Archives for November, 2011

To quit or not to quit

I have never been a quitter. In fact, go ahead and tell me I can’t do something. I’ll just be that much more likely to do it.

But National Blog Posting Month is killing me. It’s not writing the posts themselves. It’s fitting them in with everything else. I’m super-busy at work, the holidays are approaching way too fast, and other opportunities I don’t want to pass up are presenting themselves. Not to mention the normal stuff of daily life. Writing a blog post every single day is falling down the list of priorities — and fast.

Even more to the point, though, is the fact that I don’t want to crank out blog posts simply out of a sense of obligation. I want them to be outstanding. I want them to be pieces I enjoy writing and other people want to read.

I haven’t decided for sure yet, but I may let National Blog Posting Month go by without me.

I love the idea and adore the discipline. But there may not be room in my life to do it well enough to make it satisfying.

Maybe if I try being less of a perfectionist, I can pull it off. I’m keeping this post short and not worrying about links and photos and such.

If I do decide to give up the daily blog grind, I’ll still keep blogging on a regular schedule. Just one that makes more sense. One that means never having to say, “I’m sorry. That blog post wasn’t my best work.”

We the people

The power of the people inspired me today, more than usual.

It actually started yesterday, when the voice of reason prevailed in many elections across the country, with people triumphing over politics. Today, I had the honor of meeting Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who I admire greatly. And tonight, I had the privilege of speaking about President Obama’s accomplishments to date at a volunteer team meeting for Organizing for America (OFA), the President’s grassroots team.

The last 24 hours have had an energy about them, a feeling of forward momentum and optimism. When Debbie Wasserman Schultz walked in the OFA office where we were phonebanking, she brought even more energy with her. I say this with the deep respect her position warrants: She’s a spitfire. She’s smart, strong and articulate. She’s passionate about wanting to do what’s right for the country and its citizens, and she’s not shy about speaking her mind to get the job done.

The Congresswoman is a born leader, but she’s also very human. She made phone calls to constituents with the rest of us and didn’t hesitate to pitch in when furniture needed to be moved. I learned as much from that team spirit as I did from her brief remarks, which underscored that all of us can play a role in making our country better.

We, the people, have the power to make a difference.

We the peopleI carried the Congresswoman’s energy with me all day and into the evening’s OFA neighborhood team meeting. This was the first of what we now think will be a series of educational sessions to inform our friends and neighbors about key issues and mobilize more volunteers.

Fellow team members spoke about the three branches of government and recent obstructionism by the GOP, and I concluded the presentations by talking about the President’s accomplishments to date. In my 10-minute time slot, I didn’t even smudge the surface.

I came armed with two pages of bullet points. And meeting the Congresswoman reinforced what ties all those bullet points together: Everything President Obama has done — and wants to do — is focused on doing what’s right for people. Creating jobs. Growing the economy. Making healthcare coverage more affordable and available. Improving education. The list goes on.

The President, the Congresswoman and many other elected officials want to do what’s right for the country and its people. So does every single person who was at the volunteer meeting tonight.

When we asked the newcomers what they thought of the meeting, some said they felt energized. Others appreciated the learning opportunity. One woman said she’d been disillusioned, but now felt hope for the country. And every person there was motivated to take action.

My day began with inspiration from one of the leaders of the Democratic Party. It ended with inspiration from my fellow citizens. In between, I was reminded that we, the people, have the power to make a difference.

In praise of great editors

I don’t care how good a writer you are, a great editor will make you better.

I edit my own work exhaustively. It’s where most of the magic happens, at least for me. But a really smart editor will find a way to improve on even the best piece. If I’m lucky, that editor will also take the time to tell me what worked and what didn’t. It never fails to strengthen my skills.

This blog may be the only thing I write that I don’t ask someone to take a look at. Most of my work is reviewed by copy editors, who I hold in the highest esteem. When I’m flying solo, I call on a fellow writer to give my work a once-over. There’s always something, however small, to tweak. (Note to self: Get ahead of the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) curve, to allow leeway to finalize posts with fresh eyes.)

In praise of great editors

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some incredibly good editors over the years. Still do, nearly every day. The best ones are clear in their expectations and quick to lend support.

This week, as I fight the battle of the flu bug, I’m also grateful for editors who have an often overlooked quality: compassion. (For the record, this is an under-appreciated trait in many, not just editors.) The best editors realize that writers are only human. That we’re going to have the occasional writer’s block. Or that we might get sick once in a while. And that quality work trumps what’s frequently an arbitrary deadline.

Today, when an editor found out I was working on her story despite still being sick, she emailed me: “Don’t even worry about it! Just get better.” Then she gave me two more days to work on the story, on top of the extension she’d already given me. I told her she is an angel of mercy and gave her an IOU for a rush turnaround on demand in future.

Great editors will always make you a better writer. And the very best editors have more than sharp skills. They have heart.

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