Remember When You had to Be Published to be a “Writer” ?

Those of us who remember life before blogging, and even the P.C. understand. You could sit up in your room or study writing until the cows came home, but if you didn’t have a book published, or at least some stories in print,¬†you were a wannabe, not really a writer. Your friends and few fans might call you an ‘aspiring writer’, but really, that’s about it. You may even earn the accolade of ‘promising up-and-comer” from your peers, but were you a writer? Of course, as you continued to indeed write, you were a writer. But now, with instant publishing at the click of a computer key, or with self-publishing available over at Amazon, for instance, just about anyone can be ‘published’. You don’t really need talent to be a writer, nor the endless persistence and dogged determination required to break through the innumerable rejection notices to finally make it into the realm of the gods- publication.

I think the process of getting there is what causes great authors to hone their skills and to become amazing, seasoned writers. However, I also wonder if that process stripped some authors of authentic expression. How many authors were forced to change their genres and ‘voice’ to please the market?

Now, we who blog and self-publish have even less chance of getting paid, becoming recognized, or being taken seriously as writers. But, as we know, some break through to fame and fortune through blogging. Some by their writing, but others simply through connecting with a certain niche of society that needs an outlet of expression, and doing it well enough that it becomes a life force of its own. Jimmy Moore comes to mind. The author of livinlavidalow-carb literally saved his life by losing 180 pounds. His success propelled the popularity of his blog. Now, he has several active websites, and last I saw, books, podcasts, special guests, etc.

What is it about the most popular blogs that catapults them into mega-stardom? Why do some very well- written blogs get disregarded? If we look at the number of followers a particular blog has, that can clue us in to who the most popular bloggers are. But, there are so many genres of blogs. The who’s-who in business blogs cannot be compared with the most popular personal or cause oriented blogs.

I’ve also been reading about those claiming they are making big money from their blogging. Can I please have an honest account from anyone who has done this without being involved with some sort of MLM ‘opportunity’?

Finally, there’s just some very fine writing out there that’s not getting enough attention. I find that a sad aspect of blogging. On the other hand, I hope that those who are very skilled writers will find their confidence and begin to submit their work to publications or publishing houses, because I don’t think it’s very likely that they will be ‘discovered’ by various writing talent scouts out there. I am sure it may happen. Has anyone reading ever been contacted with a legitimate writing job because of someone reading their blog? Has anyone gotten a job offer of writing from submitting a sample of their blog writing? Or, are we all just hobbyists?

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Listia, my new hobby …

So, I’ve been two-timing. I’ve neglected writing in pursuit of points-based swapping at Listia. It’s fun, I get things I want in exchange for getting things out of the house that others want, and I haven’t been writing.

 

My new position at work involves leaving the house at three- thirty in the morning, and once I get there, it’s just GO TIME the entire shift. I’ve been tired and not feeling like writing. The good news is that I’ve been doing more reading, and that is vital to keeping me fueled and inspired.

So, while I am not ready to write any more of Run, Nicky Run tonight, and don’t really feel like listing everything I’ve been eating and not eating, I thought I would check in and make myself feel better.

 

Now, back to the auction house! ūüėČ

Run, Nicky, Run! Part #3. Fine, Red Thread of Evidence

“No, Nicky. That’s bullshit. The problem is not¬†that you don’t know what you want, The problem is that you don’t think you need to choose. You want it all, and you don’t appreciate anybody telling you that you can’t have it.

But I am a particular person, Nicky, and I am ¬†asking you to. ¬†You see nothing wrong with doing what you’re doing. I do. So, since we’ve had this discussion so many times in the past, and you know how I feel, let’s just cut to the chase. You can choose, or I will choose for you. We’re not playing this game anymore. ”

Those were pretty much the last words he said to me. Ever. Turns out I chose to stay in school, work full-time at the nursing home, and spend time with my mother. She’s been ill for quite a long time, and I’d rather help her with what she needs than to have her spending ¬†money on a nurse to come in, or to- God forbid- be in a nursing home. She gets lonely. Her other daughters live far away. They do what they can and keep in touch, but I am the only one nearby to go get the groceries and keep up with some light housekeeping. This was just too much for Hugh. I understand, I was gone a lot. I guess he couldn’t understand that I still loved him very much, even if I needed to have a life outside the home. He looked at it differently. He said things to me like , “Love? Love is spelled T-I-M-E, Nicky”. ¬†And every time I would stifle my urge to say, “Yeah? And insecurity is spelled H-U-G-H.”

