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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 136

You know what question I hate? "What do you write?" I always want to answer smart-alecky, like, "Oh, words mostly. Sometimes single letters, often including various forms of punctuation. Like commas, I write a lot of commas."

I never do, though. I say, "Essays." [blank look] "Like, personal essays?" [right now that person thinks I am hoping to make a living off of book reports, what I did over summer vacation pieces, and world geography themes] "Like memoirs, only about places, and birds or rocks. Sort of. It's called creative nonfiction." [the last bit is sort of mumbley trailed off]

I wrote a half page on the new theme for 52/250, but likely won't submit it. I have a couple of other ideas, both better than this one--but at least I forced myself to write something. I also spoke more with the guy who might need a tech writer. I am worried that he is running a dotcom, not a viable business, so we shall see.

Still tired, still uninspired, still too beat to soldier on anyway. Some nights there are comforting sounds of domesticity in my apartment complex, other nights the sounds are eerie, furtive--I lie awake trying to work them out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 135

I'm slipping.

My days are spent in an unsatisfactory and unchallenging haze. I have no energy to write and am getting more and more restless. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning--I prolong having to start another crappy day until the last damn minute. By the time I get home, I am too frustrated, sad, and overstimulated to write.

I feel like I have been stuck in a very small space for a long time. My mind is always wandering; I can't focus and I have an abundance of nervous energy. Add that to the pissed off thing, and I am a veritable BUNDLE OF GOODNESS, by which I mean the exact and complete opposite of that.

I just want to climb under the blankets with a book and read until I fall asleep. That's all I want to do in the world. And I won't wake up until things are better. Until there's something to hope for again, until there is a plan to execute. I remember the waiting being excruciating last year. I wanted something else to occupy my mind this year, but maybe that's an impossible wish.

I guess that's it. I am going to do some Spanish homework before passing out. I feel like today was an epic fail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 134

I might not like people enough to be a writer. I think I have brought this up before.

I'm pissed off most of the time. I used to add "lately" to that sentence, but for how many years can you add lately before it needs to just be dropped. Maybe I am just pissed right now because I am stuck in a town I mostly despise in a job that is wildly beneath my abilities. Maybe that's it.

And before, it was because I had no direction and was partying too much to have any self-respect. And before that, because I had given my life over to someone with nothing to give back, not even decency. Before that... I had married badly. And before that? Maybe I wasn't so pissed? I can't remember. I don't think I used to be mad all the time. 

So, for the past fifteen years, I have been frustrated by my willingness to take the easy, rather than right road. It seems reasonable, that I am my own worst enemy, etc etc. Except, that isn't the problem now, is it? Unless waking up late is the easy road vs. getting up to write (right). Was moving here the easy road? Fuck it doesn't feel like that. And even if it was, I am definitely glad I took it (even if I REALLY don't like this town, moving here has been good).

I am just tired of being mad and frustrated all the time. I don't see how I can shift my expectations or adjust my attitude in my current situation. I mean, I can't even picture what that might look like. To me, acceptance is acquiescence. Looking on the bright side means settling, giving up.

It's late. I need to sleep. This morning, I wrote a little on the Night essay and later, I exchanged a set of emails with the potential job contact. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 133

I wish I was in bed right now. Instead, I am trying to wait out the world's most stubborn cat who refuses to use his new litterbox, thus allowing me to drift unworried to sleep. It's a glamorous life, folks.

The Night essay got a little love this morning, and should get more tomorrow. I also wrote to someone who may have, or know of, a technical writing gig. Man, that would rock.


In other news, I need some sleep. Fingers crossed that the jerky cat gets it right tonight. 'Cause right now, he's just standing in front of it howling and moaning like Blanche Devereaux.

In even OTHER news, I have a sweet new docking station, but when I tried to move files from my old computer to my grand and roomier external drive, one of the drives on Old Bessie vanished (full disclosure: I walked away for a minute and when I came back the screen was just at the desktop like I had never even been transferring files). It is still gone after multiple restarts and any pointers to it are now unrecognized. It's like, Atlantis gone. Advice? Would fixing the boot record possibly help?

365 days of being a writer: day 132

The holiday has my schedule all off. This is really last night's post. Pretend all those hours of weird uncomfortable dreams of not-quite-success never happened. Unless that was just me, in which case, never mind.

Yesterday, I didn't write. I could have, but I suppose I was taking another day off. Or else, I let lazy win for the day. Possibly, I didn't care. It's hard to tell.

Sending off all the applications leaves kind of a vacuum. I need to get cracking more seriously on my Night essay. I know the things I want to talk about, but I am not sure why, and there needs to be an "arc" in this new age of literature. No one wants to read an essay that simply informs, maybe not even me--why else would I prefer David Quammen's funny biology essays so much more than Stephen Jay Gould's scientific ones?

I did some work organizing some Spanish lessons on my iPod and I went to the botanical garden and got a book I've been looking for on pollinators. Will anyone take science essays seriously from someone without a science degree? Does anyone out there know of any precedents?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 131

I took yesterday off.

And then, at the end of it, I started to write. It was all just pent up feelings of anger and sadness about the last couple of days with my family. It wasn't soothing or cathartic to let it out: it felt mean and bitter. So I crumpled it up and threw it out. Not everything that can be written down, should be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 130

Or, there's not enough eggnog in town to take my edge off.

It was slow enough this morning at work that I managed to get a bit of writing done. It was a hard day, I ruined a couple of Christmases (or so you'd think to hear it), and was up all day. First, I thought my hours had been cut then I had to watch people rush around on their most inconsiderate and intolerant behavior.

Then I had to go to my parents for Christmas Eve, where I thought I would be doing a gift exchange with my folks and sister's family. Once there, and unable to leave, I was told no, I would just be opening my presents in front of a bunch of extended family members (half of whom I've never met before). It was awesome. Not.

It frustrates me that I don't have the option of retreat or withdrawal here. If I am going to be stressed out frustrated in a crowd, why am I a shithead for wanting to stay out of the crowd? Why is it inconsiderate of me to want to preserve my sanity?

I didn't used to think that I had one of those difficult families that make the holidays hard, but that's because I lived far away for over 15 years. That is what I need to do again, and as soon as possible.

As far as the writing and brainstorming, I am thinking about night and being a night owl and how the night affects pollinators and flowers. I am not sure yet how they tie in together, but I've still got a bit of time.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 129

Retail work makes many people hate Christmas. I try hard not to be one of them, but then I don't have time to get a tree, people are rushing around being jerks, holiday bonuses-like ration books-are this mystical thing people in the olden days used to get, and "time with my loved ones" becomes a couple of hours after my shift.

We can laugh with each other on the sales floor some days. And if you aren't there, you miss the joke. We see people trying to steal extra samples, cutting in front of each other in line, deciding how much to spend based on how much care they feel ("It's just my brother's family"), treating the "help" like servants.

People just suck. They are greedy and small minded and will get away with as much as they can. That's what retail teaches you. That money and things are the most important things in the world. If I worked in an emergency room I might suspect it was blood and plasma, but I don't.

So. I was helping people get their prime ribs and their turkeys and their cheese platters today. There was no time to write and there won't be tomorrow. I read up a bit on literary criticism during breaks--it was the best I could do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 128

I'm pretty lucky. Not that it feels that way, not that I feel that way, but I know it to be true. It's probably one of those things I just have to say over and over until I believe it all the way.

Today was pretty awful. But despite all the unpleasantness, I finished my app to the University of Washington. It goes Priority Mail tomorrow.

UW done

Only one school left, and that one is going in Feb. I can exhale a little: it's in the hands of the Professors of the World, now. And now, I can get back to writing.

But for RIGHT now, there is a brilliant thunder and rain storm, and bed, in the dark is the best where and how for that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 127

I am going to try EXTRA hard to rush this and then get into bed.

I stay up too late.

Today was full of more money-induced anxiety. I am being railroaded, because the assumption on the bank's part is that I have no way to fight back. And they're right. I asked the woman on the phone today, "How is any of this supposed to encourage me to pay my debt off? Or do you not care about that anymore?" My bank has sent my debt off somewhere, and they don't care about it anymore. Except somehow they do, but they don't care about me anymore in the equation. Since I am no longer a "good" customer, I no longer deserve courtesy or respect or decency. These times, I tells ya.

But enough about that. I filled out my online app for Washington. Still need to fill out the LONG and COMPLICATED assistantship application. That I already filled out once, but didn't (apparently) save. Why are they all different? Why can't there be one application? They all need the same information. Why can't you fill out one application and then upload all of your different docs and pay your fees like Submishmash? But then, do I really want college to be one big slush pile? No, I do not.

I did not win even a mention of a mention in the American Literary Review competition. I don't seem to have been a finalist, either. That happens.

Today I wrote a lot of tweets, both for work and for me.

I am getting really tired of freaking out all the time. Is it just this town, just finally knowing what I want to do and being unable to do it like I'd like, or just just? Goodnight, moon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 126

I accomplished nothing today.

At work, I spent a 20 minutes writing a few paragraphs, at home I spent over an hour fighting with first my printer, then my stapler. I won in the former case, lost in the latter. And I was an asshole throughout the process.

