A Rant About Worry–the Enemy of Writers Everywhere

IBM Cloud Computing

IBM Cloud Computing (Photo credit: IvanWalsh.com)

Isn’t this funny?

I stopped blogging every day, after 45 solid days of posting. I just got too busy to devote the time to it. I felt so relieved not to have the “strain” of trying to come up with a topic every day.

And now… I can’t seem to think of any blog topics at all!  Blank! What happened to my creative flow?

That cool editing project I mentioned in my last post is moving along really well. Happy client. Confident editor. But the social media marketing campaign I’ve taken on for an un-named celebrity client… aha! Not moving along so well at all.

Yes, I know how to tweet, blog, and post to Facebook. But I don’t really know how to get likes, fans and followers, and more importantly, how to translate those likes, fans and followers into people who want to sign up for what my client is offering.

This project came to me through an agency, and even though I have told them I’m a writer, not a Facebook marketer, they still seem to want me to carry on. The agency (run by my sister, if you must know) says they have complete confidence that I know what I’m doing.

I wish I did. Frankly, it’s making me really, really nervous.

I took one local social media expert out to lunch and picked her brain. She says social media is usually a slow start-up, but Mr. Big’s business all happens in the summer, and it is now April, so there is no time for a slow start up.

A lot of my brain power is now wasted mulling endlessly over what I should do, what I don’t know, what I’m missing — in short, I’m kind of paralyzed with the responsibility of the whole thing. And oh dear, what will happen if all my social media efforts lead to no sales, and the client feels that we (the agency and myself) have wasted his money or even worse, cheated him.

AHA…

Now I see why I have no ideas for my own blog.

I’ve fallen into a world of worry. I am, in fact, wracked with worry.  Worry sucks the creative juice right out of you. Worry is a war you cannot win. Worry wreaks havoc on whatever wisdom you (w)once had. Worry is a widening wart, wiping out  all imagination and common sense. Worry turns you into a gutless and witless wimp. Worry is wack.

I could go on with my wonderful worry rant, given just a wee bit of encouragement…

Or perhaps you’ve had enough?

And perhaps I’ve had enough as well. So here’s what I’ll do. (This is something that has always worked for me in the past.)

Leslie’s “Works Every Time” Worry Buster:

I’ll sit down Monday morning, first thing, and write a list of everything I can think of to do, including all the ideas the social media expert gave me. I do have a lot of ideas. I just got a bit overwhelmed with the responsibility and short time frame to accomplish the task.

Next, I’ll put them in the order which seems to make the most sense. And I will simply follow along on this checklist, and see what transpires. Instead of worrying, I’ll keep moving. If I get stuck, I’ll fall back on that time tested remedy of writers everywhere — research!

Yep, it’s that simple. The cure for worry is organized action.

Writing this post is what led me to remember that important fact.

So down with worry, and up with blogging!

Along With Editing a Manuscript I Need to Edit Myself

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editin...

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editing or co-teaching in online education. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m deep into the editing of a 50,000 word non-fiction book. I was pretty excited to get this project because the author said it’s the first in a series of books, and he’s looking for a long term relationship with an editor.

Score!

But already, I’m running into all kinds of problems. They are not with the grammar, the formatting, the material, the ideas presented.

They are with me. I feel timid. I feel inhibited. I feel uncertain.

It’s not that I don’t know how to fix the writing mistakes. Or make the writing look great on the page. (Very important for an ebook in particular.) It’s not that I don’t know which parts are overkill, which parts are  redundant, which parts are weak, which parts don’t quite make sense, which parts need to be cut or moved elsewhere for clarity.

I know all that. That part of editing is easy for me.

But it is an editor’s job to be ruthless, for the sake of the finished work. With my own work, I am quite ruthless. I want it to be as good as it can be. No matter how clever, how witty, how well worded — if those words don’t add anything to the feel or point of the piece,  when I edit I take them out. With barely the slightest tug at my heart for their lost genius.

I am having a hard time being equally ruthless with another writer’s work. I know how much time, energy and effort goes into 50,000 words. How much of someones heart, their life.

