I’ve been hanging out on Twitter for a few years, but have never had a tweet go viral — more than 11,000 likes!!
This one did:
I recently got a NYT call for pitches, none of which worked for me at all — but was perfect for a friend, and one with a new book on that topic, now both soon to appear. This is what we all should be doing. It is rarely as zero-sum as everyone assumes. #freelance
I didn’t think much of posting this, as it’s nothing I haven’t said there many times before.
Maybe it was the “ooooooh!” allure of an elusive New York Times byline that caught people’s attention?
Maybe it’s just the luck of that fickle algorithm?
But it’s been really gratifying and satisfying to see it retweeted and liked and bookmarked.
At its best, Twitter can offer a bully pulpit.
It was nice when that specific writer outed herself in reply and thanked me but I was just happy to make that introduction; I know her and I know her work and I trust her to do work of NYT quality. I don’t just do it for anyone; referrals can wildly backfire if the person you refer is less than completely professional.
I recently signed up to be a mentor with Report for America, a program designed to encourage younger/newer journalists as they start their careers, some in small towns, others in larger markets. It’s a joy to be helpful.
I’ve also been really busy this week emailing fellow alumni of our Toronto high school to create a new annual award for a graduating senior for creativity, named in honor of a fellow student who was funny as hell and much beloved and whose later life was very much marked by severe mental illness, a terrible loss.
Three fellow alumni from our year, so far, have agreed to share the cost with me.
Thanks to the school’s guidance counselor, we’re figuring it out quickly and I hope to be up in Toronto June 28th to present the award with a fellow student, a dear friend of that student.
Without kids of my own or nieces or nephews to encourage, I feel it’s really important to encourage the latest generation…already so plagued with so many challenges like COVID and climate change as it is.
Our high school is still pretty upper middle class, but now more diverse racially and ethnically, and has some lower-income students — the $1,000 we will offer is still a nice amount.
One of my favorite books, on how to be a productive creative person
By Caitlin Kelly
It’s an odd thing to ask of fellow adults, perhaps — more common for young kids and teens to have someone older to look up to and possibly emulate.
I don’t have kids and fear the adulation so many youngsters now offer to celebrities, influencers and millionaires. The best people aren’t necessarily those with the fattest bank accounts. Fame and fortune are just easy, visible metrics.
I take a spin class at our local JCC with a teacher I knew was clearly in his late 70s. He’s whippet-thin, with nary an ounce of body fat. He also teaches fitness classes. I recently discovered he’s in his 80s. Amazing!
He’s also low-key, modest and very encouraging, all super admirable qualities in my book.
As I head into a quieter period of my life with less focus — finally! — on hustling for work, I relish finding older people whose lives and values I admire.
People with physical and intellectual energy, curiosity and liveliness, people still engaged in community, or community building. Where we live, (a place I enjoy), is also an expensive and competitive part of the U.S., which means most people are focused totally on getting and sustaining high incomes, raising their children to do the same.
Those priorities leave little time, room and interest in friendship, without which we can’t really see who someone is beyond the surface,
As former President Jimmy Carter enters hospice care at home, I know millions of us have long admired a man who spent decades helping others, often through Habitat for Humanity, a program that helps build housing for those in need. I wish we had more role models like him!
People like Paul Farmer, who spent years working as an MD in Haiti, or Peter Reed, a former medic recently killed at 33 by a missile — while volunteering in Ukraine.
People who choose to put themselves in harm’s way to help others are also extraordinary to me. I admit, I have tremendous admiration for the career journalists, like fellow Canadian Lyse Doucet of the BBC, who spend their lives bearing witness in some terrifying times and places.
Brave young women activists like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.