In the end, though, he was right. No matter how valid my reasons were for being away, it’s hard to make a marriage work when you’re absent from it so much. Our marriage needed to be the priority, not just another nice thing in life. He had to be number one. No, we had to be number one. I blew it.

I remember sitting at the dining room table one early morning, sipping darjeeling tea and poring over medication dosage formulas. He just walked over to me, kissed my cheek, picked up the cap he’d left on the table, and slowly walked to the door.

“I’ll have all my stuff out of here by the end of the week. I’ll send you my new address in case I get mail, or if you have an emergency. I’ll be filing, ¬†so expect to be served. I’m really, truly sorry. ”

He shut the door soundly. I spent the rest of morning sobbing. Every photograph of us together mocked me. Our wedding mementos- worthless. Memories of how we met and fell in love cascaded over me and I simply collapsed and wailed.

We were both so young. We thought things would stay the same forever, just lazy summer days sipping cold root beer out of brown bottles and soaking up the sun on the roof of his duplex. ¬†We grew-up, the duplex was remodeled. He got his job, and wanted to support us both. I still wanted to chase my dreams. ¬†The happiness started to fade, and like a photograph, after a while you couldn’t even make out who those two young kids were, or who they had become.

I sold the place once Lawson and I got serious. He asked me to move in, and I really couldn’t wait to be out of that house, with all its sad memories and shit-canned dreams.

Hugh got married a year later to a beautiful lady, five years younger than me, and eager to start a family. Hugh and I weren’t ever ready to take that leap, but the new happy couple was expecting six months later. I had finished up my nursing studies by then and got hired by Canterbury Place as a nurse’s aid. I had become interested in nutritional studies ¬†and had decided to go back to school to become a licensed nutritionist, so the busy pace of full-time work and school was still making me ragged.

One afternoon and incredibly kind , tall man with the most delicious smile I’d ever seen walked up to me in the hallway. He explained he was there to see his granddad and wanted me to help him find him.

We sauntered down the hall slowly, just hitting it off from the beginning. I learned more about him and his amazing family in those five minutes than I knew about friend’s families I’d known forever. I liked everything about him. We began a whirlwind romance, he became my everything. ¬†We had a simple but wonderful wedding and were married two years later. Meanwhile, though, I was putting in my time at the nursing home, and studying nutrition.

There were deaths fairly often at the facility. It was a fact of working there. It was the final retirement home .It was never easy to deal with , though. When you take care of people, you begin to care for them. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong line of work.

One particularly sad case happened during the end of my first year there. It was more than sad. It almost shut the nursing home down. Allegations of negligence arose because Rose Aarons, a lovely sweetheart of a ninety-three year old, was found deceased in her room at 6:17 a.m. on June 8. The last time someone signed off on reports was at 12:10 in the morning. Rose was supposed to be checked on every two hours, but somehow she got missed during the two-o’clock rotation, and the four-o’clock. While she had no medications scheduled for overnight, and rarely needed help with toileting, someone got lazy and decided she wasn’t a priority case that needed to be tended to. It was wrong, against all policy, and may have cost Rose her life. Nevertheless, that’s what happened. The guilty nurse’s aid was held accountable, and her case was taken to court. Meanwhile, the place was crawling with ombudsmen, concerned families, and the media. It was horrible, the entire thing. I fielded angry questions from family members and residents alike, and I was not allowed to say anything about the situation. One afternoon, a news crew swarmed me and put cameras and mics in my face as I headed to my car. I felt like a guilty dodger, but I couldn’t say anything. I was a person of slight interest because Rose was on my current rotation. I had last taken care of her that afternoon, at around 4:00, and did all the required charting. More than that, I had loved Rose, and my heart was broken, too. I was disgusted that my co-worker had just completely skipped over the basic two-hour checks and reporting for her. Rose had a couple of grandson’s, and one granddaughter, but her daughter and husband had died in a car crash ten years ago. It took everything out of Rose, especially since her husband passed not a year later. She was a tiny lady, always very neatly dressed, in color-coordinated pants suits, and she always had on knee high hose and tasteful, black flats. I told her those knee highs weren’t good for her circulation, but she just laughed and pulled up her pant’s leg to show me how her knee- highs were simply bagged in nylon pools near her ankles.

