Re-entry

I don’t know about you, but going back to work after a long weekend is always tough.

I knew it was going to be a doosey Tuesday when the first thing I did in the morning was drop my toothbrush in the toilet…

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Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Wilde

I’ve made a new best friend this year (the one recovering from mono) and her birthday is just over a week away. She is a huge English literature buff, and Oscar Wilde is her all and above favorite.

When I saw this amazing leather hand-bound journal from Moon Bindery, featuring a beautiful Wilde quote on the flap, I knew right away it was perfect for her. But how to afford it? Hrm, hrm, hrm….

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 12:46 am  Comments (1)  

A writer’s ornament

Remember those typewriter key earrings D. got me for Christmas?

Here’s the next logical step (as well as a step back in time) from OppulentOddities.

Hmmm…and it’s almost Valentines Day, too… Time to start dropping some hints!

Published in: on January 26, 2009 at 12:54 am  Comments (2)  

Love-ly Letters

I’m baaaaack! And I’ve missed you!

Even though I’ve barely been blogging for a year, when I take a break I realize what a joy it is to do a little bit of “fun” writing every day.

So what that I spent over eight hours today either taking notes or crafting a front page news report on tax battles? A few hours later and I’m ready to type away again. This writing is like a spoonful of buttercream and caramel after a day of porridge and potatoes!

Speaking of sweets, I got a sweet surprise this holiday from the new boyfriend! Several months ago, we were in a craft shop in New Jersey and I started mooning over some earrings I couldn’t afford. He quietly took note, and presented me with the loveliest pair of amber typewriter key earrings this Christmas, courtesy of Cadence Designs on Etsy! I love that, besides being pretty, handmade and completely unusual, they’re also a nod to my love for writing. Perfect!

(And, as if that wasn’t enough, he also gave me a handmade journal and broke out the circular saw and measuring tape to make some specialized pottery throwing bats for me! What a guy!)

Corrections

Maybe it’s upsetting to make a mistake no matter where you work.

But when what you do is broadcast immediately to tens of thousands of people in big block letters… well, errors and typos are the kind of thing that keep me awake at night.

I think the most nerve wracking part of writing for a newspaper is coming across a “fuzzy” fact, late at night, on deadline. You look down at your notes and you’re not quite sure you have it right. I mean, the notes say one thing, but something about it doesn’t seem to jive. It’s too late to make a flurry of calls, and no way to write around it. Leaving out the fact could, by omission, imply something that isn’t true.

In the end, I usually decide to trust my notes. It’s better to go by a source then to simply write what “sounds right.” The person who gave me the information might have made an error, but at least I can attribute the facts to them.

Of course, it’s a hard case to explain to the Monday morning quarterbackers when you do miss the mark. When I come into work and find a note from my editor and an email inbox stuffed with preachy accusations… I’m usually tempted to call out sick on the spot.

But I’m learning to roll with the punches. Even the most meticulous news operation makes mistakes, and it’s a part of the nature of the game. I’ve yet to see a newspaper without a corrections page. I’m learning, more and more, that I can take a beating, shake it off and go with my life.

Which is good, because there are only so many mornings I can spend hiding under my desk!

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 11:59 am  Comments (4)  

OOOOMMMMM

Hey folks, sorry the posts have been a little erratic lately. It’s been a crazy week! There’s been doctor’s visits, physical therapy from the crash and endless calls from the auto insurance and workman’s comp.

Then our lovely corporate offices decided to give the entire newspaper a little pre-holiday gift as thanks for our dogged and exhausting coverage of this election season:  Layoffs!

Yeah, bummer. But the good news is that there are enough people near retirement age who will take “voluntary layoffs” that they don’t need to start in with the “involuntary” ones. Which is good, because the initial phone call I got about it from the union was more or less, “You’re at the bottom of the seniority ladder, so dust off your resume and kiss that shiny little paycheck goodbye!”

But luckily, I spoke with more sober heads before the panic set in. In fact, I’m relatively safe for the moment, and my managers really want to try to keep me (I’m flattered!).

So yeah. If you’ve emailed me recently and haven’t gotten a reply back immediately, I hope this gives you a sense why.

I plan to spend the weekend staring at Karen Casey Smith’s gorgeous photos (like the one above) and imagining I’m in a Japanese Zen garden somewhere.

Don’t knock.

