Sarah Ayoub’s Wordsmith Workaholism.

Following on from Monday morning’s post, where I lamented my lack of inspiration, Sarah Ayoub at Wordsmith Lane talks about productivity and the chore of writing in her post, “A Perfect Weekend for Me & a Present for You”:

“It’s hard to be motivated when everything about you is a chore…”

I don’t feel like everything about me is a chore; in fact, I have been getting in a lot of downtime lately and I’ve been able to get through almost all six seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in about a month and a half (more to come on that next month).

But I addressed this notion in an interview with Ayoub here on The Scarlett Woman last year:

“How do you balance all your commitments?

“I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

“… Do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure?

“I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.”

Rachel Hills is also another blogger who writes on workaholism, and you can find her most poignant post here.

There’s a difference between not being motivated enough, and being too busy with work, social life and whatnot, and I seem to be languishing somewhere in the middle…

Glad to see my favourite Wordsmith Laner isn’t, though!

Related: My Inspiration Has Run Dry…

Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane Profile.

Elsewhere: [Wordsmith Lane] A Perfect Weekend for Me & a Present for You.

[Wordsmith Lane] A Great Piece of Writing… And My Personal Thoughts.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] My Name’s Rachel, and I’m a Workaholic. And I Think the Internet May Have Something to Do With It.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Eight-year-old yellow wunderkind Lisa Simpson has her own book club.

Sarah Ayoub addresses Eddie Maguire’s racist comments in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Paula Joye at Girl with a Satchel on declining mag circulation.

How Hugh Hefner got his groove back at The New York Times.

I never thought there was a “link between autism and vaccinations” until my sister told me the story of how her boyfriend’s brother went from normal, happy and healthy baby to severely disabled after a vaccination. That made me think differently. This article will challenge your beliefs either way.

If “at least 40% of your diet consists of pre-packaged food”, “you don’t sleep enough for proper brain function” and “your boss knows you’re gullible”, you most likely work a 16-hour workday.

On stripping (take two):

“… the brotherly succor would partially exist in the form of shared ambivalence. I would venture to say that this how a majority of men feel about strippers… Do I enjoy strippers? Not really. Do I frequent tithouses often? No. Nor have I any close friends who do… I think men would be willing to renounce strippers if women renounced the Sex and the City franchise. I mean cut all cords. Shit’s gotten out of hand. No reruns. None of the third-wave dime store psychology. A complete effacement out of pop culture. You’re not even allowed hearken back to the simpler days when it meant something to you. Do we have a deal?”

Speaking of Sex & the City, is there a double standard between the second movie and lad flick Get Him to the Greek?

Is it possible to be a feminist and like fashion, too?

“I still get thrilled and impressed by bold, lovely, and often expensive fashion. And I still feel like I’m a person of worth, whether I’m wearing vintage Chanel or ‘vintage’ sweatpants. But I can’t seem to reconcile these two (competing?) impulses; on the one hand, a value in ‘art for art’s sake[’], beauty, style, and other intangibles; on the other, an investment in valuing substance over style, actions over appearances, and real justice over flamboyant showmanship.”

“What Your Favourite Magazine Says About You (Part II).”

Zoë Foster espouses the benefits of the “Better Man, Better Dan” theory.

 

Images via The Lisa Simpson Book Club, The Frisky.

Profile: Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

I’ve only become familiar with Rachel Hills, sex and gender blogger at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, in the past few months, but she’s made her way to the top of my must-read blogs. Here, she answers questions about her inspiration, future writing goals and what she does in her spare time in a new city (she recently moved from Australia to begin a new chapter of her life in London).

Can you give us a quick run-down of your professional writing portfolio thus far?

I’ve been freelancing for six years now, and have written for (in alphabetical order) the ABC, The Age, The Australian, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, The Canberra Times, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Courier-Mail, Girlfriend, Girls’ Life (US), Glamour (UK), The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Monthly, New Matilda, Russh, Sunday Life, Sunday Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Vogue, The Walkley Magazine and YEN, as well as a bunch of smaller, indie magazines and blogs.

I got my start writing opinion pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald. These days, I usually write “think piece” features on personal-is-political type issues, or women’s mag fare with smarts.

How long have you been blogging at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman and what made you decide to start a blog?

I just did a quick scan of my archives and discovered I just reached my three year anniversary on October 30.

