Monthly Archives: April 2009

Writing is Cool, Therapeutic…and most of all Profitable



I try to encourage all my friends, peers, colleagues – what have you – to write. Not simply because it’s a cool thing to do, but because everyone’s struggling in today’s economy. Everyone. And while everyone’s looking under the mattress for folded bills and tossing the sofa cushions aside while scrounging for loose change, money is just WAITING to be made – through writing.

Now right about now you’re thinking, “I’m not a good writer,” or “I don’t have anything to write about,” which is the usual response. It’s the WRONG response, but nonetheless the usual one. I can make this claim because I’m living proof that writing for profit is absolutely possible. Thanks, in large part, to the Internet.

Yes, the Internet has opened all kinds of doors for writers, psuedo-writers, wannabe-writers and all those in-between. And while a college education can certainly help you get your foot in the door, the Internet has allowed lots of closet-writers to break free of the “degree” discrimination. You know what I’m talking about: “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a college degree.” Yes, THAT degree discrimination.

The various sites open to hiring freelance writers in diverse fields (including copywriting, article writing, creative writing, blogging, and much more) are just itching to find a fresh voice, that new pitch. Editors from all countries, representing various niches are in desperate search of … well, YOU! And the beauty of the program is this: it doesn’t cost you a dime to simply try it. Imagine that! A new outlook on life, a new approach to a whole new exciting field, new possibilities can be on the horizon for you – and for free.

I’ve been treading out here in the freelance pool since January 2008, and I gotta tell ya’: I’m not going back. The view is awesome and the water is just fine. What’s more…I can actually LIVE on a day-to-day basis, not merely three or four hours after a hard day’s work, before my head crashes onto my pillow.

Admittedly, the writer’s life isn’t for everyone, but IF you’re tired of the day-to-day struggle, IF you’re looking for something a little different, IF you’re open to learning a new way of living, IF you’re wondering how to pay those bills, and IF you can’t quite see yourself asking, “Would you like fries with that?” watch for my followup blog, Becoming a Writer: How to Get Started, within the next few days.

It just might be what you’ve been searching for.

Judith Brown is a freelance writer from Harrisburg, PA, where she writes for the health care, travel and entertainment industries. With more than six years in advertising, Ms. Brown also serves as a marketing and training consultant to small business industries.

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Death imminent for network TV? What are your thoughts?



Back in the day (translation: a really long time ago), my family and I used to rally around the TV on Sunday nights. Why? Because there were two things on which we could depend: On ABC’s “The FBI,” Inspector Erskine (or “one-shot Erskine,” as my brothers used to call him), played by the incomparable Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., was going to save the girl (it was ALWAYS a girl), shoot the bad guy and make it home unscathed in time for dinner; and that the Sunday Night Movie of the Week was going to be worth staying up past bedtime. (Good times.)

 

It would never occur to us NOT to tune in – not because we didn’t have a choice (we had lots of entertaining things to do as a family); it was because we had good, quality shows to watch. The three then-dominant networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) offered a slew of choices fit for family- and perhaps not-so-family-friendly environments.

 

There was no gore, no psychotic criminals running rampant through the streets. It was the era of Hitchcock and Serling, two masterminds who realized that the imagination is worse than anything anyone could ever depict on a TV screen.

 

Most of the shows on TV today are vaguely “surf-worthy” – just good enough to watch portions here and there, while you watch your REAL preference, before tuning back for its final two minutes to see “whodunnit.” Easy to do when most of the shows are rehashed versions of the old classics.

 

Case in point: I like The Mentalist. Simon Baker is a good-looking guy (always a plus), affable, smart – and his character is all the stuff you’d want from the man dating your daughter. But Baker’s Mentalist is no match for Columbo. Even in his crumpled-cigar-smelly raincoat and beat-down hooptie, Lieutenant Columbo wins hands-down.

 

Those old dudes had character. Integrity. I distinctly remember an old, rugged cowboy played by Walter Brennan in the title role of The Guns of Will Sonnett. This charming old man won audiences over each week with four simple words: “No brag, just fact.” Ha! Arguably the best line ever on TV.

 

Today’s “heroes” don’t even come with a tagline. Who could forget Jack Webb’s firm pronouncement each week as Sergeant Joe Friday? (Just the facts, ma’am.), Telly Savalas as Kojak? (Who loves you, baby?), Columbo’s “Just one more question, ma’am,” or Jack Lord as Detective Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O? (Book him, Danno – murder one!). Even as late as the 1980s Hill Street Blues’ Michael Conrad’s Sargent Phil Esterhaus gave us, “Let’s be careful out there!

 

Classic.

 

Yeah, network TV has its work cut out, alright. There’ll never be another Green Hornet, a Cagney or Lacey. I Spy, Mod Squad (“Dig the police brutality!”), SWAT, Starsky and Hutch (and the hippest cat on any TV series, Huggy Bear) – are all remnants of the past, only to be (mercilessly) re-done with faux scripts, overacting or both.

 

They’re all gone. 

 

To be sure, there are still a few honorable mentions – but most are overshadowed by the hoopla over that national singing contest, “un-” reality shows, and melodramatic primetime news series.

 

Still, I feel privileged to have lived through a moment in time when I can now look back on fond memories of the whole family gathering ‘round that square, big box. It may not have been pretty to look at with its large knobs and rabbit-ear antenna. Most of the time we had to maneuver it, positioning it “just so” – just to get a half-decent picture. But it was good, solid, quality storytelling at its very best.

 

And that’s “no brag, just fact.”