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Online Self-Directed Learning: My Experience

Hello. If you follow me, you must have noticed that my posts have been quite inconsistent for a while. There are two reasons for it – one, I have been feeling a little anxious and depressed since my husband’s last seizure; two, I’m studying for an online course I started last year.

Being a stay-at-home Mom in the midst of the pandemic (with on-and-off lockdowns), I could not sign up for a full-time course, so I chose online, self-directed or asynchronous learning instead. It basically means that you sign up for the course, you have a facilitator to post course content, assign projects/assignments/discussion topics, answer any questions you may have and offer you any help you may need to get through it.

Since I was a kid, I have been equally passionate about writing and teaching. When I was an undergraduate student in India, I only wanted to teach at the university. That was my dream. And I realized it, too, for a while before I moved to Canada. Since I came here, however, I began to focus more on writing and teaching took a backseat. I used to teach at a learning centre part-time, while working as a copywriter, but that was it.

So, after my second kid’s second birthday, when I realized that I had to upgrade myself if I wanted to land a job, I decided to choose a course that helps me nurture my love of teaching, as well. Hence, the course I chose was Adult Teaching/Staff Training. As I said before, I am pursuing an online self-directed course. I am working towards a certificate so I start one course at a time.

The main reason why I like this format is because I can make my own schedule. I need to spend three or four hours during a week to complete weekly activities or assignments and I can choose when I can devote that time to the course. This format helps me work during hours that work for me. I usually go through the course or participate in discussions on weeknights, after the kids have gone to bed, and I work on assignments (usually, that’s once a month) when it’s my husband’s day off. The flexibility is really helpful for someone like me who always has a million items on my to-do list.

Also, since I’m more focussed when I read something on my own and I’m more responsive to the written word, going through the course content at my own pace, on my own time, really works for me. I can always go back when I don’t understand something and take a break when it gets overwhelming. That way, I do not feel discouraged or distracted.

Also, since I’m an introvert, I get a little conscious while participating in face-to-face discussions. In self-directed learning, the discussions are mainly written, so I can gather my thoughts, do my research and post my views in a logical, coherent manner. Of course, I know that in-person discussions would be better for my confidence, but so far, I like being in my comfort zone, without the added pressure of public speaking.

Another advantage of this format is that the flexibility means I can still work on freelance projects or apply for full-time jobs without worrying about completing the course. On top of it all, it also helps me brush up my research skills and academic writing, while also preparing me for a fruitful career in the teaching field. Plus, since I do one course at a time, I keep completing courses on LinkedIn Learning and Google Digital Garage that I wish to add to my resume.

I’m currently looking for options that can provide me the stability of a permanent 9-5 job, while also indulging my love of teaching. Some of the courses that I came across that can help me do that are adult education, instructional design and content creation. If you have come across other fields that writers/teachers can explore, please feel free to comment on this post, or send me a direct message.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing about essay writing, online sources for writing references and citations and courses I have found helpful or interesting. If you’d like to suggest topics that you’d like to see more posts on, please feel free to reach out.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Life between Lockdowns: Smart Kids, Tired Parents

I think all of us are familiar with the fresh challenges we face these days, because of the COVID crisis. One among them is parenting during lockdowns. I am home all day with a 5-year old and a 2-year old. While I’m incredibly grateful that I have a safe and comfortable space where I get to stay with my loved ones, I’m also inexplicably exhausted.

Cooking, cleaning, studying for my course, trying to complete a novel, laundry, dishes and above all, making sure the kids are safe, healthy, fed and, on top of it, entertained can be quite a task, and overwhelming at times. That being said, the kids also keep me sane in insane circumstances, which is the main reason why I’m crazy about the people who drive me crazy all day!

My 2-year old has just started talking, so her way of entertaining me (and giving me a heart attack in the process) is dancing, climbing the sofa, table, bed – basically, any elevated space at home, colouring the walls and getting toys to play with, every now and then. My 5-year old is a wordsmith like Mommy. He often comes up with these witty retorts that, to be honest, I never have the energy to counter.

