Jun 15

Father’s Day

The last time I spent time with my Dad, before the end, was around June 5, 2011.  He had just recovered from surgery, and I wanted to see him and spend a couple of days with him. We went to Chicago Street Deli in Shawnee, Oklahoma, I took a huge coffee to go.  He drove us to the part of Shawnee that had the country club and newer developments. We used to do that every Saturday the last time I lived in Shawnee (around 2000-2003). We wouldn’t talk much, just enjoy each other’s company as he pointed out if someone we knew still lived in a house. We always made fun of one house that had a garish orange color. Then we drove back to the house where I grew up. I didn’t know at the time it would be the last time I spent time with Dad when he was well, but it will always be one of my most favorite memories of him.

My Dad died in May 2012, just a few short months before my daughter, his first granddaughter, was born.  She will only ever know him from pictures, videos, and stories.  But I think she’ll appreciate knowing that he knew about her, and he’d already given me important reassurance and advice.  That meant a lot, because he spent 35+ years of his life as a pediatrician.

Today, I took a drive with my wife and daughter. Father’s Day will always be a little sad, but I’m grateful that I am a Dad, too, and hopefully one day, my daughter will talk about the fun things she did with her father when she was young.

I miss you, Pop.  Happy Father’s Day.

My father

Dad

 

Jun 14

31

Whenever I want to type, “last year was challenging,” I always feel the need to write about the year before that for context, because that year was challenging, too.  But then that year requires the previous year for context, and so on.  I have to go back to when my life went from manageable and relatively calm to one filled with precipitous highs and lows across every facet of my life. 

I believe there is a line in our lives when we become not only self-sufficient and self-supporting, but when our loved ones (whether they’re children, spouses, parents, or grandparents) begin to depend on us, while we juggle the responsibilities of our own lives.  For me, that’s when I turned 31.

Now’s the part where a blog narrative usually gives details, and this is where I usually stumble.  As you can see from the few posts I’ve made this year, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with revealing personal details about my life. I come from a long line of “non-whiners” … we just shrug off whatever setback has come into our lives and move forward, inexorably.  More importantly, much of the tumult occurred to loved ones, and I want to respect their privacy.  But I’m also a writer, and the entire point of writing is to reveal.  I admire writers like the late Jay Lake or my friend and interviewee Steven Harper Piziks.  They’ve fearlessly discussed the highs and the lows of their lives.  They also wrote about mundane topics and reviewed films or books.

It’s become clear to me that while I work on projects for other people, and my own projects, I need a platform to just … write.

So here we are.  I’m not sure where this latest writing journey will take me, but I’m planning to find out.  I will write at least a couple of times per month, with one planned recurring topic.  Stay tuned for more on that.

Your comments are always welcome.  So, if you’re willing, please tell me when you first considering yourself an adult?

 

Apr 28

The First Draft

In the early 1990s, George R.R. Martin (GRRM) called it quits with Hollywood and hunkered down at his home in New Mexico.  He was tired of being told to cut his scripts down, and he wanted to write a sprawling epic that was not constrained by budgets or other meddlesome hands.  He began to write his A Song of Ice and Fire Series (which the mainstream public primarily knows as Game of Thrones).

GRRM, of course, has weathered criticism for the length of time that occurs between his novels. I’ve been a fan of ASOIAF since 2000, and I’m definitely someone who gets impatient with the delays.  But as I was thinking about his books, and their relatively recent mainstream fame, I’ll bet there are times when GRRM wishes for the peace and serenity of working on that first draft.  When he started writing the series, he was a well-known figure in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror fandom, and he obviously had contacts in Hollywood, but the Ice and Fire novels hadn’t hit the bestseller lists, and he hadn’t achieved his current level of mainstream fame.

And that got me to thinking about my own fiction and my friends’ projects.

All writers are basically GRMM when we face a blank page on our computer, tablet, or notebook.

