Archive for November, 2013

Bring on the Bird

thanksgiving-dinner-wallpaper-2

This year my sister is hosting Thanksgiving for  the first time.  She’s a good cook, and likes to go all out for big events, so my stomach is very excited.  She’s trying out a few new fancy dishes, like a pork, bacon, and apple stuffing, and a orange-cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries.

A little less excited that my holiday weekend will be spent doing homework, but I’ve got two more weeks left and the semester is over!  After that, just five more classes to go and I’ll have my degree.  I’m already signed up for the classes and I’m anxious for them to start.  Year’s not over yet, and I’m ready for the next to begin, what is wrong with me?  I guess I just see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m making a mad, mad, mad dash to the finish line.

Here’s hoping your kitchen smells as fantastic as mine right now.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

NaNoWriMo – Who scheduled this thing?

So, after my second year failing at staying on task for NaNoWriMo, I’ve come  to a few conclusions.

First of all, whoever planned NaNoWriMo in November is a tool.  Deciding to hold a National Novel Writing Month which challenges participants to pen a 50,000 word novel in the very same month that, for many college students like myself, marks the closing of Fall semester and time to be focused on term projects and finals is just plain cruel.

Second, I’m projecting my frustrations onto some ambiguous figure because it’s easier than owning up to facts.  It’s my fault for doing this to myself two years in a row.  I knew schoolwork was going to keep me occupied most of the time.  Of course, it always takes me at least two screw ups to learn my lesson.

Third, I learned from a lot of writers over the net that I spoke with that in a lot of ways NaNoWriMo is for casual writers, hobbyists, and whatnot.  Career writers and people who seriously want to be novelists don’t usually participate in NaNoWriMo.  You want to know why?  Because writing 1700 words a day is a little thing they call their job. Yeah, those guys do it everyday, not just in a predetermined month. Unfortunately, school is my job right now, because I chose it over writing.  Not going to say I made the right choice, in fact, I think I royally fucked up on that one.

Which brings me to fourth, and last: who says NaNoWriMo has to be in November?  I mean, besides the people that came up with it and promote it every year.  I like the idea behind NaNoWriMo.  It’s about sitting down and actually writing, putting every other hold up on that novel you’ve been dreaming about penning behind you, and focusing on pumping out words without worrying if they’re good or right or even make sense.  But if November isn’t a good month for me, who’s to say I can’t take that concept and drop it into a month that works with my schedule better?  Or even just, in the scope of 30 days that works for me.

My classes all end in December.  I have to check my schedule, but I’m fairly certain it’s the second week.  Next semester won’t start until end of January.  So then, starting Saturday, December 14 to January 6, I’m doing the 50,000 words on my schedule.  It’s a little thing I’m calling Novel Writing Whenever or NoWriWheEv…um…nope, uh, yeah, I’m still working on it.  Maybe, After School Novel Writing…AftSchoNoWri…oh, forget it.

First Day Over

My first day at the new job is over and, well, it was a little anti-climactic.  I guess I was so nervous I was expecting a fire to break out, or hailstorms to roll in from the north.  Overall, it was just a first day.  Things were a little messy, fumbling around, trying to sort out where I was supposed to be and what I should be doing.  They don’t have a computer set up for me yet so I was sitting in the office at the center of the shop working.  There were windows all around me, that way other employees could peer in at me like a goldfish trapped in a bowl.

Image

I’m exaggerating, of course.  Things weren’t nearly that bad or nerve-wracking.

I was working on a Mac, which I haven’t used one in years, so that made me feel even more like a total noob.  But it didn’t take me too long to pick it back up, like riding a bicycle.  I spent the entire time cursing Macs, that was new.  I used to be a total Apple fangirl.  I’ve grown up a lot, I think.

Everyone at the job was very nice, and a lot of help.  I tried not to be too bothersome, but we’ll see.  I’m pretty excited about the products they sell and thus far, I really like the owner of the company.  He’s ambitious, and has a lot of positive vision.  There’s something inexplicably tantalizing about working for such a small-scale company in the process of growing, and in being a part of that growth.

