Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Today is my free day, it's fitting it's on my favorite holiday. I celebrate it every year by leaving my desk midday, just because I can. Eight years ago today, I walked away from a minimum $50,000 a year job, 4 weeks vacation, 9 paid holidays, 3 personal days, 12 sick days a year, relatively inexpensive full healthcare for me and my husband, 401K and the financial ability to stop at a travel agent on a whim and walk out with tickets to anywhere for the weekend.
I also walked away from a 40 minute commute, gray pod walls that surrounded my gray desk, an online timeclock that would drive anyone mad, an environment that told me when I could eat, what I could have at my desk to drink, what I could decorate my pod walls with, the pressure of making quotas, a job that was turning the creative side of my brain to mush, the need to wear a nightguard every night because I was grinding my teeth so hard I would literally break them off in my sleep ( I lost 2) and a prescription for anxiety and depression.
I walked into the most amazing world where I learn something new everyday meeting interesting people. How can I forget the day when I got to wear a lab coat, booties and hair net to watch fertility specialists actually create human life in a petri dish? The ability to take a day if I need to without a doctor's excuse and the promise of a brand new life in our dream house on a mountain because I can do my job from virtually anywhere. Instead of corporate awards, my first paid published piece still hangs on my wall with the copy of the $25 check I got for it (yes, I cashed the actual check and paid about 3 times that to have it framed). But it is my reminder that money doesn't always buy happiness and if you're not happy doing what you do, it will never buy you peace of mind.
Are you doing what really makes you happy? What are you willing to do to change it? Life is too short and I'm convinced had I not changed course, my corporate job would have cut mine even shorter. Think about it, plan, do what makes you happy. I know I've never regretted it for more than a couple of bad hours, anyway.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just Because it is a Social Justice Issue...

First, of all, a big thank you to everyone who participated in the snarky reply contest! You all had some really good comebacks. The contest (or maybe it was just a bad mood), inspired my writing goal buddy, Heather Larson, to send a note to a job scammer. This person was offering $2 for a 400-word article. He wrote back: “These are general articles, nothing special, nothing too exhausting. Heck why do you even care? Some writer handle 4 such articles per hour. If you can’t, why do you care?”
I know it’s obvious to everyone but these losers, but we care because your rate drives down the market for everyone. It’s probably a reason why the real going rate hasn’t changed from $1 per word since the 1980s.
Now, on to my rant for this week. I’ve seen a lot of listings lately advertising new websites, magazines and ezines on the environment, going vegan and other progressive issues. None of them pay, or they pay very little. Again, I will and I have written pro-bono on topics that I’m passionate about, mostly by donating my services to non-profit organizations. Why in the world would I, or anyone, write for a company that is out to make a profit when there are so many more worthy causes for which to donate our time? Take the following ad:
“If you are looking for an opportunity to have your writing published then this posting is for you. We are looking for talented writers who are passionate about vegan/vegetarian eating, buying organic and local, natural health, environment protection, poetry, politics and the list goes on.

Our format is based on the writing styles of people "in the know" who can creatively express their point of view. Only well-written and intriguing articles will be published. What topic you choose to write about is up to you. Be intelligent, creative, but most of all have fun with it.

Upon contacting us you will need to send a resume and a writing sample(s). Without both you will automatically not be selected to have your writing featured. GOOD LUCK! Compensation: Publishing Credit”
Oh, boy! This poster makes me feel like I’m entering a prestigious contest – where all I have to do is give him all of my personal information by submitting a resume and some of my writing samples. If I don’t follow the rules, I will not be selected (darn) and I won’t get the great opportunity of having a “publishing credit.”
Uh, excuse me. I have to go write out some bills now. Instead of checks, I’m sending this job listing, asking them to accept publishing credit as my payment this month.

Friday, October 13, 2006

And the Winner is...

First, with the help of some writers who did not participate in the contest, we chose a winner by the deadline. I just failed to post it! Congratulations Mary Rupert for your creative and thoughtful response to our scammer! Contact me and I'll make arrangements to get a book to you.

I've been so busy these past few weeks. I went along on a regional press tour of the Kansas City and surrounding areas. It was fantastic. I got so many story ideas. The moral of this post is to stop and look for ideas in your own backyard. Sometimes the best ideas are hiding right under our noses.

The writers group I facilitate at a local coffee shop is now going full steam (pun intended). They are a great bunch of writers and their creativity also inspires me. I wanted to post a short poem Steve Barbarick, a member of the class turned in last session:

To Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
And your creative writing class
I woulda never done nuthin'
Had you not put your foot up my ass

Thank you, Steve. That's the best compliment students can give to me - not that I physically abuse you, but hopefully, our group keeps you motivated to write.

This weekend, I will be finalizing my plans for some online classes and my new one on one online mentoring program. I've had about a half dozen requests from people this year to do this and so I'm taking that as a sign from the universe that this should be my next challenge. Contact me at fivecoat@kcnet.com if you're interested.