I’m a writer who has a very strong urge to self-edit.  It’s actually a personality trait (which is a topic for another blog post), but it can be oppressive when I’m working on a new story or project.  I’m learning to let go and just enjoy the initial process of drafting, of creating itself.  It’s okay to go onto strange tangents in the first draft stage, and it’s okay to write scenes and dialogue that are not polished.  It’s a draft.  The first draft.  It needs to live and breathe and take its first few imperfect and awkward steps.

Because I know that one day, external success or not, I’ll think back happily to the moments of writing a first draft, when the future was unknown and it was just me, the story, and the characters.

Jan 03

A Tale of Two Blogs

I mentioned in my last post on this blog that I would be moving all topics related to my job as a freelance copywriter and editor to a new blog.  That worked out; I wrote several blog posts on copywriting or editing topics.  But I wanted to also write about the films I saw or stories I read, or I wanted to comment on the state of movie making or publishing.

I didn’t write about those topics at my new site, because my home page shows my latest blog post, and discussing Star Trek Into Darkness might be too cognitively dissonant for someone just trying to find info on my freelance writing services!

Meanwhile, this blog collected Internet dust.  I didn’t want to delete it, since it’s attached to my author and screenwriter website.  Some older posts remained  excellent lead generators for my small business.

And so, with the new year rolling around, I decided to engage in an experiment.  I will continue to discuss copywriting/editing/marketing at Enlighten Writing.  I will talk about anything not related to commercial freelance writing here.

I hope you’ll join the conversation.

If you arrived at this blog seeking my help on a business writing or editing project, head over to Enlighten Writing, where you’ll find lots of information on how I can help you!  Or you can send me an e-mail. :-)

Dec 28

New Site/New Year

Happy Almost New Year!  I’ve made some changes to my business. Enlighten Writing is now the home of my freelance writing and editing business.  All of this blog’s posts currently exist at the Enlighten Writing site.

So … what to do with this blog?  Honestly, I’m not sure right now.   The site that bears my name is now a showcase for my fiction works.  My screenplay, Indian Errand Day,  won the  Willamette Writers Kay Snow Award in 2011.   And my short story, “The Unrequited Love of Captain Davis,” appears in the anthology .

If this post is the most recent thing on this page, well it just means I’m still trying to decide what to do with it. ;-)

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year!

Jul 09

The Importance of Website Content

Mahesh Raj Mohan

Website content is probably the most viewed content today.  And yet, I think it’s often written as an afterthought.  Sometimes website content focuses on over-selling a business, or it doesn’t include enough information about a product.  For example, a client of mine (a Portland-area dentist) told me that my home page didn’t sell my services well enough.  Talk about throwing the gauntlet down!

I based my former site design and color scheme on my business cards.   My client gave me points for branding myself, but he pointed out that with the emergence of tablets like the iPad, site designs should focus on simpler graphics with more information about services.  The verdict is still out on that, I think, but I definitely agreed that my site needed an upgrade.

I included more information about my services, and I included a testimonial. Check out the results, and let me know what you think!

If you, or someone you know, needs website content, my initial consultation is always free.  I love learning about different businesses and organizations, so let’s talk!

Apr 24

The Lucky Seven

Although Twitter and Facebook dominate the blogging and sharing spaces in our lives, there is something pretty special about blog memes.   A typical blog meme entails some kind of a list, then you “tag” your friends, ask them to make their own lists, tag more friends, and so on.  I fondly remember a few blog “meme tags” when I was a more frequent blogger (2004 to 2006).

I was thrilled when Julia Munroe Martin (“wordsxo” on Twitter) tagged me for the Lucky Seven Challenge, which has some pretty straightforward rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your WIP or latest book.

2. Count down seven lines.

3. Copy the 7 sentences that follow and post them.

4. Tag 7 other authors.

Julia chose to list the sentences on page 7 since page 77 had a huge plot turn, which makes me wonder what it is!  I thought about doing something similar because I wasn’t sure I even had 77 pages yet!

I’ve written about my novel’s progress here and at Natalia Sylvester’s blog, and I kick my behind every day about various aspects of the book (progress, plot, characters, setting … you name it).  But I saw that I had indeed written a total of 88 pages (on the actual document; there are hundreds of pages scattered in other files and in two Moleskine notebooks).

