Copyright notice

All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Monday, January 31, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 168

I did, in fact, start my book review, but I did not finish it. That will likely happen on Wednesday. My two packets were mailed today, so now there will be more waiting.

My twitter pals recommended some books for my next review, but they all look a bit tricksy as far as getting a reviewer copy goes. I think I will read one of mine next. It will probably be The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, but it might also be a Rachel Carson (no, not that one you're thinking of).

I'm brain tired.

My next task is to write an 8-10 page critical paper for KSU; a lit-crit paper, specifically. I have never written such a thing... I am thinking I want to write something about naturalists and what their responsibility is to be factual vs. lyrical and persuasive. If anyone has any tips or resource recommendations for figuring out how to go about this, I would appreciate it. I got a copy of "Writing Essays about Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet" so I'm off to read that as my bedtime story.

I almost forgot. Here are the two other stories that I submitted to NYC's second round (the word was "surprise"):

  • "Jessica, bringing home a puppy is a surprise. Telling Joe you used to be Jeremy calls for subtlety." "How about this card then, from 'us'?"
  • Running into Watson wasn't nearly the surprise that running into a tribe of cannibals was, Holmes would sadly recount. But when in Rome...
You can read the winner and vote, here:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 167

The Night essay has been bundled up. It's going to Creative Nonfiction and The Iowa Review. I feel pretty good about where it ended up.

Tomorrow I plan on writing up my next Xenith review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 29, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 166

The Night essay is in final draft. Tomorrow, I will print it out and bundle it up.

It has been a rough week, and I would like to say some things about process and anxiety, but for now I need to rest.

Friday, January 28, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 165

Another day, another draft. I'm floating on endorphins at this point in the day.

The Rumpus printed one of my poems, here. There's no anchor link, but my piece is on page four.

I think the Night essay is ready for a copy edit. Hopefully, not much else needs to change structurally. I wish my printer weren't busted, sometimes seeing it in my hand helps me ferret out things that I miss on screen.

I'll probably go by my folks after work tomorrow to print a copy.

In the continuing vein of a loose writing playlist...

It's stressing me out that I don't have another review for Xenith ready yet, but I can't muster the mental bandwidth this week. It will be out next week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 164

Can't talk. Writing.

(OK, OK. Today I got my Round Two word for the Tweet Me A Story competition-- "Surprise" and I wrote seven and submitted three stories. Then I reworked a version of the Night essay that I just might not be too embarrassed to send to Creative Nonfiction. We'll see how I feel tomorrow after no hours of sleep! Good NIGHT.)

PPPS.: Since I wrote very little here today, please use your time wisely, and read this: You Should Date An Illiterate Girl

My theory is that literate boys find this funnier than literate girls, for whom the truth of page two stings mightily.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 163

I got almost all of my draft done for the Night essay. At this point, I have no idea if it works, but at least it's on paper.

I also got a call from one of the MFA programs saying that I had no letters of recommendation on file. They were sent last year, and the graduate school office told me I wouldn't need to resubmit them. "I don't know why they'd tell you that," she sniffed. "Did you note in your application packet that you wanted to use last year's?" I told her I didn't realize that I'd need to, based on what I was told.

She went over to the files to try to find them from last year and said that there was no file, and she didn't have my name on the list of applicants from last year. I read her the letter of rejection they sent me, and when she looked again, she found them.

Tonight was the second class on Arizona geology--on the geologic time scale of the Grand Canyon. There was a nice review of the rules of superposition (oldest rock on the bottom), original horizontality (depositions only happen in flat layers), lateral continuity (layers stretch for considerable distances), crosscutting (the intrusion is the youngest rock), and uncomformity (missing time--one of my favorites). The formations at the Grand Canyon have wonderful eastern names, commemorating Dutton's Taoist leanings--the Vishnu mountains, the Temple Butte; as well as Pueblo names, Kaibab, Toroweap, and Coconino.

And thanks to my awesome network, one of my Tweet-me-a-story tweets won the audience award for round one! I get the round two word tomorrow after work.

