Screaming is What We Do Best (As Writers Writing for Nothingness)

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Photo by Aditya Doshi,, https://www.flickr.com/photos/avdoshi/8612921803

DO YOU EVER FEEL like writing nothing for the sake of nothingness, in a black hole of a vacuum of ideas, pandering and rambling about rambling in pure space and time, because the blank page mocks you into a fury?

BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, I just want to write, and type, and stumble over words, words that I collect and hoard like a dog with bones, words that make no sense of the senseless as they fumble together on this post, and I spit them out in neither passion or indifference, but rather—confinement.

CONFINEMENT OF MY MIND, or of my heart, or of my life, or of my time. Maybe of madness, or genius, or whatever word they throw at us who dream but can find no outlet to scream.

SCREAM. YES, SCREAM.

For screaming is what we do best, in silence, when no one will listen; but quiet now—do you hear?

The voices of a million years …

What it’s Like to Be 2 Millennia Old?

The following is a guest post from a mysterious writer. You must read until the end to discover the secretive recluse …

Everyone has their secrets.

Mine is more complicated than most. Sure, I look like a perky twenty-four-year-old with resting bitchy face, but you’d be wrong. At least about the twenty-four-year-old part.

I’m actually older than Jesus and far more cynical.

So, you might be asking yourself, what’s it like to live for two millennia? Allow me to explain in GIFs. They’re the “in” thing now, right?

1) Like you simply can’t deal with the human race’s stupidity for a second longer.

2)  Like you’re in a crowded room and completely standing still.

3) Like getting close to anyone is just another road trip to heartache.

4) Like times and technology might be changing, but really, that’s about it.

5) Like you’d rather slide down a banister of razor blades into a pool of alcohol—than be forced to make new friends.

6) Like you could totally ace any history test thrown at you.

7) Like whenever you meet someone without ulterior motives, you might just faint.

8) Like in all honesty, the majority of the time, it’s just…

This probably didn’t sell you much on the glorious lifestyle of being older than dirt—but deal with it. In all honesty, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Then again, maybe you’re a sadist. C’mon, I know at least a few of you reading this are. If that’s the case, feel free to linger a bit longer in my world. Check out Oracle by Carissa Andrews—but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oracle-XLarge

Wondering who Carissa Andrews is now? Well, you can find her:

The Great Goodreads Confession of 2018 (from a Goodreads Author, Nonetheless)

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Let me make a confession: technically, I’ve been a Goodreads member since 2008 or 2009. But I lost my username, password, and old email address. And I couldn’t get back in (can we say “BUMMER?”).

I know, I know.

For someone who wrote a science fiction dystopia about the future repercussions of a society that’s overdependent on technology, you’d think I could get back into my own Goodreads account.

Alas …

So here I am, blogging like a beggar, asking YOU to follow me on my new Goodreads Author page.

Go ahead. Laugh. Get it out of your system.

Now that we’ve cleared that, I do want to clarify that I love reviewing books. And discovering new books. And recommending new books. It’s kinda become my new thing. Seriously. And so much of that will be done on Goodreads.

So besides sounding like a desperate, needy, social media attention whore, I actually do offer some value on Goodreads and genuinely want to know what you’re reading, reviewing, and discussing as well. So what’dya say? Wanna connect on Goodreads?

 

 

 

Why I Waste Time During Work

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We live in a world where productivity rules. If you’re not working a billable hour, you’re dirt.

This mentality becomes even more perpetual if you’re a business owner who sells services, rather than things … like me. I don’t sell shirts or dresses or books (yet). If I’m not working an hour, I’m not getting paid.

And yet, I make a conscious effort to waste time during the workday.

I pull weeds. I watch an episode of Parks and Recreation. I pet my cats, or talk to my boyfriend, or sift through the sea of endless posts on Facebook.

I. Waste. Time.

Why?

Because I’m more productive this way. Not only do I complete more work, I develop better end-products. My writing is crisper. My imagery is more vivid. My social media posts are snappier, while my media strategies are tighter.

That equals happier clients, who always come back for more. Happy clients ensure future freelance writing work, which ensures I pay my mortgage, pay my bills, and have healthcare coverage.

