A Reminder to Breathe in Mamalode

I’m so happy to share that my essay “A Reminder to Breathe” has been published in the amazing magazine Mamalode. Please check it out, friends! Hope you enjoy, and hope it makes a positive difference.

Heartfelt thanks to Mamalode for sharing my piece with their readers.

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Don’t miss Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

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Moms, Make Time for Your Friends on BonBon Break

I’m so happy to share that my essay “Moms, Make Time for Your Friends” has been published in the wonderful online magazine BonBon Break. Head on over to check it out! Hope you enjoy, friends.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at BonBon Break for this awesome opportunity to collaborate.

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Don’t miss Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

Read My New E-book, THIS IS JUST A STORY

This Is Just a Story Cover ImageUnrealized dreams. A family secret. The fine line between fact and fiction. “This Is Just a Story” by Melissa Leddy explores these themes in a short fiction narrative that’s part beach read and part pop-culture commentary.

Friends, I am so excited to share that my newest story is now published and available for you to enjoy!

This is the fourth e-book I’ve published through Amazon. I’ve been writing (and rewriting!) “This Is Just a Story” for about two years. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

“This Is Just a Story” takes about one hour to read—it’s the perfect companion as you’re taking a break at your favorite coffee shop, waiting for a doctor’s appointment or ending a long day with a good book and glass of wine.

Please let me know what you think! 🙂

 

Do What You Love, But… Career Advice for Our Kids

I’m looking for a job. Actually, multiple jobs—freelance writing projects that I can complete when I’m not taking care of my two small daughters.

The other day I was scrolling through job listings on Indeed. Somehow I scrolled past a listing for a finance position. “$20,000 signing bonus,” it said.

I did a double-take. As a part-time freelance writer, I’m glad to earn $20,000 in an entire year.

Hmm…maybe I had picked the wrong profession.

I’ve always loved writing. I wrote my first poem, “Magic,” when I was 5 years old. Like most first poems, it was terrible—cheesy, full of clichés. I dreamed of becoming a writer, though, so I kept writing.

Then at age 9, I wrote a short story called “Boris Takes Over” for my local library’s annual fiction contest. To my surprise and delight, “Boris Takes Over” won first place in the third/fourth grade category. My blue-ribbon award was bragging rights, plus the privilege of having my story hardbound and added to the library’s permanent collection.

As I grew up, my friends spent their summers at sports camps. I, on the other hand, went to writing camp. (Yes, there really is such a thing!)

In college, I was named editor-in-chief of the campus-wide literary magazine. I began to feel some confidence, some affirmation that I really could have a career as a writer.

During the past 10 years, I’ve worked in writing positions for a magazine, nonprofit organization and marketing company, among other side gigs. I feel a jolt of childlike joy every time a publication accepts a piece I’ve submitted.

It’s “Boris Takes Over” all over again, every time.

I feel thankful I’ve been able to do something I’ve always loved. I’m also conscious, when I see notes about $20,000 signing bonuses for finance positions—as I’m trying to generate enough supplementary income to pay for my older daughter’s summer dance camps—that creative fields aren’t always lucrative.

Compare, for example, the annual salary range of an entry-level copywriter ($42,750 to $60,000) to an entry-level Web analytics specialist ($72,500 to $99,750) in the marketing industry (source: Robert Half). In terms of bigger-bucks paydays, numbers games often trump the arts.

After one of Grace’s dance classes recently, she pirouetted across the kitchen and announced, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a dance teacher just like Miss Phaedra.”

“That sounds great, honey,” I said. I meant it.

Dance teachers are similar to writers in that both work in creative fields. Through their work, creative professionals have the opportunity to inspire people. To recognize and encourage talents within them, as teachers do. To move them with words, as writers might.

Do What You Love, But...

Creative professions, of course, traditionally pay less than their more “practicum” counterparts—medicine, business, engineering. Grace is still years away from declaring a college major, but the thought crossed my mind in the kitchen that day: Should I really encourage her to do what she loves as a profession, when that profession may not pay the bills as handily as another one?

