Category Archives: Writing

How to do it articles about blogging, writing for-hire and making money sitting on your rear and typing. Sometimes a “don’t make this mistake” type of thing, too

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Reasons Why I Blog – Guest Post

Reasons Why I Blog

By Sue Gordon aka Mistress Jehanne Bening

Thank you, Holly (Aidan Cocrinn) for asking me to guest post on your relaunched blog. I hope to bring the same quest and curiosity to my post that you have shown on your blog and as a scribe in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).

Lilies War

A Gathering at the War of the Lilies. Photo by Mistress Jehanne Bening. © Sue Gordon

While Holly kindly refers to me here as Sue Gordon, artist and scribe, we know each other by SCA “nicknames.” Mine is Jehanne Bening. And yes, at times, I seem to have a split personality.

I’m excited to have Holly as a scribal blogging cohort. There aren’t that many in the blogosphere. Holly’s focus will broaden the field for interested artists and SCA scribes.

 

Gouache

Gouache Paint- Our Medium of Choice Most of the Time. Photo by Mistress Jehanne Gordon. © Sue Gordon

Teaching calligraphy and illumination is a craving I found a year ago because Holly presented a workshop to my local group. The attendance and interest she inspired led to Rolf Hobart and me to hold regular recurring scribal classes. I enjoyed sharing scribal information and blogging is a way to reach out to more people. Somewhere along the way, I focused my blog more on scribal subjects.

 

Aidan Teaching

Aidan Teaching Intro to Scribe Stuff at the Barony of Lonely Tower. Photo by Mistress Jehanne Bening.© Sue Gordon

I learned by refining my blog.  Blogging is now a passion.

I love blogging. Writing for my blog connects me to you and others.  It helps me learn, improves my scribal and writing skills, and organizes my thoughts. It’s a self-development tool. It also gives me a purpose to fulfill.

Blogging is a way for me to help others. A way for me to give back to the hobby and people I love, especially those in the SCA, a group that has given so much to me.

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Beautiful Award Scroll done by Mistress Jehanne. Gouache and ink on Paper.
photo by Mistress Jehanne Bening © Sue Gordon

There are many how-to calligraphy bloggers, but few blogs include illumination or the artist creation process. I hope Holly and I rectify that.

I blog because I have something to share. I’ve been in the SCA since 1991 and learned calligraphy and illumination through it. Being an SCA scribe is unique. It takes a love of learning, research, art history,  and skill development in detailed techniques. I hope to help others with similar passions to be able to grow.

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I’m back, life sucks, so I might as well blog

True. Intellectually Promiscuous has been conspicuously absent for the better part of a year. Partially, it’s because things were going well. I had a job I liked, I moved to a town I liked better, and a relationship that was going well. My health was decent and things were going pretty well.

Things started happening right before I moved to Lawrence. I had to put Chani, Dog of the Desert, to her final rest. Devastating doesn’t begin to cover it. That was January 2014. I still tear up talking about it.  During the period after that, my relationship with a dear friend I’ll call Bob (really NOT his real name) started.

Bob and I went to a Superbowl party, we had fun. Afterwards, because he was my ride, he took me home. We came inside for a drink, and all of a sudden he kissed me. Really really kissed me, out of the blue. And I kissed him back. He is married, and has been telling Mrs. Bob for several years that he is NOT monogamous. He has several other girlfriends around the country, and she has found out about at least one of them already. He has not tried to hide this from her, other than to not rub her nose in things. Since I am also non-monogamous, I think I understand the set up, so we begin a lovely 14+ month relationship that is an excellent match physically and emotionally.

fire heart

I also am invited into his home, become friends with Mrs. Bob and their child, and enjoy being a part of a family that is warm and functional for the first time in ever. My mistake, I suppose, was thinking that because Bob had been telling his wife for years that he was not monogamous, and that I was literally fifth of five in terms of concurrent relationships, that this polyamorous situation was accepted in the Bob household. It was never brought up there, never discussed, but near the 14 month mark, Mrs. Bob began making accusations that I was trying to “steal” her husband. I was not and never had been because on the of the starting rules from Bob was “no one gets Bob full time.” This meant that Bob was going to continue to be non-monogamous regardless of who was “alpha female” in Bob’s life. This was fine with me, because I was not actually looking to be alpha.

