Opportunity Doesn’t Just Knock. It Breaks Down the Door.

It’s an adventure, this career of freelance writing. There are pitfalls, twists, turns, loops, drops and dips galore, like a crazed roller coaster of doors getting knock after knock from this freakish beast called ‘Opportunity.’ Let me tell you something: I’ve learned a lesson that is absolutely monumental, and I’m fired up about it:

Opportunity shows up not necessarily by any particular effort on your own. Networking doesn’t do it either. Knowing the right people will only take you so far. I firmly believe that opportunity — true opportunity — will show up when you least expect it, and I know that’s a bit trite, untimely and rather random, and we don’t like to think of randomness in our world, but the fact is that’s one characteristic about our planet Earth and our human race sitting at the top of the list….breaking-and-enterning

We’re, above everything else, random. We’re chaotic. The world’s full of chaos, disorder, and a messy tapestry of ever-changing colors and designs, and we try to make all sense of it, but to no avail. I know that sounds rather pessimistic, but let me elaborate:

Our efforts matter. Our desires, our dreams, our drive, our will to succeed, they play an integral role. Don’t misunderstand me. After all, in order for this random beast of opportunity to break down a door, you have to hear a knock or two, don’t you? What I’ve learned is that all your work and toils will play a vital part, just not in the way we normally think. Our ultimate goal is that ‘happiness’ and the pursuit of it. The work we do, though? That applies to making sense of all that chaos, trying to find the rational path through all the muddy waters and finally achieving that happiness.

There’s true fulfillment right there. A little bit of faith, hope, perseverance, and unadulterated guts, and guess what: you’ve got someone fighting to find that path, not even realizing that yellow brick road’s there, and you’re walking on it just fine. That makes the final attainment so much sweeter….

Things are opening up. It’s getting pretty exciting. Like I said: the thrilling life of a true-blue, independent and influential writer of many trades of the world is more than enough to nourish all dreams. When you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your work, just remember: you are. You may not see it or even experience it, but trust me — you are.


Why 3D Films Relate to Keyword Optimization (?)

Boy, did I just throw a major alien boomerang at your head with that one. This beats any kind of six degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon or any other obscure and related DNA connection between totally different objects, but that’s the joy of creative analysis and evaluation, isn’t it? Ah, yes, the things we love to do as creative writers.

Let me explain what I mean by this. Us writers will know what keyword optimization is: SEO. The idea of utilizing keywords within your pieces is second nature to the best of writers, but know this — it’s not simply about ‘stuffing’ the keywords in to ensure Google ranks you. These days, Google’s algorithm has gotten a little sharper than what we’d think, and they’re not dunderheads when it comes to spotting archaic and crappy pieces of work only designed to rank on the search pages.

The fact is this — fresh and unique content is king. Keywords seek to support that — and only that.

Where Do 3D Films Come in With This Unusual Metaphor?

It’s simple. Allow me to paint the portrait for you: let’s take the film “Avatar,” for instance. Here we have a project with the genius James Cameron at the helm, pushing this spectacle of delight withAvatar one thing in mind: 3D. He filmed the entire movie with 3D in mind.

We’re typically used to many movies being shot in the traditional way. Then there’s something called “post-conversion” for 3D, just to get that heftier price tag in the theaters and up the profits some. That’s all fine and dandy, but let’s be realistic here. Some films just weren’t made for 3D. Even the ones chock full of action don’t necessarily translate well into 3D, for obvious reasons.

The point of a “3D post-conversion” is all about more revenue, that value-added service and extra bang for your buck. If it’s in 3D, it’s better. That’s not the case, though.

When a film like “Avatar” is specifically shot for 3D visuals, you’re looking at an optimized piece utilizing the technology to its fullest. And I dare anyone to contest that with me after watching “Avatar” and comparing it to any of those other post-3D conversion films where the 3D just doesn’t seem to, for lack of a better term, convert well at all.

