Now you can mingle and talk shop with fellow writers at Writer’s Block Philippines’ (WBP) membership group. Open to writers of all sorts, the aim of this membership group is to establish a venue for writers to associate with people who share the same passion for the written word.
SIGN-UP and become a member now! The Php 1,500 membership fee is valid for one year and comes with the following benefits:
A personalized membership card with free shipping within Metro Manila
A 10% discount on Writer’s Block Workshops or the early bird rate, whichever is lower
Complimentary passes to selected events (*on a first-come, first-serve basis)
Exclusive discounts from our membership partners:
10% off on selected treatments and services in Studio Zen
10% off on universal adaptors and other cool gadgets for the mobile lifestyle from MiLi Philippines
10% off on accessories for Apple products from OPT
10% off on food purchases at Peanut Butter Company, except for peanut butter jars
Plus more deals and treats coming soon!
Exclusive access to specific website content
Subscription to our e-group to get the latest updates on WBP’s activities, and more
To register, FILL OUT THIS ONLINE FORM and deposit the payment to our bank account. Please email us after and don’t forget to attach a copy of your deposit slip and indicate the bank branch so we can process your membership application as soon as possible.
Account name: Writer’s Block Training Services
Account number: BPI Savings Account 1759 0377 11
You may also use the Paypal button on the right sidebar.
For more details on membership benefits, or to sign on as a membership partner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0927) 850 8280.
Here’s your chance to hobnob with fellow writers, editors, and people from the industry! Writer’s Block Philippines will be holding its first-ever networking event on September 25, 2010 (Saturday), at Mozu Café. It’s the start of a series of networking nights where you can mingle with other writers, meet and greet editors, do craft and skills building, and participate in many more activities.
For our introductory networking night, we want to hear the juicy details about your first time—your first job, the first time you saw your name in print, your first kiss… Get ready to divulge the details of this memorable event with people who share the same interest as you.
SIGN-UP NOW to attend the first networking night for only P150; the fee is inclusive of a complimentary drink. Members of Writer’s Block Philippines can attend the event for FREE! Limited slots available so be the first to register.
Mark the date—September 25, 4:00-6:00 pm! See you then!
Linden Suites Tower 2
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
World-famous author and motivational guru Jack Canfield will be back in Manila to conduct another success seminar entitled “Breakthrough Results in Work & Life: The Success Principles & the Law of Attraction in Action”. The event will be held at the SMX Convention Center on September 27, 2010.
Apart from his work on the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Canfield penned international best-sellers The Success Principles, Key to Living the Law of Attraction, Life Lessons for Mastering the Law of Attraction, Self Esteem and Peak Performance and The Success Principles for Teens. He is also the founder and chairman of the Canfield Training Group as well as the Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprise which offers training programs and seminars for personal and professional development. A most-sought after inspirational and motivational speaker, he has been on radio 600 times and has appeared 200 times on television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, 20/20, CNN’s Talk Back Live, PBS, The Montel Williams Show, Larry King Live, and on BBC.
The seminar will teach participants how to build resilience and develop competencies with a positive winning mindset to ensure sustainable growth and organizational success even in the most difficult times. Those who attend will learn how to effectively apply of The Secret Law of Attraction, The Success Principles and many more useful tools for personal and organizational success.
Business and government leaders, managers, entrepreneurs, executives, educators, trainers, counselors, coaches, consultants, and other professionals who wish to achieve peak performance and far greater heights of success in work and life are all invited to join the upcoming event. The seminar is presented by ITD, the country’s leading multinational provider of superior quality organizational and human resource development solutions in Asia Pacific, and the prime mover behind the finest motivational speaking engagements in the Philippines.
Special rates and group discounts are available. For inquiries about the event, email email@example.com, call (632)887-7428, text (63)915-4974559, or visit www.itdworld.com.
I often write when I’m in a plane. Sometimes nothing more than meaningless doodles or disjointed sentences. But sometimes, when I look up from my notebook, I end up writing something reflective of exactly how I am feeling at a certain time.
