It Happened that Thursday

Thursday, October 19, 2017.  3:22 PM.

The cheery jingle of an arriving text message caused no alarm. Just another afternoon heading home from campus. Youngest sister checking in. I glance at the phone while the car cools down. Falling below 80 degrees in October is always the hope by Floridians, but jack-o-lanterns turning mushy in Florida heat and humidity is the reality.

Text Message You need to call me now.Ready to head home, I begin steering the car out of its space  and head toward the main road. Her words stop me:  “Mom just called. You guys need to call me now.”

I dial the phone. Her shaky voice does not hide her concern. I can feel it: Life was changing in the instant. An ordinary instant, indeed.

Looking back, rereading the messages, I see the irony now:  The text message arrived at 3:22 from a sister born on 3/22. What were the chances?

Little did I know what was about to happen. But it did that Thursday afternoon. I waited patiently for my husband to arrive home. A rare business day in Jacksonville had him on the road, now rushing while phoning my mother for details.

6:20 PM:  a text to my sisters – We’re on the way.

The hour+ drive felt like eternity. Heading east, darkness engulfs the remaining orange slivers of the setting sun as we drive toward the coast. Heavy rain threatens to slow us down. I think about Mother Nature feeling the loss as Bob slips quietly away in the sterile bed that will comfort him in his final sleep.

Heavy traffic shows no mercy as tired commuters, oblivious to our pain and determination, push toward home. Our wish to arrive quickly to the place protecting him as he dies slowly matters not to fellow drivers.

7:36 PM:  A smiling security guard welcomes us and asks that we empty pockets, open bags, and obtain badges. He is here – business as usual. We are here – anything but business as usual.  We are here because life is happening on this Thursday. We offer weak smiles and a pleasant thank you for his service.

A short elevator ride delivers us to the third floor. Doors open. We are greeted by locked doors protecting patients in the most critical moments of life, and their families who wait anxiously, hoping for the best, uncertain of what comes next. Beyond those doors we will see Bob, detached from life support, waiting for his body to quietly succumb to his failing heart for the last time.

His sister and cousin are there when we enter the room. His chest rises and falls. I want to close his gaping mouth. He looks like he’s napping and could catch flies. I smile. He looks peaceful, probably for the first time in a long time. Living with his wife, my mother, has been his hell for the past few years. We had no idea how badly until recent months. He is ready to go to the place where his wife of 43 years waits for him. Later that evening I learn that she died on October 20, 2011 after a battle with cancer. Bob is waiting until the hour he can join her. We are sure of it.

people sitting in hospital roomFor the next several hours, as shifts change and families go home for rest, we sit in chilly ICU room 305, as machines hum and beep. Nurses stop in frequently to check on us. Bob breathes softly as my two sisters, husband and I share stories about our times with him. We laugh at how much he loved to check in to this boutique hospital, just down the street from his home. In recent months, he would arrive with a book and his order for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He raved about their soups. Have you tried the soup? he’d ask with a big grin. It’s delicious! Come on! Order a bowl.. it’s on me! 

He’s been a part of our family for only four years, but his gruff Queens disposition juxtaposed with his unending kindness for others has left an indelible mark on our hearts. A grandpa to my nephews and niece, a step-father to my sisters and me, a father-in-law to our husbands, and a volunteer and philanthropist to many, Bob was kind, tolerant, patient, and generous beyond words. Now, as our hearts hold him close, his heart is ready to go. We reminisce, sharing things we know would make him laugh.  We suspect he can hear us. We hope that he can. We hope that he is feeling how much we love him, appreciate him, and will miss him. He and Laura never had children. We became his family in our short time together.

By 1:00 AM, knowing it’s the date he’s been holding out for, we are torn:  Do we stay or do we go and return in the morning? Vital signs indicate slow progression as his body moves closer to death.  We struggle with what to do. Finally, we decide to head home and return early in the morning.

