Writing and Editing at CloudCrowd

October 20, 2012 § 9 Comments

In an effort to gain paid employment in the areas of writing and editing, I signed up with a company called CloudCrowd through their application on Facebook.

CloudCrowd’s premise is simple. In order to be hired, a worker must pass credential tests in areas such as writing, editing, research and data entry. The tests include tasks riddled full of expectations (as it should be) and should a test be rejected, the worker must wait fourteen days before testing again.

Once credentials are passed, paid work is plenty. Many of the contributors on the CloudCrowd forum have expressed happiness with the company and the opportunities for good work that supplements their income.

A few weeks ago I signed up and took my first test for English comprehension.

Passing it quickly and feeling unbeatable, I took the leap into the next testing arena; the credential exam in editing.

Within an hour I received my rejection.

With a fourteen day wait until I could re-take the test, my anxiousness to get this train on track led to the ill-fated and unprepared decision (yesterday) to try a different exam; working to earn the credential for writing.

This morning I received the rejection for that test too.

Upon review, my mistakes were avoidable.

In an effort to help struggling writers and editors like me, here is some advice to take before you find yourself in my shoes; too eager to attempt CloudCrowd’s tests, resulting in a bruised ego and a two-week wait for redemption.

1. Don’t attempt to take tests with children in the house, especially around lunchtime, as precious time is wasted making ham and cheese sandwiches.

2. Take time to study the CC Study Guide. Some of the expectations go against my natural writing style. For example, CloudCrowd requires the serial comma to always be used. It’s not comfortable for me as I have struggled to minimize my overuse of commas in my own writing. I will need to take extra time to go over my work before submission, especially in this area.

3. Each test is timed. It’s a good idea to break down the way you will use your time before the test begins. For yesterday’s writing test there were two components. I spent so much time writing and fixing the punctuation on the first component that I was left with less than one hour for the second. One hour isn’t enough to create a 200 word piece from scratch (about “my favorite dinosaur” no less) with appropriate grammar and punctuation and review. The fact that I was left with twelve minutes to come up with a summary line should have alerted me to can the whole thing and try again later. But my stubbornness and refusal to accept that the past 180 minutes of work were wasted prompted me to submit, resulting in the fail. You can skip the test if you feel that a rejection will be your result.

4. Use the two weeks between failed tests to study the worker resources. Instead of stressing about the next attempt, use the time to study up on the areas that need work.

5. Take tests from under the practice tab to get you used to testing expectations, questions, and time limits.

6. Don’t quit. Attitude is everything. Instead of being totally irritated by my rejections, I’m going to use my time more wisely and attempt the tests again when all of the components necessary for passing are aligned.

In the meantime, to all of my amazing readers, should you see an editing fail on my blog posts please consider it appreciated should you feel inclined to alert me to the problem.

Studying is fine, but fixing mistakes is the best way to learn.

Have you ever failed something more than once only to pass it later? Ever failed something and quit it for good? Tell me why!

M.

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What’s in a Name?

October 12, 2012 § 15 Comments

In Cheryl Strayed’s amazing memoir Wild she wrote about the moment she signed her divorce papers with the new last name that would finally match her true self.

No longer the person who carried her last name as a child, she was embarking on something new and was certain that her ex-husband’s surname didn’t fit, either.

What’s in a name?

For Cheryl, she ended up finding the perfect moniker in the dictionary. Once signed on the dotted line it became her new identity. Read the book and you see it makes perfect sense.

I’ve decided that I no longer want my domain name to be Running in Mommyland. It doesn’t suit me anymore. I’m not sure it ever really did.

In pursuit of a new name (a pen name so to speak) I configured many an idea into the WordPress domain search box.

The task proved difficult as sharing a name with the Queen of all media and PBS’s talking dog means that all obvious domain choices are taken.

I’ve had a few last names in my life. My birth mother’s name is Osmundson. My father’s name is Feldman. My married name is Merrill. None of them seem to fit so much anymore.

So who am I and what will I be?