Then, one day I got an email at work, sent by Mrs. Bob stating only, “you are no longer welcome in my home.” I had no idea what was going on, only that something was very wrong. I had been fighting a back injury most of this time, including getting steroid injections and living with more or less intractable pain. I had been diagnosed with a herniated disc just weeks before this message. In addition, my narrow angle glaucoma had worsened to the point that intervention was required. I had just finished a series of laser treatments, wherein the eye doctor used a laser to drill holes through the irises of my eyes to allow drainage of fluid between my corneas and irises. The holes in each eye healed shut, so the holes had to be redrilled, not normal procedure. My father had slipped on the ice and fractured two vertebrae in his neck, and then my 102 (nearly 103) year old grandmother died. And now, I received this message.

Once Bob was able to tell me what happened, he told me that Mrs. Bob had summoned him to the Union, after keeping him up most of the night and interrogating him about our relationship. At the Union, she bluntly accused him of “having an affair” with me. Exhausted and frustrated, Bob said yes he was and added that he was not going to give me up, and that he was prepared to pack his stuff and move out rather than to change his ways. He told me this, and that he told Mrs. Bob again that he had been telling her for now several years that he is not monogamous and so this should not be a surprise. He told her that she might have refused to accept this part of him, but he refused to live in a way that was not true to himself.

Naturally, every piece of shit in the world hit the fan. There was screaming, crying and great gnashing of teeth, as Mrs. Bob claimed that just because Bob wanted to “fool around” outside the marriage, she had never given permission. She stated that “true poly” according to the books she’d studied about poly, required the consent of both parties, and she had never consented. That made what we’d been doing cheating, an affair, not polyamory. She claimed that I had broken her trust by being involved in this and they went into counseling.

Listen to Your Heart Reminder

As counseling progressed, I wasn’t given much information. Bob would tell me that he was trying to work things out so that everything would be ok for he and I as well as for he and her. Things got more and more stressful. I was banished from the warmth of the family. Mrs. Bob grudgingly allowed Bob to spend Wednesday evenings for 2 hours, Friday lunches and Sunday some time for 4 hours with me. We were not allowed to go to events or do anything else social together. We were not allowed to have other contact – Facebook chat or anything. Everything in the Bob household, as part of their agreements built in therapy, was to be fully out in the open. This was to include who he saw, what he did, what they said, so forth and so on. No deviation from the schedule for visiting was allowed, no spontaneous contact was allowed.

Then, after 4 days of being deathly ill with fever and chills, shaking so hard it was almost a seizure, and a day in hospital fully dehydrated – no urine even with a catheter three times – Bob comes to my house with a quart of chocolate ice cream. This, he says, is to be our goodbye party according to Mrs. Bob. She gave him an ultimatum in therapy. Give me up, no more contact, or lose her, the child, everything. In return, he could also keep the other ladies and have their relationships. Suddenly, he was not ready to pack his bags and leave, but instead he was ready to sacrifice me to keep everything else. I was chosen to bear the blame for all her anger about his behavior. I was the one chosen and singled out by her to bear the label “betrayer” and “liar,” although every other one of the women had also sat in her home as friends and not told her anything.

heart_break_025

Ice cream? Like that was somehow appropriate. Plus I was still sick as hell and freshly out of the hospital, still dehydrated and feverish. Somehow, he said, I triggered her ghosts and demons. I threatened her more than the others, and she saw me as the threat to their relationship, whereas she did not see the others in this way. I had to go. And he had to let me go because he had loved her for 20 years, he loved his son, etc. And that was the way it had to be. But, as I heard him say it, he HAD promised me decades. And someday, he said, he would be back. And in the meantime, we would be friends, but we would have to be very quiet for a while, because he would have to work on things with her and she would not tolerate me for a very long time. It was possible, he said, that one day she would forgive and at least allow me to be peripheral to their lives. And possible too that she would eventually kick him to the curb anyway and he would be free regardless. Until then, he said, I needed to be on my own and that was the way it was to be.

