30 Apr 2014

real talk: bloggers, quit complaining, get a thicker skin + choose your words wisely

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Over the years a woman has grown tired. Her life has shifted, and along the way she loses her verve and she knows it. Her blog has devolved into an orchid she has to tend to because it’s her sole source of income and she needs this money. How did she get to this place, she thinks. She takes on partnerships — some of which leave her readers shaking their heads and doing a double take — because the money’s good and she’s got the traffic, and one day her readers start to leave comments about this shift, about a voice that has fallen to a whisper, and a blog that no longer inspires. Long-time readers leave lengthy comments lamenting the fall of a blog that was once so great, and then something else happens — a slew of other women attack the detractors, call them haters (Ignore the haters! You’re awesome! I <3 you! Read my blog! Your hair's so shiny! Where did you get that shirt?) and bullies (Stop being a mean girl!). Those who cared enough to leave a thoughtful comment recede; the curtain quietly falls and the motley lot remove the blog from their Google readers. The blogger responds in a series of exclamation points that she’s trying! her! best! OK!

A sister duo pen epic posts defending their expensive finery. So much so that these posts, their heated defenses and endless rationales, become a weekly occurrence, and readers start to express their exasperation. They call out the shameless shills and posts, which feel forced by the hand of a marketer’s enviable budget. Readers remember what the blog used to be — creative, fun, a place where one could find the unfindable — and are heartbroken that the energy that once drew them to this space has dovetailed to SEO tactics and ad banners. The comments section is the equivalent of a high school cafeteria where a host of women shout, “girl on girl crime” as if they have Tourette’s. Apparently, any form of feedback or dissension is immediately dismissed as unfounded hate and cruelty, detracting from a “positive, supportive community.” The bloggers get upset, stomp their well-heeled feet. No one understands what they’re trying to do!

PLEASE STOP THIS BULLSHIT RIGHT NOW. RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Bully. Hate. Girl on Girl Crime. These words and phrases are potent; they have the power to hurt and maim. They’re weapons that should be examined with care. “Slut shaming,” posting nude photos or images that disparage a woman’s character or body, rallying a group of people for the sole purpose of humiliation and torture, stalking through social media, threats, consistent, systematic abuse — these are but a few actions that fall under the auspice of bullying, hate, and girl on girl crime. Leaving constructive feedback about the evolution (or devolution) of someone’s blog, unequivocally, does not. Telling a blogger that her site has become a haven for shills is not girl on girl crime, it’s real truth.

Three years ago I started collaborating with the president of the agency in which I worked. Although I technically didn’t report to him (as a partner, I reported into the CEO, who was not a deft manager), the president stepped in and assumed the role of mentor. For three years, he consistently pulled me into his office and gave me feedback. He called me out on my bad behavior and bullshit, and then showed me how I could have handled the situation in a different way. He gave alternatives, suggestions, and solutions. At first I was annoyed. Even though I endured nearly fourteen years of performance reviews, I felt offended and singled out. In the heat of the moment I mentioned as such — I stomped my little feet and did the offline equivalent of calling him a hater, who didn’t understand the CLEAR GENIUS THAT WAS FELICIA SULLIVAN, to which he responded: I’m investing in you. This is my time, my asset, and I’m using it to help you be a better leader. Would you rather I not invest in you? Is your ego that great? Because I can take my time and use it on someone else.

You guys. That was some real truth.

You better believe I shut the fuck up. Since that conversation, I proactively asked him how I could have handled every meeting, conference call and pitch, better. During performance reviews, I nodded my head impatiently through the praise and asked, How can I do better? It was only when I took a measured stepped back and objectively evaluated my actions, it was only when I set aside my ego and fear, did I become receptive to constructive criticism and feedback. I sought it out and used what made sense for me in order to be a better leader. In three years I grew a thicker skin than I had cultivated in fourteen. Now, this man is my dear friend and mentor, even after we both resigned from our respective positions.

A few weeks ago I listened to Grace Bonney’s podcast on “Choosing Your Words Wisely,” and it reminded me of our immediate, visceral tendency to defend ourselves when confronted with words that challenge or call out our actions. Instead of listening to what others have to say, we wait for our turn to speak. We immediately negate, dismiss, eliminate, instead of taking a breath and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. This weekend I read my friend Alex’s post, on a bunch of men who left negative reviews of an establishment (“In what can only be described as a coordinated attack on a small business, a group of 15 primarily white privileged males left a number of negative reviews citing discrimination on the basis of Google Glass. I’m forced to assume they have little actual understanding of the word, discrimination”). Alex also wrote about another community that labeled a loving father who took nude, playful photos of his child, a pornographer. Pornographer, discriminator — these words are real, powerful and bear consequences. Think about the words you say and how you use them.