Even though I got all three of my recommendations tonight, I can't mail out my University of Washington application yet. It is due ON January 2nd. So, I am probably paying for some crazy shipping at this point. I am so tired of applying right now. I really just want to be done, so I can move on to the fingernail chewing waiting and going nuts waiting and oh my god why won't they just send the letter waiting. And then, after that, I can just be done. Think up something else to do. I am a master at thinking up things to do.

Other things I didn't finish today: the dishes, cleaning my house, the laundry, etc. I had to enter one mall and one strip mall. I wrapped some presents. I got the bare minimum of decorations up (with help), but again--not without being a jerk about the whole thing. I can only think of jerky things to say at this point, so I am putting myself to bed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 125

This is the coolest thing ever. This fellow Twitter-er and cnf-er, @spitballarmy, posted a little challenge last week: write some music-inspired tweets and you could win a music mix inspired by your cnftweets. Well, I won!

Here is Fred's mix, which I totally dig, along with the cnftweets of mine he used for inspiration.

Lieutenant, my nose will not stop running!*

I haven't written yet, spending the bulk of the day hiking up, then down a local mountain. But I am about to remedy that with some pre-sleep free writing about night. Things that go bump in the, the right times, silent, etc.

Here's me hiking the shit outta that shit (and before low blood sugar and screaming knees turned me into a sourpuss):

*apologies to Galway Kinnell

Saturday, December 18, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 124

Christmas time carried me to bookstores today. I got some good gifts for me immediate family. There a couple of staunch non-readers, and they'll be getting alcohol. Otherwise, everyone gets books. I showed remarkable restraint and only bought myself two books. One is some great "literary canon" type essays on National Parks--Twain, Stenger, Muir, etc. The other is a book of nonfiction "picto-essays" -- basically comics, but essays. I'm really stoked fir the coming season of reading.

My perfect life would be one involving reading and walking around all day, then writing about same. Maybe for a couple of years, garden--and write about that, then, a couple if years, travel. This is why in hoping for that Publishers Clearinghouse thing to come through.

All of the edits on the bees are done. Tomorrow, I'll print it and add it to the UW packet.

The Night contest deadline was extended, so that is the next priority. And then KSU and then a piece for a magazine that I have in mind. Consider that my Pipeline for now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 123

What's the half-way point of a year? 182? Seems like a long way off, but it's not at all.

I applied to Penn State today. That's five. The only two left are Washington and Kansas--and the latter won't go out until February. The half-way point.

Today I lost it. I got really caught up with how trapped I am here. Which is true, but also unhelpful. The applications feel like the only lifeline out, so trying to get them right, good enough, whatever becomes the only thing that matters.

I'm beat to hell. I'm tired. It's been four months of this experiment, and I don't have any clearer idea about it being the right thing to do. I'll just leave it at that for tonight.

A mini piece is up at the 52 / 250 blog: Fishing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 122

The days are just blending now. I am not so stoked for this Christmas. I think I like the holidays when I can't buy anyone all the stuff I'd like to the least, and being here, that fact is unavoidable. I can't just send a card. They'll ALL be here. And they all just want STUFF. It's depressing that that's what Christmas is all about over here, is I guess what I'm saying.

I did get up early today, sort of. I did not get up early ENOUGH but then I stayed home later than normal to make up for it. This means I had to drive instead of taking the bus. You know what I hate? Driving. And owning a car. And also driving it.

I get demoralized when I have to drive, and I am always just on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And I get pissed. Fucking traffic. Fucking rocks flying around hitting windshields (that aren't covered under fucking Arizona goddamn insurance). Stupid ass hoses and belts and tires and all other manner of bits of the godamned thing that crack or snap or flatten or tear. And did I mention traffic? O how I hate shit-eating jerkoffs who have to: beat you to the light, cut around you even though you're ALREADY fucking speeding, ride your ass 'cause you're not speeding ENOUGH, slow down as soon as they get around you just to be a dick, weave in and out of all the lanes trying to get ONE LOUSY CAR LENGTH ahead of everyone else, gun their engines in the turn lane to get around you, make their brakes a disco ball 'cause they're riding the person in front of THEM, talk on the phone and thusly weave over all the lanes and play the gas pedal like it's a musical fucking instrument and the speed limit is a damn fugue. You know? Not that it has anything to do with writing but it makes me SO DAMN MAD that I can't do anything else except slam doors and kick the cat around after having to drive during rush hour.

I don't really kick the cat. Come ON.

SO, that said, I would love to hear what makes any of y'all out there so mad you can't write or play or whatever it is that you do. It would help me feel a little less freakish.

This morning I worked on a probably-final edit of the bees. There might be one more bit of feedback coming in. Now I'm just waiting for my letters of recommendation before sending off this UWashington app.

(Aside: I just went to YouTube to find a suitable "temper tantrum" video to include, and well. There's a lot. And except for a couple of the four year olds, none were very close. But then I figured that the big ass sweary paragraph up there probably gives a good enough impression. So instead, here's another nice song.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 121

People often ask me what a Transatlantic Enchilada is, exactly (in my mind). So here is the story behind the blog name.

A week after I got laid off from my well-paying job AND dumped by a millionaire-- all in one day, a friend came to visit from England. She is heaps of fun, vivacious, a devil-may-care type. In that PARTICULAR week, I was a shell-shocked, bawling, high and also drunk type (moreso than I had been prior to the layoff and such, anyway). We did not exactly MESH over that particular visit--aside: this is all the more tragic as the last time she had visited, I was unhappily--and loudly so--married to a drunk and living in New Orleans. I swear, there are some good times around here. Sometimes.

Anyway, we had this grand idea to start up a blog, wherein we would write literary-types of letters to each other across the Atlantic. So there's your trans bit. The enchilada part comes from this John Prine video:

(Incidentally, how lovely are those kitchen chairs?)

Read the lyrics, lady!

Our blog never took off, as she didn't "get" blogging. So then I invoked (I almost typed Manifest Destiny) Eminent Domain, took the place over and built my factory here.

Today I got up early and wrote a dense, single-spaced page without stopping. Going to sleep now so I can do the same again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 120

I really wanted to watch some TV when I got home today. It's such a symptom of over-stimulation and under-nourishment.

And I looked for something to watch, too. Luckily, my favorite shows are on break and I couldn't find the movie Sweetgrass online. Instead, I slogged through the online application for the University of Wyoming. So now, I've applied there, too.

That's four.

Preliminary reviews on the bee essay are positive. If I hear back from my letter of recommendation-ers I will be ready to mail that application next week. Kansas won't be until after the end of January. So that leaves Penn State. I am waiting to hear back from them about emailing my new writing sample and SOP.

I also scribbled the first few paragraphs of maybe a short story. Maybe. Now, I am going to take a hot bath, and then go to sleep so I can get up early and write.

Anyone know any good resources to help drill how to avoid comma splices into my head? I am the fucking QUEEN of the comma splice, and I would like not to be.

Monday, December 13, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 119

Must sleep.

Today I edited the bees, made notes for a possible inrto to an essay about Night, and submitted to three schools.

Texas Tech is an online app, so there is no sweet pic, but here are the other two:


U of AZ

If all goes well, they will be in tomorrow's mail. That's three down, four to go.

Now, as the sewer rats say in Rangoon, "We wait."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 118

The packets are nearly all assembled, I finished draft two of the bees. It was a hard edit and I was totally a baby about it first thing in the morning.

I need time with edits. I need the chance to look them over and get comfortable with them before having to talk about them, I think. By the end of today, I was looking forward to thinking about and acting on information that was unwelcomed in the morning (especially unfortunate for my thoughtful and attentive editor).

My brain has been spinning about what I want to write next. I really wanted to submit to Creative Nonfiction's "Night" contest, but I don't think now that I'll have time. I'm still going to try and at least put something together. I have also started thinking about how I might want to go about my literary criticism paper for KSU. I want to talk about Diane Ackerman and hummingbirds, about truth and fact, and about the responsibility of an essayist vs a poet to write not just truth, but also fact. Maybe. Could I make that a ten page paper?

This happened last year, and I can't stop it from happening again, but I have been allowing myself to envision a next year reality where I am in school, focusing on writing and classes. It's dangerous stuff considering the likelihood that my heart will be broken again. It is hard to balance the desire to have a back-up plan and the desire to spend my energy right now doing what I can to make my first choice happen.

If you want to read 15 pages about bees, drop me a line and I will email you a copy. If you don't, I'll still love you.

365 days of being a writer: day 117

Today I went over to a friend's house and sewed a skirt, with generous amounts of help from said friend. It was great.

I think I needed some gratification, to "make" something and have it be a success. That is the good thing about knitting, but it also takes a lot of time--whereas this skirt only took a few hours (because I am painfully slow at sewing). With the writing, I might finish a piece and never have the same kind of gratification as 'it fits! and it looks like an actual skirt! and I'm not embarrassed to wear it! I really can sew!' It makes me want to start another sweater is what it does...

I also printed off all of the manuscripts and SOPs. I still need to do a final edit on the bees, and I have time on the KSU application. I just realized that I haven't gotten my letters of recommendation back yet, so I need to send out a reminder tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 116

Today was saved from complete lassitude by two emails. One was from one of the (editors? organizers? cat herders?) over at 52 / 250. It was complementary of my submission. They post all submissions, so that's not exactly a "win" per se, but his feedback was much needed.

