We Can Be Heroes

I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.” ~ David Bowie

On the way to take my children to school this morning, the news poured out of the radio. Atrocities in Syria, politics, the weather… But I hadn’t expected the three seconds worth of shock that was squeezed in almost as an afterthought. David Bowie passed away.

“What! What?!”

I was shocked. I couldn’t have heard that right, I thought. But upon returning home the web was awash with the story. Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie, Davy Jones—dead at the age of 69, just days after his birthday and the release of his newest, and last, album ‘Blackstar’.

Celebrity gossip is not usually something I much go in for. The mega-rich and mega-famous live lives so far outside the normal person’s realm that they are nothing more than a fairy tale to me. But this death makes me sad and I’m not sure if I truly know why.

I’ve never seen Bowie in concert. I don’t own any of his albums. I do love his music and am in awe of how well he has transformed himself and his music to stay rich and vibrant through decades worth of performances though. He played up shock and his sexuality in the 70s—I remember my babysitter emulating him and thinking she was just plain weird. He collaborated with artists the likes of Mick Jagger, Queen, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Arcade Fire, and many more. Pick an artist and you might find they played together at some point.

Most inspiring though was that David Bowie was always himself. He tried his hand at acting and theatre, played guitar, piano, and saxophone, was a producer, and most notably wrote and sang hundreds of songs. He was a lover of books and by all accounts was an incredibly intelligent individual. Plus, he looked good while doing it.

Some might protest, but style was certainly something that Bowie rocked. Whether he was sporting androgynous outfits, Japanese fashions or tailored suits, he crafted his image like no one could. I applaud the transformations from freak to funk, to fashionista bar none. He inspired people to be different, be daring, be themselves.

Is that why I am so saddened at his passing? David Bowie by example encouraged everyone to be themselves, but moreso, to be their best somethings. You don’t have to fit into a mold to make a difference or an impression. You can find love, praise and/or notoriety, if that is what you’re looking for. You just need to be daring enough to be your own Major Tom and leave the capsule.

Despite his step off to a new journey, Bowie leaves behind a legacy which has touched millions. I feel for his family, who are beginning a grief journey with him at the centre of it. But I suspect they will find comfort in the many ways they can hold onto this incredible legend of a man who was his own hero.

We can be heroes, just for one day” ~ David Bowie

Fare thee well in your travels Thin White Duke.

Sharing is Caring

Surfing the net
Browsing for content to share is just one part of what I do

I have a confession to make. There are days when I feel like a sham when I call myself a writer.

Yes, I spend an inordinate amount of time at the computer. And yes, I am actually working. BUT, I am not always actively writing.

What I am doing while I sit at my laptop is browsing the web. You might think that is another word for wasting time, but in actuality I am surfing the net (yup, that includes everyone’s favourite time-waster Facebook) for content to share. This even has a fancy title nowadays—Content Curation.

I have several clients whom I do this for. They have Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Google+ sites, Pinterest boards and LinkedIn accounts and they all need fresh content on them. As I have noted before, when you have fresh content to share, people come to visit. More importantly, web crawlers and search engines take note and stop by too. The more content you publish, the more interesting you are.

In theory anyway. That content still has to be quality, or else your esteem drops in everyone’s eyes, from your clients, to their customers, to search engines, which drop you to the bottom of the pile if they feel you are plagiarizing or just re-posting the same thing ad nauseam.

So my job is to constantly be on the lookout for fresh content that will attract new visitors and keep existing ones coming back. And boy, that is sometimes a tricky task! Can I share that I love holidays, local events, pictures of clients in action and yes, sometimes even cute cat photos? They just make my job easier.

And so do my friends who share things on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Google+ accounts, Pinterest boards and more. The things you find cool, other people find cool too. And if lots of people are interested and sharing them, then my clients just might share them too. It pays to be on the cutting edge, in the know of what’s going on in the world, funny or just plain current. So keep on sharing and don’t get offended if you see your next event shared on a small, local businesses page. It’s good to get the word out and sharing helps do that.

Now, back to surfing the web…

Appreciation

I just need to share. I have said it before, but I love what I do. I really do. Life seems to be giving back to me and I am tickled beyond belief. I hope I’m not tempting fate, but my happy dances just keep on coming and I’m thrilled!

So what’s going on? I have connected with three new clients since the spring, all of whom I consider quality companies who care about their communities, their employees, and the world. What’s not to love about that?! A long-time client has expanded what I am doing for them. Works for me! And they came up with a neat idea for some blog posts, which will get me out and meeting even more great people. They would like me to interview some of the companies whom they work and network with.

Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to meet more people whom someone you admire thinks highly of? I did. And I met with the first company this week. Today I published a post on local business Hedley Bennett Truck Parts for CLC Tree Services. I had promised the owner I would send a link to the article and promptly emailed it to her.

This is the part that made me proud to be a writer. This evening I received a heart-warming letter from the Hedley’s wife Pattie, which I have to share;

Dear Katherine       
As I write this I wipe tears from my eyes.   What you wrote is wonderful.   God your good at what you do !!!!!!!!!!!!!    I hope our paths cross in the future.  If I have the opportunity to refer you to someone I certainly will.   Please know you are always welcome and it was a pleasure talking with you. 
Hudsonly  Pattie

I am glowing. There are no other words. That level of appreciation touches me to the core. It makes me so proud and brings a hint of a tear to my own eye. I do my best when I write and apparently, my best is pretty darn good. Writing for a living seems like the best thing in the world I could do right now.

Thank you Pattie. You have made my night.

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Are You Still Doing That Writing Thing?

#TENThingsNOTtosaytoaWRITER

I’ve heard it before. From more than one person. I know I will hear a few of these again, but still stand by my words. I don’t have a choice. It’s my obsession. I hope you do too my fellow writers.

~

For those of you debating writing a book when you retire, Go For IT! Just don’t think it’ll be a cakewalk. Or that you can sit down in your spare few minutes between golf games and bridge lessons to zip it off. It takes a little more time and effort than you can ever imagine.

Writing is soul-sucking, confidence blasting, and endlessly, mind numbingly tedious at times. You not only get caught up in forming the perfect sentence, but are then faced with the daunting task of writing a perfect paragraph, a sublime chapter and a whole riveting novel. And then have to hope that someone is willing to read it. And not rip it to shreds in the editing phase.

That being said, YES, I am still doing that writing thing. I am a sucker for punishment and sometimes believe that I have a modicum of talent. I love when I can create a scene which makes me want to cry at its flow. I blossom like a flower when someone bestows a compliment on my work, especially when I know they have actually read it.

Because you should always find time to read. You just should! It expands your horizons, widens your empathy level and hopefully should give you a sense of awe in that some half-crazed writer was able to not only write and edit the tome, but also pushed through to find a publisher who was willing to print it. It’s no easy task. So respect the poor fools who take their obsession with writing and offer to share their words with the world. Because they do care if that sentence ‘pops’ and will re-write it 20 times over to ensure it does—only to see it axed in the final draft anyway.

Throw writers a bone. Show them a little ❤ friends.

Thank you…

Critique

Feeling nervous. Taking a step today. It might amount to nothing, but it is still a leap in my life as a writer.

I am meeting with the Writer-in-Residence for the London Public Library and Western University today. I sent him an excerpt from my travel memoir about my journey through Africa. Today I get the critique. Will it break me, inspire me or help me grow a thicker skin? We shall see.

What steps have you taken to become a better writer?