Time is a precious commodity, and if someone uses their time to help make you a better blogger, professional, or business owner, consider their feedback the equivalent of a performance review, an investment in you, and don’t you owe it to them, to yourself, to pay attention? Hearing less than complimentary things about oneself is hard, but does that mean we close our eyes to it? Does it mean that we only let in the light and flee the dark? Does it mean we misuse the harshest words to silence our best critics?

Words are powerful, don’t abuse them. If your readers, consumers, bosses, peers, and prospects take the time and effort to give you constructive feedback, listen to it. REALLY LISTEN TO IT. Examine yourself objectively. Ask yourself how their words can help you be a better person or deliver a better product, and discard what is useless and irrelevant.

Constant light is beautiful at first, but its glare is deceptive and ultimately blinding. Think about that. Think about the permeance of blindness, of living a life of imbalance.

32 Comments

  1. Megan wrote:

    I feel like this relates back to your post about what your workspace (and probably many people’s) ACTUALLY looks like. The movement to make our lives appear perfectly styled, overly positive, and expertly instagram filtered on social media seems to have also caused bloggers and many of their readers not to be able to tell the difference between constructive comments and “being mean.” Great post.

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • There’s been a lot of talk about “authenticity” and the pompous nature of what people choose to project. I don’t think people bear the consequences of how they position themselves, and how they’re perceived as a result of it. 🙂

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  2. Alyssa wrote:

    wow, i love this post! everything about it. and the line “How can I do it better?” really make me think. What a simple, but profound, statement to start bringing into your life!

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • True story, Alyssa. I approach everything in my life, whether it be my new book or a marketing plan, with that mantra. xo

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  3. GA wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with almost everything you are saying here. More recently I have found myself shaking my head at times hearing my fellow bloggers complain about hard their lives are and how stressful their week has been. After (yikes!) over eleven years in the workplace (four of them spent working and running my blog, where I aim to post 2x a day) I want to give them a reality check. The workforce, outside of blogging is brutal. I’ve had bosses that have screamed at me – reducing me to tears on a daily basis… higher ups that spread rumors about me, saying that I was sleeping with our VP (I wasn’t!) ..the works. I’ve been in the office til midnight and pulled all nighters. I’ve been laid off. I could go on but know you’ve been through it all too.

    I think it is a problem that a lot of bloggers started their blogs in college or high school and find themselves making a VERY lucrative salary without ever having set foot inside a “real” office. They are thrust into this world where they have to be professional and act like a businessperson because blogging IS a business, without any actual relevant experience. In a way I feel really bad for them — I know that if I were one of those girls I would probably complain a lot, too. I really don’t know what I would do if I were them. If I graduated college and was immediately making six figures a year from my blog, I would probably be a very different person than I am today. So I put myself in these girls’ shoes and don’t really know how I would act. So I can’t really judge them, either.(Then there’s the other side of the coin that could be argued…. what are you doing, get a job or a mentor or read Mashable or business books… get learning!!!)

    Personally I’ve gotten criticism on my site and it can be hard to swallow — blogs do change over time, and sometimes readers can get really upset about it. I started my blog ages ago as a DIY blog. I was broke and young and would make pretty things because I couldn’t afford the more expensive things that I wanted. I also had a lot of free time on my hands because my corporate job hours were pretty good and I had a boyfriend who liked to watch sports. We hung out at home a lot and I crafted while he did his thing. But as my life changed, I went to work for a startup, and the hours got much longer. And then I found myself single and wanting to spend my weekends at the gym or brunching with my girlfriends — not alone at home, crafting. I also found myself with more money, yes – from sponsors… but also from my day job. And then I get angry emails from my readers — for wearing expensive things, asking where the DIYs are. I always respond {and tell them I really am trying — because I really, truly am} but it is disheartening. I once wrote a post about candles. They were just an Etsy brand that I genuinely loved and wanted to support. I called the candles better than Diptyque (they are!) and a reader got upset with me for referring to Diptyque’s candles as expensive but buying an expensive handbag. You really can’t win, sometimes. 🙂

    There can also be a lot of general unwarranted nastiness in the blogosphere, and THAT sort of criticism, I think, is the criticism that comes from jealousy. I realize that by putting my life out there on the Internet, everyone is entitled to have an opinion. But some opinions are just mean. I get comments about the size of my forehead, unsolicited advice that I’d be so much prettier if I just got bangs, and made fun of for being awkward in photos. Those are just a few of my favorites and not nearly even as bad as what some of my counterparts have had said about them.

