Saturday, March 20, 2021

7 Things You Can Get Away With if You are an Experienced Writer

Before we get to the marketing stuff, here is your pig farming moment of zen:

Their pen may have been escapable, but their cuteness is not.

7 Things You Can Get Away With if You are an Experienced Writer

Good writing is in some ways like pornography. Both are difficult to define conclusively, but you will definitely know it when you see it. If you are a good writer, you can "get away" with things that are beyond your basic assignment that will make your contribution more compelling.
  1. Good writers can extrapolate content from other sources without it sounding like a plagiarized book report. I mean that you can pull a phrase from the CEOs last speech, a paragraph from the last blog post you ghost-wrote for the VP, and the speaker notes from the sales presentation and knit it together in a new way that makes a fresh and compelling point and reiterates your key content themes.

  2. You can do your own research to supplement materials provided. I once had a client who wanted me to write an article for a trade publication on her behalf. She helpfully provided me with--I am not making this up--two dozen links to pages on their blog that featured 5-word definitions of industry terms. That's a lot of knitting. So, confident in my knowledge and abilities, I researched the topic myself, looking both within their own materials and in the industry to create a great, insightful article.

  3. With skill comes efficiency, which translates to the ability to wait until the last minute to bang stuff out. Like many creatives, experienced writers thrive on the pressure of deadlines and still get away with producing high-quality content on tight turnaround.

  4. Good writers can mimic another's style. Whether it is writing in the "voice" of an executive, or just ensuring you are using industry terms and phrases, a good writer can adopt writing styles to suit the situation.

  5. You can write something from nothing. Similar to #2, you can start with the blank page and create something from sometimes literally nothing. Clients/bosses ask you to draft messages they can't articulate on topics they can't define. And you do it. 

  6. You weave in the essence of company branding, strategy and messaging without ham handedly shoving the stilted words of the vision directly into the text. More difficult than starting with nothing is starting with something that you are required to incorporate into the text--and make it seem natural.

  7. Experienced writers have tricks up their sleeve. Tricks like using lists to grab a reader's attention and also jump from topic to topic without needing fancy paragraph transitions. Don't forget the headlines and headers. Good writers can create punchy headlines that will drive interest and use headers to help break up long text.
Good, experienced writers are often victims of our own success. We make all of this look easy, so it's important we make sure not to sell ourselves short.

Need an experienced writer? Hit me up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Oh Cincy Tree, Oh Cincy Tree

2020 is CRAP. And no where is that more apparent recently than the Christmas Tree erected on Fountain Square in Cincinnati. Yikes. It looks like they fixed it up, but with what? The corpses of 20 other trees?

Every woman reading this knows what happened. They sent men to get this tree. The men drove to the place where they were supposed to procure the important symbol of the holidays for a major metropolitan area and said, "how 'bout this one." They all agreed that this one was the easiest to cut and easiest to load, so back they went to Cincinnati. Somewhere outside of town they lost half of it, but still it was a tree. Mission accomplished.

If women had been involved in selecting the Cincy Tree, they would have viewed all the trees in southwest Ohio, made multiple visits to each. And then selected the first one they saw originally. But also bought a second one in a smaller size, in case it would fit better later. But at least it would not have been that janky thing.

I am a Christmas purist. I don't like decorating pre-Thanksgiving. I won't listen to the music until the calendar says December. I must have a real, actual Christmas tree in my house that I decorate with a curated set of decorations reflecting family memories. Not matching bulbs. Are you a Macy's?

But last year I waited a little too long to get my real tree. After putting off his suggestion that we go ahead and get our tree in November, NOVEMBER! I finally sent Husband unsupervised to pick out the family tree for our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that my Christmas purity is only upstaged by my unwillingness to pay $70 at a tree farm. Anyway, heading out in the family truck to pick the perfect tree from the Tractor Supply parking lot and then heading inside to get some raccoon traps and heat lamps for your baby pigs is very authentic and very country.

Except for last year. I have to imagine Husband recreating the scene from Charlie Brown, wandering through the lot, past all those fake commercial trees to see the stars shine down on this one. It's not such a bad little tree, is it?

Yes it was.  It was the Charlie Browniest of trees. Even when decorated it wasn't that great, but I will give it credit, it created a LOT of room for gifts.

Husband would like me to note that even though "supply" is the middle name of the Tractor Supply Company, the actual supply of Christmas trees was next to nothing at the "late date" of... checking calendars... the first Saturday in December!

So we will head out earlier this year to get our fresh pine and we will cut off the end, stick it in a bucket and then use the blower (hair dryer for livestock) to get 1,000 of the 1 million dead pine needles out of the tree. And then we will bring it in the house when I have decided Christmas can commence. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Good Old Days

We've had to cancel our annual pig auction. This is a financial blow and a loss of a 25-year+ family tradition.

