End-of-year accounting

How many of us in the writing biz have the guts to do a year-end assessment of our work as frank (and as useful) as this one by science fiction author David Levine?

Taking a deep breath and attempting to follow David’s example…

Writer Way blog entries written in 2007: 100
Writer Way blog entries with illustrations: 5
Writer Way videocasts: 1
By-lined articles written for on-line publication: 4
By-lined articles (chapters) written for book publication: 1 (accepted, not yet published)
Articles, news releases, and blog entries written for clients’ sites: 48
Book manuscripts (by other authors) edited: 1 (not yet published)
Presentations given: 1 (Ignite Seattle)
Panel participation: 1 (Macworld 2007)
Interviews: 1 (The Writing Show)
Professional meetings and conferences attended: 12 (Ignite Seattle, Macworld, WebTrends, Seattle Weblogger meetups, plus events hosted by Biznik members and Lunch 2.0.

New proposals sent out: 14
New projects resulting from new proposals: 2
New projects received from existing clients: 4
New projects received via professional organizations: 2 (National Book Critics Circle; Biznik)
Projects that collapsed (no payment): 1
Projects completed: 3
Projects ongoing or underway: 4

Professional writing goals for 2008
1. Make better use of illustrations and photos in the Writer Way blog.
2. Do more videocasting (when appropriate to the topic); it’s the way of the future.
3. Send out more proposals for web content writing work; 14 are simply not enough to yield meaningful results.
4. Attend conferences that focus on writing; I’ve registered for Potlatch (speculative fiction) and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

Lessons learned from 2007
Over and over again, I have been impressed by the work I’ve gotten from professional organizations and from former clients. My job at Apple came via a want ad posted with Women in Digital Journalism; my best blogging work comes from a fellow member of the Fremont Noodle House lunch group. This year the National Book Critics Circle had a particularly good gig available to interested members (more about that later). As Crosby, Stills & Nash observed, “love the ones you’re with.”

Seattle Weblogger Meetup

It was a small gathering of veteran webloggers Wednesday night at Ralph’s: Clark Humphrey of MiscMedia.com, Hamburger Lad of the Hamburgerland blog, and me. (Anita and Jack, we missed you.) We saw some familiar faces across the room; they turned out to be a small group of tech types meeting to discuss something called “actual programming.”

One of the topics the bloggers talked about was using Blurb to archive a blog and print it out as a book.

No fancy new gadgetry at this meeting…Clark and I both had older laptops with us and discussed strategies for upgrading.

Just realized that we missed the chance to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Seattle Weblogger Meetup Group, which was founded in October 2002. Perhaps at the next meeting? That’ll be Wednesday, Nov. 21. Come join us at Ralph’s.

Walt Crowley and real journalism

As sad as it is to think about the recent death of Seattle journalist/historian Walt Crowley, I was heartened to see the remembrance Jean Godden wrote for Crosscut. It’s classic journalistic writing, in the very best sense. Here’s her lede:

I have six indispensable books authored by Walt Crowley on the shelf in my City Hall office, tears in my eyes, and a very large hole in my heart.

Godden, a longtime Seattle newspaper reporter and columnist before going over to the Seattle City Council, writes in the old style. When I read a well-crafted piece like this (and I don’t, very often) I think that comparing blogging to classic journalism is like comparing a stroll around the block to mountain climbing.

On the other hand, I’d be the first to admit that it’s an unfair comparison. Because there’s very little “classic journalism” being written — or published — these days.

120+ resources for bloggers (from Mashable)

Is your blogging bogging down?

The folks over at Mashable.com have compiled more than 120 resources to take your blogging to the next level. Best of all, these are grouped by type, and Mashable gives short descriptions of each so you can quickly compare and decide which one best fits your needs and interests.

If you’ve been meaning to spiff up your blog, energize your blog writing, etc., this is the ideal starting point.

Take a tip from Copyblogger

The go-to guy for online marketing writing and blogging is copyblogger.com. Written by “recovering attorney” Brian Clark, Copyblogger walks the talk. I particularly like the clever headlines — take a look, and you’ll see the tricks he’s using and why they’re effective.

Copyblogger is in the running for the 2007 Bloggies (weblog awards).

More on money

Seattle writing coach Rachel Whalley commented on my recent post “Is there money in blogging?” She says:

“I would totally agree that the blog itself isn’t a great moneymaker. I use mine to demonstrate my credibility as a service provider, and that’s why my clients create theirs, as well. Can you say what yours is for, or how you think about it related to making money?”