The second was actually an email wherein an editor I admire recommended I write to Kristin Hersh and see if she'd let me interview her. Which I did. Eeeeee! I don't know if I'll hear back, but it would be pretty awesome if I did.

The rest of the day was spent lizarding, lazying, and otherwise lay-abouting. Sometimes you just have to lay around all day, I guess.

365 days of being a writer: day 115

I tried to make pita bread tonight, but I rushed the yeast, and it failed to rise. Instead of airy pockets, I have chewy, dense disks. If I only I could analogize this experience somehow...?

I have tomorrow off; I will be trying to bundle packets. I will be paying some application fees, finalizing some manuscripts.

Today I wrote 250 words for a flash fiction site. The theme was "Missing the Bus," a situation with which I have much familiarity.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 114

I have an Internet reprieve.

In other news, something in my house smells like onions, but there are no onions here.

Still other news, I'd like to talk briefly about how stoked I am that the two directors at TTU and KSU spoke with me at such length. I have not called all of the schools, so I can't speak for every one of them, but at Penn State, Portland State, and University of Washington I was never "patched through" to the program director. I got an email address or an offer of help from the admin who answered. I have not called University of Wyoming or University of Arizona (I have had an offer to get introduced to someone at UA, and it is interesting to me that I haven't wanted to take that offer).

Both of the MA directors were honest and encouraging, notwithstanding the fact that I might not even make the cut into one of their programs.

Today I submitted the starlings to Iron Horse (TTU's lit mag). And I made a huge batch of falafel, so I will fall asleep to the smell of blackened chickpeas in grease. But they were goddamned good.

I tweeted about WikiLeaks today. This means I can't get a job at the State Department.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 113

Still no Internet. Apparently the online payments weren't going through and it was shut off. Remember how you used to get warnings? Oh well. I may go without Internet for a bit the , as I'm not willing to be charged a reconnection fee. This may involve some creativity on the part of keeping up the project. Can't go to the coffeeshop everyday.

Anyway, I wanted to write about how I talked to the director of KSU's grad program and about how informative and gracious he was to me. How the only other school to take the time to talk with me (that I've reached out to, to be fair) is Texas Tech. I wanted to ponder how telling it is that only admin assistants seem to have time or interest in talking with me in the MFA programs... But instead, I'm gong to bed cause I Fucking hate trying to blog on my iPhone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 112

No Internet at home means a shitty post full of auto-correctedness. After two solid days of writing, I'll admit it, I slept in. My only writing today was a small blurb on promoting native pollinators (so weird that opportunity would appear after a weekend of writing about just that thing...)

I also tried to call KSU, but missed the director. Will try back on wednesday. When I got home I start assembling the materials I have into packets. Tomorrow I will take a stab at reworking the bee intro.

Goodnight, y'all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 111

I finished a draft of the bee essay. I think it sort of crumples upon itself in the last page, but I will be editing it this week, along with assembling my packets for schools. The only school I won't be putting together is KSU, as I still need to talk with the director about whether or not I should apply.

Today was hard, I sat in my apartment and wrote all day, taking breaks only to make food and surf the web.

It was lonesome work.

The words themselves came relatively easily, after compiling the scads and scads of research, except for the intro and conclusion. Those definitely need work. And I need to make sure I have decent transitions. This whole paper is just for University of Washington, and I don't even know if they'll accept it. Hah! But it's more experience, right? And it inspired another piece that I may or may not try to put together for the Creative Nonfiction competition in January.  In any case, now I need to collapse myself.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 110

Bees bees bees bees bees bees bees bees. I have spent most of the day writing or getting ready to write or taking a break from writing about bees.

Tonight I tried to be social for a change and failed as usual. I am putting the blame squarely on this crummy town (for the sake of preserving the delicate bit of self-esteem I've shored up in the last few years). People here don't seem interested in making new friends. This has nothing to do with writing, just more bitching about needing to get out of here.

I also spent a bit of time listening to two academics (I think they might remember it as "us" talking). While their exclusionary style of conversation was pretty annoying, I was envious of their passion. If I were in an academic setting, I suppose I could go chat up some biology grad students about bees, or talk research with a scientific writing major.

Honestly, I'd probably have just as much trouble at cocktail parties anywhere. Firstly, I'm a watcher, not a performer. And B, I require warming up and warming up to. To be fair, I gave up on this town at some point over the summer. I am no longer invested in the process of reaching out, of making connections. I have one foot out the door.

Where was I? Oh right, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees.

Friday, December 3, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 109

I know most of the words to a Pussycat Dolls song. I might have sung along to it at karaoke. I did NOT sing actual karaoke, Pussycat Dolls or otherwise.

But it does make me think about the snobbiness of my reading and writing. I am a snob about everything. It's funny, because I am usually all self-deprecating, like 'who am I to say what's good and what isn't?' Yet, I will wrinkle up my nose and then look dramatically down it at all sorts of things. NCIS? Cheesy. Lie to Me? Interesting. ER? Fuggetaboutit. House? Bookmarked on Hulu. The Historian? Read it. Twilight series. Nuh uh. I am hoping that once the hipster is out of vogue, we can stop worrying about liking things ironically or not. You know what? I like Britney Spears' Circus. I like Stephen King short stories. I like hostess cupcakes. They aren't guilty or ironic pleasures. Singing along in the car to music so loud it's rattling the windows is fun. Giving myself the heebee-jeebees, also fun.

Why is the MFA the degree everyone wants? Is it because they are all certain (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary) that it's a short cut to the magical land of teaching jobs and getting out of the slush pile? I have no such delusions. At this point, I accept that I will need a PhD to do anything academically. I am hoping that any program that accepts me and that I can afford will give me an indication as to whether or not I want to continue in academia.

Maybe I'll hate being back in school. I doubt it, but maybe I'll hate being broke all the time.

All of December will be applications. I really had hoped to be done by now with all this. I wrote a little blurb today, just the beginning kernel of an essay. It'll have to wait until the bees are done though.

The best thing I read all day was this: Reference Season. Wherein our intrepid former MFA professor walks us through how he decided who would get the axe and who the wreath of roses. It's a marvelous, scary, and imperceptibly encouraging piece. Maybe maybe maybe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 108

It's tough to be bummed out when it is someone's birthday. I drank some honey wine tonight and bowled (terribly). But this space is about writing.

I spent most of today trying to make something of a birthday happen, not writing. I did call two universities to clarify some requirements, and I made some adjustments to my manuscripts and statements as a result. I also finished requesting transcripts from Portland Community College (I took Environmental Science perspectives in Biology back in 1993). All that's left (transcript-wise) is Rio Salado and this last semester of astronomy.

I also made tiramisu and finished a sock, but that's neither here nor there. And I watched a great episode of Nature at on Cuba. Man I want to go to Cuba. They have the world's smallest hummingbird AND the world's smallest bat. And the Cuban crocodile.

AND I received a book in the mail from a fellow writer, and I am really excited to read some of it tomorrow on the bus for #FridayReads.

Finally, my Utah essay was already turned down by the journal I submitted it to on Sunday or Monday, whenever it was. And @cnfonline retweeted THREE of my tweets from the last week. Look, I'll take what I can get.

Happiness is a mindset, a state of mind. My debt is really depressing. My commute and day job suck. But there are good things. I mean for years something was wrong and I didn't know what--I had no long term plan, no ultimate goal. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have somewhat of a handle on what I want and need. These are good things, even if I can't quite envision all of the steps to get there just yet..

As far as things I have accomplished in the last year, here are three:
1. I finished a half marathon.
2. I was published in McSweeney's Internet, Sea Stories, VenusZine, and The Rumpus.
3. I paid off my car (year and a half early).

That's not nothing. Everything's a process and it'll all turn out in the end.

I really want to go to school next fall, though. Really. I hope someone will take a chance on me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 107

Welcome to InsomniaLand: You can sleep when you're dead! A friend is turning 38 this week, and we talked briefly about how that felt. I will be turning 38 in six months, and need to prepare.

"I just thought that by now..." and then he put his finger to his mouth, like his own hand didn't want him to finish that sentence. I wasn't sure if I should coax the rest out, or let it stay in. It's a private place, this place of uncertainty. Though, I can't guess at what his next line would have been, here are some of mine (I'll probably revisit this theme more than once during "wait for word" season):
  1. ...I'd have an actual home, with maybe a garden, and a sewing room, and someone to share it with.
  2. ...I'd be doing a reasonable facsimile of what I want to do with my life, career-wise.
  3. ...I'd be making time for travel (instead of paying off soul-crushing debt).
  4. ...I'd be in a financial situation that didn't trigger a full-blown anxiety attack every time I thought about it for more than 3 minutes.
OK, I am supposed to be glad that I was laid off, so that I could realize that I'm a writer, not a computer programmer or paper-pusher. But fuck me. This is a dumb idea on so many levels, it is awfully hard to appreciate the loss of my livelihood.

I shouldn't be trying to go to school just to teach over-privileged kids how to write or trying to get stupid lit mags to print my ridiculous essays for nothing. I should be trying like crazy to get another job that pays actual money. I should be spending 365 days trying to get a gig programming or pushing paper so I can get out from under my debt.

