Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Silver Linings Playbook

(Oh look, I’m finally going to add reviews to my blog.)

So, I finally got around to seeing this movie. After constantly hinting to friends and family that I needed to see this movie, I just made the plans myself – with or without available company (luckily, a friend was able to make it). I have a bit of a girlcrush on Jennifer Lawrence, hence my obsession over seeing this movie. But after hearing all the amazing reviews and nominations for it, I knew I had to get my but to the movie theater.

Basically, the story is that Pat (Bradley Cooper) is just getting out of a mental hospital and has been working on bettering himself for his wife Nikki (losing weight, finding the positives in live, controlling his bipolar disorder, trying not to hear songs that aren’t actually playing in the background, etc). Yes, he’s a bit crazy. But, really almost all of the characters are. Que: Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is now a somewhat-whoreish, somewhat-depressive widow, shows up in Pat’s life with a chance to get in touch with the wife he’s not supposed to be talking to (restraining order, no big deal). If Pat enters a dance competition with her, Tiffany will get his letter to Nikki. 

Add in a father who ignores his own mental problems and is obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles (Robert DeNiro) and his friend from the mental hospital who keeps “escaping” (Chris Tucker) and it becomes harder and harder to tell the difference between “crazy” and “normal”. Honestly, some people are just better than others at hiding those parts of themselves that might scare outsiders. Except for Tiffany, who has decided to just stop bullshiting. Why can’t we ask for what we truly want? Why can’t we accept that crazy is the norm? 

I don’t know if I’m making much sense, but take this away: This movie has characters who are so real that you can’t help but laugh when Pat goes on a rant about Hemingway at 3 in the morning. Or laugh when your psychiatrist shows up at a tailgating party with half his face painted green. Or your dad needs you to hold a remote and a handkerchief a certain way so he can afford to open his own restaurant. 

Silver Linings Playbook (Russell, 2012) is refreshing, witty, and endearing. It lets us be insecure, crazy, and just a little more honest with ourselves. Verdict: MUST-SEE.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I Learned From Failing NaNoWriMo

In the end, I didn't make the 50,000 word goal count for National Novel Writing Month. In fact, I didn't even "pass" if we're talking a percent scale with a mere 26,671 words on this novel for the month of November.

Officially, this is my second year competing, but last year I signed up somewhere around the 23rd. I thought, "Hey, seven days, I just won't sleep. Easy." I don't know why I was under the impression I was a wizard, but I made it to depressingly pathetic 43 words. And that was the synopsis I wrote on the day I signed up. I'm not sure that counts. Anyway, after having done better than last year, I decided improvement was improvement, no matter the end result. So here's the short list of what I learned from failing NaNoWriMo this year:

1. Pre-planning/outlining 
When they said novel-writing for the month of November, I took it to heart. I did all of my planning on Day One. As I mentioned earlier, I was adapting a previous short story into my novel, so I didn't start completely from scratch when it came to the main ideas. But I planned ninety percent on that first day. As well as wrote the synopsis, developed a book cover, and "casted" all my characters with movie stars playing their parts. It was a day of equal productivity and procrastination.

(For those interested. Working Title/Cover model for Almost Absolution.)

I found out somewhere around Day Fifteen that I was allowed to plan in October (or even before). I'm the kind of writer that needs a plan. This is no way means I (read: my characters) are going to stick to the pretty map I've placed before them, but at least I have purpose when I sit down to first write. This means that my outline changes a lot over the course of one plot. But because of the shortened time span, I felt like I didn't have time to plan. 

2. "Don't get cocky, kid"
So after fifteen pages had gone in my composition book of lovely outlines and scraps of scenes, Day Two through Day Six went amazing. I kept my pace steady, I felt like I could relate to my main character, and I was right on the line or even above it on where I should be if I was to finish in time. The give about a 1,500 word goal daily and it was easy. My writing went so well that first week, I decided on Day Seven I didn't need to write. On Day Ten, I thought, "Hey, we're a third a way through and there's plenty of time if I get behind right now." I had been way too damn confident. Around Day Fifteen, I panicked. And then I got writer's depression. (Where you don't write, but should write, but can't write, but want to write. See also, writer's moodiness.)