A few nights back, the Mister and I were putting the kids to bed. After a few minutes of silence, out of the blue, my son says, “Mommy, remember that time, you said that thing that made me so sad. I think it was unfair.” I had no idea what he was talking about and he didn’t remember the episode either, but for the next twenty minutes, he talked about how it was my fault and how I made him sad by saying ‘that thing.’ My husband just smiled silently, reflecting on all the times I did this to him (confronting him months after something happened, when he was defenceless as he did not have any recollection of the incident) and starting to believe in karma again.

There are many such instances where he would call me or someone else during virtual learning out on something that has been said that doesn’t make sense to him. For instance, just the other day, he was told during the earth week that we shouldn’t waste food, so if we are given a piece of cake, we should eat it all even if we don’t feel like it. He immediately raised his hand and said but if we eat more than we want, we might fall sick and get a tummy ache. Similarly, when he was told that killing spiders is not good, and that we should be nice to every living creature, his response was to get a frog or a lizard as a pet, because they need bugs and spiders for food. That way, they would get food and we won’t be killing any living creature.

In circumstances outside of COVID-19 or lockdowns, I had enough energy to have a dialogue with him and explain things to him in detail, but now, I feel like I do not have the mental or physical strength to do that. Either way, I always try to make sure he gets the chance to express himself, at all times – to acknowledge his feelings, discuss his thoughts and never keep anything bottled up inside him. While, this mostly leads to entertainment and amusing responses to everyday situations, sometimes, it also exposes how vulnerable kids can be, and that even though they seem to be adjusting well to things, they are equally scared and anxious.

My son had a lot of meltdowns the first time his school moved to virtual learning. This time around, the episodes have significantly decreased. However, sometimes he would still cry and ask me when he can go back to school or see his friends again. Last night, as I was putting him to bed, he hugged me tightly and said, “Mommy, can you please make sure I’m always okay? Can you promise you will never let me go?” I wanted to ask him what made him ask these questions, but I decided it was more important for me to reassure him at that time, so I refrained from asking him any questions, and just tried my best to make him feel safe, protected and secure.

It also made me feel extremely sad for people who are facing the more serious repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis, especially in countries like India, which have been catastrophically affected in the recent past. If you’re in Canada and wish to help those in India fighting like never before to survive, please visit this article by Globalnews.ca for resources and links to organizations working to improve things in the country.

If you’re a parent in Canada, struggling with the challenges presented by the pandemic and restrictions following it, you may find these resources offered by Canada.ca quite useful. If you would like to share your experiences, please feel free to write to me or comment below. I know the importance of catharsis, and I truly believe that giving a vent to your frustration in no way means that you’re ungrateful for the things you have.

I hope you all stay safe and well, and are able to take care of yourself as much as your loved ones, in these difficult times. Visit my free downloads page. Here, you will find a couple of inspirational/motivational quotes available to download for free.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

The Fear of Seizures…And Why Words Matter

Two years back, ten days after the birth of my younger kid, my husband had his first seizure. All of us were sleeping when it happened. It was around dawn, and I feel embarrassed to say that I had no idea what was happening when I saw him. I called 911 and they told me that it was a seizure.

Since then, he has had two more seizures – one every year – and they still scare me every single time. The weeks following a seizure are filled with stress, panic, anxiety, maybe even a little indignation. I have sleepless nights, thinking I may not wake up to watch over him if he has another one in his sleep. If someone as much as sneezes or drops a pillow at night, I get up startled.

However, every time, after months of this behaviour, I realize that the moment we let fear into our lives, it takes over everything in it. It consumes us to the point that everything starts to scare us, and our mind, rather our life, ends up becoming a big What If? What if it happens when he is walking on the road, or taking a bath, or driving? What if it intensifies in the coming years? What if this, what if that…until you cease to live in the present.

Now, you would know, that especially if you have kids (and especially if they are both quite young), you cannot afford to do that. You cannot let fear of anything consume you or those around you. You have to stay strong, especially if those around you derive their strength from you. Of course, you have to be cautious, do everything in your power to stay safe, but you cannot go around living life under the heavy blanket of fear.