And for those who feel the urge welling up within them to say something like, "You're still young! Try being 97 (or 43 or 62) and feeling that way!" Please don't. That just reinforces the hopelessness of the situation, if all I can look forward to is the next sixty years sucking as much as right now does.

Who honestly thinks that line helps anyone? You're broke? At least you HAVE a job. You think you have it rough? Try being A GAY HIGH SCHOOL KID. YOU'RE BUMMED OUT? TRY NOT HAVING ANY FINGERS OR TOES OR EYELIDS. Oddly enough, the fact that misery and sadness and unfocused rage is everywhere isn't as comforting as some would have you believe.

I am so afraid of drowning some days, it feels like I'm gulping at air all day. This isn't bravery, it's not clarity of vision. It's some kind of desperation play to hold on to a life of immaturity and gratification until I am dragged kicking and screaming from it to pauper's prison. It's the most selfish and childish choice I could have made two years ago.

But since there are ten more minutes of recess: today I stayed home because I felt shitty. I thought I would rest up and get some writing done, but I did not. I did get the last of my research documented and organized, I compiled three manuscripts (in three different lengths) for five of the seven schools. I decided to add a line about wanting to focus on longer essays -- so much of what I have written is brief, I'd really like the luxury of time and attention to spend on a subject. Especially birds and rocks. Those are the two things that I'd like to explore, lately. And the places they both congregate, like on hikes and in National Parks. Anyway. It all seems like elaborate daydream architecture right now. Daydreaming is definitely something that Tiggers do best, so I'm going to go lie down and get back to it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 106

Today's Ask a Not-Yet-Successful Writer (with a heart of gold, folks, really) is inspired by a post on Adventures in Children's Publishing. Martina's post was aimed at fiction writers with busy lives and offered some ideas for seven "mental" tasks/exercises that could be done when you just can't get to the typewriter/pad of paper/laptop/fancy phone to actually write. The suggestions were focused on stuff like characters and subplots and world-building--all very important things to the fiction writer. I originally wondered if I could come up with a list of seven things for the essayist.

Now, since I am feeling feisty and only around seven people read this blog (I love you all), I'm going to just go ahead and say that there is time. This list (with the exception of number one) is about what to do when you don't want to/can't write. So, number one...

1. Get to the computer/pad of paper/typewriter/fancy phone. If writing is important to you, then the time is there. If it isn't important, or if you are too scared to do what you love, that time will get eaten up by other tasks. You find time to do a million little things a day that don't matter, so trade "reading yahoo news" or "youtube videos of cats" or just laying in bed hitting snooze overandover for something more important to you.

Hemingway said, "Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail." Start with ten minutes, then twenty. If the next day is too busy--back to ten. If you don't even have ten minutes, congratulations! You are living a life worth writing about rather than the life of a writer--find a biographer.

2. Get uncomfortable. You should try to write what you want to write everyday. If this is fiction, write fiction, if it is essays, write those. But know that this isn't always possible every single day. Mix it up by trying out some online prompts or an online contest outside of your regular genre. I did this with NYC Midnight's competitions, and it was a good way to keep my pen moving. Plus, mental exercises keep you young and out of literary ruts and tic-like tropes. By using the external constraint of a contest, I give myself a hard deadline and limit for the departure (slash distraction).

3. Take an office day. If you really can't focus your mind or settle into a groove during your writing time, take an "office day". Things you can do: submit stuff. Unless you are so lucky (and hateful) that everything you have written sucked up into the ether of publication, you have some pieces that are in need of a home. Look them over, tweak or not, then write a brief cover letter and submit them to an appropriate journal/site/mag. If you don't know what publications are appropriate, then your first office day is to list all of your potential markets. NOTE: this is not so helpful to the novelist, sorry, but then the original post is, so go read it.

4. Exercise your brain. I can't recommend that you do any of these things during your writing time, but when you are otherwise disengaged but still online, check out vocabulary builders (like or grammar quizzes; play Twitter games like #cnftweet and #micropoetry. Read about writing on sites like Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Brevity, HTMLgiant (that's just a random list of some that I like, not exhaustive, ranked or otherwise endorsable) and then compose a response to what you just read--you don't have to post it, just write it.

5. Write some shorter things. Sharpen the saw, so to speak on a book review, or a love letter to your favorite singer (or both, if you're a lucky fangirl like me). Every now and then I will stumble upon a "category" or "feature" in a print or online magazine that has guidelines something along the lines of "Hey have you ever....? Tell us about it, if we like it, we'll print it!"

The "Last Book I Loved" column on The Rumpus is like that. Have you ever loved a book? Then all you have to do is write about it and email it to them. The same with McSweeney's Internet Tendency. That whole site is a free for all: write a list, review a food, whatever and email it. They took my 7 grad school rejections piece and have turned down several others. This print magazine that I like has a feature that I would call "extended letter to the editor." Anyone can submit. Guess what? I'm anyone. You're anyone. Send things out. Rejections only hurt the first hundred or so times, supposedly. So get on it.

6. Sparingly: make a list of things you WILL write. Don't be a perpetual list maker, but if you're really really stuck, and you have some kind of hangup about "write whatever comes to mind, even if that's 'I can't think of anything to write'," then write a list. Include some of the shorter or uncomfortzone type stuff mentioned in 5 and 2. I kind of like physical reminders, like tacked up index cards (for each idea), this way the list can't get crazy and I can add things like outlines to the list items.

7. Rewrite. When I really have a good week of morning writing, I might get something drafted over the first three days and through an initial edit during the last two. Sometimes, I wake up with an idea of a section or phrase that needs tweaking, and I will pull that piece up and begin the pushing and pulling of words. I have passages that "need work" that I highlight in working drafts, so some mornings I may feel up to that, if I don't feel up to something else. Just like there is always admin, there is always revision.

I am a procrastinator, and I know that I tend to avoid the most painful things for a million papercuts. The list above is what I do when I "don't have time" or "can't write."

I also have the dubious luxury of having school application tasks to fall back on as well when I am feeling stubborn or petulant. [Speaking of, I think I have all seven Statements of Purpose done. I need to sit on the last three for a couple of days to be sure. Next week, I will shore up my longer manuscripts and begin the bundles.] And of course, research. [I finished mining the last book (and using up an entire lil packet of sticky flags--it is a good book). The final notes will be written tomorrow, then drafting. For reals, yo.]

These are other tasks of the writer, and can--and must--sometimes take the place of writing. Just like a composer has to practice an instrument, we have to practice words: learning them, saying them, stringing then knotting them together. Someday those knot-tying skills may mean all the difference.

Monday, November 29, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 105

Here's a bit about my totally analog research hack:

I read through bee book three of four on the bus today. Bees are so cool. Not as full of personality as birds, but so damn mysterious! They just vanish. Disappear. Where do they go? Why? MYSTERIOUS!

As promised, I got my index cards and got to work once I got back home.

I don't know if I learned this method in middle school or high school. It seems like I had to use it for a French paper on Haiti, which would mean Ms. Bangs and at least tenth grade. But I feel like I was already familiar with it by then.

Anyway, it goes like this: most research papers have an intro, conclusion, and at least three middle points. More than three and you're letting the topic get away from you, fewer than three and you are missing something. Plus, three is a nice pyramid: rising, climactic, falling action, I mean data.

In any case, each body section might have other sections, but I keep my organizational methods at a level I can handle. So three it is.

Index Cards
Something to keep them in with a way of dividing them.

Today at OfficeS-Mart I found a little plastic box/envelope thing that holds my 4x6 cards (enough room to get a good amount of info) and has 5 lil clear dividers. Here are the dividers and all of my cards so far --two more books to go.

Research 1

On each card is the work cited name, the page, and the section. Then the quote or data that I think I might need. Here are some of my section 3 cards:

Research 2

It's maybe silly, but I am a hands-on kind of workerbee. This way, after I have all the cards, I can lay each section out and organize my research physically and then write the words in between the facts.


In other news, a very old friend called me today and asked how I was doing. He has learned that "okay" isn't worth a damn, so he asked me to give a 1-10 ranking. I surprised us both by saying "Six. No, 7. No, definitely 6."

I mean, six isn't shitty. It's a damn sight from awesome. But it is definitely not shitty. Also, I sent off for some of my PCC transcript copiess and all of my UCLA copies. That leaves the rest of PCC (I only get 3 free a day), PSU, and MCC for a total of $68.00 in remaining transcript fees and $215 in application fees.

I haven't yet put the biggest chunk of garage sale money in the bank, as it will fritter away the moment I do. After my rough draft is done, I will pay for the Pdx and Wy app fees. Since I am dragging so much ass on this research, I want to wait to pay the hefty Univ of Washington fee ($75) until I know I will have a paper for them. I am waiting until all transcripts are in to call up Kansas State and talk with them about whether or not to apply.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 104

Yeah. I didn't get all that done.

I did more reading about bees. Got two new great books and found a good online resource. The issue is that I only know one way to write a research paper and it utilizes index cards and a lot of analog work. I am trying to translate it into a modern method and am coming up method-less. Which means I am getting some index cards tomorrow.

To save myself from the shame of un-productivity, I submitted a piece to a sleek and lovely online magazine. My mini-essay is slightly unconventional, and so are some of the other prose pieces there, so that could work out.