Ancient Lovers

My world crashed around me. I was already nearly fully triggered back into my depression and anxiety and PTSD just by being excluded from the process of deciding my own fate. The year and a half of unrelenting pain in my back and the ongoing dosing with corticosteroids had caused enough insult to my brain to retrigger a good portion of the TBI. The eye lasers, twice in each eye, done “for my own good.” The complete exclusion from the decisions about my relationship with the man I had grown to love so deeply. Once again in my life I had no voice, just as I’d had no voice all those years ago when I was molested, used, raped. Some of those incidents were “because I love you,” others were “because I deserved it” or “to teach you a lesson, for your own good.” Later, when I was with the insane first boyfriend, the rapes, beatings and gang rapes were because I was “bad” or a “slut” or just because he found it amusing. Either way, I learned that I had no voice, no say, and didn’t matter in the world. I was powerless to control my fate, and voiceless in the world. This became the primary embodiment of my depression, anxiety and PTSD, although until the past month I would not have described it this way.

caged_by_voiceless_song-d5o68hm

I went to therapy off and on for years to deal with the child hood abuse and rape, and then again to deal with the boyfriend rape and abuse. I had done a decent enough job coming to terms with it, compartmentalizing it and integrating it into my personality. It happened, it was fucked up as hell, and the people who did it would never, ever, admit to doing it. They were and are messed up people. I choose to deal with the family members out of a sense of obligation, but I do so at arm’s length. I don’t sleep at their house. I leave when I feel uncomfortable. I still supervise my kids when they are there – and my youngest is 25. I have no contact at all with the crazy ex-boyfriend, and have  filed informational reports with the police every time he tries to make contact. I made a conscious decision to not let the events of the past control my actions and thoughts and emotions today. I put more effort into making that my reality – living well in spite of what occurred, and being matter of fact about what happened – than into feeling emotional about it. I became cold and detached from those events, refusing to live in fear and refusing to let those people and events control me or affect me any more. Mostly, it worked, except sometimes for the startle responses and the chronic problems sleeping.

Depression

Now, as my world closed in around me in a bubble of hell – physical, mental and emotional pain beyond telling all at once and all beyond my control – I once again had no voice. The PTSD kicked in hard, I was in full blown panic mode almost all the time, and the depression turned the world into tear streaked black 24/7.  At least I saw it happening, and started trying to find help. I called the employee assistance program through work to find a counselor. In my town, there were six total – 2 child psychologists, 2 addiction counselors, one counselor I had actually worked WITH (can’t use her – boundaries issues), and one guy that I could find nothing about on the internet. Nothing – no graduation date, no specialty information, no photo, nothing to indicate he had any bona fides as a counselor. Nope. The EAP had no other options closer than 30-40 minutes away. I needed help now, but I needed to balance it with the realities of time off work.

cotard_delusion_by_myebe-d60jgu0

Luckily, I was able to find a therapist covered by my insurance, well recommended, and free of boundaries issues or known overly-religious focus here in town. I’ve started seeing her, thank goodness, and just talking to someone, sharing what has happened and getting some validation that although I’m nuts and have diagnoses, I’m not nuts in the crazy sense. I have been retriggered, and I did actually correctly diagnose or have enough insight to see the reason. My voice has been cut off for all the reasons I said. For a PTSD and rape survivor, having no voice may be the worst. All those feelings of powerlessness, rage, helplessness, panic, fear and more come flooding back and you can do nothing about any of it. It is nearly impossible to talk about or even write about. Even to get out of bed and take care of yourself is an uphill battle, because you’re back in the space where you WERE nothing and didn’t matter. Why bother to live when no one cared about you except as a fuck toy or a punching bag? Dying from the inside out is as good a way to go as any.