This was written at 30,000 feet on a plane going back to Manila from Banda Aceh, Indonesia last May 2010.
Other people would have gotten a tattoo. Or may be a body piercing.
But for my own mid –life crisis, I did something equally reckless for those who, like me, were in a stage where we had already settled quite comfortably in our lives.
I had already gotten the requisite body punctures and body art long before the onset of my mid-life crisis so what else was left for me to do except quit my day job?
So I left my corporate career and all the perks that came with it like the bonuses, the assigned parking slot, the title to become a journalist and sexual health advocate.
Yes. I know exactly how that sounds.
Insane.Whimsical. Senseless. Crazy. Irresponsible as a parent.
It was similar to how I began feeling about going to work every day in my stilettos and sitting in a nice air conditioned office.
I would catch myself pen in mid-signature and wonder: What is this I was doing? What is it for? And for whom?
I felt that I didn’t belong….anymore.
About six years ago, I began writing again as a hobby (I graduated with a Journalism degree) just because I didn’t want turn into a “business paper factory” producing pages and pages of documents with numbers and facts neatly outlined into bullet points. It worked out my intellectual muscles, for sure, but it was slowly annihilating my ability to string proper words together with actual subjects and verbs.
As I began writing about social issues, I got to listen and talk to people from marginalized communities, from IDP (internally displaced persons) groups and I found something I didn’t expect. I found a quiet kind of dignity that didn’t want to depend on the government or anybody else, but themselves to make an honest living, and a strong sense of hope.
I also began to realize how we were so much the same in terms of our hopes for our families, our love for our children and our deep-seated desire to transform the phrase “a better life” into something more than just words.
May be that’s when it began. May be that’s when I began to feel the disconnection between this reality and the glitz of the corporate world that revolved around internal politics, profit and career advancement. At one point, those very things ruled my life. And I don’t regret it. Because back then, I called it ambition. I called it being driven by a single-minded goal.
But, after nine years, I no longer felt I belonged.
Oh it wasn’t that easy to walk away. Not in the least bit.
It took a few more years of careful planning and a whole lot more preparation. And it took nothing less than balls to steel to finally jump, but I did.
I dare not call what I do now “being of service”. I will be the first to tell you that my genetic makeup hardwired me to be a shark.
But I do know that I am doing something I am completely passionate about. I know for certain that I am doing something that can make a difference.
And yes, it is hard. Monitoring cash flow, not having an office staff to take care of admin matters can certainly make the mundane tasks pile up, and I’m older than the people I now work with, but so what?
I think the trick is not to wait for the net to appear before making the plunge. You have to will it to appear.
Each and every time I face self-doubt or I encounter someone who gives me that look and has the audacity to ask me, “So what is your typical day like?” implying I do nothing, I will that net to appear.
It’s worked so far and I’ve gotten through my mid-life crisis fairly unscathed.
But I did get another tattoo — just for good measure.
(And just between you and me, if I lose a bit more weight, I may just get my belly pierced again.)
Over two thousand years in seven days,
with a little help from TRAVELIFE Magazine
TRAVELIFE Magazine is organizing a very special one-week tour of Turkey at an unbeatable price, in cooperation with award-winning Turkish Airlines. We’ll be visiting magical Istanbul, the Virgin Mary’s house in Ephesus, and the ruins of great and ancient Greek and Roman cities around Izmir. Stroll through the remnants of Constantinople. Marvel at the Blue Mosque. Go Christmas shopping in the famous Grand Bazaar.
This non-profit seven-night tour costs US$1999* and includes all flights and tours, five-star hotel accommodations, most meals, and even a private Bosphorus cruise. You’ll see all the major sights and there will be enough time for shopping and optional opportunities to experience Turkish culture and dine in some of Istanbul’s best restaurants. Your return ticket is even flexible, in case you want to extend your stay in Turkey or head on elsewhere.
