Posts Tagged ‘writer’

New beginnings, fresh photos

I don’t have to tell you the last year has been nothing short of surreal. But with my COVID-19 vaccination process nearly complete — plus the arrival of spring and a shift in my mindset largely shaped by everything that’s transpired over the last year — new beginnings are in bud. What better way to mark the milestone than by commissioning some fresh photos for my website, my social media pages and wherever else strikes my fancy?

LAF Lines Photography, aka lidija, has been my go-to photographer for every photo shoot I’ve ever done. Full disclosure: lidija is a dear friend. But she also happens to be an outstanding photographer. Her passion is natural light and she understands it in a way Georges Seurat would appreciate. During our shoot, she pointed out how simply changing how much a window blind was opened could shift the color in the room: reddish when the blinds were fully open and the bright light was bouncing off a neighboring red-brick wall; more yellow when the blinds were partly closed and the light was reflecting off the interior space. I think natural-light photography is a big part of why her portraits capture people as they really are. That and her knack for making people immediately feel at ease so their true self shines.

I’ll unveil my updated website and photos soon, but I wanted to pass along this sneak peek: a blog post from lidija that shares the experience — and a sampling of photos — from her perspective.

As far as I’m concerned, a photoshoot with LAF Lines Photography is like playtime. Although this was our third photoshoot in my home, she still found clever new places to capture different moods and moments. As always, I had curated music that makes me feel great, but it’s the creative collaboration with lidija — filled with lots and lots of laughter — that makes our photoshoots such a delight.

There’s something else, too. It was the first time I’ve had a friend in my home in a year. Because of our vaccination statuses and protocols, it was also the first time I’ve been able to hug a friend in 12 months. Just writing that makes me teary, in a good way.

It also gives me hope. We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet, but we’re getting there. This past year has taught me many valuable lessons about myself and life in general, and the arrival of spring makes me believe better days are ahead. You can see it in the photo I shared here, on a sunny spring day with the breeze in my hair. I have reason to smile. This past year hasn’t been easy for anyone, but in many ways it’s reminded me how lucky I really am. That, in itself, is a life milestone worth commemorating.

Get a preview of the results of our photo shoot over at the LAF Lines Photography blog.

Doing what I love at Netroots Nation

I’m one of the lucky people who gets to do something I love for a living. Even better? Getting to do a lot of things I love all at once — which I’ll be doing when I present an Ignite talk at the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit on July 19.

I’ve always been a writer and storyteller. I’ve been a freelance writer and strategist most of my career. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I have another love: theatre. I spent more than 20 years working in local theatre, performing in and directing one or two shows a year. I miss being onstage, and I miss the unique kind of storytelling involved in playing a role like Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd or directing a play like Amadeus.

BFDpicAt Netroots Nation, I get to do all that again — but in a new way. The Ignite format gives presenters five minutes to speak, accompanied by 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.

In this high-energy format, I’ll be talking about the Affordable Care Act and using personal stories of how it benefits Americans to demonstrate the value of healthcare reform.

My passion as a writer and strategist is using communications for social good, to educate and engage people in issue advocacy and change minds. At Netroots Nation, I get to combine that with my love of theatre, transformed into a very personal kind of storytelling.

I can’t wait.

If you’ll be at Netroots Nation — the country’s largest gathering of progressive leaders, activists and grassroots organizers — don’t miss the Ignite closing keynote on Saturday, July 19 starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. I’m one of 14 presenters who will be taking the stage to tell our stories.

The keynote may be available via live streaming, or I’ll post a video later. Tickets to Netroots Nation are also available if you’d like to attend starting July 17.

Although my Ignite talk will definitely be a high point for me, I’m looking forward to the entire conference. I’ll be doing what I love with thousands of others who feel the same way.

How lucky can you get?

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.