I was also fortunate at 25 to meet a man I dedicated my first book to, Philippe Viannay, who died in the mid 80s, a few years after I won the fellowship in Paris he created for journalists from around the world to learn about Europe by reporting on it through four solo trips. He was a Resistance hero, helped found a major newspaper and sailing school and home for troubled boys. He was also a lot of fun! It was the greatest honor to know him and be liked by him. He came into my life when I was 25 and my own father, never an easy man, was often distant, emotionally and physically. It was deeply encouraging to meet and know someone so incredibly accomplished who — liked me! So I wasn’t simply admiring someone from a distance, but seeing up close how he comported himself in later life.
Social media can also create monstrous “role models” — like the wealthy Tate brothers, whose toxic influence on gullible teen British boys is so widespread that teachers are now addressing it.
In recent months, Ms. Stanton said, students have started bringing up Mr. Tate in class. They extol his wealth and fast cars. And for the first time in her 20 years of teaching, her 11- to 16-year-old students have challenged her for working and asked if she had her husband’s permission.
She has heard students talk casually about rape. “As the only woman in the room, I felt uncomfortable,” she said. Once, a student asked her if she was going to cry. At home, even her own three sons seemed to defend Mr. Tate.
“He is brainwashing a generation of boys, and it’s very frightening,” she said. “They seem to think he is right. He’s right because he’s rich.”
In the Midlands, Nathan Robertson, a specialist who works with students who need additional support, said that in the past year, he had regularly heard Mr. Tate broadcasting from students’ smartphones. Many in a class of 14- and 15-year-olds he worked with cited Mr. Tate as a role model. When the topic of abortion came up in class, boys began laughing, he said, and called feminism poisonous. Some said that women did not have any rights and that men should make decisions for them.
Many people see someone in their own family as a role model.
I have mixed feelings about my own parents…both born wealthy to difficult parents of their own. My mother’s mother married six (!) times, twice to the same man (my grandfather, who I never met) and my mother, desperate to flee, married at 17, never attending university, then or later.
So I did admire my mother’s spirit of adventure — she later traveled the world alone for years, living for a while alone in New Mexico, Bath and Lima, Peru. She was self-taught and read widely and deeply. She could be a lot of fun. In our good years, we laughed a lot. She offered her time as a volunteer to hospice patients in the hospital.
My father, an award-winning film-maker, is similar — their marriage lasted 13 years before divorce. He, too, loves to travel, is artistically talented as well, and was often gone for weeks working — in Ireland or the Arctic or Mideast. He is perpetually curious and has a wide range of interests, even at 93.
So in some senses, they are role models for me.
The qualities I most admire, in anyone:
A ferocious work ethic
I admit, I most often look to people who are fairly talented and highly accomplished at their work or in using their talents. But it’s not about their wealth or fame or public adulation. Too often, people who’ve hit the heights are quite happy to leave needy others behind.
We all need people to look up to, people whose behavior and demeanor set a high bar we can aspire to.
In 1845, a young girl made this sampler…early creativity
By Caitlin Kelly
Back when I started this blog — 2009 (!) — one of my first and best-read posts was about the endless American fetish for “productivity” when creativity is really what drives most innovation, and certainly the arts.
As every blogger knows, blogging demands creativity! Ideas, some skill and the eternal optimism there might actually be an audience out there for us.
As readers here know, I only moved to the United States at the age of 30, so its cradle-to-grave obsession with work and being seen as obsessed with work — above all other pursuits (family, friends, health, a spiritual life, etc,) struck me, then as now, as weird. Yes, I know about the Puritan work ethic. But we’re not all wearing shoes with buckles or moving around by horseback and making our own soaps and clothing either…
In a country whose minimum wage pushes millions into poverty, millions will never find the time and energy and encouragement to savor creative pursuits, even for their own pleasure — cooking, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, woodworking, making music or visual art. American capitalism makes sure only the well-off have the leisure to do it without sacrifice — I still get a payment every year from Canada’s Public Lending Rights program, a sort of royalty system that pays authors for the library use of our books. It’s not a large amount, but is deeply meaningful to me, both because it democratizes access to our work and sends a powerful message to creators — you matter!
