Writing a Blog People will Read: A course review, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of my blogging the Write A Blog People Will Read Course!

NOTE: This is a review of how I’m learning from the course so this is just one possible experience.

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In Module Two, we’re learning not to write just for the sake of having words on the screen, but to write what matters. By that measure, at best, 5% of the early years of this blog (no, no, don’t go see, take my word for it, please) were anything but flotsam.

Most of it was meandering bits of daily jumble. Not at all compelling unless you were just wondering what I’d done or worried about that day. (No one was.)

Writing something that matters.

Much like the difference between living to eat and eating to live, there’s a vast gulf between churning out text for the sake of posting things and crafting a piece that, well, people want to read.

This lesson hits me square between the eyes. Great writing is a revel and a joy to read. The writing here doesn’t meet that standard in my not-so-humble opinion.

I don’t cookie cutter my money posts just to have something to post but does it have value to anyone else? Beyond exercising my writing muscles and keeping my money mojo going, what does my writing about money and family and so on really do for my readers? Is it informative and engaging that you know my month to month thoughts or am I just shouting into the wind?

(In)accessibility

A good friend from the blogging world, not so incidentally a successful blogger, told me once that my posts are too long and “vocabulary is far too extensive”.

I understood that to mean that I fail hard at the general rule of thumb that in order to write for the broadest audience, you ought to be clocking between a sixth and seventh grade level. This is a valid and valuable criticism. Even the NIH recommends this level of writing!

I’m not sure how not to write like I think. That means using words that taste right in my mind. What you see here is the voice I hear in my head. And like a perfect, warm apple pie with the exquisitely flaky crust, and five dashes of cinnamon, using precise words to communicate is so satisfying. Even when I sound like a nerd.

(It’s because I really AM a nerd.)

Sam

D’you suppose that’s what keeps my audience to the elite few? :)

Does my blathering feel inaccessible to you? (Is blathering a common word? I have the worst trouble with this.)

Killing your little darlings

Maybe this is where my efforts should most be concentrated.

I do edit most writing, truly. First drafts are painful to read. But sometimes, final rounds of edits leave me with posts that have tripled in length and I suspect that your eyes probably start glazing over by the time you scroll a third or fourth time.

Reflection

There’s a lot to digest in this second module and learning how I should apply the lessons. Good advice is only useful when you implement it, after all.

See my review of Module 1

 

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What a weekday looks like around here

We’re in between childcare helpers, still, so these days my schedule is a really weird non-routine routine. It’s not terrible, but it’s a really incredibly full day. I still log at least 8 hours of work, not continuously, but thank goodness my work allows this kind of flexibility.

If we’re really lucky, LB actually stays asleep after we put hir down at least til 8 hours later. Someday, I dream of this someday, maybe ze will even sleep 10 or 12 hours. In the meantime, every weekday is looking something like this:

Between 4-4:30am: get up, change diaper, feed, PiC gets up and tries to get hir back down to sleep, while I collapse in bed.
Between 7-7:30am: If I’m lucky, ze did got to sleep and is still sleeping which means I have time to brush my teeth and get to work.  If not, ze probably got me up again and PiC is too beat so it’s my turn to play with hir for a couple hours til the next nap because ze is up for good.
Between 8-9am: Zip through some work before PiC leaves for the day. PiC makes me breakfast, I absentmindedly scarf that down with one hand, the other hand still working. LB lands in my lap to “help” for a while. If ze’s cooperative, ze will play with toys. If less so, ze will attempt to take over typing.
10-12pm: Try to get LB down for a nap. Wash dishes, wash bottles. Work like the wind while ze is sleeping.
If I get a 3rd hour of nap, I can do some household stuff: Pay bills, update tax filing info for 2014, get the laundry going, put food in the crockpot, follow up on weird things with billers.
1-3:30pm: feeding/diapering, play with a very awake Wiggle Worm. Read books, dangle toys. Take hir and Seamus out for a walk. Let hir “crawl” on the floor while I catch any easy to answer emails.
3:30-4pm: feeding, convince The Angry Inchworm to take another nap if ze is tired. Sometimes it’s a 30-45 minute third nap, sometimes this is the second nap of the day and lasts an hour or two. Seamus will start angling for his medications because after he takes them, he gets dinner. Whip through any dishes, knock out some more work.
Between 5:30-6:30 pm: LB will be up and at it again so I’m all hirs. Feeding, diapering, and playing again. Feed Seamus. PiC gets home at some point and takes over for an hour of daddy+baby time. Sometimes they go out for a walk with Seamus.
7 pm: I start gathering a change of clothes and we’re blasting some tunes for hir bath. We’ve got this down to a science, now. Ze was terrified by the big bathtub but with music, toys, and a super efficient routine, ze’s cool with it now.
7:30-8 pm: If we’re in good odor with the baby gods, ze is finishing up the bedtime bottle and nodding off. If not, ze demands another bottle and is wide awake.
9 pm: Adult people dinner. Talk through anything we need to discuss, if we still have brainpower. Sometimes PiC can get in a workout before dinner. Sometimes we BOTH get to take showers. Sometimes I’m still catching up on work. Other times, I’m trying to arrange travel or figure out what’s up with our commitments.
11 pm: Remember that thing called sleep and stumble to bed wondering why the hell we didn’t do this earlier.

