Category: writing

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.

What the Beatles Taught Me About the Value of a Second Draft

The Beatles, according to many, were the greatest songwriters of all time. I’m not here to argue that. The point is, great as they were, it did not always come easy to them.

The melody for “Yesterday” famously came to Paul McCartney in a dream. So he didn’t forget it, he shoved in the first words he thought of, which happened to be “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby, how I love your legs,” and so on.

I’m serious.

When McCartney and John Lennon first wrote “Drive My Car” it included the chorus “I can give you golden rings/I can give you anything/baby I love you.”

It’s trite, and it’s a massive cliche, and the Beatles knew it. But they liked the tune, so they went back to the drawing board. In the end, what they came away with was an anthem for women’s empowerment. The “girl” in the song was the VIP and the guy was her driver.

I think we can all agree that the final drafts of both songs were far superior.

Later, in “Paperback Writer” McCartney sang “I can make it longer if you like the style/I can change it ’round but I wanna be a paperback writer.” Clearly he understood that you aren’t always finished when you think you are, and it isn’t always brilliant when you think it is. Sometimes you just need to run a comb through it and tweak a few lines here and there. Sometimes you need to run your manuscript or lyric sheet or whatever through a shredder and start over. Either way a second draft can bring a freshness, a vitality to the piece.

And that’s just the writing process. When they got into the studio, they, like most recording artists, would do multiple takes of a song. The demo was the rough draft and each ensuing take was another “draft.”

In 1968, George Harrison brought a song to the sessions for the White album called “Not Guilty.” It is well documented that the Beatles recorded about 100 takes of the song. Literally. Many of them were partial or just false starts. But still they kept at it until they got it right. To top it off, after all that work they didn’t put it on the album!

It disappeared until 1979 when Harrison put it on his own album.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” began as a very different song than the one they eventually released. They tried countless variations, but it was missing something, particularly in the intro. Then one day Lennon walked into the studio, went straight to the piano and banged out what would become the song’s famous opening.

It took a lot of work, but in a moment of frustrations/inspiration, it morphed into one of their most beloved tunes.

In 1969, according to Lennon in typical hyperbolic form, the Beatles recorded “a hundred million” takes of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” yet another McCartney number that was not held in high esteem by Lennon or Harrison. McCartney was convinced it was strong enough to be a Beatles single.

In fact, not only did Lennon and Harrison not appreciate it, it is often cited by fans as one of their least favorite Beatles tracks.

That’s three very different outcomes for songs given multiple takes (drafts). But in every case, the result was appreciated by someone.

I’ll be honest. When I am writing on this blog, I don’t very often write a second draft. Especially with long posts like this, I edit and improve it as I go along. But I’m not letting it sit for a day or two and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I absolutely do that when I am writing for a client. Because they expect my best, for one thing, but also because I know that you can always improve a piece you’ve written. There is always going to be a more colorful, more insightful way of saying something.

But when it’s finished, you just know. And at some point you’ve got to release the album.

The Company Vehicle

I got my new wheelchair last week. It came with significant improvements, which I specifically ordered. I originally told them I basically wanted the Batmobile of wheelchairs, but it seems my insurance wasn’t real keen on that concept. So this will do.

  • I hardly ever use the brakes but when I do need them it is good to have a dependable and easy to use mechanism. This chair’s brakes are a spring activated situation, so a flip of the thumb is all that is needed to lock them.
  • The front wheels are wider than I’ve ever had before. So the many potholes in the sidewalks and roads will be much less of a hazard.
  • The footplate is tucked underneath significantly in comparison to my old chair, making me much more mobile in tight spaces.
  • The frame of the chair itself is minimal, making it much easier to keep clean. Though the existing bars are beefier than the ones on my old chair, the minimalism makes it much lighter.

I’ll be able to move very well in it once I master driving the thing. It is going to take some getting used to. I had my old chair for over 11 years. So though it was getting a bit creaky, I had driving it down to a science. I knew how flicking a finger against a spoke, or pressing a palm against the side of a wheel to slow one side down just so, could help navigate certain types of terrain.

With a new cushion and new tires, I’m pretty well set to take on the world this spring and summer. I plan to put on a lot of miles, as I do every year once the weather gets warmer. Especially this year as on evenings and weekends I’ll be pursuing my side project ever more seriously. You see, by day I am a mild-mannered insurance marketing agent. Outside the office, I am a freelance writer.

I ordered my chair painted dark purple to match the logo for my freelance writing business. I call it “the company vehicle” because I plan to put on some significant mileage rolling around my home town, getting to know my fellow business owners and offering my service, throwing some business cards around. You know.

In my work as a writer, I am driven by three things:

  • I am a writer. And writer’s write. So I write. Not only do I have a love for communicating in writing, for crafting a phrase that reaches people, but it is an inexorable part of me. It must be done.
  • A great and ancient lineage of poets and story tellers is represented by my family name, Dailey. That is why I called the company simply, Dailey Freelance.
  • Today is National Wheelchair Day. And though I don’t try to make it the headline, I never shy away from the fact that I am a disabled business owner. It is important to me to represent that because the kind of world I’d like to see, that I’d like to help create, is one in which disabled people are putting their talents and contributions on full display.

So I write. Because I’m a writer. And writer’s write.

Finding Your Life’s Work, Your Legacy, To Echo Through the Ages

My wife and I watched the Oscars last weekend. I’m not real big on the pageantry of it all, or the trophies as a reward for art, and frankly the speeches can get rather inane. Even when the winners try to use their platform to say something of substance. Even so, someone said something that caught my attention.

I wish I’d written it down, but what it boiled down to was that everyone in that room were artists, and as such, they were a part of a lineage that went back to the dawn of civilization.

Inspiring.