Anyhow, until this month is over and I’ve proven my worth in salt…or at the very least they decide to make me permanent at this place, the anxiety won’t subside.  That should make writing blog content for their company unnecessarily difficult.  Or put a fire under my bum to turn out something great.  I need to stop being afraid of wanting this, and start telling myself this is what I’m meant to do.

That’s the update for now.  Hopefully I start posting blog articles soon.

Opening Doors, Leaving Others Behind

I start my new job tonight.

It’s a little frightening.  There’s a lot of pressure attached to it.  This isn’t just an opportunity to change where I am, but in a sense, I’m pursuing my dreams.  I want to write, to live off writing, see if I have it in me to turn out something people are willing to pay for to read.

Meanwhile, my other job is going to be left hanging for a little while.  Things are slow there, so I’ve cut back hours to transition into this new job.  I feel like a half-person at the old place, a ghost in a sense, which is different than the prisoner I’ve felt like for the past few years.  I’m trying desperately to stay focused on work when I’m there, to keep caring about what I’m doing, but all I really want to do is swap over to this new place and leave the other entirely behind.  I’ve been trapped for so long, this tiny taste of freedom has me salivating at the bit.

I don’t know what I’ll do if this new place decides not to take me on as a permanent employee.

I guess I shouldn’t think like that.  Just need to write like I mean it.

I didn’t know this was an actual theory…

Death of the Author is a concept from the field of literary criticism which holds that an author’s intentions and biographical facts (the author’s politics, religion, etc) should hold no weight when coming to an interpretation of his or her writing; that is, that a writer’s interpretation of his own work is no more valid than the interpretations of any of the readers. The logic is fairly simple: Books are meant to be read, not written, and so the ways readers interpret them are more important and “real” than the ways writers write them. There are also the more practical facts that a lot of authors are not available or not willing to comment on their intentions, and even when they are, artists don’t always make choices for reasons that make sense or are easily explained to others—or, in some cases, even to themselves.”

– TV Tropes; read the rest here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathOfTheAuthor

Beware when clicking the above link, you may find a huge chunk of time lost visiting this site.

I have a test in a couple hours.  I should be studying, but instead I’m here, procrastinating.

For no real, particular reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about trust and where I’ve placed it in recent times.  Also, I’ve been thinking about the weird ways in which the world works.  They seem like profound musings, but really I’m dwelling on a fellow classmate that seemed to make valiant efforts to befriend me and now I feel did it solely to take advantage of me (and my far better study habits than her own), and how the other day when I got in a car accident I also received invitation to interview at the new job I’ll be starting next week.

Life, at least from my perspective, always balances out in the long run.  Which I think is a very optimistic outlook, given that I grew up a household that focused entirely on the bad things and completely ignored or, it might be more appropriate to say, let the bad overshadow the good.  When I moved out of the house, I very gradually came to realize happiness really does come from within, and that it’s really not about where you are in life but what you do while you’re there.

Or as Yoga Jones put it in Orange is the New Black:

“Work hard to make something as beautiful and meaningful as you can, and when you’re done, pack it in and known it was all temporary.”

Spam – Not Just a Processed Meat

I love that WordPress is generally very good at filtering out spam comments.  It makes my life a lot easier.  Of all the spam comments I’ve received since starting this blog, only one has ever slipped by the filter.  It was a tricky one too, short and sweet, but obviously computer generated due to its referencing something that had nothing whatsoever to do with the post.  Because I’m paranoid though, I always skim through my spam pile to make sure someone who wrote a real comment didn’t accidentally get filtered out as spam.  It could happen, you never know. There are times I write things that look like such a garbled mess, I wonder if I didn’t momentarily channel a bot.