3. You're going to hit a lot more major blocks at once
At this excelerated time rate, you hit all your blocks right after another, instead of say, having the time to actually build your self-esteem back from the blow you took after Chapter Three where you decided no one was going to ever want to read what you're writing. I ran into dilemmas with tone: Was this horror too funny? Was this mystery too focused on the romance? On days, I was writing a horror. The next it was something scarily like a RomCom. Then it was a mystery with a main character who had zero investigative skills. I ran into dilemmas of plot: My "killer" changed from two different people, to a wholly different person, to the main character herself, to... Yeah, still not sure about that one.

Hitting so many dilemmas (that I might normally deal with over the span of a few months, not just one) was seriously messing with my head. Around Day 20, I began to wonder if it was worth even finishing. I was behind (at this point), but mostly I'd just gotten stopped so much I wondered if this wasn't just a generally bad plot. Or if generally I wasn't just a bad writer. Which is always the climax of every writer's block. And then you find a light somehow.

4. The meaning of "just write"
This has confused many people for years now. The thing is, writing is not just writing. Writing is planning, and rereading, and editing, and tinkering. Definitely, Writing is nothing if not a bit of bricolage. You've got to constantly be working it out on your mind, but at the end of the day, you can force yourself for 30 minutes to do nothing but stare at the blank page (whether it's a computer screen or paper). And move your hand(s). And write.

When forcing myself to spend solitary time with a blank page (means no internet, phone, etc) there has never been a time past 30 minutes where the page is still blank. I am incapable of leaving a page blank because I have too many thoughts. The constant tinkering mind during the day helps me know where the story is going when I get to my quality time with the blank page. (So I don't end up with a shopping list and post-its for a new blog entry.) Writing is never "just" writing. But writing is also a part of Writing.

5. There's no such thing as failing
Now on December 1st, I still have more of a novel than I had on November 1st. Which can't really be called failure in my book. And I know more of what works/doesn't work for me as a writer. And I know how to "fix" the mess of my current novel. Step one is going back to reread everything. Which I haven't done yet, and I'm honestly a bit scared at what I'll find. Without a doubt, I know once reading it, I'll have somewhere to move forward from.

Other benefits include new writing friends and having had a great time on the nanowrimo forum boards. It was fun to give advice to those desperately rushed posts, as well as to play some of the character games going around.

In all, this month has proved a wonderful jumping point for my novel. I don't have 0 words. I have 26,671 words. Yay! (And I'll get you next year, NaNoWriMo!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Day and Fancy Dinner

[Please, do not ask about how nanowrimo is going... Sigh.]

So, here's the truth about first days: without fail you will end with blisters. I don't know why, and it doesn't matter if you're sitting or running around most of the day - for some reason, your shoes (new or old) will turn on you and rub you in all the wrong places. Maybe it's anxiety swelling (I don't think that's real). Maybe it's awkward walking. Maybe it's wearing some nice shoes for the first time in a while. Okay, it's probably that last one.

Started at Henery Press today, and am super excited for everything that's to come and how much I'll be able to grow with this exciting new(ish) company. I'm getting to know the "voice" of the company, reading some of their published works and checking out a few submissions to see if they fit our publishing house. Most of my day was spent trying to learn about Henery's social media presence, and I know I've got to immerse myself in a community of writers and readers who are (fantastically) involved. Side note: therefore, I was forced to reacquaint myself with the old Twitter (follow me).

I have my own office for. the. first. time. ever. It made me feel like an adult. Okay, fine, it made me feel like I was pretending adult-ness. My mom says I should decorate and I wanted to laugh. I have no idea why. I mean, I think that's something normal people would do - but it's not like my name's on the door or anything. Well, we'll see. A few pictures might make their way onto my desk. Also, have I mentioned the super rad mug I got?