Man lies in hospital bedAs my sisters step out and my husband comforts them at the door, I reach over and place my hand on Bob’s hand. I tell him I will miss him. I sob. I know this is the last time I will see him in life. His hand flinches. I gasp. And smile. I squeeze his arm in return. I’m certain I felt his hand flinch. He was letting me know things will be okay, that he knew we were there, that we loved him and would miss him. I felt sure at that moment that he really knew how much he meant to us, to me.

Friday, October 20, 2017.  11:16 AM.

As the elevator doors open, we are once again greeted by the now-familiar ICU locked doors, keeping death and sadness inside as the world passes by.  We are buzzed in to the solemn space. We learn that Bob took his final breath a little before 10:00 AM, near the time his long-time wife did just six years before. Now it is he who rests in peace, leaving us to figure things out. Little do we know how life altering that will be….

Joan Didion wrote in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” She reflects on the loss of her husband who suffered a heart attack as the two ate together.

Sitting by a windowShe is right. Life changes in the instant. Pain and sadness not withstanding, life continues on, though. Bills must be paid. Houses cleaned. Widows looked after. Roofs repaired because hurricanes don’t care that homeowners are sick and dying. In the weeks that followed Bob’s death, I feel like I grew up, in spite of already being 50. It was a life altering time for me, for us. As the country celebrated Thanksgiving, we sought respite as we tried to figure things out…

Fast-forward one year.

Man sits at dinner tableIn the months following Bob’s passing, I’ve heard him in my ear so many times, telling me to remember this, do that…  and I smile. It was he who told me in the sweltering July of 2015 to make a decision: Business or hobby? You decide! And so I did. I’ve often said in his absence how much I’ve continued to learn from him, as though he’s guiding me.

Thank you, Bob. I miss you greatly. I appreciate all that you brought to our family in the short time you were with us.

It happened that Thursday in October. Life changed in the instant. Indeed.

Writing Short(ly)

How many words does it take to tell a story?

One could argue that using fewer words conveys more meaning and requires more thinking.

Brevity is king.

In fact, many writers prefer to tell stories in short form, guiding the reader on a literary journey – in 100 or fewer, 50 or fewer, only six words, or even 140 characters. Writing shortly, often under the umbrella Flash Fiction, goes by many names. Here are a few:

  • microstory
  • short story
  • short-short story
  • flash fiction
  • six-word story
  • the 140-character story (also known as twitterature)
  • micropoetry

 

cover of a book, how to write short, by roy peter clark

No matter what it’s called, each short-form story has a similar quality:  the writer carefully selects and places words to tell a story. Similar to micropoetry, brevity is key.  Every. Word. Counts. 

 

book cover: 140 CharactersThough I was introduced to wordplay at a very young age (and always encouraged to write and tinker with language), it was not until 2009 when I discovered Twitter and short-form writing (beyond poetry) for the first time. I blogged about it in 2010 and again a few years later {here}. Turns out, short-form writing has a long history! Consider Telegraph messages… stop.  😉

Fast-forward to 2015, when I discovered an interest in visual art – an answer to writer’s block. As I tinkered with colors to heal my heart and head, my writing voice returned and I discovered that ‘writing short’ played a key role in my art pieces.

Carefully selected and places words are often seen, but just as often not seen – buried under layers of color and texture. When you purchase my art, there’s a good chance you’re purchasing my words, too, even if you never see them!

Now in my third year creating visual art, I am reflecting on my journey and continue to think about the process. I am seeing how my earliest pieces are simplistic, childlike – the efforts of a newbie artist, and I’m okay with that. Because I’m also discovering how ‘writing short’ fits into my own artistic style.

I see a growing collection of my words – many blended with colors, some standing strongly in stark black and white, while others hover quietly on brown patina’d book pages and the private pages of my writing journals.

Still, others stick quietly to our fridge and tap me on the shoulder when I walk by, or are pulled from my word notebooks and added to my photographs. Then there are the carefully chosen quotes by others that convey my deepest feelings…

All tell my story.

 

What would your story say?

