Monday, August 31, 2015

Pronouns Gone Wild!

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about gender neutral writing. Here I am, writing about it again. Here's why...

Those Crazy College Kids!

By crazy college kids, I mean overzealous college educators and administrators. I was listening to talk radio this morning. To be honest with you, I was only half listening at first because I was also reading a book. I don't remember the college, and for the point I'm about to make the college name doesn't matter. Anyway, some of the people there have decided that everyone should stop using common gender pronouns (he, his, her, she). Instead, people should use ze and zir to become gender inclusive.

That argument was so stupid that it made me put my book down and squint at the radio. Really? That doesn't solve anything. That doesn't make anything more inclusive. If this were adopted, you would just be substituting the male and female pronouns with other "pronouns" that perform the exact same thing: refer to the gender of a person. So, tell me. How in the hell does that solve the gender pronoun issue? It doesn't. It just recolors the problem and momentarily distracts you while making you feel like you've done something good. It would be like me telling you that my dog isn't a dog. It's a chien. By the way, that's French for dog. Ze and zir would simply be used to replace the current gendered pronouns. So, you'd still have gendered pronouns...they'd just look and sound different and give you something to bitch about later.

Pronouns Aren't Bad - They're Just Written That Way

Pronouns are a lot like Jessica Rabbit. They're not bad. People think they're bad because of how they're used. When I took my first legal research and writing class back around ten years ago, the textbooks had recently changed to discourage gendered writing because it is archaic. Wow - imagine that. The world's most conservative professional field (law) began to look at how pronouns were used as potentially archaic.

If you don't blame a spoon for making someone overweight, then you can't blame the pronoun. It is a tool of people. People are the ones ultimately responsible for their bodies and their words. So, let's look at how you should properly institute gender neutral writing (and yes, I know that there will be some grammar purists that will want to find me and shake the pencil lead out of my ears).

You should only use he, she, his, her, and other versions of our favorite gendered pronouns if you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are, in fact, dealing with the specific appropriate gender. If you don't know the gender, then you do not use those pronouns. It's just as easy to use they, them, their, etc., as it is to make assumptions. It's also less offensive.

If you know someone who is biologically born a man and they openly identify as a woman, then you may refer to them in writing with female pronouns. If you know someone who is biologically born a woman and they openly identify as a man, then you may refer to them in writing with male pronouns. If someone identifies as gender fluid, cis gender, or even androgynous, it is up to you, the writer, to ask how they would prefer to be addressed. When in doubt, just ask.

As a professional, if you see the use of Mr., Ms., or Mrs., in a file, then it is safe to use the appropriate gendered pronoun. If you have no indication of gender, then you either need to ask or use something gender neutral (they, them, their, etc.).

We Don't Need New Words - We Need Better and More Responsible Writers

It's true. We really don't need new words (especially when they confirm about English what the world already knows: that our difficult to learn language beats the shit out of other languages and then steals their words while they're bleeding on the curb). Let's face it, we aren't doing such a great job making up our own. Awesome sauce is now a word in the dictionary. Just let that sink in for a minute.

What we need in this world are writers that truly care about the craft of writing. We need writers that understand the proper way to choose and use words for their written pieces. We need writers that take the time to learn something before they vomit pointless opinions onto the Internet and into print media for all to read. I'm a professional writer and editor. That's why I can say that. Far too often, I see writers of all experience levels making mistakes with word choice that just shouldn't happen. Native English speaking writers are the worst about not bothering to take the time to find out how what they will say will affect others. That's really sad because that's the key that will make or break your career.

So, if you're a writer, whether professional or casual, you must learn how to properly categorize the person or people that you are writing about in your work. You must take the time to keep up not just with trends, but with appropriate measures that are professional and timely that will enhance your work and make your publications more valuable. You don't....we don't...need more words (from other languages that do the exact same thing, but sound trendy). We need to use the words that we have in a more responsible manner.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Open Letter to Stalkers and Narcissists Around the World

I can only write this based upon my own experiences. I hope that at least one stalker reads this and realizes that their behavior is ridiculous and changes.

Stalking is lame. It makes you lame. It makes you a loser. When someone decides that they don't want to be with you or when you decide that you don't want to be with someone, then you need to let go and leave them alone. What they say and do isn't your business. You're not their parent. You're not a god. You're just some loser that needs mental help. The actions you take before, during, and after a protective order by continuing to break into social media accounts, look people up online, post negative untruths, etc., says a lot more about you than it does about me or anyone else that's been stalked.