I know I will continue to parent and blog and run and try to eat healthily and continue my quest for a happy and healthy life.

I will continue to share Merrill with my kids.

I will always be a mixed bag of emotions and trials and errors.

I will never have all the answers.

But I will find a way to write for a living.

I am willing to do what it takes to make this thing happen; to ensure a good life for my kids and me.

Martha wills it to happen.

Martha Wills?

Decide quick…the domain name is available!

What do you think? Any other ideas?

M.

From an aesthetics perspective, I like how the M in Martha mirrors the W in Wills. And please forgive the sloppy penmanship. There’s a reason my name isn’t Martha Pretty Handwriting.

Seven Types of Ambiguity

September 23, 2012 § 4 Comments

A week ago I picked up a book from my bookshelf that had been sitting there for so long I wondered if I’d ever take the leap to read it.

Seven Types of Ambiguity, written by Elliot Perlman, was given to me by my mother (she liked it), but it’s thickness (628 pages) combined with the hard looking black cover made it unappealing enough to leave it where I’d placed it that day she handed it over (passing on books is what we do).

The New Yorker’s quotation on the front paperback calls it, “Compulsively readable.” Newsweek claimed it, “A page turner… dangerous, beguiling fun.”

Having just finished Gone Girl (truly beguiling and fun) and needing a new book (not to mention that the last ten books I’d read were written by women) I decided to give it a go.

The first chapter is a letter to a woman from the psychotherapist of her ex boyfriend (who happened to be so madly in love with her after ten years without her that he had, indeed, gone mad). Complicated by the perspective of the narrator and the tangle of the situation, part one is full of questions for the mysterious woman and clues about the chapters to come.

On page eighteen came a line that I found so truthful and beautiful that considering the source (a man), also a stunning admittance.

The line read;

What is it about men that makes women so lonely?

Part two is written from the perspective of a different man; the husband of the woman for whom chapter one was written. As the story continues there is a kidnapping and a big money deal to purchase Australian hospitals and frightening examples of mental illness and the most truthful account of a marriage in trouble I have ever read.

It is Webster’s definition of ambiguous; unclear, inexact because a choice hasn’t been made.

My usual one hundred page cut off (when I put a book down and accept it wasn’t written for me) has passed, but I’m struggling with the urge to put it down.

Yet I keep reading.

Is it the brilliance of the writer (and his elaborate plan) to take me down this road; to confuse me and tempt me with bits that make sense next to bits that don’t?

It very well might be, so I will keep on and of course keep you posted.

Have you read Seven Types of Ambiguity? Do you find you read more books from one sex or the other? Aside from the obvious, what is it about men and women that makes their writing feel so different? 

XOM

Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman. The original book of the same name was published in 1930, written by William Empson. Perlman makes reference to the original, but I haven’t yet figured out the significance (other the the fact that both books share the name).

Getting Paid to Write?

September 21, 2012 § 11 Comments

Here is the plan.

Tomorrow I will wake and dress and pack a bag of clean clothes for the day.

Before heading to yoga I will grab the computer and some lunch for later and hit the road on four wheels not to return until closer to dinner.

I will vinyasa until I’m sweaty and then drive my hot reddened self to Peachie’s house where I will shower and set up shop for some serious writer’s work of the non writing variety.

You see, I need a job and so am committing my entire Saturday to the submission of my work. I have contacts for Blogher and Babble and am hoping to unearth a few more blog friendly companies who pay their writers in currency of the greenish kind.

I have got to get this ball rolling as time is limited before I must find a real job with a real paycheck that can pay my very (necessary) and real health insurance. I could go back to teaching (I do miss it sometimes). I could find work in retail (Brian will have the girls on weekends anyway). Wouldn’t it be perfect, though, if I could make a living doing what I really love?

Blogher and Babble require links to previous posts for them to review. Clearly, I’ve got to pick the best ones, which is terribly hard when you are the kind of me that I am; never completely satisfied with my own work/harder on myself than others. It’s a curse.

