Happy BirthdayIt’s my birthday—well, Write from the Inside Out’s birthday. Blow out the candles! We’re 8 years old this month—can you believe it? Throughout the years, my basic offerings haven’t much changed: editing, author mentoring and writing workshops. My first workshop in 2006 was a creative nonfiction class at Edible Art next to the Royal Bean Coffee shop on Hillsborough Street. I remember it rained so hard during the second class, the roof leaked and our group had to move a couple of times not to get wet inside!

What are some highlights from those eight years?

 

  • I received a United Arts Grant in 2007 and was able to spend a week at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival which changed my life—I still keep in touch with my poetry friends from that workshop
  • My daughter, Erin, was born in December 2007
  • I taught blogging/social classes from 2009-2014
  • The News & Observer hired me as an “Our Lives” monthly columnist in 2010
  • I published three books with Main Street Rag, Unfinished Projects (2010), After the Steaming Stops (2012) and TATTOOS (2012) Short Fiction Anthology
  • I raised my editing prices, but my workshop tuition has mostly stayed flat—good news for new writers wanting to try out writing for the first time
  • In Summer 2011 I presented a poetry workshop on Long Island and read several poems in St. Louis
  • I was invited as one of the Charleston, SC Piccolo Spoleto Featured Poets for the Sundown Poetry Series in 2013
  • I remain a Facebook junkie more so than Twitter or LinkedIn
  • I joined Toastmasters in 2010 and I became painfully aware of how often I say “um” and “and so”
  • I became a Reiki Master Practitioner in 2013
  • In 2013 I started Irish dance, violin and guitar lessons
  • I became the NC Writers’ Network (NCWN) Wake County Regional Representative in 2009 and joined the NCWN Board of Trustees in 2013
  • I traveled many, many miles all across the Old North State reading my poetry at various venues thanks to my 2008 Subaru Outback. My car hit 100,000 miles after my first NCWN Board meeting May 4, 2013
  • I still have the best clients ever! I love helping writers become authors and I never forget this is why I started this business in the first place.

What’s the secret to success?

I think it’s being good with paperwork and email. I’m a stickler for follow-up and keep my business life pretty organized. I try to pay attention to the little details so they don’t become big problems. I’m very dogged and determined. In the early years I survived on little sleep and worked every weekend, holiday and almost every vacation. Thank God I don’t need to do this shit anymore.

I love learning about new technology and could not have survived as long as I have without becoming a Meetup organizer (for my Wonderland Book Club) and a Constant Contact member (for my newsletter).

I’ve invested in four new website redesigns/overhauls since 2009 and invested in workshop space through the Center for Excellence when that space became available in Spring 2011. I’ve also networked, starting with Coffee and Contacts, a women’s networking group, in 2007 to the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to Femfessionals. It’s great fun to open up the business section of the paper and read about at least four people I know! Right now, I network mainly with fine artists, authors and musicians, since my business and my art are leading me in this direction. If you want to get ahead, you need to help other folks get ahead too by lending a hand, a referral or an introduction when necessary. My advice is never be too busy for a friend and when you say you’re going to show up–do it!

You also need to know your clients and have the courage to say “no” when the job is out of your scope. I’ve faltered a lot in this area because at the beginning of my business I wanted to say “yes” to everything. After all, 2008 was the Great Recession and I had to have some money coming in. Yes, I took on business writing/guest blogging clients in the past, but made the decision in January 2014 that I would now refer this writing work out and continue to focus on editing novels and memoirs, as well as author mentoring/writing workshops and my retreat.

In truth, it doesn’t feel that long ago when I built my first website all by myself and hung up my creative nonfiction workshop fliers at the Cary Borders.
And it does help if you love the work you do—even in the dark times, you want to get up the next day and start all over again.

Here’s to another 8 years and beyond!