I have a new plan if all the apps come back negative again this year. This plan could totally change, who knows what will happen? But if I get good news from my Federal Application for Financial Aid, I may try to apply to an undergraduate program for a BS in biology. Maybe back home. We'll see. I really like science, even if statistics and physics and chem sort of freak me out.

365 days of being a writer: day 103

I did write yesterday, but did not have time to blog.

This research paper is really hanging me up, and I am not sure why. Is it the strictness required with inline citations? Maybe I just don't believe my potential thesis? I mean, I believe it, very much so. Bees need saving. But, maybe I don't believe that a research paper is the best way to say that?

In any case, I started the first section yesterday, and hope to finish it today and make serious progress on the other two. Right now I am in the Burton Barr Library, where the light and architecture are inspiring. I just wish the seats were a bit more adjustable.

Go to your local library today. Check out a crazy book you'd never buy. Like Something on Colony Collapse Disorder, for instance.

Friday, November 26, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 102

Slow news day.

Originally, I wasn't going to buy anything today, but then I signed up for a book club. I will probably have to cancel it almost immediately, but I love Powell's, and I am intrigued as hell by The Instructions.

There wasn't much action on the holiday table today, so I wrote a few blog posts for the store site. It's marketing copy, but I am getting better at it. For whatever that's worth.

I'm feeling really withdrawn--I haven't felt that way in a long time. Usually when I am burnt out, I freak out. Now, I am just shutting down, hibernating. I feel very strongly that I don't want to deal with anyone. It would be completely OK if I were being a bit more of what I consider productive.

Also, totally informal poll: o.k., ok, OK, or okay?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 101

We're in the hunnerts now. Maybe I am serious about all this.

Furthering my progress towards grad school apps, today I wrote up a 2 page CV and a "one page resume"--which I am assuming that particular school is using interchangeably with CV, as why would they care that I was a Camel girl, or an ice-cream scooper at Baskin and Robbins (oh, so many years ago--the closest to fast food I ever got).

I was also uncomfortable at Thanksgiving dinner after working at the store all morning and afternoon. Everyone's uncomfortable at Thanksgiving, that's part of the deal--except usually I'm not. We aren't fighters or stewers. There is never drama, just eating til we're sick and then some re-tellings of stories so funny that my mom cries.

Yet, my family has morphed into this collection of friends and relations that I don't even know. After the week of being nice to strangers and smiling til my face hurt and trying to be a calm, happy moment in what is otherwise a stress-ball of a week for people--I just wanted to be home, and not "on." But there's no home here. I didn't grow up here. This is my parents' and my sisters' home. Their (nice) friends and family all wanted to chat and be all chummy and ask me how was work, and how's my cat, and what have I been up to. It was really all I could do to not just stand up and walk out. I spent too much time away, I suppose, living in other states and States. My spot has been filled in like a sand hole at the ocean's edge. This is not a whiny, oh-sad-me thing, just an observation--a reminder that I need to get out of here.

A writer friend recently reminded me about the loneliness of the writer. It's the third-wheel syndrome of the perpetual watcher, I think. You can't belong and observe.  Perhaps this is why I look to other writers or knitters or amateur runners, to feel like I belong to any community at all in all my otherwise solitary pursuits.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 100

I am so glad I called today being a total washout. Self-fulfilling prophesy or some very much needed realistic expectations? I'm going to file as latter.

No writing happened today (except ONE turkey related #cnftweet). [Oh, and if you didn't get here from Twitter, you can follow me @devakali]

My one writerly task (besides reading a great first chapter in Susan Brind Morrow's book Wolves & Honey) was to finally get a copy of the Winter VenusZine with my article in it. I'm supposed to get a contributor's copy, but I don't remember if I ever did last time. It's worth $4.50 for at least one copy for my clips file which means I'm paying them to let me write now--I am the opposite of that one law about money flowing toward the writer.

Newest article in VenusZine

Think good thoughts for me tomorrow. I'll be at the grocery store, selling the very last of the garnet yams, bouillon cubes, and vegan marshmallows. Please send eggnog and a large bottle of quality dark Cruzan rum.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 99

Pretend that this post starts out with a funny "99 bottles of beer on the wall" tie-in.

I tried to enjoy a great show tonight and was instead a grouchy puss-baby the whole time. There was just too much humanity for me to deal, especially after a day of being crowded and leaned into and over and the whole range of personalities of our generally over-privileged, under-mannered clientele. Most of the shoppers today were pleasant, but a strained pleasant. Like, if this goes without a hitch, I won't totally lose my shit. Which is the kind of person I turned into, on entering the sold out show. The elbows, the loud awful laughy girls. The opening band taking way too long to get to each song. And above all, the press of people. Really, what's surprising is that anyone wants to hang out with me at all (and trust me, I am grateful for the guy that does).

Then, like a sign from Archie Bunker's ghost, this article is on my yahoo home page when stagger home ashamed of my attitude: Jobs for People Who Hate People. Number three? Writer. What a relief.

My brain is too fried from grocery madness to get any writing done these last few crazy days. Instead, I worked this morning on my manuscript for Texas Tech. All I have left to assemble for them is my CV. Anyone have a good template?

Monday, November 22, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 98

Somehow, I think my 100th day will fall on the day that I will be least likely to cope... You think retail work at Christmas is crummy--try manning the "Turkey Table" at everyone's favorite fancy grocery store the week before Thanksgiving. All day, I explain the difference between free-range, organic, and heritage turkeys. I offer tips on how much turkey to get, whether to brine or grill or smoke. I prioritize people's week and schedule their errands--and I sure as Hell better not Fuck Up Thanksgiving.

For the most part, it's actually a pretty good gig. I get to do a lot of talking, which I love (though it really wears me out, it keeps me from over thinking). I get to be a helper--and I really like being a helper more than being In Charge. The lack of recognition is a drag, but I turn into a total fascist DICKtator when I am in charge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 97

I really tried to write the bee paper this weekend. But I didn't.

OK, that can't be true, or I would have written it. The problem is that I can't work without a deadline. How can I ever "be my own boss" if I show no urgency to complete the tasks I assign myself? I would totally fire me.

This one is particularly hard, because there is no larger reason to write this paper. It won't be published anywhere, no one (except a few die-hard friends who would probably be down to read one of my grocery lists if I asked then to) will want to read it. And it's gotta be FIFTEEN pages long!

Today, I reworked my outline, in the face of all my research. I separated each section and gave them page counts. The (new) plan is to write each section at a time, and really 2, 3, or 4 pages isn't so bad. That's the (new) goal for this week. That, and print out some manuscripts and SOPs. I need to start officially applying to these programs, and paying for the rest of my transcripts. I am still just over a hundred bucks short for the transcripts, but I am hoping I can spread those out over a couple of paychecks to lessen the sting.

How do I know if this is really what I want to do, or if it is just what I don't want to fail at?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 96?

All I managed to accomplish, writing-wise, today was some research on Colony Collapse Disorder. That, and a good long sleeping in. I really needed that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 95

The first hundred days are drawing to a close. What have we learned? That I am unstable and whiny, but at least I manage to get some writing done and submitted anyway. I can't be awful, as some things, in rare instances, get accepted. We've learned that I might not be strong enough for this gig: too cry-y.

The four pieces that have been so soundly trounced recently by editors have undergone varying levels of edits. The blackbirds are hibernating or being punished or something, but the other three have been tweaked, so it's fitting and proper to get them out to new editors. I also need some new pieces. My daydreams are becoming more fictional or fictionalized. How much fiction needs to be added to memoir until it's a story? Not in a Frey-an lie kind of way, but in a Hunter S Thompson this-can't-be-real kind of way. There are some hard stories in my mind, and it might just be easier to get them out if they weren't so much mine, you know?

Today and yesterday were spent working on SOPs. I need a draft of the bees essay by the end of this weekend or else I am seriously grounded.

Have gotten more retweets from @cnfonline; they feel like little tiny acceptance letters, each and every one.

I mentioned on Facebook that I had a folder system for my submissions. Here's what it looks like:

My Contributions to Slush Piles around the world

The top two folders, 2009 & 2010 are full of pieces that were rejected. ACCEPTED is self-explanatory. All of the rest are pending. I use folders so I can store the exact version that was submitted along with any cover letters etc. Plus, with the folders closed, I don't have to be assaulted with volume of the first two compared to the third.

In the beginning, I reread all these posts first thing the next day. Now, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Sometimes, when I read back over one, I have no recollection of writing a particular phrase or passage at all. It makes me think that this act of blogging about writing is becoming a sort of wordy trance. Or else, my sleep and sanity cycles are so fucked up that I am just a zombie by 10 pm. I'd like to hope for trance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 94

I haven't updated my knitting blog since September, but it gained a follower today. This blog gets updated every day, and still only has one. I think that's sort of funny.

My mind is like a teapot, and it is right now in that shimmering moment before the whistling starts. Picture: the pot seems to short of shake--but it's really just a sound, a radiative hiss--while bubbles begin to take shape on the bottom and sides, not yet popping to the surface. There is this pressure inside, like I need to scream, and I can't relieve it.

I am trying so hard to get up early enough to run, because that would help. But there's always something that keeps me up too late. So then I wake up late, and race through the bare minimum of that of what I need to do, already behind. And then I get home, and I want to catch up, but I am so exhausted that I just make shitty food and watch junky TV shows on hulu. I have no idea how to stop this cycle without withdrawing from the outside world even more completely.