Studies prove my theory, too.

Take this excerpt from a 2013 New York Times article by Tony Schwartz called, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive.”

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

“To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

BOOM. Do I know my stuff, or do I know my stuff?

So tell me, do you waste time during your workday? Why or why not?


Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?


This Whole ‘Personal Branding’ Thing is Driving Me Crazy

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This whole personal branding movement is driving me bonkers, which is weird, because I help other businesses brand themselves.

When it comes to me, though? I just want to scream a bad word that starts with “f” and ends in “uck.”

So here’s the deal. I left my full-time job in August of 2014 to launch my business, Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services. As you may have guessed, I do freelance writing for everything from websites, blogs, social media, to press releases and newsletters (not to mention, I also manage social media accounts or act as a communications consultant). Which is cool, because now I work my own hours and take on a variety of projects.

BUT, I’ve been reading all this crap about the importance of attracting the type of work you really want, and to do that, you need to make sure your personal brand aligns with your target audience.

Well … shit.

What happens, then, for writers like me, who are just … WRITERS? When our ideal client includes big-name magazines like Time or Vanity Fair, or online pubs like Slate or Vice, that pay $1 per word? When our ideal clients might be major publishing houses that can offer us a $750,000, three-year contract to write another three books?

Can anyone tell me how to brand that?

What happens when you are not well-connected, don’t have the cash flow, but you’re crazy good at what you do? When you don’t have $25,000 (or $5,000) to toss at building a serious following and are spending your days landing enough clients to make your mortgage next month, because–you know–you’ve only been in business for less than six months?

Of course I’d love to dedicate all day, every day, to targeting my ideal client. But in reality, work is work, and I pride myself on always producing the highest quality product for any client who pays, whether they’re a health insurance company, a dance studio, or a fashion designer.

I understand that personal branding is important.

And I advocate that everyone try to label themselves somehow. But really, enough with this insane “personal branding” movement. I feel like I’m suffocating. Whatever happened to just working, doing it well, and building your reputation off that?

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Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media manager living in Phoenix, Ariz. Did you like this post? Then get more like it! Sign up for the Shari’s Ink eNewsletter and get FREE resources on social media news, publishing trends, and effective writing tips, every month.  

The Toilet Talker

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You know you’ve met one. Perhaps you’ve never seen their face. Or known their name. But … you know you’ve met one.

The dreaded toilet talker.

I’ll give you a hint. This species of human being usually reveals its hidden nature within the confines of a public bathroom. Inside a stall. RIGHT NEXT TO YOU … as you’re taking a tinkle … or even worse …

That’s right. The toilet talker knows no shame. The toilet talker understands no boundary. This individual sits there, his or her thighs pressed neatly against cool, white porcelain, and blabs on a cell phone while urine rains into the pool of water waiting so patiently below. The toilet talker’s victims are many, from the unfortunate spouse or friend or parent on the other end of the cell phone, to the sisters quickly and quietly washing their hands in the sink–to YOU–sitting there benevolently in the neighboring stall, listening to a stranger’s thoughts on Russian/American relations in Crimea and wincing each time a spat of flatulence slips between their words.

You feel embarrassed for them, but also for you. Because suddenly you know that their 6-year-old son’s rash might be the chicken pox, and their boss reemed them for not meeting that quarterly deadline.

Probably because you spent too dang long in the bathroom, you think. And suddenly, you come to realize that this person has given a whole new meaning to the term, “TMI.”

Yes, this is the toilet talker. I’m sure you’ve met one. Care to tell?

What would you do, if you lost EVERYTHING?

diceSo usually, you hear people ask, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Well … duh … that’s kinda easy.

But how often do you hear someone ask, “What would you do, if you lost everything?”

By this, I mean your house, your job, your car, even your marriage. I’m not a complete sadist, so I’ll spare you your loved ones and pets.

Besides having a panic attack, perhaps you’re not too sure how to answer. Well…

I can tell you what J.K. Rowling did.

According to Wikipedia (and rumors I’ve heard from others who saw her speak), Rowling considered herself a large failure seven years after graduating from college. Her marriage had failed, and she was jobless with a child. Yet, she said the following—as cited in Wikipedia from The Fringe Benefits of Failure, 2008:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me [Harry Potter].”

