Category: freelance writing

When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 2

In my last post I presented you with the first half of a journey of musical self-discovery I’d recently begun. Now, I give you ….. the rest of it.

DAY 6: Dookie by Green Day – I once heard this album referred to as a “misfit’s manifesto” which couldn’t be more accurate. I was not a popular kid. I did not fit in. These songs spoke directly to me. Not in a literal way. I was not a stoner, wasn’t close to mental breakdown, nor was I as angry and destructive as some of the people in these songs. But subconsciously, the lyrics probably helped me work through some things I dealt with. I’ll never forget how my mom humored me when I remarked that these guys could be the “new Beatles.” I guess it was just a premonition of how important Green Day would become for me, but If you know me well you’ll find that comment pretty hilarious. This isn’t complex music, but it changed me. Green Day was the first band I ever got into who’s music I would go on to buy all of. My wife asked me recently what it was about them that captivated me. I said it was Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence as a front man. It was a confidence – an arrogance even – that I could hear in these songs, later confirmed when I saw him on stage. It was a poise that I could never have, but I felt like in some way I started to develop because of Dookie.

DAY 7: Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I strongly feel every American household should contain a copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1. I don’t know that there is any other American band that can boast a better Best Of… album than this. When my parents got me my own computer, it had a CD player, and I inherited four hand-me-down CDs. Greatest Hits compilations from the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band, CCR Chronicle Volume 1, and the Beatles “Blue Album”. Wait, what? Yeah…though I devoured all four, at the time I was more into this than the Beatles. That came later. But CCR first opened me up to music that wasn’t new, a whole new world which led me to explore all varieties of classic rock. I think I have some kind of mystical connection with John Fogerty for two reasons. First, though he was a California boy, his music is sprinkled with references to the Louisiana bayou, and New Orleans. My affinity for that place is equally inexplicable. And second, long ago I noticed that when I hear certain CCR songs, the Dailey side of my family would pop into my head. So either this music was playing prominently during a family gathering long ago and it latched onto my subconscious mind, or this music is just a part of my DNA. Could be either one.

DAY 8 – Anthology 2 by The Beatles – I am not going to try to name one Beatles studio album that influenced me more than the others. Anyway they never would have influenced me were it not for Anthology, particularly the second installment. The three Anthology albums are basically an outtakes dump on a grand scale. While they presented the Beatles in their unpolished form, they were still pretty good. Anthology 2 covers 1965-67 into 1968 a bit. Those 3+ years encompass five Beatles albums if you count the Magical Mystery Tour double EP. Anthology 2 was so stunning to me because it showed how productive and progressive the band was over a relatively short time. Though it excited me like no other music had before, I remember it being a bit unsettling to find that “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “A Day in the Life” came just one and two years after “Ticket To Ride.”

I’ve always been a historian, and I like things to be linear. Anthology 2 is the sound of a band that is going someplace. They know where they are going and what they are doing. Now you see bands “trying something new” for their latest album. They may even do that on every release. But the Beatles from this period were different. Every album significantly built upon what they’d done on the last one. They changed how rock and roll sounds and is made, forever. Anthology 2 changed ME forever. I went on to buy every studio album the Beatles ever made, and very close to every studio album Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison ever made, along with a few from Ringo. How’s that for influence?

DAY 9 – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” was the first of dozens of former-Beatle solo albums I’d eventually own. This was a huge transition for me in that up until then every pop star I’d followed had either been a teenager or in their 20’s. While classic rock opened me up to the experiences of artists of (roughly) my age group but in a different time period, this album opened me up to the thoughts and style of a much older musician, Paul being in his mid-50s on this record. I was just becoming an adult when this came out so it helped me mature in my musical taste. I found his lyrics insightful and very moving really. “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are two beautiful, gentle acoustic ballads that everyone should hear. And he could rock! I mean, nothing on this album is going to melt your face off, but he could still jam. Still can now. And to this day, I almost always refer to a deep conversation as a discussion of “the vast intricacies of life” because of a line from “The Songs We Were Singing.”