I don’t have children, but I do see the tremendous pressure American children face — to pass endless state tests, to do terrifying “active shooter drills”, to get into fancy and costly colleges.
None of which seem likely to foster creativity.
So I’m always in awe of creative people, some of whom manage to keep producing their work in the face of some serious odds.
“We’re educating kids out of creativity” says Sir Ken Robinson on this 2006 TED talk; it’s 19:12 minutes long and has received 74 million views, with lots of laughter and insight. “We need to radically rethink our idea of intelligence,” he says. Worth it!
Here’s one unlikely and interesting example of creativity — a book out May 16, 2023 from a San Antonio nephrologist whose Twitter threads on medicine were moving and powerful. Social media networks like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have fostered and spread all sorts of creativity, from high schoolers to seasoned professionals.
We recently visited friends who worked with my husband at The New York Times for decades, one a photographer renowned for his portraits and his wife, a photo editor. Her father was an architect and her mother a textile designer; his father and grandfather were bakers.
I grew up in a home filled with all sorts of art — Inuit prints and sculpture, 19th c Japanese prints, Mexican masks, a Picasso lithograph — and all three of my parents (father, mother, stepmother) worked in creative fields: journalism, TV and film-making. So it feels natural and felt inevitable I’d work in some creative capacity, as I’ve done since my teens when I sold three photos as magazine covers in Toronto while still in high school.
But creativity requires many things some people never have:
uninterrupted time to think deeply
a physical space in which to paint, draw, print photos in a darkroom, weave, sew
access to needed tools and materials
the disposable income to buy needed tools and materials
a larger culture that admires and celebrates creativity, whether family, school, neighborhood, country
skill sufficient to make something you might want to keep or sell
time, energy and spare income to learn and perfect those skills
good health and mental focus
My favorite book on the subject is the 2003 book The Creative Habit by American choreographer Twyla Tharp.
Whether by innate voracious curiosity or decades of working in journalism, my first instinct in response to almost everything I read, hear or watch is to ask….what’s missing?
It’s essential in that work to pay really close attention not only to what’s offered…but what isn’t being said? What does a long pause or silence in an interview mean? Why does almost every American national TV news report lack any useful or meaningful context? I routinely shout at the TV screen in frustration!
It might be a lack of diversity in sourcing — very common.
It might be sadly clear that the “news” item was simply a rewritten press release, also known as a “puff piece.”
It might be the reporter, editor and producer were too lazy or ignorant to dig deeper — like (!?) a recent report on the national nightly news from CBS that urged listeners to get vaccinated against polio (a good thing) but failed to even mention how polio is spread.
Or it might be the creators knew there was a minefield beneath the flowers — and decided to just let things lie.
This was immediately obvious to me while recently watching a new documentary about Leonard Cohen, a renowned Canadian singer/songwriter who died in 2016, but who has millions of fans worldwide. His life never lacked for drama — partnered with very beautiful women, one (Suzanne Elrod) who bore him two children, Lorca and Adam, spending six years in a Zen monastery outside Los Angeles, emerging to discover that a longtime friend and manager, Kelly Lynch, had robbed him blind, pocketing some $5 million of his earnings. She only got 18 months in prison — and he went out on tour at 79 (!) to make back his losses, which he did.
Here’s the thing:
I love his work.
I know many of his songs by heart.
I admire his art.
But to produce a documentary that doesn’t even speak to his children, or explain that maybe they wouldn’t speak on camera (!?) struck me at once as a huge oversight. It could not have been in error.
The film includes many musicians talking about their admiration for Cohen and his influence on them, from Judy Collins to Brandie Carlisle to Glenn Hansard.
As someone from an accomplished family, and parents who were devoted to their work, this hit hard. I’ve long wanted to write a book interviewing the adult children of highly successful parents, and not just “celebrities” like the Kardashians. I know that being the child of famous and successful parents can come at a very real emotional cost.
