A couple advancements in my writing career

The word of the year for me so far is “reinvention.” 

I’ve always been a writer. From horrible teenage journals in the 1990s to the journalism courses of my early 20s…there’s always been pen and paper in hand. Over time, my habits and talents have evolved. There was the SEO content writing period. Then there was my needing to be a journalist to legitimize myself as a “writer,” because if you aren’t getting paid it isn’t real, right? It doesn’t count…I think this is covered in the part of The Artist’s Way I’ve already read. Class begins Sunday and I’ve read up to chapter two already.

Let’s do this.

I went through my screenwriting phase — which I’d like to get back into by the way. If only my bills can pay themselves so I can do all this non-stop 24/7 with absolutely no balance, right? haha.

Here’s what’s next! 

I’m excited and feeling like I’m giving birth to more of a stable and exciting writing career than ever before. I’m finding new ways to build my platform and segue into being more of a healing arts writer. More on that to come. I’ve also found an exciting new opportunity I can’t yet talk about. Yes, I’ve written about health before as well as general interest articles for magazines and websites. It’s time to get back into that.

If you’re interested on what’s going on and what’s happening, keep checking back.

My other blogs: 

I’ve also got a couple other blogs I’m writing if you’re interested. One is about my work as a Reiki Master, YouDeserveReiki.com. The other is one I’ve had for years that encompasses all that I do — the writing, Reiki, radio, food, hobbies, music — whatever. Since it’s the grab bag of all I do it’s called Everything Heather.

Check me out on YouTube: 

I’m also starting out on YouTube. What’s great for me about this art form is I’ve made enough videos now since I’ve gotten off the air that I’m telling a story. It’s not a screenplay, poem, short story, or novel. It’s not a blog post. It’s an arc of videos I’ve been putting out since the first week of January. I’ve got (to my surprise) quite a loyal following of those who’ve listened to me on the air in Wichita for the past four years. I decided why not take them with me into my new, post-radio life? As I take risks and make journeys, I’m bringing people along in this story. As I make changes and start new, I’m bringing along an audience. It’s amazing how YouTube can do that for you. This is also helping me broaden my social media skills. It’s my personal opinion all authors can benefit from that.

As soon as something is published, I’ll post about it here!

Some of the old writing I've been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for "Veg News" back in the vegan days!

Some of the old writing I’ve been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for “Veg News” back in the vegan days! I even framed my article. 

 

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Biggest life regret: Throwing out “the box”

One of the #WriteMotivation goals for the month is to cull some gems from a box of old writing journals. I live in a one bedroom apartment. I need the space. I’m a writer; I need to publish something. It feels like a waste to have a box of journals filled with unseen, unpublished poems. Those poems weren’t created to take up space for years in apartment after apartment, closet after closet, state after state, storage unit after…you get the idea.

Last time I tried to do this I was 18 years old and I decided to go through the journals from the high school years. So I did. I decided everything sucked and threw it all away into my circular tin garbage can, never to be seen again. I always regretted throwing away that box of…my art. However ugly I thought it may have been in that moment. I had an artistic fit. I can’t take it back. I have often hoped that box of journals would reappear by magic someday, on my doorstep, looking clean and bright like they’d never been pitched into the round file.

Oh, the absurd fantasies writers have. That’s what makes us writers.

So it’s 2014 and I’m obviously nowhere near 18. Public service announcement to hotheaded 18-year-old writers: DO NOT THROW YOUR SHIT AWAY! EVEN IF YOU THINK IT IS SHIT! 

More than that, if I could go back to that day I’d not only stop my fit on the side of my house. I’d take things a little further into a serious mode. Let’s be open minded and not kill all our babies. Let’s divide them into piles!

Pile #1: Poems I can enter into writing contests. Some may be so damn good, they deserve some competitive love. If they get rejected, they can go into pile #3…

Pile #2: The burn pile, reserved for poems and journal entries about men I dated. I don’t really burn them, but shred them. Again, I live in an apartment!

Pile #3: The pile of things that can be saved! This is the pile of the best writing. These are the poems I will love and caress. I will rewrite each one ten times until it’s the way it deserves to be. Then I will love and caress it some more. Then I will publish it like the good child it is.

Then there may be another pile or two. We shall see. Maybe a pile of really ridiculous writing to be read to girlfriends on clothing swap night but ONLY if they have had wine. Some of my writing is far better when you are drunk. This is my sober judgment of it! 😉

Every writer needs one of these!

I completed my quest to find a FREE place to park my clips with Contently. I am not entirely impressed with its overall look. This is simply because it is laid out as a page of mostly black and white text in grid form. It’s not spectacular. However, due to current time and budget constraints, I am fine with it.

I lamented to a writer friend that I wanted a new place to post my clips. The great thing about Contently is that it didn’t take me that long to post most of my work on it considering I had all my work backed up in Dropbox. My friend told me I should just put up a website, like a HeatherLarson.com or something. I’d have to get a domain name, deal with some hosting provider’s CMS, take time uploading and categorizing dozens of writing clips…I just don’t have time. (Fun fact: HeatherLarson.com is usually not available, one time I could have gotten it for the bargain price of $700 so I said, “forget it!”) 

But I did find something awesome! 

