Friday, August 9, 2013

Blogging as Darth Vader

If you want to be a good writer, you need to write. Everyday if possible. About all kinds of stuff. Even if no one ever reads it and it ends up in the trash, either literally or electronically.

This is the advice of all authors, with the exception of the illusive Harper Lee whose first novel was To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, what can you do after To Kill a Mockingbird but spend the rest of your life wondering if maybe you should have saved one of the best novels of all time for your second novel. Oh, to have such regrets.

I read often of people saying they are discontinuing their blog because they ran out of things to write about. Huh? Can't imagine it. I have to restrain myself from obnoxious posting schedules because I think most things are worth writing about. But I do try to keep it to a reasonable amount.

No, Jessica, nobody wants to read yet another skunk story.
The fact that you found the cutest pig fabric at the thrift store is not blog worthy.
Everyone knows okra is slimy and the blog world does not need a picture of your slimy okra stew.

To Kill a Mockingbird this is not. But, drum roll please, writing this blog has led me into the exciting world of writing for money. Moolah. Buckeroos. $$$. Real deal dollars. It started hard, got more horrible and now is working out not so bad.

My first assignment was to write for a skin care website. If you know me you know how funny that is because I don't wear much makeup and barely slap on moisturizer before bed. But I'm good at wishing I took better care of my skin, so I jumped right in. Actually, Ernst made me help him because he knows less than I do about skin care. It took some groans and moans and many I can't do this moments, but I slugged through it. I wrote about apricot scrubs and cucumber masks, dewy skin, fresh looks and lots of other phrases that would compel a person to plunk down money on the Internet to look better. I don't know where those words are, somewhere out there in cyberspace. I've been too embarrassed to want to reread them, but I got paid and that was that.

Second assignment - baby accessories. If you know me you know how funny that is because I love babies, but I love them simple and unadorned. I think babies are cute enough with their bald heads and occasional drool - I'm not a fan of getting them all blinged out. I don't bling myself out either, most days my wedding band is the only piece of jewelry on me. But Ernst knows less about babies and jewelry than I, so I took one for the team and wrote for the site.

If you could have heard the complaining you would thought I was getting tortured. During this time we were living in our not yet finished house. We had no couches, I had no place to sit, there was a fridge in the living room and the stove was in the dining room. But I had to write about baby accessories. I put my soul if not my heart in it. What did the site owner say? That I had the wrong "voice". She said I had the voice of James Earl Jones! After putting my all into this, practically curling up in a fetal position while typing about baby bling, she told me I wrote like the actor who voiced Darth Vader.

James Earl Jones? That's a compliment, right?
What's wrong with James Earl Jones selling baby accessories?
Darth Vader was all about bling.
Who am I?

The answer from Ernst? Andie MacDowell. Write in the voice of Andie MacDowell, he said. How can I write like Andie MacDowell when I have no major appliances in their right places? But then I remembered Ground Hog Day. OK, calm down, breathe, you can do this, my voice is down-to-earth, upbeat, perky, cheerful and bouncy. So I became Andie MacDowell, I stopped moaning and groaning and finished every last page about baby bling. Only once in a while did the dark side begin to sneak back in, but with my light saber of perkiness, I beat it down and stayed in voice.

Now has come along a writing project I can really sink my teeth into. I'm writing for a new dental website. I don't have to curl into any sort of positions. I love teeth. I take pretty good care of mine. I think the world needs more teeth. Teeth are important. And my voice? This time I'm a soccer mom. I have no children and I'll never understand the offsides rule, but I can do soccer mom. I don't drive a van, but sometimes I wish I had one. Soccer moms are interested in teeth and I know what they want to hear. No apricot scrubs, no baby do-dads, just floss and veneers, root canals and tooth whitening procedures. A writing project that makes me smile.

So, if you blog, keep on writing. You can get better at writing by writing more. Just find your voice. But please don't steal Vader, I'm saving him for my next project.