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School lunches shouldn’t be this difficult

Or that should say: Being a humane adult should NOT be so difficult.

This is the second story I’ve heard about kids and school lunches this week that’s got me wondering what is wrong with people and our system. If it’s accurate that this kitchen manager was fired solely for giving kids free hot lunch, because she didn’t think that “one slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and a small milk” was adequate nutrition, isn’t it time to really think about what on earth we’re spending money on here?

I went to look for the first story about a lunch worker taking away a kid’s hot lunch and throwing it out, but instead I find that this is an ongoing issue and an active policy.

Schools are always battling shrinking budgets but at the end of the day, shouldn’t the health of the kids be a top priority!? How can students be expected to learn when malnourished?

This just reignites all my sense of the unfairness of life for young kids whose family lives are disrupted, plagued by poverty, illness, or bad decisions.

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Net Worth & Money News: June 2015

DollarSign

Change from Jan 2015: 0.55% decrease

On Money

I’m working away at Swagbucks to earn Amazon money for household, Little Bean, and dog things we need. Feel free to join using my referral link if you like!

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Are you a Comcast customer? Were you hit by the West Coast outage on June 1st/2nd? Comcast is offering a $5 credit. They say you have to call but I’m not able to make phone calls during the day so I asked for help online via chat and that worked. My outage disrupted work for 2 days so I received a $10 credit.

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I won Donna’s Swagbucks giveaway! It was an amazing lift during a very difficult week.

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Dammit auto repairs!  My car cost nearly $600 in maintenance.  A couple thousand a year in maintenance is still loads better than a car payment. For the record, we bought our cars used, with cash, from private owners. We haven’t had any significant problems with them in the last three and five years (respectively) of owning them.

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We continued to save on childcare this month. Yay…?

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I made a mistake booking our car rental for a trip later this summer for just one week. When I went back online to fix it, the site said it was going to be another $1800 for the second week. $1800!!  [insert boggled expression here] I am so grateful that it was easy to call Enterprise and have them extend the booking for the same (much saner) rate.

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On Life

It’s a minor miracle that my body has not just up and quit on me. I’ve been taking the brunt of juggling work and childcare because my schedule is more flexible. In turn, PiC flexes his schedule where possible and is primary on the weekends. We aren’t just skating by on a hope and a prayer, of course. PiC is good at reminding me to make appointments for massages AND arranging his schedule to make sure I get them. 2 in the past 6 months isn’t a great record but better than it would be without his reminders. I’m tired always, but I’m not in the depths of despair or in intolerable pain.

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Seamus isn’t jealous, precisely, but he definitely wants to get in on the LB attention action. I’ve caught him trying to crawl onto hir paymat three times now. He just wants some more love and I’m happy to oblige.

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I’m still feeling restless, professionally.  Slowly, I’m adding up the imperatives that go into this feeling and what I want to make of it. I’m thinking of thing like income replacement and growth potential and so on.

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