Sharing the good, the bad, and the stuff that makes you go "Hmm.."

Archive for November, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Hopefully this has been a blessed year for everyone. I hope this Thanksgiving holiday finds you in good health and surrounded by people who love you and have your back. I hope you are blessed to share this holiday with someone special. If not, I hope you decide to make it a joyous occasion simply because you’re still alive to enjoy it.

If you are struggling financially, like yours truly, I hope you won’t let the struggle damper your spirit. Instead, remember all you have to be thankful for. Remember those who are more unfortunate than you, whose struggle is ten times worse, yet they manage to keep the faith and keep on keepin’ on–with a huge smile on their faces. Take a page out of their book. Remember, you ARE blessed.

I’m thankful I learned I was diabetic before I had a stroke, lost my eyesight or slipped into a diabetic coma. I’m thankful I learned I had high blood pressure before I had a heart attack. I’m thankful my Mother is still here, and I pray we will spend many Thanksgivings watching football and eating turkey, stuffing, collard greens and her sweet potato pie (all in small portions, of course). I’m thankful for every day that I see her face and hear her voice and her laughter.

I’m thankful I learned at an early age to be thankful for what you have. As a child, I thought I was the unluckiest kid.  I had an absentee father–more like MIA for the most part. We were on welfare, and I practically lived in hand-me-downs and clothes from the Goodwill and thrift stores. I never got the toys I wanted for Christmas–you know, the “cool toys” that all the kids on the block have. I got the toys my Mom could afford. I grew up eating the “cheapest brand you can find” from the grocery store. I’ve eaten my share of  “government cheese” and spam. That was some damn good cheese, and to this day I hate spam.

I’m thankful I grew up with a sibling with a mental disability. My older brother got Rubella (German measles) when he was two. My Mom wasn’t familiar with the condition, so by the time it was diagnosed it was too late. The disease left him mentally handicapped. It’s not easy growing up with a sibling all the kids laugh at,  make fun of or call a “retard”. I wanted to fight them! I’m compassionate, almost to a fault, because of my brother. If he’d been normal, I may have been one of those ignorant people who frown on people with physical and mental disabilities and act as if they’re contagious. Growing up with a special-needs sibling taught me to regard people with disabilities no differently than I would able-bodied people.  My brother is my heart. If you ever see me on an episode of “Snapped”, you will know that someone made the grave mistake of messing with my brother. The same goes for anyone who messes with my Mom, but I know my Mama will fight–hard–even at the ripe young age of 69.

I’m truly thankful for content mills. YES, you read that right. They don’t pay high rates, but content mills helped pay some bills over the year. They put food on my table and gas in my car (when it was drivable). They pay on time, and they let you know when the pay’s going to be late and when you can expect it. That’s something you can’t always count on with private clients.  The only thing content mills have in common with private clients that they can be here today and gone tomorrow. Just ask anyone who writes for Demand Studios.

I’m grateful for my private clients. I’ve been blessed to have really nice ones so far, and I hope that my future clients will be just as wonderful to work with. I’m grateful for my writer friends, one of whom hired me as a writer on her team, through which I’ve had the chance to write on subjects I’ve never thought I would write about. I’m blessed to have gotten the chance to know another veteran freelancer who taught me the difference between a fair writing wage and a pitiful one. I’m grateful to have met a copywriter in cyberspace who gave me some tips in breaking into copywriting. I hope to make my big break soon, and I hope this holiday finds him in good health and fortune as well.

I’m thankful for my writer buddies who happily do the low-paying gigs I won’t do, who have taught me not to automatically dismiss a low-paying gig without looking at the whole project. I’ve learned that one project that initially doesn’t pay well could lead to higher-paying opportunities (or contacts who have higher-paying opportunities), while another project could pay really well but both the client and project could make you wish you’d passed on it. Many writers started out with low-paying work. The key is finding out all you can about the project, deciding whether it’s worth your time and effort–even if it pays low, and continue working to move up the pay scale.

What are YOU thankful for this holiday season?


October Nearly Did Me In…Now it’s November

Remember one of my last posts entitled, “I Quit”? Well, last month, I almost did.

I’ve applied for some writing gigs and heard nothing. I’ve scoured writer job forums–the supposedly good ones–until my eyes glazed over. An urgent (or shall I say desperate) need for cash sent me back to writing for a former client and friend at a much lower rate than I would like. It gave me the chance to chat with my writer buddy again, and I did end up getting higher paying work with another client through her, so it’s all good. However…

I’m four months’ behind in rent. Thankfully I have a landlord who “really doesn’t need the money” (must be nice) and he’s been very understanding about my unemployed status. He even gave me the go-ahead to use the rent money on any pressing bills if necessary, but I really want to get caught up before he thinks I’m taking advantage of his kindness.

And then there’s my car. It needs about $800 of front-end work. I also have to pay $900 by the end of this month or I’ll have my own “Operation Repo” situation to deal with (without the dramatics, of course). I should be able to make good on the double car note payment, but it means fixing the car will have to be postponed. I still drive it for short trips, but I pray every mile of the way that it won’t break down. On top of that, the state inspection expired (not that it would pass anyway), so I’m taking a risk every time I drive it.

The stress took a physical toll. I’m an emotional eater, so I stress-ate a bit more than I should’ve. Helping my writer friend/client on a huge project detoured my regular workout regimen. I put back on 11 pounds, and my blood pressure spiked slightly, causing me to have a few light-headed days. That, if anything, was a sign that I needed to start controlling my reactions to stress and stop letting stress control me. I want to get off the meds, not take more of them.

It all made me question if a freelance writing business was really for me, and more specifically, if it was really what I wanted. I seriously considered going back to the brick-and-mortar world fulltime, where I could count on getting a biweekly check. I’d worry a lot less about when I could pay my bills. It would be so much more easier to budget. I could get my car fixed. I could buy some stuff for my apartment. I could rest easier.

Then I remembered I would be going back to having to rise at 6 AM to rush around so I could hit the roads and fight through traffic to get to work by 8 AM. I would be going back to having someone tell me when I could go to lunch, having to let someone know when I was going to the restroom or having to ask for permission to take time off for a doctor’s appointment or vacation. The longer you have time freedom, the harder it is to give up.

I looked into WAH non-writing jobs, like customer service and transcription. I could do the latter because it was part of my former life as a secretary. I’m not sure I want to do the former. My customer service experience consists of dealing with Avon customers, and that’s a lot more enjoyable than dealing with irate customers who want to bitch about their Direct TV bill.  And at less than $10 an hour?  I don’t think so.

The fact is, for the first time in my life I’m trying to earn a living doing something that I truly love to do, and I’m not giving that up without a fight. Life’s too short to spend your entire life doing something you loathe. No one on their deathbed ever wishes they had more time to work on that job that sucked.

November is off to a much better start.  I’m about 6 pounds lighter with a much lighter workload.  I’m still on the prowl for higher paying gigs, of course.  I realize I need to do more. Applying to “some” gigs won’t cut it. I also can’t shake the feeling that I’m doing something wrong. I have a feeling my query/cover letters may not be up to par. I still write cover letters as if I’m applying for an office job. I don’t think that’s going to work now. Definitely need to tweak it and perhaps have it critiqued by one of my more seasoned writer friends who may pick up on what I’m missing.

I’m going to start setting up my writer’s site. It’s time.

And I’m done stressing. It goes against my faith, it’s not healthy and it ages you. I’ll age when I’m 90 and not one day sooner.



Tag Cloud