The interesting thing is, sometimes I enjoy reading spam.  It makes me laugh, makes me cry (when it’s the only comment I get for a post, that is…), and sometimes, the spam bot throws together a combination of words that’s just so profound, I find myself wishing I’d written it.  Only to Google the phrase and find out spam bot just lifted the entire paragraph from a comment someone actually did write in an obscure forum post.  Plagiarism, not just for desperate college students.

In a way, spam makes me think of Descartes’ mind-body dualism theory, what would later be referred to as his “Ghost in the Machine”, which is another story for another day.  My actual point being, as with any human writer, if you let a machine generate enough sentences, eventually it will create something meaningful.  Of course, I like to think human writers have a higher success rate than machines.  Though some days, I’m not so sure.

Anyhow, here are a few recent spam comments I’ve received that really made me smile.

“My buddy encouraged I’d quite possibly this way web page. He or she seemed to be completely perfect. This publish truly made this morning. A person cann’t believe that purely precisely how so much time frame I had put together invested because of this details! Thank you!” [sic].   — I especially liked the line “This publish truly made this morning”.  You’re welcome, spam bot.

“These are in fact enormous ideas in about blogging.
You have touched some good factors here. Any way keep up wrinting” [sic] — I will keep wrinting.  Thank you.

“It’s as you master my head! You peer to grasp lots relating to this, such as you submitted the ebook there something like that. I’m sure that you choose to is capable of doing with just a few per-cent to help electricity what it’s all about residence a bit, but instead of that, which is amazing blog site. An incredible examine. I’m going to easily be rear.” [sic] — I am a master of heads, as it so happens.  Though I don’t recall submitting an ebook.  This spam comment must have been meant for someone else.

“You could surely view your capabilities from the art you are submitting. The sector desires for much more passionate writers just like you that aren’t frightened post where did they consider. Everyday stick to your coronary heart.” [sic] — well, if we’re going to be getting anatomical up in here, you struck my humeral medial epicondyle, spam bot, and tickled my ulnar nerve.

“If any one wishes to be a successful blogger,subsequently he/she must learn this chip of writing,for it contains al} strategies related to that.” [sic] — this one was posted to my short story “Comedy of Fables”.  It’s entertaining, but I’m not sure it’ll help you become a successful blogger.  Hasn’t helped me none.

And that’s all folks.  Read spam, it’s as bad for your health as the stuff in the can, but if prepared right, sometimes it’s just so gosh darn good, you can’t help yourself.

Writing to Live

Lately I’d been searching for a new job.  Yet it didn’t strike me until I saw a job posting for a social media person listed and hit apply that I could sell my services as a writer.  Maybe it’s still a bit of that fear I’ve felt since starting this blog with the aim of overcoming it, or perhaps it’s just a lack of imagination on my part, in so far, as the writing job market goes.

I’d heard of people working as “professional bloggers”.  I thought at the time it was people who’d built up their blogs enough they had paid advertising on their site.  I also knew that people freelanced as blog content writers.  I need a steady income, and am not as confident in my writing as I’d like to be yet, so this route was never a possibility for me.  However, there appears to be a growing trend in the business industry now towards hiring on dedicated staff members that manage social media content.

It kind of makes sense.

There are a lot of benefits to having an in-house social media expert.  Unless a company is using the same freelance writer consistently, and the way past (and some current) means of obtaining freelance blog articles from writers worked this wasn’t necessarily a possibility, then the company is not getting consistent work.  Writers have different styles and voices.  Some may write casual narrative, others may maintain a cool demeanor throughout, some may be brief and concise, whereas others may be verbose and dramatic.  Using the same writer or small team of writers allows for a consistency of style.  The company and its blog readers will always know what to expect, which helps build up an audience, and broaden the potential consumer base.

Furthermore, having an in-house writer means that the company can have an ongoing relationship with that writer, and allows the writer to better specialize in the type of writing the company needs and desires. For example, writing for a book store will be vastly different than writing for a yarn store.  The products are very different, and the customers are different with some potential overlap (not many people do yarn craft, but most people, including some of those who do yarn craft, read).  A company can easily speak to a writer about any concerns they have with the writer’s services, and determine a solution.  In freelance, this isn’t always possible either.

