Website: Our Simple Joys
Biography: I define myself as a lover of life. I celebrate life by learning and appreciating something new everyday so that I can inspire and motivate — push the body, feed the soul, live the moment, and appreciate the simple joys in life. I blend and channel all of these into my writing, my crafts, and other creative media I dabble in, like Web sites, charcoal portraits, and graphic designs. Freelance writing has been my focus these past six years, bylined in print and online.
How old were you when you realised you wanted to do what you’re currently doing and how old were you when you actually began.
I had been a diligent writer since I was in high school — when the surge of hormones found release in diaries and poems and letters to best friends. I “spread my wings” a bit in my mid-twenties when I wrote an inspirational column for a company newsletter.
At that time writing inspirational columns for real, or for pay, was way beyond my wildest dreams. Even when I became editor of a club newsletter, and later a columnist for a local motivational lifestyle magazine, I didn’t think I’d end up writing for a living. Then midlife hit, and here I am.
What jobs did you have before you went out on your own?
I worked as a researcher for the university after I graduated with a BS in Biology. Then I took up computer courses and worked for an IT company first as systems analyst then as marketing manager. For 23 years after I graduated from college, I held a day job. Then I turned freelance, so now I have a day-and-night job.
What steps did you take to create your own business?
I had to do my homework, of course. Because I needed to prove to editors that I could write, I felt I should have a way of showing them what I could do. So, I put up a homepage, with copies of most of the articles I had published.
Then I studied the terrain, also known as the market. Who are my prospects? Where are they? What do they want? Who am I competing with? What are my strengths and weaknesses? How can I improve my chances of success?
When I found all the answers to these questions, I discovered the path that would take me to the land of fortune and fame. Of course, I’m still trudging down the path, but I’ll get there. It’s the journey that matters. That’s what I always say.
If you’re truly a creative person, you’re different from the rest — you have to accept that.Ruby Bayan
What kind of formal education, training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?
A prerequisite to becoming a good writer is a good education (formal or otherwise) — you need to know the language and its usage and dynamics in order to write well. It helps if you also know some math, a little chemistry, and what the capital of Monaco is.
I never had any formal training in the craft of writing (I majored in Biology and wanted to be a doctor). I honed my writing skills by observing (read, read, read), absorbing reference guides (study, study, study), and applying what I learned (write, write, write). Then I just scribbled my life experiences, and there you have it — inspirational writing.
How did you first begin to sell/market your work?
After I built my homepage, I studied the writer’s guidelines of various target publications. Then I just queried until I turned blue. Some of them gave me money.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? The most frustrating?
It’s most rewarding when you receive checks, I mean, feedback from readers. An editor praising your article, a guest to your site saying you made a difference, a friend quoting you like you were already famous — these are priceless payments for the time and effort you put into creating effective sentences.
The most frustrating, aside from slamming onto the proverbial writer’s block, and waiting for your check to arrive, is getting a rejection for a piece you knew fit perfectly in your target publication. How can they be so clueless?!
Do you have any fears about what you do, and if so, how do you deal with them?
Good question. My personal prime fear, I guess, is if my partner loses his day job. Then we’d starve. How do I deal with it? I pray.
What kind of work environment do you have?
I work at home, at hours I choose, in tees and shorts. My workstation overlooks a lotus pond with a 30-foot shoot-up fountain. The water serves as my focal point when I’m deep in thought, when the squirrels and little lizards are not scampering about.
I’m barefoot inside the house, and I have all-day access to all my comfort foods, the bed, and 350 music CDs that set the mood for my task-at-hand (or vice versa).
My PC sits on a 6-foot-wide desk where I scatter the materials I work with. Among the paperwork is a coaster for my coffee, a camera for squirrel and lizard Kodak moments, and a jar of Jelly Belly beans.
On the wall next to me are my pride and joy: photos of family, and frames of my first published work since I turned fulltime, my first check (a copy, of course), and my first $1/word article.
Have you encountered any financial obstacles, and if so, how did you overcome them?
When recession hit, freelance writers and other on-call talent were hit the hardest. I overcame the obstacle by “investing” in other creative endeavors. I wrote book proposals, created craft items for sale through my site, and experimented on some new Web design tools. I also pasted a sign on the back of my swivel chair for my partner to see: “will work for food.”
What is your definition of success?
Success is when you know you reached a goal you set your heart on, no matter how large or small that goal is. It doesn’t have to be a million dollars in the bank, or appearing on the front cover of Writer’s Digest. It can be a small check for a short article, or being a finalist in one of Writer’s Digest’s contests. Every time you feel you’ve achieved something, that’s success.
Who or what are your inspirations?
My Number 1 inspiration is my son — I want to be like him when I grow old. After him, I have a collective inspiration — the extraordinary people who bring all the good things to our world — the thinkers, the achievers, the philanthropists, and the phenomena that’s Pete Sampras, Stan Winston, Eric Clapton, and Steven Spielberg.
A shelf-full of books is also an inspiration to me. I stare at it for a while, then I ask myself why I don’t see my name on there, then I get back to working on my book proposal.
Words of advice for those pursuing their creative goals.
If you’re truly a creative person, you’re different from the rest — you have to accept that. Being different gives you an edge over all the mediocrity in the world. Harness this power — embrace the gift, benefit from it, and make a difference.
Life may not always be fair, but like it says at Cape Canaveral, “A rough road leads to the stars.” Just follow your heart, keep going, and pretty soon you, too, will be among the biggest and the brightest.