I have to admit that having a strong support system makes it a bit easier, even if we can’t see them due to pandemic restrictions, these days (I will spare you the discussion of the fear of Covid-19, at this point). However, I will also go on to say that at such times, I realize how important words are, too, as people aren’t always sensitive to the vulnerability following a life-altering experience, such as this.

The first time my husband had a seizure, firefighters came along with paramedics, in case he needed to be carried to the ambulance. One of the firefighters was quite young. I had recently given birth and needed privacy. So my mother-in-law (who was kind enough to come and take care of us and help us out after the delivery), my husband, and my older kid slept in the same room, while the newborn and I slept together. When I was explaining the situation to the 911 team that arrived, the said firefighter chuckled and commented, “Oh, so your husband was sleeping with his mother-in-law?” I corrected him and said, my husband and my son were sleeping next to my husband’s mother, and then answered the paramedics’ questions, but his comment continued to pinch me days after the episode.

I really respect the teams that rescued us both at the time of my second delivery (yes, we had to call 911 when my younger one was born, too) and at the time of my husband’s seizure. They were prompt, considerate, professional, compassionate and fulfilled their duty perfectly. They helped us at times when we felt completely helpless, and I cannot express the gratitude I feel for that alone. However, the comment made by that one person, who probably wasn’t even thinking before speaking up, upset me a great deal for the exact same reason – why do people not think before they speak anymore? Why are we always asking people to NOT THINK AFTER HEARING what someone has said? Why can’t we remind people to THINK BEFORE SPEAKING instead?

If you’re reading this, I would like you to remember that words matter, especially if you’re talking to a highly sensitive person, especially if you’re talking to someone who has gone through a challenging experience. Let’s be kind to each other, whenever possible. It is always possible.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Life around COVID-19: Milestone Birthdays

So, this Saturday was the Mr.’s 40th birthday. Last year, I was naive enough to think everything would be back to usual by this year and I would be able to throw him a surprise party, inviting all his friends and family. Well, we all know how that turned out. So, I decided that I would decorate the whole house with 40th birthday decorations and give him a surprise at home instead, as soon as he got back from work.

I ordered elegant black and gold decorations from Amazon.ca, and chose priority delivery so they would get delivered a day or two before his birthday. I also ordered a beer mug for him, with 40th birthday wishes etched on it. For some reason, the orders were delayed and nothing was shipped even two days before the big day. So, I cancelled the order, went to Walmart and got the birthday decorations I could get. They did not have 40th birthday ones, so I decided to get creative.

My husband has had a rough couple of years – I’ll bore you with the details in another post – so I kept teasing him “Life begins at 40”, something my father always used to say since the beginning of this year. To celebrate this new life and to tease him a little more, I got baby shower/newborn balloons for him that said “It’s a boy.” I have to tell you that half the people I showed this to didn’t get it, but my husband had a good laugh, so it was worth it.

I couldn’t get a lot of decorations, to be honest – just a banner, a few balloons, a pack or two of swirling decorations, and that was it. So, to fill up the walls, I do what I do best. I made posters. I printed one from my Etsy shop and two basic ones. One of them just said “Life begins at 40. Happy Birthday,” printed on MS Word with a hearts page border in the Lucida Handwriting font. The other one said “40 Reasons Why We Love You” followed by a numbered list, all 40 items of which said “You’re the best”. The last line said, “Oh, and you’re the best. Happy birthday”. This one had a star page border (very easy on MS Word) and was also written in Lucida Handwriting font style.

I have a black and white printer, so to add a bit of colour, I placed the paper against a rough surface and rubbed coloured crayons against it. It gave them a bit of a textured look, which I like a lot. After the decorations were up, I sent all the pictures to my family, including my 11-year old niece. She turned it into a cool video with Surf Mesa’s “I love you baby” (feat. Emilee) and sent it back to me. That was quite a surprise. I don’t know what I was doing at that age, but it certainly wasn’t anything as creative as this.

On Saturday, we got him breakfast from his favourite place and his favourite cake from Costco.