After work and a nap during a new British television show I was trying out (I have an obsession for BritTV, but I'll get to that one day), I had a fancy schmancy dinner to go to with my family and my brother's girlfriend and her mom. While I'll admit to loving to dress up and admiring what is usually awesome decor, here's a some of the issues I have with high-class eateries (which they wouldn't be pleased to be referred to, but that's kind of my point).

Most of these places are Italian which means almost 90% of their menu consists of pasta, some spices, tomatoes, and cheese (as well as some good breads if they're doing you right). And yet, it is $20 a plate. I guarantee you I can produce the same exact thing, times the amount by five, and it'll cost me maybe $10. Also, notice how when you go out with a group to a fancy place and at least two people hate what they've ordered because they don't like the taste. With prices this high, there should be a money-back guarantee, and you should have the guts to ask for it.

The other thing was I cannot tell you how closely I had to read the menu (I got out my phone at least twice to check the Italian-to-English translator) so that I wasn't ordering a plate full of meat. In the end (minus two of six soup/salads) there was ONE vegetarian dish. And it was called Somethinga-Italia-FUNGHAI. As in mushrooms - a whole lot of 'em. Maybe it's bad on me that I'm a vegetarian who dislikes slimy fungus, but no thank you. The point is, I'm already going to be forced to pay a price that includes a tip to their butcher, can I at least get one plain vegetarian option? Some pasta with a bit of cheese sprinkled over it, that's all I'm asking.

Okay, for those that missed that I'm a cat fanatic (I try to use that word lightly), you'll understand when I say I've got to end the post here because Veronica has decided she can sleep no where except for the left side of my keyboard. She's such a punk. Confession: The true catlady emerges when you realize this is one of hundreds (exaggeration) of pictures I have a cat I've had for about four months.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Things You Actually Want to Know for Successful Interviews

So, I don't know if it's because my mom was HR or what, but I typically am awesome at interviews. Which is weird for me, because I'm awkward and say "like" a lot if I'm not careful. Of course, there's the basics for having a great interview (dress up, bring a copy of your resume, etc), but here are some things I've learned over the course of interviews that I wished someone told me.

1. Wear Your Second Favorite Shirt (heels, pants, whatever it may be)
Going into an interview, I'm already a little nervous and unsure (about the people, the business) so I spend a long time deciding what to wear. I wear black, but try to add color (no sparkles, please) that way I can appear professional yet also not look like I'm going to a funeral. Being female, I debate for a long time over dress vs. skirt vs. pants. But overall, the best thing you can do when deciding what to wear is find something you love, because feeling good will make you more confident. I say "second fav" because if it does end up not going your way, you won't want your favorite item tarnished by a bad interview.Trust me.

What I choose for my interview today: (I went for flats because I wanted an "easy-going" look to balance my all dark bottom half.)

2. Start with a Shake, End with a Shake
(I'm not talking about dancing.) This one is actually hard for me, not because I forget, but because I have sweaty hand-syndrome. I have to make a conscious effort to keep my right hand open for more air flow so that it isn't wet by the time my interviewer shows up. During the interview, I also try to keep that hand open (thank God when there's a table between you and your interviewer) so that afterward I haven't suddenly gone slimy.

3. Don't Get Stuck Nodding
A lot of times, most of the interview will be less you answering their questions and more them telling you about their business. (P.S. You should already know most of what they're telling you. Before an interview I spend maybe an hour all over their website as well as googling any extra info I can find.) I never know what my face looks like during these shpeals, but I try to keep a small smile on my face, as well as nod every know and then. When you feel like they think you might be dazing off or your smile might be getting maniacal, I like to let them know I'm right on track with them. I tend to say, "Right" and always, always give a small chuckle as if I lived their same life (the one as to say "Oh, gosh, I know what you mean") when appropriate.

4. When You're Interested, Let Them Know
You have to be careful not to interrupt, but a lot of time there's moments when you're supposed to jump in. If something in particular interests you, don't let them pass over the topic. If you expand or contribute (even ask questions), it shows them you're interested not only in whatever it is you're talking about, but you're interested in the business. It also helps if you can somehow bring something from your experience that's relevant to why/how you're interested in the current topic. (For instance: "Oh, yes, I agree. While working at ___, I really wanted to do more ___, and I'm glad to see I'll get the opportunity here." Also, do not memorize this quote because you might sound too robotic and you should be flexible to the tone of the interview.)