Dark Rose

After weeks of sharing my misery with my Facebook friends and being generally miserable, not getting any meaningful answers from Bob to try and put some meaning to this mess, and attending therapy every week, it occurred to me that I have a blog. A website. I can journal this mess. I can write about it, collect the articles or sayings or pictures HERE, on iamintellectuallypromiscuous.com  rather than inflict it on people who might still care about me. If people WANT to read about it they can come here. Otherwise, they can be angst-free from me. Call it a public service. I don’t know how well it will monetize, but that is not the purpose of this phase of IIP right now.

So, for today, with eyes still swollen shut from crying , I write this and hope for a change. I’ve sent a final missive to Bob, asking for private conversation – in writing or whatever – to answer those questions and tie up those loose ends. I explained the reasons why I don’t think every word between us needs to be shared with Mrs. Bob in their “new openness” and asked him to help me find the path I need to move on with my life. I pray the goddess lets him answer and even more to be supportive. I pray there are still positive feelings there.

love hurts too much

In the meantime, I’m planning ahead. I’ve booked events ahead – even bought tickets to Toronto for the Scribes Symposium at the end of June. I bought my own pavilion for SCA camping events, although attending such events where I will see him and her terrifies me beyond the meaning of the word terror. I will have to find a way past that sooner or later. I have reached out to people, in spite of fear and grief, and let them know I am hurting and want to visit, to find safe havens. I am trying to focus on projects instead of pain, since it seems at this point it is mostly picking at scabs to keep things raw and bleeding. I am not sure of anything or anyone, least of all myself.

I have to get things out of the shared storage unit Bob and I have – with a bad back. I have a couple of people who will help, thank goodness, but then they will know the situation. I shall have to tell them the situation before hand and beg for discretion as well as their forgiveness for what they might perceive as my severe transgressions. Just going and renting the unit set off a new round of lows this weekend, as I moved things around in there and saw his beautiful artwork.

Firetrap

Right now, as I write this, I feel again like I am out of happily ever afters. I feel forever unlovable and unwantable, although I don’t know if that is true. I feel as though I will be shunned and shamed if I show up anywhere. I feel as though my final missive to Bob will be either ignored, or run through the Mrs. Bob filter and result only in another angry blowback letter from her. Which is what I specifically do not want, and told him I wanted to avoid. I pray he at least respects that one wish, even if he chooses not to answer. Today, I feel broken beyond repair. Even beyond the wabi-sabi concept.

2 May 2015

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Being a Writer-for-Hire

Being a Writer-for-Hire

As with most things in my life, I sort of backed in to being a writer for hire. I was off work from my regular job due to an injury. I needed extra money. My daughter, who works in marketing, suggested I go to Textbroker.com and sign up as a writer-for-hire. She explained that her agency and many more simply do not have the time or the money to have a full time writer for many projects. So, she went on, they put the jobs out for freelancers to do, and pay them. The problem is many of these writers are not very good, and it is frustrating to people like my daughter who have to clean up the mess. She suggested since I know my way around a comma, I should give it a try.


 Freelance Writer

Being rather desperate, I went to the site, took their writer tests and got signed up as a freelance author. I also opened up an account on Fiverr.com to do freelance jobs, and signed up on eLance to bid on freelance jobs. I investigated other sites that do similar work. There are literally hundreds out there, and I have no idea which are legit and which are scammy. I decided to stay with the three for now, as they had checked out as being at least mostly above board. A fifteen minute Google search for “freelance writing jobs” will bring up search results in the dozens for companies that pay you to write.