Not only did the observation tie each of them to the history of Hollywood (and WELL beyond) and all of its luminaries of the past, but it linked them to each other. Technically what they were engaged in that evening was a competition, but they were one, when it came down to it.

As a writer, I know that I have a sort of “pantheon” of authors, poets, and journalists whose works I consider at least quasi-sacred. I’ll bet if you think about it, you do too. Maybe your luminaries aren’t writers. Maybe they make up the lineage of whatever your life’s work is. Whoever they are, it is nice to be able to see your own work as a part of that particular story.

Some people think it is a cliché and an exaggeration but I think we’re all artists. I don’t think that brushing your teeth or drinking a glass of water or shopping for groceries is art. But whatever your livelihood is…whatever enriches your life…whatever you do to tell the world who you are…whatever your legacy will be…that’s art.

Every one of us has a body of work that is weaved into that same tapestry, that lineage of artists which was mentioned on the Oscars. We’ve been building upon it, adding to it since time immemorial, and we’ll continue to do so.

I’d be deeply honored to use my art to tell the story of yours. If you’re ready to put the story of your business in the spotlight, see my blog’s contact page.

Then let’s do this!

Flag-Wavin’ Joe

If you live in Rochester, you’ve probably heard of “the flag-waving guy.” You’ve driven past him on your way to work, or you’ve seen him in the local news. The man’s gotten some press over the years.

Yeah. Years. He’s been at it as long as I can remember, and probably much longer. His name is Joe Johnson, and people call him the flag-waving guy because on almost any day of the year he can be found on the sidewalk outside his apartment on Second Street, usually waving a United States flag. He has others, like his Mexican flag for Cinco de Mayo, for example. But the red, white and blue is his trademark.

If not a flag, he might be spotted just waving Pepsi cans at passing traffic, with equal gusto, though the Stars and Stripes are clearly closer to his heart. He is a patriot in the most sincere, pure, and non-partisan kind of way. He is also almost always barefoot, and often shirtless even in the dead of winter. He appears to be totally immune to the cold. He claims he’s just warm-blooded.

People are either amused, puzzled, or inspired by Joe. Some people do not approach him. Some people are missing out. Because in stopping and talking with Joe on many occasions, my wife and I have found him to be a very talkative, fun-loving and sweet man. He’s retired, and he does what he does, seemingly for the absolute hell of it, but you get the sense that he takes it as his responsibility – his civic duty even, and that it means the world to him.

Apparently the feeling is mutual. His recent absence from his post on Second Street raised enough question that he’s made the news again. Turns out he had his gall bladder removed and has since been hospitalized with high blood pressure and non-stop headaches.

Maybe by the time this post is published he’ll be home recuperating. For all I know, by then he’ll already be back at it with the star-spangled banner waving. And I certainly hope so.

Every town should have a Joe. I mean only Rochester, Minnesota has our Flag-Wavin’ Joe, but my sincere wish is that every town has someone like him who you can scarcely imagine driving through the neighborhood without seeing, someone so dependable that if he’s not there, the alarm is raised and someone calls the radio station about it. I wish we could all look out for each other that way. But not every one stands out as much as Joe.

Every town should have a Joe, if only to provide a splash of color, whether it be the red, white, and blue, or any other colors Joe feels like throwing on, on any given morning. We need people like him for the same reason we need our music to have different notes. And really what’s the point of anything if you can’t, every now and then, see a guy waving a U.S. flag, wearing a giant sombrero, a tie-dyed sweatshirt, and Las Vegas-themed shorts, and only think “Oh good, Joe’s here”? Serious question.

Dear reader, if you are reading this and wondering who your town’s Joe is, maybe it is you. If so, please be that. Be the hell out of it. We need you.

If you see this, Joe, we hope you’re well. Thank you for making our city a little bit more fun. We look forward to stopping by for another chat the next time we get the chance.

Maybe Their’s To Little Time For Worrying About It? Or Is Their.

Do you think people who become writers are those who are naturally inclined to be grammar police types? Or is it more likely to be the other way around?

I’ve considered myself a writer for as long as I can remember. But it has only been in recent years that I’ve felt a building irritation whenever I see statements ending in question marks (“I thought this was a question? Maybe in some universe it is?”), questions ending in periods, or – God help us all – the wrong too, to, there or their.

I blame the fast pace of social media, and the inconvenience of switching over to symbols mode from alphabet mode on a mobile device. It’s not really inconvenient but it is another step. I think people figure everyone is going to know what they mean anyway and life is short. They don’t want to throw away valuable moments on strict adherence to the laws of grammar.

I think the only reason everyone is going to know what they mean anyway is because it is becoming the norm.

It probably stands out to me more because, while I do use social media quite a bit, I do not use a mobile device.

Not at all.

I’m dead serious.

I went through a phase years back when I was making it my life’s work to point out everybody’s infractions with to and too and there and their, etc.

I’m not proud of it. Just being honest.

And right in the middle of all of this, out of the blue I started catching myself doing the very same things. It was humbling.

Then recently, I started noticing an increasing popularity of question marks where they don’t belong and missing question marks where they did belong. I was legitimately baffled. And I started letting people know about it.

And then the question mark button on my computer got stuck and I couldn’t use it. I knew what was happening, on a karmic level. For a while I would type out “question mark” where the punctuation should have been. I guess I was doing my best to be accurate, but I was also probably doing penance of some sort, going through all those extra keystrokes.

Then my keyboard started working the way it was meant to.

Though I hope being so serious about these things makes me a better freelance writer, or if nothing else a better editor, it does not keep me from writing in a casual, informal style when the job calls for it. And there are a ton of other grammatical rules I am probably very lax about. Like commas. I put them wherever I bloody well feel they belong.

Let’s call my approach uptight informality.