Not settling for vanilla anymore



So, I am taking an online course called “How to Blog” for work right now. Honest to God, it’s the most useless, waste-of-my-time ever. I didn’t have a say in taking this course; my boss signed me and my co-worker up for it because we might, one day, create a blog for our magazine. But since there are red-tape hurdles in our way, it might not be for a long time, yet. Still, he thought we could all benefit in a class to learn about blogging.

Some of the class’ questions: What is a blog? How do you set up a blog? What kinds of things should you blog about? How do you add links in your posts? Ad nauseum.

I know it’s good for people who know nothing about blogging, but it’s so boring for me. I already know how to write in business-blog style (as opposed to my regular voice), so the one thing I could have benefited from learning– how can I retain an individual voice while remaining very professional/factual?–isn’t going to be addressed in class. I know, because I asked the instructor flat-out and she told me, “I can’t really give you recommendations on your writing style. Your work is great, though! Good job!”

Oh, wow. Thanks.

My boss and co-worker are complete newbies to blogging, though. I actually had to set up both of their blogs because they were utterly confused, and I’ve been teaching them more than the class has. The class didn’t really TEACH anything. The assignment for the first week was: Create a blog. Write 10 posts. Seriously, that was it. And the teacher recommended looking at Perez Hilton for an idea of what a good blog looks like!!!!! What?! We’re paying for this?! (Thank god it’s the company’s dime and not mine.)

Boss and co-worker need help with everything. I made them blogs in WordPress, since it’s easiest, but they’re still floundering three weeks into the class. I have to show them how to edit a post, how to comment on another person’s blog post, how to add in photos (something one of them has not mastered yet at all, which seems weird to me) and change the title of the blog itself. (Both of them still have just their URL’s name as the title of the blog– without punctuation or anything. It annoys the crap out of me.)

I’m somewhat amazed that people who use the internet all the time don’t know anything about blogs. And this is my BOSS, to make it even more mind-boggling. How’d he get to this point, as an editor, without knowing anything about blogging? Oh, well. My amazement doesn’t change the facts. Sigh.

I wish I could get some kind of extra credit for all the help I’m giving them right now. I won’t, though. I just had my performance review and he just sort of glossed over all the stuff I am doing to help them get through the blog class.

I’m ready to do something else. I mean, when the next phase of my life kicks in and if an opportunity to do something else to earn money for a living comes up, I’m going with it. This job’s been fine. I made decent money, and I don’t lose sleep over my work. Sometimes I get really busy and have to work at home and on the weekends, but other times it’s slow and I have time to waste and/or work on my real writing. So it could be a LOT worse.

But, you know, this is IT for me, at this job. There is no potential for advancement unless my boss leaves, which he won’t, because he has three kids at home and needs the job (he’s not dynamic enough to get hired anywhere else easily, to be honest). Every year it’s the same old thing. I write the same type of articles each issue, I coordinate the same two columns and I attend the same conferences. I’m bored. My creative headlines and leads get dumbed down and pasteurized, for lack of a better word. I don’t have the final say on that stuff, and it shows. (I would never willingly use the word “thus” in an article– yet, my editor puts it in there all the time. All the time.)

I could not be more ready to plunge into this fiction industry than I am right now. I’m doing tweaks to my book’s first draft now, which is fun, because I’m revising and tightening up sections and writing neat little flashbacks. I’ve begun my pitch and query letter drafts. I’ve begun to outline the sequel. And then, I am formatting two other short stories to submit to some writing contests and magazines (each one has different formatting standards, which is time consuming, but I’m playing by the rules). I am SO doing this. I’m done being vanilla and safe.

When I sell my house this coming year, I’m gonna be so psyched to leave the responsibility of home ownership behind me. I would much rather rent and put money toward experiences; things like travelling. I’m ultra aware of how short life really is, and I am done wasting it doing the safe, expected things. None of that has made me any happier, first and foremost. And none of that ‘responsible’ stuff has brought me a good man, or the ability to adopt or have a child. So, what’s the point? Why not have more fun with my everyday life?! Make the most of what life’s dealt me, and move into a newer, more creatively-fulfilling existence?

