All the Pens …

Some of you might have noticed me writing recently on the blog and Facebook about freshening up some of my marketing materials for 2014 (remember those awesome flash drives?) Well, earlier this month I was ordering some new customized mailing labels (which are necessary for any business) and Post-Its (which are totally NOT but come on…I mean, who doesn’t LOVE those?) when I saw the company I use also advertising customized pens. “Well, I have to have some of THOSE!” I thought, giddy at the idea (because I’m kind of a sucker for pens—at trade shows, I tend to come away with about 20 of them in my bag….who’s with me?) So I quickly processed my order (I’m a mom now which means the adjective I can best use to describe most of my actions is ‘quickly’), not thinking too much more of it. Then, about two weeks later, when the box showed up, I was all, “Wow, this is kind of heavy,” as I carried it inside the house. Then …. well, then I opened it up and started laughing.

Because Internet, I HAVE ORDERED ALL THE PENS. I mean, we’re not talking like, 100 here … no …. there might be at least 1,000 in that big ‘ol box I shoved in my supply closet. Enough that I’ll never need to buy another pen again. Enough that (and forgive me, some of you sensitive hearts out there) when my friends attend my funeral, they can sign the log book with one of these things.

I’m already planning of the numerous ways in the months years ahead I can make use of these pens. If I ever decide to run for office, I’m set for what to hand out while canvassing. Also covered? Halloween hand-outs and Christmas stocking stuffers. And if I’m ever struck with amnesia, well, it’s nice to know I’ll have something to carry around to help identify me.

Jokes aside for a minute: Business is business and I know that these can be a great marketing tool for my brand, so I am most definitely looking forward to sneaking a few into each package I’ll be sending out in the mail this year to all my incredible clients. My next order, of course, is when I turn my attention to ALL THE MAGNETS.

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March 2014 Self-Portrait: The Write Stuff

It’s no secret to anyone who follows me here that I’m a writer. That I always have been, even as a kid. But in high school, I turned to journalism because it was safer (and easier) for me to. Writing about other people? I could do that. Creating my own characters? SO MUCH HARDER (and far more revealing), not to mention I always felt I could never come up with any great ideas. Recently I read an interview with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner where he lamented about his teenage years, “I’m a very conventional person … I’m middle-class … I kept wishing I had grown up interesting so I could be a great writer.” Boy could I relate! Until my 30s, I let that sentiment drive why I’d never tried to write any fiction of my own.

For years, I chased journalism instead: Writing first for newspapers and now, at my day job at Ball State, penning feature stories and press releases and articles for our alumni magazine. With the exception of photography, my jobs have always centered on journalistic writing—and I continue to love doing it, every day—but still, I’ve never quit wanting to write fiction. A while back I resigned myself to the idea that it would be a hobby I pursued someday. Like, when my kid(s) were grown. When life calmed down. When I actually had something (anything) worth writing about. When I was old and gray, I told myself, I could fulfill this dream, indulging in it while relaxing with a cup of coffee inside that other dream of mine: the Airstream Nick and I intend to buy in retirement, driving it cross-country, stopping here and there, but parking most often along the scenic overlooks of northern California.

That plan changed on me when, last fall, and totally on a whim, I decided to “sign up” for Cathy Day‘s novel writing course at Ball State. Cathy’s an English professor at the university, someone I’ve come to know and appreciate immensely in recent years, having worked with her on a number of projects. When she posted to Facebook that she was going to experiment with sharing her course materials online, and that those of us ambitious enough could follow along, I looked at her words and thought, “Oh hell … why not?” I didn’t have a preexisting idea for a novel, hadn’t a clue where to turn for inspiration in finding one, and was naive in my belief I could pull it off, but I jumped in anyway, giddy as the girl who picked up a camera six years ago telling herself, “You love this, why don’t you stop thinking you can’t do it and start believing you can?”

It’s been a long winter, friends, but here’s why it’s been such a good one for me: Because the seed of an idea that germinated in Cathy’s class has turned into a true novel in-progress. An accomplishment that carries even greater significance knowing that, after all these years, it’s finally given me the confidence to believe I can actually do this: I CAN WRITE A BOOK. Had you sat me down a year ago and said, “Gail, next year at this time, you’ll have 275 pages of a novel written,” I would have laughed in your face. But now? Now I wouldn’t dare because slowly, one word at a time (all pounded out wayyyy past my bedtime), it’s what I’ve been doing.

Why share all this with you for my March self-portrait? Because it’s the month that, in many ways, I finally decided to stop pussy-footing around, to be honest with myself in believing that I am a writer. Not just of other people’s stories, but of my own. Two weeks ago, I sat in a manuscript workshop where the book I’ve been working on was critiqued by published authors in front of nearly two dozen of my peers. It was scary, it was nerve-wrecking, but also? Immensely satisfying. I felt like I had arrived, found my tribe, belonged with those people who were there. And that felt so so good. So while I have no idea where this current novel of mine will end up, I know a few things about my intentions as they relate to it:

1) I intend to publish it. I’ll try traditional routes first, ones that, autiodidact that I am, I’ve been researching all about in equal parts excitement and trepidation. Because I’m a pragmatist who, at the same time, is equally committed to her main characters, if and when those doors close for me, I’ll turn to self-publishing instead and here’s why: I really, really want you all to meet Emily and Adam. I hope you come to love them as much as they’ve grown on me; I might cry when I finish this book because that’s how hard it’ll be for me to part with them. Eight months is a long time to spend with anyone—fictional or otherwise—and imagining having to say goodbye now? It’s already getting to me and I haven’t even written their ending yet!