The answer, for me, is yes. For a couple of reasons.

First, you never know where life might take you. Amazing things can happen when you’re doing something you love. As a dancer, or a writer, or anything in between, you may find yourself someday just one step away from your big break—one step away from directing a world-renowned dance program, or from garnering a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Years of practice, dedication and, yes, a little bit of luck—energized by your love for what you do—may lead you to your dream come true.

Second, we don’t know how much time we have in this life. We should spend it, then, doing something we care about.

I’m a practical person, however. Money isn’t everything, but it is important. It allows you to live in a safe neighborhood, to eat nourishing food, to give your children experiences that will enrich their lives.

Money is important. For that practical reason, then, I’ll encourage my daughter to pursue her dance aspirations with an eye toward realism, as I’ve had to be realistic.

This will be my message to my daughter, and maybe it will be your message to your kids too: Do what you love, but if and when needed, do what you have to do too.

Didn’t make the cut for the Lyon Opera Ballet? Then work in arts administration, possibly, until you’re ready to try out again, or try out with another dance company.

Every experience will make your creative passion that much richer, that much more rewarding.

Every now and then, I pull up a document I’ve been writing and rewriting, on and off, for years. It’s a nonfiction story, untitled as of yet. I want this story to be part of the legacy I leave behind as a writer.

In the meantime, I have a family to help take care of. I need to be there physically for my daughters, preparing their meals and washing their clothes and doing the millions of other little things that children need done. I need to be there financially for them too, no explanation needed.

Consequently, I gladly apply for and gratefully accept freelance writing projects related to copywriting, corporate communications and Web content development—nothing to do with the writing aspirations I’ve had since “Magic.” I do all these things to earn money to help take care of my family, while constantly doing the writing I feel meant to do whenever I can.

Do what you love, but if and when needed, do what you have to do too. Your life and your legacy will both be richer for it.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.

So Everybody Knows You Here, Right?

The other day, my hubby and I stopped by the coffee shop across the street. He’d been there a few times before. I, on the other hand, head over with the girls a few times a week.

“So everybody knows you here, right?” Stanton said.

“They do.” Then I noted, “That’s a good quote.”

“It’s the song from that show. You know.”

“Well…not exactly.” 🙂

How wonderful, though, to be somewhere “where everybody knows your name.” What a comfort to walk through the door and feel at home.

Besides your home, what are the “places” in your life? The spots that are like second nature to you? Your hangouts, or your kids’?

I remember moving here to San Antonio in 2009. The only people I knew then were Stanton, his parents, and his two best friends. I remember feeling small in a big place.

I had a similar feeling a couple of weeks into my freshman year of college. One evening, I walked outside. I found myself at the Greek Theater, one of many beautiful spots at the University of Richmond. And among all that beauty, I began to cry. I just didn’t feel as if I belonged there.

Until I did. Until I found my “people,” and my places.

Writing connected me, both times, to my two new worlds. In college, I found a home in the English Department. I was a proud bookworm, working on creative writing projects and later spearheading the literary magazine. And in San Antonio, I started a blog about being “Not From Here.” “Not From Here” put me in touch with other writers and, ultimately, a full-time writing job. I loved that job as much as I loved the new colleagues I got to know there.

My people, and my places.

Coffee-Shop-2015

Beginnings are hard, usually. The beginning of something new.

College. A new city. Any transition in your life.

In every transition, finding your new routine can be helpful. Life-saving, even. And finding your new people—that’s life-saving for sure.

I transitioned from working part-time, and having routine conversations with various writing clients, to staying home with my daughters earlier this year. I said indefinite good-byes to those clients, those conversations. I never expected that for this season of my life, I’d find my new people at the coffee shop across the street.

But then again, I never expected I’d meet my standing coffee date in college either, a few months after that night in the Greek Theater.

“What’s that saying, God laughs at man’s plans?”

I looked across the table at Stanton. “Something like that.”

“Well…you know.”

Yes. I did.

