Today is Presidents Day. It is a federal holiday so your snail mail will not be delivered. Who needs snail mail, when some of you will have this interview delivered directly to your email address?
Some of you will know this Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She is the author of several series of articles on the Yahoo Contributor Network. They include: Associated Content Writer’s Dirty Little Secrets, Remarks from the Peanut Gallery and Last Chance Nance. Some people refer her to as Mrs. Cornfield. She is our resident retired Postmaster and hails from the great state of Maine. Here is Nancy V. Canfield.
1. Was your primary career with the US Postal Services?
Yes. My father told me I would be smart to take a civil service test, as there were no jobs in the area, so I did. I began as a PTF clerk in 1970, became a Postmaster in 1989, and went on to train employees all over the state.
2. Looking back on it, would you say that this was good advice that your father provided?
Absolutely. With all its warts, the post office turned out to be a rewarding experience for me. I learned the behind-the-scenes workings of a huge company, how do get things done with little to work with, and how much small town America depended on us. I’m sorry to see many of the changes happening now, though.
3. What is the worst change that you feel is happening with the US Postal Service these days?
Closing small offices. People forget that the small offices are what’s left of personal service and problem solving. In some towns, they are the only means of socializing. Many are manned by one, and maybe they don’t make the big bucks, but compared to waste in the plants, and in upper management, they should be the last to go. I have always thought we do things backward. We should charge for the “free” delivery. The cost of delivery is massive, and a small yearly fee seems like one answer to offset costs.
4. Can you share a humorous experience that you had as a US Postal Service Employee?
I once locked myself out of my inner office and had to climb over the counter. The lobby was empty at the time, so I hoisted my skirt up to get some leg room. At the time I was quite nimble, and I swung my leg up on the counter, grabbed the edge of the scale, and gave myself a spring up. The scale wasn’t anchored, and it came crashing down on me, cutting my head. The door opened, and it seems the office wasn’t quite as empty as I had assumed. A little kid came from around the corner, looked at me, covered in blood, and ran outside screaming that I was a robber.
5. Did you have other career aspirations?
No. Nothing close to career aspirations. I do have a strong desire to contribute, rather that just exist. Just how to do that remains a bit foggy, but I like to think by writing, engaging people in thoughts and humor, I might brighten someone’s day every now and then. That is rewarding. Of course, I work diligently at confounding my family, which in itself is also rewarding.
6. When do you feel like your desire for writing took hold?
I was very young. I struggled to convey my emotions, but found I could write them. I wrote notes, letters, and poetry to my parents to tell them things I could never say. After they both died, I found many of my notes and poems to them. I think finding them also validated them, so I began to get serious about writing.
7. Do you write for any online sites other than for the Yahoo! Contributor Network?
Yes, a friend directed me to Skyward/Gather. I began writing there in December.
8. I briefly read something about Skyward/Gather the other day. How would you describe your experiences there?
It is very different. I concentrate on news categories. Since there is no humor category, I find I can include varying subjects that come under the broad category of “News.” It is more structured, and all posts go through a review process before being accepted. I have found I am learning more about SEO and keywords there, through the hands on experience and format. I wish I could dedicate more time to them, to test myself, but I need to fulfill my desire to write on a more personal basis.
9. You published on Associated Content before it became Associated Content from Yahoo!. How did you discover that opportunity?
Actually, it was a fluke. I stumbled upon Associated Content purely by accident. It perked my interest, so I signed on. I found I could write what I wanted when I wanted, and make some couch change while doing it.
10. From your perspective, how would you describe the overall transition from just writing on Associated Content to becoming a part of the Yahoo! Contributor Network?
Well, that’s an interesting question. Maybe I should dodge it. Nah. Here it is. I am disappointed. I think the friendly banter, the uniqueness of personal interaction has been damaged. I understand that the big contributors are concerned about professionalism and excellent content, but I think those just starting out might not experience the support and encouragement that once was. I believe we have lost the personal touch.
