Headway

Tonight I’m making some headway finally.

I’ve been reading a few books on travel writing and how to build a plan. I feel like I have the talent and the experience in writing to make it work, but unfortunately I lack some of the tools of how to facilitate any of that sometimes. This is why we research, train, network, and learn how to ask the right questions. This is also where you get to realize that you’ve been doing some things wrong and need to scrap them and start all over again.

Those moments are probably the most frustrating.

For the last several years, I have been writing for an agency that assigns writers such as myself clients and assignments for a fixed rate per wordcount. The base rate is $11.50 for 300 words. Depending on your level, the rates go up from there, which can pay around $120 for 2000 words. In doing some research on what the actual going rate is for copywriting, blogs, whitepaper, product descriptions, and landing pages for websites…I can say that other than not having to cold-call clients, I am getting screwed.

The work used to be a lot more consistent too. Some weeks I would have upwards of 20 posts per week and at around $20 per, that was about $400 extra in my pocket–base! Some weeks were better than others. But management keeps shifting and sometimes they are good at farming out the assignments and sometimes they aren’t. What I’ve learned about actual scale pay rates is I am short-sheeting myself with these rates. By quite a lot.

I am also learning that the content that I put on my blogs—as fun as it is to write sometimes–is not doing the work for me that I need either. WordPress.com doesn’t pay me anything for the content that I post. The ads that orbit my blogs are not filling up my accounts, and as nice as it is to vent or post about life lessons, I’m going to starve to death if I keep heading in that direction.

My travel blog should be a marketing tool to bring me work from paying clients. It’s a good way to show some of my chops when it comes to writing, as well as explaining more about what I do and how I operate. So that needs to be fixed. It should also allow me to post affiliate links so I can jabber about products that I use and readers can click on links and I might get a few bucks out of the deal if they buy it.

Researching what I need to do is allowing me to fine-tune my process and feel a lot less like a complete impostor.

My website needs some work, such as hosting, emails with my own domain on them, and better clips. So, I’ll post links to that as I get it up and running. This site will probably be more editorial, personal stuff, and a journal on what I think, what I need to do, etc.

It feels good to have a plan and a track on where I need to go and what I want out of this experience. I feel a lot less like I am faltering and getting in my own way again. I’m also sending pitches out and that feels good too!

Thanks for reading and there should be plenty of changes in the upcoming weeks!

Moving Forward

One of the common themes of the show Mad Men is when literal imposter Donald Draper aka Dick Whitman reaches a hurdle in his life, he relies on the mantra of “Move forward.” Granted, Don is a philandering narcissist whose attachement to others verges on sociopathic at times, really he is right. He is often like someone banging on the outside of the glass, repeating the same thing over and over again that makes the most sense, coming from one of the most flawed characters.

We are all flawed. We have all made mistakes. It is those who choose to dwell in that misery, those who continue to hurt themselves and others because of their own pain who will never rise to the occasion. They have found their comfort zone in misfortune. Some of the rest of us have decided to learn from our mistakes, gain widsom from our pain and…

Move. Forward.

This week I have had some challenges and rather than stew about them like I used to do, I have taken the stoic mindset: Choose not to be harmed–and you won’t feel harmed.” I have registered the disappointment, the frustration, I have cataloged it, I have learned from it, but it has not harmed me. I am moving forward. It isn’t about me, it’s about them. And if this is what it takes for them to feel a modicrum of happiness, then I pity them. Because no one ever found happiness by being petty and causing others grief.

If I were a southern woman, I would say I would pray for them. But I’m not, so I won’t.

To those of you who know my history, a brief explanation to this is said simply: SSDD.

That’s all the thought we need to give it.

Recently, I have moved forward with other things as well. I’m reading a few books to help with my travel writing. As near as I can tell, a big challenge I have to face and conquer is getting out of my own way. That seems to be the story of my life. But right now, I feel like I have the talent to do this, but maybe I haven’t had the drive, nor the plan to actually move forward and navigate this goal.

Even as a kid, I always had talent. School was easy. Boring. I never even took notes in college. I got complacent. I didn’t strive. I barely struggled unless it was self-imposed to give me a challenge. I actually thought that just by having a degree, a better life and a high salary awaited me. None of that did me any favors. It’s a bad mentality to have. I’m reading these books and trying to learn. I’m trying to get over the sentiment that I know it all. I’m leaving ego at the door. I’m walking into it as a fresh-faced recruit. I can write. Sure! But this is more than stringing words together. This is something else.

Finally a challenge. Move forward.

So, I will keep reading these books and I will work on giving my talent some focus to make something out of it, rather than just something to show off at parties. It gets you invited to only a few parties, and then people stop calling because writers have a large vocabulary and often annoy partygoers. So the invites stop eventually.