Usually the whole family chips in to make this happen. My job is to handle the auction clerking, which includes logging the sales, collecting payments, and convincing someone else to notify Husband should there be an error in any of that.

My tools for that task included a Windows 95 laptop and a dot matrix printer--the kind that uses the attached paper with the pin holes on the side. If none of that last sentence made any sense to you, then see this pic and know that the technology we used before 1999 was index cards and stuff called carbon paper. We only stopped using this computer in 2019!

For the kids, every year meant a new coming of age milestone of being allowed to go help wash pigs, or old enough to stay for the whole auction, sometimes until nearly midnight.

Every year we load up the pigs at the farm and truck them to a local fairgrounds where we hold the auction. The pig loading itself is full of tradition, including supervisory Grandmas and lots of donuts.

Looking through this blog, I found these unpublished photos from about 5 years ago. Here are the trucks leaving for the fairgrounds.

Here is the barn crew that helped load the pigs. These kids are now old enough to drive the fairgrounds themselves!

There are so many memories from over the years. There's the times that internationally renowned pig groomer, Claude', visited the farm, the time a pig peed all over my jeans, the time some people took their pigs home in the back seat of their car, the time a family lost their new pig at McDonald's, and the time Husband yelled at us (oh, wait, that is every time!).

We know that health and safety are important, and we are glad the farmers and their feed suppliers are considered essential businesses. If you are in the market for a pig to show at the fair, then follow us on Facebook and let us know. We have several to sell.

I'm back to blogging. Check out my earlier 2020 posts:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Young, Scrappy & Hungry

Today, my Mom and I did not go on a walk. It was raining and we thought about being rebellious and going shopping at one of the little boutiques we heard was still holding out.

But we got word via The Aunts that Grandpa had BEEN TO THE GROCERY. Something that just two weeks ago was not a problem, even though Grandpa is 92 and Grandma has dementia. But talk about horrible children, what kind of good caregiver is allowing vulnerable seniors to head out into the world of germs.

So we sprang into action. We heard a nearby meat market had hamburger. They had HAMBURGER. Again, just two short weeks ago that wasn’t news. We booked it over to the meat market to snag our ration of meat (two pounds per family allowed). We even bragged to the owner how we were getting this for our Grandpa, a regular customer.  And then we got some coleslaw and ham salad. If you have not had the ham salad from Jerry’s Meat Market in Farmersville, Ohio, then you are not a country person. And if you are like my friend from the big city who has also never been to Cracker Barrell, then you need to add it to your redneck bucket list.

Sorry. Anyway, we were so proud of our purchases and how we are keeping Grandpa off the streets and safely at home in a germ-free bubble. And then we turned around in this very small meat market and there stood… Grandpa.

Me: Grandpa, you shouldn’t be here
Grandpa: Why?
Me: G E R M S !
Grandpa looking around: Germs? There are less than 50 people here.

Me in the car with Mom: AHHHHHHHHHH!
BARELY Senior Mom: Still want to go shopping?

I'm back to blogging. Check out my earlier 2020 posts:
- Time to do Unprecedented Things

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Time to do Unprecedented Things

It is a time of change here in Ohio. A time when we must hoard toilet paper and the barbers are closed. A time when old people are being told they must shop at the grocery at 7 a.m. for their safety. A time that every church lady has been training for, for decades: staying home and calling people to see if they are OK and have had enough to eat.

It is a weird time.

So why not start blogging again.

I am working at home for the foreseeable future. Husband is here, tracking in about half of the farm filth that he usually does when I am not here to witness it. And the kids are doing home school in between also tracking in filth.

So many things are sad. But there are moments of humor in everything. Like when my mother who is BARELY a senior citizen got calls to check in from two different church ladies in their 80s. I'm not sure what that says about ME. It is a small town and they know she has me to look after her. Do they think I will suck at that? Do they think I am some deadbeat daughter who won't offer to buy her groceries? (Also, she doesn't need anyone to take care of her. I have been told).

Also, I have already resorted to serving Husband and the kids a meal I call smorgasboard, which is where I lay out all the leftovers and if you refuse to eat this meal, you have to make your own dinner. It is not popular. Maybe the church ladies got wind of this and are worried my mother will survive the virus but succumb to chicken with mystery sauce that has spent approximately three days worth of dinners on my counter.

Mom and I are doing a daily walk when it's not rainy or too cold or we are busy with something else. But it is a new routine. I pledge to give the same amount of commitment to blogging.

Stay safe out there.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Rabies in Aisle 5

This week I went to The Little Clinic for a urinary tract infection. WOAH! I haven't blogged for years and then my first sentence back is about my down there infection. Yes. Yes, it is.

If you aren't familiar, The Little Clinic is a small clinic inside a Kroger grocery store. They have a nurse practitioner on hand who can diagnose and treat basic ailments like ear infections, strep throat and apparently, down there infections.