There will be two groups: Nov 13-20, 2010 and Nov 17-24, 2010.
For more information, call Rachel at the Travelife office at (+63 2) 813-8400/ (+63 2) 892-2620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.travelife.biz or our blog at www.travelifemagazine.com.
Isn’t it time you experienced the amazing?
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity from TRAVELIFE Magazine, the Philippines’ leading travel and lifestyle publication.
*economy class twin-sharing basis or single supplement applies
**business class upgrade option available
Cine Europa, the tradition of bringing excellent European films to the Philippines, has now turned 12 years old and promises to provide Filipino movie enthusiasts with a range of powerful films which will surely touch everyone’s hearts and minds.
The film festival then goes to Liceo de Cagayan de Oro for the second time from 2 to 4 October and hits Ayala Center Cebu from 9 to 11 October.
In Manila, Cine Europa 12 will be opened by Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Head of Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines; Mr Sven Malmberg, Minister, Political Affairs, Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok; Mr Alvaro Trejo, Deputy Head of Mission of Spain representing the Presidency of the European Union; Atty. Andy Bautista, Chairman and CEO of Shangri-La Plaza Corporation; and Ms. Lala Fojas, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Shangri-La Plaza Corporation.
Ciné Europa 12 continues its tradition of further enhancing dialogue between European and Filipino cultures through the silver screen. Eighteen European films from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will further endear Europe to Cine Europa enthusiasts in Manila, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu.
This year’s selection of movies, carefully handpicked to cater to the Filipino audiences, showcases the range and breadth of emotions from the different stories of love, laughter, hope, despair, survival, courage and, steadfastness. While approaches may vary from country to country, Filipino audiences will be able to empathise with the different characters in each of the films.
Mr. Gabriel Munuera Vinals, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, said that, in line with the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation, this film festival hopes to promote creative and innovative ways to mirror the realities of life and to portray the shared values and tradition between Europe and the Philippines through the strength of the silver screen.
Meanwhile, Mr. Alvaro Trejo, Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of Spain and representing the EU Presidency, said: ”Cine Europa showcases the heritage and diversity of Europe, because film, after all, is a universal language which portrays life’s realities and promotes the understanding of our distinct culture.”
In line with the festival’s goal of fostering a more vibrant and engaging rapport with Filipino stakeholders in the industry, the Goethe Institut in Manila together with the German Embassy and Instituto Cervantes will hold a seminar with Dr. Peter Zimmermann of Wuppertal University, Germany on 10 September (10:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm) and on 11 September (1 to 7pm) in Instituto Cervantes, 855 T. M. Kalaw St, Ermita, Manila.
The seminar “From the ‘Cold War’ to the Fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the Berlin Wall: History and Film in Eastern, Western and the United Germany” is in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
This year’s film festival has a new special feature that should prove particularly endearing to Cine Europa enthusiasts, as one lucky member of the audience will travel and tour Europe courtesy of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Rajah Travel Corporation.
Admission to the screenings is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cine Europa 12 is presented by the European Union Member States’ Embassies and the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, with Shangri-La Plaza Mall (Manila), Arts Council of Cebu and Liceo de Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao) as partner organisations. It is supported by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Rajah Travel Corporation, YoCard and Click the City.
Please find below the Cine Europa PR. I shortened this na — who knew the Europeans were so wordy.
The schedule of the film showing is in the link below.
Cine Europa, the tradition of bringing excellent European films to the Philippines, has now turned 12
years old and promises to provide Filipino movie enthusiasts with a range of powerful films which will
surely touch everyone’s hearts and minds.
Cine Europa opens on 10 September with public screenings from 11 to 20 September 2009 at the Shang
Cineplex of Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City.
The film festival then goes to Liceo de Cagayan de Oro for the second time from 2 to 4 October and hits Ayala Center Cebu from 9 to 11 October.
