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Friday, August 12, 2005

Is it fall yet?

Phew! It’s Friday and I’ve made it through the first week back after vacation. I’ve learned a few things this week—namely that being your own boss doesn’t lessen the pressure, it only adds to it. Of course I knew this, but I LIVED it the past two weeks.

Perhaps in retrospect I should have brought my laptop on vacation if only to check e-mail and quiet my restless brain from wondering whether or not something was left unfinished. It wasn’t, but the shame of it all is that I didn’t sleep well on vacation for worrying (save for the nights I popped a Tylenol PM) and I wish to God I could let go and let God. I’m a spiritual work in progress and perhaps one day I’ll learn to give ALL to the Big Man and trust in his divine plan. Anyway, my lack of sleep certainly caught up with me this week.

I was tired, cranky and essentially overwhelmed by everything. Not the optimal way to live, just ask my family who had to endure my crabby tirades and withdrawal. Things will settle down as we begin to move into our school-year routine, now only two weeks away. Woo Hoo! Am I excited about school starting? You bet! And so are my boys. It’s my belief that boys in general and mine in particular positively need structure and routine in their lives.

Sorry, but any mom who tells you they will miss the summer vacation is either delusional or lying out of guilt. What we miss about summer is the lack of schedule, the break from hounding about homework and bed time, the chance to chill by the pool, the ability to let housework and laundry slide. But school starting in the fall is part of the natural order of things and come mid-August both kids and moms are ready to resume the structure.

A side note: On vacation my little niece, Natalie (she’s 2-1/2 and cute as a button), was sitting in a kayak my brother-in-law had rented quietly and contentedly reading her books. My sister, Jen, is due with a little boy in about six weeks. I felt compelled to tell her that that whole sitting quietly reading books on the beach thing—it’s a girl thing. When her little guy is that age, he’ll be a mile down the beach finding the game of chase with mom and dad and the waves an utter delight.

Business and meetings are picking up once again and that’s all good. Hopefully the next month will bring closure to a couple of long-term projects (along with some much-needed coin) and a wealth of new ones.

National pitching report
Did receive two rejections while on vacation and one “Your query is being considered….” The latter left me elated since a handwritten note also accompanied it from the editor. I continue to live on the emotional roller coaster of a national freelance writer. One day the news will be, "I sold my first national magazine piece!"

You’re invited: SPJ program year begins
Society of Professional Journalists national president Irwin Gratz of Maine Public Radio will be in town on Wednesday, Aug. 17, participating in a panel discussion at the City Club of Cleveland on the use and consequences of confidential sources.

Also on the panel are Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild, and Mike Needs, public editor of the Akron Beacon Journal. Tim Smith, professor of news at Kent State University, will serve as moderator.

SPJ members can get lunch for the City Club member rate. Tickets are $13 for City Club and SPJ members and $20 for non-members. They can be purchased by calling The City Club at 216.621.0082 or visiting the Web site.

This event kicks off our 2005-06 program year. For more information on our events, to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter the Writer's Week or to join SPJ, please visit our new and improved Web site. Special thanks to my pal Jim Kukral for his fabulous redesign.

What I covet
One of my favorite magazines is Inc. Been a subscriber for the past four years, met an editor in New York in April and would love to write for it someday. Though I used to write business stories on a regular basis, I’m afraid I’ve not done so at all this year.

If I’ve learned anything it’s that things can change in a day—even an hour. So there’s hope that I will alight once again on a fabulous small biz story.

Anyway, Inc. has this feature called The Inc. Life in which entrepreneurs are interviewed about the things they can’t live without—favorite power suit, piece of technology, writing instrument, favorite junk food, etc. Each is asked what they covet and often it’s a snazzy car or boat.

My needs are simple. I covet a buttery soft, toffee-colored leather bag. Big enough to hold the essentials—wallet, cell, keys, notebook, palm, water bottle—but not so big that it causes back pain. The color and texture are of prime importance. This is a timeless bag and as such it should have no trendy apparatus or accoutrements (except a pocket for my cell phone and pens). I hate labels and identifying brand marks of any kind. I want simple, elegant leather. And if it also came in black that would be swell. I mean, brown is great and rich and warm and autumnal but face it, black is, well, essential.

On the coming autumn
I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but fall is simply my favorite time of year. Right about now is when I start dreaming of ribbed turtlenecks, cashmere sweaters and great leather shoes (to go with my bag). Crisp air, crunchy leaves, coffee steaming in my mug, my boys' football games, Danny’s chili, walks with Riley. Does it get any better than fall?

The fall catalogs are arriving daily and I find it amazing that I can be fantasizing about sweaters and Donegal slacks when it’s 90 degrees. Can one will it to be 60 degrees out?

So I dog-ear the catalogs with all the things I want to buy, knowing full well I never will. I’m not much of a shopper and tend not to buy much for myself. Something else always comes up and I just don’t have that kind of disposable income anyway. That’s why I require classic pieces … like the leather bag I covet. (sigh)

Okay, enough dreaming. Now it's back to work.

UPDATE — Birthday wishes
Almost forgot (for shame!). Wanted to wish my older brother, Chris and very happy 40th birthday. Holy cow! Can't believe it! The sad thing is that now I'm only two years away from the big 4-0. Happy Birthday, Chrissie, you old bird you.


Greta Garbo said...

A crazy question, perhaps...if you, a successful freelance writer (in my mind, at least) are trying to break into national magazines, is it delusional for a largely unpublished person to go after such a thing, too? Or is there a good way to find out about local pubs?

Wendy Hoke said...

Not a crazy a question at all. (And thanks for thinking me a successful freelance writer.) It's all about selling your ideas and your ability to execute those ideas into compelling narrative. Of course it's much easier to break in on a local level because most national mags want to see examples of your published work. But nothing is impossible and there is not one way of breaking in. Do visit our SPJ Freelance pages for some great 'getting started' info. And feel free to e-mail me with specific questions. One of my many hats is that of chair of SPJ's national freelance commitee. Wishing you all the best and thanks for reading...