5. Get Them to Laugh
This might be my secret weapon. First, it is dire that you know I'm not talking about a practiced joke (or pun). Please, don't do it. I'm talking about finding a place in the conversation where you can bond over common (whatever) and share a casual laugh. Don't go in with a stand-up routine, just gradually get a feel for the interviewer and when you see a smile, go for the laugh. It's hard to explain, but this works for me. I like figuring out people's sense of humor, and it not only makes for a good connection, but it helps me relax a whole lot more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Getting On Track

Well, today's election day! I'm not huge into politics and I especially hate arguing about them, but I thought I'd mention it because it was the first time I could legally vote! I early voted last Friday and cracked a lot of jokes while avoiding stranger's eyes. Something about politics makes people morose. Go figure.

As I mentioned in October, my first short story was published in the Dallas Writers Journal. The second half of it is set to be published in the November issue. Then I got an email letting me know that the DWJ is moving its magazine to strictly internet. While this is a bit discouraging because I was hoping for a (completed) short story in print to feel accomplished, it's not the worst news I could've received. That might be somewhere along the lines like receiving hate mail after the October portion had hit the streets.

You can read the November issue (as well as all previous issues) here.

Today, I finally cracked open my Writer's Market. It. Is. Amazing.

I'm mad at myself that I didn't do this early. I remember back in 2009 when I read Stephen King's On Writing and he mentioned this was the way to survive as a writer. I kicked myself today when I didn't go out immediately buy it then. Then I kicked myself harder when I realized this has been on my shelf since July. I went through it cover to cover today with some post-its and highlighters. I'd never been so excited to "study".

I now have an organized submission document, and a simplified catalog of agents and contests/awards I'm interested in. I plan to buy a calender and write down submission deadlines for the following year so I can send out some of my fiction. Once I organize a list of the agents I want to contact with my novel in the order I like them, I plan to spend one month where I query an agent a day. Depending on how well nanowrimo goes, I'll know if that month is December or January.

Speaking of nanowrimo, I have finally hit the line where I am "supposed" to be if I plan on finishing by Dec 1st. Which I do.

My productive day also included some time to cook (not sure where I fit it in). I made chocolate chip pancakes: just threw some chips into the box quickmix, which normally I would be against, but my brother asked me to "help" and it ended up my mission to feed him an his girlfriend so I wasn't entirely motivated.

Then I made hummus (recipe-ish here) from scratch. I was apparently supposed to have something called tahini in my pantry. Surprise, I did not. So I threw in some peanut butter instead. It's still delicious - dare I say even more delicious? Then again, that might be because I have a slight PB obsession.

Finally, I cleaned out my blender of the hummus and made pesto sauce. (Both of these would've been way easier with a food processor, but I work with what I've got.) The pesto (recipe-ish here) was supposed to have more basil in it, but I rarely read recipes before I start (which should be evident by now) so I made do somehow. Also, now I have a ton of pesto, enough to eat for a while, so I might look at what else I can throw pesto on. Tonight, I made the family pasta with some awesome garlic bread (which I really could've just eaten the bread but that would not be good).

As for the job update, I have maybe applied as a part-time librarian. I say maybe because the job posting disappeared the next day. I also realize it is ironic that I have applied for a position at the library I was at the day before, concerned about the welfare of children's' reading habits. I have not gotten manuscripts to vet for Tate in a long time, so I applied to intern at Henery Press (in Frisco) so I can gain more publishing/editing experience. I heard back today and have an interview set up Thurday with them, so hopefully that goes well.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Scratch and Seuss

After almost five hours spent outside Saturday morning conducting a yard sale, I was pretty much ready to throw everything to the curb. Me and my dad had been urging the family to have a yard sale after there was something shoved into a corner of every room that no one needed (nor really wanted), but we finally made it happen. It was odd to spend 30 minutes setting up and clearing out the house only to discover maybe we really didn't have that much to get rid of. Our lawn looked sparse.