I finished the book I plan on reviewing, but haven't had time to write the review up. It may be extra late, with the essay taking first priority. Perhaps I can draft something on the bus in the morning.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 162

This morning I went to the botanical garden and spoke with one of the plant experts. We talked about night blooming plants. I have this sort of idea for an essay, but it requires scraping a lot of what I have already written. I don't know if I can write the idea that's in my head in the next couple of days--or at all, if I don't. I've perhaps waited too long.

In any case, I plugged away at it for an hour, and nearly finished the book I'm going to review next.

Overall, I am pretty disappointed in my work ethic and commitment lately. I want to knit and read and go running. But I can't do those things: I'm supposed to be writing. So instead, I sit at the computer for hours and curse my inability to write. There are too many distractions here, I just need to get away.

Monday, January 24, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 161

Let's try something different today. Open a new tab or window. In the new tab, go to Daytrotter, the latest Iron & Wine session. Start playing the first song, Tree by the River. Then come back here and read this. They don't directly relate, it's just to replicate the soundtrack of my morning.

Is the music playing?


She drove to work like she always did: with a sick sense of dread. She scowled, and kept swallowing down the daily disappointment that threatened to hiccup out while she maneuvered through, past and around what felt like the entire city's worth of egotists and malignant narcissists on the freeway. They cut in front of her without signaling; they raced up on her back bumper; they tried to cut around her on the right--to beat the end of the turn lane and the two cars behind her.

Some days she could ignore the traffic: soft music from her sweet and melancholy mix could be a balm. Most days it felt like the prologue to a day full of fighting off whining, demanding, inconsiderate humanity as it cut itself off in the checkout line, stole sticks of gum, and begged for free samples. This is what the drive to a job in retail does: it beats you down, so you have no illusions when you walk through the automatic doors.

By the time her freeway exit is in sight, anxiety and numbness are fighting over her nervous system. She is trying to let it go, think positive. She still has her eye on the car clock, though. As usual, it took every ounce of will she has to get out of bed--to make her limbs jangle through the motions of getting ready for work. She's cut it close, again. Every day: late.

All the way to the slowing arc of road that peels her off the greater flow of cars and carnage, she tells herself over and over, It could be worse. And in a million ways it could. She could have no job, no legs, no eyelids. She could be mopping up cum at a porno theater for minimum wage. She could be tarring roofs or roads. It could be worse is her mantra to get through the leaden days of obsequious tedium wherein the customer is always right.

She has one more merge to make after her exit. The light is less than 400 yards to her right, with three lanes to cross so she can turn left. It's a divided road, so she glances quickly out the right side where all of the traffic has just gone and then focuses on the left, the direction it's coming from. It's rush hour, so she has to be ready to leap across once she has a window.

This is the part of the drive where she has to wake up for a moment: sometimes this lunge across the lanes has to be cut close enough to make her heart pound and neck hair tingle. Today she sees a car coming, but gauges it to be in the far left lane. She jumps into the turn and as her line of vision shifts from the side window, back to the windshield, she sees a bicycle coming straight at her.

He looks young. Maybe 19, with shaggy dirty blond hair blowing behind him. He's skinny, wearing black fingerless gloves and a windbreaker. She can't tell if his expression changes when they look at each other in the eye across the telescoping gap between their respective metal, rubber, and bones. 

There is no time to think about what he's doing on the wrong side of the road. She doesn't even think about all those riders who have died in the last town she called home from this exact maneuver--trying to cut across the flow to save time at a light further up--or the drivers charged with manslaughter when they do. She has a split second to decide to yank the wheel to the left or the right. She remembers that car coming behind her, and pulls hard to the right, over curb, gravel, bits of metal and wood. Rolling, crunching over the sort of empty lot that exists out past sidewalks, lined with zoning signs, price tags, windblown trash.