Better put my non-partygoing time to good use and do what has been something I’ve grown to love about myself over the years. You can’t ever learn too much about something you want to do better.

A quiet night at home

Lately I haven’t been feeling like myself. My writing has been put off for over a month now, other than the occasional notes that I feel compelled to put into my phone. Those cannot be helped, since they come upon me suddenly, in traffic, watching TV, at the store. For a few days now, I have struggled to sit down and even put a single word down. This bothers me as I sit and stare at the screen, once again sucked into the triangle of social media, flipping and scrolling: Facebook, Instagram, Email.

The days go by. The things that felt so important to write over a month ago feel like they are fading. The emotions that were driving that have become almost rote. At some point, I got to the point that the things that I have let go of a lot of the things that used to cause so much anguish in my heart. They no longer bother me. And that bothers me.

I have other battles to fight now, other storms to endure on dark choppy seas. I have decided to make a major decision in my life, and unfortunately the last court hearing has taken some wind out of my sails here. One of my posts was used as an exhibit in court. I feel almost violated by this tresspassing. It has caused me to censor what I say here because someone is always watching. You would think that would eventually fade, but it doesn’t. I don’t like being stalked. I don’t like having to suppress my voice because someone can go through a million words and cherry pick what they want and pull something out of context to use against me. My own words, things that I have chosen and put down for others in a writer/reader relationship…it just leaves me feeling dirty inside.

I’m moving. After 20 years (plus another four for college) in the same town, it is time.

So that has been on my mind lately, as are the expected reprecussions of my decision to do so. There is very little holding me here, and if you are somewhere you aren’t valued, then you need to go somewhere you are. So the expense, the ensuing calamity, the timing, and all the work to be done still are weighing heavy on my mind. Am I moving forward or failing? Right now it is hard to tell. In the meantime, I need to be Dad, I need to make money, I need to hold everything together as best I can. This year has been like stress BINGO. At this point I’ve almost got Blackout. Throw in Christmas and of course COV1D, and I’m feeling the weight of things.

Tonight I was visiting with a friend. She echoed my sentiments of how heavy everything was these days. The weight of having to always be strong. Not only for her kids, but for everyone else. It is exhausting and it never stops. We weigh ourselves down with how we are supposed to be to others on the outside that her idea of a perfect day could have been taken as selfish. Just a day to herself, isolated, relaxed.

As parents we are told by other parents how we can’t have a minute to ourselves. If we do, we are judged. Probably because other parents want so desperately to just be left the hell alone for a day or three. To not have to hear “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” or “Dad, can you drive me someplace?” or “Buy me that!”

As single parents, we get no help. We get no sympathy. Our kids get bored with us too because we are tapped out. We don’t want to play the board games, we don’t want to fix the toy. As awful as it sounds, sometimes we don’t have the energy for our friends either. The ones with the relationship problems (at least they have one that is driving them nuts), the others who are just bored and always know we are available to entertain them.

I could relate to her fantasy. Just a day for someone else to take care of her and then leave her alone. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

My fantasy was similar, but echoed one of my own experiences. I wanted a day and a night of just walking around a city I’ve never been to before. It is drizzly, like a Dashiel Hammett novel. I’m warm and dry in my wool coat. I just walk the city and observe. I feel the ideas soaking in. Filling my mental tanks again. I don’t think about moving, money, loss, the future, making meals for my son, uncertainty of the years ahead or the years long gone, sex, death or any of the things that occupy my thoughts these days. I am just taking everything in and being present in the moment. That is selfish too.

As parents, we are expected to be focused on being parents all the damn time. So many of us lose sight of who we are ourselves. I am more than Dad. She is more than Mom. Why then are we made to feel so guilty when we want something for ourselves? When will people learn that we show our children how to take care of themselves by letting them see us take care of ourselves?

When I went to London in 2019, there was a night I got on a double decker bus and just let it take me all over the city. It had been raining, and the raindrops were lit up on the glass with the blues and reds of the city at night. I got off the bus at Marylebone and walked and took the tube back home. I walked all over that city and had never felt more exhilerated, lonely, and even at peace until then. I was forced to think about only THIS moment. That night, the city was mine and everyone else around just dissolved into that damp night. I didn’t think about the relationship that had vexed me, or that I was alone in another country. Or that nobody else would ever want me again. I was nervous about venturing out, but as the night progressed, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

I miss that these days. I hate moving, but I need to. This is a move upwards, instead of just hunkering down and hoping the wrong people forget about me and finally leave me alone. Or that I am right where someone else left me so they can come calling if it suits their whim.

There is so much more to life, and I’m tired of living for other people. I’m tired of not taking chances for the same reason I didn’t for the last twenty years. I didn’t have “permission.”

It’s time to get on that bus and see where it takes us.