A little more candor here would have done the trick for me.
Ok, yes, of course, often, maybe, if you’re really lucky, much of the time.
But always, every damn day of a 40+ year career?
Unlikely and foolish to desire.
The tedious cliche is “that’s why they call it work.”
The opposite fantasy is “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Ask anyone who’s been in the working world for a decade, let alone 20, 30 or 40 years.
This is also, I know, somewhat stiff-upper-lip generational — and I think an insistence work be “fun” is really proxy for a lot of other frustrations: carrying massive student debt for decades, low wages, terrible/non-existent promotions and raises, toxic managers, coworkers and/or customers (hello, foodservice and retail!)
As I’ve written here many times, I generally enjoy my work as a writer of journalism and content marketing, coaching and teaching. But there have been many times I was utterly miserable, even for a full year — like my last staff job as a reporter at the New York Daily News — where I was consistently ignored or bullied. It was torture.
It was a steady, decent paycheck at a then-respected newspaper, then the nation’s sixth-largest.
But happy? No, I was not happy. Fun? No, it was not, ever, fun.
When I worked for a few months in Toronto at Canadian Press, the national wire service, I had to write up every weekend’s accidental deaths across the province, slugged (named) Fatalities — aka Fats. NOPE. Not fun.
As a trade magazine editor in New York, I had a terribly low freelance budget and a highly demanding boss. Not a fun combination.
I do not subscribe to the belief that all work is, or should be, drudgery. But accepting that even the coolest-looking work has downsides and frustrations is more realistic. Even the best-known and wealthiest musicians and film stars have had work that failed to find an audience, auditions that were a disaster, spent years in the trenches working away before hitting the big time. Fun? Probably not.
I think we’re fortunate if we can find work that:
offers kind, fun, funny, smart co-workers (even one of these!)
respect for the work we do
offers room for growth, internally or a boost to our next job elsewhere
helps other people live better/safer lives
I admit that, at its best, journalism has been amazing fun for me, many many times.
But it’s not a well-paid career.
It’s not a secure career and getting fired or laid off is pretty normal, even if expensive and annoying.
Forget a pension.
It’s often insanely competitive, even within your organization. So there’s plenty of stress and anxiety as well.
My favorite place in the suburban New York county where I’ve lived for decades is an indie art film house; some weeks I’m up there multiple times to see a film. I love movies!
Its programming director was recently fired for yelling at his staff, leaving one in tears.
There have always been bad-tempered toxic bosses, but in some places there’s now (happily!) a diminished appetite for them — as several high profile male NPR radio hosts have also learned in recent years, also fired for abusing their staff.
I welcome this, as someone who grew up in an emotionally abusive family and then worked in journalism, one of the most dysfunctional of industries; with a constant oversupply of eager job-seekers, nasty bosses can thrive and rise, thrive and rise, usually without any form of accountability. If they keep losing talented staff, well, hey, whose fault is that?
Having also survived years at boarding school, also being yelled at by old women who were our housemothers, I have little appetite for people unable to hold their damn tongues and be civil. I don’t care how frustrated you are.
I’ve survived quite a few terrifying bosses, one a woman at a trade magazine publisher in Manhattan, who thought nothing of shouting abuse across the room at all of us and, when I dared confront her, stood very very close to me and leaned in further….her pupils oddly dilated. I quit within a month, and with no job waiting and newly divorced.
At the New York Daily News, I dared to ask the photo editor a question in an open newsroom so large it ran from 34th to 33rd street. His idea to humiliate and intimidate me, he yelled at me that I was asking a really difficult question; how to fill out a photo request. What a dick. This was a wholly normal question for a new employee offered zero training. I was then 50 — and quietly told him that being abusive wasn’t going to alter my request. He then ran to my boss to complain about me. Such a FUN workplace!
And, of course, there was another trade magazine boss, a weird little troll who shouted at me for disappointing him when I was editing a 48 page trade magazine with no staff at all, able to offer only extremely low freelance rates that guaranteed careless work from the only writers we could afford.