I’m not sure how I found it, but About.me is amazing. See the photo of me to the right along with quick bio information and chiclets for all my social media accounts? I didn’t do that. About.me has a WordPress widget that loaded all of that in for me in a minute. It looks slick and professional. You get a set of FREE Moo cards too. I ordered some and only had to pay for $5.50 for shipping. Even the cheapest set of business cards I ever ordered through those online sites cost me at least $10-15. We’ll see how they look when they arrive. But this About.me profile has me very impressed so far. It lists all my pertinent info and current photos. Want to know my Facebook and Twitter addresses? They are there. So is my TrustCloud Score, which sounds dorky like Klout is. But I actually like TrustCloud because it shows I’ve been on social networking sites since before they were cool — and I am good at it too. 

The point is you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a “website.” You don’t need to spend a fortune in time and money on creating your online presence. And you must have an online presence today. All those business cards I have bought before? I never once gave them all out before the information on them was outdated. I’m not buying a domain and paying a monthly fee for something like my awesome About.me profile. I used to pay a monthly fee to have what About.me provides for free! 

I almost feel like a sucker now. I wish this stuff had been around in 2006 when I started freelancing full time from my apartment on a prayer and a shoestring. 

An honest mistake in a changing celebrity news landscape

This Q&A with John Mayer by New York Magazine’s pop culture “Vulture” was pretty dang funny, to say the least.  I only happened upon it after one of my Twitter followers sent out a tweet that Mayer had threatened to sodomize female journalists.  As both a fan of Mayer and as a radio professional who has played his records since the beginning, I had to click on the link in her tweet.  As I started to read the Q&A with Mayer, I began to realize the joke, but my Twitter friend hadn’t and instead was upset with Mayer.  She had taken his words literally when he said, “I’m going to forcefully sodomize your editor.”

Here’s what might have happened.

An editor gave her writer questions to ask Mayer that were absurd.  But how absurd are they really?  In an age when what we post online is driven by page views and how much audience we can gain, the NY editor didn’t really make a mistake here.  The Q&A has me blogging about it and, earlier in the week, my twitter pal was up in arms about it.  So that’s two people driving traffic to the NY Mag site.

It seems to me like the editor thought she may get Mayer to say something controversial and newsworthy about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The questions asked seemed like attempts to snag something newsworthy to drive traffic to the site by asking serious questions.  We see TMZ.com do it all the time in their videos.  But the plan doesn’t always work when you ask a celeb a question like this.  Usually, they have no opinion or nothing newsworthy to say.

C’mon, editors, like you’re really going to get well-coached stars to say something to give you a hot story?  Mayer would rather say something smart ass about sodomizing you than take a Nobel question seriously.  He’s got a record to promote, so he’s not going to say anything to piss off his red state or blue state fans.  To me, this just seemed like an attempt to compete with TMZ gone wrong.

We’ve hit the saturation point with celebrity news and gossip.  How are we going to do it differently?

By not falling victims to trends or by copying what everyone else is doing.  But there’s also one vital thing to do.  If you’re going to cover celebrity news for a living, it doesn’t stop  when your 40 hours a week are up in the newsroom.  You don’t walk up to Mayer and ask him dumb questions like he’s a stranger you have no respect for.  Do your research.  And when I say “research,” Google doesn’t count.

You have to live this stuff.

You lifestyle has to be celebrity/entertainment news 24/7/365.  You can’t miss a thing.  Mayer fans know he’s a smart ass with dry, sarcastic, rude humor.  The fans also know he loves to liberally dish out his unique humor to journalists.  The editor and her writer would have known this if they’d been fans, or had at least watched Mayer on some TMZ videos verbally sparring with paparazzi and journalists.  The guy’s current single is about, “who says I can’t?”  Well, what do you think you’re going to get when you hit him up with your tape recorder at a party or on a red carpet?  Who says I can’t smart-ass this journalist chick who didn’t do her homework on me?

I’ve got clients to serve who want news on Mayer’s new album.  I’m not going to waste 2 minutes with him by asking him lame questions.  Tell me about “Battle Studies.”  (She did at least ask about that after asking a bunch of questions that annoyed him.  Way to go to build rapport…)

You never know where a conversation will go anyway.

I talked to Mike Kennerty of the All-American Rejects last week about how the band was getting back on the road after Tyson Ritter had emergency knee surgery.  Somehow we got to talking about a few different subjects, which was really cool and unexpected.  It wasn’t an exclusive; a lot of us got to do press over the phone with members of the band.  So we all had the story about them going back on tour.  But I know I got a couple of other tidbits out of him that will be exclusive to my Westwood One clients only.

I get what I get from people by doing my own thing and not trying to be like everyone else out there.  I treat artists with respect.  In Kennerty’s case, he was calling from London on a day off.  How would you like a bunch of strangers asking you questions for a few hours on end on your “day off?”  Exactly.  This is why you get so much more as a journalist just by being cool with people.

Anyone can put up a blog and start trying to compete with TMZ or Perez Hilton or whomever in online celebrity news and gossip you idolize.  Some of us were doing celeb news before it grew to what is currently is online, which is a massive echo-chamber.  I did it in radio first and I still do it for radio.

How do you do entertainment news today and stand out from the crowd?  How do you not fall victim to the echo chamber trap?  How can you do music news and still compete with countless blogs all writing about the same thing at the same time?  Should we even call it “news” any more?

Disclosure: I am a “New York” magazine subscriber and long-time fan of the online site.  Opinions expressed on this blog do not reflect that of any of my various employers.  I have also bought every John Mayer album I’ve ever had.