She has sparkling blue eyes and lots of photos in old frames all over her room. She loved roses, cats, kids, and Golden Retrievers. Once upon a time, she was an avid runner, school principal, and in her early days, a “Rosie the Riveter” in the WW2 effort. She would tell me the stories whenever I came to her room, and told them well. I would end up spending more time with her than I could afford to, but she would sweep me away in her stories. I could just picture this white-haired little lady as a young, gorgeous blonde, just smiling coyly at the boys and getting her job done. I was going to miss her like crazy, and I wasn’t the only one.

Rose’s stepson Miles kept coming to the home, and I’d met him before. As he was related to Rosie, I gave him the utmost respect and courtesy. It didn’t help him warm up to me, though. He was tall, but loosely built, as if he might be a contortionist in his spare time. He had dishwater blond hair, a bit too long and too greasy. Not that I cared about that. It was his personality, or presence, that ¬†made the greasy hair and slinky build bother me. He was intense, and creepy. Grief I understand, anger I get. But this guy had something else entirely going on in his mind. He kept asking me over and over for the names of everyone who took care of his grandma. I told him he needed to contact the Nursing Director to get all the details. This all had to go through proper channels. He got upset and accused me of trying to “protect the murderers”, and then pointed at my chest and said “You, included”. Then he practically snarled, his emotions leaking out with some spittle and revealing a very venomous persona. His stare practically bore a hole through my face. I was shaking worse than he was when he walked out. I called the Nursing Director, who basically told me not to worry so much- that ¬†this was a normal stage of grief. That was right before he banged on her door and she had to hang-up. Now she was going to get an earful, no doubt. I hoped he didn’t scare her like he had me. I didn’t hear back from her that afternoon, because I was out the door by five- o’ nine. Norma, our nursing director, never came back to work. She was found beside her car- at home- keys in hand, her head bleeding out all over the concrete. Foul play was suspected but they didn’t have any leads or evidence.

I think I had a clue…

The Joy of Routine

I like to think of myself as someone who hates routine. It’s a stifling rut that makes each day seem the same, and I strain against it like a mad dog fights a choke collar.

And yet, the importance of the routine I had created prior to starting my new position at work has clearly been missed on me. Since my schedule was ¬†part-time, I failed to recognize and appreciate the ability I had to sit down and blog, or to work- out whenever I wanted. And while I am sure I will work a new routine out, I will actually have to work at planning and scheduling my free time a bit, as confining as it may seem, in order to continue to reach my goals and have a life outside of work. It’s just all too easy to fall into a pattern of sleep, work, eat, sleep- and that’s the most restrictive routine of them all.

This is just the second week now that I’ve had to get up and come to work at 4:00 a.m., and ¬†one night a week at 12:01 for a graveyard shift . Typically, ¬†when I come home, I want a light snack, and at least an hour of sleep, sometimes two or three. Then I generally have a normal evening, but go to bed at 8:00 or 9:00. I’ve had a nasty cold since I started training in my new position, which has not helped at all. My energy has been drained, my feet are sore, my chest aches from coughing. I think the important thing to remember is that only I can set up a better plan to get the most out of my off time. I also need to cut myself some slack for not wanting to run this week, nor having the energy to write. I need to adjust, and then begin to add back in the routines that allow me to live a full life, not a one-dimensional one.

According to Marcy Farrey in an article at careergirlnetwork.com, , (Dec., 2012) it is true that routine has been given a bad rap, but it’s also vital to being able to accomplish our goals. Your routine may include making sure to write something every day, or to make sure you get to the gym or take a run at least three times per week. Making those goals become reality requires pushing away excuses and pulling out the calendar or day planner.

