And A Few Others.

I don’t always do a blog post every time I post a new article to my portfolio — either because I get busy and forget or because I’m behind and adding a bunch at once and don’t want to overload you with a bunch of separate posts. This would be the latter as I’ve been updating the ole portfolio with everything that came in while I was on baby leave.* So I thought I’d do one more post to quickly highlight them all.

I have to say, I’m loving the slightly random mix of stories here. Anyone who has ever asked for my opinion on the freelance life has to hear my spiel about the importance of being a “plumber writer.” As in: If you want to eat, don’t be too precious about your niche. Plumbers don’t agonize over whether a clogged toilet best expresses their voice. They take the job, they unclog the toilet, they get paid, and then the client calls them again when they need a new copper pipe job.

Which is not to say you shouldn’t have a niche. Mine is telling women’s stories, particularly when they intersect with questions about work and beauty. But writing outside that niche pays the bills. Which I like to do. It also makes me a better reporter and writer because non-niche stories stretch me in different ways. And it expands my cocktail party chatter. This is key because the holidays are coming, which means lots of parties and lots of being asked the dreaded “so, what are you working on?” question. (Seriously, is it just me, or is this question completely paralyzing? That and “who do you write for?” In either case, I find myself casting about wildly, unable to remember anything I’ve ever published, and questioning whether I am, in fact, employed at all.)

So anyway, here’s a rundown of these new mostly non-niche portfolio additions, just in case something catches your fancy.

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[Freelance Life] A Day in the Life of Cheryl Lock

One of my goals now that I’m back from baby leave is to get this series up and running again. I’ve long been super fascinated to hear how other writers spend their days — and since my typical day is shifting pretty dramatically as I figure out the new balance of work and parenting, I’m even more interested in hearing how other folks figure out their own balancing acts. 
So here is Cheryl:
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The Giving Season [Parents, December 2013]

One in five American children lives in poverty.

Every time I type that statistic, I feel stunned all over again.

For the past two years, I’ve been reporting one of those endless labor-of-love stories where I’m following several mothers of those children and trying to understand the constant onslaught of impossible decisions they are forced to make. That piece will hopefully be out early next year and I’ll tell you lots more about it then.

But in the meantime, I was delighted when Parents Magazine asked me to write a feature called “The Giving Season” for their December issue. My editor’s idea was pretty simple: Make sure their 2.2 million readers know just how common childhood poverty has become — and encourage us all to do something to fight it this holiday season.

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Wonder Drug [ELLE, November 2013]

This is one of those very tricky stories that made me think very hard about stuff that I’ve long taken as gospel. Specifically: That The Pill is the best thing that ever happened to women’s healthcare and maybe to women, period.

I know. As a good feminist and generally responsible human being, I have long assumed that being on the Pill was more or less my civic duty. I thought I had to be on it the same way I have to vote because, you know, Susan B. Anthony and Seneca Falls.

But you guys already know a lot of my back story here: Migrainesendometriosis, what have you.* And at some point along my merry way, I started wondering about the Pill. It was clear that all of my health issues were hormonal. And the Pill — which I had been taking faithfully since the age of 14 — is nothing but (synthetic) hormones. I tried lots of different kinds and ultimately got to this catch-22 situation where I couldn’t stay healthy off the Pill but I also couldn’t find one that worked for one problem without making the other one worse. In talking casually with girlfriends and many readers of this blog, I realized that lots of women struggle to find a good fit with the Pill… yet we also all take it for granted that it’s The Best Thing Ever For Women’s Health. Because choice and responsibility and empowerment, right? 

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Rethink the Pink Drink [Marie Claire, October 2013]

Greetings, earthlings! I’m back to work after baby leave and it does feel a little like returning from outer space. If in outer space you are never allowed to sleep and spend most of your days feeling overjoyed and terrified and wildly in love all at the same time. (I didn’t see it — because I have a newborn and have to wait for movies to come to Netflix — but that was roughly the experience of Sandra Bullock in Gravity, no?)

Anyway. I’m happy to be here and especially happy to tell you about several cool projects that hit newsstands while I was away. First up: “Rethink the Pink Drink” (PDF or online), which ran in the October issue of Marie Claire.

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Virginia is on leave (and introducing Violet!)

Dear friends,

I’m delighted to announce that — after blowing her deadline by 9 days!* — Violet Marian arrived this past Sunday, August 18, at 2:34 AM. As you can see, she is 7.5 pounds of wonderful and Dan (her rockstar dad) and I are completely smitten. (Also sleepy.)

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The Sea Horse Is Named Bubbles [Mermaids]

Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed, commented, or Tweeted about The Last Mermaid Show! I spent the holiday weekend at a friend’s wedding, so I’m behind on replies but I so appreciate every note. (Except the dude who wrote in to argue that “real mermaids don’t wear bikini tops!” Sort of making my point, thanks.)

And since a lot of you asked nicely…

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There’s Nothing Mickey Mouse About These Mermaids [Times Magazine, July 7, 2013]

In my last post (about my essay on fitness motivation for Elle), I mentioned that I traveled on another assignment in April and the experience inspired me to learn to swim.

That story will make more and less sense now that I can tell the whole thing, because the article in question is finally online now and will be in this weekend’s Times Magazine.

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Farewell Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin’

Those of you who read this blog on the website or via email can ignore this quickie housekeeping post.

But if you read this blog through Google Reader, this is just a head’s up to let you know that since Google Reader’s days are numbered, I have now claimed my blog on Bloglovin’ and you can follow it over there.

I am personally still adjusting to the loss of Google Reader (and pondering why Google killed that but not the completely irrelevant Google Plus?) but Bloglovin’ is growing on me, despite the cheesy name. If there are other blog readers that you use/love/want to see this blog on, let me know and I’ll figure out how to make that happen.

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Exercise: Learning To Love It [Elle, June 2013]

Elle Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith June 2013

The June 2013 issue of Elle is “The Body Issue,” and I contributed this essay on the science of exercise motivation and my personal quest to stop thinking of my workouts as yet another chore (to be avoided at all costs) and start being one of those people who actually craves physical activity and gets grouchy when they can’t do it.

Elle "Exercise Learn To Love It," June 2013 by Virginia Sole-Smith

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