11. You have some pieces that you wrote that ended up sites the on the Yahoo! Contributor Network other than Associated Content. Were those pieces on assignment or did you just get lucky or unlucky as the case may be?
All but one was an assignment. News.Yahoo.com/ The Mammogram was picked up for breast cancer awareness month.
12. What is your opinion of the Yahoo! Contributor Network forum?
Let’s just say I seldom go to the forums. I know there might be valuable information there, but I found some of what I read whiney and malicious. So I just don’t go there anymore.
13. You have published photographs of your dog in the midst of this Maine winter. Does he appreciate when winter is over?
Let It Snow!
Poor Trouble. I envision him dancing in the streets when the snowbanks disappear. It’s tough being a dog, especially a little one with a teeny bladder.
14. Do you think he rations his water in the winter so he doesn’t have to go outside as much?
No, but the sister might.
15. Some people have asked me to start up the page view races again. As a former page view racer, what did you think of those events and would you want to participate in them again?
I thought it was fun. It gave us all a look into what others were doing, brought us to their pages if they were unknown, and maybe because I’ve been slacking on AC, it’s just what I need to give me a bit more incentive. Let’s face it. There’s a bit of competition in all of us.
16. On the Yahoo! Contributor Network!, you have a mixture of articles with pictures and articles without pictures. Have you noticed whether the use of pictures impacts an articles performance?
I think it depends on the subject matter and the person looking. Common opinion says a picture draws a person’s interest more than a title, but I look for subject matter. I’ve been lured into reading too many pieces by a picture, which many times has little to do with the article. I will use a photo if I can find one relative to the post. Does it help? I don’t know. It’s tough projecting what might have been.
17. How good a job do you think you do keeping up with all the publications of your favorite Contributors on the Yahoo! Contributor Network?
I try to do a good job, but quite simply, it’s impossible. I don’t get upset if I don’t see a comment on my posts from certain people, because I understand how busy they must be. I think we all try as much as possible to keep up, but it just isn’t possible. I do the best I can, and I’m sure the others do, also.
18. Your profile says, “My family says I’m overly opinionated and bossy”. Can you elaborate?
Well, my grandniece says I have never seen the color gray. With me, things are black and white, good or bad, right or wrong, so she says. Between you and me, I’m having old age re-evaluations, but in most cases, it’s true. As far as bossy goes, that is just an out and out lie. Just because I rule the roost around here, and I swing the gavel, that doesn’t mean I’m bossy, like they say. Uh, is this going to be published?
19. How much do you promote your work on social networking sites, such as Twitter or Facebook ?
I sometimes put articles on Twitter and Facebook that I think would draw universal interest, but the personal humor and poetry, very seldom. The news articles I do for Skyword go up on both.
20. As a Maine lobster lover, do you ever feel bad about how they meet their maker?
Not a twinge of guilt. Hey, they’re cooked in beer. I could think of worse ways to go.
21. If you could hand pick a few of your pieces of work on the Yahoo! Contributor Network for people to read, which ones would they be?
I remember I Don’t Know Nuthin About Birthin’ Babies like it was yesterday. Me and the Apple Crisp was fun to write, and The Sting of the Scorpion still hurts when I read it. On a more serious vein, The Veteran and The Darkest Hour, both written for my parents.
22. At one time you interviewed yourself. Was this interview more enjoyable?
Well, yes, but with one exception. While interviewing myself, I could go to the bathroom whenever I chose…(says she between clenched teeth.) I will say, Han, your questions were a bit more thought provoking than mine.
23. Do you collect stamps or other US Postal Service memorabilia?
No. At one point I started collecting for the kids, but unfortunately, a fire took the collections. I never started it again. As far as memorabilia, when I want to stroll down memory lane, I’ll drive by my old offices.
24. Do you remember the price of a stamp when you started your career with the US Postal Service?
Ha! I think it was either 6 or 8 cents, but I do remember what my starting pay was. $3.85. A goldmine!
25. $3.85 per what?
26. Do you have anything that you would like to add to this interview?
I can’t think of anything, other than to thank you for your professional expertise, and offering me the chance to participate.