Sweating Commas Blog

You Chose Poorly

I recently had a wonderful conversation with Sid O’Neill about work and choice and a few other things. We talked a bit about the possibilities and consequences of following your passion instead of working at a regular job. Sid and I have both done freelance work and worked regular jobs in a variety of companies, so we’ve lived both sides of the debate.

This all started when Harry tweeted about Garrick’s cartoon and conversations broke out on Twitter and on App.net. Everybody seemed to have an opinion, but some important considerations were overlooked. Does “stop punching the clock” mean you should up and quit your job? What do you really need for a full life? Is freelance work really all that freeing?

Listen in below or download the episode to see if you agree, then tell us your thoughts.

Words Matter: Racism Edition

I recently posted two tweets that caused a bit of an uproar in my life. While using sarcasm to remark on the public nature of funding Kickstarter projects, my words were misconstrued and completely twisted to mean things I'd never intended. In one case someone actually posted my full name alongside my Twitter username and accused me of doing the very thing I was speaking out against!

I deleted both tweets because their presence online wasn't adding enough value to the conversation to warrant the backlash I was experiencing. The fact that I removed them and expressed regret about the misunderstanding doesn't matter, though. The attacks continue, fueled by a fake tweet that was created to smear me.

Not long after the initial backlash started, someone used some basic graphics tools to make it look like I had tweeted a racist remark. I never did post that remark, and I never would say anything like that at all. The people in my life would know instantly that's not something I would ever think, let alone say.

If that wasn't bad enough, people began emailing my employer and attaching that fake tweet to their emails. Their stated intent was to inform my employer that her company's reputation was at risk because this representative (me) was saying very nasty things in very public places. The truth is, they were just trying to make me look bad and cause me to lose my job because they didn't like what I had posted on Twitter.

I hesitated writing about this situation because I don't want to give anyone more of my words to twist, and the accusations are frankly ridiculous. I'm also pretty sick of talking about all of this, so I'll just let you read what my employer has to say:

Hi [redacted],

Thanks for getting in touch. Any tweets written by Jason and published on his personal twitter account are his, and he has never made claim that they are at all representative of CoSupport, myself, or any other employees of my company.

I definitely stand by your right and Jason's right to express any opinion you may have, but I won't ever accept people trying to smear another human being simply because they have a difference of opinion. I know Jason realized his mistake - however impassioned it was - and deleted a tweet that came across as immature and threatening. He also apologized for publishing it and acknowledged his wrong doing. What he didn't do is delete a tweet that contained a racial slur, because he never wrote that. It's clear to anyone who has ever used a computer at length that the tweet you've constructed to smear Jason was done so in MS Paint. The tell-tale sign is the over pixelization of the text, as MS Paint can't process fixed-width fonts in JPG format correctly. That, and the bad attempt at cut and paste that anyone with a good monitor will notice because of the shadow outline you forgot to blur.

What offends me more than you trying to smear Jason, rob him of his right to public opinion, and your attempts to ensnare my company's reputation in your hateful game is that you use MS Paint. I know it is an easy program to use and you probably did so on a work-issued computer that had it preinstalled, but there are so many other screen grab options for you out in our modern world. My favorite is Skitch, though not the most recent version released after their acquisition by Evernote. I would point you instead to the next-to-latest version, here: http://www.oldapps.com/mac/skitchformac.php

You've also neglected to recognize that you are doing exactly what Jason tweeted he wanted to do to someone who frustrated him, except Jason was mature and insightful enough to change his mind. He also apologized, humbly, for his mistake. I've known Jason a very long time and employed him happily for years, because he shows strength of character even when responding to his own bad behavior. I hope that you spend more time learning from this than making up fake email addresses, names, screenshots, and complaints to send to me.

Yours,

-- Sarah Hatter
Founder & Awesome Lady
cosupport.com

PS, when you publish this on whatever weird hate-mongering troll user forum alt.site you're a part of, please make sure to spell my name correctly. It has an H on the end. People get this wrong a lot and I'm just really trying to get some consistency in my google alerts.

The best response I can muster to this entire situation is to say I truly hope for the best in the lives of everyone involved.

  • If you're happy, may that feeling be magnified in your life.
  • If you're confused, may you find clarity.
  • If you're sad, may you find joy.
  • If you're proud of your work, may you feel appreciated by those closest to you.
  • If you're angry, may you find peace.
  • If you're filled with hate, may you feel loved.
  • If you're encouraged, may you find opportunities to share that spark with others around you.

Truly.

Stage Fright?

I've been doing a fair amount of writing lately but not very much publishing. The pieces I've written are more personal than those I prefer to publish on my blogs. I'm really proud of what I've written, and the stories I've put together are great, but I'm torn. I want to share what I write, but I just don't like the idea of sharing much of it on a blog.

It's not that I'm afraid to publish these pieces in a public place. In fact, over the last few months I actually have published some intensely personal thoughts and shared them on Twitter, ADN, and Facebook. It's just that what I've been writing lately doesn't really seem to fit a public forum. I don't want to just release these thoughts and leave them hanging out there. I'm not really an exhibitionist.

I'm a conversationalist.

So I'm starting an email newsletter where I can share what's happening in my life. I'll write about work I'm doing, road trips I'm planning, the antics of my pets, my own personal growth, and just about anything else that's on my mind. Over the last year I've seen that I actually have a lot to offer the people in my life. This newsletter is one way to begin reaching out to more people to find new opportunities to share.

It's publicly available, so anyone can join, but the difference is that the email format allows readers to respond directly to me instead of posting a comment on a website. It also allows me to write directly to human beings that I have a real chance of getting to know. Posting on a blog doesn't provide that same promise of connection.