I’m changing my appearance to better match my real personality, too. The first, easiest change is my hair. I cut off about 5 inches last night, so no more layers. They only made my hair look thinner and drier. Now I have a blunt bob cut, just above my shoulders. I love it. I will be dyeing it a darker color within the next couple of nights and then going back to the salon for weave/extensions of dark purple and/or blue streaks. I’ve wanted to do this forever, admiring it on some people I see online or at events, and yet I always go conservative. WHY? My job doesn’t require me to have a certain look. We don’t even have a dress code. What am I waiting for? I have to do it now or never, otherwise I will be old and look really weird with purple hair. (Or… it will make me look younger…? I don’t know.) All I know is that I want to be able to compliment myself when I look in the mirror, instead of going, “Ugh. So boring, again.”

The rest of my changes in appearance will simply come from how I carry myself once I start feeling proud again, and feel more like the real me. I’m really excited for that.

I know I am just rambling here at this point. I am simply so ready for What’s Next. I feel like tap dancing towards it! Which is a feeling I will gladly take, for sure. It’s so preferable to the depressed, low-energy, mundane-everyday way I have been living for years. I’m not scared, because I’m not doing anything risky like quitting my job to go “be a writer” or something… and I am older, wiser, more experienced, every day. I’m bringing good things to this fiction journey. I’m not so hung up on trying to keep my expectations realistic as I once might have been. I am allowing myself to believe my writing is strong and unique, and that I do have an honest shot at being picked up by an agent and selling some of my work. It’s a really, really new way of thinking, but it feels nice! I welcome it.

Now: here’s where I ask you if you might be interested in reading my book.

Not right this second. But, before October. Before I take it to the Conference. (Plus, like I said, I am still tweaking it at the moment.) But I do need some readers to just read through it, beginning to end, and give me HONEST impressions and criticism. I don’t need proofreading, per se (although I won’t turn it down, of course), but more or less I want to find out if the story holds your attention, if you are sympathetic to the main character, if it’s got enough action, if it’s paced OK. The ‘big picture’ stuff. I just want to know. I am waaaaaay too close to it to ever really know for sure. Outside, critical feedback is what I’m craving.

I know some of you have already read some of the early chapters, so you will be familiar with many parts of it, but I do think the entire thing has changed since then and so it won’t be a total repeat for you if you read this again. Plus now, it’s an entire story, not just singular chapters. 🙂

Anyway, if you are interested, let me know. When I finish the tweaking-stage, I can send you the document. I really recommend reading it on a Kindle or something, because I can safely say it looks terrific on that screen as opposed to sitting in MS Word. 🙂

Thank you so much! (Oh, one other thing: You are so, so, SO not obligated to do this, so please don’t do it out of guilt, or anything like that. That would suck for both of us.)


4 responses »

  1. Ugh. That course sounds dreadful! I’m sorry you have to go through that!

    I’m excited for your new plans for the next phase of your life, though! 🙂 I love that you wrote “when I sell my house this coming year”. THAT is a definite goal/plan/marker you have set for yourself and reading such a clear, purposeful statement made me smile!

    Love that you’re doing streaks in your hair, too- I was going to suggest blue when you first began discussing making changes, but then I hesitated. Whee!

    I am totally interested in reading your book again!

  2. I can not wait to see you hair! I sounds incredible! Now that the pink is all out of mine I am going to be doing purple streaks next. I had the same though, better now then when I ‘m older and it looks weird.

    So Brian and I will have to come visit you and your sister before you move next year. Brian has actually been on me about taking a trip to AZ since we had to cancel in June. WOuld be great to see you!

    And yes, I would love to read your book again. I’m excited to see how it has changed.

  3. Aww, thanks! I am so, so close to being done. I\’m going through and sprucing things up/cutting things right now. My self-imposed deadline is this coming Sunday!

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