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Learning To Write Is Learning To Live

Posted on January 31 by in Customer Spotlight | 29 comments

Learning To Write Is Learning To Live

This post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to share your experience with WordPress and Elegant Themes on our blog, please contact us!

The Writing Muse Comes to Brooklyn

While there were many wonderful things about my childhood, the view outside my second-story bedroom window was not one of them: an entire city block of four-story red brick buildings with not an inch of space between them.

It was Brooklyn, before it became cool.

So I did what any sensible bookish girl would do: I escaped into stories. I read every book my family owned, began a lifelong affair with the library system, and when I met equally bookish Laura Tripoli just a few short years later in junior high, I began writing my own stories for others to read. Thanks to her, at 14 I discovered that stories are not just a way to escape life; they are also a way to create a community that makes life worth living.

There were five of us: Laura, Carrie, Dionne, Grace and me. All writing what would eventually be known as Star Wars fanzine fiction. While the heroes in George Lucas’s version had mad impressive skills, in our version Luke and Han came to our junior high school to ask for our help to save the galaxy from the Evil Empire. (I liked our version better.)

We wrote at night and on weekends, sharing our handwritten pages across the lunch table. At first our story lines were tightly interwoven, but eventually we veered off into our own adventures. I left Star Wars behind and moved on to Raiders of the Lost Ark, then James Bond, then TV shows, and eventually to original worlds of my own creation.

Over the years I lost track of my childhood friends, but I still have the stories. They’ve traveled with me from apartment to apartment and across state lines.

Branching Out On My Own

After spending far too many years in a support role (aka “the secretary”), I eventually began to get hired for my writing skills. Except this time not for my skill in creating intergalactic adventures, but for my ability to break down complicated goobley-gook (such as health care or government regulations) so that ordinary people can understand their options and make informed decisions.

It’s not as exciting as writing a light saber fight, but it is rewarding work that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Eventually I realized that the best way to do more of what I like to do—aka help people understand their options/make great decisions/feel supported—was to go off on my own and offer my writing services to a variety of clients as a freelance writer.

Finding My Way to WordPress & Elegant Themes

The older I’ve gotten the more clear it’s become that I like to do things my own way. Ten years ago I moved from Brooklyn to Florida without a job or an apartment lined up. Five years ago, I drove cross-country by myself from Florida to California, again without a job or an apartment lined up. I believed then and still believe now that things have a way of working out.

When I decided to start freelancing I knew that I wanted to have complete control over what my website would say and look like. But I also knew that I didn’t have much money to get what I wanted done.

I learned about WordPress and was impressed by the tremendous community that has emerged around it. Elegant Themes was one of the first theme providers I discovered and while I experimented with others I came back to ET for a couple of reasons.

The first was that I was impressed by the active and engaged backend support available to its members. It was through Elegant Themes that I finally learned how to use CSS to customize my site and to not be afraid to tinker because even if I break my site (which I have done more than once), there is always a way to fix it.

The second and most important reason I came back to the ET community was the release of Divi, a framework that finally allowed me to create a site that matched the vision I had in my head. One that was very aware of design aesthetics and very different from most other writers’ websites.

My website built using the Divi theme.

My website built using the Divi theme.

What’s Next On My Radar

My top priority right now is to continue to grow my business. I also intend to carve out more time to write fiction again, a first love I have never forgotten. I can wax poetic about writing, but it comes down to this:

• I believe words matter.
• I believe learning to write is learning to live.
• I believe not everyone will want to read what you write so you might as well write what you want.
• I believe the truth is debatable.
• But most of all, I believe there is no cure for writing.

29 Comments

  1. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Sonia,

    I think your site looks great! Good luck to you!

    Kraymer

    • Thanks! It’s still a work in progress, but I am really enjoying the process of building it out.

  3. Very cool site using Divi! Did you have any help designing it?

    • Hi Johnny,

      I actually designed it myself. That said, I’ve been compiling an inspiration file of cool websites that I admired for one reason or another for a long time. (I use Little Snapper to take pics.) And I’ve spent a lot of time reading about effective web copy and web design practices.

      So I had a general idea of what I wanted but until Divi was released, I didn’t have anyway to translate that into reality.

  4. inspiring, great page.