In Manila, Cine Europa 12 will be opened by Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Head of Delegation of
the European Commission to the Philippines, Mr Sven Malmberg, Minister, Political Affairs, Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and Mr Alvaro Trejo, Deputy Head of Mission of Spain representing the Presidency of the European Union, Atty. Andy Bautista, Chairman and CEO of Shangri-La Plaza Corporation and Ms. Lala Fojas, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Shangri-La Plaza Corporation.
Ciné Europa 12 continues its tradition of further enhancing dialogue between European
and Filipino cultures through the silver screen. Eighteen European films from Austria,
Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands,
Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will further endear Europe
to Cine Europa enthusiasts in Manila, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu.
This year’s selection of movies, carefully handpicked to cater to the Filipino audiences,
showcases the range and breadth of emotions from the different stories of love, laughter,
hope, despair, survival, courage and, steadfastness. While approaches may vary from
country to country, Filipino audiences will be able to empathise with the different
characters in each of the films.
Mr. Gabriel Munuera Vinals, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Delegation of the European Commission
to the Philippines said that, in line with the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation, this film festival hopes to promote creative and innovative ways to mirror the realities of life and to portray the shared values and tradition between Europe and the Philippines through the strength of the silver screen.
Meanwhile, Mr. Alvaro Trejo, Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of Spain and
representing the EU Presidency said: ”Cine Europa showcases the heritage and diversity of
Europe, because film, after all, is a universal language which portrays life’s realities and
promotes the understanding of our distinct culture.”
In line with the festival’s goal of fostering a more vibrant and engaging rapport with Filipino
stakeholders in the industry, the Goethe Institut in Manila together with the German Embassy
and Instituto Cervantes will hold a seminar with Dr. Peter Zimmermann of Wuppertal
University, Germany on 10 September (10:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm) and on 11 September (1 to
7pm) in Instituto Cervantes, 855 T. M. Kalaw St, Ermita, Manila.
The seminar “From the ‘Cold War’ to the Fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the Berlin Wall:
History and Film in Eastern, Western and the United Germany” is in commemoration of the
20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
This year’s film festival has a new special feature that should prove particularly endearing
to Cine Europa enthusiasts, as one lucky member of the audience will travel and tour
Europe courtesy of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Rajah Travel Corporation.
Admission to the screenings is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cine Europa 12 is presented by the European Union Member States’ Embassies and the
Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, with Shangri-La Plaza Mall
(Manila), Arts Council of Cebu and Liceo de Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao) as partner
organisations. It is supported by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Rajah Travel Corporation, Yo
Freelance writing wasn’t really an option for me when I graduated from college. I took the more traditional route and worked in a publishing company to learn the ins and outs of the industry. And so I did, for a few years, at least. But then I realized that I didn’t want to be stuck in the office with an eight-to-five job, so I looked for an alternative in my chosen field.
The promise of flexibility in terms of time and projects is the main reason why I decided to dive into a freelance writing career. I’ve been my own boss for about five years now and I’m enjoying the perks of my job. During downtimes, I would travel and indulge the wanderlust in me. But I had to work hard to get to where I am today. Success didn’t come right away for me right away. Sometimes I would stay up until past midnight to write an article, or work during weekends to finish a project. You could, though, fast track your way to success with the following tips I gathered from my experience as a freelancer.
Do not lose your passion for writing.
Whenever you’re feeling down about something, you should always remember why you love writing. For me, it’s the idea of being able to express your emotions and the satisfaction of seeing my name in print.
Network, network, network.
It’s not just enough to maintain your existing set of clients; you should always be on the lookout for new prospects. Go out there and hobnob with other people from the industry. Attend book launches, seminars, workshops, and the like. Don’t forget to keep your business cards handy during such events.
Keep your contacts.
Keep track of who is working for whom. Maybe you have a close friend who’s working for a newspaper. Or there might be a magazine editor among your circle of friends. You’ll never know when you might need someone’s expertise to interview for your assignment. Or when you might need to get in touch with someone so you can write for his publication.
Develop your relationships.