Reality insists on derailing our routines. We lead busy lives and nobody in their right mind will stay on the treadmill when an urgent call comes in from our child’s school, asking us to pick up our sick kid. Blown tires, dental appointments , and the impromptu lunch invite on our one day off from someone very dear to us are all valid reasons to not be able to stick to routine. Those are the times to take a deep breath, take care of business, and get back in the saddle as soon as we can. Part of what makes life fun and stable is having a good mix of flexible time and routine.

So that’s what I aim to do.

What are your routines that keep you sane? Which routines do you hang onto that are not serving you at all? ( nightly ice cream in front of the TV, for example)

 

 

It’s a Blog, not a Diary, Idiot!

Likes and comments, comments and likes. These should not be the reason that I write, and deep down, they are not. Good thing, since they wax and wane like the cycles of the moon. I have somehow racked up 165 posts on everything from fried cheese and Bigfoot, to some of my deeper reflections on being fatherless. It seems that it is the stuff I write that speak of dysfunction, or my drunken poetic rants that get the most attention. I wonder if this is something to take note of. It’s become tempting to start writing about all the screwed-up aspects of my past life, the struggles of the present, and more.

After all, it is when we tell the complete truth, either in context, or even in style, that our writing will resonate with people. It has been said that “people don’t care what you know until they know you care”, or something like that .

Everybody knows I call my blog “Low-Carb Lifestyles”, but I really have a lot more that I want to talk about .The reality is, however- that if you want to dish the dirt on your own life, with all the gritty, honest details, you might hurt someone. This is especially true if you are in the habit of taking a few seeds of truth, and then liberally exaggerating all of it to make a good read. If you’re going to do that, great- but just remember that anyone reading it will assume that you are talking about them, and relationships, and that you truly meant everything that you wrote. There is no magic delete key or apologies that can truly erase something you’ve written- which then might make it’s way over to Facebook or Twitter- once it’s in the mind of the reader.

It’s like dishing all the details of your dirty fight with your spouse to your best friend in the heat of the moment. You feel better, but your best friend always has a certain idea of what your spouse is like, indelibly etched into their minds that stays, long after you and the spouse have patched-up your disagreements. Most likely, too, somewhere during the amazing make-up sex, you forgot about the fight completely.

Then a few days to a week later, the friend sends you this cute, ‘private’ message asking how things are going with the ‘asshole’, and you are indignant and shocked, until you remember the conversation the last time you two spoke…

So, sadly, but perhaps very fortunately, I have to censor my writings here, and I have disabled the link between this blog and Facebook. I can choose to send out a recipe on low-carb fudge, but I don’t want my angsty, drunken poetry being read by my spouse or co-workers. I don’t need them to know the latest developments on my fight with cellulite, or hear about some of the crazy things that happen at work, that I choose to write about, and usually expound upon.

I don’t talk about my ex-spouse, because something I say may hurt my daughters. I don’t want to talk anymore about the jealousies, insecurities, or other negative things I may feel from time to time because a reader may take it to heart, not realizing that these thoughts and feelings flit in, and back out like a breath, or compulsive sneeze- very powerful at the moment, but gone just as quickly. And I especially should be smarter than to have some wine and have an argument with my spouse, then write all about it in my blog- which he reads. Did I forget that, or did part of me want him to see it, even though by the next morning I felt like a complete ass, having meant what I said to about 1:9 strength ratio of what I indicated in my writings. I wanted to kick it up a notch. Bad idea.

Honesty. It’s a potent pill that has to be given in small doses, at the right time and to the correct audience. The same is true in any writing we do. Being true and authentic in our writings is fantastic, but we have to choose our subject matter very carefully. In fiction, there’s a fine line between being honest, and being sued for character defamation. You need to be ever mindful that simply changing your character’s name from Ann Miller to Anna Milstead , while leaving every other known detail about her life intact might not be enough to keep you out of trouble. This is obvious to most of us, but is a nugget of wisdom for the more ‘expose`’ -minded writers like myself.

What do you choose to share on your blog, and what do you keep close? Do you feel free to write about your opinions on religion and politics, sex and real relationships, or do you stick to impersonal topics and stay safe?

What piece of writing is worth sacrificing relationships to? On that note, I have decided that a journal or diary is for venting and pondering our personal relationships with, and a blog is for sharing recipes, ideas, and inspiration.

Have you ever written something on your blog that you regretted later?