Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baked potatoes

The potato story is almost done. There's a county extension director who's ducking my calls, and I need to include him. I can't tell if he's just had enough of talking about flooding in the tri-county area of northeast Florida three weeks ago, or doesn't consider this story important.

It's amazing how one person can hold up the entire works with something like that.

I run into this a lot, though, particularly with manufacturers. It's as if they don't "get" that being interviewed is the best advertising they'll ever have. It's free, and if they're smart about what they're doing, they come off like the expert in the field.

What more could you ask for?

I can't attribute that to any one industry, either. I have run into it with someone in every industry I've written in.

It always makes me want to jump up and down and scream "What part of free advertising don't you understand???"

Adult toys to potatoes

What do adult sex toys and potatoes have in common?

They're both topics I'm writing about today. This morning I finished up a profile of an adult toy manufacturer located in England, Je Joue.

Now I'm writing about how the late spring flooding affected potato growers in northeast Florida.

What I really want to do is go take a nap..........

Alas, Spudman awaits. Yes, that really is the name of the magazine I'm doing the potato story for.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back to work

My last company from my son's graduation has left and now I can get back to work. This week promises to be brutal. I'm behind on everything.

The down side is that as soon as I catch up I won't have anything to do. Assignments have been hard to come by the last six months, and the little flurry of work I had starting about 6 weeks ago is running out.

Typically recessions have been good to me--magazines lay off people and use more freelancers. But his time the recession is so deep and so prolonged that it's gone beyond that. Not only have magazines laid off staff members, they've gotten smaller and are using fewer stories. And staffers who have been laid off can find other jobs, and they're competing with freelancers for the assignments that are there.

It's a tough world right now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Domestic crisis 101

One thing about working at home is that you never miss out on a domestic crisis. This evening when my son Chris went out to mow the yard, he bumped the outside faucet along the fence.

That wouldn't have been a problem except that the standpipe has been there since the 1970s and the PVC has gotten brittle. Next thing Chris knew, we had a high velocity geyser in the back yard.

He thought it was a catastrophe. I laughed at him and sent him out to the street to turn off the water, and then showed him how simple it is to cut off a split piece of PVC with a hacksaw. Then I headed out to Home Depot for a new elbow and some pipe dope.

I made him fix it. After all, he won't learn unless he does it a few times. But the water is back on, the yard is mowed, and now it's time for me to clean up the kitchen.

In the beginning.........

This is going to be another new experience for me. I'm accustomed to writing for a magazine audience, for both consumer magazines and trade publications. But this kind of "talking to your friends" writing is utterly different and just a big disconcerting!

I've always wanted to be a writer. I remember when I was about six--and barely tall enough to see over the typewriter--standing and picking out words on the old Royal manual typewriter that sat in one corner of my parents' bedroom. My first project was a dictionary--I think that lasted about a day.

Then I tried to write a cookbook. That came to an end when I realized I needed to know how to cook first!

A couple years later, my parents took my sister and me to the farm in north Florida where my mother grew up. I was entranced by the idea of being out in the woods and away from the city. That crystallized my goals.

"I'm going to live in the country and travel around the world and write about it!" I declared to my mother.

I must have been all of ten at the time, and my mother said, as mothers do, "That's nice, dear."

But I have had the good fortune to do exactly that. I lived on a farm in north Florida--not the one my mother grew up on, but one my former husband and I built--for 16 years. I've traveled this country and been to Africa four times, and I've written stories about all of it.

But just when I think I've seen it all, something surprises me. I don't see how I could cover a wider range of topics than I already have, and then an assignment takes me down a path that leaves me shaking my head.

Writing is a hard life. You wake up every day unemployed and have to hustle for all the work you get.

But it's also a good life. I wouldn't do anything else. I've had more adventures than I ever expected.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of them--past, present and future--with you.