Archive for the ‘ Writing ’ Category

School, Writing, and ‘Totes’ is Apparently a Word

I should probably start thinking of some good quality content to put on this blog after school ends. The semester has only just begun but when this year is over, well, then it’s over. Unless by some miracle I apply and get accepted to grad school, and that’s when things get really serious and time will no longer be a concept I can believe in.

Not that I really believe in it now, either.  I’m almost done with my second week of the semester and I already feel as though I’ve fallen so behind…whatever possessed me to save five anthropology classes (four 300-400 level) for my last semester…though it probably doesn’t help that I seem to have a strong case of senioritis that leads me to mistakenly believe I can easily do homework while drinking beer.

Just got to keep pushing to the finish line, though, right.

I’m scared to bits and pieces at the prospect of asking professors for grad school recommendation letters once this is all over.  I’m expecting the responses to be a toss up between, “who are you?” and “I don’t know if I’ve anything good to say about you…”maybe try someone else.

Oh grad schools, why do you need recommendation letters?  I can’t form social connections to save my life.  I was raised in the emergent digital age, I interface with computer screens and emoticons, not living people.

At least I have my writing to fall back on, is what I keep telling myself to my own maniacal laughter.  Writing is a career you pursue relentlessly while keeping a day job to pay the bills (and slowly suck out your soul, and crush your spirit, leaving you a sullen husk silently holding on by that thread of hope that one of your stories will sell like Harry  Potter one day — sorry to spoil it for young, beginning writers brimming with idealistic ambition), anyhow, it’s definitely not Plan B.

That’s why I need to finish writing something and how.  We did intros in one of the classes, stating our name, major, year, and something fun/interesting (it changes as we were moving through the class) about ourselves.  The first guy who went said he was a writer, and I was like oh-fuck, stole my interesting about me, then finished up that he worked on fantasy novels and had two manuscripts finished and I was like, well shit, now I’m just a wannabe and he’s a dedicated professional.  Of course it gets round to me and I’m like, yeah, I also write, then sadly admit, though I haven’t finished a manuscript yet.

The professor, who is also the class clown, was bantering and laughter, and he made some offhanded comment that we can network (the other writer and I) and that guy’s is all scoffing, “she’s not even in the editting stages yet”, but then the prof was kind enough to acknowledge, “but that’s not really something funny.  That’s a serious endeavor, and should be commended,” because he’s actually a nice guy- much better than other everyone-should-be-loud-and-boisterous type teachers I’ve had in the past, then he brought it back around and instructed me, “Now tell us something funny.”

To which I quipped, “Something funny” because you know, no ones ever heard that one before.  People laughed and he was like okay, whatever, moved on to the next person and immediately I thought of a million interesting/funny things I could’ve said about myself instead.

Anyhow, I guess I made the decision then that I need to either work on finishing a manuscript (and then another one and another one and another one) and getting published (my stories anyway, company blog totally does not count.  Side note, WTF is with the word “totes” all of a sudden.  First time I heard it was in the Malcolm McDowell and James Earl  Jones commercial and I’m like, “kids don’t talk like that”, come to find out, they do) back on topic, though, decision: either write something or stop telling people I’m a writer.

I think I’d die inside if I had to stop telling people I’m a writer, as though my spirit were suddenly severed from my body.  Writing is the first and foremost thing I’ve wanted to do going way back to when I was like ten years old and a teacher told me I should be a writer, and I was like, wait, I can do that?  As like, a for real profession, just tell stories all day? Yeah, I totes want to be a writer!

Okay, yeah, totes is the stupidest word ever. Jeez what is wrong with kids these days? Let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist and the people that use it, we’ll pretend they don’t exist either.

Right.  So, unless I want to be a spiritless automaton, going about my life, rank and filing bones, pretending I know something about anything science-y like, which I only partially do, I guess I have to get something accomplished, finito, published, and voila, me writer.  Yeah, I had a beer while reading about entheseal change earlier so I’m a mite loopy, apologies.  Probably start small, short story or something.  Move my way towards finishing one of the plethora of novels I’ve started but for some reason or another dropped, only to start a different novel altogether.

I’m going back to homework now.  Don’t use the word totes.

Renewed

Just renewed the domain name, and it’s my blogs anniversary.  Yay!  Happy anniversary, blog!

I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  Been busy writing, doing side projects, and working (which now includes a hefty amount of writing).