Drawing Them Out: Faces Reveal Artist’s Growth

As 2018 unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on my creative journey.

What began as art discovery (a form of therapy, if you will) during a difficult time in my life – personally and professionally – has developed into a way of living that is as necessary to me as breathing and eating. My head often feels like it will burst to let the ideas out!

When everything in art was brand new to me three years ago, I was taking it all in and sampling techniques, tools, and materials – but not choosing anything specific. Window shopping.  I suppose that’s how I discovered ‘mixed media’ – I tinkered in a little bit of everything. Now, while I still prefer using a variety of media, there are certain things I prefer.  Drawing and faces make my short list.

I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s faces, taking in the lines, curves, shapes, colors, tones, textures, how light hits high places and recedes in low spots, the crevices, scars, freckles, moles, placement of features, how the features move when the person speaks, the color of the iris, the white reflection in the pupil, the shape of the lips – up or down, a big toothy grin or a closed, smiling mouth…. the list is endless.

I’ve noticed as long as I can remember, but more in the past few years. Often when I’m looking at someone, I get distracted by what I see, and worry that I’ll miss what’s being said. When I look at photographs, I am mesmerized. I study the details.

credit: RobinLK Studios. 24×24 mixed media on art board

In 2015-16, I began curating faces from online images in Pinterest and Google, to use as reference tools as I developed my drawing skills. I didn’t draw too many faces those first years, but the first photo in my curated collection became a reference for an early piece I created in a workshop I attended. The 24 x 24 art now hangs in our home. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but I didn’t focus on drawing faces. Yet.

I was still dabbling.

Looking at a face is like looking at art for me.  I am infinitely curious when I look at someone’s face…

In Pam Carriker’s book, Mixed Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces, she says, “You’ll find when you begin sketching and using faces in your work that you notice the tilt of someone’s head when you’re talking to them or how the light is shadowing their face.” When I read this, I thought, “I do that all the time!”

My focus is narrowing. No longer just window shopping as I did in 2015, I’m figuring out which subjects interest me most, which mediums feel ‘right’ in my hands, how compositions, combinations, and colors convey what’s in my heart and my head.

Pam goes on to say, “Each face that emerges is like meeting a new person. They are who they are, and they don’t have to be perfect… Let them become who they become.”  I love this!

I am literally ‘drawing them out’ – new people who have (apparently) been hanging out in my head and are now emerging. Their faces are the evidence of my own growth as an artist…..

Here are a few new friends I’d like to introduce, because as I develop my drawing skills, these ladies will become fondly remembered as the faces who appeared first in 2018, willing to emerge with all their quirkiness and imperfections.   🙂

Where will the process take me next?  Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest: @RobinLK Studios

Ten Tips: Keeping Art Brushes, Sponges, and Stamps Usable

One of the things I learned from our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party was that sharing tips I’ve learned about the process in the past three years is a “how-to” I can gladly contribute. Here are a few things learned along the way….

Ten tips for keeping brushes, sponges, and stamps usable… (because it gets expensive replacing them!):

  1. Do not leave brushes/sponge brushes in water for long periods of time.
  2. Do not let paint, ink, or adhesives dry on brushes, sponges, or stamps. Let them rest in a brush tub, to keep them moist. Use the scrubber in the bottom to gently loosen paint.
  3. Change water often when painting, especially with watercolors.
  4. Use paper towels, a fabric cloth, and/or baby wipes while working on a project – rinse and wipe tools when switching between tools during a project.
  5. Use the correct brush for acrylic vs. watercolor paint. Acrylics are too harsh for natural hair brushes and will damage them.
  6. Avoid pushing, jamming, or squishing brushes, sponges, or stamps into paint, ink, adhesives, or other mediums.
  7. When finished, clean brushes and sponges in warm soapy water and pat dry.
  8. Lay brushes horizontally to dry to avoid water running from bristles to ferrule (thing that looks like a collar).
  9. Store brushes upright once they are completely dry. *Never store brushes with bristles facing down.
  10. When finished with a stamp, use a product like StazOn to clean the excess ink, especially when using permanent ink. Gently pat the stamp with the cleaning product. Follow with a dry cloth or paper towel. Gently pat the stamp and let it air-dry.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for playing with colors?  Follow RobinLK Studios on Facebook for the latest information.