Go through these pictures from our day, and let me know how you celebrate milestone birthdays during the COVID-19 era. If you’d like to buy the milestone birthday poster, please visit my Etsy shop or the Shop page on this website. I accept payment through PayPal and eTransfer.

The other pictures are the 5 scrolls that I sent this weekend, as part of my Words Matter project. Each scroll goes with a bunch of stickers and a couple of blank note cards. If you would like to send one to a warrior who inspires you, please get in touch.

Video made by my nice niece 🙂


©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Applying for Writing Jobs – My Experience

I should probably have covered this before interview prep, but what’s done is done. So, here are a few things I do while applying for writing jobs.

For the last few months, I have been applying for 4-5 jobs every day, on an average. I take a break over weekends, as someone once told me that emails received over the weekends have a greater chance of getting lost in the recruiters’ mailbox.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I mostly use LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter for submitting job applications, as they have the option of easy/1-click apply, which I find quite useful. However, you have to make sure that your profile is up-to-date and thorough so that you can make the most of this option. It is a good idea to even ask your potential references to leave recommendations or reviews of your work (both platforms have this option), as that makes your application way more effective.

Tips for Filling Out Job Applications

  1. Resume – Pay attention to your resume. It is like your advertisement. Whether you get the chance to show them your potential in an interview or not, depends on this, to a certain extent. My resume includes these sections, in particular- A brief summary, highlights/achievements, strengths, relevant experience, education. The achievements should be relevant and, if possible, measurable. The strengths should include soft skills, as most recruiters in the interviews I sat for recently emphasized on this aspect. The resume should not be too long – mine is 2 pages long. The experience included should be relevant to the job – I usually take off some if they are not relevant to the job posting. I also have a bullet list of specific tasks performed in a particular role. Make sure the list is consistent – so, if one point starts with “Wrote copy…”, the next should say “Performed proofreading…” not “Performing proofreading…”
  2. Customization – I went to a career counselling service when I first started applying for jobs in Toronto. They told me that a lot of times, resumes go through software to help recruiters save time and choose applicants with experience matching the requirements of the job. So, every time I apply for a job, I change the wording on my resume to match the job descriptions. Please note that I do not cheat or add things I haven’t done before. I just use synonyms or different explanations for the same thing to make it closer to the posting.

    These days, I do not have a lot of time to do that (#mommyoftwo), so I make sure I apply to similar jobs (mostly copywriting jobs in Toronto), so I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the resume.
  3. Creativity – Have an interesting “About me” prepared. For writing jobs, creativity is more important than anything else. So, I usually attach the poem I have written about my writing journey in that section. Some recruiters have told me that that’s what made my application stand out for them, and the reason why I got called for the interview.
  4. Online Writing Portfolio – A link to an online portfolio is something that a lot of recruiters have asked me for, at the first stage of the application process. You can create one for free using WordPress.
  5. Document for Common Questions – Sometimes, job postings require you to fill out a detailed application form. They usually need summary of experience, education, and other things included in your resume. They also usually have “a message for the recruiter.” I have all these listed on a Word document, so that I can just copy and paste it all. I started doing this recently, after I did something really silly.
    I was applying for a job after a rather long, exhausting day (Bad Idea!). So, I filled out all the sections, attached resume and cover letter. When I reached “message for the recruiter”, my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I just said, “Hello! Please hire me. Thanks.”

    It is embarrassing to even think about this, so I’ll end the subject here. So, since then, I have written a short message listing why I would make a good match for any copywriting job along with a generic closing line. I just copy and paste it if I face this question while filling out an application now.
  6. Proofreading – This step is so important for writing jobs. Grammatical errors, inconsistencies in your resume can instantly create the wrong impression, right, if proofreading is going to be an important part of your job. So proofread the resume and cover letter, or have someone else do it for you.
  7. Cover Letter – I also have a cover letter – complete, concise, clear and clean – that I send with every application.

Recently, I have also started making a list of all jobs I apply to, as I don’t want to keep applying for the same jobs over and over again. When I receive notice they have moved on to other candidates, I just cross it out, to keep a record of it.

