Go see my new blog

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Kids, now that we’ve said goodbye to this blog (for the time being) please help me say Hello to the next stage of my writing: Better Geeking. This is my attempt to put all sorts of real life things into writing, to embrace the turn in events that has put me down the path to another horizon…and all those other cliches I won’t bother to skewer here.

I’m not promising it will be insightful or great or anything else like that. It’s really only intended for myself to get some things out there and express what’s going on in our life. And it’s intended to have a little fun with it, too. Geeking is what it’s all about. I hope you like it.

See you back here before long!

Categories: meta

Where am I?

September 17, 2010 1 comment

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I actually wrote anything here. Right now I’m doing some productive procrastinating, but this blog has been on my mind for a while. I keep thinking I should be writing, Mur, but it just doesn’t happen.

A lot has been going on. You–my faithful readers–are aware that I’ve been laid off of work. I’m still laid off, and it’s been 4 months already. It seems that even though there are companies out there that want chemists they don’t want me. That’s fine. I’m going in another direction now, anyhow. And I think I’ll be better at this new thing.

Starting at the end of last August, I started classes at MATC to get an Associates degree in Programming. Yes, computer programming! For those who know me, that isn’t much of a surprise. I’ve loved computers almost as long as I’ve loved reading, and that’s a long time. I should have taken this course years ago. No, I’m not regretting the decisions I’ve made in the past. From them I got my wife and my son, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything this world has to offer. What I’m saying now is that, because my current employment status has been decided for me I think now it’s time for a change. Call it a mid-life crisis come early, because I can’t see myself getting a red Mustang when I’m 50.

What does this mean for my writing? Right now it’s taking a back seat to my schooling. It’s still there, and it’s also a love I’ve had since I understood I could also make stories instead of just read them. I think it’s the creative part of me that wants to get out. Programming computers, believe it or not, is very creative. In a way it’s beautiful and elegant, just like a good story that’s well told. It comes from the same love for expression that writing comes from.

Right now I’m taking a short break from writing. Writing fiction, that is. As for freelancing, maybe I’ll tell that story some other time. I’ve tried it, and maybe I haven’t given it the chance it deserves, but for me it’s not a path I want to go down. All the stories in my head are still there. Some day, hopefully a ┬ánot too distant day, I’ll get them out into the wild.

No, right now I want to be a programmer. I want to be a computer ubergeek. I want to get into the whole thing. So, I’ll be all about that now. I think I’ll start a blog about the journey to geekdom in the near future, and how life is going on around it. When it’s up and running, and if I really have anything worth saying, I’ll post the link here.

Until then, keep cranking and happy storytelling!

Categories: article, meta, progreport

How do you get writing samples?

July 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Say you want to be a freelance writer. But you’re not the kind of person who just fell into the business by chance when you were on the high school paper and then naturally had contacts for bigger and better things eventually ending in a lucrative career with clients calling you and not the other way around. (Run-on sentence. Deal.)

Instead, say you’re the person who has fiddled with their life for years doing one thing or the next without much drive, or with a vague sense that you’d like to write for a living but somehow didn’t know where to begin. Say you’re like a lot of other people who are just like that, and you wake up one day to realize that writing would make your life complete, but maybe the window has closed, leaving you staring out it wondering if the train had already left the station. (Run-on AND mixed metaphors! Sheesh!)

The problem with getting a writing job is that it requires you already to have written. Whether you are applying for a gig writing articles for cheap online or trying to convince the local ice cream shop to hire you and write their advertising, without fail they all want to see a sample of what you can do. If you’re like that cartoon character who pulls his pockets inside out only to reveal the starving moth, you are wondering where the writing sample comes from when you have never been hired to write in the first place.

Good news, buddy. Getting writing samples is a piece of cake. Here, take notes:

  • Just start writing: Does the client really care if you are already published? Maybe, and maybe not. What they do want to know is that you can write. Sure, it’s more impressive if you can send a copy of a published article or a link to some major online work. But when you don’t have that, make your own articles. Start with a list of your favorite subject, then write some statements that focus on a specific idea in that subject. A good article will offer a different slant on a familiar subject. Voila! Writing samples.
  • Apply to those online writing sites: Most or all of the many online content mills and magazines (Suite101, Examiner, Demand Studios, etc.) ask you to provide a brief article in their style or using their subjects. They will probably suggest an article topic. Take a moment and write a solid article for them. But here’s the trick: save the article for your portfolio. And why not? You put the effort into it. View it as your first writing assignment for a client. But you’re not working for them yet. As far as I know you can keep and use the article as a writing sample for another potential client. (Just don’t take my word as gospel on this. Check out the client’s rules first!)
  • Write a blog. Yes, just like this one. Maybe better. If you are writing a blog you are creating writing samples with each post. Now, I’m not talking about your blog where you tell your peeps how you told off the guy in the car ahead of you. Instead, write the kind of blog that is creative and showcases your professional style and the kind of subjects you like to write about.

Keep everything. Post them on your blog. Post them at ezinearticles.com or any of 100 free article hosting sites. Point potential clients them. Link to them from your own site if you have one. Before long, you will have a portfolio to be proud of, one you may add to when the clients come knocking on your door.

Categories: article, freelancing

Writing a novel

June 30, 2010 1 comment

Writing a novel is so much easier when you’ve been laid off.

– Guy Wade

May you quote me? Yes, yes you may.

Categories: meta, writing

New articles on Examiner.com

June 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve just put up two new articles as the Kettle Moraine New Dads Examiner on Examiner.com. Both are about being unemployed, and list things to do and not do. Start with this one.

Categories: article, Examiner, freelancing

Stumbling toward freelanceville

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been almost two weeks (or so…time moves differently now) since I was laid off. In addition to searching for another chemist gig I’m digging for some writing work. I have to admit I’ve wanted to be a freelance writer for a while, daydreaming about it during my lunch break, but didn’t have the time to do anything about it between work and traveling to work. Well, I have the time now. Can’t submit resumes all day without going bonkers.

Looking through the subject on the Interwebs it seems the most common question on people’s lips are “how do I get started freelancing?” What’s more, most of the freelance job boards offer work for peanuts. What’s a scribbler to do?

Categories: freelancing

Now do something

May 19, 2010 1 comment

So, a week ago today I got laid off from work. There is one fewer chemist in the world! If that makes you feel a little less secure when you go to sleep tonight, think about how I feel. Fortunately, I’m not too worried.

Now my new job is finding a new job. I started as soon as I got laid off. I’m extra glad now that I updated my resume last month. If any of the teeming millions who read this blog know of a chemist position in the Milwaukee area, please let me know.

I’m also putting more effort into writing. Hopefully I can pay more attention to this blog. But I’m also trying to establish myself as a freelance writer. Something good will come of this time away from the drive-to-work-and-clock-in day.

Categories: meta