    I think that if everyone just treated each other with more compassion {readers being understanding that there is a real person sitting behind the computer, bloggers keeping things a bit more real and thinking before they speak // thinking before they take on a sponsor that doesn’t really make sense for their audience} then the Internet would be a happier place. No one is perfect – bloggers, readers, etc.

    But I think your overall message is a really important one. Learn from the criticism — it will make you a better writer + blogger. Or at least in my case, force you to stand up straight… one of the reasons I’ve been doing so much yoga is all the comments I get about my posture 😉 And also – I really wish I had a boss like your old one.

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • Grace,

      First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to write an extremely thoughtful + nuanced post. You bring up several points I hadn’t thought of, simply for the fact that I often forget that my generation didn’t have the option of blogging out of college. I’m not saying this as a point of condescension, rather more like a generational shift of which I have to continually remind myself. I can’t imagine coming out of college and starting a blog, as I’d want to build my acumen and experience and understand business before I pursue something on my own. However, to each his or her own, and if it works for some, rock it.

      Of note, my post focuses on constructive criticism versus blatantly mean comments. It’s the difference between someone saying, “wow, you’re FAT!” vs. someone offering another kind of option because the dress might not be flattering? I’d want my girlfriends to tell me if something looks WRONG on me, and if readers care enough to be kind in the way they phrase feedback, it might be helpful to at least consider their point of view.

      However, there are mean people in the world, and that’s just a factor of having to connect with people in an online forum. I’ve had a lot of mean and cruel things said about me, and it STINGS, but I remind myself of who I am, what I’ve done, and what matters most is what I think of me. For example, I had a “friend” who made some choice comments about quite a bit of weight I’d gained a few years ago (stress pounds from my job) and she said some bullshit like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Well, fuck her. A few years later I’m not as thin as I once was, but I’m healthy and strong and that’s all that matters.

      It’s also hard for folks to see your blog change. I think you’ve managed it really gracefully, Grace (pardon the pun), rather than going for a marked shift in tone and the kind of content you deliver. Much like we evolve as people, our blogs will hopefully follow suit. And much like friends who might have held some weight for a period of time in our lives, they may not go the distance in the long haul.

      Your point about compassion is a real one. I’d give feedback in the way that I’d want to receive it — solutions-focused and a means to make us better at what we do and who we are.

      Now, let’s all do some yoga or pet our cats!!! 🙂

      Warmly, f.

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
      • GA wrote:

        I don’t have the energy for another essay, so I will just say AGREED on all counts with everything you’re saying. And yes to cats + yoga. Maybe Tyrion and Felix can have a playdate whilst you and I do some yoga? Ha.

        Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
      • Clara wrote:

        Gals- I’ve got to jump on this bandwagon. First off, Felicia, a brilliant post as always.

        Separate entirely from blogging, I’ve definitely been the girl to push off constructive criticism or feedback for fear that it negated all my successes. My ego was also probably a bit too big. My first boss out of college was incredible, though I had no idea at the time. Now looking back, the time and personal investment he put into guiding my career development, was more than anyone has done for me since then- but I was so blind to it at the time. Now, over 7 years later, after having been put through the ringer of bad bosses, and now as a freelancer- so desperately seeking guidance from brilliant people farther along in their career than me (ahem… like you Felicia), I realize how valuable and rare that feedback is. I loved that podcast from Grace for very similar reasons, and for both personal and professional reasons as of late, find myself deep of a period of really trying to listen to and hear others. It’s so liberating and uplifting.

        Grace- you bring up such a great point on the blog front. Especially in the work that I do, I’m often confronted with girls, who while quite successful, never learned proper email etiquette, or negotation tactics, and how to create an invoice. These things matter! I, took, am SO thankful for my time in the corporate world. While building a brand via blogging has been part of my ability to freelance, so much of my ability to secure new clients and grow a business has been because of my CORPORATE background. At the same time, as the industry shifts, I fear that bloggers whose only “career experience” is running a blog, are not necessarily arming themselves well fo the future. In this way, those bloggers that dub themselves as social or digital media consultants frustrate me, because those skills are not about executing a sponsored post- they’re about understanding the larger business development, marketing, and growth goals of a company and understanding how digital and social align.