DAY 10: “Who’s on First?: Radio Reruns” by Abbott & Costello – Until now my list has been albums that affected me chronologically as I grew. This one screws with my timeline in that (1) it was recorded in the 1940’s (2) I first heard it when I was about ten years old, and (3) its effect on me did not fully germinate until about four years ago. Let me explain. Yes, I was a huge baseball fan, and that is why I got this tape as a Christmas gift. I listened to the “Who’s On First?” bit over and over again, but I liked the rest of the skits, as old-timey as they were. I would let the entire cassette play because I couldn’t skip tracks. This included the two musical numbers on the album. One of them was a ballad called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” sung by actress Marilyn Maxwell. Fast forward to about 2016-17, and the melody and the evocative lyrics of “moonlight on the bayou”, “Creole tunes” and “magnolias in June” still came back to me sometimes. I was sitting at work one day, tired of the Pandora station I had going, and that tune popped into my head. I decided to start a new station based on Louis Armstrong’s original version of the song. Because of how Pandora works, I was soon flooded with a variety of New Orleans jazz musicians, contemporary and classic, eventually extending to some great funk, rhythm & blues, Mardi Gras Indian songs, and even zydeco. To me, all of these are branches of one genre called “New Orleans music.” Nothing has had even close to this effect on me since I discovered the Beatles over 20 years ago. I rarely listen to anything else now. Because I first discovered it through streaming individual tracks, I can’t pick one album. No matter. My “Who’s On First?” tape is the true source of the discovery. With that, I’m going to go make some red beans n rice now.

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 1.

I recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I decided to do the 10 Days of Albums That Influenced Me Challenge on Facebook. Since each entry is a mini-blog unto itself I decided to just turn the first five into a blog post. It’ll give you a chance to get to know me a bit better.

This challenge is already giving me some insight into my own personal history of which I don’t know that I was fully aware until now. You should do this challenge just once in your life. You may find that music is more important to you than you know. Or you may not. In any case, here are my findings thus far.

DAY 1: “Greatest Hits” by Ronnie Milsap is the first album that I remember paying attention to that was not made for children. Almost every song on it takes me back on the Mississippi River on my parents’ boat (we had an 8-track player) when I was a child. There are other songs that take me back to that same place (“Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, and “Oh Sherry” by Steve Perry) and there are other songs around that time that I considered “favorite songs” (“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams, and “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr) but this entire album takes me there as a whole, though “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “Daydreams About Night Things” are stand-outs. Also, it is because of this album, I am sure, that I wanted “to be Ronnie Milsap” when I grew up. I did not want to be like him. I wanted to be him. So, I think this is a good place to start.

DAY 2: “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli – First things first, no this is not a joke. I am dead serious. This album influenced me for a few reasons. First, I was only 10 or 11 at the time but I liked the music. I also liked the New Kids on the Block like everybody else, but I had a feeling that even though Milli Vanilli was all over MTV and Top 40 radio, somehow this “band” belonged just to me and it was the first time I ever had that in my life. I didn’t think anyone I grew up with knew about them, a delusion that was backed up one day when we were invited to bring our favorite tape to school. I told a classmate I had Milli Vanilli and they repeated the name back to me, perplexed. I didn’t care. Second, my family was not an R&B household. This music passes for R&B I guess, so it expanded my musical pallette. And thirdly, in the end my brief fascination with Milli Vanilli taught me to look for authenticity in the artists I listened to. If you don’t know their story, look it up. When the news about them broke, a great philosophical question arose: Whether it mattered that the faces and the voices did not match up, as long as I thought it was good. I tend to think it does matter, but what do I know?