Our First Art Party is in the Books: Feedback + Lessons Learned

Sunday, February 25, 2018, RobinLK Studios hosted our first-ever Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party.

Our project:   Mail Art

Our party experience:   Wow, it was a LOT of fun!

 

My party experience: Wow, it was a LOT of fun and a LOT of work before and after, but very much worth it(!).

Like any good party, details matter. This event was no different. Three weeks of intense planning and preparation led to wonderful feedback from guests. Here’s what they shared with me in text messages, Facebook comments, and before leaving that day:

  • “It was sooooooo much fun!”
  • “…a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends”
  • “…such an enjoyable time… making stuff and meeting new people”
  • “…a wonderful day of creating!… cannot wait ’til the next time!” 

I was thrilled to see guests playing with art supplies and making messes like a Kindergarten class. It was absolutely as I envisioned it:  loosely structured, creatively encouraging and inspiring, an opportunity for folks to leave their inhibitions (and To Do lists) at the door, and focus on Just.Having.Fun.

With more than 10 different types of art supplies to work with, everyone had plenty of options. When invited to ‘pick what spoke to them,’ they quickly surrounded the tables of supplies and began looking, touching, and selecting things they liked. I stood back and smiled.

Armed with their colorful selections, guests headed back to their seats.

They placed drink and food orders and began thinking about how each piece might fit together. They moved pieces of scrap paper, images, fabric, text, and organic materials (twigs, sand, seashells) around, tested color combinations, and shared ideas with friends – old and new.

Before long, any chance I had of sharing tips and samples with them was long gone! As one guest (a teacher friend) said, “Your students are so engaged, they’re ignoring you!”  🙂  She was absolutely right!

I remember the ‘teacher’ part of me feeling a little concern…. knowing after 24 years in my chosen profession, that giving no instruction can lead to all sorts of outcomes – desired or not. At this point, I had to just go with it… and make mental notes about what to do differently next time. The fun, creative atmosphere outweighed my concerns for the rest of the afternoon… mostly.

I walked around and answered questions. I watched how guests used the art supplies, how they pondered their choices, and how they interacted (or not) with those around them.

For a gal who enjoys the process more than the product, this was an amazing afternoon of watching, listening, and learning!

I made mental notes as I moved around the room – things I’ll share at the start of every party from now on:

  • use tools lightly: no jamming, squishing, or smashing
  • use supplies sparingly: paints, adhesives, and other media dry fast. Ink glumps.
  • basic purpose of tools/supplies: adhesives, paints, gesso, and ink + various tools for applying all those good things
  • use clean-up supplies while making art (not just after):  water jars, brush buckets, trash cans, ink removers, paper towels and baby wipes
  • the location of our water source + time to fill water jars and brush buckets
  • samples of the project and time for everyone to look at samples and ask questions before jumping in

I also noticed that while most guests were quite happy being left to figure things out (the nature of our art parties: why-to vs. how-to), a few might have preferred more How-To, which left them feeling a bit dissatisfied (I think).

I believe I can address that in two ways:

  1. Be even more clear in my art party description that our events are more why-to than how-to.  Hopefully, this will help everyone make an informed decision about joining us. I felt it was clear in the first party invite but I’ll review the wording.
  2. Ensure we go over the topics listed above before everyone gets started.

When we neared our final 30 minutes together, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the afternoon and hoped everyone did, too. Guests began collecting up their new projects… in most cases, several pieces. They told me how much fun they had, and a few even offered to help clean up. As any good host would do, I assured them that was not necessary, and wished them a safe journey home.

source: pxhere.com

Then came the clean-up. It was then, really then, that I realized what no directions or expectations could lead to… guests took my  invitation to “come make a mess!” literally (which was great), but I was faced with huge clean-up and many damaged or thrown-away art supplies and tools. Oh, nooo!