The kid on the bike doesn't even slow down. He's close enough to her door to clothesline and still, he just barrels away behind her. He's probably cut it close today, too. She rumbles over the curb back into the bike lane (the arrows still pointing forward, stabbing into his bike tires as he continues in the wrong lane), and then waits a moment before leaping across the three car lanes to make her turn. Only after the left, with the arrows and gravel and knuckles poking out of fingerless gloves well behind, does her breath grow ragged, like a fish on a line, gawping for water. But she doesn't cry until she gets to the parking lot at work. And even then, she's only got two minutes to do it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 160

Today's post could read exactly like yesterday's. I can't break through this stuck place. Some of the things that haven't worked:
  • Trying to write out and about
  • Trying to write with someone else
  • Trying to write with the internet/music on
I've been getting these little things (like tweet me a story and 250 word pieces) out, but all my interneting has shortened my attention span, I think. And trying to be sociable. I need to hibernate better.

Or not, who knows? I can't stick to a damn schedule--that's what I really think the problem is. I am afraid of failing and of succeeding. I am afraid of what will happen when I move. I am terrified that somehow, I won't move--that I'll be thwarted and stuck here forever.

I am afraid that I will never shake this bad attitude. I am afraid that one day I will just start yelling at everyone around me to go away and leave me the fuck alone. I am afraid that I won't need to.

I can't find any zone, I can't focus for shit. All I want is out of here, out of my lease out of my job out of my family's zipcode. I know I should be looking on some bright side or trying to stay positive--but somewhere, some committee is deciding my fate in total secrecy. I am already on the "no" pile somewhere. Hopefully I am still in some "maybe" piles.

Nothing is ever good enough for me. I am so afraid that if I DO get into a school, I'll hate that, too. How am I supposed to see what's right for me, when everything is just always wrong?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 159

It's my Friday. Instead of partying, I propped my eyelids open with toothpicks for 30 minutes of writing before bed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 158

This week of "being a writer" feels like it has been taking a month to get through. All the good publication news is heartening, but I'm still not getting paid for any of it--which is disheartening. It can't be a career unless it provides income, right? Otherwise it's just a hobby.

Today, while unsuccessfully looking for a good new book to review next, I bought myself a beautiful book of shell plates from Taschen (B&N bargain books, FTW). It's a reward for my keeping at the submissions. The shell book and the nerd girl t-shirts that arrived by post yesterday. Today I wore one that is covered in mushroom etchings. Tomorrow, Sandhill cranes. I tried to write a bit on Night, but I am too fuzzy headed from exhaustion. I did read several more pieces in Rumpus Women and get an idea of the direction that my review will take.

That is all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 157

Today a friend told me that my enthusiasm for nearly everything (plants! rocks! books! t-shirts! this thing I saw! my crazy cat! better buses!) was one of my more charming qualities. That was nice, because I have been criticized for that very thing in the past. And since my skin is as thin as peeling paint, had held to it as a flaw for years.

I also watched a little boy try to figure out a mannequin at work today. We have some clothes at my fancy grocery store, and right now there are sweat pants and a sweatshirt on our tall manly mannie. The mannequin itself is just a torso on metal rod-legs--no head, hands or feet. The boy looked to be three or four, maybe a small five. He looked up at the dad-like shape and then slowly brought each hand next to where legs would have been, but only loose fleece hung. He moved his hands in very slowly, like he was trying to hug the tall guy. But also like he was trying to figure out where the legs started. He looked up to where the head would be. His expression was questioning, rather than worried. He just seemed to be trying to work it out.

I submitted a poem to someplace today. Putting poems out there freaks me out. It is easy for people to make fun of poems and poets and see above for my relative skin thickness.  Also, I have no idea if my poems are any good or not. I know a really good poem when I read it, but I have no palate for the range that starts in "pretty crummy" territory and ends up in "quite nice, actually." As though it's a frequency my ears can't hear. So, maybe the poems I write are clever or cute--but not "good." Or maybe they're "pretty good except for this one thing." I don't know. And it is so hard to not imagine somewhere, someone reading them and chuckling in embarrassment--for me.