I’ve written for the internet pretty much ever since it was possible to (I started my first website in 1998), but I was always kind of hesitant of writing publicly under my own name. As a teenager because of my secret pop music loving shame, as a university student because I was involved in student politics and that makes you extremely paranoid (not of people digging up info on you when you become a politician, but of people digging up info on you and putting it in the student newspaper), and then as an adult because I didn’t want to cannibalise my own story ideas.

I cracked through basically because I loved reading other people’s blogs, and because I was inspired by the way that other journalistsparticularly in the USwere using blogs to connect with their audiences. My blog was quite different when I first started writing it, thoughit was more a mix of political commentary, scrapbook and lifecast, as opposed to the more reflective, personal-is-political blog it is today.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I have a soft spot for blogs which make you feel like you’re getting to know the person writing itblogs like Gala Darling, Girl With A Satchel, Wordsmith Lane, The Ch!cktionary, Emily Magazine, Garance Dore, Style Rookie and The Scarlett Woman [that’s me!] are often at the top of my Google Reader.

I also love blogs that make me think about thingsFeministe, Pandagon, The Awl, Tiara The Merch Girl, Rabbit White, Kapooka Baby, Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer, Racialicious. And people like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau are like mentors I’ve never met when it comes to things like blogging and community building.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader, though, so that’s really just scraping the surface of what I read.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

I don’t think I actually have one! There are lots of stories I’m fond of, and I still get excited whenever I get a story up, but there isn’t one that stands out as being more significant than the others. I suppose the one I was most proud of at the time was that first opinion piece in the SMH. And I hope my book will be my proudest writing accomplishment in a couple of years.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

In 2006, I travelled around the US meeting some of my favourite journalists and editors: people from The Economist, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, US Cosmopolitan and so on. Very nerdy, but also very gutsy lots of people at home thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting it (with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m quite proud of that.

Back to your book, to be titled The Sex Myth; how is it coming along?

Haha, it’s coming along okay. I’m dedicating a lot of time to it at the moment, and there are bits of it that I really like, which is nice. I’ve shown the overview to a few high profile people, and the response has been universally very positive. I’m just trying to get everything in place at the moment to translate that positivity into a kickass book deal.

You’ve written about workaholism and the work/life balance in the past. How do you balance all your commitments?

It was much, much harder when I was living in Australia and holding down a near full-time job. Now that I’m working for myself again, it’s much easier to fit in all the things I want to work on, and living with my partner means I still make plenty of time for myself. (When he’s away, I start working later, procrastinating more and sleeping less.)

That said, even working for myself, I’m still managing four main areas of workfreelancing, book, PhD and blogonly one of which pays. So finding time for all of them can be a bit tricky.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Having spent the past two and a half years of my life reading books on the philosophy of sex, I’ve developed a bit of a fiction obsession recently. It’s so much easier and more relaxing to read than the academic stuff I’m usually buried in.

I’m also really enjoying getting to know London, and digging out all the interesting things there are to do here. My boyfriend often asks me how I manage to find all the things we check outphotographic treasure hunts, interactive theatre, art galleries, bars with secret passage ways.

And yoga. It’s clichéd, but it relaxes me, keeps me fit and keeps my bad neck (from too much time sitting in front of a computer) in proper alignment.

Because most bloggers write about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out posts on, for example, mag-world musings or the happenings on your favourite TV show (you and I both share a penchant for Gossip Girl) and the like, as previously you would have done those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

Because I write for a living, one thing I’m very careful to do is keep blogging a pleasure. The main way I do this is by writing when I’m feeling inspired: if the writing doesn’t flow easily, blogging starts to feel like an obligation… and while I have no concrete evidence of this, I suspect it makes the posts less interesting to read, too. If I’m not feeling inspired and haven’t updated much that week, I’ll try to find something else around the net that I think will be of interest to my audience and share that with them instead.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately. Sure, the internet sticks around forever, so you want to think before you post, but blogging is something you learn by doing just like anything else, and chances are it will take you a while to find your best blogging voice. (It took me a while, and I’d been writing on the net for nearly 10 years and writing professionally for three when I started. And I’m still learning.) Experiment until you find that perfect intersection of what you love, what feels authentic for you, and what people respond to.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

I’d like to just keep on doing what I do now, only on a bigger and better level, with all the aspects of my work (journalism, blogging, books) feeding into one another.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman].

Profile: Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.

