Viewing category ‘Deep thoughts’

Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/

For 2013, I visualize… [fill in the blank]

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Well. Here we are, almost at the end of 2012, and I think we can all agree that it’s been… uhhhh… kind of A Year. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you the worst part. Between the deaths and the illnesses, the various miscellaneous crises and the broken bones, I think it’s safe to say that 2012 is pretty much my least favorite year of… well, ever. (Beating out the year my first marriage imploded, even. It was a bad year, folks.)

Part of me wants to curl up and mourn the massive hit my business took this year, and part of me wants to pat myself on the back for still having a business, given everything that’s happened this year. But then I think I hardly deserve that pat, either, because the nature of many of this year’s crises meant that letting the business go under wasn’t ever an option (financially, anyway).

Now that we’re at the end of the year, I’m ready to look forward and try to figure out what comes next. Only this year, it feels so very different from years past.
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On Mentoring, and Openness

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Last week I saw about twenty different people link to this post on Penelope Trunk’s blog about mentoring and so of course I went and read it. And then I was confused. Because I was expecting kind of a how-to about mentoring, and that wasn’t exactly what it was. But Cassie Boorn (the writer) did drop this interesting gem at the end:

This is the part where I give you career advice. You can’t hide who you are and make genuine connections at work. Eventually it comes out and you make everyone around you feel like they have been duped. If you want a great career you have to have a good network and you have to have good mentors and people can’t mentor you and be your network if they don’t know you.

I suspect that’s why everyone is lauding this as a must-read piece, even though the mentoring relationship described in the article is perhaps a somewhat unconventional one. I also suspect this is part of why this piece bothers me so, because I would hate for someone who’s never experienced good mentoring to read Boorn’s words and conclude that her relationship with Trunk is the only way mentoring can or should work, which I don’t think is really true. And finally, I’m not entirely sure I even agree with the conclusion.
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Courting controversy

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

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Earlier today I was among a group of bloggers when someone asked if folks would be willing to share their most controversial posts. This led to what I felt was a really interesting discussion, both because the posts in question often surprised me (I had a hard time seeing why there would be any debate about several of them), and because time and again folks would respond by saying that they didn’t have any controversial posts.

In fact, multiple people said that they fear disagreement and/or drama, so they try very hard not to write anything that could offend.

It’s not that I have a problem with this viewpoint, per se, but it definitely got me thinking. Bloggers are usually folks with opinions—who reads blogs written by writers who don’t have strong feelings about things? That would probably be boring. And certainly bloggers are portrayed as loving the social media back-and-forth, if not a plain ol’ spotlight. So I started wondering how true that supposed archetype is, and where I fall within it.
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Blog like no one’s reading?

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

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Back in the early days of blogging (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth) (kidding; more like about a decade ago), there was this constant conversation about audience and boundaries. Personal blogging was a new beast; no one knew for sure how much it was okay to share. Some advocated total honesty, others feared some sort of mysterious backlash that could only come of reckless secret-telling.

I sort of feel like we’ve come full circle. That conversation was a constant, for a while, and then it kind of petered out as people blogged about things other than their personal lives—and those who did blog about their lives figured out how to set workable boundaries—and now I see it coming up again in different ways.

A few months ago when BlogHer was soliciting panel proposals, I was approached about being a panel about blogging about your special needs kid’s school. Our panel was not selected, unfortunately, which is a shame because I think it would’ve been really interesting. More and more you hear about unintended repercussions particularly among those of us in the IEP/special education trenches, and I was eager to hear others’ stories on the topic. Of course, at the time, no one at my son’s school was reading my blog, so it was kind of theoretical for me.
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This is the longest career I’ve ever had

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot

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Whenever someone wants to talk to me about my career as a writer, they invariably want to know how I got started, what my plan was, and/or if I “always knew” I wanted to write.

I seem to end up answering these questions in bits and pieces. Have I “always” been a writer? Sure, if you count journaling, rambling letters and/or emails, and the fact that I’ve always enjoyed putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). It’s something I’ve always done in one form or another. But did I always plan to be a writer? Of course not. That’s not a practical career goal, you know. No, when I went to college, I planned to be an actress.

Stop laughing.

It’s true. Right up until my senior year, my plan was to get my degree in theater and then move to New York City and go on cattle calls until I hit it big and lived happily ever after. Or something. Only, I discovered that I had no desire to live in New York City (or any other giant city), and also that I probably didn’t have the patience and perseverance to try to “make it in the biz” when I’d already spent years being told by my theater professors that I wasn’t pretty enough to get good roles, anyway. (This is true—both that I was told that, and that it was the truth.)
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On stopping writing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

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Last week I stopped writing.