It's always struck me as just downright absurd that a stalker can leave someone for the purpose of being with someone else, but if their victim tries to move on then all hell breaks loose. Keep in mind - when you walk away from a relationship for any reason, you lose the right to have an opinion about anyone that the other person has in their life. It's also really funny, and illogical, when the fit is thrown because the other person moved on despite the fact that you are most likely already involved with someone else. That is a sign that you need mental help. You're most likely a narcissist since you think that you should be forever worshiped by someone that you didn't want in your life.

When the new person smartens up and is no longer your flying monkey, they leave. Most often, they do contact the victim and apologize. They've gone from love bombed to gas lighted...and all it took was a little piece of paper that said marriage. Once it ends, it's delicious for the rest of us because we've moved on and we are in normal, healthy, loving relationships.

Again, you are advised to take stock of your own shortcomings. Get help - the problem wasn't and isn't with your victim. The problem is and was with you. You look for people who want to fix you or want to please you...but nothing they do will ever be enough. When they start slipping away, you freak out. When they leave, you harass and stalk. You've clearly not taken any notes from people in successful and healthy relationships. That's not how you win someone over.

Really, stalkers and there a true point to following people around on social media or breaking into their accounts? What are you seriously hoping to find? You aren't the sun. You aren't the source of all happiness. Is it the fact that you hope you'll see something that shows they're suffering in some way? Would that make you feel better? Because most of us aren't suffering. We move on. We may always look over our shoulder and improve on ways to protect our privacy, but we're still happier than we've ever been. Are you looking to see if your victim is talking about you? Even if they are, it's not your business. If you wanted people to talk nicely about you, then you should have behaved better. Although narcissism is a personality disorder, you wake up with the same decision the rest of us do: whether or not you should be a dick to people. Unfortunately for you and others, you choose to be a dick. That's no one's fault but your own.

When people talk about you, o stalker and narcissist, it isn't because they miss you or want you back. It's not because you're so amazing. Frankly, it's not even because victims are looking for a way to badmouth you (oh, and telling the truth isn't badmouthing - it's just telling the truth; I know that's a concept you don't understand). They talk to continue their healing process.

My advice to stalkers and narcissists? Get mental help. You need it. You have no hope of a normal life without it. Leave the victims alone. Move on with your life. There are plenty of people with flying monkey personalities out there for you to try to run your game on...and sadly, you'll be successful. Speaking of success, why not take the energy that you expend on your nefarious activities and redirect it to something positive like actually working while you're at work or picking up a good book to read? If you want the world to revolve around you, then you need to give the world a reason to do it by being the best in your field instead of just being a douche bag.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What It Takes to Succeed as a Content Management Provider

Recently, I acquired a new client who runs a small service-based company. When this person contacted me, I was told that three blogs per week would be needed plus assistance getting things put on social media. No problem. For those of you looking for a writer, I don't always charge to go and schedule your posts through your social media account. I only charge if it becomes a time consuming activity. Anyway - I had no idea that the client also had a content management provider. When my new client asked if I could help with content rewrite on the site in addition to blogging, I said yes. Then, I was put in contact with what I was told was the "web company." As a professional writer, the results were less than stellar. I also saw some flaws that I had to immediately tell my client because their errors were casting a bad light on my client's service. So, in this post I hope that writers, business owners that are considering a content management solution, and content providing companies learn something. That 'something' being that the Golden Rule is still important and that you shouldn't try and talk down to people.

Check the Process That the Content Management Provider Uses to Complete Your Work

Look, a one or three day turn around time is great, but if you don't understand the process of what it takes to bring your content from idea to publication, then there's something wrong with it. If it's so muddled that you have no idea who you're supposed to email, that's a problem.

While many content management providers look for ways to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure what they post is quality, that process still needs to be reviewed to ensure that you understand how it works. For instance, first I was told to write a post and send it to two people. When I did that, I was told that there was a new process:

  • Send to person A
  • Person A would then send it to Person B
  • Person B would eventually notify the social media person
  • Social media person was to schedule the post
Within 24 hours, that changed to me posting it and then notifying person A who would double check my work and then notify the social media person. That brings me to my next couple of points.

Do Your Job as a Content Management Provider

As a content management provider, your job is to provide accurate, thoughtful, and timely content. You are professionals. That means that your work on client sites should be error free. I should not have to point out words that you misspelled at the bottom of your own post. Most back office content systems have spell check. If you're doesn't, copy and paste your work into Word or even Google Docs to double check your spelling. "Curtsy" and "courtesy" are not the same thing. As professionals, you should know this. 