This has been on my mind lately.

I won’t lie. In fact, I’ll be completely truthful. I’ve been a little quieter on this blog, because I’m in a career transition. I lost my job of more than five years after the company I worked for lost a major federal contract. It wasn’t just my job affected, but hundreds of others, too.

So now, using everything I have, I’ve launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services.” And I’m writing a novel that burns inside my soul.

I have a house. I have a life. And I keep asking myself, what would I do, should I lose it all?

Maybe I could become the next J.K. Rowling.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Death to the Spoon Gnomes!

Is it just me, or do microscopic gnomes sneak into your kitchen at night … and steal all your spoons?

Because each time I clean my dishes, or open my kitchen drawer, I find less and less of this very necessary utensil. Not only does this happen to me, but my boyfriend suffers as well. He quietly revealed to me last week that all his spoons have been disappearing, mysteriously.

I feel like whipping out my old, investigative reporter hat, and following the clues. Because this question is driving me berserk:

What happened to all the spoons?

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After nights of lost sleep and cortisol-filled panic attacks, I’ve come to one, discernible answer.

It was the gnomes. 

The evil spoon gnomes. And they all must DIE.

How dare they sneak into my house, without my permission, and take my hard-earned silverware while I’m asleep! They fool the cats, they trick the dog.

But worst of all, when the spoon gnomes strike, you can’t sip soup. Or eat cereal.

Or consume ice-cream.

NOOOOOOO!

So, my friends, I implore you. Spoon-lovers of the world unite! And death to the spoon gnomes!

If you’re gonna hack a writer’s email, at least be grammatically correct

So, my email got hacked this week. Yes, my technology shenanigans continue.

But in a way, I must publicly thank the hackers, because they gave me some seriously positive publicity.

Like making everyone in my network aware of just how QUALITY my work is … which is good, because I recently launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services” (I’ll formally announce that soon enough).

You think I’m joking?

Then check this out (LinkedIn):

LinkedIn hacker convo

And this (Facebook)!

Facebook hacker convo

OK, and here’s one more. The actual MESSAGE from the hackers. Note to them: next time, do a little market research on your target audience, first:

Hackers message

Maybe the hackers could hire me for their next “email marketing campaign.” At least then, their messaging will be grammatically correct and on-target.

When the technology gods all plot against you …

… it’s worse than the Zombie Apocalypse. Because with the zombies, at least you can run.

But the technology gods? They will rip every digital limb from your frail, vulnerable body. Like your computer, your phone, your email, your soul. Leaving you desolate and defenseless in the bitter cold.

That’s right. They are EVIL LORDS that deserve to BURN.

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And just when your entire life hangs on a new business venture … 

Your day ends up looking like this:

9:00 a.m: Get out of shower. Begin breakfast.

9:15 a.m: Drag laptop downstairs to work in kitchen.

9:30 a.m: Open Google Chrome. “Cannot access website” message appears. Check internet connection. Nothing. Moan and drag laptop upstairs to router and modem.

9:40 a.m: Troubleshoot router. No luck. Plug modem into computer. Still no luck. Curse Cox Communications.

10:00 a.m: Call Cox Communications.

11:00 a.m: Get off phone with Cox Communications. Internet working. Drag computer downstairs. Eat cold food. Scowl.

12:00 p.m: Make first sales call. Verizon phone stops working, says “out of minutes.” Wonder how that’s possible? Just switched to unlimited plan.

12:10 p.m: Can’t access new Verizon account because PIN number never sent. Call Verizon customer service.

12:30 p.m: Verizon customer service won’t help without PIN.

12:45 p.m: Scream at air. Phone rings randomly … working again? It’s Boyfriend, calling from work. Cry into phone.

1:30 p.m: Write first follow-up email. Press “send.” Doesn’t work. Try again. Doesn’t work.

2:00 p.m: Rip hair out of head and wonder how the hell I.T. people do it!!

By the way, THAT was my day, last Monday.

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And it’s what will happen to you, should you ever piss off the technology gods and they all plot against you. So beware, my friends, beware …