Two hours later, after cleaning matted brushes and sponges – several rescued from the trash, and seeing how many broken tools there were, the remaining 7+ boxes and crates of art supplies were finally packed in my car and I was heading home.

So, what will I do differently for future art parties, now that I’ve had time to self-assess?

  • Organize more thoroughly – less fluff and more function in containers and packing – save the vintage containers (no lids, really heavy/really fragile, or awkward shapes) for other art events
  • Streamline set-up so everything is ready on time
  • Use the first 20 + last 20 to get everyone set up and cleaned up, collectively
  • Talk about how-to and why-to keep our work area clean as we make a mess – just as I do in my own studio
  • Include more How-To and Why-To (tips and techniques) at key points along the creative way – a “creative pause” maybe… ??

Our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party is in the books, and I’m over-the-moon thrilled!! A HUGE thank you to everyone who joined us for the first party. Many are friends and brought friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting {and more importantly} being a part of my (now: our) creative adventure. I appreciate each of you so very much and look forward to more Sunday afternoons together.  🙂

The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge

I also want to extend a special Thank You to Mike and his team at The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge, who have opened their restaurant to us for our Sunday afternoon creative messes. Fair pricing, terrific food and beverage, and lovely accommodations all make this a wonderful B2B relationship.

Supporting local businesses is an important part of who I am as a consumer. Being able to support (and benefit from) local businesses as a fellow small business owner is also exciting! My sincerest thanks.

*If you haven’t yet stopped in to this neighborhood gem, I encourage you to. The food and atmosphere are terrific now, with the new ownership!!

Finally, thank you Bob, for asking me back in 2015 what I was going to do with this interest in art.  I know you’re watching over me and I know you’re proud. I wish you were still here so we could talk about it, but I know you’re guiding me. Please – keep leaving me signs. I’m listening with a heavy heart.

Sharing the joy of creating and inspiring others to discover their own creativity is what it’s been about for me since the beginning. Finally, I’m figuring out how to share that message and get others involved. I have finally discovered how to make magic…..

Want to know when our next art party is happening? Follow us on Facebook for the latest details.

Of Stories and Strangers…..

A few months ago, a fellow IG creative reached out to me and said she’d like to share some of the many vintage postage stamps she has. I was elated! Of course, thank you. But why me? On most accounts, one would say we’re strangers.

Over the next week, as we were dealing with Hurricane Irma here in Florida, Dee and I corresponded back and forth. A short time later, when the weather was clear, I found a package waiting for me at the post office.

Opening the package and spilling out those beautiful stamps was like opening a time capsule filled with incredible art work and history.

 

Dear Robin,

“I’m so excited to contribute to your collection of personal ephemera. A few year years ago, I inherited my great-grandmother’s stamp collection ….”

Oh my goodness! I was, at once – speechless, excited, and touched beyond words. What an amazing gift to receive from someone – especially a stranger!! Following Dee on Instagram, I knew that inspiring others is an important part of who she is. Her commitment to ‘Doing Good’ was obvious in that moment. And my own Gran’s words ran through my head and my heart, “People aren’t strangers, sweetie …. just people we don’t know yet.” She lived this belief and showed it to me every time we were together (which was often). No matter where we went, Gran would strike up a conversation with someone, and before you’d know it, they seemed like old friends, catching up, sharing stories and laughing. I loved those days.

As I listened to my Gran’s voice in my head (and heart), I could also hear Dee’s great-grandmother, who must have loved stories and people, too. Her collection reflects the stories of so many who traveled, lived life, and perhaps – never met a stranger.  🙂

My gratitude runs deep. Thank you, Dee, for seeing me not as a stranger online, but instead, as a fellow creative whose journey is teaching her many things and inspiring her to inspire others – through kindness, generosity, and the understanding that we are all connected by our stories. I’ve begun to fulfill your request to pay it forward and help a child discover art and creativity…

Fast-forward nearly six months to a Tuesday morning and 7:25 AM text message:

Hey, will you be on campus today?