Great question, Rachel!

The Writer Way blog is intended to put me in the best possible competitive position for contract work. It does that by doing three things a resume can’t:

  1. It demonstrates to potential clients and collaborators that when I commit to a project, I stick with it, modifying it to meet a changing user/business environment. The blogosphere and the business world are full of clever writers with bright ideas who get bored in a month or two and flit off to the next trendy thing; Writer Way is intended to distinguish me from the pack.
  2. It showcases at least part of my wide range of writing styles. As someone who makes money writing for other people’s sites (both corporate and individual) I’m not selling “Karen’s voice.” I’m selling a set of writing skills that can be, as appropriate, inspirational or authoritative; buttoned-down or quirky; thoughtful or breezy; inquisitive or instructional.
  3. Finally, I’m hoping that Writer Way will occasionally contribute to the creative community by sharing information, taking stands, or raising questions about practical and ethical issues that confront writing professionals. Because much of my paying work is on collaborative creative teams, I’d like to be part of the discussions on many of these issues. (The recent posts on online plagiarism and writers tracking their productivity are two examples.) Not all potential clients will find this a positive, but the ones I want to work with will!

A question of identity

Veteran blogger Jim Benson posted a comment here teasing me about going public with Writer Way because he knows I’ve been blogging for more than three years elsewhere using a pseudonym. My defense: The whole blogging thing was in its pre-teen years, and an avatar seemed like a good idea at the time.

Once, when I published a post questioning the business practices of a local social networking startup, the startup’s founder shot me a vituperative email that began “Listen, dude, if you worked in tech, and lived in Seattle…”

Being, of course, female, working for Apple at the time, and living less than a mile from his North Seattle office, I enjoyed that email for days. Now I’ll miss the anonymity that prevented people from stereotyping me based on my name or my gender. It resulted in such amusing correspondence! But, yes, Jim, blogging has come of age and I want to play with all the other grownups.

Seattle women bloggers, media, and politics

This, verbatim, from Craig’s List today:

Reply to: gigs-220999939@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-10-15, 1:14PM PDT

At last weekend’s Politics & The Media with Janeane Garofalo, it came up how few women bloggers there are in Seattle.

Anyway, I’d be willing to donate use of my TypePad Pro account to help a group of women set up their own group blog. (I’m male). You’d own the blog together.

I was thinking that something multi-generational (one woman from 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s) would be cool – but I’m open to whatever the most talented folks propose.

This guy must be kidding about the lack of women bloggers. (Since Janeane Garafolo doesn’t live in Seattle, I’ll let her off the hook.)

Has he ever attended a session of the Seattle Weblogger Meetup (founded and run by blogger Anita Rowland)? Checked out the community reader blogs at the Seattle P-I (most of them written by women)?

As for a man “donating” his TypePad account to “help” women blog, how incredibly patronizing. Blogger accounts are free and my cat could set one up.

Now my disconnect here may be because what this anonymous fellow is terming a lack of women bloggers in Seattle is instead a lack of women blogging about media and politics. Or perhaps just a lack of women blogging about media and politics in blogs devoted exclusively to those topics.

Consider this: The best-known Seattle blog about media and politics (HorsesAss.org), while well reported and well written, is characterized by reader comments at the level of “f*** you, s***head.” I don’t know many women who would consider this a particularly edifying or productive type of discussion.

I suspect that Seattle women bloggers are coming in under the (narrowly directed) radar because they write about media and politics in the context of real life instead of in a compartmentalized “media and politics” blog.

Let me illustrate with this opening from a lengthy analysis of Al Gore’s recent movie by a female Seattle blogger (her site is Nerd’s Eye View):

There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Martin, one of the nerdy kids, spends his last ten bucks on a talking Al Gore doll. “You are hearing me talk,” says the doll. It cracks me up every time. Plus, it’s a fairly accurate assessment of the production version of Al Gore. Stiff, not that interesting, but honest, very very honest.

Last night I attended a screening of Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It’s a film version of Al Gore’s slide show on global warming. His science is undeniably thorough and accurate. His passion about the issue is palpable, even on screen. This man has done his homework, exhaustively, and when the movie is over you have no doubt that his case is clear and that action is essential.

But I fell asleep in the middle anyway.

Oh, yes, what a pity we timid li’l Seattle gals don’t have a thing to say about the media and politics!

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