Fast Company’s (Possibly Innocent) Mistake

Early Tuesday morning, August 26, Ann Charles’ piece on what she believed to be 25 of the Smartest Women on Twitter was published. Surely enough, it was shared on social media, especially Twitter, where it was received not so well amongst those of color.

As many of the people I happen to follow pointed out, there is not one Black woman on the list, let alone not enough diversity for a brand/magazine that prides itself on “inspiring readers to think beyond traditional boundaries & create the future of business” (via Fast Company’s Twitter bio).

This led to many intelligent, practical,  and opinionated netizens to come up with their own lists, quite a few them holding more than 25 members. Not to say that the women on Charles’ list are not great role models or anything, but it did strike a cord in those who are in minority groups in America today (why we are still considered minorities is something I’ll never understand, but oh well). The lists had women of all backgrounds and different fields having done things that have contributed to the public’s understanding of the world we live in today, be it technology, activism, journalism, writing, and so on.

It was nice to see that Fast Company took notice and tried to make amends by publishing More on Those Smartest Women on Twitter, where they said, “We squandered the opportunity to do the same with our initial Twitter list” when trying to re-affirm what they state in their Twitter bio. They even asked for more feedback on who else readers would add to the list, with a “please”.

This got me thinking. While some may have just looked over the  original list and paid attention to the accomplishments of mentioned women, many felt some type of way when they did not see someone they could easily identify with. Charles even wrote that making the list “[included] seeking out the most influential and profound leaders across a diverse set of industries and interests. As the Twitter ecosystem continues to grow, it’s an ongoing challenge to find new, unique, and interesting sources of information with fresh points of view.”

Yes, there are a lot of people on Twitter today – about 554,750,000 active users as of early last month. So this was daunting task for Charles, and a matter of her own opinion. I’m not saying that this was a bad list; just that certain demographics did not feel represented well, if at all.

With more women chipping away at the countless glass ceilings in this man’s world, it was refreshing to see both women and men make up their own minds as to who else is contributing to attempting to make this world more equal for all. We all are different, yet we all have a sense of wanting to belong somewhere, especially with people we can see ourselves in.

Hopefully this will bring more attention to movers and shakers of color.

On Being Scared, Even Just a Little Bit.

I have not written in a while, yes. And I should be writing more. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have been reading, and I should be reading more, too.

I have had Touré’s Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? in my hands whenever the reading bug struck, and it has been quite lovely. It’s thought-provoking, even funny at times. It is also been eye-opening, for I am learning quite a lot from this man, to what he has to say, how he writes about his experiences and those of the people he interviewed for the book, and how he uses words so well.

I wanted to share this quote from the book, as I’m sure all of us have felt this way more than we can keep track. It sums up how I’ve been feeling as of late.

If you’re scared to publish it, then you absolutely must publish it! Yes, it’s embarrassing to you as a person but that makes it great for you as a writer!

– Touré’s provocateur

Once I’ve finished the book and have had time to digest it and develop my thoughts, I will post them.

I’m nervous, but excited. Let’s see what happens.

Editing Others to Also Editing Myself

I came across this link on Twitter earlier today, on editing your own work on lifehacker.com.

I was a copy editor of the student-run paper at my previous college, and my job entailed making sure work to be published was in the Associated Press style, was grammatically sound, that spellings were correct, facts were accurate, and so on. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and I am considering looking for copy editing positions in the near future, aside from becoming a journalist.

I did write a few pieces, and wish I had written much more, but I was more worried about coursework, and I was working part time at a very popular food and beverage chain. I will write more about that later, for I would really need to choose my words carefully on that one.
I got the impression that I was tweaking others’ work to make them more clear and easy on the eye, especially for those who laid out the pages of the publication.

Since I’m starting to write and publish myself here, I should also start editing myself. I should have been started. I think I’m a little scared to read my work after it’s done. I write when I really cannot shake the urge to do so. I feel I just flow better, and that quite a bit comes out when I’m in this state. I’ve realized that not all criticism is bad, and the only person I can compete with, without losing it, is myself. I am trying to be the best writer/journalist I can be, after all.

Caroline McMillan breaks down the process, the first step being to print out your work. McMillan writes:

As any writer or editor will tell you, critiquing someone else’s work is much easier than deconstructing your own, because outside eyes bring a fresh perspective. To approach your own work critically, you need to simulate this “outsider” perspective by viewing it in a form other than the one you wrote it in.

I don’t need to say how obvious this is.

She also talks about taking a break, deadline-willing. The more time you have from your piece, the more mistakes you may see and better amendments can be made.
Then there’s reading it aloud, and this calls to mind my Voice & Diction class I took last semester. You do want our words to flow, and if they do when read aloud, the piece looks good, and you look good as a writer, too. Right?

Writing for the people you want to read your work is something to always keep in mind. Too many words is not a good thing. Being that I’m a consumer of information, I do find myself getting bored sometimes as an article goes on, even though the subject may interest me, simply for all the possible page turning, scrolling and/or clicking I may have to do.

The next stop is the hardest. Cutting down your piece, and being “ruthless” about it, McMillan wrote. “[…] this will help make sure that the true meat of your piece is what shines.” You want your readers to get something that could be useful to them from your piece, otherwise you’re not only wasting their time, but yours as well. I have learned this with word limits on essays.

The biggest piece of advice I got from this article was this:

When you make a point […] throw yourself behind it. Don’t give the impression that you’re not sure you fully support your own argument.

That advice stuck with me, and you should pay attention to it, too, especially when your career is in play. Don’t weaken your argument with wishy-washy sentences that start with “I believe,” “In my opinion,” and “You may disagree, but…” You’ll see the difference it makes.

This is not going to be easy to get the hang of. I’m even writing this on my phone, not on a computer. My laptop is not even connected to a printer at the moment. But as I said, I need to start somewhere. If that means scrolling up and down this four-inch window that I have, so be it this time around.

I want to, need to put my best foot forward, and my writing will have to speak for me until I get my foot in the door.

Thoughts.

It’s been two days since I started this blog, and I’m pretty content with how it’s been going, and with myself for finally starting to write and publish myself.

I am a little intimidated with trying to pitch story ideas and what not. I am just starting, and I know I ca be a much better writer. All I need is practice. Just like this.

I’ve been reading a lot more articles, following more writers on Twitter, and plan to read a few books that could help make more sense of what I want to do career-wise.

I’ve been told that knowing more about a certain topic and possibly becoming an expert on it can help you figure out how you want to make a living, obviously.

Maybe it’s because I’ve started to wade into this craft, and that I’ve become serious about wanting to do this, I have noticed that many are hungry. It could be for power, fame, money. I want to do this because I really want to.
I have to get this out there, as corny as it sounds. I have to make it known, somehow, not just to myself, but to whoever reads this.

This is what I want to do. Passion is something serious, and it can lead you even further than you imagined sometimes.
Of course, one has to be realistic. I know this won’t be easy. I will be broke for quite a while. I will be shunned, ignored, laughed at for various reasons. Many more negative assets of this business will come to light, and I believe that I will be ready for that. Not just because of my age, my life experiences, and so on. I have support from people I love and respect.

It’s one thing to have the fire within you to drive you to succeed. It is just as important to be surrounded by good people who want to see you succeed. I’ve grown more accepting of people (might explain myself later, might not) as I have gotten older.

This is all I can put down for now.