Viewing category ‘Like talking but with more typing’

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/

Reconciling communication overload with manners

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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When I first started blogging—you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth (haha)—marketing and PR professionals were seen as visionaries if they bothered pitching to bloggers or approaching them at all. I’m rounding the corner to my ninth year of a public online existence; that’s, like, a century in Internet years, or something. Back in the beginning, no one noticed me. And then, for a while, I would get maybe one weird email a month, then one a week, and I remember thinking it was becoming A Thing when I started getting one or two a day.

If you’re doubled over with laughter, reading that, it’s okay. I understand. Nowadays—between the couple of email addresses I use most frequently—it’s not unusual for me to receive upwards of 200-300 emails per day which I consider spam, and that’s just the ones that aren’t caught by the spam filter. There’s probably 50-100 emails each day which I truly care about, too. And then blog comments (all of which arrive as emails from WordPress). My point is, I get a lot of email.

And? My mother raised me to be polite. So ever-increasingly, I find myself in somewhat of a conundrum, stuck between what I consider acceptable behavior and the constraints of time, reality, and trying to have a life.
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How to (temporarily) hobble a writer

Categories: Head hitting brick wall, Like talking but with more typing, Product review

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For years I have taken for granted having a career in which I can work from anywhere, at any time. Have laptop, will write! I have worked through the flu, through childcare crises, when my car was broken down, during blizzards, and through various and sundry physical ailments (at various degrees of misery, but I could still work). What a blessing, I have always thought, to have a job that did not depends on too many external factors. My husband has a recurrent foot ailment which often makes his long days of teaching (on his feet at the front of the classroom) extremely difficult. If there was something wrong with my foot, I would simply prop it up on the couch and keep typing.

But this month I have finally learned what it would take to make my job very, very difficult: Last week, I broke my hand. On the plus side, I broke my left hand, and I am right-handed. On the minus side, I broke my hand. I had to have surgery, and I am not expected to be back to full mobility for another six weeks at least. Even overlooking the pain and discomfort associated with my injury, I spend my days typing. I spend my days touch typing, with two hands. One of my hands is currently in a splint. Things have changed.
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Blogging awards: My love/hate relationship

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

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I am blogger, hear me… pimp myself?

In my experience, there are two kinds of bloggers out there: Those who write because they love writing, and those who write because they love attention. (Occasionally you find a third type: those who love writing and love attention, but overwhelmingly I would argue most bloggers are one or the other.) Now, you could make the argument that someone who only loves writing would never put their words “out there” for others to see, but to me having an audience reading what you write is part of the overall process. I love to write, but I also love to share that writing with others.

I don’t love attention so much, but of course to some extent it’s part and parcel of the blogging life. Put a website online and people are going to see it, comment on it, want to interact with you—that’s kind of the point. But as an introvert writing online suits me because I an interact with others in a way that’s limited; responding to comments and emails is easier for me that lots of face-to-face interaction.

Every now and then, I find myself receiving some sort of nomination or award and then I’m… deeply conflicted.
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Surviving election season when you live online

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I write for a living. I write online for a living. I write online about many very personal aspects of my life for a living.

But I don’t write about politics, particularly with a presidential election looming.

There are a lot of reasons for this, and most of them boil down to “I don’t wanna.” I feel like political opinions tend to be deeply personal and—for a lot of people, particularly people with whom I don’t agree—not necessarily based on facts, but on feelings; and I’m not in the business of trying to change people’s feelings. Also I dislike the kind of debate that tends to turn ugly and rarely actually changes anyone’s mind. I’m comfortable chronicling my day-to-day life, but I am not comfortable laying bare my political beliefs, essentially inviting people whose beliefs frighten me to attack my position.

I’m a wuss.

Okay, I really am kind of a wuss when it comes to public political debate, but I’m also someone who lives and works online and isn’t interested in being branded as an extremist.
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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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Balancing business and bravado when selling yourself

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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As a brand new freelancer, it can feel like an endless dog-and-pony show of finding the kind of work you want, attempting to get the attention of the people who might hire you for said work, impressing those people once you have their attention, and building your resume up to the point where all of those things will ultimately land you some paying work.

Once you’re somewhat established, you spend less time looking for work, and more time doing work. Still, you have to spend some of your time looking for new work, because you need more clients.

As a veteran freelancer, if you’re lucky you pretty much don’t have to look anymore. You spend most of your time doing paying work. And then every so often new clients will find you, and they’re doing so because your reputation precedes you, and so they know who you are and what they want and why those two things might go together well.

For a long time I was in the “veteran freelancer” category where I didn’t need to look for work, and that was lovely, I won’t lie. But as I’ve pulled back on work some to tend to my family, I’m now back in an unfamiliar position: I need to relearn how to seek work opportunities.
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It’s the most BlogHerful time of the year

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Here, let me sum up 80% of what is currently flooding my Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds for you:

“ZOMG BLOGHER IS THIS WEEK! WHAT DO I PACK? WHAT DO I WEAR! I’M SO NERVOUS! I’M SO EXCITED! NEW YORK CITY AHHHHHHH! MARTHA STEWART! BARACK OBAMA! BLOGHER, BLOGHER BLOGHER!”

So… yeah. In case you’re living under a rock, you might not know that the BlogHer 2012 conference is this week, and bloggers everywhere suddenly have extra social awkwardness coupled with nothing to wear.

I’ve always been a proponent of blog conferences as excellent opportunities to network, but I’ve never been shy about expressing my mixed feelings towards huge conferences like this one. They’re expecting something like 5,000 attendees, and that makes it an Event (capital E!) unlike a smaller gathering. It’s not for everyone, and even if it is for you and you’re the most extroverted socialite to walk the planet, it may have its moments of being overwhelming.

And no, I’m not going this year. But I have a few pointers for you whether you’re going or not.
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Finding work focus without doing actual work

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

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I think I’ve been pretty honest, both here and elsewhere, about how tough this year has been for my family. For months I think I tried to operate on the assumption that the Bad Stuff was temporary, and if I could just tough it out a little bit longer, things would go back to normal and that would be that. (Ah, naivete. I miss you!) By the time my kid ended in the hospital for the third time, though, it became clear that 1) this wasn’t going away and 2) any new normal we might someday attain would be very different.

During the first hospitalization I all but stopped working. Slowly, once my daughter was home again, I tried to pick up where I left off. Then she went back into the hospital and I stopped again. Then she was home but things were still busy and stressful and I really hadn’t even gotten my feet back under me when this last hospitalization happened, and now she’s been away for far too long and I’ve continued to struggle with finding that elusive groove where I can get stuff done.

I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on what my continued difficulty is—aside from “life kind of sucks and it’s hard to care about anything other than my child right now” which may be true, but doesn’t excuse me from working—but I accidentally figured out a way to jump-start myself again.
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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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Take a vacation, freelancer!

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I’ve written before about the challenges that face any freelancer who attempts to take a vacation; unlike those who work salaried jobs, freelancers can (theoretically) take vacation whenever they want. The problem, of course, is that salaried positions limit vacation time, but then you are (usually) not expected to do any work while exercising said vacation days. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, and if I have my computer, I can work.

The problem is that it’s very hard not to do that. It’s very rare for me to stop working entirely even while “on vacation,” and most of my fellow freelancers suffer from the same malady. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but if Jack was a freelancer writer I suspect all work and no play would make Jack a burned out, bitter person. Just a guess.

I’ve taken several different approaches to various vacations over the years, from killing myself for up to a month beforehand to get work done ahead of time (stressful!) to just telling clients I will be unavailable and giving up income for some time period (also stressful!). This time, I’m winging it.
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