And I want to remove so much of it… I am afraid the author will be offended. There are parts I suspect he really liked, really worked hard on. But if they don’t add anything to the work, if they make it sound rambling or amateurish, if they weaken the overall message of the book — then they have to be cut.

I was having trouble cutting as much as I know should be cut and worrying about what my client will say about what I did cut. I was worrying that I wouldn’t cut as much as needs to be, out of my own timidity, and the book would not be as strong as it might be.

Man, editors need some serious cojones! This is not a job for the Lilly-livered. (Love that expression, never had a chance to use it before!) A strong editor equals a strong book.

I consulted with my Editing Mentor. (Aren’t mentors the best?) EM agreed that was the difficult part of editing, usually for both writer and editor. She suggested several ways of kindly and diplomatically wording what I need to say.

My word choices can be a bit, well… shall we say, blunt? Because I don’t quite know how to phrase things gently, I become inhibited about saying them at all. EM  cautioned me not to tell my author that I deleted his precious hard worked paragraphs because he was beating a dead horse, LOL. As if I would ever do such a tactless thing. With a client. That I barely know…

Okay, so my editing is really good; bedside manner — perhaps not so good. But I’m learning.

As soon as I got off the phone with Editing Mentor, I felt much better indeed, and much more confident about how to communicate what I need to… and so far, my client is pleased with what I’ve done and the brilliant, er, I mean tactful suggestions I’ve given him.

Thanks, EM!

Blogger Goes Missing in Action — Full Details Below

Archipreneuer (Adam Crain's) Photo of the Denv...

Archipreneuer (Adam Crain's) Photo of the Denver Art Museum by Daniel Libeskind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can you believe it’s been a week since I posted last? Did anybody wonder what happened to me?

Here’s what happened.

Last Friday, in the middle of my post, I suddenly knew I was done. Not with that post, but with posting every single day. I got what I needed from it, and knew  it was time to put more energy into other things.

So, no more NaBloPoMo, after 45 solid days of blogging!

I was kind of relieved not to have to come up with a great new idea every day, but of course I still want to do the blog — I love it.

Yesterday I was stunned to realize an entire week had passed without a post, and vowed to get back on blogging track. I don’t want to lose my momentum, my community, and the cool creative flow that comes from trying to blog outside the box.

But in this blogging void, I went from hardly any work to tons of work and some pretty exciting new clients and projects. Writing web content, book reviews, editing non fiction, possibly editing fiction, taking over the entire social media marketing for a brand new business (gulp!) and… I’ve even got my first PR client.

You didn’t know I did any PR?

Neither did I!

I’ll only be charging this client for the writing I do, because I’m just beginning, but I’m excited to take a crack at it. My client is a local Denver designer with a gorgeous, chic and lust-worthy line. She’s about to launch a new website and have her line sold at the gift shop of the Denver Art Museum in conjunction with the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition opening tomorrow.

My job — to write her a killer bio, a couple of attention grabbing press releases that are worthy of her fab clothes, and come up with some creative and inexpensive ways to help her get more publicity and more press.  This is so cool for me, because fashion was my first love. Well actually it was Astroboy, and then the Beatles, but I never met any of them and I did meet Fashion, so…..

I only have one gripe.  (Don’t you love that word? I like “grope” too. The word, not so much the experience, LOL!)

Here’s my gripe, and as gripes go, it’s pretty great:

I had NO WORK in the dead of winter when I was perfectly happy to stay inside, but now have TONS-O-WORK when Spring has sprung, warm breezes beckon and I just want to run around on the trails in a t-shirt and savor the sun.

Perhaps I’ll start taking my laptop out to a local coffee house,  one with the outdoor tables, so as to enjoy the weather and get my work done at the same time. Has anyone tried that? Do you get any real work done, or do you only get expensive cups of coffee, cake, calories, random conversation and other delicious distractions?