In other news, Brevity sent me their rejection notice the day before yesterday. It ended up in my spam folder, delaying my receipt of the news. I thought all of the work that I sent out in the last three months was finished and ready, but I am especially fond of the mini-essay that they read. I am not even sure where else such a thing would belong. And I am sure that the fact that I feel exactly the same about myself is totally unrelated. Totally.

I've become self-conscious of the occurrences of the following words in these posts: I, but, so, also, and and. ANDbutsoalso, it really drives me up the fucking wall that I can not EVER remember how to spell the following words without spell check: occasionally, occurrences, occurred, desperately. There are a few others that hang me up, but those I almost always get wrong the first time. Did phonics do that to me? Did I lose the brain cells responsible for those words on an acid trip in the 90s?

Maybe I am allergic to my own weakness. This could just be a case of psychological hives. A fever-dream brought on by anaphylactic shock of the spirit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 93

I'm in entropic mode, it seems. Every day, I just race home to write or avoid writing. I don't go out, talk to anyone in the real world, do anything. (Except my writing ritual in the mornings.)

Some people find a maintenance mode at some point. They garden. They have circles of real life friends who come over for barbecues. This totally happens. What am I running away from or to all the time? You know what would kick ass? If THAT became more apparent.

I worked on my SOP for Kansas this morning. Done but for one sentence, I think. I'm still looking for winning examples out there or a good SOP mentor. If I get in anywhere this go around, I want to start a site with the SOPs of accepted candidates. Doesn't matter the program, just winning personal statements. See? Even I can't not call it winning. The alternative is losing. Or at least as winning as a DNR (which is to say not very).

An engaging article that did not demonize MFAs came to my attention today via the Twitter machine. It didn't totally idolize them, either, but it did make me wish that Syracuse had a nonfiction track, so I could sneak into dreamy George Saunders' workshops. The Faster Times: You Are Not the Only One Writing About Moldavian Zookeepers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 92

My scheme at work to keep up social media has somehow backfired in a not even remotely humorous Lucy-esque manner. I was so exhausted at the end of my day, that I worried a little about my ability to drive home, and I have almost no opportunities to write.

Luckily, the morning ritual experiment continues. Today I wrote a draft of my statement of purpose for Texas. I asked my writerly Twitter followers if anyone could look it over, but I guess we aren't those kind of friends. Hey, that's cool.

But, ritual! Helping!

Informal poll 
Is this a totally lame line: "A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand perfect words are priceless"?

Monday, November 15, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 91

In thinking about my malaise or writerly dysfunction--it seems to me that the key (if there is one, and who knows) is to keep writing even if I have no hope of it meaning anything past my own action of doing. Is that zen? Should writing be about action only?

Isn't that what people do? They do things for the joy of it? Even though this is more about exhaustion and confusion than joy. If not school, then what, working in a grocery store the rest of my life? And if it is supposed to be only about process, how does anything ever get done? This post already has too many questions. I don't know how writers do the hard stuff--I don't know what sustains them through the bleakness of probable failure.

But then, when I train for a half marathon, I know it's not to win. This makes me a tourist, I suppose, not an athlete. There is something in the completion that has value to me, even if it doesn't to anyone else. There's something to setting a goal and then reaching it. Is that something enough to build a life on, though?

This morning I tried to start a kind of ritual: some sun salutations, hot tea, then writing. It was awkward, and I got very few words down, but it's maybe a start.

I don't know why I feel so despondent when I confront this research paper. What the fuck is wrong with research? Nothing. I have learned some cool ass shit about bees. Stingless bees, naked honey hunters, Varroa mites that decimate whole hives. Mark Twain even wrote a brief essay called The Bee where he posits that bees are really human. It's wonderfully funny and weird, as though written under the influence of a fever.

It's late and I need to sleep.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 90

Three months in, and I feel I have hit a wall. I didn't want to write again today. I wanted to enjoy a day off: knit, bake squash, watch old Bob Newhart shows on hulu.

I spent some time reading my bee research, but I have no desire to sit down and write that paper. Does this mean I don't really want to go to school all that badly? Or that I don't have what it takes to write? I'm just tired of feeling like I am running in place.

Supposedly my latest VenusZine article is on newsstands now. If anyone out there see the Winter issue, take a look at the "slow cooking" article and tell me how it looks. Last time it was months before I got my single contributor's copy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 89

I was going to take today off from writing. But in the end, I did a thirty minute free write. I just couldn't bring myself not to do it. I read a blurb today that suggested a little ritual before writing, to train one's brain to get ready to focus. It's an intriguing idea, and one I'd like to pursue next week in the mornings. I am not sure what exactly my ritual will be yet.

The garage sale netted me $30 bucks less than what I needed for my applications, but I still have a pile of art supplies that a coworker is supposed to be buying for $30... It might just work out. I am still hoping that a pledged donation will come through for my UCLA transcripts. They charge $8 each. Because they are bastards.

My sister and I talked a lot today about her childhood, mine, and my mom's. It was weird, but a good way to spend a cold morning while strangers picked through some of my most prized unprized possessions. We met some more of the crazy neighbors. My favorite was Dude from Across the Street who is probably 50, with full color tribalesque tattoos all over two arms and one leg. He was wearing baby blue boxers covered in fish and a turquoise tank top. His skin was a boiled-pink sort of color, and he seemed to be bleaching his yellowy hair more blond--it stuck up in whip cream like peaks all over his head the second time he came over. He bought all of my posters, so he's alright with me. My sister was glad to finally be rid of a panini maker for a dollar that was in its fourth garage sale. I was glad a cool woman bought my pretty and delicate Madame de Dia de los Muertos. There was entirely too much interaction with the neighbor who offers up favors and gifts unasked for, only to turn around and ask for favors and gifts. "Here's some cat food you didn't ask for and don't want, can I log into your wi-fi?" I am terrible with such interactions; they make me want to stay inside.

Much of my non-sale time was spent knitting and crocheting. It is a withdrawal, to knit. But it feels so good to accomplish a measurable and undeniably quality amount of work. I look at my sock that has no dropped stitches, no knots, no wonky increases--it is a good sock. I can't look at a page of writing that is free of dangling modifiers, cliches, and comma splices and know the same thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 88

My garage sale was today. I ended the day in OK shape, though to pay for apps I need to make about $100 more tomorrow. My flash fiction was also rejected by Hayden's Ferry Review.

Some notes from the garage sale.

365 days of being a writer: day 87

Yesterday I was so tired when my day was done that I collapsed into bed without writing a post.

I actually got up at a reasonable hour yesterday and wrote in the morning. I'm still so foggy headed though from the long stretch of not-writing that it wasn't the most useful time. When I am the most open to possibilities is the moment I get up. With tea, no coffee. So that will be the goal.

Today is my garage sale, I am hoping to make $270 so I can pay for my applications. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 86

All of the writers I regularly talk writing with are imaginary interweb friends except for three. And two of those are brother and sister. Virtual community.

My review is up at The Rumpus! I am really happy to finally get something up that has at least a bit of meat to it. I am bummed that it is almost off the front page after only a day, but IT'S UP!

The Superstition Review has rejected the blackbirds.

From Where I Sit has turned out to be a fantastic resource for my bees essay. & More Spanish.

Yo soy de los Estados Unidos.
Ese gato esta gordo.
Ese gato es gris.
Yo estoy muy cansada.

Buenas Noches.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 85

Oh man, I did not want to write today. I stayed in bed too late to write first thing in the morning (this is really what I need to do, but I can't get to bed before ten --like now-- so it makes getting up at 5:30 nigh impossible). Then I spent all day playing on Twitter. While I wasn't working, I mean.

I have to admit that I was a little heartbroken that none of my tweets made the cut into Issue #40 of Creative Nonfiction.

Letters from the Hive: done. Luckily the last 50 pages were recipes and acknowledgments.

So here's the scene: I get home early, thanks to wearing boots and being able to run faster for my second bus than on slip-on days. Instead of writing the minute I get in, I have to play with a bunch of different hashtags, make a non-dinner all slow-like, tweet some more, make some juice, check Twitter. Swear off Twitter. Move to computer, sit my ass down. Open a word file. Open a pattern that a friend wants me to knit for her, print it. Change the title of the word file. Decide that I need to know the date of Ma Bell's telephone strike (it IS material to the essay, but rightnow?). Noodle on the google looking for the date for a bit. Ma Bell's had a few strikes, turns out. Even one in 1907 in Toronto (not at all material). Check Facebook. Realize the strike date means that I can't change the title to what I wanted, so close first doc. Open a new doc, change IT to the title I was thinking of. Check Twitter. Read about Michelle Obama shaking some Muslim's hand by force-but-not-really. Close browser, focus on second essay. Write ONE SENTENCE. Call my mom for another unnecessary fact check. She doesn't want to talk because it's late and my conversations exhaust her enough in the daytime. Write another sentence. Check clock: it's been over an hour.

Finally, in frustration (or maybe acceptance), I tasked myself with at least completing my Works Cited -so far- for the bee paper. It's done and that's something. Tomorrow I will be reading From Where I Sit, a book of bee, beekeeping, and science essays. And maybe take my vitamins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 84

Today: bees and Spanish.

