Archive | January 2011

Shangri-La Boracay Needs a Writer, Quick

This question from a job posting caught my eye: Are you Shangri-La?

I wonder what the person who wrote this job ad was thinking. Does Shangri-La (proper noun, the hotel, not the fictional place in James Hilton’s book) now mean “someone with an eye for details [sic] and the skills to perform” and “someone with an attitude to deliver and a passion to delight”?

I was also bothered by the job description. You will be too.

Obviously, Shangri-La Boracay needs a competent communication [sic]  coordinator, and quick. I hope the communications manager makes sure whoever wrote this job posting goes back to grammar school. Please lang. Writing is not for everyone.

Disclaimer lang (just because every blogger likes to issue one): I am not in any way connected with the Shangri-La chain of hotels. I will not get a commission for referring anyone or posting this ad. But if you people at Shangri-La are interested in my freelance writing, editing, and e-mail marketing services, you know where to contact me.


Do You Work in Your Pajamas?

I was reading a newsletter from this up-and-coming freelance marketplace and the testimonial of a contractor caught my eye. When asked what the best thing about working from home was, she said, “Right now, I’m in my pajamas.”

I don’t know what it is with some people that they get such a kick from working in their pajamas!

I have 5 reasons why I would never work in my pajamas:

  1. Dressing up for work mentally prepares me for the day’s challenges.
  2. If you’re like me and your home office is in a corner of your bedroom, it can be difficult to fight the urge to jump into bed especially when you’re dressed for the occasion.
  3. I want to be dressed decently if I happen to have an impromptu video call with a prospect or a client.
  4. If you’re home-based, the only time you actually get dressed is when you get out of the house. And tell me, how many times would that be in a week?
  5. Do you really want to be in pajamas all day? Seriously?

Whether you’re working from home or in a corporate setting, I really think you should be dressed appropriately. It’s also for your own good. Remember what they say: Dress for the job you want.

Image: Thanks, Prototype7

Writing Bravely

Writer’s Digest Fred White said it best:  “To be a writer means to take risks, putting yourself and your ideas out on a limb, making yourself vulnerable to criticism, maybe even ridicule.”  [Source: 10 Creative Ways to Beat Writer’s Block Fast]

And, boy, is he so right.

I can hardly imagine what Yale law professor Amy Chua must be going through right now, fielding criticisms right and left after an excerpt of her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was published in the Wall Street Journal.

Just another day in the life of a writer.

Courage. It’s something any writer, aspiring or seasoned, should have in big doses. The courage to face criticism. The courage to swallow your pride when you’re corrected. The courage to stand up for what you wrote. The courage to face the consequences of what you’ve written.

And believe me, more than 10 years into my writing career, I still feel a little uncertainty, a little doubt each time I write something. I don’t click the Publish button on my blog without thinking, What will people say? Will I look bad if they read this? Will they think I am arrogant? What will my editor friends say? I hope they don’t catch a typo or a grammatical slip! Will they think this is crappy?

I’m not in total agreement with Chua’s parenting style, but I love how she’s bravely put everything out there, risking criticism and ridicule. It’s not a task any writer will easily take on, but if only for her brave spirit, I take my hat off to her.

Image: “Atmosphere of Trust” by Hansgbe

Freelance Lessons and Resolutions

And so the year has passed and gone. Now that things are back to normal after the chickenpox, I am belatedly sizing up the year that was and making my New Year’s resolutions (because it is impossible to be thinking of New Year’s resolutions when one is bed with the pox).

Last year brought with it some freelance lessons I will always take to heart:

  1. Be brave, little one. Starting off your freelance career means one should be brave enough to send out feelers to possible prospects. I was lucky that S, who was my boss at a publishing house 5 years ago, had e-mailed me the contact information of an Internet marketing guy who was looking for a writer. Unfortunately for me, I read S’s e-mail one year later!
  2. Ask and it shall be given to you. At the off-hand chance that S’s former client might still be looking, I sent him an e-mail offering my services. And that is what got my freelance career moving last year.
  3. Seek and you shall find. The second half of the year was a dry spell, writing wise, and I was looking for something challenging to do. Thanks to Noah, whom I had worked with at the old arts and culture blog, I found Angie, who’s into crafts and sewing and whose weekly newsletters I now do.