I'm constantly looking for new ways to connect with more people and to strengthen existing connections. If you'd like to connect with me, sign up now to begin receiving my newsletter.

Thanks!

Update: I removed the email newsletter signup links.

Save Money Now

I have a limited number of discounted edits and 10 packs for sale right now.

If you've been curious to see for yourself how this works, or if you've been undecided about the benefits of working with an editor, now's the time to give it a shot.

For real.

10 Packs - $100 $150
Single Edits - $12 $17.50

You care about your words and ideas. I care about them, too.

Let's work together.

Vintage Tweets

I'm a road tripper by nature, and this month I get a chance to fully indulge that part of my personality. Today I'm hitting the road with a group of people I barely know, and we're driving from Chicago, IL to Austin, TX to take part in the mayhem that is SXSW. We'll be filming our adventures and sharing them on our blog, our Twitter feed, and elsewhere. If you'd prefer not to be inundated with everything we share, you can just follow my Twitter account or talk with me on App.net.

In fact, if you'd like to participate in the journey—even if you can't leave your work and family behind for 10 days—I've got the perfect opportunity for you!

Introducing: Vintage Tweets.

Vintage Tweets are the offline equivalent to standard Twitter updates. Instead of receiving your tweet on your computer or mobile device, my Vintage Tweets will arrive at your door! This brand new social expression is sure to bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step as you imagine yourself visiting all the cities I visit with the RVSX crew.

All you have to do to receive your FREE Vintage Tweet is fill out the form below. Just choose a city you wish you could visit and I'll send your Vintage Tweet from that city as I pass through.

While Vintage Tweets do not support video or music, each and every one includes a beautiful photograph, representative of your chosen city. Sign up today!

Note: Limit one Vintage Tweet per person. Also, this offer only applies to those living in the United States. Sorry!

Gratitude

I'd like to take a moment to thank a few of the people who helped me make Sweating Commas come to life.

Thanks go to the podcasters who so graciously invited me to their shows over the past few weeks. They gave me a chance to share what I'm doing with Sweating Commas, and I've met some great people because of those opportunities:

Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley of Enough
Iain Broome of Write for Your Life
Aaron Mahnke and Dave Caolo of Home Work
Brett Terpstra of Systematic
Chase Clemons of Support Ops
Michael Schechter and Mike Vardy of Mikes On Mics
Jordan Cooper of The Blenderhead Podcast

A huge thank you goes to Sarah Hatter. I worked with Sarah for a time before she launched her own business, CoSupport. Sarah is the expert when it comes to customer support, and if you need help with your customers, you'd be a fool not to contact her.

Sarah has been a huge support to me over the last two years. Working for CoSupport kept me afloat through the most difficult period in my life. I honestly don't know where I'd be today if Sarah and her company hadn't provided me with so many opportunities during this time. She believed in me when I didn't believe in myself and her support and friendship mean the world to me. Thank you, Sarah.

And thank you to all of my wonderful clients who really do care about improving your communication. Your dedication to impacting your corner of the web is evident in everything you write. I'm so proud to work with all of you!

Open For Business

I believe:

  • words are powerful.
  • all writers should have their say.
  • a reader's attention is a precious thing.
  • messages are lost in the rush to publish.
  • ideas deserve more than a single draft.
  • I have a part to play in making the internet a better place.
  • you have a part, too.

We can make the internet a better place by caring about the words we publish. Taking our messages seriously—giving our readers a reason to come back to our sites—will show the world that we have something to say and that it's worth listening to.

As the founder of Sweating Commas, I am dedicated to honoring the ideals of the writers I work with. As your editor, I work hard to make you look good and ensure your messages and your voice are clear and strong. You write for a reason and you deserve an editor who takes you and your work seriously.

Besides, wouldn't you like to prove William Zinsser wrong? In On Writing Well he wrote:

Nobody told all the new computer writers that the essence of writing is rewriting. Just because they're writing fluently doesn't mean they're writing well.

If you're a computer writer who is serious about writing well, join me in making the internet a better place.

A Letter of Encouragement

Patrick Rhone is a good friend of mine and he just shared one of his 2013 Intentions. I'd like to offer him some encouragement.

Dear Patrick,

As you begin a new year and set your mind to improving yourself by writing every day, keep in mind that you're on a journey. There isn't a single destination to signal you have arrived. Publishing a new piece each day isn't an end, but it's simply a path, maybe even just a small part of your path. Even if you don't publish one day or one week or one month, you're still traveling on the path in front of you. Choosing to write every day is a decision to set yourself in motion instead of staying still. An object in motion can change direction more easily than one at rest.

You will very likely miss a day. At the very least you'll be tempted to skip one. Facing the choice to write or not to write is still a victory in itself. That struggle over whether or not to write, that twinge of guilt when you skip a day, those are both signs that you're alive and moving forward. When you let out that sigh, confessing your choice to not write, realize that you made the choice and that's good. Setting your pen aside for one day is a decision that you made and not something that was done to you or against your will.

A single paragraph can shake the world. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address contained fewer than 270 words. If I visit a friend's site, and their post for the day only said, "I laughed," I'd smile and be glad for them. Wouldn't you?

Finally, you have nothing to prove. Look around at your beautiful daughter, your loving wife, the business you've built, and the books you've written and realize you have done great things. The blog post you're unsure about is just one more entry in an already impressive CV. It won't harm you because it doesn't have power over you. It will only be what you make it to be. Make it to be honest, and you won't go wrong.

Take care.

Jason