With all the competition out there, I think it is imperative for us to be meticulous, especially at the first stage of the application process.

Let me know if you find these tips helpful, or if you feel like they are missing something. If you need resume writing or proofreading services, send me a message to discuss the assignment. If you’re looking for a job, good luck! Hope you find the perfect match soon.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

How I Prepare For an Interview

Before I begin, let me tell you that I have received three calls for interview since I created my online writing portfolio using WordPress. That being said, the competition is fierce. Two of the interviewers told me that they received hundreds of applications for the position, out of which around 20 were called for interviews and out of those 20, they would select one candidate to fill the position.

So, I feel happy that despite a five-year gap on my resume, I made it to the interview stage, but I can never be too confident I would get the job. Still, you have to give your best to every opportunity you get, right? Here are a few things I do to prepare for an interview.

Personal Prep

My first task on the night before an interview is to put my kids to bed and clean my toddler’s artwork in crayon off at least one wall. This wall would make my background since most interviews are virtual these days. Since crayon is hard to get off, there are always a few spots left. I cover those up with scrolls from my Etsy shop. I always choose the brown or black and white ones, because I don’t want my background to be too colourful and distracting. If you don’t like anything on my Etsy shop (aren’t my marketing skills smooth? *wink wink), just type a quote or phrase on MS Word with a thin border, take a black and white print on an A4 sheet and tape that to the wall – if you are in a similar situation. It’s funny how I just presumed everyone has crayon-stained walls, isn’t it?

Next morning, right before the interview, I clean up my eyebrows – Toronto has been in lockdown way too long, so don’t blame me. I apply foundation to the dark circles around my eyes – #mommyoftwo! And I just work on my overall presentation. It is so important for me to dress up for virtual interviews, as one it gives me confidence and two – well, it just gives me confidence. So, I wear formals, apply light makeup, tidy up my hair, just little stuff like that. Just before my last interview, I even wore a mask! I’m so used to wearing it every time I dress up – it was hilarious. Thankfully, I remembered to remove it before the meeting started.

Professional Prep

Professionally, there are lots of things that I do, to prepare for an interview.

  1. I always check the meeting link before the meeting. Check and install any app that you need for the interview beforehand. This will avoid last-minute panic and delays.
  2. I always read the job description and jot down any examples from my previous experience that would make me succeed in the role that I have applied for. Since I apply to so many jobs every day, it also helps me recall which one I’m interviewing for and answer questions accordingly.
  3. I prepare a brief “about me” highlighting all relevant skills and experiences in under two minutes. I even practise it in front of the mirror a few times.
  4. I always research the company, visit their website, social media profiles, etc. This gives me an idea about what the company culture and values are, and gauge my own expectations with respect to those. I was recently called for an interview for a digital marketing role. I researched current trends and practices on Google and went through the company website, in detail. I found certain areas of improvement and wrote them down. On the morning of the interview, I received an email that they already found the perfect match and were cancelling the interview. I was quite disappointed, but I just emailed them and thanked them for letting me know. I wished the hired candidate luck and gave them the suggestions I had written down about their website as bullet points. They emailed me that evening saying they would like to schedule that interview again to listen to what I had to say. They had already hired someone, so obviously I wasn’t even hoping to get the job anymore, but it was nice to see that my point of view meant something and created an impression.
  5. I go through my resume thoroughly. Sometimes, I forget roles that I filled long back, where I may have developed skills necessary for this particular role. So, this is an important step for me as it is a kind of a revision of my experience.
  6. All the interviews that I have been in, these last few weeks, have posited these questions to me – Why do you want to work in our organization?
    What are your expectations from this role?
    What is your process like?
    I had never thought about these questions to be honest. I was just looking for a job that matched my skill set and experience. I never thought about why I want to join that particular company or what I expected to get from the role, other than more experience and a steady pay. So, research about the role and company come in handy when I am trying to answer these questions. It gives me a fair idea of what is out there and what my expectations are, and if the two can go hand in hand.
  7. After an interview, I always thank the interviewer via email. I keep the message short and sweet and if they need me to complete a task or an exercise (most writing roles require that), I submit it promptly, before the end of day, if possible. With my mommy brain at work, all the time, I don’t want to let it slip out of my mind and miss deadlines (unfortunately, that has happened, too).