Also, our junk was at one time fairly expensive and so we struggled all morning not to undersell all the while battling the notion of having to bring it back inside. More discouraging was when my mom relieved us for half-time and made only a little less than we'd made in about thirty minutes total. Still, after forcing myself to somewhat interact with strangers and deal with nature (okay, okay, just freshly mowed grass and sidewalk) we were able to come away with about $130 and a heck of a lot more room. Then that money went to rent and I wondered where my Saturday went.

I got a bit of writing done late last night. To update, I'm done taking inspiration from my short story, so from here on out I'm a little bit more unsure and I'm afraid it'll take me much longer to get a consistent word count (nanowrimo is saying I need to hit somewhere around 1,600 to hit my goal for the month). But then I lost today too by baking.

For almost a year now, I've refused to bake something unless it was "from scratch". (I didn't even buy those holiday sugar cookies with the cute images that everybody loves.) Of course, not having a "real" job, I've gotten more bored and started making more baked goods for other people. That meant that this year when my mom wanted pumpkin (bread, pie, whatever) I was not allowing her to buy the canned pumpkin puree.

Instead, I bought a pumpkin and spent two hours making it myself. I had freshly cooked pumpkin and it was pretty good. I don't like pumpkin baked goods, but I discovered just the vegetable is actually really good. I also roasted the pumpkin seeds (apparently you have to) and after that waste of time discovered no, I still don't like pumpkin seeds. And no, nobody I know does either. Someone out there please tell me the appeal -- it was like chewing peanut shells.

Anyways, today I used the last of the pumpkin puree to make a pumpkin pie. It's a commonly known fact if you've met me that I hate pie. This piece of information somehow comes up a lot because it is unfathomable to everyone else in the world that there is not a single kind I like. So, back to the baking. It was a bit hard to make all of mom's pumpkin foods for the past month because I didn't really want to taste how things were going along the way. Also, I need to mention how much one small-medium pumpkin made; I guess most recipes don't need that much actual pumpkin because they mostly rely on cinnamon/nutmeg combos to take care of the flavor. (The list of goods: pumpkin bread, pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin espresso muffins, and now pumpkin pie.)

It turned out well, minus the very top edge of crust because I didn't make quite enough dough, so the filling got on it a the thin layer left behind meant it burnt in the oven. So, while I failed on presentation, the taste is apparently awesome. More awesome (at least for me) was the smell that occurred. It officially felt like Thanksgiving time.

Besides that, I also made cornbread (which is too good and is that because I'm more "southern" than I think?) and tomato basil soup (which is also too good and that is because I only have it to compare to a terrible can of Campbell's I tried and failed to cook once). While the oven was working, I spent too much time watching stand up comedian specials on Netflix.

To make up for the disappointing results of my weekend word count, I went to the library because there is certain "research" I'm doing for my book. It was odd to need a book from each of the three floors mainly because I still haven't found the stairs (this has been the library I've "lived" at for more than half my life) and the attendant on floor 3 (non-fiction) is surprised at someone else's existence and the attendant on floor 2 is surprised when you head toward the books and not the computers (which are almost entirely at full capacity).

Also, there was something I needed to look into from one of my favorite books as a kid (I mean thirteen) and it was extremely weird to go into the "teen" area now because it felt like a Roswell cafe. The lights were "funky" and things were hanging low and too many things were painted crudely silver. Checking out the kids area across the room was like a weird Seussical dreamscape, with odd Dali clocks and too many colors. Is this the kind of decor required nowadays to attract the audience away from their electronics? It made me kinda sick, even before getting dizzy by the pattern on the carpet.

Still, with this daylight savings present and research material, I might get some writing in tonight.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Undertaking a Plan

Well, I can't tell you how much fun I've had giving life (outlines, character pictures, questions to obsess over, etc) to the idea I have for my novel. I had a composition book lying around which I was going to use to organize personality types as a sort of "character database", but instead I have transformed it into my quick notes for what is tentatively titled "Almost absolution" for the moment.