  5. Really good website and service. Good luck with growing your business Sonia.

    • Thank you! I’m really excited to see what unfolds in 2014. It’s already been full of happy surprises.

  6. I really like your website – nice, clean and elegant

  7. A real story, nicely crafted, website looks great, thank you for sharing!

  8. I loved your adventure story Sonia, seems we all have a dramatic story to tell. How can I be a terrific writer?

    • Well, I suppose one answer is the same for this perennial quip:
      Q: What do I have to do to perform at Carnegie Hall?
      A: Practice, practice, practice.

      But seriously, I really do believe that everyone’s story contains a series of dramatic arcs. You just need to step back far enough to let yourself see it.

  9. Fantastic-looking website, Sonia. I’m getting to tackle Divi and you’ve given me great inspiration.

  10. Wonderful story of feeling the fear and doing it anyway (repeatedly)!

    Website design is wonderful, particularly how blog posts are presented on the Blog page. Outstanding.

    Confused by the interface on the Work page. Found myself clicking on the text on the image expecting to either control a slider to display the item receiving the click or load a page with corresponding info. Also wondered if the words in descending font size were somehow significant as presented?

    Best wishes!

  11. Great write-up of how you run your life and business. The site looks very professional as well so that’s a 1+1!

    Also great to read your aspirations to write began with Star Wars, that’s totally awesome :)

    Good luck!

  12. The Writing Muse waxes very poetic. I love your style. Get out there with your services and do it. You might be interested in Buzzblogger for some marketing ideas.

    Really enjoyed the intro.

  13. Dear Sonia,
    beautiful website! Found a typo on the Services page (Answer on What are your fees? = All prices include two roundS of revisions. – S missing in rounds).

    @ET – I see Sonia has the same problem with Contact Form 7 as we do: Dropdowns and Radiobuttons don’t work once we use the page builder. Is there something you can do about it?

    Tanya

    • Sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier. Someone else just pointed out that issue a few days ago and explained how to fix it so it’s been resolved now. (Hopefully, you’ve also since figured out how to fix it–but in case someone else is having this problem, I figured I should give the solution here.)

      Apparently, because both my home page and the footer have a email sign up box (I use Gravity Forms), there was a conflict when people hit tab in one of the fields when trying to sign up. He explained that it was because the two email signup forms use the same fields and what are called “tabindex attributes.” The solution was to change the taxindex attribute of one the sign up form in the footer.

      A quick google search of “taxindex attributes and Gravity forms” showed me how to fix it. It was super easy fix and now the forms work they way they are supposed to.

  14. Inspiring and great site. Wishing good luck for your services.

  15. Very inspiring and nice write-up, no doubt you are an excellent writer Sonia.

    The good thing about writing is that there are no prerequisites, except a pen and paper. Even people who don’t have any reason to write can also write about the reasons for not writing. See!

    Writing can be fun if you like it and what’s better than a job to have fun. All the best with your website and services.

    Regards,
    Asif Khan

  16. I love love love your website Sonia – it is so beautiful and gives me inspiration to tackle mine once again, as I had lost motivation and inspiration. The fact that you created this site yourself is pretty awesome!

  17. Really enjoyed your content. It inspires me to work harder at crafting and simplifying every word on my web site and blog. Cheers!

  18. Good writing style is a key for everything!

  19. Lovely.
    I signed up for your newsletter. :)

  20. I really like you site and how you think, continue with your excellent work, greattings from Mexico.

  21. Your site looks AMAZING!!!! Im definitely saving it to my inspiration board.

  22. Best independent writer website I’ve ever seen, and I manage a team of freelance writers so I’ve seen many writer sites. The case studies especially stand out as a brilliant part of the site that provides the potential customer with some real meat in support of your value as a writer. And as the others have said, you’ve done an amazing job with the design.

    I came across this post because I’m about to build a new site and was on the fence about whether to use Divi or another ET theme (I’ve built several simple sites with ET themes and I love them all). Your site and the way you use the theme have convinced me that Divi is definitely the one for me. How fortuitous that a theme I considered somewhat intimidating happens to feature a gorgeous sample by someone in the same line of work!

    Thanks for sharing your story and site. I’m bookmarking you! Perhaps our paths will cross on a job one day.

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