Tag Archives: opportunity

S.O.S.: Save Our Sentences!

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As much as possible, I like to consider myself a silver lining type of girl these days. I wasn’t always this way, and it still doesn’t come naturally, but I try.

Generally my mind works like this: I see or read something alarming, disturbing or simply annoying, and I initially react with alarm, disturbance or annoyance. Then, after what ideally is a brief time, or even almost immediately, I try to look for the silver lining in what I’ve just seen or read.

Take this article that I came across last week.

In a recently released report, the business consulting firm PayScale found that almost half of all hiring managers surveyed stated that the skill they see most lacking in college graduates today is the ability to write.

And I thought, “Wha-a-a-t?”

Then I realized that, sadly, I wasn’t truly surprised.

I mean, I see it on Facebook all the time. Not typos, which I sort of can live with because I am the Typo Queen (although there’s really no reason for them either, because you can edit a published post) but out and out grammatical and spelling errors, and an over reliance on texting abbreviations.

I see the same things at work, in emails, and in external communications I review as part of my job. Punctuation errors. Incorrect capitalization of common nouns. Participles and modifiers dangling everywhere. I.e. when it should be e.g., for heaven’s sake! (Okay, I forgive most people that one. I looked it up myself many years ago, as I didn’t recall learning it in school.)

So, back to that article I read about college grads. After my initial reaction upon reading it, I came next to the silver lining–think about the opportunities this opens up for those who can write and write well!

Businesses need us.

And I’m not just talking about communications departments; in fact, those jobs are probably filled by some of the more than 50 percent of college grads who do possess solid writing skills.

Many other departments in an organization need solid writing skills, as does anyone aspiring to a leadership role in most companies. As I wrote about a number of years ago in an article entitled “Corporate Roads Less Traveled: A Guide for Freelance Writers” which commercial writer Peter Bowerman included in his second Well-Fed Writer book, Back for Seconds, departments that need competent writing skills include Customer Service, Marketing, Training,Human Resources–even the code-crazy folks in IT departments need to communicate in writing. And I wrote that article well before the emergence of social media and blogging platforms, which provide even more opportunities for the enterprising writer.

Besides offering services directly as freelancers and consultants, writers can also put together business and executive writing courses, then deliver them online, as webinars or in person, filling in the gaps that our education system obviously missed. And, remarkably, these courses can cover pretty basic elements, from the proper use of punctuation (oh, that poor apostrophe and semi-colon!) to when and when not to capitalize nouns (yeah, I realize I’d already griped about that one). You’d be amazed by what people don’t know about writing well. Or maybe not.

Of course, finding or creating these opportunities might take a little chutzpah. You won’t necessarily come across them by searching through online job boards–you’ll need to network and promote, actions that don’t always come easily to the introverted writer. But I’m as convinced that the opportunities are out there as much as I was back when I wrote that article. Maybe even more so.

The English language, while always wonderfully morphing, doesn’t have to be reduced to a twisted heap of hooked on phonics. This is a call to action for writers who are in search of work, to go out there and rescue the written word from the clutches of those who unwittingly but nonetheless brutally abuse it.

After all, we’re its last line of defense.

 

Beware the Silent ‘P’

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Have you ever noticed how many wonderful words begin with the letter ‘p’?

There’s passion, purpose, playfulness, plentiful, potential, poetry, prayer,  partnership, positive, peace. So many wonderful words.

Then there are the not so wonderful ‘p’ words. Psychosis, pneumonia, pseudo, ptosis, psoriasis, psittacism (yeah, I didn’t know what it meant, either). Notice what those have in common?

The ‘p’ is silent.

So I began to wonder—could we relate to the difference between the pronounced ‘p’ and the silent ‘p’? Could it be that, as years go by, through conditioning or neglect, so many of us lose touch with the things we feel passionate about is that we’ve learned over the years to silence them?

During my teens I wrote poetry.  The ones I remember most vividly spoke about hope, love and possibilities (ah, another wonderful ‘p’ word!).  

Then, as life began to present me with its inevitable challenges, disappointments and setbacks, my poems began to take on darker tones. I wrote of loss, frustration, heartbreak, disconnection. Eventually, I stopped writing them altogether.

