The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


Life, Interrupted

I've been home from San Francisco for about 96 hours. I have several stories knocking around in my head, just begging me to write them. I also have three unpacked bags, a truckload of dirty laundry, two slightly neglected cats, a very messy office/studio, and a backlog of people to call and email. I'm trying to attend to all of these mundane details, but the truth is that real life is kicking my ass.

The last three days have been filled with long drives to a hospital in Pittsburgh, long stretches in hospital waiting rooms, and long nights filled with crying and exhaustion. My father-in-law passed away last night. He was just 57 and died from complications while waiting for a liver transplant.

The next week will be filled with long stretches of waiting interrupted by intense moments of planning. The strain of juggling emotion and efficiency will wear on our already tired eyes and hearts. This is a strange kind of limbo land, somewhere between grief and real life. Time has lost all meaning. Hours pass by unnoticed, while minutes drag on.

So until there's more time to think and space to breathe, I'll probably be quiet here. If I met you at BlogHer last week, please know that I can't wait to visit your blog and connect with you. If you've emailed me or left a voicemail, I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, I'll be practicing being an adult, which, as far as I can tell, means balancing between the ridiculous and the sublime.

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add to kirtsy | 10:07 PM | 8 comments


I Left my Blog in San Francisco

I'll be on vacation for the following week, so blog posting will be light to non-existent. The irony is that I'll spend a large chunk of my vacation talking about blogs with other bloggers. As you may know by now, it's the annual madness that is BlogHer. So even though I may not be writing here over the next 7 days, I'll be filled to the brim with bloggy goodness. And I'll be bringin' it back to you. But I'm headed to San Francisco in 9 hours. So now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go to bed.

(Oh, and next week? When every other BlogHer is using the same title as this post, you'll know you saw it here first.)

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add to kirtsy | 12:32 AM | 3 comments


Insecurities Disclaimer: BlogHer 2008

her story will never be written by sixhours' etsy shop

So Sparksfley at Sparks and Butterflies (found via a Twitter from Megan at Velveteen Mind) decided to post a list of disclaimers borne out of her anxiety about attending BlogHer in San Francisco next week.

I like this idea of putting our insecurities out there for all the world to see. It helps to make us human and reminds us that everyone else is human, too. We all have issues. We're all afraid in some way. We're all sure that everyone will notice that we're not thin/pretty/smart/popular enough.

And isn't that such crap? I mean, here we are, a bunch of educated, smart, beautiful, sassy bloggers, and we're all secretly tortured by our petty insecurities. I say that insecurity needs company to stop feeling so sorry for itself. I left my list of disclaimers on the original Sparks and Butterflies post. As I'm wont to do, I wrote a lot. Too much for a comment, really, although Sparksfley indulged me and let it stand.

So in honor of breaking down barriers and being more confident, I offer you my list of disclaimers (modified slightly to make sense here). Feel free to add yours in the comments or add a link to your own disclaimer blog post. You don't even have to be going to BlogHer to create a disclaimer list. Jump on the down-with-feeling-not-good-enough bandwagon!

  1. I talk a lot. (This seems to be a common condition among bloggers.) Sometimes I hear myself babbling on incessantly, but am powerless to stop the madness. I try to quiet down, but it just doesn't always work. Plus, I have a lot of stories to tell. (See explanation in blog header.)

  2. I nervous laugh. I just discovered this after listening to myself conduct several interviews on tape. I am somewhat mortified by this discovery. I will try to keep the giggles down to a minimum.

  3. I'm not sure if I qualify as chubby or downright fat in most people's eyes. According to those Body Mass Index charts, I think I'm obese. Still, that seems a bit excessive to me.

  4. I'm letting my hair grow out because I have this desire to be all flowy and feminine lately. Unfortunately, my hair is usually much cuter shorter. So just indulge me and forgive me if it's a bad hair day. (Wait, is it humid in SF? The hair will do much better if it's not humid.)