If you are applying for copywriting jobs, there are a lot of free courses out there that can help you stay up to date with current trends and best practices and show employers you’re proactive in upgrading your skills and knowledge.

How do you prepare for an interview? Let me know through comments or my contact page. Good luck!

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog, Tutorial

How I Write a Poem – A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Before I start this post, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am Deepti, a writer since the age of 5. That is when I wrote my first poem. Since then, I completed my Ph.D. in English, taught English, worked as a copywriter, started a website, shut it down, worked as a freelancer, started another website and opened an Etsy shop, not particularly in that order. During this time, I kept writing short stories and poems, and got them published in online magazines, literary journals, websites, and several other platforms (yes, I love the Oxford comma).

A few years ago, I started writing poems for special occasions like milestone birthdays, anniversaries and more, and making posters out of them. Everyone I gave them to, loved the gift as it was unique, as gifting words hasn’t really picked up as a trend for some reason. When the pandemic started, I realized that it became even more important to change that, because when we don’t get to see each other, when we are living life between lockdowns, the soothing effect of words begins to seem more comforting than any thing we may buy or get. If you think that words matter, and that now is the time to declare our feelings for each other, visit my Etsy shop.

Now, even though I have been writing across forms and styles, writing poems continues to be my favourite. I like writing free verse better as I find that I have more freedom that way, but rhyme is equally my cup of (Poe)t(r)ea! Did you see what I did there? With my cup of poetry? Okay, I agree it wasn’t as funny as it seemed when I came up with it. So, moving on. Here’s how I write a poem.

The Process

Step 1 – Choose a topic

These days, I have been seeing a lot of people without a home. I see them on the streets, in the lobby of office buildings, and any place they can find to protect themselves from the harshness of the cold weather here. That has made me feel even more grateful that I have a roof over my head, a place to keep me warm and safe from the sometimes cruel weather. So, I decided I want to express this gratitude by writing a poem about my home.

So, I choose home as the topic of my poem.

Step 2 – Let the topic brew in your mind

Now, after I have the topic ready, I need to choose the direction in which I can take my poem. My idea is to express my gratitude for my home. So, I think about all the things I’m grateful for, related to my home. I let the topic brew in my head for a few days, even making up lines as I go. If I am using rhyme, I usually consult a thesaurus to have access to synonyms that either sound better or rhyme with the words I have in mind.

So, coming back to my topic. The things I am thankful for are:

  1. My house is my home.
  2. It is my safe haven.
  3. It brings me warmth.
  4. It brings me light from the moon.
  5. I make memories here with people I love.
  6. It is the vessel where I receive everything my universe has to offer.

Step 3 – Start forming lines in your mind

Now that I know what ideas I want to include, I can start writing my poem. As I said, I have a thesaurus close by, to make sure I can find rhyming words easily. I write the poem in my mind first, and sit down to write when I have at least five lines ready.

Step 4 – Read aloud and revise

After writing down my first draft, I read it aloud to check flow, to see how the poem sounds (that is the most important thing to me while writing, and especially while writing poetry). While writing the first draft, I decided I want to write it as a prayer that can be given as a housewarming present. You can find the final version on my Etsy shop.

Home Sweet Home

May your house become your home

And safe haven, too.

May it bring to you warmth from the sun

And soft glow from the moon.


May you find true happiness here,

With love, laughter and cheer.

May you make happy memories, too,

With those you hold dear.


May your house bring you all these joys

And perhaps a million more.

May it bring you all the good fortune

The universe has in store.

So, if you’re new to writing poetry and you write something following these steps, please share your work with me by email. If you have your own process, and would like to share it with others, please write your comment below, or get in touch through my contact page.

