Archive for December, 2010

Once upon a time I wanted to be an author. Fact is: this is still true. Fact is: I am.

My love of writing has been deep within me since childhood and has very humble beginnings. It all began with a Hallmark Diary.

Age nine, Christmas included the gift of a Hallmark Diary that “locked.” A pretty pink and green plaid cover, a brass lock and key and fresh blank pages to record the highlights of my days and my secrets. Naive me thought that lock made it secure (smile.)

My 10 year old daughter loves the same compact diaries with the locks (that could be torn asunder in two seconds, but that doesn’t occur to her as it didn’t occur to me at the same tender age.)

In high school, I had the memorable honor of interviewing the Editor of the Poetry Shell, AND had a poem published in the publication. The young journalist I was, was so nervous as we met at a Pacific Grove Coffee Shop for the interview.  I had no reason to be. It was fabulous and cemented my love of journalism for  I see it as all about telling a story; be it your own or that of another.

Fast forwarding to the college years, I can recall how I dreamed of being a professional writer, a published author, an important editor someday. So, as one who had to work to put myself through college, I signed up to work for the college paper–in any capacity I could.

Typesetter, Copy Camera Operator, Layout Artist, and occasional Feature Writer. It was heaven. I would do anything to keep myself in the writing game.

After college, I jumped into working for a publishing company and it was my work on the college newspaper that got me that first job of reprint coordinator, of all things. I learned how make a book by taking it apart enough to get typos corrected for future printings.

My work for a neighborhood newspaper in San Francisco also kept me sharp at interviewing people and telling their stories. Deb Drake, girl reporter, one friend lovingly nicknamed me years later. The people I interviewed fascinated me not so much because their stories were over the top, but because they were so willing to share themselves with me. I’ll always remember the sandcastle artist, the ceramic artist whose oversized coffee mugs I cherish, and the family whose son needed a bone marrow transplant and got it. Real stories of creativity and courage. We’ve all got ours as well, don’t we?

Publishing and Journalism has changed so much since the earlier days of my involvement, and now a sense of urgency we might have is easy to accommodate. And we can tell our own stories if we are inclined, willing and able.

The stories of the people and places I wrote about inspired me then and remembering them does so again. Each person has a story to share that will inspire another, I believe.

Writing one’s own story is many things.

Clarifying.

Therapeutic.

A contribution to others.

A chance to impart learned wisdom be it business acumen or personal experiences that lead to growth and awareness.

If there is a story in you that wants to told, please share it.

And if you have trouble extracting it from yourself, by yourself, there are other ways to get that story out in the world. And it begins with asking for someone to witness your telling of it.  Then watch and listen how your story touches a nerve in that listener, that friend, that peer.

I bet if you asked for their feedback on the wisdom of your experience, you’d learn they are not the only one who’d benefit from the creation of a story–that others could then help them selves to reading.

Perhaps it’s an article or an ebook or a self-published work via the many user friendly self-publishing platforms. And if you need help in producing a quality piece, I hope you have the impetus to ask for it.

For it’s never been easier to share your inner wisdom and experiences that could impact one or many.

Here is hoping that story in you wanting to be told, is.


Please stop trying to be clever. How about being real?

I’ve got a question I’m really hoping a reader or two answers:

Where did you learn how to writing business and marketing copy?

I invite you to pause and think about the origins of your beliefs about what makes for good messaging and ask yourself a follow up question:

Does it reflect who you are OR did you borrow someone else’s specific set of writing instructions to attract so many customers you’d be making a five figure income by way of internet marketing strategies PROVEN to work by many others before you…or so they say on that website with the neverending cascading style sheet that allows for an unending page with multiple opportunities to CLICK HERE NOW to register for this SPECIAL PRICING and BONUSES…(gasp!)

Here endeth the run-on sentence and begins my attempt to make a point that I regard as extremely important.

Being a 20+ year student of marketing, and a 35+ year student of writing for both pleasure and my profession, I appreciate, cherish, study, analyse, scrutinize and celebrate language for all that it makes possible among us humans. In short, the written and spoken word and communication is dear to me.

Now,  I know that there is always going to be an attempt to crystallize and systematize writing as the creative and technical skill it is.

The point is there are two sides to the coin.  The raw, fun, juicy, heartfelt, honest, vulnerable, tactile, passionate and meaningful content deserves to be expressed AND at the same time it needs to be somehow organized into a coherent and logical format that can be read, understood, digested, integrated and acted upon–once the reader determines that the solution needed is before them–in the form of you or your service or product offering.

And the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of cookie cutter systems. I also though see the value of having a plan and sticking to it long enough to discern what is working.

I see value in systems and best practices (within reason). Yes, within reason do I myself follow the plan, with permission to go with  “plan b” in the wings  (typically based on spontaneous inspiration from a current event).

Blogging for business for example: there is a question that comes up pretty much weekly when new participants attend a group I host weekly. Can I blend personal and business? Put another way,  how much of me do I let shine in my writing?

I first heard this “true story” many years back.  And I even found “the story” and its picture today. And I hope it illustrates well what I am attempting to communicate.

World's Largest Golden Buddha

At one end of Bangkok Chinatown, in the temple of Wat Traimit, is hidden the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image. Weighing in at five and a half tons, the 15-foot tall seated image is uncountable worth.