        On the mean comments… I’m always left feeling like, why? Why would you say that to someone? You wouldn’t say it to your face, so why would you write it? It feels like such an unecessary waste of energy in it’s simplest terms. I’m all for putting that energy elsewhere. I also those comments are more often a reflection of the reader’s insecurities. That absolutely doesn’t justify them or make them right, but you’re correct- if we all approached each other with a greater level of compassion (and listened!), we’d probably be better off.

        Aaaand end rant. We gotta get a drink girls.
        xx

        Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
        • Clara – Thanks for the comment, lady. It’s so interesting that you bring up the freelance aspect of life after being in a corporate environment for so long. That’s actually the one thing I miss about being in an office — consistent FEEDBACK. I’m starved for it. I had lunch with my mentor, the man who I mentioned in my post, and I had a list of questions related to my latest project, and left lunch completely sated.

          To your point, I do worry about folks who come out of college and head straight into the world of blogging without being exposed to a working environment, whether it be traditional or otherwise.

          And yes, I’d love to see you ladies. While I don’t drink, happy to grab a bite!

          Warmly, Felicia

          Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  4. Laurel wrote:

    WOW! You have made some great points (eloquently and full of grace as you so often do) that I have been saying a bit and subliminally trying to say/write about online presence, blogging, complaining bloggers, mean bloggers, sellouts and more. I don’t care what others do but don’t complain. I don’t want to hear that.

    And the other aspect of what you wrote here-looking at how one could always do better for next time and listening instead of waiting to pounce—THIS is my lesson, what I am working on and continue to do so even when those around me aren’t drinking the same juice and coming from the same place. Makes is harder and more of a challenge but I am up for it and not selling out. Obviously I am not selling out as I will do not have a heli pad or a place in the Vineyard fully paid for with my blogging money…yet (Okay a little humor at the end:)

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • Laurel – I’ve always found those who skirt the in-betweens infinitely more interesting that those who follow the pack. Keep doing what you’re doing. As always, I’m your biggest evangelist. Warmly, f.

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  5. Chaya wrote:

    this is so true. words are powerful, potent. superlatives are overused, i-love-you’s are too quickly dispensed, and criticism is carelessly given, leading people to deny or refuse it. we all need to try to be more careful, especially with what we write online. thanks for the reminder! i look forward to your posts.

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • Thanks, Chaya! You make a great point of carelessness, which is so easy to do considering the speed at which we consume and react to what people do and write online. I try, as much as possible, to step back and think before I react. I also try, in the same vein, to point myself in the other person’s position as much as I can so I have more of an objective POV. Cheers, f.

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  6. Jenn wrote:

    It’s interesting to me that you talk about bullying being posting nude and/or disparaging photos of a woman online but then defend your friend’s public naked photos of his daughter. Someday she’ll be a woman and she may not have wanted those images made available for public consumption, you know? Do you think a child doesn’t count as a “person” ? This is not an attack, I’m really curious. I really enjoyed this thoughtful post and agreed with a lot of it but that bit made me pause.

    Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
    • Jenn,

      Thanks so much for dropping by and I appreciate the comment. I should make a note of clarity about my post above. While I don’t condone photos of a nude child online for the very reasons you mention above, my comment was more related to the father (whom I don’t know – I was referencing an article my friend had written on the subject) being labeled as a child pornographer, as if his intent was to sexualize his children or promote them as sexual objects. Do I think the photos are inappropriate for an online space? Absolutely. I wouldn’t want photos of me (or my child, should I have one) floating around the internet. However, I wouldn’t jump to calling him a child pornographer, instead I would have made a comment much as you have above.

      I hope that clarifies things a bit. I value a child’s privacy just as much, if not more so, than an adult’s.

      Warmly, Felicia

      Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
      • Jenn wrote:

        Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it. I don’t know your friend so I wasn’t coming at it with an opinion on his photography and whether it is appropriate or not (I wince at anything more than bare baby buns put online). I can understand your disappointment with feeling your friend has been unfairly labeled with such a loaded word though. Thanks again for clarifying.

        Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
        • Jenn,

          You raised an excellent point, and thank you for giving me the chance to think it over and add clarity. Like you, I wince at anything that shows a child baring skin, maybe with the exception of those cheesy Anne Geddes photos. 🙂

          Actually, the photographer is not a friend of mine. I referenced my friend Alex, who wrote a piece about her friend (the photographer).

          Thanks again for visiting.