“OK, chai tea latte and coffee.” Tricia set our drinks down. “Enjoy, guys.”

I took a sip of my chai.

“Good?”

“Always is,” I told him.

What are the places in your life? And who’s been there with you?

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s e-books, available on Amazon.com. Writing at its most heartfelt.

Writing Anything: The 7 Writing Truths I Live By

Whether I’m working on a blog post or business proposal, I write by these seven writing truths. I hope they’re helpful for your own writing, from blog posts to business proposals and everything in between. Good luck, friends!

1. Practice “less is more.” When you write, use exacting language. Take your time picking out the just-right words and the several details that are worth including, that help paint a picture in your reader’s mind of the story you’re telling, be it fact or fiction. Norman Maclean, who wrote my favorite book, “A River Runs Through It,” was a master of the “less is more” approach. Check out the power in the simplicity of this passage from his acclaimed memoir:

“We had to be very careful in dealing with each other. I often thought of him as a boy, but I never could treat him that way. He was never ‘my kid brother.’ He was a master of an art. He did not want any big brother advice or money or help, and, in the end, I could not help him.”

Powerful, right? I try to write “less” as much as possible in my own writing, too.

2. Read a lot. And read lots of different things. Ideas for how to improve your writing can come from wonderfully unexpected places. Case in point: Slate’s “Mad Men” TV Club recently inspired the ending to a piece I was working on. I loved how John Swansburg “signed off” his piece here with the closing “Can we still go to Friendly’s?” (a reference to the “Mad Men” episode in question) and took a similar approach with my blog post “History and Memory in Relationships.”

Another unexpected source of inspiration: Sports Illustrated. Their writers have a talent for threading witty phrases through feature stories, so that you can’t help but smiling.

3. Write as much as you can. The more you practice your craft, the more certain skills and techniques become second nature. For example, the submissions guidelines for many publications prefer one space rather than two after periods. If you regularly space sentences this way, then you can be efficient when you submit your work.

4. Revise. When you have something to write, you should just start writing—extraneous details, “more” rather than “less,” and all. But when you’re done writing, take a breath. Step away for a moment. Finesse the finished product into something sound and beautiful.

5. Include; don’t exclude. When you’re revising, check that your writing welcomes as many people as possible, so that you can reach and inspire the broadest readership possible. The original title of my post above was “History and Memory in Marriage.” During my last revision of this piece, I changed “Marriage” to “Relationships.” Why? Because I believed that the spirit of this post spoke to interpersonal connections beyond marriage—also friendships and the bonds between siblings. And other kinds of romantic relationships, too, particularly those between same-sex couples. The word “Marriage” was acting exclusively here, and I didn’t want it to.

6. Make a connection. In a blog post, ask a question or two. “Have you had a similar experience?” “Tell me your story.” In a business proposal, use “we,” “you,” and “our” rather than the more hands-off “the company” and “the project.”

7. Keep in touch. Encourage feedback and communication. And when you get feedback, reply to those comments and follow up with any reader questions. And always, always share your contact info in an easy-to-access place.

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Melissa Leddy has been writing professionally for 10 years. She’s the author of three e-books, including the popular short fiction “The Moms.” You can follow her writing on her website, and connect with her on Twitter at @MMLWrites.

Some Writings That Have Caught My Eye

I have Google alerts set up for “writing,” “self-publishing,” and “motherhood” … some of my favorite topics to read about! Every day, news items related to these themes appear in my inbox. Here are a few writings that have caught my eye lately, and that might interest you, too!

On Writing

“An Archive That Explores the Beautiful Lost Art of Letter Writing,” The Huffington Post

“How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference,” Poynter

On Self-Publishing

“Self-Publishing Lets Women Break Book Industry’s Glass Ceiling, Survey Finds,” The Guardian

“Is Publishing a Book a Birthright?” The Huffington Post

On Motherhood

“7 Financial Conversations Real-Life Couples Have at Night,” The Week Magazine

“Labor Pains: Maternity Leave Policies in America Hurt Working Moms,” The New Republic