2) I intend to keep writing. Writing this first novel of mine has been such an incredible journey. I’ve enjoyed the process immensely—and learned so much about myself along the way—that any plans or aspirations I have for publication are secondary forms of accomplishment. It’s true what they say about writing as much as anything: When you commit to it, practice it, live it, the ideas start to flow. And so I already have several more in mind for future story material. I’ve gotta say, it’s SUCH a thrill to think the mental wall I built up for myself all those years ago (the one with the whiny ‘But what will I write about?‘ graffiti written all over it) got delivered a take down Kool-Aid man style in all of this.

3) I intend to inspire others along the way. If that sounds arrogant, please know what I really mean is this: That if I can do this—a mother of a toddler who holds down a day job but makes the time to write (because you’re never going to find the time), then you can do it too. And maybe your passion isn’t writing but baking, or knitting, or making jewelry or graphic posters or homemade jam and selling them on Etsy, but whatever it is, you deserve to chase it every bit as much as I do. Damn the excuses we keep telling ourselves. Am I right or am I write?

Also, for anyone who may have wondered why I’ve blogged far less as of late (if you even noticed!), just know it’s been because of this book of mine!

What I’m Loving Round-up: March 2014
What I’m Loving Round-up: March 2014

A new album release from an electric rock duo that has me Shazamin' their tracks in the car, the latest young adult adaptation to hit movie theaters with one heck of a good looking love interest (Four!) and a new collection of short stories that made me laugh out loud more than a few times ... here's a peek at a few of the things I was loving this month.

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Dean: 17 Months

We’ve hit the 17 month mark with you Dean which basically means your mama is at this weird point in your existence where when someone asks how old you are, she has to scratch her head for a minute and think about it. At this stage, it’s just so hard to forget (but for the record, I CAN do math…just don’t expect me to help you some day with your trigonometry).

002_deanmarch2014 004_deanmarch2014 Sometimes (a lot of times) I feel like I”m not doing enough to document your life. Your baby book hasn’t been updated in so long there’s dust coating its jacket cover and I can’t remember the last time I ordered physical photos of you (your birthday maybe? see that was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN months ago). So sometimes I feel like these letters to you should be a run down of bullet points detailing how big you are each month (about 20 pounds at the moment..and barely on the growth curve, you string bean!), what teeth are coming in (first molars, which are so so not fun but hopefully you’ll never remember this) and what food groups you’re presently eschewing (mainly meat, particularly chicken, an aversion of which you share with my dad—can that be genetic?)

011_deanmarch2014 013_deanmarch2014 But then I think how much I want to capture more of the little memories that, at first, seem so fleeting and insignificant. It’s only later, as I’m sitting on the edge of the tub, curling my hair in the morning before you wake up, or washing your bottles late at night (you still take one in the morning), that I think how much they are the stuff this parenting gig is made of. The first revolves around a lunch hour I spent with you earlier this month. It was nothing special: I think I served you cottage cheese, orange slices, and maybe a cut-up hot dog (every mom has her shortcuts; there just happens to be a little sodium nitrate in mine). Out of nowhere, you just started giggling HYSTERICALLY. It wasn’t because I was making a funny face or a farting noise (both of which I regularly bust out to get a rise from you) but just like, this … adult kind of laughter. Like we had some kind of hidden joke going between us. And the next thing I knew, I was laughing too, which made you laugh harder, and then I just thought: This is so cool. YOU are so cool. And it blew my mind a little bit, you see, because getting those glimpses of the person you’re becoming (not the baby, but the boy) is like getting a peek into the future and what a thrill that is. 017_deanmarch2014 Then there is this: Not too long ago, I picked you up out of your crib after you’d woken up, and you reached up and slung your arms around my neck and squeezed tight. And again, this is nothing special, you do it now every day, just a physical reaction to being held. But the first time you did it, my eyes welled up with tears. Because you hugged me back, you see? And I know I have said this before about different milestones and memories we’ve made with you these past 17 months, but truly, that one millisecond of a moment is seared into my brain now for life—it was that good. And already I’m looking forward to what you’ll do next to top it. 032_deanmarch2014

 

An exciting change for my business in 2014

Sometimes, in the off season, I can easily forget I’m a photographer. This winter has fueled that feeling more than most in part because it has been SO BITTERLY COLD that, while I adore taking pictures of my son, I’ve hit a creative wall in trying to make magic happen within the same four walls of my humble home.

It’s why I was all the more giddy to receive a big box of sleek flash drives branded for my business that I ordered as an exciting change in how I’ll be delivering images to my clients in 2014. While I know flash (USB) drives aren’t new technology, my use of them for Gail Werner Photography is. This decision was fueled largely in part by the growing realization that CD-DVD technology is becoming obsolete (thanks Apple for making your newest computers without disc drives, nailing the final coffin into this theory for us, right?)

So I just wanted to take a minute to show off the goods (all while hoping this year’s brides think they are as cool as I do!) and use this post as a gentle reminder that, behind the scenes, Gail Werner Photography is most definitely ramping up for another great season—if only the ground would thaw out first.

A quick note for fellow photographers: I did my homework going into ordering these flash drives and can tell you that, based on factors that include pricing, quality, and amazing customer service, USB Memory Direct is a great company to invest in if you are looking to order custom flash drives for your business as well. Ask for William and tell him Gail sent ya!