Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, July 08, 2011

There will always be more

Recently, we had some problems with our cable. I thought it was a bad connection or the cable company just getting bad signals. Turns out, it was the machine that was at fault. It, well, went a little nutty. It wasn’t showing titles of shows that were playing, didn’t show the recordings of shows we DVRed despite saying “42% full” and it kept going dark. In the end, it conked out on us and we had to get a new box. The new box works better and everything is working just fine now – except that my daughter panicked after she saw that ALL of the shows she’d DVRed were gone. History.

This reminded me of certain experiences from my past. I’d loaned books out to a certain sibling and I never saw those books again.

And speaking of books, I once lost 10 boxes of books in a move. Ouch!

But that’s not as painful as something else that happened. A virus once infected my computer, wiping out EVERYTHING. Essays, articles, manuscripts, poems and short stories. I even lost a script I was writing! I also lost copies of contracts and invoices for work sold, and the copies of where that stuff appeared online.

I have even lost a whole notebook teeming with over a hundred songs that I wrote!

Ouch, indeed.

But, you know, I picked myself up by my bootstraps and just kept on writing. I dusted myself off, grabbed a pen, and wrote some more. And there was always more. There will always be more – more articles, books, stories and essays. Maybe I’ll even finish the new script I started writing!

I have written more stuff to replace the stuff that was lost. I have also bought more books, and, you know, that's just a little bit of my subconscious trying to replace all those other books that I lost. (Who knows if we are at 10 boxes worth. I haven't really counted those boxes of extra books, but there are a lot.)

The point is, I added more where there was less. And there was more to add. Maybe not the same kind of stuff that was a better replacement, but I DID have more stuff I wanted to write and more books I wanted to own.

Yes. There will be more. You lose things and you replace them. That’s just the way it is.

So as my daughter started to panic and freak out, I gently told her to calm down and said the same thing that got me through those experiences: “There will always be more.” In this case, we’re talking a TV show that airs reruns every day. Chances are pretty good they’ll air the reruns she recorded – or most of them, anyway. There’s always that chance. And this knowledge brought her comfort.

Sure, I still mourn the things I lost. But as a creative, we just have to keep creating. Sure I mourn the loss of that script, that story, that article and that book. But nothing lasts forever. Sometimes, we lose things we spend so much time creating. It happens. We can’t let that kinda thing knock us off our feet. Gotta get back on that horse! Gotta keep writing. Keep creating. Keep dreaming – and dream some more.

Because there WILL be more. Always.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Do I have what it takes to be a copywriter? Am I already one?

Recently, I made the decision to walk away from freelance writing for good. That’s not to say I’ve given up on writing/submitting articles. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing articles! (That is hard to turn off.) But what I mean is, I am no longer going to approach markets I have not been published in before. This is not an act of snobbery, but more of frustration. I got tired of my queries and submissions being ignored. So I said to myself, why bother?

But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop submitting altogether. I’ll still submit, but to editors I have worked with in the past. Editors who had the decency to reply to my emails. (Say what you will about unanswered emails. I think it’s just plain rude to not reply to emails – IF the person emailing you is not being negative. A recent spat with hate messages reminded me it’s not worth the energy in responding.)

One other choice I made was to give up the writing gig for Demand Media Studios. It just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. In fact, the gig started to own my life, and I hated that. Some articles I wrote took days to write; others, hours. It just wasn’t worth it. (I also had certain creative differences with the CEs, but that's for a whole 'nother blog post.) So I said “goodbye” to that, as well. I am grateful for that experience and for the opportunity to be published on eHow. I learned a lot as a writer, self-editor and researcher.

Still, even with these changes, I realized something: I didn’t NOT like working from home. Truth of the matter is, I have been working from home for so insanely long, I am just so used to it. It’s what I know. I’ve always been a work-from-home mom. And I feel guilty if I’m NOT working, even from home. This picture just doesn’t look right.

So I asked myself, what now? I wasn’t prepared to go back to the writing gig. I’m not yet in a position to be a full-fledged book editor for a publishing company, which is my ultimate goal (and even as a freelance editor, clients are few and far between). Freelance writing for articles was out of the picture. What? Now?

Then I remembered something. For several years now, I have been tiptoeing around the idea of being a copywriter. The only thing that kept me from doing it? I. Hate. Advertising. Seriously, I don’t want to be the kind of person who tells people, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” I’ve got a frugal side to me that is anti-consumerism. More power to self-sustainability! *cue me shaking my fist*

But as I thought on this earlier today, I realized, being a copywriter is not so much about encouraging people to spend their money on MORE stuff. It’s more about telling people ABOUT stuff.

Book promotion is the same way. I’ve written articles for the purpose of getting the word out about my books. If I want to sell books, I gotta let people know these books even exist! How will people know there is a book about haunted houses unless they hear about it? That’s book promotion – and copywriting – right there.

I’ve written blurbs for other author’s books – again, similar to copywriting, because I’m endorsing a product.

And what about book reviews? I carefully word each book review so that the author has some quotes to use for promotion AND the review tells readers good things about these books. Just like with copywriting.

Of course, I know this is not enough for me to just jump into copywriting with the claim that I know all about what a good copywriter is. But I’ve realized that, should I make this choice, should I take this leap, it would seem I have had a good amount of practice writing the way a copywriter would write. Benefits, features, headlines – I am so there. Been there and done that already.

And in a way, it makes the choice easier. At least if I do this, then I will have had some practice. Some kind of idea of what kind of writing it takes to succeed.

All I need to do now is read everything I can get my hands on about copywriting. Read the books, check out the web sites and read the newsletters. Get a better feel for it.

Because I am not prepared to walk away from writing from home altogether. Before I throw in the towel on earning income from my writing, I want to at least give copywriting a shot. Stop asking “what if?” and just DO it. The time for indecision on whether or not I will give this a shot is over with. It’s time to decide – and I’m leaning towards saying “yes.”

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