Keyword Optimization Is a Lot Like That

“Keyword stuffing,” as it’s called, is a lot like that “3D post-conversion.” Amateur writers will write a piece and then try to ‘strategically’ place keywords ‘effectively’ all around the piece, ensuring that the article ranks well on the search engines. It won’t. Google’s algorithm will pick up on it.

Truly effective keyword optimization should happen naturally. It should flow. You honestly don’t even need that many keywords at all either. An even and strategic spread of those keywords, naturally implemented during the writing of the project, will offer the very best effect when it comes to SEO. All copywriters will worship that adage as if it were the wordsmith bible of the universe.

Now That We’re on the Subject, I Can’t Wait for “Avatar 2 and 3″

Get movin’, Cameron. I want to see some more blue aliens in 3D. And you better believe I’ll conjure my own naturally optimized pieces to market stories and reviews of the films to my heart’s content.


The Invention of Golf According to Robin Williams

I’m sorry. This is so a must in my day to post. Yes, it’s verbally graphic, but it’s Williams, and if people don’t like it, they can fuck off (I mean that in the nicest possibly way).

:-)


Mrs. Doubtfire Will Never Be Extinguished

This is a flame that’ll live on forever. I guarantee it. With a man who can parade around with a bastion of funny, charm, wit, pizzazz, panache, patches, Adams, Morks, Mindys, and a Bicentennial Man to boot, you have to imagine that even after he’s gone, he never left us without Robin_Williamsleaving behind what dreams may come and some one-hour photos. Smoochy may have died, but Robin Williams certainly hasn’t in my heart. I won’t accept that.

The word “creative” and “writer” went together like bread and butter, like the man and Billy Crystal on many occasions. So crystal is the memory, magnificent is his comedic timing and air for the flair. He was our Teddy Roosevelt, our old dog, our Genie in a Bottle, our Wizard Wallace and Lovelace with the smooth debonair.

I say good will hunting to you, sir. Colleague. Inspiration. Wordsmith. Master. You won’t be forgotten, Jumanji. Rest well, and farewell. Nanu, nanu, forever.


Editing and Proofreading: Every Copywriter’s Secret Weapon

The relationship does exist out there, even in the publishing industry. There are writers, and there are editors. Both work together, sometimes well, and sometimes not, but ultimately very successfully, I would think.

If there’s one thing, though, I’ve understood in this industry of sales writing, ghostwriting, blog writing and copywriting, it’s this: if you can be your own ‘editor,’ you’ve opened up your own positive pandora’s box to reveal a plethora of possibilities and potential at your fingertips. Man, that’s a lot of P’s. Sorry for the spitting there.

It’s not easy being an editor and a copywriter, but one thing’s for sure: when you write a piece for a client, and you’ve captured a wealth of experience as an editor, you begin to notice that the spell checker is merely a formality, and not necessarily a necessity. That puts you a cut above the rest. You don’t stress as much about making sure the grammar’s spot on, and the typos are at a 0 count. Accuracy then comes naturally. I should know.

Working as a caption editor back in the day had immersed me in a baptism by fire where every word had to be absolutely correct. Perfection was the only requirement. I did it for five years. The result was now that when I write, I can’t help but be dead-on accurate with my words, hence not really needing a second person to check the work.

It’s quite convenient. Sit and wait while I get some napkins to wipe the P’s off my desk. Thanks.


Haters Keep on Hating

This has to be addressed, as I’m sure many professional writers out there with a byline have to endure a lot of the social media crazies of the world, spouting out their acid-flavored Kool-Aid with kookiness because they “don’t agree with what you’ve said” and blah, blah, blah –

Let me make it clear here: not everyone will agree with what you’ve written. Certainly not everyone agrees with what I’ve written in the past. Make no mistake about it. There is, however, one point to be made in my experience, is that the percentage of those people who will try to gulp down some gasoline and then urinate on a fire just to start something happens to be rather small, and many of those who read for the pure enjoyment and not for an opportunity to trash, jabber, and jeer for the sake of argument because they have nothing better to do but pick at the scabs on their foreheads to pop the pus out like mucus missiles, actually won’t have as much of a reason to make a comment except to absorb the material and move on. As a writer, there’s no way of knowing what goes on inside a reader’s mind except when that reader happens to be a psychotic literary lunatic with an axe to grind and one or two marbles short of the bag, because that reader stuck those couple marbles up the nostrils, so they could try to know what it’s like to be an Aston Martin with the headlights on.