 

In The Scarlett Woman’s first profile, I interview Wordsmith Lane and Chasing Aphrodite creator Sarah Ayoub about blogging, brides and books.

How long have you been blogging at Wordsmith Lane and what made you decide to start a blog?

The idea came to me in June 2009, and the blog officially launched (if you will) in July 2010. I decided to start a blog because I wanted to do something when I was not writing, especially because I was no longer working full-time and I sort of wanted to chronicle my writing journey.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

It’s hard to say. Getting published in madison was a high for me, because it is what I consider a high-brow women’s publication. I guess being asked to be a host/panellist at events held by organisations like the Walkley Foundation and The Emerging Writer’s festivals was also a massive achievement for me.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

This is going to sound silly, but getting engaged! I tend to worry about commitment.

How are preparations going for your wedding?

They are, I must say, proceeding very well considering the timing. I am indebted to my sisters though. My advice to everyone is to send out invites via email, or at least don’t go the DIY option. It’s a pain in the butt. I really wanted to have a big Lebanese wedding, but this one seems to be going along more to my parents’ agenda than my own. Serves me right for being their first born!

How did your appointment to bridal blogger for Bride to Be come about?

I basically pitched the idea to them and they bought it. It was as simple as that, which is why I try to be encouraging to my blog readers. Anything can happen if you try.

Your name has popped up on some other blogs (namely Musings of an Inappropriate Woman) in relation to workaholism and the work/life balance. How do you balance all your commitments?

I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Reading. Watching movies in my PJs and eating copious amounts of food works wonders.

Because most bloggers blog about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I read Girl with a Satchel religiously, and follow Rachel Hills because she makes me feel smart. Once or twice a week, I read The Blog Stylist, Sarah Wilson and Holly J Curtis’ Am I There Yet? I’ve just got onto Nicole Haddow’s blog after a reader recommended it to me and I read Megan Burke’s Literary Life (she is my intern and she blogs about the creative writing industry which is good for me, as I’d like to get into it soon). And I love the way Liv Hambrett writes at A Big Life. I think I am her biggest fan, and I doubt that she knows how talented she is. She literally makes me see the world through different coloured glasses.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Write, network and comment on other blogs. Shamelessly promote on Twitter. And do it for love not money, at least in the beginning. It’s a lot of hard work.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

My dream job would be able to live off freelancing as a full-time features writer, while working on my novels in between and maybe doing something once a week on TV or radio. That’s not necessarily where I see myself, as opposed to where I would like to see myself.

Great Expectations

In otherand final, for this week at leastworkaholics news, from The New Yorker’s Book Bench, “there’s no point in worrying about all those books you haven’t gotten to yet, because very often our preconceived idea of what a book will be is just as valid and enlightening as the book itself might be.”

So do bookworms rejoice in the fact that there’s no need to get through our stacks of unread books (personally, I have The Babysitters Club, American Psycho, a second reading of Mia Freedman’s memoir, Mama Mia, and Hollywood Ending by Kathy Charlesto get througha well balanced literary meal, if a little too heavy on the fluff, don’t you think?); that the very idea of what they’re like will sustain our literary appetites?

I understand what author Kristy Logan’s original hypothesis is attesting to, that sometimes “an unread book is an intoxicating, romantic thing, and the act of reading is, in one sense, destructive” to what could have been, however I don’t agree with it.

Fiercely loyal, I will not put a book down until the very last page, no matter how much of a struggle it was to read. Dr. Zhivago, I’m looking at you. I had great expectations for that book, however I was brutally disappointed. Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama is another one that comes to mind. I do feel like by reading these books, my fantastical idea of them before I turned their pages has been knocked out of me.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like being utterly surprised by how good a book is, and how profoundly it affects you. Frequent readers of this blog will know that Another City, Not My Own is that for me. The Lovely Bones is one I was pleasantly surprised about, (at the risk of sounding like a bogan) only reading it because I wanted to see the film. While I think the ending was utter bullshit, the integrity of the rest of the story outweighs the disappointing ending for me.

Logan assures us that she doesn’t encourage leaving “all books unread”, questioning whether she should call them “‘pre-read’ books instead”.

The excitement of a “pre-read book”? Now that I can understand.

Related: Things Bogans Like.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Not Enough Time.

[The Millions] Confined by Pages: The Joy of Unread Books.