My husband is not happy about my exodus, but it is essential. Work submission cannot happen with any distractions. I need complete focus. Aerobella the papillon will serve as my warm and fuzzy thinking companion. Rubbing doggy ears between thumb and forefinger is a very good deep thinking strategy.

Will keep you posted.

Any posts of mine that are favorites…that maybe resonated and live somewhere in your memory?

What are your plans for the weekend? 

XOM

Blogher, a women’s as network and publishing network.

Babble.com is a website for a new generation of parents Created in 2006, it went corporate in 2011 when it was purchased by Disney.

Her name is Aerobella, but we call her, “Belly.” She has very good thinking ears.

 

 

Written Rejection

September 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

Having just this morning received my very first “writing job” rejection letter, one might think I’d be feeling blue.

But as any successful writer knows, rejection is a part of the game.

So is perseverance and of that I have an abundance.

It got me wondering, though, what is it about being rejected that usually hurts so much and why aren’t I all that bothered that this one didn’t work out?

Obviously being rejected means that something about you isn’t good enough, not right, not what they were looking for.

The comment on my canned rejection letter said this,

“We base our criteria for acceptance on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, quality of writing and knowledge of topic.”

Well, well. Quality and knowledge.

Back to perseverance.

Off to write something real.

Have you been rejected from writing jobs? How did you go about creating a career in writing? If perseverance is necessary, is a full-time job with insurance also equally important? 

XOM

Write

Already Missing Nanc – The Weeds Finale Boo Hoo

September 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

It’s been said that nothing ever ends without a little bit of sadness.

The final episode of the best show on television has left me with a lot more than a little bit sadness.

I had written (then trashed) an entire post about the tremendous eight seasons of Weeds; about Nancy’s nine lives, about the unbelievable writing that made even the craziest situations ring true, about the love, about the loss, about the fairy tale that wouldn’t be.

Sometimes less is more.

Nancy didn’t end up with Andy. Silas’ life wasn’t any longer about his mother. Shane needed more help than ever. Doug admitted to his terrible mistake. Andy found his happy life with the child he had always wanted.

I am still teary eyed from the finale that I watched while the kids were off at school.

I so wanted the show to be tied up with a pretty bow to make everything okay.

To make Nancy okay.

But then that wouldn’t have stayed true to Weeds as a whole.

The truth (which the writers were well aware) is that there is no fairy tale. The best any of us can hope for is that in the end we are surrounded by the people who love us the most despite the sum of our mistakes (hopefully on some steps somewhere under a gentle falling snow).

A new chapter begins for Nancy; one that we will have to imagine in our minds.

A new chapter begins for the rest of us, too, as it does every day.

I’m really going to miss Mary Louise Parker as Nancy. For seven years she’s been my Sunday night reminder that strong-willed girls in amazing shoes can do anything, be anything, and always land on their feet.

XOM

Me versus I ~ A Lesson

September 16, 2012 § 6 Comments

I hate to be a snoot, I just really like proper grammar.

More specifically, I have trouble with the improper use of the pronouns me versus I.

There’s something about the nature of this one that gets my grammar panties in a bunch. It is a lazy error made much too often.

Apparently, Ms. Gillian Flynn (author of the novel Gone Girl) also has a problem with the misunderstood grammatical rule as her character (Amy) makes reference to it many times in the book. If you’ve read the book, let’s just assume it’s the only characteristic Amy and I share…not Amy and me share… Amy and I.

Here’s an example of proper usage:

Gillian and I like grammar.

Yes. Leave out Gillian, and I like grammar.

Incorrect usage:

Gillian Flynn and me believe in proper usage.

Forget that it bugs Ms. Flynn. Me believe in proper usage? Well, yes, but no. No. No. No.

It’s so easy and trust me, people will want to hug you if you get stuck mid sentence and need a chance to work it out.

Better to do it right than have grammaristas all over the world fussing with their bunched up underpants, or worse, close out your blog post without making it to the end.

XOM

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