So I just roll with all the social media comments. Those haters will stay haters. That’s fine. It’s a sad fact that no matter how much research you do (not in movies, and not on TV, or sitcoms), someone’s always going to snap at the slightest fact or opinion, just because it’s not theirs. So, writers everywhere, don’t sweat it.

Also, it’s funny that some people think they have the same name as me with their amusing social media posts. But personally, I think it’s a medical issue if they have an affinity toward eating feces. Just sayin’. I’d get that checked with the physician, pronto.

Have a nice day.


The Word “Actually”

I recently had the pleasure of someone suggesting that I learn what the word “actually” means. Okay.

=================================

—used to refer to what is true or real

—used to stress that a statement is true especially when it differs in some way from what might have been thought or expected

:  in act or in fact :  really <nominally but not actually independent — Karl Loewenstein> <won’t actually arrive for an hour>
:  in point of fact —used to suggest something unexpected<he could actually read the Greek>
==================================
 
Wow, sweet. I now actually feel enlightened by knowing this.

The Rise of Literary Commerce: Let’s Preserve Our “Shops Around the Corner”

I just had to follow up on the last post due to the meaning it has for me, and I can’t help but think about that classic romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (no, not Sleepless in Seattle, and, yes, I do watch romantic comedies from time to time). Which comedy? Oh, the one called You’ve Got Mail. A story about the rise of technology, commerce, and yet it doesn’t seem to bring us any closer than we used to in the past. Interesting film. Interesting story.

What’s even more interesting is the thematic initial plot runner at the beginning about an enormous mega-corporate commerce bookseller (aka Amazon or Barnes & Noble) pretty much taking over the literary scene against an ol’ faithful, tiny, family-oriented bookstore “The Shop Around the Corner”. It’s like David and Goliath — only Goliath wins. The bigger store prevails, providing cheaper books, better convenience, more selection.

Don’t Get Me Wrong — I Like Barnes & Noble….Image

I, myself, am a child of the literary pastime. I grew up with the books in the little mom-and-pop store, the scent of the rusty paper, like ancient libraries with their halls of wisdom and the quiet, pristine peace of a Fall or Spring morning with siblings, friends or mom and dad taking me to those tiny bookstores, so compact and personal, capable of perusing and finding one of those golden nuggets you’d never find in a massive outlet of buzz posters, aproned CSRs asking you if you need help, lines and lines of customers wanting to purchase their next Stephen King hardcovers, e-readers, Harry Potters and Twilights.

Back in the day, I thrilled at finding an ingenious piece of literary work never hailed as a bestseller. Never autographed. Author never interviewed. No movie adaptations. No dollar signs. Just a single piece of work designed to be in the hands of a tried and true reader wishing to engulf just one breath of the human experience, the resonation of a universe that can only be contained on paper with words from left to right. History made real, incarnate, immortal.

But I Loved Those “Shops Around the Corner”

I tell you: that’s where fantasy, adventure, horror, whimsy, comedy, romance, drama and sorrow were born. That’s how our books all began. It’s a sad state in the literary industry when those small stores close down for lack of willing readers.

I wish above all wishes that somehow we could preserve such hallmarks. I wouldn’t know how to do it. Like how museums and galleries can preserve such works of art like “Mona Lisa” or the works of my brother Paul Roustan, why can’t we preserve some of those ancient cultural hallmarks of childlike joy in the “shop around the corner”? A bookstore where it’s just more important to enjoy reading together, not for ourselves, not for commerce’s sake, not for fame, or glory, or getting on the NYT bestseller list?

I wish there could be someone who would give me ideas about how to do that…. Tell me…. What can we do to keep our literary pastime alive beyond that of a mega-bookstore aisle?