Establish a rapport with editors and publishers, and make sure that you’ll stand out from all the other writers. Who knows? Next time they have a project, they might just call on you. My personal style is to touch base with them even if I don’t have any existing work with them.
It’s necessary that you be very disciplined with your writing, as well as your deadlines. It’s important to list down all your projects and keep up with your deadlines so there won’t be any reason for you to submit any assignment late. Don’t get too complacent if you’ve already worked with the same person before. Even if you’ve become friends, you should maintain your professionalism when it comes to work.
Develop other skills.
Instead of just depending on your writing skills, you need to cultivate other interests that could possibly complement your talent. For instance, if you’re good at taking photos, you could enroll in a photography class and learn the technical aspect of it. Instead of just submitting a simple write-up, you’ll have photos to accompany it and be able to earn extra for it as well.
Keep in mind that success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to work hard at something in order to get to the level that you want to. If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you must think of it as your own business and create a business plan for yourself. Don’t think of it like a ‘raket’ or a sideline. It’s a business that you have to manage by yourself because you are your own boss after all.
This article is published under a Creative Commons License.
Contact Writer’s Block Philippines for reprinting permission.
As I write this, it’s the evening before we close our workshop, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career 2.0, and a few days after the much-publicized hostage crisis in Quirino Grandstand, Manila. On one hand, it is part of my job in Writer’s Block Philippines to encourage writers and other kindred spirits in the creative industry to follow their passions and try to write for a living; on the other, I am reminded of the tremendous burdens that writers and journalists carry on their shoulders.
And I can only underscore that writing, although highly creative and has been defined by many by its romantic characteristics, is a craft and a discipline. It comes easily at times, but it is also complex and challenging–especially in today’s age of fast and easy access to information, social media, and everyone’s obsession with “the right to know.”
Writing as a craft and a discipline
Writing, at its core, is both an art and a science–much like baking a cake or playing the piano. Before you can even be creative with its execution, you need to have mastered your fundamentals. Grammar, usage, and composition are very, very important, and before you even start to get flowery with your words you’ll need to know how best to say what you really want to say.
Add to that the fact of having to fulfill editors’ or clients’ objectives, under often-tight deadlines, and the task becomes even more challenging and, sometimes, nerve-wracking.
And once you throw into the mix the reality that writers in the Philippines (or, perhaps, writers everywhere in the world) don’t really get paid much and often have to wait for months before their paychecks come out, then you’ll understand why writing is such a high-EQ activity. It takes passion, dedication, commitment, perseverance, and a lot of hard work to succeed–and to succeed ethically–in this field.
The tremendous responsibility of journalists
Once a writer takes up the challenge of being a journalist, the responsibilities become much greater, the stakes much higher. In the European Journalism Institute, the program I attended just in July, we were reminded of the nine fundamental principles of journalism:
Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
Journalism’s first loyalty is to its citizens.
The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification.
Its practitioners must maintain a distance from those they write about.
Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power.
It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
Journalism must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
It must keep news comprehensive and proportional.
Journalism practitioners must be allowed to practice their personal conscience.
Credit: Professor Laura Kelly, European Journalism Institute 2010
When is enough enough, and when does a reporter’s job end and the urgent task of saving lives begin? Our friends in Philippine media are still reeling from the question, and nobody is offering up any reassuring answers.
How blogging and social media are changing the landscape
I have to admit: I’m a fan of citizen journalism, and it’s a shift that I advocate. However, some discussions in EJI–plus the fact that the title “blogger” was hardly met with any admiration while I was in Europe–have opened my eyes to the reality that blogging and bloggers have, to a large extent, eroded the standards of journalism. Unethical blogging practices have put the reputation of online journalism at serious risk, and the proliferation of purely free content has put a huge dent on freelance writers’ income potential.
Why pay for content when you can get it for free?
Who needs to fact-check when you can put a piece up to drive traffic to your site and then just remove it later if it turns out to be false?