DAY 3: “Skid Row” by Skid Row – I first had this album on cassette but gave it away at some point. I bought it on CD a few years ago, and was amused that I still knew almost every lyric. The album represents my first “rebellious stage” with it’s “Youth Gone Wild” ethic. Every kid has to go through those stages. It’s healthy. I loved Guns n Roses, and I had their t-shirt and poster but that was almost solely based on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. I actually listened to Skid Row’s whole album over and over again. You don’t need merch for that. The album doesn’t have a LOT of substance (a couple of lines in it are actually really not cool, looking back, but it’s good to be exposed to that too. You can learn a lot from a bad example). But at least it felt authentic. I even wrote a short story for a school assignment in which the protagonists were called Sebastian (Bach, Skid Row’s lead vocalist) and Ricky (from “18 & Life”). And how does one ignore lines like “Boss screamin’ in my ear about who I’m supposed to be/’Get you a three-piece Wall Street smile and son you’ll look just like me’/I said ‘Hey man, there’s somethin’ you oughta know/Park Avenue leads to Skid Row!'” and “She blew my mind behind the record machine/She was a shitload a’ trouble called the subway queen”?

DAY 4: “August and Everything After” by Counting Crows – I never bought another Counting Crows record and I don’t have this one anymore, but when it came out it exposed me to music from a much more artistic/poetic point of view than I was used to. A lot of the lyrics’ meaning were mysterious to me, but I knew they felt very important. And I was fascinated by the very evocative titles like “Perfect Blue Buildings”, “Murder of One”, “Raining in Baltimore”, etc. At night with the lights off when I was allegedly sleeping, I’d sit up in my bed and pretend to be on stage with a band (the band had a name. It was “Equilibrium”) lip syncing along with these songs. Why this album made me do that, I can’t say. Even if I did have the talent to sing on stage in real life I wouldn’t have the guts, but I had my rock and roll fantasies. To this day though, if “Mr. Jones” comes on the radio, odds are I’m going to sing every word of it fer ya.

DAY 5: “Vs.” by Pearl Jam – It seems the fall of 1993 was a pivotal time in my development as a music fan. My DAY 4 pick came out about a month before this one, and while I had both of these on steady repeat, I also had a close friend playing Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle” in one ear, and my siblings playing Garth Brooks’ “In Pieces” in the other ear. I respect the poetry of rap and the story-telling of country, but rock and roll prevailed. It isn’t lost on me that had I leaned one way or the other, had I not heard something in Pearl Jam’s “Vs” I may be a very different person today. I strongly believe music can do that. Either one of those paths would have been fine. I just would have been different. The road not taken, you know? I credit this album with teaching me some expressive vocabulary like “dissident”, “indifference” and “listless.” I actually wrote a “song” just because I wanted to use that last one…for some reason. And with that, we’re one step away from a string of major discoveries for me. Stay tuned.

Writing For the Sake Of Writing, and For Something Bigger

My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.

I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.

Alas.

This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.

But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.

For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.

Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.

I hope you and those you love are doing very well.

Because I’m Not a Blogger.

I’ve recently changed the name of “Dailey Freelance Blogging” to, simply, “Dailey Freelance” for a simple reason. It is for this very simple reason that I have always kind of been uncomfortable with the name. But I had business cards printed up and everything so I’d stuck with it. But since my business and everyone else’s is experiencing some downtime currently, I thought I’d make the transition.

The very simple reason is that I am not really a blogger.

Wait, though. I’m not a fraud or anything. It’s just that the clients I have had, I have written things for their blog, but I am hands-off as far as the actual blog is concerned. I write the words, I turn them over to the client, and they do as they will from that point on.

I do provide suggestions of topics for future blog posts, which I would then write. Anything more would be overstepping the boundaries, as it would require my being given access to the clients’ website dashboard. Most business owners have a decent handle on how to use the blog if they have one. They just lack the time to write, and that’s why they call on me.

I know what you’re thinking. You are reading this on my blog. So I’m a blogger. Well I do use this blog to make you aware of my service and show you what I can do. But that service – what I do – is writing.

The new name is not only more accurate, but it will also save me a lot of time. Those of you who are interested in a service like mine know exactly what a blogger is. But I have spent a lot of time explaining to others what a blogger is and does.