Sad Times in Grand Rapids, MI: Pooh’s Corner Is Closing

Many of you may know of just the magnitude of love I have for the literary industry. You can then imagine my troubled soul after hearing the most recent news about the phenomenal and Jeffersonian child in Pooh’s Corner. Very soon, I can imagine that this particular link won’t be any good…. Because Pooh’s Corner will be closing forever after 38 years of dedicated service in nourishing the literary minds of our Imageyoung ones. When? May 23rd, 2014.

The good news is they’re going to have a sale on March 28th, everything 20%, and I’m considering that a celebration and honor to applaud the work of our faithful there. I’m not going to look at it as a “liquidation” thing where everything “must go.” No. Everything most definitely will not “go.”

The memories, the love, the passion for words, the children, the stories of Pooh and friends — and most definitely my memory of meeting the great Chris Van Allsburg, renowned author of The Polar ExpressJumanjj and Zathura, right there in the mall by Pooh’s Corner — those, I’m taking with me wherever I go in my journey as a professional writer and author.

Off to the 100-acre wood. I need some honey.


Two Things Every Copywriter Should Hate and How to Avoid Them

It’s become pretty clear to me that when dealing with clientele, there are certain policies I should absolutely have before all Hell breaks loose and I’m left for dead. You might be clued in to the fact that I’m speaking from a most recent experience. That’s fine. Yes, it was a horrible experience, but we can all definitely learn from it. Especially you. So here it goes….

The First Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate

Not requesting upfront payment for a project. I’m totally sold on that not being a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong, though; sometimes you can let it slide, especially when you draft a contract that specifically says you’ll get paid regardless of what the ‘client’s client’ or the client itself says about your work. The fact is this: people don’t care about you. You’re nothing more than a penniless writer. So why should they pay you if it’s not perfect? They’ll wine and dine you, tell you how wonderful your words are and spout out fantasies about you making a million presidential flashcards, but when all the real cards are on the table, and you deliver a product that according to the client is ‘subpar’ or ‘not up to the expectation,’ the bottom line is this –

You’re not getting paid. Even though you slaved, toiled, tried, jumped through all their corporate hoops for hours and hours and hours. You don’t deserve to get paid.

The Second Thing Every Copywriter Should Hate

Letting the client determine the deadline. I’ve decided to believe that this is the doomsday of any writer.

Look: I get it when a client says that something needs to be done by [insert date]. I understand. I also understand that it’s one of the main priorities of any good writer to work hard and try to deliver at a set time. I, however, should elaborate when I talk about deadlines, in that a client really should be upfront about when they really want the work completed. Don’t “expect” something to be done “fast.” Say when you want it.

That being said, a good writer should take a good look at his or her current work schedule and determine whether or not that’s something feasible. This overlaps, too, with the first thing every copywriter should hate, that if the client’s going to wine and dine you and expect you to get in on the action at [insert date deadline], undoubtedly that copywriter should expect some form of upfront payment for having to clear out the entire work schedule with other clients just to get that project done at said deadline!

Just sayin’.

What You Should Do About This….

Be selective. Some clients are exemplary. Some clients — no matter how big the company or organization may be — are simply not. You want the former, not the latter. Ask for an upfront payment, or have the client sign that agreement stating that they will pay the flat fee/hourly rate/per word rate upon completion of the project. Period. There are no exceptions. There’s no “satisfaction guaranteed.” You are worth the work, worth the money, worth the time. And if you don’t measure up to their expectations, that’s their problem. Let them deal with their own superficiality. Move on if they don’t agree to your contract or upfront fee policy. That client isn’t good enough for you.

Secondly, and this is a much simpler solution: be honest. If the client’s expecting a specific deadline, take a good look at the truth of it all. Can you do it? Yes, or no? Can they pay upfront enough for you to push your entire schedule aside to meet their deadline? Those are valid questions. Ask them. Be truthful. Be professional. If they can’t pay anything additional, walk away. That’s it. You do not need to stress out with so much on the plate. It is okay to say ‘no’ to a new client.

Above All Else….

You’re not a ‘penniless writer.’ And you do deserve to get paid.


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