This year, the quarter is starting off fine. I’m doing Angie’s newsletters regularly now. These newsletters are always a joy to make because I get to practice my coding and fledgling Photoshop skills. And I’m editing a book, AGAIN! I’m just so happy to be using my Chicago Manual again. Glad to be  editing. I think my editing skills are getting rusty so this ebook is good practice.

And because of all these freelance activities, I have resolved to do the following this year:

  1. I will save all my freelance earnings this year. So help me God.
  2. I will use my time wisely and well and learn when it’s time to stop writing, relax, and watch Gossip Girl.
  3. I will try to do more things that feed the soul, such as catching writing talks, visiting art galleries, reading more online and off. Specifically do more things that do not involve sitting down and being in front of the computer.
  4. I will take notes when I’m writing and not let a good quote pass me by.
  5. I will write more frequently, online and off.

So help me with all these well-intentioned resolutions, God.

What’s your freelance and writing resolutions?

Image: “Fireworks” by Gabriel77

Pinteresting Things

What I have been up to–when I’m not writing or planning newsletters or watching Gossip Girl: Ooohing and aaahing over people’s pins on Pinterest.

“Pinterest?” you say.

Yes, Pinterest. It’s like a big wide board where you can pin all the lovely, interesting, and inspiring things you come across on the Internet.

I happened onto it while blog hopping one Sunday while cooped up in the house because of the chickenpox, and it saved my sanity, just when I was about to start scratching my nails onto the walls. (Yes, house arrest can drive you nutty.) I wish we had Pinterest four years ago, when I used to edit these magazines on fashion accessories, garments and textiles, furniture and furnishings, and all other lovely things. With all the research we were doing, there was just so much info overload–and so much inspiration–it was like seventh heaven. If Pinterest were around then, we would have thousands and thousands of boards for everything we came across!

One of my favorite boards contains images of brilliant, funny, and meaningful quotes that I’m sure you would love as well.Visit them here, and check out other people’s boards. You’d love the site, I’m sure.

Thanks to @Christine Martinez for that inspiring pin

Writing Battles

I can forgive ego if its vastness is commensurate to one’s talent. But I just cannot put up with aspiring writers who display such arrogance when their work is simply crappy.

Is it the air that we’re breathing over here? Or could it be the soda overload? Whatever it is, more and more people in this industry I am in are blatantly displaying this false sense of excellence (thanks to JF for the phrase). And it’s horrible. It scares me that one day I could be like them too. It’s a battle I fight every day.

I am starting to feel like a grown-up Holden Caulfield, sizing up people, separating the real ones from the poseurs. And I hate it. At my age, I should be just happily editing and writing, not picking battles with writers whose egos are about the size of Mars but whose talent is as minute as the point of a pen.

Which is why I miss Global Sources, with its editors and writers who provided brilliant conversations; where everyday goals were simply about delivering quality articles that made the grade; where we argued endlessly about grammar and style (and laughed about how nerdy we were); where people had more respect for fellow writers and editors; where you could be blown away by how talented people were yet how humble they could be.

I’ve never had someone give me this attitude back at Global Sources. In fact, take out one or who people who were full of themselves but were nevertheless brilliant, it was a quiet group of people who enjoyed drinking once a year (every December) and had respect for each other. I’ve never seen anyone throw her weight around because she thought she was the best in the crop.

I am more blown away by the attitude of someone who claims to be creative writer yet cannot even get her tenses right or her subjects and verbs to agree. (Is an institution whose name ends in s considered plural, for one? Is that a new rule that someone made up while I was sleeping?)

My running conversation with JF has been like this: “Were we like that when we were 22?” Because I don’t remember having displayed such arrogance in the face of criticism. We learned to take them in stride and worked on improving our craft. And we certainly didn’t claim to be writers, because back then, we didn’t even think we were worthy of the tag.

But this crop of aspiring writers–full of arrogance yet not having proven themselves yet. It would give Sam Dixon a heart attack!