So it’s not often you can say that someone changes your life but Eric Wolff changed mine. After my darling Dad died and as my great kid was getting ready to head off to college, I really was at loose ends. I had left my job a few years prior to take care of my parents and to spend more time with my son before he left for his own experiences. I didn’t want, nor could I convince myself, to go back to the 9:00 to 5:00 corporate life with its long commutes and warring factions and lack of appreciation for the value that long-time employees bring to a company. I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what.
I have always written and found it both relaxing and energizing. I’d had some minor success in school with writing poems and essays and a few years ago was lucky enough to win a writing contest which was a big thrill (because I’m not one of those people who will tell you that it’s an honor just to be nominated!) About 7 years ago I decided to start this little blog which so many of you are kind enough to read and share and provide feedback and encouragement and support, all of which I am ever so grateful for. I enjoyed the writing process even more than I had previously so I started looking for freelance writing jobs, mostly ones that could be done virtually because my creative juices seem to get cranked up best when I’m in my little mini-office here at home.
And after applying to many (I’m not kidding; over 100) writing jobs, I was contacted by Eric Wolff, who had a tremendous biography and was looking to launch a website dedicated to making complex financial things more simple so that people could read, understand, be educated and not intimidated by techno-babble. He was looking for someone to write a female-centric blog 3 days a week and I sent him a few writing samples and after chatting a few times, he offered me the gig. That’s how my blog (Kids, Men and Money – Looking at Life’s Financial Complications) was born on his website, PrimeRates.com. I focused on what I knew best: how to manage your own financial situation while dealing with aging parents and children headed off to college and still keep your sanity.
There was never a lack of topics to cover and any time I asked my friends for suggestions, they were always willing to lend a hand and provide great topics for me to write about. Eric was the perfect editor. As he liked to say, he didn’t edit so much as curate articles and it was seldom when I needed to change anything I had submitted to the site.
After a few months, he asked me if I’d start writing about celebrities and their financial issues. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) those were the days of Charlie Sheen being on television telling us he was “winning!” every chance he got, so there was plenty of stuff and more than enough people to write about. One highlight (or lowlight depending on your perspective) was when I received any angry e-mail one Friday night from Wayne Newton’s publicist about an article I had written about his latest bankruptcy. Eric stood by me 100% and told me not to worry and that he’d handle it. And he did.
He also encouraged me to write about the good that celebrities can accomplish with their financial clout and the article I wrote about the great Danny Thomas and his daughter, Marlo Thomas, and the outstanding work the entire Thomas family has done for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the most viewed article I had written, a fact I am still enormously proud of.
A few months after that, Eric asked me if I’d like to cover the Presidential debates of the 2012 election. I make no pretense about my political leanings but it was a true learning experience to try to be an impartial observer and write based on the narrative as opposed to assuming my candidate of choice (the sorely missed President Obama) had the only right position. I hope I was able to impart some good information and present what Fox News would call a fair and balanced story.
Sadly, as many start-up websites do, PrimeRates was shuttered a few years ago. I’m sorry it didn’t survive because there were so many sharp and talented writers contributing to the site. I miss the writing, the research, the feedback, the reader comments, the thrill of seeing my name on the byline. But mostly I’m grateful for the opportunity Eric provided me, the belief he had in me, the platform he gave me. He was the first person to ever hire me professionally as a writer and, to this day, I miss writing for him more than I can say. Thank you, Mr. Wolff, for taking a chance on an untested writer. Your confidence in me made me a better writer, which made me a better person. I will always be grateful to you.