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 11:58 pm  Comments (3)  

Etsy Writing Critique #23

Buckle your seat belts, kids, we’re going on a Writing Critique! (And I’ve had just about enough crashes for one week…)

Tonight our brave volunteer is Crystal, of the lovely Autumn Sky Adornments. Crystal creates some intricate, memorable bead work jewelry (personally, I’m a big fan of her golden fan hairsticks), but she’s asked me to help her give the descriptions a little TLC.

Many are conversational and paint an attractive picture. Others appear, well, less inspired.

Let’s take a look at her write-up for a pretty pair of purple earrings

~~~

..if you please.

Richly embellished, shoulder-grazing danglers, laden with vintage czech glass in a gorgeous shade of deep purple.

Highlights of peacock facets and black daggers (lowlights? Maybe.)
Sterling hooks. Pure drama.

~~~

Now I love that Crystal keeps her descriptions short and to the point, but I wish we got to the point first thing.

The first line of this description left me with kind of a question mark. It’s like there was a scene playing out in her head with these earrings that we only get the very briefest glimpse of. Many of Crystal’s other descriptions paint a picture (a hot day, a perfect wedding, etc), so let’s flesh this out a little too. It only needs a line or two – no need to bulk this out if she likes ’em short and sweet. I love the line “Pure drama,” so I’m going to pull it into the scene.

I’m also thrown off by her use of an ellipsis in the first line. That’s …. in case you forgot. Many of Crystal’s descriptions seem to be overburdened with them. They can be useful sometimes, but five in quick succession (like in this description) kind of make you sound like someone’s old uncle, slowly losing his trail of thought. Many times a period will simply do.

Also, why the question mark after lowlights? Is there debate on this point? Let’s call ’em that if that’s what they are.

Here’s the rewrite:

~~~

Her dark mascara stopped everyone in their tracks.

Next they saw her earrings, grazing her shoulders in a rich cascade of deep purple vintage czech glass.

Pure drama.

Hanging from sterling hooks, these earrings stand out with peacock facets and black daggers lowlights.

~~~

Interested in a critique focusing on language and writing? You’ve come to the right place! You must leave a comment on THIS blog post to be considered for next week! (Even if you have volunteered on a previous week!)

Also check out the Writing Critique archives! (There has been some technical trouble loading more recent critiques, but all the older ones are there!!)

~~~

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 12:06 am  Comments (8)  

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

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Hrmmmmm…… huuuummmmmm…..yeeeeeeeeaahh…..

So I lay down early this evening to read a chapter or two out of my book before writing a post. Soon, two furry sleeping pills had curled next to me and up on my chest, purring. Next thing I know, I’m waking up a little after 2 a.m., with the lights on, the book and my glasses half-crushed under a pillow, and two sets of innocent eyes saying, “Who, me?”

What can I say? I’m helpless to their Jedi-cat sleeping mind-tricks.

Catch you tomorrow…

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 2:33 am  Comments (3)  

Do The Thing.

Alright, folks. A few hours till Tuesday. So you know what I’m going to say. Go out there, wait in that line, pull those levers (or push the buttons, if your state has joined the 21st century), and get ‘er done.

If you have any problems, call 866-OUR-VOTE. Them’s the lawyers.

This is the big one, at least for Americans. Besides paying taxes and the federally mandated appreciation for baseball and apple pie, I think voting for president is one of the most exciting of our civic duties.

Any way the cookie crumbles tomorrow, the day promises to be hot, hot, hot at the newspaper. So in tribute to that, I’m showing off a gorgeous photo notecard from Jan Stewart. Yum!

I promise that the next few weeks will involve more featured artists and less of me complaining about my job. And, to be honest, you should ignore the complaining, ‘cus it’s a pretty damn awesome job. I mean, last week I saw two candidates for president, pissed off a state representative and visited a warehouse full of dinosaur parts. What could be better than that?

Oh, right. Voting.

Published in: on November 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm  Comments (4)  

Keeps going, and going, and going….

What a hectic day! I had to rearrange my schedule today thanks to a surprise visit from Sen. John McCain. Otherwise our poor little intern would have been left all by himself to fend off thousands of rally-goers and a grim-faced national press corps (boy, those guys are a tired and grumpy looking group these days!).

I was so hungry I almost tried to steal something off the press corps buffet table, but a colleague warned me of dire, violent consequences (for some reason the local press does not seem very welcome at these things).

So I slipped off to Wawa instead, only to have Secret Service try to confiscate my coffee on the way back in. Sheesh. What am I going to do? Run like a mad woman through the crowd to the stage and try to scald his feet? Watch out, it’s dark roast!

Only two more days…

Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm  Comments (4)