He came into my very small office and, as I pleaded with him that I was doing my best, snarled: “Define best!”
I was, no surprise, fired a few days later.
I ran into him decades later while riding our shared commuter rail line. As he went to sit beside me, he asked: “Do you remember me?”
“Yes,” was all I said.
Journalism attracts people who are smart and tough and highly impatient, expected to produce flawless results very, very quickly…not a great combo. Then the most demanding rise into management where, sure, they have high standards — but also can get away with shouting and raging with impunity.
I’ve even encountered this toxic arrogance as a freelancer, like a young woman then an editor at the Columbia Journalism Review (ooooh, the delicious irony) who I finally had to hang up the phone on since she was unable to let me finish a sentence.
And, funny thing, she too has since risen in the industry.
I shook for an hour after that phone call — because if you’ve been the subject of a lot of yelling, especially as a child, it really evokes a sort of PTSD.
So every time another abusive manager loses their job, income and authority, I’m thrilled!
There are happy books and there are books you think…really?
I’m expected to get through the whole thing?
There are books, whether novels or non-fiction, about alcoholism, drug use, family abuse, that can feel like a real slog. The subject is undeniably depressing, frightening, even terrifying and most of its characters are people you would never want to meet.
I admit, I didn’t enjoy reading a huge 2018 best-seller, Educated, by Tara Westover, about the terrible family she grew up with, eventually escaping to a better life. I was (however unfairly) impatient with her for staying so long in an environment that was so awful. An earlier best-seller, also by a white woman, Jeanette Wells, was 2005’s The Glass Castle. But I did enjoy a Canadian book like this, North of Normal.
One of the best books I read last year was also emotionally difficult, In The Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado, a memoir of lesbian domestic abuse. Now that sounds appealing! But her writing is extraordinary and it’s a great book.
I recently read the 2020 Booker Prize winner, Shuggie Bain. As I described it to a friend, a fellow journalist, she said she just couldn’t do it. I found that interesting as journalism, with our decades of exposure to some very tough stories, tends to harden us somewhat.
I did enjoy it, but it’s rough — a young boy, Shuggie, living in Glasgow poverty with an older brother and sister and a severely alcoholic mother, abandoned by his father.
I also found elements of it painful and hard to read because my mother was also an alcoholic, and the novel is filled with his hopeless hope that someday, someday, she won’t be — a fantasy painfully familiar to any child of an alcoholic.
The author, Douglas Stuart, survived a very similar childhood, so his ability to turn such grim fare into a compelling novel is impressive. And his background isn’t the standard trajectory of writing classes, workshops and an MFA — he worked in fashion design for decades and was writing it while working as the senior director of design for Banana Republic.
In a conversation with 2019 Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo on 23 November, livestreamed as a Southbank Centre event, Stuart said: “One of my biggest regrets I think is that growing up so poor I almost had to elevate myself to the middle class to turn around to tell a working-class story.” Discussing the “middle-class” publishers’ rejections he had received for Shuggie Bain, he told Evaristo: “Everyone was writing these really gorgeous letters. They were saying ‘Oh my god this will win all of the awards and it’s such an amazing book and I have never read anything like that, but I have no idea how to market it’.” Stuart said in a 2021 conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall that winning the Booker Prize transformed his life.
But I also liked a very tough book, Triomf, from 1994, by Marlene van Niekirk, the most celebrated Afrikaans author of South Africa. It’s dark as hell; the family she features even includes incest.
What, then, is the appeal of such books?
For some, voyeurism….thank God it’s not me!
For some, curiosity, having never experienced poverty and/or alcoholism, or life in a cult in the woods.
I hope, for some, as a way to develop or deepen empathy for people whose lives are wholly different from their own, as — in non-fiction — the storytellers have clearly been able to survive and thrive despite a really difficult earlier life. It becomes a narrative of resilience, not despair.
