on Twitter and Facebook. Complete strangers reach out and donate money for people running marathons, for families in need, for charities they didn’t previously know about. People hand out virtual hugs and pats on the back when they’re needed. People offer advice and help at the drop of a hat. Virtual strangers bend over backwards to help each other get jobs, promote businesses, and do anything else that needs to be done to show support for the members of this ephemeral community that lives and breathes in the airwaves above us.

I wouldn’t be shocked to know that bloggers, Twitterers, and Facebookers are more likely to help virtual friends than “real” friends. Sometimes it’s much easier to help someone you don’t ever have to look in the eye. It doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that people help. They reach out and with the tap of a keyboard, the click of a mouse they change lives.

A couple days ago I had a minor freakout about my life. I was a bit scared of what might come next, a lot doubtful of my abilities and strength. I came here and vented. I opened up and shared my fears and my doubts. And you all rallied.

Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who told me to hang tight. Thank you to everyone who told me to have faith in myself and my talent. Some of you reached out via email and others left comments. I can’t tell you how much every one of those messages meant to me. I shouldn’t need external validation to value my work, but it sure does help to know that others appreciate it. Knowing that you’re there, reading, caring, makes me want to try harder and do better. I want to be the writer you think I am.

I’m not giving up. I’m going to find a way to make this all work. If anyone wants to reach out and offer me a mega million dollar book deal, go right ahead. In the meantime I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, writing for free and doing small jobs here and there. And, yes I know you’re all right, it’ll be ok in the end. Thank you for helping me see that.

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The threshold to the rest of my life

standard February 3, 2009 5 responses
I knew when I quit my job to focus on writing that I wasn’t going to become a millionaire overnight. In fact, I knew that I would likely not earn a dime for the first 6 months. I did however expect that within those 6 months I might make some good contacts, maybe sell an article, hopefully get a decent, somewhat regular gig. Considering the way the Internet and Social Media are exploding it wasn’t really too far fetched to assume that something would come along.

I was actually pretty lucky found something pretty early on, but it fizzled out after just a couple months. Ever since I’ve been working hard to make a name for myself so that I have something to show for the time I’ve been freelancing, and so I’d have something to point to when people ask to see samples of my work.

I’ve been writing basic parenting articles Type-A Mom, dispensing advice like How to Diaper a Baby, How to Interview a Babysitter, or Swaddling 101. Stuff that might seem obvious to people who’ve been parenting for years, but is monumental to new parents.

I’ve just started writing about party games for the brand new Party Planning Professor site.

And aside from all the other day to day stuff I work on I even have a few other irons in the fire, but nothing that’s going to net me an actual paycheck, something that I could be proud to bring home to my family. Every month that goes by without income adds to my guilt. We’re not struggling – yet. But we are taping into our savings. And my patient M isn’t complaining, but I know that it’s stressing him out terribly. It’s a horrible time for us to be using up our savings, especially with no real solution in sight. So I stress, and I keep stressing.

There are many things I could be doing to turn The Lemonade Stand into a great site. I could be reaching out to countless companies, asking for products to review, to giveaway, to promote. I could be hyping the site to PR reps and to mompreneurs. I could be talking it up everywhere, getting people to sign up for the RSS feed, posting reviews every day. But all that takes time, and there’s no real financial future in it. Just like there’s no real financial future for this blog. Or for any of the other sites I contribute to right now.

So, what do I do? Do I keep writing for free and hope that my big break comes along? Do I work to promote my own sites and hope to attract some advertisers? Or do I focus my creative energy on this blog and ease up on the rest while I find a more traditional way to pay the bills?

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Taking candy from strangers never leads to anything good

standard January 8, 2009 3 responses

His light tap on my shoulder shocked me to my core. I jumped in my seat and looked around wildly. After not working for over two weeks I had finally managed to knuckle down and concentrate. I was lost in the blog post I was writing for Silicon Valley Moms Blog, focusing on getting the words and feelings just right.

I looked at the man, smiling slightly, standing way too close to me, holding out two Ricola cough drops. It took me a moment to understand what he was implying. I hadn’t even noticed that I was coughing. For a crazy second I thought “Whoah, stranger danger. Why is this strange man offering me candy?” Then I remembered that as a grown-up that’s not usually a concern, and that my coughing was probably driving him up the wall.

I took a Ricola and thanked him. And then I tried to get back to work, only now I was acutely aware of the tickle in my throat and the insane urge to cough that I kept having to suppress. I sucked slowly on my cough drop and wrote a few more sentences.

A few more sentences later and I had forgotten my irritable neighbor and I let out a small cough. “Would you like another?” He instantly asked. I mumbled a curt no thank you and kept working, grumbling a bit in my head. When he moaned after I cleared my throat I started to get annoyed. Seriously, winter time in a coffee shop, people are going to be sick, it’s a fact of life. Deal with it, dude.

I’m too nice. I didn’t play the loud coughing passive aggressive card, instead I kept suppressing my cough and attempting to focus on my work. The tickle didn’t go away and my production went way down, but by God that man wasn’t disturbed. That said, I can’t make any promises about tomorrow. If he’s around I’m not suppressing anything.

Still looking for that elusive ideal work space

standard November 22, 2008 1 response

I wrote this post back in July. Early July if we’re going to be picky. In it I brought up two issues that, five months later, I somehow still haven’t resolved.

1. I’m still running around trying to get everything done.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays C has school from 9:30 to 12:30. We live 20 minutes away so taking her to school and going home makes no sense. I’d be wasting an hour of good work time. Instead I sit in an empty classroom on the campus and do battle with the terrible Wi-Fi. It’s free and I don’t have to buy a drink to use it, so I do my best to make it work. After school ends I take C to daycare and then I grab a bite to eat. By then it’s late enough that it’s once again not worth my time to drive home and back again, so I head to a coffee shop to work until it’s time to pick up the kids.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I take the girls to daycare then either go for a run then head home to work all day. Despite the fact that I’m home on those two days, I somehow never find the time to do the necessary housework, or to plan the elaborate meals I’d hoped to be cooking by now. All too soon it’s 5pm and time to rush to collect the girls.

So really, the only things that have changed are that 1) I’m writing more, 2) I’m earning less, and 3) the house is messier. But, you know, I’m living the dream and all that, so it’s worth it, because of #1 there. So, so worth it.

2. I still haven’t found the perfect coffee shop to work in.

As we’ve established above, I’m still spending an insane amount of time in various coffee shops. And frankly, I still haven’t found the coffee shop of my freelancing dreams. Some have terrible Wi-Fi. Some play terrible music. Some offer 2 hour parking and only 2 hour parking. Some have bad coffee. Some are too busy and loud. And frankly, none will let me claim a corner and just set up a little office with files and stuff. Why is that?

I know I should be grateful that I have so many places I can work from, but I constantly feel scattered and I really wish I could just find the ideal spot; a free consistent space where I could control the environment, focus, and not be forced to drink industrial quantities of coffee just so I can access the Internet.

I know. That might be a bit much for Santa to fit in his sack this year, right? Bummer.