It turns out that The Lucky Seven tags a few sentences that I like:

  Read the rest of this entry » The Lucky Seven

Apr 18

Reaching Your Audience

I took this picture in Astoria, Oregon a few years back.

If you’re a small business owner, reaching your audience can be a challenge.  As a freelance writer, I’ve certainly encountered that dilemma.  I re-started my freelance writing career just over two years ago, in an economic environment that can be challenging.  I think many small business owners can relate.  The economy is improving (my business has certainly increased this year), but we obviously need to still reach new customers, and maintain relationships with our current ones.

So, if you’re an entrepreneur, or a small business owner, how do you reach your audience?  I think you need to find your voice, listen to your prospects, and then getting found (although not always in that order).

Finding Your Voice

Most of us can perfectly discuss what we stand for, what makes us different, and why we’re the perfect business for our clients … in our head.  Putting it into words takes a different set of skills.  I’ve written professionally for 17 years, and even I have a hard time with it!  But I believe that putting what you stand for in words (even on a cocktail napkin) helps you explain your value proposition better than any other form of communication.

 Listen To Your Prospective Clients

What do your potential customers need?  It’s an ever-evolving question, especially for me.  My clients are so busy that they can’t even think about website content, or a brochure, or their book.  If you market to specific clients though (like most tech companies), or a broad customer base (like a retail store), you likely know the needs of your prospects and existing customers.  It’s getting them to commit to an order, walk through the door, or clicking “submit” on their shopping cart that can be the challenge.  Surveys, questions, reaching out on social media, and promotions are some ways that can help you gauge the needs of your present and future customers or clients.

Get Found

Easier said than done, right?   There are many different ways to get noticed. My  fellow Portland freelance writers and I attend networking events in the metro area.  It’s a great way to meet other business owners and socialize.  The Internet is, of course, indispensable.  But Internet search engines are notoriously fickle, and achieving prominence in the “organic” (e.g. non-paid) search listings for certain keywords can be an arcane process.   I learned some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques when Google was just one of many search engines, and the practice still keeps me on my toes.  Understanding how keywords, PageRank, website content, and SEO works can definitely help you get found.

My core skills are writing and editing, but these skills can also help you find your audience, discover your market needs, and help you get found.  Contact me for more information.

How do you reach your audience?

Mar 15

Brave Little Blogger

Brave Little Blogger Contest

I’m proud to be a prize donor for fellow freelance writer Emily Suess“Brave Little Blogger” contest.   “What is this contest about, Mahesh?”  I’m glad you asked!

It’s a free contest for all bloggers.   As Emily says, “it doesn’t matter whether you blog for fun or money … through blogging, we are all given a place to speak our minds. Yes, even if our ideas are unpopular. The Brave Little Blogger contest celebrates that and encourages bloggers to be bold.”

Write a blog post (750 words or less) on the specified theme of CENSORSHIP.  You’ll need to link your entry to the contest page and display an official entry graphic on your post.  The contest runs from March 15th to March 31st.

Prizes include Amazon.com gift cards, as well as a slew of donations.  My donated prize is professional proofreading and copyediting – up to $200 worth, folks!  – and you’d get it for free.

Check it out!

Mar 03

Small Business Owners and Dave

We're all DaveIf your job title is “freelance writer,” then prospects, clients, friends, and strangers on the street understand your core competency and value.  But it also means you wear all the entrepreneurial hats.  (Some folks call this being a “solopreneur.”)

Right now, I outsource my accounting, but I do everything else … sales, project management, accounts receivable/payable, social media, basic web design, and of course writing and editing.   At the same time, my business is reaching a point where I need to start outsourcing some tasks (especially web design).

That’s why I love the Staples ad campaign that’s been running for a couple of months now.  “Dave” the small business owner is shown in an office full of doppelgangers all doing the various jobs involved with a small business.  It’s smart and funny, and it actually makes the point that while small business owners can be multi-tasking ninjas … they (we) definitely need some help.

If you haven’t seen the commercial, you can check it out here.

If you’re a small business owner, are you also a “Dave?”  Or do you outsource?

Older posts «