Around that same time, I also began to lose sight of my dream to make a living as a freelance writer.  Months would sometimes go by between one writing project and the next; attempts to submit my work or query ideas grew even more staggered. I left a trail of half-written stories in my wake, along with a few that I even finished, but that never saw the light of day.

After college I snapped up the first stable nine to five job I could latch onto and, relieved to receive a steady paycheck and benefits, I hardly even noticed as the dream faded.  I had college loans to pay back, an apartment to furnish, a car to maintain and insure.  I was living the dream, right?  Never mind that it was not my own.  My life seemed fine.  My chosen path seemed safe. Most writers never make a living wage anyway…

My ‘p’ grew silent.

In Walden, Henry Thoreau famously wrote that most men “lead lives of quiet desperation.” A dismal worldview? Maybe…but look how it plays out in the “Thank God it’s Friday” existence that so many of us lead, lives where relaxation, adventure and fun are all packed into one or two weeks a year, or where we live vicariously through the success and joy of those who dared to do or be what we did not. These results stem from letting our ‘p’s’ go silent or, worse, by intentionally silencing them in order to gain the acceptance and approval of others, or through fear that we if we took a riskier path, we might fail.

I’m trying to decide how to bring this post to an optimistic close. The fact is, I continue to cling to the safe and familiar, and still need the approval of others more than I care to admit. So it’s not like I am a shining example of self-actualization.

But I guess simply being aware of that is a start. That’s the optimistic closing I was looking for and would like to share here because, as I am beginning to learn through the reading and exercises I’ve been doing lately, awareness changes everything. The first step in solving a dilemma is admitting that the dilemma exists.

Time to take the next step. Care to join me?

 

A (Better) Way to Look at Setbacks

This is actually a revised version of a piece I posted in another blog a few years ago. I found it while sifting through my online folders, looking for writing ideas. I have a feeling that it was no coincidence that I came across this now—that I, and maybe even you, needed to be reminded again.

images I recently heard the most remarkable story during my morning commute to the office.  It really didn’t make a point I’d never considered before, but it drove home that point in quite a memorable way.

I have a practice of listening to teleclasses and webinars that I’ve downloaded  from the internet and burned to CDs, and audiobooks that I sometimes buy when I’ve run out of the online freebies, while driving. The topics I listen to run the gamut, from how to promote my blog to how to manifest everything I want in life.

This particular story was part of a “how to think like a millionaire” CD set (I occasionally give another go at trying to wrap my middle class mind around that) that I’d bought some time ago and hadn’t listened to in ages.  Or maybe I hadn’t even gotten this far into the set before—it would seem I would have remembered this story if I’d heard it before.

As he told it, motivational speaker and writer Denis Waitley was in an airport a number of years ago, rushing to catch a plane for his next speaking engagement in another city.  To his complete dismay, he was told that he was too late to board it. Waitley tried everything from righteous anger to pleading in the hopes of getting on that plane, but even as he did so he could see the ground crew beginning to wave the plane into its slow, lumbering taxi.  He couldn’t believe he was actually missing his flight, would miss his speaking engagement, and would miss the large amount of money he would have made that evening.

He proceeded to go to find someone at the airport with which to lodge a formal complaint.  He never  made it that far, though; as it turned out, he heard that the very DC-10 he had a ticket for never fully took off.  Instead it crashed in its attempt to get airborne. There were no survivors.

It made me think of the countless times I’ve lost my head in traffic, percolated with anger over decisions I didn’t agree with at work, snarled about  news stories that I thought were ridiculous or unjust, or even impatiently chided myself when I haven’t accomplished everything I think I ought to have accomplished.  Although every once in a while I have been able to catch myself in the moment and think, “Maybe there’s a reason for this,” or “ Maybe you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be,” more often than not,  my immediate reaction is not so…mature.

I’m glad I heard that story this morning, because maybe it will help me begin to choose my reactions to life’s big and little bumps from a healthier perspective.  And I decided to write about it today, just in case you needed to hear this story, too.  Whether you’re facing challenges in your personal life, or you’re struggling to run and grow your business, perhaps those maybes could help.

Maybe there’s a reason for what’s happening.  Maybe you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be…for now.