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Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Okay, I give...

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


...sort of.

This is all getting to me. Photographers are being harrassed for shooting pictures in public places. People getting sued for speaking the truth.

Jane and Joe Vacationer can't take vacation snaps without risking arrest. Bloggers and people who post to message boards are open to lawsuits.

It seems that the people with money (or power) get the right to free speech. The rest of us can go get screwed.

That makes what I'm about to say very difficult. I'm jointing the ranks of the screwed, at least for a while.

Why? I'm stressed. I'm not sleeping. Oh, it's a combination of things, mostly age-related. This shall pass. But in the meantime, I have to take care of myself and my family. Last night I read a story (I can't find the link now, but it was on msnbc.com) about the link between stress and cervical cancer. I've been under a quite a bit of stress for several years. About 18 months ago there was a problem with a PAP smear. I won't go into all of the details (you're welcome), but it took a year of procedures and follow-up pap smears before I could be declared clean. I was lucky. Not every woman gets the bad news that early on.

Ever since my initial diagnosis my life has been nothing but stress. Stress with getting rid of the problem cells. Stress with caring for family members. Stress of dealing with a death in the family. Stress of losing two major clients in the space of a year. Hey, a lot of this is out of my hands. Companies go under without help from me, thank you very much. And as far as the family stuff goes - I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. Looking back, I may have subjected myself to extra stress in those areas that I could have avoided. but that's in the past.

After some discussion with the family, I've decided that it would be a very good thing to reduce the stressors in my life over which I have some control. Make sense, doesn't it?

Here's the deal: I'm still blogging, but I'm going to back down on some things. I'm going to back off on posting to a few message boards and social networks.I'm tired of waiting for the other virtual shoe to drop.

This is hard for me. I'm a former journalist, and I know my rights. Unfortunately, I don't have deep pockets. It could ruin me financially (not to mention the stress factor) to defend myself in the event of a suit, even if I'm in the right. Generally, speaking the truth is an adequate defense against libel. (All together: Libel is the written word; slander is the spoken word.) The sad truth is that anyone can sue for darned near anything, even if they don't have a prayer of winning. I am acquainted with a couple of people who are enduring suits, and they tell me that it is very stressful. I've seen news of more suits being filed against bloggers who speak the truth. I'm sorry, but I have to make the best choice for me.

Am I a wimp? Maybe so - but not over the long haul. I look back on what I've accomplished and I don't think I'm a wimp. I fought the school district over getting my son stuck with a bogus ADD label. I won, thanks to a wonderful doctor and her staff. I was one of many, many parents who fought the good fight over other education issues. Thanks to our pressure, we now have a uniform start date for public schools in Texas, and it seems to have a chance of sticking. My kid is no longer in public schools. Oops? Not at all. I suspected we wouldn't see change until after he was in college. I was right. Heck yes, it ws stressful. And it was worth it.

I have helped educate other writers on a number of topics: How to choose a publisher or agent, how tell if an offer is legitimate, how to vet an offer of publication. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The key is that you go into it with your eyes wide open. What works for you may not work for me, and vice-versa.

Ultimately, it's a term I hate: It's a perfect storm! (Pardon me while I lose my dinner. Did I actually use that phrase? Ick!) Seriously, it's many, many events that have come together at just the right (or wrong) time for me.

So, what am I gonna do?

As I said before, I'm not giving up blogging. I'm going to drop back on message board participation, at least in places where the stress level gets to me. I'll probably ratchet back on the social networking. So what if someone doesn't respond to my tweet, or if one of my pictures doesn't get many faves? It doesn't make me a failure.

I'll probably shift my blogging priorities just a bit. I've already started over the last couple of weeks. I want to be provacative, but I don't want to have to look over my virtual shoulder for a Cease and Desist letter. (Yes, it's happened to some people I know, and no, I'm not getting into the details. Leave it at that.)

I'm going to take the extra time not spent tracking every post on boards and social networks and put it to writing and photography. I'd say that's a good thing, wouldn't you?

I'm going to spend a little more time (in addition to what I'd already allocated) getting various aspects of my life together. That's as in organized. My photo organization project has picked up steam over the last few days. Just the act of going through all of these old pictures has been liberating. I've learned a lot over the years, but I've also taken some very interesting pictures. That's another blog post.

So what am I going to write about? Well, a little politics, but not much. I'm still very excited that the Texas primaries are going to matter. Obama is coming to town later this week, and Clinton has already been in the state. I don't know that we've had a presidential candidate come to Texas (at least my part of the state) to stump for themselves since the Carter days. No matter what the outcome, I find this very cool.

I'd still like to write about the processes behind writing and photography, but maybe pull back from certain observations about the state of the publishing business.

I have a few articles about conrunning planned. Do you know I've been working with conventions for 30 years? Oh, do I feel old. I think I can pass along some knowledge without offending the hell out of someone.

I want to have some fun. I'm (mumbledy-mumble) years old, and I need to kick back and enjoy myself. I've earned it. I'm going to hit some more conventions. I'm really looking forward to the Quantum Leap convention next year. It will be a chance to reconnect with some old friends and just (yes) have a good time. The family is going to take a nice vacation, finances willing. If not, we'll go somewhere close, just to have some fun.

Oops It's a midlife crisis.

Maybe it is. But the upshot is that I have to take care of myself, and I don't think that's especially a selfish thing. If I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of my family, and that's what's really important.

So, we'll see what happens. I'm going to give this plan a shot.

So, how 'bout them Cowboys? ;-)

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Filed under: Life            
2/17/2008 9:20:36 PM
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