          Warmly, Felicia

          On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 8:19 PM, love.life.e

          Posted on 4.30.14 · Reply to comment
  7. scompiseno wrote:

    Hi there… I felt compelled to jump in and leave my two cents on this topic. I’m fairly “newish” to blogging- it will be a year in July, and sometimes I really think some bloggers take for granted the gift they’ve been given. I spent 12 years busting my butt on Wall Street, fighting my way amongst a predominate sea of men, working 12+ hour days and entertaining clients at night. I’ve experienced sexual harassment firsthand from both clients and managing directors. I’ve worked for amazing leaders and horrendous ones. I barely saw my son for 2 1/2 years and relied on a full time nanny and amazing husband to keep it all together.

    I was lucky enough to be able to “opt out”, take some time for myself and reevaluate what I wanted to do and what kind of person I wanted to be. This in turn, motivated me to start doing something for myself: blogging. I’ve never been more fulfilled, happy or balanced. Every day I can spend time with my kids doing ordinary mom things that I missed out on for years, yet still have something that is just for “Me”… Well, me and all of my followers. I am so grateful for the personal accomplishment and second career blogging has given me. It truly is a passion and hopefully that shows in my work.

    Without my previous corporate experience and the maturity it gave me, perhaps I wouldn’t be as appreciative of the pretty freakin’ cool things I get to do now. Perhaps, it’s also because I’m 35, and a little older, wiser and with a tougher skin than I had at 25 (the age of so many successful bloggers out there). Regardless, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and interact with so many amazing women & bloggers this past year- their opinions and feedback are what drive me to do BETTER than “my best.”

    Anyway, great post! It reminded me why my crazy schedule this month is a true blessing. Hopefully, all those “complainers” will realize they’re pretty blessed too, haters and all.

    -S

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
    • Hey Stella – As someone who also worked in finance in the late 90s, everything you write rings true and makes me shudder. Last year I resigned from a job that was killing me, and I made the conscious decision to leave without a safety net and an ocean of credit card debt. Reason? The most important thing in my life was living a life where I truly felt I owned my days and could create something beautiful with them. And I haven’t looked back.

      I’m so delighted that blogging not only became an outlet for you, but it allowed you time with your family (so important!). I’m also happy to have discovered your space; you’ve now got yourself a new reader!

      Cheers, Felicia

      Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  8. mariedenee wrote:

    Man, where do I begin? I would like to call this required reading 101 for new bloggers. I think I’m actually going to do that! Lol.

    Thank you for this post! As one who has been blogging five years, has grown through blog evolutions, who does this full time, and who has had a life in retail before this- THANK YOU. I’ve long had to operate w/the mindset of how can I do better, improve upon, set myself up for whatever, and this humility has been only integral in my successes. Maybe the military brat life, retail, or education that has raised me to think this way, but I’m grateful.

    I’m going to share in all the group’s as this mindset along with entitlement make things a bit difficult to help those who have such amazing potential to kick ass blogging and/or to help others…

    I’ve long lurked, and this post brought me out to say thank you, thank you, and thank you.

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
    • Marie,

      First off, I’m so humbled that you left such a lovely comment — I’ve been a long-time fan of what you do and the positivity you imbue in your blog and your wonderful sense of self, it’s downright infectious.

      And I agree with you. I think everyone, bloggers and non-bloggers need a dose of humility. A need to step back, be thoughtful and considerate when posting and connecting with others online and off.

      Inviting yourself to constantly evaluate who you are and what you do, and if you’re doing it with authenticity and integrity is the only way you’ll get to the next place.

      xo, Felicia

      Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  9. Jackie wrote:

    Such an interesting post. People just have such a hard time distinguishing between the pointless, jealous comments from “haters,” and the actual, constructive feedback/criticism from readers who genuinely care and are sad to see a blog change over the years. Or maybe people don’t want to draw a distinction between the two, because that would force them to examine their practices and realize that perhaps they really should change the way they’re doing things. I think there has to be a balance between making a living and maintaining artistic integrity…I imagine it would be hard though, when sponsors are throwing money at you. Anyway really great post. It made me think about criticism in a way I haven’t before.

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
    • Jackie – Your comment is so spot-on, thank you thank you! I think people often feel that putting on the blinders will allow them to power through and continue with their success, but then they wonder why they’ve stalled or why they feel uninspired when it comes to their work. It’s really hard to hear negative or constructive feedback about yourself, but I’ve realized that if the feedback comes from a good place then I really needed to take a step back and see how I can be a better writer, person, marketer, as a result. I think people are afraid to do the WORK. We want instant gratification. We want ease. But we are a work-in-progress and we require work.

      Warmly, f.

      Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  10. Fantastic writing and topic Felicia! Also, I enjoyed reading the comments, too. There is nothing better than a post that ignites great discussion.
    I listened to that podcast you mentioned, and have been listening to Jess Lively’s interviews, and reading elsewhere and I have to say that I’ve been so grateful for the insightful, deep content that you and a few others have been injecting into the blogging arena lately.
    Working in the corporate environment I have to admit that I, quite often, find myself shaking my head and dismissing the complaints of a busy week when I know that the author has the opportunity, and luxury, to schedule her days, make a living off of something that moves her to her core, and work in a creative industry. I definitely appreciate when they acknowledge that they’re lucky to be doing what they do.
    I worry too, about the lack of professionalism and tact that bloggers with no corporate, real-world (for lack of a better term) experience have under their belts. I truly appreciate the nuances of business life that have been instilled in me thanks to my job.
    That said, working a traditional, corporate job is not easy! But you know this, so I won’t complain further. 🙂
    Also, I wanted to say that I laughed out loud when I read the “clear genius that was Felicia Sullivan” because I’ve wanted to yell, more than I care to admit lately, that my co-workers are not appreciating the “clear genius that [is] Emily Trout” Oh my goodness, girl. I probably shouldn’t admit that. And maybe my ego is a little to big, but I’ve received some criticism lately that I have taken to heart, and while I’ve taken steps to acknowledge that criticism and get feedback on how I can better react to things, I just can’t help but think it’s a few men getting twisted because I’m being a proactive, adamant woman who provides context and sheds light on an industry that is traditionally, and currently, still male-driven and female-averse.
    Having a mentor like you had is definitely something to be thankful for! It’s not easy to find, and has been a struggle I’ve faced. However, in the mean time, I am taking the words of yourself and a few others to heart because you’ve got experience in spades and are living, and working, in a way that is true to yourselves, your abilities, and your passions.

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
    • Emily – Your comment literally reminded me of a period of time when I practiced yoga pretty regularly. At the time, I was an intermediate/advanced practitioner, and as a result, I developed a massive ego about my practice (the irony that this is the antithesis of yoga does not escape me), and my teacher noticed this and said, your ego will inevitably be your downfall, because ego takes you out of the present moment and away from mindfulness. I ignored her, and as a result I pulled a hamstring and had to modify my poses for two years.

      All because I wouldn’t listen to feedback. All because I allowed my ego to cloud my vision.

      I think about this now and while it’s natural for us to have an ego (I mean, we’re HUMAN), I try as much as I can to check myself. I also have friends who really keep me in check and keep me honest. That’s really important.

      xo, Felicia

      Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
      • Oh goodness, and I’m getting more serious about my yoga practice. How funny, and timely. No injuries…yet! I will say, when there are other people in the class (a lot of times I’m the only one) I try to make myself more conscious of not watching them or trying to compete with them (always internally) because that is completely not the point.
        I appreciate your feedback and will use it to remind myself to listen and, sometimes, STFU. hah!

        Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  11. mmmarzipan wrote:

    I’ve been reading every word of your recent blog posts. I always find them to be insightful, honest and poignant. And the comments on your post are food for thought too… Your blog obviously attracts a certain calibre/kind of reader. The thoughtful kind!

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  12. Wow.

    Posted on 5.1.14 · Reply to comment
  13. I often peruse the comment sections of some of the blogs I follow and see these comments that can be taken in a negative manner. I think its counterproductive for a blogger to then respond with a post simply defending their lifestyle, without even acknowledging the concerns/complaints of the people who click to their page everyday. I loved when you made the point “Time is a precious commodity, and if someone uses their time to help make you a better blogger, professional, or business owner, consider their feedback the equivalent of a performance review, an investment in you, and don’t you owe it to them, to yourself, to pay attention?” It seems so logical that you would listen to the readers who support said income that they make from their blogs.

    I am exactly one month late in commenting, but the timing on how I found this article couldn’t be anything other than serendipity. If nothing else, this post (& the comments!) has made me grateful for the position I’m in, working in the lovely world of huge corporations, as well as being able to author my passion blog.