Continuing with the "Do Your Job" tip, when someone new comes into the picture it is still your responsibility to do your job. My client asked me to post things to social media. Then, I found out that the client had a social media manager with this company. That person told me that if I wanted to do it, then it was fine. My response? "Well, then why is my client paying you to do it?" 

It's highly unprofessional to essentially take someone's money and yet pawn the work off on someone who was already doing it for free. It's also highly unprofessional to set yourself as a gold standard when spelling and process are sub-par. 

Treat Other Service Oriented Professionals as You Want to Be Treated

As a writer, I've been screwed over by two or three content providers by not being paid. However, I don't treat other content providers with the contempt and disrespect that I have for the companies that screwed me over. I understand that content providers occasionally end up working with crappy writers. Yet, much like anyone in the world who wants to have a successful relationship, you can't take out your past experiences on someone else. 

This means that when you talk to a writer (especially one that has a mutual client as you) that you talk to them as an a partner. You are no better than the writer. You are no worse than the writer. You are an equal. You must keep in mind that certain writers (like me) are more than happy to help you out when you need it, but won't tolerate being talked down to or being disrespected. As I've been known to say: you need me more than I need you. I can walk away from taking additional work that your people can't complete and it won't hurt my bottom line. I'll still have plenty of work now and even in the future. The question is whether you will be able to find a writer with my skill level that is within your budget.

Don't Talk Down About the Writing Profession

I get it - we've all done things as professionals that we didn't necessarily want to do. I've been quite lucky in my adult life. I can't really think of a single job that I didn't enjoy to some degree. If nothing else, I feel like those previous things gave me a varied work experience that enables me to get along with and negotiate with pretty much everyone. I've also been exposed to a lot of good and bad management techniques. Yet, I don't get on the phone with lawyers that need content and tell them how much I hated working for an attorney. For the record, I've worked as a paralegal. Did I encounter some difficult moments? Yes. Do I tell other lawyers how much I hate lawyers? No. That would be suicide and also it would be a lie.

So, if you're in content management and you've actually worked as a writer in the past, don't disparage the profession. It wasn't right for you, but you obviously didn't totally change professions. You essentially became a curator or a manager. When you talk like that, it just leads me to believe that you sucked at writing and people knew you decided to hire a bunch of writers and back end people to try and make money providing content. Whatever works for you, but you won't get and keep good writers if you talk poorly about the profession that they chose. 

Clients Should Double Check the Work Received

If you've hired a content management provider, then you should double check the work they are putting out for you on a regular basis, There are some people who would not go so far as to contact you about the errors others make. That could cost you business. When I'm on Facebook or Twitter, I don't get particularly worked up when I see that regular people make a spelling or grammatical error. Yet, if I'm reading something that is put out as a business entity, I expect that the spelling and grammar will be correct. I don't mean a fast-finger typo (teh instead of the). I mean outright mistakes that should have been caught. Those types of errors can cost you business. 

Writers Must Be Able to Deal With Difficult Situations

If you're a new writer or an aspiring writer, you should know how to deal with difficult people and situations. I know that when you have no work that it can be very tempting to take whatever is tossed your way in the hopes that you can continue to grow your business...even if the work or the people providing it have the ability and most likely will make you miserable. You have the right to assert yourself. You have the right to say no. You have the right to choose the type of clients (work and personality) that you will have on your roster. I don't necessarily advise that you tell people that they need you more than you need them because for a lot of writers that's just not true, and if you say it the wrong way, you can upset people. A bad reputation does get around. So, you have to be selective about who you work with and how you respond to others. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Your opinion of Trump wouldn't be so positive if....

...he said those things to your daughter, wife, sister, or mother...and then continued his tirade about her on a show that hadn't even brought up the subject.

I don't like Megyn Kelly from Fox News. At all. I've seen better reporting and commentary come from a dead mosquito. However, Trump's commentary about women in the past and his continuing verbal diarrhea about Megyn Kelly is incredibly alarming. Do you really want a narcissistic misogynist in the White House?

I really hope not. I hope those who support Trump open their eyes. America is, at its core, a business. Do you really want someone running this country that has filed business bankruptcy multiple times? And that makes snide comments about a woman having their time of the month (to put it in a more classy manner than Trump put it when he was talking about Megyn Kelly).