Not completely, of course. I have clients, I have contractual work to deliver. I continued writing where I had to. I continued writing about the things that matter less to me; stuff that has nothing to do with how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.

For almost eight years I’ve maintained a personal blog, and it’s been my refuge to work out my talky impulses when it comes to sorting through things. That blog has seen me through the majority of my kids’ lives (and trials and tribulations therein), several romantic relationships (and lack thereof), remarriage, relocation, everything. Everything. Before that, I journaled. For most of my life. Writing about my life has been central to my existence for a long time.

And last week I looked at the “New Post” screen and just couldn’t do it.
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Yin and Yang in freelance writing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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We talk a lot about balance, ’round here. Work/life balance. Mother/wife balance. Mother/person balance. Balance is not an unfamiliar concept to anyone trying to manage a career and a life at the same time.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this balance as it pertains to being a woman and solopreneur, generally, and how it pertains to being a woman and a writer, in particular.

Now before I go any further I will hasten to point out that I admire lots and lots of male writers as well, and nothing I’m about to say is designed to indicate that only women do what I’m about to discuss. I’m just going to talk about woman because, well, I am one and I know that for me it’s a big part of what I bring to the table as a writer.
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Hey, jealousy!

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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“Guilt and jealousy are useless emotions.” How many times have I said this to my children? I can’t even say; it’s something I’ve believed for a long time. Or, at least, I used to. I still think guilt is a useless emotion, but I’ve changed my mind about jealousy, a bit.

This is from a number of months back, but I have it bookmarked and visit it often. Are you reading the fabulous Helen Jane? You should be. The post in question is called Healing from Painful Comparison, and it contains (among other awesome tidbits), this:

Jealousy is a very accurate map as to what’s missing. When I pay attention to jealousy, I’m much happier.

So how do I get out of the jealousy trap?
I make a jealousy map.

I fold a piece of paper into three columns and write at the top of the first column, “WHO.” On the top of the second column, I write, “WHY” and on the third column, I write “SO NOW WHAT?”

I love this because it’s a very practical way to deal with feeling Less Than or Cheated, and to turn it around into something that’s about bettering yourself rather than tearing down someone else. And this goes double for anyone who thinks they’re “above” jealousy.
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Online livelihood: Services, reputation, and things to think about

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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The great thing about making a living writing online is that you can do it from anywhere; have Internet, will travel. You don’t need a fancy office. You don’t have to spend thousands on start-up costs. It’s an incredibly accessible field—if you have something to say and an engaging way of saying it, chances are you can build a following and make some money. But the terrible thing about making a living writing online is that you are dependent on the services of others for your work to exist. Write a book, get published, and the book doesn’t disappear off the store’s shelves every time the power goes out. If someone gets angry at you, your book doesn’t vanish into thin air. And I think the criticism leveled at online writers for raising their voices when they feel they’ve been done wrong is often particularly harsh, as if having a platform is somehow unfair or shameful.

I’ve written about bits and pieces of this in the past, but I’m thinking about it today because of the recent post by Darren Rowse (a.k.a. ProBlogger) detailing his mysterious suspension from YouTube. The post itself (and the updates; Rowse’s account was later reinstated just as mysteriously as it had been frozen) is worth reading, not just for the actual information but because he manages to infuse what must’ve been a maddening situation with a bit of humor, even while frustrated.
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Working, retiring, and the mythical lottery

Categories: Deep thoughts, Maybe I can pencil in a nap

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My father is “retired.” Not retired, but “retired.” The quotes are necessary because he still works.

Huh?

The deal is this: A few years back, my father decided it was time to retire. He wanted to spend more time on leisure pursuits, and wanted the freedom to be able to travel more often. We all applauded his decision. And I believe the original plan was that he’d continue working something like 10-20 hours at the office each week that he wasn’t out of town. But because he’s my dad, and because he doesn’t really know how to retire, he is, instead, “retired”: He works full time whenever he’s not otherwise occupied, but occasionally takes off for trips and such. We tease him about it, but his justification is simple: He enjoys working.

I enjoy working, too, but make no bones about it: If I could afford to stop, I would. I think. I mean, I don’t know, that’s probably what my dad thought, too.
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