Work, so far, is going surprisingly good.  I’m still trying to figure out ways to direct traffic to the site, but the boss likes me well enough.  He seems to think I have a good attitude and the perfect personality for the job.  I sure hope he’s right about me.  A lot of people are counting on me to be successful.  They’re not counting on just me, thankfully, but enough of it relies on my ability to generate interest in the company for me to be extremely stressed.

In the meantime, my personal writing is divided between a script for a comic/graphic novel I’m collaborating on with an artist friend/former co-worker of mine, brainstorming for the game I want to develop that I mentioned last post, and working on a short novel I’m hoping to get finished within this coming year; working title is “White Rabbit”.

On another post, I talked about my DIY projects.  This holiday season, I made laundry detergent, lotion, lip balm, bath salts, and a sugar scrub.  I’m most satisfied with the laundry detergent, lip balm, and bath salts.  The sugar scrub was pretty decent, but I would have to use it long term to determine if I like it or not.  I had a small breakout by the corner of my lip, and I’m suspicious it might’ve been the scrub.  Of course, I could just be seeing the consequences of this past couple months’ major stresses, too.  The bath salt was wonderful to soak in, though, very relaxing, left my skin feeling really smooth, and was so easy to make.  Took maybe 5-10 minutes to mix together.  Sort of used Lia Griffith’s Homemade Lavender Bath Salts and Martha Stewart’s Homemade Bath Salts recipes as guides, kind of borrowing from both and streamlining the ingredients.

My Bath Salts

2 Cups Epsom Salt

1/2 Cup Himalyan Pink Sea Salt (bottles of this are available everywhere now, I’d never even heard of them before.  They give the salts a pretty color, but you could prob sub regular sea salt or just omit it altogether)

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (though you could probably sub any vegetable oil here, like olive oil or jojoba oil)

5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

5-10 drops Eucalyptus Essential oil

Directions: Combine epsom salt and sea salt in a large bowl.  In a double boiler, melt coconut oil (I just put the oil in a jar, then put the jar in hot water from the tap, mixing it until fully melted.  Pour oil over salts, add the oils, and mix until fully combined.  Store in a sealed container (I put mine in glassware with a silicone seal lock-and-lock lid that I got at a home goods store for cheap).

To Use: Add a few tablespoons to bath when you first start running the hot water, and use your hand to stir the salts in until the sea salt is fully dissolved.

I worried after I’d first made the salts that I might’ve put in too much of the eucalyptus essential oil, because it smelled overwhelming in the mixing bowl, but the bath water diluted it a lot.  The Himalyan pink sea salt gave the bath a kind of peppery smell, which was interesting but nice.

As for the lotion, I colored it with powdered raspberries, and that didn’t work out so awesome.  It’s alright, but a bit gritty, so I have to figure out a way to get that pretty pink color without the grit.  The lotion itself was very oily — which the recipe’s author had forewarned, so I already knew it would be — but I think I’ll try out a less oily lotion next time.  It turned out very liquid-y,  which the author had not forewarned about but I think might be due to the oily-ness, and I don’t like it’s consistency much at all.  I want to try making a lotion for my face, my skin gets really dried out.  I started using diluted apple cider vinegar as a face toner after my cleanser a couple days ago.  I haven’t noticed anything testimony worthy yet, but I will say that it does significantly reduce redness after application, but I think that it’s contributing to the dryness of my skin.

Next on my DIY To-Do List is shampoo and conditioner.  I decided I would try out these different “recipes” for a month, recording my results.  Unless, of course, I immediately see drastically horrific results.  I’m thinking I might start a blog about it, but not until I’ve got everything made and have been using them for awhile, so I actually have something worth blogging about.

And that is all for today.  Yup.  Back to writing.

School’s Out, Time to Write

As of this past Thursday morning, my school semester is over.  It was a long and hectic year that ended on a few high notes.  A few good grades and good praise from my teachers, met some interesting people that were far friendlier towards me than I probably deserved.  In personal life, I got a new job and a new car.  The job seems to be going well, which could mean it really is going well, or I’m delusional in my hopes that it works out.