My commute was filled with the history of honey bees and Man, and I ended up getting half way through my research book number one. I am not sure if I will read all of the second book or not, as I think it is more about the history of honey than the plight of bees so much.

When I got home I did a hard hour and a half of Spanish.

Hay mucho gente en el restaurante.
Esta coche es barato y antigua.
Es un gato gordo alli.

Finally, I wrote out some notes from my readings today and printed out several web articles that I want to use in the sections on Colony Collapse Disorder and new legislation (which is probably now old, and idealistic legislation) aimed at "saving the bees." That was really it for today. Already, I am stressed out that I haven't heard back from that professor I emailed. You know, one day later. Insert patronizing sigh.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 83

I spent another day deep-cleaning today. More nooks and crannies: including boxes of shells and stones and pieces of wood, a suitcase full of stationery, a pile of comic books and a pile of purses.

I'm keeping all of the purses.

I also worked a bit more on my outline, fleshed it out to two pages. I will be spending my bus reading time on my library books this week. And I drafted a letter to a professor at one of my hoped-for schools. He and I met once, and I am hoping to remind him who I am. I have no idea if that will help my cause or not, but it can't hurt it.

Did you catch that bit yesterday about how The Rumpus is going to post a piece of mine? I'm pretty damn stoked about that.

Now it's time for my Spanish leccion. Adios.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 82

I spent a few hours at the library today, then another hour or so at a bookstore. I have been selling books. I started with three bulging bags, sold two, and bought up one bag worth back in trade. It was supposed to be a reduction by half. But it's books! And I got really great books in trade. Books about writing.

There was way too much junk in this house when I moved in. Every corner cram packed with stuff. Every space filled with stacked boxes full of things. It's suffocating. What good are books if I can't reach them on the shelf because there's a pile of stuff precariously balanced in front of them? Or a pair of shoes I don't even know I have... I've been stacking up a lot of things that used to be important to me when I had a house. I had a set of dishes for just for parties and a regular place setting for eight. I had four power strips and five rooms worth of knick knacks. I had been dragging around paraphenalia from 20 years ago. It's not like I don't need stuff. I love stuff. I especially love books and small intricate things to look at, like Limoges-style boxes and Buddha statues.

Friday, November 5, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 81

My cat is miserable with me being a writer. He never learned to entertain himself, so he hates it when I sit in the dark at the computer instead of playing with him. He tears angrily at his toys, biting and scratching at them in  frustration, then just sprawls on his side on the floor, staring straight ahead, sideways. The boredom and pent up energy practically shooting out of his poor, impotent little eyes.

He needs to learn to entertain himself.


In the seventh grade, I left my cool-ass hippie school in the heart of artsy NW Portland and transferred to a suburban junior high. It was not a wealthy suburb, but except for the junior high kids who would terrorize isolated pockets of the neighborhoods once or twice a month, it was a pretty safe area.

One of the first things I did when I got there was win a writing contest. I was always entering writing or art contests. I have no idea where I heard of these things, maybe my mom found them and made me enter.

This one was on the constitution, in honor of "Law Day," I believe. I don't know what Law Day is, or even if it's just something the city council in Oregon City made up. I came in third--I never win first. A guy named Paul came in first, and this girl Christine came in second. Paul won $100, I remember. I also remember Christine being really pissed that Paul won-won, because as she said "he doesn't know about anything except how to be a good kiss ass."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 80

I squandered my writing time today by jumping on the castigatory Cooks Source bandwagon (see previous post). Otherwise, the extent of my creative writing would be a couple of #cnftweets. Luckily, I was also able to write a blog postlet about bosc pears, or the entire day would have felt like a waste.

I mentioned my read-a-thon idea on a comment thread and got exactly zero takers. I am going to keep throwing it out there until someone bites. 

Now that I won't be nycmidnighting all weekend, I will have time to research and draft some pages about bees. I think it will be a good weekend for the library and botanical gardens.

Editorial Asshatery, or a meme I can really get behind

I am sure you have all heard about what happened to Cooks Source, the plagiarizing magazine with the clueless editor. No? Well, please, read up!: Copyright Infringement is for Dummies (a great links list of the train wreck compiled by the folks at Beyond the Veil).

As a would-be author, I have already seen my blog posts co-opted by false aggregator sites. They think they do me the favor by lifting the entire post... sure my name is there, and even a link, but if the entire text is pasted, why would a visitor come to me? It's dirty pool, but what the folks at Cooks Source did was so much worse. A print magazine! And really, would we even care if it weren't for the horrible attitude of the editor, Judith Griggs. Click below for an excellent new definition, courtesy the folks at Smart Bitches...

Judith Griggs

As I posted on their Facebook page (which will be gone soon, I'm sure, so hurry!) I have done plenty of work for free, both print and online--but always with a contract. Anything less is theft, plain and simple.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 79

Some true things:
  1. I did not advance into the final round of NYCmidnight's Flash Fiction competition.
  2. That bums me out less than I thought it would, for ungraceful reasons that I'm keeping to myself.
  3. This morning, I felt compelled to write something, and I let that compulsion carry me through actually writing it down. It doesn't sound impressive, but how many times have you thought "I should write that down" but didn't? Don't do that anymore!
  4. I submitted something to another online journal/site/space.
  5. I have inappropriately intense feelings for my new big-ass Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus. It's just so BIG and THOROUGH.
  6. Someone wrote what many considered to be a nasty opinion piece about NaNoWriMo that may have inspired me to act. The piece itself was likely little than a fluff bomb, thrown to incite hoards of trolls and thus secure it's virality (can I say "virality"?) (in which it succeeded). But a kernel of sense was in there, about there needing to be more activities for readers. Now I want to find someone to put such a thing together. Someone with web- and organizing-skillz, and fundraising moxy, maybe. Know anyone?
  7. I got another retweet from @cnfonline. Which oddly, is much more awesome than the NYCM loss is crappy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 78

I voted. Did you?

Four-score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Whether they are a transgendered women's basketball starter, a guy stomping a woman on the head (whether we like it or not), a witch, or a president. Or something like that.

Anyway, civic duty and all, you gotta do it--or you lose all rights to bitching.

Monday, November 1, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 77

I'm going to bed hungry and sore. It's an experiment. I'm hoping I will wake up with an urgency that I lacked today. While I did get a bit of a walk in, it was not enough to clear my head. And then instead of getting writing done when I got to work early, I got sucked into a conversation with someone. I had twenty minutes and squandered it, because otherwise everyone has to ask me if I'm OK, because I seem down. When you don't want to talk to people you are "down."

I managed to get some writing done later on a break. I was home for ten minutes before having to leave again, no time to eat or breathe. I'm not making that mistake again right at the beginning of the week. The cake topper for today was seeing that ACC sent back my transcript request because I forgot to include a photocopy of my picture ID. I can't even request a transcript apparently without fucking up a step. (A step, which seems hugely sketchy, and that no other school requires, for whatever that's worth.)

The second blog post never went up on venuszine, and no word from the editor about why. It had a Dia de los Muertos themed title--maybe they don't know that was today? It's disappointing to say the least. 

Whatever, I'm too tired to write about it. I'm too tired for anything and it's only Monday.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 76

Last night, a guy at a bar thought I was Joan Jett. He asked a nearby Abe Lincoln if he could recite the Gettysburg address. Lincoln couldn't, but I started to, having memorized it in junior high. I didn't get very far, but anything past "seven years ago" is impressive to your average adult. The drunk guy then peered sideways at me in the peculiar way that drunks have to prevent double vision, using only one eye to look at a thing. He said all slow and importantly, "Do you know the Preamble?"

I do.

So I sang the Preamble in my squeaky wavery voice and the drunk dude began leaning into Jeff and telling him that he needed to stay on his A fucking game and not slip up or I'd be outta there, and then fair warning, he'd be all over me. Because even knowing what the Preamble IS is hot, apparently.

365 days of being a writer: day 75

It's Hallowe'en. Today's taken off. More tomorrow, for now I'm living two high school dreams. I'm as goth as Siouxsie, AND I'm dating Robert Smith.

All your cities lie in dust, my friend

Also: boo!

Friday, October 29, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 74

I'm not an alcoholic, but you can still be my sponsor. More on why you shouldn't later.

Today was pretty much a waste. I slept terribly, woke up late, had bus mishaps, and ultimately went home early because I was a walking zombie. Ergo, little writing has occurred. I did finalize some edits on the 4th of 5 pieces from my initial manuscript, and I may just leave the last one out. Or use my Alaska piece. I don't know, I'm still pretty tired.

I also gathered some resources for my 15 page bee essay. Just typing "15 page bee essay" wearies me. But I'm! Going! To do it!

I'm picturing a thesis along the lines of "saving native bees is possible, necessary, and best done by individuals AND governing bodies" or something like that. Then I can include research about dwindling numbers, invasive honey bees, colony collapse disorder, importance of pollinators, and use hummingbirds as the example of how individuals can have as much impact as farmers and legislators. Maybe. Save the bees!

If this sounds like a really stupid research paper, let me know, but only if you have an idea for something else.

