Thursday, March 31, 2011

I get email

Wish I was rich enough to hire you, but I’m not.

Just wanted to say your blog on Forbes is one of the few women’s blogs I read. (In fact, I can’t think of another at this moment.)

I’m fixing to be 62 (sorry for the Texas accent) and I’ve never understood the whole feminist thing. Dad used to say, “Now don’t be too independent!” (what does that mean??) I accepted the reality of difference in pay, jobs gotten, etc. Just made me work harder – I can’t stand naggers and I always saw “feminists” as nags. Strident nags. Nor can I stand women who constantly put down their men. That is so dumb and actually self-demeaning.

But I do enjoy your not-particularly-focused-on-women blog entries. And on selling your womanhood? I know that flirting using your intellect (not your sexuality) is good for the soul.

Good stuff! And the best of luck! I was out of work for 11 months – that’s never happened to me before. First time I ever got really scared. You will find a good job with people like Glenn Reynolds behind you!
[Image via Jak & Jil]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Atomic skirt.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why women are content to blog in a virtual pink ghetto

It's the latest on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: "How to Get a Job Because You're a Woman."
"Seriously? the email read. "[Y]ou're in the Forbes stable? I'm beyond incredulous. How did this come to pass?"

The email was from a man I know but have never met, a fellow writer. How was it possible that I was writing for, and he wasn't? Apparently, the possibilities were so limited that he couldn't think of one good reason.

Here are a few: 1) I'm an experienced blogger, 2) I'm a veteran writer, 3) I'm a woman.
[Read it]

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thank you

I spent most of Saturday revising my novel. By the time I got to the check-out at the grocery store in the early evening, I was in a crazed state.

"Hold on," the cashier said and sprinted off.

He returned with these daffodils.

"To inspire you," he said.

I kissed him on the cheek.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New post on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: When your personal brand is porn

A new post is up on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED. This time, I tackle what it's like to look for a job and when prospective employers google you, all they find is porn. It's: "How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand When Your Personal Brand Is Sex."
If, like me, you’re searching for a new job, you’re probably already aware that potential employers who receive your resume are likely googling you to find out whether or not they want to hire you.

But what if those potential employers google your name, and what they find is … sex?

In my case, that’s exactly what happens.
[Read it]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I get email


Good for you on freelance success. As a full-time freelancer since 1987 with a long list of credits, too, I didn't appreciate your freelance piece on freelancing.

Good to have an opinion and I respect that.

But . . .

1. I have a penis, and I've lost jobs I believe because I have it.

2. Never write for free unless it's for a friend or for barter.

3. I'm 55 and I have a few younger editors. I use Facebook and Twitter and don't feel the need to be hip and young. I'm hip and not young. I'm not stupid and nor are my editors.

4. Blog and set it up so your blog goes to your Twitter account.

5. I'm 6-1, too, and no one has hired me or not hired me because of my height. Shame on you for your reverse sexism. Take your rather attractive mugshot off your blog and then get back to me.

Now, get back to work.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Be a Freelance Writer

If you're interested in becoming a freelance writer, read my latest post on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: "How to Be a Freelancer (and How Not to Be a Freelancer)."
TIP #4: Grow a Penis.

More men get published in magazines than women. Occasionally, I have wondered what would happen if I sent my pitches out under a man’s name. If you are a woman, you may want to consider growing a penis. I have no advice on how a woman would go about doing that. I am a writer, not a scientist.
[Read it]

Monday, March 21, 2011

I finished my novel

Yesterday, I finished writing my novel. I've been trying to write this novel for about a decade. So, this was a big deal.

It is a short novel, or novella, which I have referred to as a novelini. It is called PORN HAPPY. It is about a federal agent in search of a missing porn star. It is based on my experiences writing about the adult movie industry.

I am not entirely sure why I was able to complete it at this time. It probably was partly due to my ability to process my father's death, having some level of psychological distance from the subject matter, and that I was downsized.

I plan to self-publish the book, so keep an eye out here.

[Video via La Petite Claudine]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The latest on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: I go to SXSW Interactive

Here's the latest post on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: "At SXSW Interactive, Recruiters Are Pimps, Fameballs Are Sad, and Big Business Doesn't Listen."
The session starts. LaPierre announces that during her session no one can blog or Twitter. If they want to do so, they should leave. I find this strange, seeing as LaPierre is the head of social media at Kodak. Social media is the blood coursing through SXSW’s veins. In every session, attendees are typing away on iPhones, iPads, and laptops. This is the means by which SXSW becomes a conversation not with itself, but with the world. This is part of how people process their experience here. Through social media.