    xo, Manda

    Posted on 5.30.14 · Reply to comment

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  • New post up on medium. Link in bio.
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“If I had my way, I’d never leave my house. My home is small, and I know every inch of it. An 800-square foot box with two windows, walls, and a doorbell that plays instrumental Julio Iglesias. Half the rooms are cloaked in effulgent light and the other a cool charcoal black. I’ve become fluent at oscillating between the two. I don’t even love the space in which I live, but I’m hard-pressed to leave it.”
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#authorsofig #authorsofinstagram #writing #weekendvibes #mediumstory #friyay #friyayvibes #novelplotting
  • I live in a city of four million people, which was a marked improvement from my home, New York, of eight million. I snapped this photo during my trip to Cape Town (488K people), and during that trip we traveled to towns of four thousand people and it was GLORIOUS.
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It’s bizarre that I’ve always been a city girl and all I want now is small. Quiet. Remote. I feel like my dad.
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I cracked my tooth on Friday (it’s all good—I got Percocet and a $3K bill), and it made me think that there’s so much I want to do, work-wise and artistically, but I’m always thinking about money. Years ago, I heard Paul Jarvis talk about reducing your expenses to feel richer. I know, captain  obvious, but it resonated with me on Friday while on Percocet.
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I’m considering another move when my lease is up to a small AF town in California not too far from the Redwoods and the ocean. I LOVE California, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the US. And I love the idea of FEWER people. Quiet to write. Maybe I can get a dog friend for my Felix! .
So, we’ll see. Does anyone here live in a remote or super small town? If so, what do you love about it?
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#sundayfunday #sundayvibes #weekendvibes #freelancing #authorsofig
  • My breaking point was over a hazelnut. A hazelnut that cracked my tooth at two-thirty this morning. Because I was stress-eating granola. But it was the three thousand dollar bill to fix said tooth that did me in. Only a few weeks before, a persistent ache in another tooth turned into a five-hour fiasco involving a dentist, an endodontist, a $5,000 bill and me texting a friend — while the fifth shot in my mouth was kicking in, and I was inhaling nitrous gas like a glass of water in the fucking Sahara — ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT?
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My dentist tried to reassure me, after rejecting my pleas for a fifteen-year repayment plan, that this particular tooth had already booked a one-way ticket to a root canal, so I ended up saving $2,000! Oh, cool. So, instead of dropping ten grand on two teeth, I was only paying eight. Like I have eight thousand dollars just laying around, waiting to be flushed down the dental toilet. Apparently, the hazelnut was my salvation. I started laughing and continued laughing. For a while. To the point where everyone in the waiting room was uncomfortable.
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****I wrote about teeth, money, and debt in my latest medium post. Link in bio.*****
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#risingtidesociety #freelancing #freelancinglife #bosslife #bossbabe #beingboss #cashmoney #fuckstudentloans #femtrepreneur #realtalk
  • This is our one life. We love. We lose. We overcome. We break in ways we never thought possible. We climb, ravage, and wreck. While it’s possible that every story has been told, that knowledge doesn’t stop us from reading, watching, listening, and feeling. It doesn’t disconnect us from someone’s unique experience. Instead, we live for the retelling: how individuals bear that which is familiar or common, and how their singular experience feels fresh and new.
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Today, I wrote a tutorial about crafting plots. Instead of vivisecting plot arcs — because frankly, I’d rather gouge out my eyes with an acetylene torch — I invite you to consider three simple questions: what story will sustain your interest for 70,000 words? Can you commit to your story and the sequence of events that unfold for months or years of your life? Does your novel have the weight to capture and hold your reader until the end?
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This year, I’m committed to sharing what I know for FREE. I’ve got no classes to sell after this (I actually hate the idea of teaching writing; I’d rather be doing it), but lots of people have asked for the goods and I believe if you’ve got the skill and privilege, you should be sharing it.
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So, if you want to get your plot on (I am such a 40-something), hit up the link in my bio. If you like what you read, consider clapping (you can clap up to 50x on medium) and share it, so more people get the education love.
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#authorsofig #novel #howtowrite #authorsofinstagram #freelancewriter #novelplotting #mondaymotivation #risingtidesociety #writing #writingcommunity
  • Want to write a book? I'm sharing a six-part series in how to get the job done. The first two I'm previewing on Medium. Yesterday, I wrote about writing killer dialogue. Today, I'm sharing how to craft compelling characters. If you love what you read, consider sharing and clapping (more than once!). link in bio!