  5. I hate shoe and clothes shopping. I like to have cute shoes and clothing, but because I hate going out to hunt for them, I may be lacking in that department. Especially the shoes. What can I say? I have wide feet. (To compensate for this, I'm getting a pedicure next Wednesday. This will distract from the lack of cute shoes.) [For those of you not acquainted with the madness that is the BlogHer conference, "cute shoes" always seems to be a hot topic of pre- and post-conference discussion. Case in point:

    I'm Wearing Cute Shoes at BlogHer 08

  6. I'll be using up my old business cards at BlogHer. They're very elegant, but rather bland. I'll try to have more exciting cards next year. Just don't mistake me for boring if you only see my card.

  7. My approach to life is: "Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, act like you belong and no one will know the difference." I'm pretty good at doing this. But the truth is, I often feel like I'm on the margins of things. So if you see me standing around, even if I look like I know what I'm doing, feel free to join me.

Your turn!

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add to kirtsy | 2:13 PM | 7 comments


I'll Never Get It: Thoughts on rejection

"You can read your thing in front of me -- and the cats."

This is what my husband says to comfort me and make me laugh. I'm being sad and pissy about not being chosen to read for the BlogHer Community Keynote.

It works. I laugh. But when I walk away, I still feel sad, jealous, and angry. I'm surprised by how disappointed I feel. Then I sit down at the computer and decide to write about it, because what else is there to do but write?

Man, that last line was trite. No wonder my submission wasn't chosen as one of 16 among hundreds. Clearly, I suck. I'm not funny. I'm not poignant. I don't have a way with words. I'm never going to hack it as a "real" writer, whatever that is.

Okay, so I don't really believe all of those things. One rejection hasn't completely done me in. There was a time when I would have immediately jumped to those conclusions, but not now. Still, I do feel a bit like that guy from Sesame Street who tried his hardest to bang out classics like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "Yankee Doodle" on the piano and ended up banging his head off of the keys instead, crying out: "Oh, I'll never get it! Never!"

But you know the most annoying thing of all? Even in the midst of this hotbed of ugly emotions, the lesson of the situation crystallized almost immediately: I don't do many things that carry the possibility of rejection.

Aw, man! You mean there's a nice little lesson wrapped up in this uncomfortable feeling?

So now I'm disappointed and annoyed. Can't I just behave like a bratty five-year-old for five more minutes? Can't I just throw myself to the ground, kicking and screaming, bemoaning how unfair it all is?

I throw myself down kicking and screaming alright, but the lesson comes anyway. And like all realizations that emerge from uncomfortable moments, it's true: I don't risk rejection. And then the obvious significance of that epiphany surfaces: Is this why I keep putting off pitching articles to national magazines? Is this why I haven't figured out where to send my essays? Am I insulating myself from failure rejection?

Oooh, see that typo? I accidentally wrote "failure" instead of "rejection." Isn't that telling?

I went through a time with my freelancing when I was convinced I was -- and forever-would-be -- a failure. I really did weep and wail that I'd never get it. You want to know the crazy part? This came after I'd already had some significant and encouraging success. Heck, I quit my day job to freelance fulltime, confident that I could make a living at it. But then life got hard and I let various things overwhelm me. It became so much easier and more convenient to play the victim card. And you know what happened? The more I wailed that I'd never get it, the truer it became. My fear became a self-feeding parasite. The more I feared "failure," the more I "failed."

At the beginning of this year, I finally decided that I had to make one last stand and go down fighting. And do you know what happened? Of course you know what happened. Once I stopped focusing on the fear and potential failure, everything fell into place. Work rolled in, I picked up new clients, and my income in the first six months of this year is more than all of last year.

Over and over again, we must learn what we already know. So I guess that means it's time to stop playing it safe. This relatively minor but important rejection has pulled back the cloak from my fears, exposing them to the cold wind of self-awareness. I have nowhere left to hide. Not even hackneyed metaphors can save me now.

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add to kirtsy | 1:30 AM | 4 comments


Saturday Sayings: Present question marks

Your present question marks are going to succeed.

~from a fortune cookie

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add to kirtsy | 10:41 PM | 2 comments