Yep. I’ll be there by 8:00. How can I help?

I have a birthday present for you.

Oh, goodness! I’ll stop by your classroom later today.

Awesome!

Later that day, I stop by my friend Alex’s classroom. “Come outside with me,” she says. We step outside. She hands me a striped yellow and green gift bag filled with dark green tissue paper. I think of the 1970’s.

She begins to tell me how she thought about what to get me for my birthday. I interrupt: You didn’t have to get me anything! I know, she says. But I wanted you to have this. Here, open it. Her tone has changed.

As I peek inside the bag, she explains that as she continues to work through her grief, she’s working hard to let go of some of the things that were her Dad’s. He passed away last summer, after a hard fight with cancer. I know my dear friend is still raw with emotion. She wants me to have what’s in the bag.

Tears fill my eyes. Goosebumps. I am overcome with excitement, sadness, and honor.

 

“I know you will use these in your art in some amazing way,” she says.

I am speechless. A box of vintage maps. My friend knows how much stories mean to me. We’ve been friends only a few years, yet she gets me. We connected from the start. I am filled with gratitude beyond words.

I want to take them out and look at them. I carefully open the box and pull a few maps up, to see them – where they are from. Alex tells me about her family traveling and how they used these maps. She says the maps remind her of her grandfather, too. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and trust of my friend. We talk a few minutes more. Her adult students need her back in class.

“I don’t know if I can actually use these in my art,” I tell her as we walk away. That’s always my challenge with ephemera – keep and love or love and send out into the world – for someone else to love, too…..  it’s a constant dilemma. Honestly. She tells me, “I know you will love them and know what to do with them when the right time comes.”  Again, I am speechless. And honored.

The box now has a prominent spot on my studio bookshelves, alongside other special items that remind me of people I love, and their stories.

 

I recently opened the box and laid out the maps. I found myself recalling my geography and imagining Alex and her family traveling….

I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, as she laughed and talked with others. I imagined Alex and her family – in their car, laughing and talking (maybe even bickering…lol), as they traveled across the United States. I thought about the kindness of friends – and how we are all connected – they’re only people we don’t know yet.

Every time I look at these beautiful collections: letters and postcards bejeweled with beautiful stamps from around the world and utilitarian maps whose simplicity belied the adventures a family enjoyed – I am reminded we know no strangersonly those we don’t know yet. And I smile.  Thank you, Dee and Alex.

A life filled with stories and the kindness of friends {never strangers}… is all this girl could ask for.  

 

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Join us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios  

 

 

 

 

The Counting Game….

Snippet of a Grocery Receipt
Things That Begin With C

 

  • chicken
  • Crystal Light
  • cat food
  • coffee creamer

Creating my list for a quick stop at the grocery store is a mental game for me:

  1. Make a mental list.
  2. Repeat it a few times out loud.
  3. Count the items.
  4. Keep the numbered items in my head.
  5. Enter the store.
  6. Go to it!

I’m sure people wonder why I have a quizzical look on my face as I stand between aisles. Actually, who am I fooling? They aren’t paying any attention to me. They’ve got their own lists and looks.  I wonder:  Are they playing the counting game, too?

Yesterday I added Chobani yogurt, celery, and cheddar popcorn to the cart {bonus!}.

Seemed to be a C sort of day….  😉  How do you keep your brain sharp?

 

Facebook logo with link to RobinLK StudiosArt + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Grammar Gremlins, Shoddy Spelling, and Cantankerous Typos

We’re often told first impressions matter. What does a first impression say about you and your business?

Business owners and fellow bloggers/artists/writers/creative types, could grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and unnoticed typos be sending a message you didn’t intend?

I enjoy wordplay – crafting narrative text – creative messages and stories from found words and ideas that roll around in my head {or smack me when I least expect it}.  I also get plenty of inspiration from reading others’ wordplay, too.