About the new sponsor button. A follower wrote to me after yesterday's post and suggested I let people sponsor the 365 project. He had had a few gin and tonics, so I am not holding him to the commitment of
$0.10 per day. But it was an intriguing idea. I thought that after all of the nickel and dime talk yesterday, it would be funny to offer readers the option of sponsoring at $18.25 or $36.50 for a year's worth of posts. Or, a flat $20 to get me a pedicure. Har.

Then, I took a nap. When I woke up, I decided that really, that money should go to or or or or any number of other more deserving non-profits. So after you do that, if you still want to throw a few bucks my way, I have added a PayPal "Donate" button. If you have a website or a twitter, I will add it to a sidebar list of sponsors. If you don't, I will send you a nice postcard. Any donations (except those coming in even $20 increments) will go toward my grad school application fees.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 73

More edits.

I worked myself up into a well and tearful lather tonight over the fact that (essentially) I am lacking critical guidance for MOST of this process and also there is a lot to do. It sounded more tragic earlier, I swear.

And really, it is--maybe not tragic--but it is sure as hell is a godamned drag. Not that the tragedy or drag-ness of it matters for anything. It's tragic/a drag I spent my twenties pursuing a career that wasn't right for me. It is tragic/a drag that my mom got laid off, that my car has grown unreliable to me, that my paycheck is so much less sufficient than it once was.

Gone are the days of pedicures, so while we're at it, my toes are a godamned tragedy, too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 72

I almost watched another episode of House, feeling maybe too tired to write. But then I wrote.

Well, I did some solid editing to the starlings piece. Then moved to the next one, the blackbirds.  I had been pretty proud of it, and sent it off to several places. My reader (whose time and experience and feedback I appreciate) called it out for having no arc. Nothing at stake for the characters. No one wants a glass of water (apologies to Vonnegut).

So then I started asking my characters who was thirsty, and started thinking that I was, and not just thirsty but also hurt, a bit. It's a piece about birdwatching with my grandparents. I was dumped off at their house a lot when I was younger, presumably because it was more convenient for my mother and her new husband. Even at 6, he and I did not get along, even at 16, and I was the one sent out to the country so everyone else could have some peace.

And then I stopped, because this wasn't an essay about me being shuffled out of town. It was an essay about how I came to like looking at birds. Except now that it needs an arc, because looking at birds isn't thirsty enough, it becomes this other, angrier thing. Like the manuscript sent back by the editor with MORE SEX scribbled across it, this bird-watching essay needs MORE CONFLICT. So I think some up. Maybe I wasn't kicked out of the house for being a brat. Maybe I'm imagining that, though I doubt it. My mother loves to cite how independent I was as a child, and every time she does, I think that must have been so convenient for you, trying to start a new relationship and family and career and all. Maybe I am mad about that. I had my grandparents to play with instead of friends. I spent my weekends learning embroidery and bird calls and how to walk with a book on my head. (Yes, and also going to the beach, and playing in the woods.)

However, did I feel abandoned then, or do I feel abandoned now? And does a my reasons for liking birds require that anyone feel abandoned at all, or is that an opinion of one reader that I can appreciate without acting upon? Aren't there such things as contemplative essays about a place that don't have drama? How do I write the quiet drama of discovery so that anyone else gives a shit?

As of this moment, I liked this essay better when it was an essay about birds. So I'm going to bed.

It's better than wallpapering with the rejection letters...

I finally tacked up all my race numbers and medals as inspiration. My life was never an athletic one, and I didn't finish my first triathlon until I was 34. But these numbers all signify my (demonstrated! not hypothetical!) ability to achieve something that I put my mind to.

Inspiration for application season

Have I put my mind to writing, yet?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 71

I am back to doing social media a few hours a week at my day job, though the focus has shifted from blog posts to heavier Facebook and Twitter "engagement." I'll still take it--writing's writing. And the more I do it, the better I get, or so I hear.

Today I heard back from one of the reviewers of my application manuscript. The amount of red pen was a little staggering, and I was pretty bummed out at first. Luckily albeit uncharacteristically, I was well-balanced enough to recognize the inappropriateness of responding to constructive criticism with emotion. Now, the plan is to begin tackling the feedback tomorrow, after I've put a bit of space between my receipt and my evaluation of it. Already some bits have got me thinking and some I have shrugged off (for better or worse).

Overall, I am focused on not letting it get me down over the pieces that have been submitted all over the place that seem to need so much work.

As far as writerly activities, I wrote a blurb that will hopefully be up on a website in the next couple of days. It is a little celebration of one of my favorite artists, which coincidentally fits in nicely with the holiday season. 

I also got my first Missouri Review (my reading fee included a subscription) so now I am going to curl up and read myself to sleep.

Monday, October 25, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 70

It's weird to think that I have been thinking about writing (and writing about that thinking) for seventy days.

This was kind of another day off. I sorted through more stuff. Winnowed out some more wheat, piled the chaff in the to-go pile.

But I also put together the packets for my recommenders. They only need to send four letters this year, since I am reapplying to three schools. I'm still not sure about the Kansas thing, but I have plenty of time to think about it. I've been playing at learning Spanish on my iPhone. After I finish the first 50 lessons, I will switch to my Rosetta knock off package that I bought ages ago. Between that and getting help from folks at work, I should be in a position to take Spanish 2 by Spring semester.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 69

Nothing today directly contributed to my being a writer, except a quick email to photographer that I am going to cover in a post for a magazine blog. I could call it a day off, but several things indirectly contributed, so I will call it a working vacation.

Mainly, I cleaned the hell outta my bedroom. Not just in terms of the rhinoceros-sized fur clouds that the cat seems to leave everywhere, but also weeding out unnecessary possessions and ragtag organization. My abundant yarn, for example, used to take up 3 space bags that kept filling with air and tumping over. Now it all fits into plastic bins which are stacked in a way that I am sure is not perfect feng shui, but is at least more orderly. I also started with a total of five plastic bins, a laundry basket, and a cardboard box full of miscellaneous papers, toys, flotsam and etc. I managed to reduce that junk by over half.

It took a 17' truck, packed solid, to move me into this place. When I move, I want to fit in a ten foot truck. If I get into school, I will need to fit in a smaller space than I'm in now.

Ultimately, less stuff equals less stress and I need all the less stress help I can get. My room feels bigger already, more open and maneuverable. I like that my closet and shelves all function. There is still some excess (I don't need that Grindhouse lunch box, but I really like it.) I hang onto things that I think I should keep, even when I don't want to. That not wanting to takes up valuable mental energy.

And, all the stuff I am getting rid of is going into my garage sale, which will hopefully make me some application money. How's this for today's moral: Sometimes being a writer means taking care of the shit that allows me the mental and fiscal space to write.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 68

Here are three animals you have maybe never heard of: soala, okapi, and fossa; alternately each are known as the Asian unicorn, the jungle giraffe, and the giant mongoose.
When I was in the third grade, one of my favorite songs was Piano Man. It was released the year I was born, and must have already been in heavy rotation on the oldies station by the time third grade rolled around. My parents were huge Billy Joel fans, and I would hear the record at home and ask that the radio be turned up when it came on in the car.  There came a day when I was fairly certain that I had memorized all of the lyrics, and to be sure, decided to write them down. Stanzas and line breaks were unknown to me, but stories were not. And as this song surely had narrative qualities, I wrote the lyrics like this:

Friday, October 22, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 67

"Of all the unhappy people in the world, the unhappiest are those who have not found something they want to do." ~ Lin Yutang.

Remember when you were like, ten, and someone asked you, all loud and patronizing-like, the way we do--as though all kids are dim bulbs, or deaf, or possibly Hungarian--what you wanted to be when you grew up?

What did you answer?

I used to say that I wanted to be a Graphic Artist, or else a Fine Artist (once I learned the difference). I figured I would probably paint for museums but also sometimes for the cover of books, as several of my small hard bound horse books (Black Beauty, Sea Star, Man-O-War) had lovely oil paintings of magnificent steeds. One of my first great works was of a unicorn and pegasus, it was a wedding present for a friend's parents. There were going to be plenty more where that came from, though I had no intention of limiting myself to horses. I also planned to dabble in fashion illustration, ideally for Sears catalog, and maybe paint watercolor greeting cards as well, to--you know--pay the bills.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 66

I am waiting to hear back on ten (ok, 8) submissions right now. Two are assumed rejected as those sites say, "you'll only hear from us if we want it." A third is likely rejected, though the editor still hasn't responded, even after a follow up. So then there were seven. Those seven include four essays (two are out at more than one mag).

Four feels like a lot to have out. I'm sure it's not for more accomplished writers, but this little bear brain grows weary from hoping in so many directions at once. Of all those pieces I mentioned yesterday, I want to spend the next couple of months working on two of them. The bees and the glacier. I am adding one to the list, too, about a night hike at geology camp in the sixth grade. The bees are for school, and the other two are for contests I plan to enter by January. Other than the bees, I am not setting myself a word minimum, but I am sternly looking in the direction of "more than two grand."

Yeah, I went to geology camp.

I bought some copies of my GRE scores and sent them off. I also printed out transcript requests from my two main schools. That's all I can swing this check, but next check I will try to get the rest (four! because, hell "why not take it for credit if you're going to take it?" = dumbest thing ever) of the transcripts off.  I guess that means I am applying. So far. I can keep backing out up until I have paid the actual applications fees. Hell, up until I lick the stamp on my manuscripts, really.