I also offer one-on-one writing workshops, as well as editing services. Contact me for details.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog, Poetry

What I Mean When I say I’m a Writer by Birth

So, if you’ve read my bio, you know I’ve been writing since the age of 5. What exactly does that mean, though? Did I scribble a few words on the page? Or was it an actual poem? See for yourself:

A Rough Translation of the Poem I wrote at Age 5

I wrote these lines in Hindi on the last page of my notebook. I remember this distinctly. I’m still amazed I didn’t use rhyme for this, but it was probably because it seemed too hard at that age. The poem went something like this:

Once upon a time, in a village,

There was a king, who was like a step-king (Cinderella was my favourite story, at the time).

He was extravagant, but did not share anything with his people.

One day, the king died.

All his soldiers cried for him. (Deep and moving, don’t you think? My thoughts were always on the negative side, I guess.)

The queen said, “I should die, too.

My husband is no more, so I don’t have

Any purpose in life anymore.” (Hmmm, Patriarchal much!?)

Smile

This one is in English. I wrote it when I was in Grade 6. It is more positive, kid-friendly and…it rhymes!

A smile is something lovely,

It is indeed very cute,

It is as sweet as someone

Playing on a flute. (I was BIG on rhyme at the time, did I mention that?)

It looks very good

On children’s face,

When they have an adventure

To some exciting place. (I was big on adventure, too, it seems.)

Smile, smile, smile, (I still love repetition – excellent device)

It is a lovely word.

It is present on children’s face

All over the world. (how marvellous!)

Work of Life

I wrote this in Grade 8. It is in English, too, and it rhymes. This and Smile were published in a local newspaper- big achievement for me.

Mother says, Study all the time,

Book of math or book of rhyme,

Brother says, What’s the time?

Brother, Brother 2 o’clock.

Sister says, Give grains to cock!
(It seems like I just let my imagination run wild on this one. I have no brother and we had no poultry in the house, except what was in the fridge, so I have no idea what I’m talking about here. My mother was always asking me to study, though, so that part is accurate.)

Father says, Polish my shoes. (Papa used to polish my shoes, at this age, so imagination at work again.)

Food is ready for the goose. (Nope, no goose either.)

Mother, Father, Husband, Wife,

This is the only work of life. (My priorities were always set, I guess. Also, is it really deep or am I just conceited?)

The Carefree River

I wrote this one in middle school, too, but it was in Hindi. This is a rough translation.

I am a carefree river,

I flow and flow all day long,

Morning or evening,

Day or night.

Even when I see a beautiful sight,

I can’t stop to admire it.

I see everything, I absorb everything,

Then, I go and find my destination

In the deep blue ocean.

I narrate everything I’ve seen on the way to him.

He tries to make me understand,

That my life is nothing more than

Flowing endlessly. (When my family read this one, they knew I was going to be a writer.)

I love that my parents always encouraged me to realize and work on developing my passion for writing. They always took me to book fairs, got me pens, notebooks, cute stationery – to indulge in my love for writing. We were always reading literature, discussing it – and that really helped me grow as a writer and as a person. I’m proud of my journey and I’m proud of the role my family has played in that journey.

Would you like to tell me about your journey? Comment below or contact me through my Contact page. You can find prints of my poems on my Etsy shop, and a few downloads on the Free Downloads page.

Blog

Opening an Etsy Shop in Canada

Hello, I’ve been holding off on this post because I was hoping to make at least one sale before I introduced my shop. However, I guess it’s going to be a Ta-duh for my Etsy shop for now, rather than a Ta-Da. Pardon my sense of humour. After facing a few rejections and disillusionment-s, I guess it becomes important to laugh at yourself once in a while, doesn’t it?

Steps to open an Etsy Shop

So, before I introduce my Etsy shop, let me tell you how I created it. If you have a profile on Etsy, just go to the Sell on Etsy option and create listings. If not, search Etsy Canada on Google, or I could just give you the link, since you’re already here. Either way, once you reach their site, register to open your account.

Once you have registered, click on your profile, and select the Sell on Etsy option. You will have to fill in the details and complete all of the steps, and you’ll be good to go. It is a good idea to think of a shop name, billing options, images for a few listings, along with product dimensions, your choice of delivery options or files with suitable titles in case of digital products, before you start this process, so that you can complete it smoothly. Each listing costs around $0.20-0.25, and can be renewed manually or automatically, based on your preference.