I get up and walk out.
Also, I find out how freelancers are like drug dealers, what Julia Allison's thoughts are on the "cyber police," and why Kodak thinks I'm an idiot.

[Read it]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm going to SXSW Interactive

I'm going to South by Southwest Interactive today. What will happen there? Find out in tomorrow's PINK SLIPPED.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Write a Novel and Not Kill Yourself

I seem to be closing in on finishing my novel. Which is a good thing. Here are a few new things I've learned as of late.

1. The middle is the worst part. The first paragraph of a novel is the easiest part to write. I think there is a place towards the end where you pick up momentum because there is a sense that it will be over in the foreseeable future. The middle part just blows. It's like being lost in a wood of words. I have no idea what the "solution" is here other than to say knowledge that the middle is the hardest part may help. Or not.

2. Summarize as You Go. I've never been much of a fan of outlines, but I was stuck on a plane recently, and I thought, hm, well, what if I summarize in prose -- using a pen and a piece of paper, no less -- what's happened in my novel thus far? I did that. It helped. It makes you reduce all the complexities to simplicities. It edits out the endless psychological torment that accompanies the writing of most novels.

3. Music Helps. I like listening to Stereomood while I write. You can pick the mood you're in, and then you get a series of tracks that fit that mood. For literature, I've especially enjoyed Chillout, Epic, and Ambient.

4. So Does Multitasking. I've read about various studies that show how multitasking is bad for you, but for me it helps when I'm working on the novel. My novel is broken down into bite-sized chunks, and between the writing and/or editing of those chunks, I'll often take a short "break" and do something else. Like clean the toilet, check my email, or stuff my face. I find writing fiction to be very stressful, and the multitasking relaxes me. Also: Most stuff experts say is wrong or stupid.

5. Don't Expect to Like It. I think maybe writing a novel is like having a kid. Sure, sometimes it's fun, and you laugh and play, and everyone goes to sleep happy. Other days, it's about flying food, moist diapers, and bad attitudes. I guess the point is to appreciate the good times and pretend the bad times aren't happening. Otherwise, you kill yourself.

6. Push It Good. Or, in the words of Salt-N-Pepa, "Push it real good!" Personally, I don't understand how people can sit around writing crappy novels because the boredom would just kill me. I find I write best when I'm writing about something totally insane -- like people who sell their eyes, or one character waterboarding another, or a pill-popping mother. Really, no one cares about your stupid novel or the fact that you're writing it. You should entertain yourself.

7. Study Your Contrasts. In "Infamous," Truman Capote says of convicted killer Perry Smith, "he does have the tender and the terrible side by side inside him." I think that's a good way of describing great prose. It should be alarming and beautiful at the same time. Things are only beautiful in proximity to ugliness.

8. Meditate. It works. Do it. Smart minds yearn to write novels. Smart minds are crazy minds. Meditation helps make the crazed mind sane.

9. It's OK to Be Crabby. One thing I have a hard time with sometimes in this world is that you're supposed to be nice. Like, what's up with that? Honestly, at least 50-percent of the time I'm crabby. The kind of freakish self-indulgence that leads to novel writing requires the writer to function with a kind of ruthless impunity. Ruthless impunity. Is that redundant? Maybe. If the idea of being around others gives you hives, you're either in IT or a novel writer waiting to happen.

10. The Only Monsters Are in Your Head. Lately, finally, I've been able to realize that novel writing is a pretty stupid, boring, mundane act. I mean, really? You're going to make up a story in your head and write it down? How very special of you. The hard part is the demons in your mind that tell you that you can't do it, that make it hard to tolerate being alone, that want you to quit, to lay down and die, to give it all up. Serve them with eviction notices. Tell them that Dick Cheney has rooms for rent.