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Characters are delicious. When I was small, I didn’t have many friends, so I surrounded myself with books and my imagination. It’s a strange, magical thing to live your life inside your head, but this is what I did. Long, sultry summers formed a backdrop for one of the many worlds I’d created, complete with a cast of characters who felt so real you could touch them. This was more than inventing an imaginary friend or anthropomorphizing a stuffed bear; my characters were fully-formed people who had their own personalities, a particular way of talk, and facial features I’d cobbled together from television shows and magazines. They clasped pearls around their thin necks and wore sweaters and shoes made of silk and dyed blue. They were carriers of credit cards, plastic rectangular shapes I’d only seen on TV — a far cry from the crumpled bills and pennies we hoarded. My characters were breathing Frankensteins, only far less frightening. What made them real was they refused to follow a script — they rarely behaved the way I wanted them to.
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#howtowrite #writing #writingtips #characterdesign #authorsofinsta #authorsofinstagram #bookstagram #howtowriteabook #weekendvibes #sundayfunday
  • Want to write a book? I got you. Below is an excerpt from my latest medium piece—the first tutorial of six I’ll be sharing on writing mechanics. You’ll get the other 5 later this month if you’re on my email list. Link in profile!
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Denis Johnson once said that dialogue isn’t about what characters are saying, but what’s left unsaid. The leaner the dialogue, the bigger the bite. Darkness fell. The summer in 2005 was unseasonably chilly, and we wrapped ourselves in light jackets and thin cotton sweaters, watching the author of Jesus’ Sonchain-smoke and dole out advice with humor and humility. We were at a writer’s conference where we workshopped our stories during the day and mingled with boldfaced names in the evening. This would be the summer before I sold my first book and I was floored that my teacher at the time, Nick Flynn, found something honest and worthy in my essays that would become my memoir, The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here. Back then, I was painfully shy and prone to giving violently awkward first impressions, so instead of the cocktails and conversation, I chose to sit on the wet grass and listen to writers whom I admired. One evening, Denis Johnson gave a talk on dialogue.
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Dialogue is difficult. I often think of it as the power-lifter of novel writing because it has to operate successfully on several different levels. Not only does it have to move the story forward, convey information quickly, and grant narrative breathing space (because who wants to plow through pages without an exhale), but it also has to reveal core character truths. Dialogue delivers what narrative can’t — a voyeuristic, in-depth look into the minds of characters through what they say, and more importantly, what they chose not to disclose. Characters come to life when they speak. We visualize them as living, breathing people who have a particular way of talk, a specific view of the world and their place in it. While the author has dominion over the narrative, serving as your tour guide through the story, the dialogue serves as the wild card, the wrench that could usurp everything you’ve just read and what you’re about to read.
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#howtowrite #writing #writingtips #authorsofig
  • I was born to be me. Strange, weird, a contrarian, someone who sees the world differently. This is what I learned this week.
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Today, I had a call with my friend @luciaioevans, and we started talking about a podcast idea we’ve been toying with—something news something you have NOT seen before I guarantee you. And it occurred to me that they’re myopic, borderline photocopies of a bland original. They’ve internalized brand consistency and continuity so much that they’ll build a whole world for themselves in their box and never have any desire to peer out and see what’s outside.
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These podcasts invite guests who look and sound just like them. They regurgitate the same bullshit business advice that Seth Godin wrote a decade ago, and pithy platitudes because it got that influencer turned entrepreneur rich on Instagram, and now she sells courses for $600 a pop when she’s never done the thing she teaches for anyone other than herself. These people are so obsessed with building their brand that they forgot to be human.
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And then I realized that since we have so little time, why not spend it being our truest selves. Why not fuse all the things that make us weird, strange, and unique, and bring them to bear on our work.
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Don’t listen to people who tell you that you should act or be a certain way. They’re telling you to behave in their way, in a way that’s safe, conforming, and possibly boring. They’re not wrecking things. They’re not thinking about the feel of every inch of our life slipping, slipping, slipping by. They clock-watch. They speak in coded jargon or vernacular. Plain English frightens them. People who are different paralyze them. And they’ll poke fun and use you as a prop for their amusement, but they’re small. And they’re not doing much with their life except for complaining about it.
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Over the next year, I have BIG sweeping plans. Education, podcasts, writing. And I plan to ignore what everyone else is doing, will give zero fucks about what people think of me because I think we’re our most brave when we are our most real, vulnerable selves.
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#realtalk #freelancing #bosslady #beingboss #nofakeshit #entrepreneurlife #femtrepreneur #freelancewriter
  • When you’re deep in the throes of doing work, hatching plans, and thinking, thinking, thinking, it’s SO important to make sure your brain RESTS. When I do this, I find I’m brimming with new ideas.
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Every day I do something that doesn’t involve a device to EXPERIENCE the world. Today, it was getting into a coffin with a friend and checking out re-enactments of The Shining.
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#myhappyplace #redrum #horrorart #freelance #freelancelife #checkyourhead #freelancing

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