The Golden Buddha was cast with solid gold sometime in the 13th century and is an excellent example of the gracious Sukhothai style that is still very much in favor to this day. At some point, it was covered in plaster, most likely in an attempt to hide the valuable icon from thieves or looters.

The disguise was so good that everyone apparently forgot about what was hidden beneath for more than five centuries. King Rama III had the statue moved to Bangkok and installed in a temple that later fell into disuse and was completely abandoned around 1931.

The true nature of the Golden Buddha wasn’t discovered until it was moved to its present location at Wat Traimit in 1955. When the image was being prepared for its move, some of the plaster was chipped off, revealing the gold underneath.

The statue sits in a plain building just barely big enough to hold it within the temple compound. On the terrace outside of the room housing the Golden Buddha are some interesting fortune-telling machines.

By the end of this year the Buddha image will be relocated to a newly built grand hall nearby which all people will never get too close to it.

Please don’t encase yourself in a protective coating…so that your writing is dulled by convention established by those who design one size fits all best practices.

Best practices and ideas that work deserve to be observed AND I see the value in bending the “rules” and being yourself.  For in tossing out the rules and really showing the world who lives through your writing, I have to wonder who you might catch “in your net” you might not have?

What kind of blogger goes into hibernation for too long? Well apparently me. And now I am back…intentionally and pre-emptively before the end of the year to reclaim being a stand for ACTIVE engagement, creative writing, and to initiate a set of themes for 2011 writings:

Fiercer Authenticity

Gentle Consistency

Dashes of Spontaneity

Promoting Collaboration

Building Community

And having fun while working!

What prompts this inventory of mine this morning? Well I was asked by a colleague and friend I have thanks to a blog comment that got responded to, to please come back and be the moderator I invited you to be because we know you like it Deb, and being busy is no longer a good excuse…your comments are missed and we seek your re-engagement.

Message received and digested. I am back! Feeling creative and prolific again.

So I rambled on in a reintroduction of myself to the group I am part of that is now over 400 members strong and an active group on Xing.com saying things like:

Greetings from Deborah Drake, who KNOWS Urs as I do via a blog comment that got taken to an offline conversation very quickly and here we are nearly a year and a half later still discussing the evolving world of Social Media Marketing, Metrics, Monitoring and I love it all.

I for one think ALL marketing is best when social.

And I realize yet AGAIN, I never liked being talked at much.

I prefer a dialogue and the BEAUTY of Social Networks is that they allow for dialogue in real time too.

And What I Notice IS Important where Social Media Monitoring is concerned.

A great user of Facebook, for more business than only personal am I.

I tend to blend my work and life more than some I know–who compartmentalize more and so they do the same with how they show up on LinkedIn vs Facebook vs Biznik vs Xing vs other niche communities.

Twitter honestly still alludes me or rather I have decided I am not a match for Twitter as I need more that 140 characters (apparently, as I laugh at myself and try to end this sentence.)

My intention is to be actively engaged daily if only a little bit, as the fan of Urs that I am and this Xing group.

These days what is keeping me busy is being the “Catalyst” championing as always Authentic Self-Promotion via the many channels of Self-Publishing.

There are new clients with great projects and I’m supporting the cultivation of blogs people look forward to writing for, producing books that are ready to be “born”, and championing balanced attempts at an authentic and timely online presence.

This is the juicy stuff that I coach my clients through with the vision this attracts them the right clients, partners and ambassadors.

A trio of writing revelations revisited:

Writing as ourselves is simply less work and flows from us more freely.

Writing for our audience requires us to contemplate what might be of interest to them.

Writing for the search engines and “bots” requires that we apply a strategic filter to our writing before we “self-publish” and refine here and there to please the equally non-human reader.

A smattering of random thoughts about Social Media as the AMAZING OPPORTUNITY it is:

I remain amazed and humored by how many people (some of them younger than me!) resist the communication technology platforms that literally open up the world to us all.

And I realize that everyone evolves at their pace, not mine AND embraces new paradigms at their pace, again not mine.  You won’t start that blog (or maintain it) because I say so. It is when you see the value in doing so.

And,  avid reader and writer that I am: if ever there was a year I would invest in a Kindle or a Nook or a Digital Reader…it has come…the luddite in me is squirming and yet I see that I must accept (and choose to) that changing platforms for sharing and communicating (and reading) is here and now and good for us at the end of the day (when all is said and done.)

We can be more connected than ever and we can choose to do it in a way that cultivates that feeling of a great face to face meeting. Or so I believe.

If I know me, my opinions and observations in 2011 will continue to be a blend of the soft and the hard sciences of this “animal” called social media marketing and the monitoring of it.

I can be a “numbers” person and yet I always look for what is also at the heart of the marketing efforts made by me and others (e.g. I  truly and authentically write to promote an event I am producing or promoting because I want to see a “full house” BECAUSE I know the content of the event will be so good for those who get it. And so, I will embrace doing what it takes to engage, enroll, convert and yes, make the sale–BUT not WHATEVER it takes!

Get my drift?

I’m looking forward to being an active blogger and role model in 2011. And I will forever remain an Enthusiast about all things “Social” and “Media” and its evolving state.

My big question of the day is when will FB get that it might be nice to survey their customers before changing things as they do deciding for me how I want things to be? (smile…LOL)

Happy Holidays to you all…

Deborah Drake – Writing Coach, Business & Marketing Consultant

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Gratitude…Gratitude…Gratitude