Which segues nicely into the next point, that an in-house writer allows the writer to develop a relationship with the audience.  They learn the product better the more they write about it, and they learn better what interests the audience and what doesn’t, and can adapt their writing appropriately to keep the audience coming back for more.  Many readers like to feel a connection to the writer behind an article, to get a feel for the person “speaking” to them through the blog.  Having a different writer every time is not necessarily a bad thing, but the company misses out on developing a loyal fanbase.

The company I applied for is going to “try” me out for a short stint, see how effective I am in the position and how well I get along with the company. The person they had in the position originally didn’t work out as they hoped and has made them more careful about who they bring on.  I’m excited, and a little nervous.  Using social media as an advertising tool is a relatively new concept, but there are already people out there who’ve mastered the technique, and shared their “tried and true” methods via…social media.  I know I have a few resources I can turn to for help and tips on the topic.

Mainly, I’m anxious because this is the sink or swim moment.  Can I live off my writing?  I’m looking forward to finding out.  Meantime, I may look at doing some freelance work too.  Hey, I never said it was obsolete.

Anyhow, wish me luck!  And if anyone has any experience, either in social media advertising or freelance writing, consider sharing your stories with me in the comments below.

NaNoWriMo 2014: Diary Entry 1

Day 3, and I’m already behind on my word count.  Why does this always happen to me every year?!

Oh, right.  Because my attention is divided between school, work, and other stories i’m obligated to finish, before I can work on my own NaNoWriMo project.  My word count so far: a woeful 916.

Augh.

Okay, well, I can catch up on that 4000 some odd words that I should have written by now.  Sure.  Totally.  In between homework, homework, homework, and a handful of chores.  I don’t know why I do this to myself every year.  On a positive note, the friend I convinced to participate in NaNoWriMo with me has been chugging right along with her word count.  Which makes me super excited, because she’s a beginner writer, that’s been wanting to get into it for a month or so now, and she was scared to do NaNoWriMo, she didn’t think anything she turned out would be very good.  Which I told her, point of NaNoWriMo is not quality but quantity. It’s a first draft, after all, you go back and edit after the month is over.

So, as I contemplate how to make up for this limp of mine right out the starting gate, here’s a short list of Things Not To Do When You Fall Behind in NaNoWriMo!

1) Post to your blog – seriously, why am I wasting words on a blog post that could be going right into that pile of 4000 I need to catch up on?

2) Check in on Twitter – which I did first thing this morning, and all last night.  For what possible purpose?  To avoid the hell out of that daunting word count goal.

3) Volunteer to run out and get tacos for dinner – did that last night, and there went an hour or so of my writing time.  Tacos were delicious though.

4) Complain – because you’ve done this to yourself.  There’s no one to blame but you and you just sound like a self-pitying sad sack when you bitch and moan about how much you suck.

5) Debate about what you should work on, homework or NaNoWriMo, then hate yourself for choosing homework – honestly, homework trumps NaNoWriMo.  The only thing I should hate myself for is setting myself up for this failure every year.  Between school and writing, I know I have to choose school (at the moment), yet I always feel like a failure when I do.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that spirals me down into a depression only egregious amounts of chocolate can fix.  I’m off to do homework and eat chocolate.  And hopefully, during short breaks, I can manage squeezing a productive amount of writing time in.

Best of luck to the rest of you on your NaNoWriMo!  Feel free to let me know how it’s going, especially if it’s going well and you want to rub it in my face.

It Starts

Happy November people!

The first day of NaNoWriMo is here.  Pens and papers (aka. Word Docs) at the ready?

I’m nervous, but excited.  About to get started, I think.  I was thinking about doing homework, changed my mind two seconds ago.  Homework can wait until tonight.  I need to write my first 1666 words of NaNoWriMo.

Good luck and happy writing.

 

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