Here’s another question for you guys:

Do you feel that the amount of energy I put into this blog over the past couple of months came back to me in the form of all these new opportunities? Do you think if I slack off on putting that same amount of marketing and creative energy out there, my career will suffer? Or is that just being superstitious?

Just curious what you think, so please toss me a comment… if you’re still out there.

Word Lust and Author Adoration Lead to a Sorry Exercise in Self Control

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Last week I read Periphery’s review of “On Writing” by Stephen King and was super-intrigued. A long time King admirer, I was aware of the existence of this tome, but had never read it. (Periphery is a wonderfully written blog, check it out!)

Since every copy in every branch of my local library was checked out, and probably always would be, I put a request in for it.

But today I got antsy, jonesing for some writing so good I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Longing for inspiration. Wondering what the Master might be able to teach me. And wondering if there was any of his particular kind of genius that could indeed be taught.

I headed off to take a “quick peek” at the book at Barnes & Noble.

Big mistake. Shoulda known better.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Now, if I was half as great a writer as Mr. King, I could easily convey just what it is that’s so great about his writing. Alas, I am not.

All I can say is, his plots — intricate, original and spellbinding. His characters — so well developed you “get” their innermost being, their every fear and desire. His pacing, flow and mood, the way the storyline builds and builds until you can’t stand the suspense another minute — simply unparalleled. His turn of a phrase — don’t even get me started.

If you could fault him for anything (I dare you. I double dare you.) it could only be his subject matter, which certainly does not appeal to everyone’s taste.

As usual, Stevie grabbed me right from the introduction. By the time I was 30 pages in, it was all I could do to walk out of the store and leave the book behind. I was attached. Addicted. Obsessed. Desperate for more.

A painful battle ensued, between the “voice of instant gratification/nothing to do on a Friday night/obsessive compulsive disorder” and its long time frenemy, the “voice of reason/not liking to own a lot of stuff/serious budget constraints.”

“Buy it! Buy it right now!”

“Don’t be silly, you’ll get it from the library.”

“Just BUY IT already!”

“Wait, it will show up at the library any day now.”

Finally, I wrenched my silly and sorry self apart from the bewitching book and left the building. If I was jonesing before, you can only imagine the state I’m in now… sigh…

When I get my hands on this book, I will inhale it whole. I will devour it like a starving beast. I will cuddle up with it in bed and caress it like a long lost lover. I will… well, you get the picture.

Any King fans out there? Have you read this masterpiece? Can you give me any tidbits, anything at all to keep me going until my object of lust arrives?

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

New Clients Come My Way, Hooray — No Part Time Job Today

A couple of posts ago I told all you lovely readers that I was blocked in some way, and no writing work was coming in no matter what I did to market my services. It was looking like I’d have to take a part-time job, also known as anathema to me. I’ve been kind of sad and freaked out all week, applying for jobs I really really really don’t want.

The keyboard of the Malling-Hansen writing bal...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I did a  whole bunch of deep and scary inner work at the recommendation of my teacher. And then today, after three months with barely a nibble, three potential jobs rolled in — one quite substantial and possibly long term.

Coincidence, you say? I think not!

I’m forever grateful to be able to work with someone so insightful who gives me such clear guidance. I would never have known what was going on, much less what to do about it without his help.

After a three month famine, I say, give me a writing and editing feast! Give me writing work, I don’t care if it’s deadly dull techno babble or topics I know and care nothing about. Give it to me!

I promise never to complain about dull writing jobs again. (And you believe that? Silly, gullible readers.)

After all, boring writing jobs pay just as well as interesting writing jobs. They keep the dreaded minimum wage part-time job at bay.

I can pretty well promise I won’t stick to this promise because I’m from New York and we love to complain. It’s like the state bird. It’s almost an art form, and of course, it has to be razor sharp, witty complaining. Complaining that results in a good laugh. Dare I say, therapeutic complaining?

Do you know what I mean? Don’t you need a good bitch session every now and then?

I’ll keep you all posted on how these jobs pan out. (One is for a somewhat famous person, but since no-one likes a name dropper, I’m not going to tell you who it is. After all, I want you to like me.)

 

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