The Taylor Swift Defense

Songstress Taylor Swift has made an enviable career by writing and singing her truths. While some of her songs (like Hey Stephen from the Fearless album) speak of sweet love, Taylor’s lyrics often touch on the other side of boy/girl relationships; the stuff that some might find embarrassing.

She’s gotten a lot of flack for speaking the truth. Grown men have said they love her, but wouldn’t date her, because of the risk they run in having a song created about them that might document a failed relationship. “Chickens,” I say.

Though my format is different, like Taylor, I write about my feelings and experiences. Nothing is off-limits. Is anything safe?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that I am currently writing about my divorce and all of the traumatic, embarrassing, and disappointing parts of the transition.

The other day I was advised not to tell the world that I have my kids in play therapy (to help them adjust to the upcoming changes). But what is wrong with telling this truth? My kids are benefitting, and as a parent I am doing what is responsible for their well-being. Should I not disclose the things that led my husband and me to separate? Should I not share experiences that might help someone else (going through a similar life-trial)?

The argument that it’s private doesn’t hold weight. What is private? Isn’t sharing, caring? Don’t others benefit from shared experiences? It’s not slander unless it’s said with malicious intent. Is secrecy, then, an attempt to hide a bruised ego?

I’m willing to disclose my own bruised ego.

Here’s this gem:

Yesterday I failed another CloudCrowd test, after three mind-numbing hours of writing, editing and proof reading. I even had back-up this time to ensure that I’d pass; mom was a room away to double-check my work.

It looked good, I thought, but I failed.

When I had settled down enough (after receiving my rejection email; F-word F-word F-word), I went back to look at the critique.

1. I made one subject/verb agreement after the thing had been written and during my last minutes before posting. I knew I shouldn’t have changed act to acts (the subject). I didn’t even think about the verb. Bad, bad writer girl!

2. I was accused of not comparing and contrasting the subject matter, which was the main objective to the second written piece. The fact that the subject was “Religion in the United States,” and that I compared the freedom from religion in our country to countries who do not allow such freedoms, seemed to go unnoticed.

3. My mom and I had major discussions about whether our freedom was “from” or “of” religion. Ultimately, I chose to say “from” since our government doesn’t require us to practice a national religion, nor are we ruled under a government that preaches a particular choice. We are free from being told what we should believe.

4. The last time I tested, I wrote far more than the 200 words that were required. I felt that this set me up to be judged on more errors (resulting in fail number one). Yesterday, I decided to keep it closer to the word limit, but with a topic like U.S. Religion, this was hard. Still, I thought I did a good job, though apparently I was wrong.

My frustration with CloudCrowd has me questioning whether or not I should hang up the editing piece of this budding writing career.

At the same time, I wonder if I should try again with a different company whose reviewers are a little more open-minded to written interpretation, especially on the written exams?

The truth is not always pretty, but there is power in its function. I believe in this wholeheartedly.

M.

Are you a secret keeper who believes that things should be private or do you speak the truth despite the consequence of embarrassment?

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Writing and Editing at CloudCrowd

In an effort to gain paid employment in the areas of writing and editing, I signed up with a company called CloudCrowd through their application on Facebook.

CloudCrowd’s premise is simple. In order to be hired, a worker must pass credential tests in areas such as writing, editing, research and data entry. The tests include tasks riddled full of expectations (as it should be) and should a test be rejected, the worker must wait fourteen days before testing again.

Once credentials are passed, paid work is plenty. Many of the contributors on the CloudCrowd forum have expressed happiness with the company and the opportunities for good work that supplements their income.

A few weeks ago I signed up and took my first test for English comprehension.

Passing it quickly and feeling unbeatable, I took the leap into the next testing arena; the credential exam in editing.

Within an hour I received my rejection.

With a fourteen day wait until I could re-take the test, my anxiousness to get this train on track led to the ill-fated and unprepared decision (yesterday) to try a different exam; working to earn the credential for writing.

This morning I received the rejection for that test too.

Upon review, my mistakes were avoidable.

In an effort to help struggling writers and editors like me, here is some advice to take before you find yourself in my shoes; too eager to attempt CloudCrowd’s tests, resulting in a bruised ego and a two-week wait for redemption.

1. Don’t attempt to take tests with children in the house, especially around lunchtime, as precious time is wasted making ham and cheese sandwiches.

2. Take time to study the CC Study Guide. Some of the expectations go against my natural writing style. For example, CloudCrowd requires the serial comma to always be used. It’s not comfortable for me as I have struggled to minimize my overuse of commas in my own writing. I will need to take extra time to go over my work before submission, especially in this area.

3. Each test is timed. It’s a good idea to break down the way you will use your time before the test begins. For yesterday’s writing test there were two components. I spent so much time writing and fixing the punctuation on the first component that I was left with less than one hour for the second. One hour isn’t enough to create a 200 word piece from scratch (about “my favorite dinosaur” no less) with appropriate grammar and punctuation and review. The fact that I was left with twelve minutes to come up with a summary line should have alerted me to can the whole thing and try again later. But my stubbornness and refusal to accept that the past 180 minutes of work were wasted prompted me to submit, resulting in the fail. You can skip the test if you feel that a rejection will be your result.

4. Use the two weeks between failed tests to study the worker resources. Instead of stressing about the next attempt, use the time to study up on the areas that need work.

5. Take tests from under the practice tab to get you used to testing expectations, questions, and time limits.

6. Don’t quit. Attitude is everything. Instead of being totally irritated by my rejections, I’m going to use my time more wisely and attempt the tests again when all of the components necessary for passing are aligned.

In the meantime, to all of my amazing readers, should you see an editing fail on my blog posts please consider it appreciated should you feel inclined to alert me to the problem.

Studying is fine, but fixing mistakes is the best way to learn.

Have you ever failed something more than once only to pass it later? Ever failed something and quit it for good? Tell me why!

M.