Steps for opening the Etsy shop

You can then promote your shop through social media, or even choose to place ads on Etsy. You can choose your daily budget for ads, too, and then just cancel it if it’s not working out for you. You can also choose the options on the shop dashboard to offer promotions, sales or discounts to people who have your items in their basket. It is all pretty straightforward, so you’ve got this.

Registering a business name in Ontario

I even registered my business name before opening my shop on Etsy, just to be on the safe side, but I don’t believe it is something you HAVE to do. If you’re in Ontario, it costs around $60 and it is super easy to register online. Just search “how to register a business name in Ontario” on Google. Go to Ontario.ca, and complete the steps. You’ll get an email when you’re through. It took me less than an hour, so you can decide if this works for you.

My Etsy Shop

This is the link to my Etsy shop. It’s been a little over a month since I opened it, and as you can see I haven’t made a single sale yet. However, I’m hopeful that it will pick up eventually, so it’s all good. Since I opened the Etsy shop, I have received

  1. A lot of views
  2. A lot of clicks
  3. A lot of “Favourites”
  4. A LOT of Facebook and Instagram ads offering to teach me how Etsy sales can go from 0 to hundreds in no time

When I get an order, you can be sure I’ll post it here! So sit tight and watch this space, because I might just click on one of the magical Facebook/Instagram ads one of these days and my sales may just skyrocket overnight. Until then, stay tuned for my next post, written as as part of a series of writings for Women’s Day.

Follow my blog, if you would like updates about posts. Click here for free downloads, or here to get in touch.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

My Job Boards of Choice for Writing Jobs in Toronto

Hello, after another full day of applying for writing jobs in Toronto, I cannot think of anything else to write about. My brain is a little fried, my heart is a little disappointed and my confidence is a little bruised after another day of receiving a few “Thank you for your interest, but…” letters.

Please don’t think the situation for writers in Toronto is hopeless. It’s far from that. It’s just that with hundreds of applicants for a single job, it is a bit of a challenge for a resume, with a five-year break from copywriting in an agency, to stand out.

Since my five year old was born, I have been working as a freelance writer/editor. I have done a lot of creative work during this time that I am really proud of, but I guess it does not seem as competitive to an employer as they’d like.

So, I’ve been looking for a steady job for a few months now. And I have to tell you that the first and biggest challenge I faced was finding a job board that suggested good matches for my education and experience. For a long time, I mostly came across job boards that suggested steady jobs, but ones that were far from my education, experience and skill set. Then, there were boards that kept redirecting me to other websites that needed me register and fill out my details all over, which, trust me, is as tedious as it sounds.

Benefits of Using ZipRecruiter

Then, one day I found ZipRecruiter, and things finally got better. I worked on my resume and profile after creating my account here, entered my preferences, asked a few of my former colleagues to write me a recommendation, and I was good to go. Here are a few reasons why I like to use ZipRecruiter to search for writing and editing jobs:

  1. It suggests relevant jobs, well suited to my experience.
  2. It has the option of 1-click apply for most of the jobs. So, if your profile is complete, you don’t have to spend hours on each application.
  3. It lets me know when and how many times my application has been viewed.
  4. It sends regular updates and job suggestions to my inbox.

Please note that I’m not saying this is the only job board that offers good writing jobs, or that it is the best. I’m saying that this is the one that works for me. I have had a few responses and interview calls for jobs I found here, so I am a bit partial towards it anyway.

Benefits of Using LinkedIn

I also like using LinkedIn job search for finding and applying to jobs because of the following reasons:

  1. “Easy apply” option
  2. Relevant job suggestions
  3. Quick access to recent job postings
  4. Useful updates
  5. Reliable platform (at least in my experience)
  6. Great for building a network

If you have a job board of choice for writing jobs, please let me know through the comments section or through my contact form. I’d love to hear your experience, too.

Let me end on a lighter note with this true story interacting with a funny job board –

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021