For short stories, I tend to have 2-4 pages of crazy notes complete with a somewhat cohesive outline, but I've never had a clear plan for a novel. Even now, I'm not so sure about the entire second half, but the basics (and especially having a clear outlook for the beginning) really help me sort my creativity into something that isn't complete gibberish. Of course, the story doesn't always (or the characters themselves for that matter) head in the direction you thought it would, so it's a lot of reworking.

My main task has been trying to tackle the mystery aspect (which keeps overtaking the horror). I've never written anything like this before, and trying to keep things from the audience has been a tricky journey. I'm still not sure who the murderer is (at the beginning there were two, somewhere in the middle the murders had more to do with the main character - Erin - than I'd originally thought, and now I'm at a loss so that's... that?).

Not to mention, but there's a plethora of junk I don't know about the law or the accessibility a twenty-one year old has to an ongoing murder investigation (I'm guessing it's next to nothing). Long story short, I've made it extremely hard for Erin to even begin to solve the case, therefore making it a bit difficult for me to create a realistic journey she's going to take. Still, it's been fun.

I also learned that unlike smaller written works, there's possibly a point where too much planning/thought can be a bit counter-productive. At around page seven in my comp book, I began to become a bit overwhelmed with the whole project. I was honestly at a point where I wondered if I shouldn't just revive it into a story reserved for camp fires to tell by word-of-mouth. The plot makes me excited as an idea (as it should if your writing it) but I got panicky about how well I was going to transition it onto paper.

That's when I put down the notes and started to write. Especially for chapter one, I find that you have to tell yourself that it doesn't matter at what state that first writing is at - because if your audience is lucky, it'll never come to light. Before finding your story, you've got to make some mistakes (no one makes a souffle in one go). But just having something to work with and get your hands messy is the foundation for the completed product.

Anyways, over at nanowrimo.org, I've decided my word count update will occur at 5 pm everyday.

On a side note, I cannot elaborate on how much of my time I spent at 2 am this morning "casting" my story. For (at least) the main characters, I like to have an idea of who I'm working with. Finding Erin was fun because I always start with my celeb girl crushes (people who I'd totally wanna be best friends with, if the world was perfect) and the secondary character, Henry, I had a good time looking at eyecandy (spent too long looking at Ed Westwick, even though I pretty much knew he wasn't Henry, but that's a different matter).

Overall, I feel slightly crazy in regards to this writing (both my novel and this blog post). But hey, this is what I do; I obsess.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My "work"

Today starts the month of novel writing (nanowrimo.org). I'm going to push aside half-hearted chapters and previous drafts where the inspiration is gone and start on an idea that's been going around and around in my head for almost a year now. It started with a short story for my fiction writing class, but I'm going to change a few things around and adapt it into a novel. I've got the basics of the plot worked down, as well as a pretty intriguing back story for the main character, but it's pretty unclear as a whole right now.

Mostly I'm going to start by re-reading that story and see what pieces (ideas) I like and want for the novel. Then, I'm going to try to get an outline going. Currently, it's seeming like something to fit into the mystery genre, but I really want to add strong elements of horror. Because of this, I'm still on the fence as to whether there's something paranormal about it. In the short story, it's entirely up to interpretation (leaning more towards reality after feedback from students in my class where "fantasy" was prohibited). I guess it might be time to make a decision, because it's the first scene that is questionable and that will affect the later outcomes.

Sorry if I'm sounding vague, but generally in this tinker stage, I don't really like to talk about my work. Before I have a completed draft of writing, I never talk about details, but this situation is a little different because I'm working from a short story quite a few people have read and I'm trying to keep myself motivated for the month ahead (where I guess I'll be in a "community" of other novel writers trying to stay on track).

I have to say I enjoy this stage of writing a lot. My favorite thing in life is potential, so during the tinker/drafting stage, I have a lot of fun. That might be why I find it so weird that it's so hard for me to talk about "my work". I feel pretentious explaining the details or decisions made during my writing and I feel even more like an idiot when their completely missed by the audience. I also feel like I still haven't read enough books. There's so many classics and contemporary literature that I feel I should know everything about before I can even begin to be presumptuous enough to add my own work to the mix. Is that insecurity or insanity?