I had plenty of time to read their rotating sign of services and I was surprised to see they were taking on some things that seemed way beyond the scope of what you would want to medically deal with inside of a grocery store. Apparently, after just 20 minutes with a nurse practitioner next to the frozen food, you too can be treated for depression, osteoporosis, smoking cessation and Japanese Encephalitis, an actual vaccine you can get inside the grocery, in Ohio.

The Little Clinic has a VERY small waiting area, so many patients were spilling out to the grocery aisle to sniffle and groan. They also did not have their own bathroom. So the lady with the down there infection had to walk past the frozen food, past the deli and back to the waiting area with her cup of urine discreetly inside a paper sack.

And when you are having all the fun of capturing lady urine in a grocery store bathroom, it does NOT HELP when your 44-year-old bladder suddenly becomes shy. Seriously, does any 44-year-old woman ever have to worry about trouble making urine. Making pee is a 44-year-old woman's super power. Take us on a car trip or make us laugh really hard, you'll see.

So. my tablespoon of pee collected and stored discreetly inside the paper sack, I had time to read the rotating sig... OMG DID THAT JUST SAY RABIES? Are there people inside the grocery store right now with RABIES waiting to be seen?

Good thing I had already peed ALL my pee.

It is true. I am not making this up. You can get treated for rabies in the grocery store. See it here on their list of services.

I am trying to imagine the thought process of a person who has just been bitten by an opossum who decides, well this Little Clinic office website only shows a 15 minute wait, so that seems good for rabies. So they start driving to the Kroger and checking, yep 15 minutes, OK 16 minutes, yeah 14 minutes and then gets to the kiosk and refreshes only to see WAIT TIME: 1 HOUR AND YOU DIED OF RABIES.

And here we thought all the rabid people were at Wal-Mart.

I entered a slightly edited-for-word-count version of this essay in the Erma Bombeck writing competition. While I was not a winner, I did make it to round 2 judging. Here is the feedback I received from the esteemed judging panel.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Law and Order: Speedy Farmer Unit


A few months ago, my 17-year-old son got in his car with his best buddy and set out on an adventure out of town. They got in trouble with the law and stayed out past bedtime on a school night. We were livid, so we put our foot down.

We told him that the next time he drives his 79-year-old GrandDad to a pig auction, he should follow the speed limit—and that they may have to leave before the auction is over to get home on time. Yeah, this is the kind of wholesome trouble that my farm kids get themselves into.

So our son got his first speeding ticket WAAAAY out of town and since he is a minor you can’t just pay the ticket. No, you must appear in juvenile court. With your parent.

Fortunately, after waiting for weeks to determine his fate, the court date was transferred to our county. We were getting our day in court.

Because we are but simple country folk and also possibly because I greatly overreacted, we over-did the whole court thing.

Even though I have worked right outside the big city for years during my career, I was still gravely concerned that there would be nowhere to park. So we arrived more than an hour early.

The very kindly man working security at the then-vacant juvenile court building was VERY surprised to see us so early, which was evident by the way he whipped his head around to look at the clock when we walked in.

But thank goodness for his help. There were no signs, no instructions on what to do when you got there. Somehow you were supposed to know that you had to go downstairs to a little window marked Traffic to check in but then back upstairs to wait for court.

As other people started arriving, it was also clear that we were overdressed. I had made our son wear his homecoming dance outfit and his father even had to dust off his pair of khakis.

The OFFICIAL COURT LETTER we had received said no phones. So we sat there. For more than an hour. With no phones. Watching everyone else look at their phones. In our Sunday best. The only thing we forgot was a picnic basket containing a glass jar of hard boiled eggs.

Court itself was fascinating. We all went into the court at once and they called up the kids and parents alphabetically. So we all got to hear their traffic crimes and what the magistrate had to say. Husband enjoyed this part so much, he was really disappointed when we got called up, Ryan plead guilty, the magistrate assigned our fees and they sent us back downstairs to pay.

I may not have mentioned but this whole court thing happened in the evening—to keep kids from missing school. So we were hungry for dinner by the time this whole thing was over. And since I had NOT packed a picnic basket like a good country woman, we decided to go out to eat.

So that’s the story of how we ended up taking our delinquent son to Spaghetti Warehouse to celebrate his traffic delinquency.

Sorry to mix my TV metaphors, but I gotta end with the timeless words of the Balladeer:
Just a good old boy. Never meaning no harm. Someday the mountain might get em, but the law will-probably-catch-you-speeding-on-the-way-to-a-pig-auction. YEE-HAW!

7 Things You Can Get Away With if You are an Experienced Writer

Before we get to the marketing stuff, here is your pig farming moment of zen: Their pen may have been escapable, but their cuteness is not. ...