My first blog post for the new job goes up on Monday, if you would care to check it out, here’s the link.  It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, by far, stifled by the pressure of it being my first paid writing gig and trying to situate myself into a position whose previous occupant left a severely sour taste in the boss’s mouth.  While you’re perusing the company blog, you can read some of the old blogger’s posts as well.  I’m not entirely sure how long we’ll be keeping them up, but I’m petitioning to get them removed as soon as possible.  I’d like to distance myself from her work as much as I can.  One of the earliest bloggers had some decent posts, and I’d like to spruce them up a bit, but I guess there were complications during her employment so her stuff might get removed too, we’ll see.  We’ll also be getting a freelance blogger (who I’ll be semi-managing) to write content for us.  She’s got a lot of writing experience, and thus far in our email correspondence she’s been super nice, so I’m excited to be working with her. I’ll let you know when her stuff goes up as well, let you take a look at it.  Also, you know, buy something from the store.  We’ve got cool kitchen gadgets, the kind of stuff that makes me go, “I want that…and that…and OH MY GOD THAT!”

As per my previous blog (in which I complain about my own failings during NaNoWriMo and hope the readers will take pit on me), I’m going to be doing my own version of NaNoWriMo…apparently, starting today.  Woohoo! Got to write 1600 words today.  I can kill that easy, just need to pick a story to work on.   A little torn between the one I was trying to write during NaNoWriMo and a completely different one.  UGH, I’m already sabotaging myself.  I’m just going to open a word doc and start writing, whichever story comes out is the one I’m going with, so there, take that self-imposed writer’s block!

Right.  Off I go to get some novel written.  Enjoy this picture of the kitten that wouldn’t let me do my homework.

He's a little sad about classes ending because it means his favorite napping spot - my books - is going away for a time.  Back to sleeping on my shoulders, I guess.

He’s a little sad about classes ending because it means his favorite napping spot – my books – is going away for a time. Back to sleeping on my shoulders, I guess.

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.

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: Round 2

Last year, for the first time ever, I attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Sort of.

I had planned on turning that 50,000 words in one month challenge into a series of short stories.  I wrote a few decent ones, I think.  Maybe I’m biased.  Okay, yes, I’m biased.  But I wrote a few, is the important part.  I didn’t get anywhere near the 50,000 word mark, though, and utterly failed (rage quit) by the end.  I blame school.  Whoever thought November was the perfect month for National Novel Writing is a total jerk.

That being said, I’m going to try my hand at it again.  Why?  Because quitters never prosper.  Or something like that.  This year, I actually plan on writing a novel.  I’m going to work on a story I’ve been wanting to write and been developing for the past decade or so.  I’m nervous and excited, because this is one of those stories that I’ve been too scared to write.  It matters more to me than I could ever say.  It’s my “masterpiece”, in a sense.

Anyhow, I’m not starting this without a plan .  As I already said, I’ve been developing this story for the past ten years, so I know the characters, the world, and the plot fairly well.  Because of my fear for this story, however, I’ve never set anything in stone, made solid the vision in my head, so there are still a lot of kinks I need to work out before the month starts.  I have to draw up an outline, which may see a lot of the ideas I attached to this project get tossed out the window, and other ones will need to be brainstormed.

I’ll try to post status updates on the story as I work.  Maybe that’ll keep me on track.  I’m also looking to get together NaNoWriMo buddies to help stay motivated, and maybe people I can trade work with, so we can give each other feedback and encouragement.  If you’re at all interested, let me know in comments, or contact me via private message on twitter.

Otherwise, wish me luck!  And if you’re doing the NaNoWriMo thing next month, best of luck on meeting your goal!

What Will Humans Look Like In My Sci-Fi Story?

Ran across this article: “What Will Humans Look Like In 100,000 Years”,  thought I might share.  Artist Nikolay Lamm teamed with Dr. Alan Kwan, who has a PhD in Computational Genomics, to design a few images that speculate on how humans may look 100,000 years in the future (hence, the title).  While the pictures themselves resemble cartoons, I was more interested in the reasoning behind the slight feature changes Lamm made to each picture.

Traditional sci-fi stories try to envision the future or sometimes beings from other planets. When writing these types of stories, sometimes it seems like the physiology of future peoples never changes no matter how far into the future a writer might go and extraterrestrials look strange simply for the sake of looking strange.  

Whereas, in nature, the variation in physiology that you find across species always has a reason behind it, whether good or bad.  It’s the end result of millions of years of evolution, that sees the species acting on and being acted upon by it’s environment. 

So, when designing your sci-fi world, you should consider why a person or creature looks the way that it does.  Or even, speculate on the future yourself, and how innovations technological or otherwise may effect humans.  

For good examples of authors that have done this, check out Robert Heinlein’s entire body of sci-fi work (Starship Troopers, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land all speculate on the effects of adverse environments and technology on human physiology) or HG Wells The Time Machine.  Classics that any good sci-fi writer should’ve already read anyhow.

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