Anyways, I'm pretty excited to get started so that's what I'm going to do. Side note: I also have found another Press within the vicinity that is looking for (unpaid) interns so I'm hoping they contact me before the weekend. Also, I'm afraid Nordstrom (where I've worked on my college breaks in the past) thinks I'm only available in December so I'm still out of a reliable paying job for the moment. I'm just about at desperation stage so I might be heading to Target to apply within the next few days (which I guess is not as desperate as needing to go to Walmart ((that might be offensive)) but, oh well).

I'll keep everyone updated!

Monday, October 22, 2012


I am under the impression that my strongest productivity comes about when I am more consistently busy.  It's why I took eighteen hours of school and worked at least twenty hours of work during my time in college. The days where class/work was cancelled, I spent a lot of the day at home/lounging around, missing out on other things I should've been doing. In essence, I am extremely lazy - but I have learned to counteract that with giving myself "missions" or things that constantly keep me moving from one thing to the next.

So of course, with the state of where my life is right now...I'm getting next to nothing done. With the terribleness of my jobs (which have both basically fallen through currently) and future employers giving me vague "we'll-call-you-back"s, I don't have many places I need to be. Therefore, I waste my time doing a whole lot of nothing. I've been meaning to start a diet, finish a few chapters, get a more reliable job, make more time to talk to my friends (overall, improve current social life), etc; but, well, it's not really happening.

I'm helping my dad with some building projects here and there and I've taken to baking and cooking when I have the materials, but it's basically a farce to appear busy. Because I am not busy. Not at all. And it's really troublesome, because I feel more and more like a lazy slug. So I've made it my new goal (or promise seeing as now it's more official) that I will actually be productive - I have bills to pay and things I want to do with my life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First Publication

(A bit of a delay due to not having bookmarked my blog. Now that I see it everyday, I should come up with more regular updates.)

I finally decided to muster up the courage to submit one of my short stories to get published. After looking online at a few literary magazines in the area, I picked Dallas Writers Journal (mainly because the submission fee was free). I picked my best (and favorite) "horror" short story and filled out the info, not expecting much. I don't know much about the magazine, except that they feature "local writers" and the stories are selected by a panel of readers. However, about one to two weeks later I got an email telling me they'd selected my submission.

While I was happy, there was a part of me that was also a bit disgruntled. I began to think - what the hell had I been waiting for before? This paycheck is a mere $10, but I also get my first work published (and maybe even a bit of recognition in the community). I should've been submitting since high school. I definitely should have been submitting during my three years at college. Why had none of my mentors urged me to do so?

I also discovered from this how hard it is to tell people I'm being published. It seems it's always been so much easier for strangers to read my work than friends. It happens that the story I submitted (She's Different) was read by my mom in the earlier drafting stages - but that rarely happens. It made me realize for something that is such a big part of my life, it's surprising how many of my family and friends have never read anything by me. (In fact, my best friend was telling me the last thing she had read were some random chapters of a YA romance I had been drafting in high school.)

If I had to guess, I think it's because I'm much more enamored with my process than with my product. While writing, and rewriting, and editing, and re-editing (etc.) I feel like I'm creating perfection. Then when I get to a point where it's "finished" (for the time being) I'm content. Two weeks, two months, whatever time, later and I am basically embarrassed by the quality.

Is that normal? Is this common with writers? I always begin thinking about published writers here because it makes me nervous for my future. Do authors look at their first novel years down the road and become ashamed that they can't take back these now-permanent words? Will I become that crazy person (knock-on-wood-to-getting-first-novel) who scours book stores with a red pen and my book trying to fix my old mistakes? It makes me lose my mind in a way that's only half kidding.

Eh, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyways, my first publication is a short story but it's been separated into three issues because of its length. (Which gives me a whole other set of issues to internally fret about - will the story have any coherency with just a third of it over the span of ninety-something days?) It's starting in the October issue of the Dallas Writers Journal, titled She's Different.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Job Settling

I feel like I'm just getting my first job again for how hard it is to get a job out of college.