But there’s another kind of writing – informational, daily text – signs, menus, advertisements, messages, invitations, flyers, projects for the workplace, etc… the content of everyday life, including business. I like to read and create this text, often describing myself as an ‘information junkie.’

What surprises me about daily text is how often it’s riddled with sloppy writing in our increasingly informal culture (in the U.S, anyway).  For a few years, I used the local newspaper in our community to teach writing. There were so many errors that students were surprised the publisher went to press each week.

Are business owners lazy? uneducated?  Definitely not. Their mistakes are, however, plentiful.

To be clear – we’re not talking about literary novels or academic papers, here.  Instead, we’re talking about ephemera – items designed to be useful or important for only a short time. Does that make the poorly written text acceptable? Goodness, no!

We’re talking about your business presence…. your livelihood. Your street cred.

 

We’re talking about writing basics that impact a business’s image:

Lack of editing that leaves mistyped words or too many words: Using “and” when you mean “an” or typing “the” twice and not not noticing.  {See what I did there?}

Incorrect word choice:  Its vs. it’s, farther vs. further, the triplets: two, to, and too; or quiet and quite. How about whose and who’s? Is it every day or everyday?  (Hint: Each applies at a specific time.)  How about apostrophes? All of these are frequent mistakes. Sloppy. Unnecessary.

Spelling errors:  With so many resources at our fingertips, spelling errors are just plain careless.

Because I read and write (a lot) for my ‘day gig,’ I see them every day – grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and typos that negatively impact a business’s (or person’s) image. We could chalk it up to busy-ness. We all have too much to do and not enough time to edit our message. Right? Wrong.

Prospective customers/clients want someone who is polished, with attention to detail, because if you’re careless in your message, where else will you be careless?

These are the place I see the most offenders (sometimes, even creeping into my own writing…..eek!):

  • Marquee signs
  • Restaurant menus
  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • E-mail
  • Newsletters/Flyers
  • Advertising
  • Work-related papers

Just recently, I saw two glaring typos:  the misuse of it’s and its on a state’s Visitors page (used three times/two were incorrect) and the use of and when an was intended on the page banner of a fellow artist’s website. Uneducated? Absolutely not! Completely missed? Absolutely.

Think of it this way:

It’s like that time you miss a button or forget to zip your slacks. The person who notices might understand and probably feels badly for you, but won’t say a word. He figures you’re busy.  Or careless?  Ouch. He’s embarrassed for you. The person walks away, making a mental note of your lack of attention to detail or carelessness.

Your prospective customer/client may think the same way:  You’re (too) busy, you’re careless, or you don’t have a good grip on language basics. No matter what the customer/client is thinking, I’m betting it’s not the message you intended to send.

Potential buyers look for someone who is polished and attends to details.

 

So what’s a blogger/creative type or small business owner to do?

1.   Find an extra set of eyes. For a few dollars a month, ask someone to take a peek at your content: blog posts, website, flyers, menus, marquee signs (drive-by editing.. nice!)…. and give you feedback.

2.   Hire someone to write content/develop materials for you.

No budget? How about bartering?

In my 30+ years writing and 20+ years teaching writing, I’ve developed many projects and have been asked to help others refine their message, either by creating a written piece for them or editing/revising/proofing a work in progress.

  • Recommendation letters
  • Résumés
  • Annual Performance reviews
  • E-mail messages
  • Advertising
  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Teachers’ How-To
  • Curriculum resources
  • Community resources
  • Grants
  • College Application Essays/Letters
  • Book drafts (two manuscripts in progress)

Give your prospective customers/clients one more reason to select you.  Show them your attention to detail, often missing in today’s hectic world. It may be the very thing that sets you apart from your competitor.

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Feel like you could use an extra set of eyes to proof, fingers to develop, or time to  brainstorm?  Click on the Writing tab or send me a Message on the RobinLK Studios Facebook page.  Would be happy to talk about your business needs.