I admit, I cried hard at the end of Shuggie Bain, as it brought up a lot of unexpressed and painful memories of my own experiences of being “parentified”, always worrying about my mother’s health and safety instead of my own, (even though we were not, thank God, poor), and tied to a woman who was unable or unwilling to create a larger social safety net for herself. So reading a similar book can be painful but also cathartic — someone else really gets it. And, God forbid, someone else had it much worse.
Do you ever read books like this?
How have they left you?
NOTE:I refuse to use Amazon for any purchases, (I loathe its labor policies), so links to these books will not connect to their site.
If you have been pitching (some of?) your ideas fruitlessly, this is a great and affordable opportunity to get smart, kind, helpful feedback from two busy full-time freelancers; I’ve sold more than 100 stories to the very demanding editors of The New York Times and Abby writes for a wide variety of outlets, some in their native Tennessee (i.e. local and regional news) but also for the Times, Teen Vogue, Washington Post and more.
Pitching isn’t easy!
So this webinar, which will be recorded, offers everyone a chance to either pitch their idea and get our candid-but-kind feedback or just watch, listen and learn.
What a luxury it is to live so close to New York City!
I can drive in from our suburban town and (if lucky!) be parked on the street within 30 to 40 minutes.
I seem to have tremendous parking karma — which means, very often, I’ll find a spot on the street where I don’t even have to pay (on Sunday, for example), saving me as much as $50 for garage parking for 3-5 hours in fancier neighborhoods.
So I drove in last Sunday to Lexington and 83d, a neighborhood called the Upper East Side, UES, to meet a young friend for brunch at the Lexington Candy Shop, which is a tiny diner on that corner that opened in 1925.
They’re touchy about guests staying too long and by noon there was a line-up.
Then it’s an easy walk west along 83d to the Metropolitan Museum, which, for now has timed admission you reserve in advance.
If you’ve never yet been to New York or to the Met, the whole experience of the UES is well worth it; even the walk, across Park and Madison leads you past elegant townhouses and uniformed doormen, a guy smoking a stogie leaning on a car, a dog-walker with a huge, shaggy something and two pugs. The people watching is always good, and there are so many lovely architectural details to enjoy — from flower-filled window-boxes to carved gargoyles to the wrought-iron frames of pre-war apartment building entrance doors.
The Met has wide steps that make great seating, and musicians — competing! — settle in to entertain. There are plenty of food trucks — for $14 I got a falafel wrap and a lemonade.
New York state residents can pay as little or as much as we want for the Met’s admission fees — everyone else pays $12 (students), $17 seniors over 65 or the full fare of $25.
It’s tempting to think you have to see everything there if you’re a tourist, but that would be impossible! If you really do pay attention to objects, and read labels and wall signs, you’ll soon feel overloaded.
I find it all so moving — the Roman marble family sculpture from a cemetery; the tiny metal pins in the shape of animals that Roman soldiers wore (!); red and black Greek pottery; exquisite enamels of the 17th c; medieval tapestries —- and that’s just a few main floor galleries!
What amazing things have been produced by so many people. To see them close up is such a joy.
I love to visit a pair of gold earrings I find totally enchanting.
The place is quiet and civilized and there are plenty of benches to rest on. Everyone must be masked.
You can have the oddest moment of looking at something millennia old — and stare out the Fifth Avenue windows at the millionaires’ apartments across the street.
The gift shop is full of gorgeous things, jewelry and scarves, pens and pencils and books and puzzles and posters.
I remember it being full of astounding art and art history books — but not now?
It’s an interesting reminder that, without rich people’s generosity, many museums (certainly in the U.S.), would have a lot less stuff to show us; labels tell you what an item is and how old and maybe what it was used for, but also when it was acquired and using what funds. So the Jayne Wrightsman Galleries, for example, are huge and full of very ornate French material, not my taste at all.