During high school, I had a lot of extra curricular activities (and okay, was probably lazy) so I never held a job. It was when I went to college that my dad starting bringing up getting a job. He was non-stop about it and it made me feel bad those first few weeks when we would talk because I hadn't gotten a job yet. Not so much because of him yelling or anything, but because I felt like a failure.

This feeling is a common one when job hunting.

Being eighteen at that time and not having held a job before, I got a lot of confused employers not knowing what to do with themselves during interviews. And that was just the interviews I got -- there were countless times I'm sure my application took me half an hour to fill out and thirty seconds to see the trash can.

The worst happened when I applied to a big department store. I filled out the application and waited to be interviewed. It all went well, introductions were made, my awkwardness was kept somewhat in check, and then he started going through my application. He got to the previous work experience section, stared, looked at me, and then laughed. I could tell he was trying to hold it in and he looked marginally apologetic when he said "I've just never seen this blank before..." but it kind of threw me.

And then of course, I went to apply with my friend to this clothing store she loved. I'd never heard of it, but that's because Maurice's is mainly in more rural areas (closest one to where I lived before was fifty minutes away). The friend I went with is pretty shy when it comes to groups, and it was pretty slow in the store so it was just the two employees, my friend, and me. While I filled out my application it was pretty dead conversation, but while my friend filled out her's I began talking about having never even seen their store and the manager began telling me about the kind of company they were, etc.

I think it was this connection that ultimately got me the job. A few days later I had an interview with the store manager (quite the character he was) and that went really well.

It's always surprising to me when interviews go well, because as my friends will tell you, I'm ridiculously awkward (and honestly, a bit neurotic). But when I think about it, I somehow manage great interviews. I say "like" too much and when I get a question I haven't thought about long enough I use my hands too much. Overall though, I think it's my storytelling ability that gets me through.

So anyways, after almost a month, I finally had a job for the first time. Also, let me just take a minute to say that you should never go apply for a job with a friend. I did it because I was nervous and she'd asked me to go job hunting at the same time every day, but in retrospect it could've damaged the friendship. Especially as a freshman in college (not knowing anyone), I'm surprised it all worked out okay. Not to mention that between the two of us, she was way more qualified for the job.

I think that's the hard thing about job hunting though. It may not always be the best person for the job. It's the connection, sadly. That's why people will always tell you networking is so important, or "who you know". Now, moving from Norman back to Dallas (cheap rent with the folks, sigh) I know absolutely no one. I have no contacts in this area in my field, and that field is incredibly small.

Dallas is not a literacy hub. There are magazines and entrepreneurs trying to change that, but if we're being honest, that's the sad truth. So after a week of trying to take the editing experience I do have to get a job...I gave that dream up. It was time to settle for whatever came my way. Now I'm applying for random tutoring jobs and clerical work. (The depressing part: still no luck.)

At this rate, I'll take the first job that hires me. Actually, at this rate, I'll probably be going to grad school come next year. (Did you know you have to have a master's to become a librarian now? And most NY publishers hire PhD's for their editors?) What they say is true, it's like a college degree is the new high school degree.

I'll keep pushing...


I'm terrible at intro's and it seems I've done my fair share when it comes to blogs. And then of course, I end up only having an intro, so this time I plan to just start.

Basically, this is about a writer trying to find a place in the world. Basically graduated, I'm a girl trying to get an in on life where I get to work with writing. Will it be working for a publishing industry? Will I be an editor? Or will I actually get a chance to be a "real" writer? I can publish stories in local magazines all my life, but I want to publish novels. I don't have anyone I can really follow, but I've heard a writer's work is the loneliest in the world - so this blog will be the thing to hold my responsible.

I'm not sure yet where I'll end up (or where I'll get to along the way), but I'm excited to try. I do love the idea of potential. And right now that's the strongest point I have going for me. I know it'll be hard, but I've chosen this path long ago, so now it's about time I try and move forward along it.