Internet Fog

Following on from yesterday’s “Workaholics Anonymous” post, I stumbled upon this poem, originally called “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas and “remixed by Carolyn Kellogg” on the L.A. Times book blog, Jacket Copy.

While it is in essence “a plea… to the Poetry Foundation” not to scale “back its blog in favour of Twitter and Facebook,” essentially becoming “not quite a blog anymore,” it can certainly be applied to blog fatigue and internet overload.

Do not go gentle into that internet fog,
Writing should burn and rage complete
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

Unwise men think sentences do bog,
But what can be said in just a Tweet?
Do not go gentle into that internet fog.

Good men at laptops watch agog,
Their words sucked into a Facebook data sheet
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

A wild man who drinks the German grog
Leaves updates, a 4G phone — he’s indiscreet!
Do not go gentle into that internet fog.

Grave men crave followers and flog
And flog for more with desperate heat
Rage, rage against the dying of blog.

And you, dear poets, know writing is no slog
The ebb and flow of words is sweet
Do not go gentle into that internet fog,
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

Related: Workaholics Anonymous.

Elsewhere: [Jacket Copy] On Ceasing to Blog: Do Not Go Gentle.

Workaholics Anonymous

Back in April, sex and gender blogger Rachel Hills wrote about workaholism and its relationship to the internet.

“My name’s Rachel and I’m a workaholic. And I think the internet may have something to do with it.”

Well, hello Rachel. My name is Scarlett, and I, too, feel your pain.

While I wouldn’t say that my workaholism stems from my actual paid job (customer service is not exactly an occupation you “take home with you”; at the end of the day, I couldn’t think of anything worse than continuing to put on a happy face when disgruntled patrons have been telling you where to shove it all day, you’ve got a sore back and feet and all you want to do is go home and lapse into a coma), I definitely need to be busy. If I’m not, I become unmotivated, and that unmotivation facilitates more unmotivation. Which then festers and turns into guilt. Even when I’m “not doing anything”, I’m actually doing something; catching up on reading, TV shows, movies etc (see photo). If I have a block of free time in the foreseeable future, I will plan the crap out of it, ensuring that I maximise my time by fitting as much as I possibly can into it. Kind of like the spaceor lack thereofin my wardrobe.

Hills says the unremitting stimulus of the internet “serves as a constant reminder of all the things I could be doing and thinking about… Every day I come up with more ideas than I could ever have time to pursue.”

And such is the drawback of being a blogger; we do it out of passion and a need to stimulate others and be stimulated. Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t stimulate cash flow much of the time.

My workplace is in demand at the moment, so here I am weighing up the integrity of this here blog and how much time I’ll have to work on it versus paying the bills, not mention a social life and my über-important “me time”. Hills touches on this in her post, and references the similar dilemmas of Girl with a Satchel Erica Bartle and Wordsmith Laner Sarah Ayoub. Personally, I don’t know how Ayoub balances her paid job, blog, thesis, novel writing, freelancing and wedding planning with day to day banalities! I’m having a conniption just thinking about it!

Hills suggests that a way to lighten the load, personally, is to narrow “my focus to the work I think will have the greatest impact” which “helps me manage and prioritise my load.”

Beyond that, we need to “be confident in our own choices.” For me, it’s a balancing act between being confident that what I’m doing is the right path for me (for about a year I went through a post-quarter-life crisis when my dream of having a magazine career fell through and I faced the possibility of being a check-out-chick for life!), and what others’ think (ie. family who wonder whether blogging is financially secure. FYI, it’s not).

Hills really sums it up nicely, saying that:

“I may wish I was doing more work (like I said, workaholic), but I’m also pretty secure that the work I do choose to focus on is the most important and effective for the ends I’m seeking. I’m also secure in my ability to choose which people I want to spend time with, which events look like they’ll be the most fun, what time I want to get there and what time I want to go home.”

Most of my friends will say I’m a stickler for a schedule, but I’m working on becoming more flexible with my time; it’s not heart attack-inducing material if I don’t get everything I wanted to do done. (Although, as a type A personality, I’m not so sure…)

However, like Hills says, confidence is key in having the courage of your convictions and not having to apologise to anyone for doing what you want to do.

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] My Name’s Rachel, and I’m a Workaholic. And I Think the Internet May Have Something to Do With It.

[Wordsmith Lane] A Great Piece of Writing… And My Personal Thoughts.