It’s clear that bloggers need to be trained on the discipline that accompanies “traditional” (or “legacy”) journalism, and while some blogging organizations are actually quite vigilant when it comes to journalism standards, others simply don’t bother; they continue to get the perks of blogging anyway.
Where do we draw the lines?
All of these realities are making the profession of freelance writing even more challenging than it used to be. It is no longer just enough to turn in a good story on time; a freelance writer now also has to contend with a rapidly changing landscape, growing competition, technology shifts, dipping pay, and a public that is insatiable and easy to criticize.
And speaking of the public: How much should they really know anyway? When is enough enough, or when is it too much or too little? In the case of the bus hostage crisis, did they really need to know everything in real-time? Couldn’t the coverage have been delayed even by a few minutes so as not to divulge too much information that became readily available to the hostage-taker? When journalists engage the public on Twitter and sometimes offer opinions and colored comments, aren’t they crossing the lines of objectivity and bias? And as for citizen journalists and bloggers with no formal media training, should they really be let loose with press passes and be allowed to cover events once reserved only for journalists?
There are many questions and not enough answers–at least not for now. But, perhaps, as we learn from the painful lessons of the past and, as Daniel Wagner has written in the Huffington Post, “demand more of [ourselves],” we will find more ways to equip ourselves with the proper tools and mindsets to do our jobs better.
Indeed, the demands of the job are growing. We will need to strike a balance between getting a good story and being guided by our ethics. We will need to remain objective and unbiased even when it becomes tempting to use our names to promote–or destroy–something. We will need to thorough and accurate, yet speedy and efficient. We will need to balance the need to serve the public and the the need to feed ourselves. We will be contending with a lot of issues, and must face them squarely and honestly.
We have no other choice. As writers who are as good only as our last byline, our survival in this industry will depend on our ability to transcend the turmoils of present.
Is she non-judgmental, patient enough to explain jargon, and accessible at all times? Consult FN’s checklist of questions. By Ana Santos
Most women spend more time picking out a hairstylist than an OB-GYN, or so goes the complaint of many doctors. Perhaps it’s because with a hairstylist, we know exactly what we’re looking for in terms of cut and style. It’s time we exercised the same scrutiny when picking out a OB-GYN. After all, this is the doctor you go to see about your deepest, darkest secrets—or so to speak. Without the right doctor, things can get very awkward very quickly.
Here are some questions that may help narrow down the search.
When do I need to start seeing an OB-GYN?
According to the Dr. Donnica website, there are certain triggers that signal the need for a woman to see an OB-GYN. Visit the OB-GYN:
Annually after age 18 or after becoming sexually active, whichever is first.
When considering becoming pregnant for a preconception counseling visit.
As early as possible in a pregnancy.
When you have any unusual signs or symptoms in your breasts, vagina, lower abdomen, urinary system, period or PMS problems, hormonal concerns, need for contraception, etc.
Raising your child alone does not mean that romance has to fly out the window. By Ana Santos
KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC.
Don’t expect to get it right on the first date. On the contrary, there will be men you wish you had never met, and dates that will make you wish you had stayed home watching animated movies with your kids in your jammies, but that’s what dating is all about. It’s a trial-and-error exercise, and this isn’t a problem restricted to single mothers—anyone in the dating game will have both funny, endearing, and horrific stories to tell you about life “in the wild.”
Dating someone means getting to know him to see if you will suit each other, and as the cliché goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. That means not letting one, two, or even three bad experiences make you a quitter.
GOING OUT DOESN’T MEAN PUTTING OUT.
Engaging adult conversation, getting the attention from a man who finds you attractive, even just considering the prospect of having sex again—all these may make you weak in the knees. Don’t let it cloud your judgment. Casual sex is not for the faint-hearted; you should know when you are ready for a level of involvement that involves getting between the sheets.
Be prudent and wait until you know each other well enough; if he’s a keeper, he’ll respect you enough to wait. Besides, sex carries a risk, and before you take a gamble on your future and that of your children, shouldn’t you make sure he is worth it?