 Freelance Writer Sites


The benefits to freelance writing that I have found in the last 6 months of doing it are:

o       Money – I have made several hundred dollars a month, after the first month or so when things were slow. Right now, with a big set of direct orders through Textbroker, I am looking at having a thousand dollar month. Since I am still off on Worker’s Comp from the regular job, getting an extra paycheck is super-nice. I’m hoping I can keep up the pace. I’m not saying anyone else will earn that kind of money. It pretty much depends on how good you are and how much work you do.


o       Convenient – I do this job in my jammies, sitting in a recliner while watching TV or movies. I pick up the jobs I want, when I want them. If I want to take a day off, I can so long as my deadlines are met.

o       Practice – I get to practice doing something I enjoy, and I get to improve my skills at it.

o       Positive Feedback – I have been lucky enough to do well at this job, and to have several really dedicated customers. They give great positive feedback, as well as suggestions for improvement when I need them.

o       Easy – Most articles I write are under 500 words, and take less than an hour to put together. A little internet research, some Google-fu, organizing things into some semblance of sense, run it through spell checker and three different plagiarism checkers, and done.


 Downside to freelance writing

There are downsides, too.

o       Work is not attributed to me. My name does not appear on a by-line or a credit, because I have sold the article or the work to the buyer. They get to take credit for it, which is part of the deal. It is basically ghostwriting.

o       Dull – Most articles and assignments are not super-exciting. Some that I do for one company on Textbroker are just catalog descriptions of sex toys. Others are a one page article about a law firm in Tampa. I did a series of six articles about self-storage. This is not creative writing or investigative journalism.

o       Isolation- As with any work-from-home job, it is easy to work most of the time and neglect things like interacting with other people. As a single person living alone, I really struggle with this. I am no social butterfly, but I do miss the interaction with adults that I got at the regular job. Online comments back and forth do not replace that.  Try to find some balance with this in your life. Lord knows I need to!

           

So, churning out articles fast, how do you do it? I am usually given a topic and some key words to use in the article, as well as guidelines about the target audience. Then I do some research on the internet about the topic, and put that information into my rough outline. I include the attributions for quotes and statistics because plagiarism is not ok.

Plagiarism is not ok

After I have my outline filled with quotes, statistics and information, I go back and turn them into a story. I rewrite quotes into my own words, and leave out the irrelevant stuff. I add connecting sentences, and organize the whole mess into a 6 or 7 paragraph short article.

 

I spell and grammar check on Word, then I run every thing through three sites. These sites – Duplichecker, Plagiarisma, and Grammarly, check the web to make sure none of my wording is word-for- word that of anyone else. Grammarly also checks for spelling and grammar errors. I go back and fix the issues these 3 programs identify, and run things through the checks again. I repeat if needed until I get a 90% or better on originality from the checkers. I save the article, and send it off to the client. With a little luck, they like it. If they don’t, I revise it till they do like it

 Copyscape

I keep separate folders on my hard drive for each company, and subfolders for each type of order – artless, rewriting blog content, catalog descriptions, etc. Some articles turn out to be kind of interesting, so I rework and expand them and add them to my website or a Squidoo lens. Squidoo

Resources: Try Fiverr.com to start with, as they let you create cheap ($5) “gigs” that you will do for customers. I created one “I will write a 400-500 word article for your website for $5,” It has been my most popular by far. Then go to Textbroker.com and sign up to be on their service. It is more complicated but there are more articles to choose from, too.

 Fiverr

Finally, check out other sites. As I said, I chose eLance, where you place proposals to create work as requested by the customer. This site is really hard to get work from, though, so I am thinking about trying Helium.com or one of the others. Do some due diligence on the company background, just to make sure they are not scheisters.

 

After that, it is just a matter of picking the work, doing a good job, and building a customer base. The key to that is to deliver on time every time, and deliver a great product. Being a nice person and providing excellent customer service will also be points in your favor.

 customer service

So, if you don’t mind not being famous, consider working as a freelancer or a writer-for-hire. It may not be the worlds most elegant or exciting part time job, but it is way better than flipping burgers somewhere!

 





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