Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Am a Persuader.

When I took over the school yearbook, it was a perennial money-loser for our PTA. A stack of yearbooks would sit, sad and forlorn and unpurchased, at the end of the school year.

I ordered the same amount of yearbooks my predecessor had, but not only did we sell out, we had people clamoring for them even after the school year had ended. I wish I could tell you why.

I wish I could tell you about the clever sales strategy I had used, or the brilliant verbal tactics I employed -- but I can't. I don't know why I am successful at persuasive writing. All I know is, I put a couple of reminders in the newsletter that seemed to strike a chord with people, and they responded.

This isn't the first time something like that has happened to me. When I was fresh from college, working for a small independent public relations agency, the owner gave me an account to work on. It was a small, non-profit account with no budget, a winter lights festival in central Illinois.

I doubled the attendance to this event without the use of advertising, just story placements in the area media outlets. Included in these media outlets was a newspaper whose publisher was at odds with the festival's sponsor, but who changed his mind after talking to me and reading my press releases.

If I could point to some effort on my part, I would feel I was bragging here. But I honestly have no idea how or why the words I put together seem to work. In fact, my deliberate attempts at cleverness do not meet with the same level of success. Yet when I just honestly and plainly put two words together, they seem to inspire action.

I could make someone a lot of money some day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why I Would Be an Asset to Any Organization

Just because I haven't seen a paycheck with my name on it in nine years doesn't mean I've lost touch with the world. I have my very own blog with which I routinely practice basic HTML formatting like
centering text
and making words BIG! and inserting important links and great things like that.

I've also written the school newsletter and yearbook, and served as the parent liaison between the school and the school district's communications officer. I'm trying my best not to rest on my laurels as I try to make it back to the land of the living paid workforce.

But most importantly, I would like my tenure in my current position to be seen by others as I saw it when I made the decision to be a full-time mom: I tackled a daunting set of responsibilities and committed myself to fulfilling my duties to the fullest extent. I didn't "take time off" from any job, I threw myself completely and utterly into a different one.

That's the same thing I will do for anyone who hires me. I will throw myself into the job and give it my full attention and apply my considerable talents toward the challenges that lay ahead of me.

Plus, if anyone wants someone who can juggle many tasks under pressure, I will have him/her know that I had to de-skunk a dog at 1:30 a.m. while caring for two small children with the stomach flu while my husband was out of town.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I love magazines. To a one, they present the kind of impossible to achieve perfection fantasies that I love to compare to real life, just to feel the pangs of disappointment and failure.

I might as well watch "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and think, "Hey, I should put a hidden candy forest in my back yard! Staffed by tiny imaginary men! Wait, no -- tiny imaginary men who sing!"

Most recently, I read Parents magazine. I particularly enjoyed this article about discipline.

I actually agree with this guy's approach -- for kids aged two and under. After that? Well, I agree -- if you want to raise a sociopath.

...if you really want your child to be better-behaved, you actually need to praise him
more enthusiastically, and you can't rely on punishment to fix a discipline problem.

Dr. Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, says he knows what works: helping your child practice doing the right thing and then showering him with compliments every time he does it.

I specifically found this example troubling:

Q. How about using logical consequences -- for example, if a child scribbles on the wall, she has to clean it up?

Making these connections for kids seems to make sense, but it's still a punishment that won't change behavior. Later on, or in the days that follow, you can practice drawing pictures on paper with your child and compliment her. ("You used markers like a big girl and made such a beautiful picture on this piece of paper. Think you can make another for your sister?)

Okay, part of my problem with this example is it criticizes my own particular discipline style. But more importantly, he fails to realize you need to teach a kid more than simply "don't write on the wall" in this instance.

By giving the kid a dampened Eraser™ sponge and telling her to clean up the mess -- (and I'm not advocating beating the kid over the head over it; "You horrible, contemptible child! I shall not feed, comfort or love you until you have returned my wall to its original state! Now get scrubbing, before I throw you out into the street, miserable dog!") -- you're also teaching her that actions have consequences that need to be addressed, and that (importantly to me) mommy (or anyone else) isn't your slave.

If you don't have your child clean up his or her own mess, he/she will go through life expecting some invisible servant will come up from behind to fix everything. Is that what you want?

Additionally, I don't know how practical his advice is. If you have 10 and 8 year old boys, for example, how are you supposed to carry out his "praise while they're behaving correctly" thing?

"Oh, good job, Billy! You're not pinning your younger brother to the ground while dangling a line of gooey saliva over his head in a threatening manner! Hooray for you!"

Yeah, I don't see that happening, do you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Career Seems to Have a Pattern

While I was in college back in the early dawn of the 1990's, my fellow students and I were told not to expect to find a job waiting for us when we graduated.

Imagine the thrill of hope that ran through me upon hearing that. In my school's defense, our nation had run smack dab into a recession -- under President Bush.

Luckily, I was able to maneuver my way into the workforce, and by 1999 I had developed a career helping nonprofit organizations raise funds, attract people or disseminate information -- however my writing and technical skills could be put to best use.

Then, I got married, moved to the suburbs, and had a baby; by 2000, I had become a stay-at-home mom.

Now that my youngest child is entering kindergarten, I'd like to rejoin the workforce. Only I seem to have run into a recession economy. Under President Bush. It's dejà vu all over again!

However, if I could do it before, I can do it again.

I have a resume; who wants a copy?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Know How to Spell. Why Can't I Write?

I think of writing like I think of cooking: it's part science, part art. Both have some rules to follow in order to avoid disaster, but that doesn't mean you can't be creative with the basic ingredients.

Like cooking, you can follow a set recipe when you write, and what you turn out will probably be perfectly serviceable. However, people don't line up at popular restaurants for "serviceable," run-of-the-mill food. If you want to get attention, you need to put the same old components in a new and exciting, yet still palatably pleasing, way.

Are you confident enough in your cooking abilities to create a new dish?

Are you confident enough in your writing abilities to create a new message?

Sometimes, you need to call in an expert who's already experimented with the building blocks, whether you want to feed someone's stomach or someone's mind.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Say It Loud, Say It Proud!

Is writing not your strong point? Do you have lots to communicate but no time to write it all down? Do you wish the newsletter fairy would fly through your window and finish your long-neglected project?

Thanks to the internet, I don't need wings to be your newsletter fairy -- I have the magic of the internet on my side.

Let me help you clear those pesky projects off your desk. I'm a writer!