Every room in the Greek and Roman galleries had the name of some wealthy benefactor.
These eyes, which would have been added to Roman or Greek sculptures are creepy — but also amazing.
If you’ve been reading Broadside for a while — thank you! — you know I’m generally an openhearted person.
I like people and approach new situations, professional and personal, with a sense of optimism.
Working as a journalist means I have to quickly put strangers at ease and gather useful information from them. We have to establish trust fast — something of a contradiction.
Working as a journalist also means assuming most people are not lying to me, or want to do me harm in so doing, because a journalist who publishes lies is someone with a very short career. So we fact-check when possible and seek out sources whose background and credentials are as legit as we can find.
When it comes to personal relationships, trust is also paramount, at least for me.
My first marriage, to a physician, lasted barely two years; he bailed and remarried, quickly, a fellow therapist (!) he worked with and with whom he spent a lot of personal time. I was wholly reliant on him financially, so I had to trust him. I had little choice then.
Jose and I have spent time apart. I traveled alone for six weeks in Europe in June-July 2017, as blissful as I could be. I love solo time and traveling alone, exploring to my heart’s content.
I had an amusing evening in Berlin, sharing a table with three handsome young men (all co-workers), one of whom (as part of the conversation!) took off his dress shirt.
It was all good fun, nothing more.
Trust is the basic foundation of every interaction we have, from infancy to death:
— our parents
— our physicians
— our caregivers
— our teachers and professors
— our school/college administrators
— the police
— the courts
— our clergy and religious leaders
— our political leaders
— our relatives
— our romantic partners/spouses
— our employers
— youth group leaders
— our co-workers
— government agencies whose job it is to regulate/fine/shut down offenders
If you’re a person of color, or non-Christian, or gay, you have now become a target for hatred — with more and more deaths-by-vehicle, targeted by sociopaths or a pervasive police brutality that is deeply shocking, if no longer surprising.
You can’t even go out for a bike ride or a walk trusting in your personal safety.
And, as I’ve written here before, trust can be quickly shattered, and is difficult to regain….after dating a con man in 1998, being laughed at, literally, by my local police and D.A., my worldview would never be the same again.
My family relationships, too often toxic through anger and alcohol, taught me to be wary of intimacy.
Trust also underpins every freelance personal and professional relationship:
— our friends
— our colleagues
— our clients
— our agents
— our editors
— our social media networks
I spend a lot of time (too much!) on Twitter, where I have some 5600 followers, including some very senior people in my industry.
I’ve made several very good friends with people I still have yet to meet face to face, whether in Brazil or Tennessee.
So this past weekend, we did!
SO MUCH FUN!
A gay couple, one of whom works in our industry (journalism) and her partner, came up to our home and shared a long lunch that started at noon — and ended at 5:30.
We all took the chance of getting together and hoping we would be as we are on social media — fun, funny, playful, smart, interesting.
We were and we did.
I call these Twitter blind dates, not that we want a romantic thing, but we go into them really only knowing a tiny profile photo, a bunch of tweets and LinkedIn profile. Hoping for the best!
I’ve done this many times, never disappointed.
With a retail expert who lives in Virginia.
With a travel blogger and an archeologist (2 people) in Berlin.
We’ve been repeat house-guests a few times, and that also requires trust — that we’re quiet and thoughtful and don’t smoke or do drugs or will break or stain or ruin things. We bring food and drink and a gift and we always send a thank-you note.
We also trust our hosts to offer us a clean, soft bed. To let us have quiet alone time. To offer good food. To not (as one did to me?!) leave a filthy cat litter box beneath my pull-out bed.
I also once house-sat for a family of four headed to Tuscany from Vermont — unpaid. I was perfectly happy to walk their small affectionate dog. I was not at all happy to also get stuck watering their large garden in a heat wave and (!?) cleaning their pool.
That friendship died with this abuse of my time and energy. I trusted them to be fair with me, and they were not.