Monday, October 31, 2011

Where I Look for Self-employment Work Ethic

I always looked up to my grandfather. He had attended the University of Michigan, majoring in journalism. He even played baseball for the school. He was going to play football, but upon entering the stadium to suit up for his first practice, he was met by a fellow player coming off the field carrying his front teeth in his hand (this was back in the leather-helmeted days of the late 1930s mind you). He therefore decided that baseball would be the better route to go. I can’t say that I blame him.

After graduating, marrying, getting a job as a woman’s undergarment salesman, and having a few children, he decided it was time to try his hand at becoming a full-time writer. The rest of his story is what motivates me the most in my writing endeavors.

Upon making the decision to pursue a full-time writing career, my grandfather figured that if he was going to do it -- and having had enough of the Michigan winters -- that he should haul the family, which by now included three children, down to Florida.

After four years of only moderate writing success though, and with grandma working as a waitress to help support his work, they decided to head back to the Midwest where he took a job as director of communications with that same undergarment company he had sold for previously. He did their weekly newsletter, copywriting, and performed similar duties, but he didn’t let his dream of becoming a full-time writer die.

Motivation and Mentoring from Beyond the Grave
I didn’t start writing full-time until a year after my grandfather passed away, but his example still served to motivate me in my endeavors. Before work each morning my grandfather would wake at four in the morning to write for several hours before going in to work. I used this example to push myself in my early years before I quit my work in the hotel business. I used to come home from work each day and write for several hours in the evening in an effort to gain experience before taking the plunge into full-time writing.

While it took years, my grandfather eventually found success. After selling several stories to The Saturday Evening Post Magazine he became a humor writer for them and eventually senior editor. And though it had taken him several decades in between, his perseverance had finally paid off.

Generational Differences…and Similarities
Thinking back to the writers of my grandfather’s day, I find additional motivation in my self-employment work ethic. It makes me wonder if they would have found our current writer’s market unbelievably easy to tame. They wouldn’t have to type everything out by hand, type additional copies by hand, send their articles and manuscripts by snail mail, and wait for weeks on end with no response. While some of these aspects are still part of a writer’s life, it’s now much easier to be noticed in a variety of other mediums, although the amount of competition for that attention has increased dramatically as well.

And just when I think that technology has drastically transformed the way we go about things these days and that I’m probably pursuing my writing career completely different from the way my grandfather did, I find a box of his old articles, short stories, poems, and notes. Within, I find all his unpublished work for which he never found takers.

I find myself surprised that a senior editor at a major magazine had boxes full of unpublished work, rejection letters, and even his old expense book documenting each cent he spent.

So now, even with my grandfather dead and gone, I can set his box of rejection letters next to mine, his handwritten expense book next to my handwritten expense book, and all his unpublished work next to my zip-drive of unpublished work, and I can look at it as a reminder of just how hard he had to work to get where he was and as motivation to keep me hard at work when the rejection letters are steadily pouring in (by way of email that is).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trimming Our Dining Out Costs By $950 a Year

I enjoy going out to eat ... in certain situations, that is. Going out to eat just to go out to eat doesn't do it for me. I need character, ambiance, fun and interesting servers or great prices and good food in a place at which I pay someone to bring me my food.

Call me picky. I'm not, but that's OK. I simply don't like wasting my money at a place that offers little outside what I could create myself. I want a menu or an environment that's outside the norm. I want people who entertain my brain or who are characters. I don't want to just waste my money eating a meal I could have cooked myself at home.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

What Will Happen to Yahoo?

There's been a lot of speculation out there about the future of Yahoo. Will it be bought out by Alibaba? What about Providence Equity Partners? Is Microsoft still in the picture, or have they finally called it quits on trying to acquire Yahoo?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanks for the Memories Dan Wheldon

When a Twitter follower joked with Dan Wheldon before his final Indycar race (one in which he was eligible to win $5,000,000) that he should just pay the other drivers to pull over, Dan's response -- his final re-tweet before his death -- was: "That's not the way to win my man!!!"

Though I didn't know him personally, I think that says a lot about him.

Thanks for the memories Dan!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking Down Our Monthly Energy Bill

Breaking down and understanding utility bills isn't always easy. Here are some of the things that I did to more fully comprehend what these bills were telling me and how I used that knowledge to save money.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thought of the Day

After watching the stock market today, it makes me wonder why the markets just don't open for an hour between 3pm and 4pm? It would save a lot of trouble for those poor writers having to change their headlines from "Dow Takes Huge Loss on Greece Concerns" at 1pm to "Dow Has Big Day on European Plan to Fix Greece Situation" at 4pm.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How I Screwed Up My 401(k) Rollover

I don't claim to be any financial genius, but I do feel I'm reasonably competent when it comes to many personal finance matters. One of the matters that I have felt a little shaky upon over the years though, was my 401(k).