Monday, April 28, 2014

A Crisis of Blogging Confidence

As if my health issues weren't enough to interfere with my blogging, for the past few months, I've been at a bit of a loss about this blog. (Don't worry - this isn't some lame announcement about how I'm shutting down the blog because I'm not.) This is just me thinking out loud. Or typing, you know.

As I've been building my freelance writing career, I've followed the advice of some online gurus. (If you want to know who, e-mail me. I'm not going to mention any names here because I'm not going to be 100% complimentary.)

Guru #1 offers loads of great advice. But she's only human, so sometimes she contradicts herself and sometimes she's just wrong. I've learned a ton from her and recommend her to people. 

But.

She's agin' personal blogs. Says they're a total waste of time. You could post every day on a personal blog, but since you're not focusing on one topic, that personal blog isn't good as a work sample. She says that it means nothing to post every day on whatever you feel like writing about. Even though producing a lot of content on a schedule is something that clients are looking for.

Guru #1 encourages freelance writers to launch a topic-specific blog, and build it into a business. Even though you're trying to build a freelance writing business at the same time.

Then she complains about freelance writers with just a few months experience setting up blogs about how to be a freelance writer. I don't think she's realized that at least some of them did it because she told them to. 

And as if that contradiction weren't enough - she also teaches that writers aren't experts. Yes, you can leverage your past work experience to get assignments writing about a certain topic, but if you want to get paid, you need to interview other experts, not sell yourself as an expert. And yet, she tells her readers to set themselves up as experts.

Sigh.

So this is what led me to launch The Famished Freelancer. Since I focus on food writing instead of recipes, it's probably not good enough for Guru #1, but my health issues have kept me from doing much cooking, so I'm not about to launch a recipe blog. 

Guru #1 has held some free phone calls with Guru #2, a more successful professional blogger who makes a very good living teaching people how to build successful blogs. After a couple of his free lessons/pitches for his classes, I realized that this approach they've been pushing isn't for me.

Guru #2 asked everyone on the call to think about where they want to be in 5 years. Well, I want to be published novelist. Not a high profile blogger. I want to put my entrepreneurial energy into raising the profile of my clients. While leaving time to write fiction. Not spending 20 hours a week managing a blog.

For the past 30 years, I've wanted to be a published novelist in 5 years, so I'm done letting having to earn a living get in the way. (Though I tried being a slacker in my early 20s, holding down lousy day jobs while writing and it didn't work either. Working a job I hate sucks away my will to write.)

Novelists need to build an author platform, but in very few cases does it include a big How To blog.

I don't know what that means for what I'm going to be writing here, or how I'll be promoting my two blogs. What I do know is that I'm going back to writing about whatever the fuck I feel like writing, without thinking about whether or not it's good for my freelance writing career. I'll be continuing with The Famished Freelancer because I like writing about food, and I'm currently trying to get more food-related clients. But I'm not going to use either blog to try to build an online empire. And I'm not going to shut them down because they don't fit into someone else's idea of what I should be writing.

Anything you'd like to see me write about? No promises, but this could be fun. Suggest something silly, or serious. Or nothing at all. Do what you want.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who Would You Save?

The other night, I watched The Buddy Holly Story starring a pre-crazy Gary Busey. Really, it was amazing how not cuckoo he was.

Anyway, the minute the characters started talking about Buddy going out on tour towards the end of the film, I started playing time traveler in my mind. I do this a lot. Like when I read and watched Daniel Deronda - there are some Jewish characters living in Germany, which is fine for the 19th century, but I wanted to yell at the TV that they needed to get the hell out of there.  You know, like you'd yell at a horror movie, only the characters aren't doing anything stupid. It's just that I know more than they do thanks to history and all that.

I've learned from Doctor Who that you can change some things, but not others. You can't kill Hitler for example because so much history hangs off of him. There was a character on Sanctuary who did kill Hitler, but it didn't do any good - he was replaced by a double and the Reich carried on.

But there are some things you could change without damaging the time line, or whatever. While watching The Buddy Holly Story, I started thinking that you could probably prevent that plane crash without causing too much damage. It's only music history, after all. It's not like the crash led to a bunch of safety reforms. And entertainers still get on those dinky little planes and die sometimes, so it's not like the crash served as a cautionary tale that saved lives.

Buddy Holly's music influenced The Beatles, but his death had nothing to do with that. His wife remarried and had kids with someone else - but if he'd lived, they might've divorced anyway.

Maybe Ritchie Valens still would've been a one hit wonder, but he was so young and his family would've preferred to keep him around. Same thing for the Big Bopper.

But Buddy would've kept making music, maybe going on to produce other people's music since he produced his own. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert posited that had he lived, Buddy would've continued to be unique and influential, or he might've been the next Paul Anka or Barry Manilow.

Then again, when Rose went back and saved her father on Doctor Who, the whole of space and time started to unravel. So maybe we shouldn't change anything in the past, given the chance. 

Thoughts? What do you think would've happened if Buddy Holly & co. had lived? Were their deaths so inevitable that their bus would've crashed instead? 

Who from history would you save? And what consequences do you think that would have? 

Given the chance, I'd like to save some victims of the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts. There were so many that saving a few wouldn't affect history.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poll - Have I Made an Oops?

A few years ago, I told my hairdresser that I wanted to dye my hair red. He thought for a moment and then sagely declared, "Copper."

So when I finally took the plunge, I went with copper. (I dye my own hair because I'm cheap and because my old hairdresser used to tell me that I only needed highlights. Then she said I should try lowlights too and my hair looked stripy. Never again.)

But there are a few downsides to copper. All red dyes fade really fast. And they're really bright at first. I like that, but some people don't. I read in a magazine that dying your hair red is so tricky that you should never do it at home. Which is why it's damn near impossible to find my copper dye in the store.

And sometimes when I see someone with bright auburn hair, I covet it. 

So on impulse, I took the plunge. On the one hand, it beats the impulse I had to dye my hair black because the drug store carries ten shades of black but no copper.

But now I'm wondering if my skin is way too ruddy for auburn. Or maybe I just need to get used to it. 

Which is where you come in:
Jen with copper hair
Jen with auburn hair

Which hair color looks better?
  
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