[Image via This Isn't Happiness]

Friday, March 11, 2011

New on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED: Job-interview-palooza

I've got a new post up on my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED. This time, I go on job interviews. I conclude interviews are a waste of time, resumes are worthless, and getting hired is dumb luck.
The CEO is wearing cowboy boots. We're sitting in a meeting room. There is a big screen TV and a sectional sofa. The CEO went to Princeton. I know this because I searched him on Google before I got here. He wants to know if he hires me, will I watch videos of cats skateboarding while I am at work? I tell him, no, I will not watch videos of cats skateboarding while I am at work. I try to recall if I have ever seen a video of a cat skateboarding. I have not.
[How to Not Get Hired]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What they're saying

I found Susannah Breslin interesting for about one and a half seconds.
A feminist blogger declares me dull. According to her, my Forbes blog PINK SLIPPED reeks of privilege and reads like Eat Pray Love meets "Working Girl" meets the unemployment line. Additionally, she believes that I do not experience being downsized as "both scary and life-altering." Instead, she seems to think, I lay about in bed all day, stuffing bon-bons into my mouth, and reveling in my downsized status.

Oh, Dreary, how I wish that were true! Because the writer does not lay bare her financial issues and unemployment anxieties does not mean they are not there. I left out the part about how five days after I was downsized, the stress resulted in a kidney stone, a case of shingles not long after that, and another medical issue after that I will not terrorize you with, lest you catch it by proxy.

Only a fool would think I'm not terrified. Only a blogger would write such a thing without asking the subject whether or not it was true. Only the privileged believe they have the privilege to decide who among us is privileged and who is not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cloud Gate

I went to Chicago. I hadn't been there since grad school. Actually, I did return after that. When The Harpoonist got married. But that was many years ago.

It was bigger than I remembered, and I still admired the grand scale of it all. It was cold, and snowed. I saw the L train and the Art Institute and the skyscrapers.

I hadn't been there since Millennium Park was built, so this was my first time seeing the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion, Cloud Gate, pictured here, and Crown Fountain.

I liked the bean the best. A giant glob of frozen mercury. A floating reflection of Narcissus's pool. A woman's pelvis, tilted.


Friday, March 4, 2011

How to sell a short story

I've got a new post up at my Forbes blog, PINK SLIPPED. It's about an experiment I conducted not long ago. I decided to sell a custom-made short story online. Did it work -- or bomb spectacularly? As it turned out, it was a love story.
I've been a fiction writer for as long as I can remember. One of my early works involved a buffalo. It was handwritten on a sheet of paper with one-inch tall lines for kindergarten scrawl. After graduate school, my short stories were published in literary magazines, online, and in anthologies. Several years ago, I published a short story collection, You're a Bad Man, Aren't You? The book has since gone out of print. Used booksellers offer it on Amazon starting at $2,398.04.
If you're interested in having me write a bespoke story for you or someone you know, read the rules, then email me.

[How to Sell Your Fiction Online: A Love Story]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My new Forbes blog: Pink Slipped

I'm really happy to announce the launch of a new blog that I'm writing for PINK SLIPPED.

A little over a month ago, I was downsized from my full-time job as an editor. That day, I wrote a post about being downsized: "Hire Me."

Shortly thereafter, I got an email from my former editor at True/Slant. Since True/Slant, where I and other journalists blogged, was bought by Forbes Media last year, I'd been hoping to make the move to But, ironically, it took getting downsized to make that a reality.

PINK SLIPPED is my story of getting downsized, looking for work in a tough job market, and what happens when you have to reinvent yourself. I'll be revealing my experiences, recounting wacky tales from the front lines, offering job searching tips, telling you what not to do because I did it already, and debating whether or not to sell my used underpants.

I'm really very excited about this project. It's a new direction for me, and something I've been increasingly interested in as of late. I hope you'll enjoy the ride.

In my first post, "How to Get Downsized," I explain why men are more helpful than women, show how flexibility is the key to getting paid, and decide getting downsized is good for you.

Of course, if you've got a lead on a job, are looking to hire, or know someone who is hiring, I'm a writer, a journalist, an editor, a blogger, a social media strategist, and a copywriter, and I'd love to hear from you.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Charlie Sheen's "porn family" dream

Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed me about Charlie Sheen's recent assertions that he would like to have his very own "porn family."
Susannah Breslin, a journalist who spent several years in the San Fernando Valley reporting on the adult industry, speculates that his dream of having a "porn family" is "actually a fantasy about a world in which one is understood completely, every move is a performance, and no one will judge you, regardless of how destructive or self-destructive you are."
[Read it]