But “freelance” is sort of a vague term. For clarity’s sake, I was going to switch it over to Dailey Freelance Writing, but that would be “DFW” and I’m in a wheelchair and I already get enough people thanking me for my service even though I am not, in fact, a Veteran of Foreign Wars. I’m serious. I’m not trying to be funny.

So anyway, welcome to Dailey Freelance.

Gone: “Viral”

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is no laughing matter. We don’t know how many people’s health will be affected, or how much it will disrupt our lives. But it is easy to get overwhelmed with worry about what could happen, if you think about it too much. I found myself in a heavy funk on the way to work yesterday, allowing some rather apocalyptic scenarios to dance in my head.

Throughout the day I decided that while I plan to be as cautious as is prudent right now, I will not entertain “worst case scenarios” if all it’s going to do is deplete my peace of mind.

I came home last night determined to write something, if not uplifting, then at least light-hearted. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking we should hold off on using the phrase “gone viral” in reference to social media. Under current circumstances, the words just carry too much weight. And again, it does affect our peace of mind to think about negative situations too much.

Covid-19 is nothing to make light of, but it is a fact of life that the way we are doing things is at least temporarily shifting. So long as that is true, there must be other ways to talk about a post, picture, video or what have you, that spreads far and wide on social media.

Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  1. Warped: Remember Super Mario Bros, how you’d be in that underground brick room and you’d find the secret door and suddenly you’d be in the sky jumping across tree tops? I don’t remember if that was how it went but the point is you’d warp, and out of nowhere you’d take a giant leap forward. (See also, “Leveled up”)
  2. Hulking up: I don’t know how old you are, but surely you’ve seen Hulk Hogan back in his day when he’d rip his shirt off and go into that whole head shaking, finger wagging, convulsive sweating routine. When he did that you knew he was about to go off. Now when you hear “Hulk” most of us probably think of the Marvel comics Hulk. Same deal. When he went off, big things happened.
  3. Gone Poprocks and Coke: Since I am clearly in throwback mode here, though I wouldn’t recommend it: You know that thing where you dump a whole package of Poprocks in your mouth and then you guzzle some soda and your whole face explodes or whatever? Yeah. I think that is a fine metaphor for how quickly a good post can be everywhere.
  4. Uncorked: Same concept, much less dangerous with proper eyewear. Celebratory in nature.
  5. Kardashing: Why not name it after the people that made viral social media posts a thing in the first place? It just feels right.

    I’m sure you have some better ideas. Let’s hear them. If nothing else this could be an exercise in finding different ways of doing things. Again, we don’t know how much our lives are going to change at least for the immediate future. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, and watch out for each other.

Strange Days Indeed.

This month is full of contradictions. So much so that the whole thing started last month, on February 29th. “Leap Day.” We gained a whole day.

We coasted off that momentum right into March 4th, “the only day that tells you what to do.” March forth! It is also known as “Do Something Day!” meant to be a day of positive initiative. Just in case we didn’t make good use of February 29th.

Yeah, but then a few days later we “lost an hour” when we Spring(ed) – (sprung? sprang?) – Forward. Nobody ever has anything positive to say about that day until they start to realize they’ve got more daylight after work. Then it’s all just lovely again.

Now, then. After we’d leapt, marched and sprung, the other night we had a full moon. I am not a superstitious person, but for those who are, the ominous implications of the full moon are likely to cancel out the extra hour before sunset, all of the marching forth they’d done, and (did I mention?) their entire extra day!

Just in case it doesn’t though, this Friday is “the 13th.”
Double….whammy….

Fear not, though. Because I assure you that if you manage to evade the perils of these two most inauspicious days, St. Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” will be right around the corner.

For your sake, I hope you are Irish.

I’m kidding. Just as whatever it is that is unleashed on a full moon and on Friday the 13th does not discriminate, on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish. So everything’s going to be fine. Then all you’ll have to worry about is what your friends have in store for you on April Fools’ Day.