A conversation in the comments at The Rumpus led me to a new blog: Molly Says. I don't have a blogroll thing on this site (should I?) but I do love Molly's tone and I can relate to a lot of her posts.

Oh yeah: One of my flash fiction pieces was accepted! This one is going to appear in Thunderclap! Press Spring 2011 issue.

That's it, and somehow it is late again. I spent the whole evening talking to a couple of old friends instead of writing. I really miss talking to old friends. One of them wants me to move to NYC if school doesn't work out this time. Could I get an undergraduate degree (in science) there without going into debt? If I were a resident? Does anyone know? It's the lack of sleep talking anyway--I'm totally going to get into school this year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 156

It is really god-damned late and I am still up.

Today was a social media day at work: I wrote a blog and tweeted a lot.

I also confirmed at time to meet with the night blooming garden specialist at the botanical garden, next Tuesday. And I found three writing jobs to apply for.

I also pimped out my two second round stories. Have you voted yet? Vote here!

Over and out, Mothership.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 155

I am trying to shake off a bitchy, spiky, leave-me-alone kind of funk. I had all day to write, but I didn't. I hibernated. I pulled out an entire sweater that I knit last year. I unraveled the yarn and untied the knots, it gave me this weird sense of anti-progress.

The geology lecture was good. I learned about some of the differences between the four deserts in the SW: Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan. Both of the first two are closed water systems. They have no outlet to the ocean, so water can only evaporate, leaving giant salt and gypsum playas. Both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts have two rainy seasons, but the latter is higher up, so the winter wet season is too cold to be a growing season. The Sonoran is the only one with two growing seasons. This is why we have tasty grapefruits right now.

The Botanical Garden looked beautiful by the light of the almost-full moon:
Moon over cacti

Next week's class is on the geologic time frame of the Grand Canyon. I get paid on Friday. If there is still space, I will sign up.

Two of my stories made it into the top 25 in my group for the Tweet Me A Story contest: Group 11 - Appetite. There should be voting buttons up in the morning, if you like either of mine please vote for it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 154

Most of today was spent being bugged. About the bus, work, my lack of sleep, my attitude. Just bugged.

It started out well enough: I posted a picture of a hummingbird in Jeff's palm and my facebook promptly blew up (relatively speaking). This has given me the idea of going with some of the earlier passages in my "Night" essay. Can it be a Night essay if the night never comes?

And then the day job sucked away all my joy. I tried to coast through it. I tried not to care, to focus on getting home and doing other things.

Today I posted the newest flash piece to Fictionaut. I will wait to link it until it is up on the 52/250 site.

I also submitted my flash nonfiction desert piece to the umpteen millionth journal who says they go for work that is pushing boundaries. Maybe this piece is too pushy? Not pushy enough?

Tomorrow is my first geology class at the Desert Botanical Garden. There's still time to sponsor one of the next four classes, drop me a line if you are interested.

On that note, good night, sweet birds.

This week's mantra: Everything will be alright in the end; if it's not alright, it's not the end. AND: I am going to make it through this spring if it kills me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 153

I actually forgot to post yesterday.

It was bound to happen, but it's weird it was yesterday because I was trying to be a writer all day.

I finished the book I was hoping to review this weekend, I wrote up my submission for the latest 52/250 prompt (this week's was "Animal Behavior," and accepted pieces will be up on Friday), and tried to read through and comment on a few Fictionaut pieces--I think the kids call this "networking".

I'm tired, is the problem. And the tiredness freaks me out, because, School! requires late nights and cramming! right? Am I too old for grad school if I can't lose a few nights sleep and still function?

Anyway, enough fretting. Today I had to be up at 4:30 am and work the day job until 1:30. Then like a fucking TROOPER I came home and wrote my book review. This is me setting deadlines and meeting them. Go me.

The editor at Xenith liked the review (which was a priceless lagniappe) and it is now live here:
Six Missing Words for Blue at Xenith

Your comments and feedback on the piece are appreciated. Now, to sleep, perchance to get some rest.

Friday, January 14, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 151

Last night, after I said I was going to bed, I stayed up and worked on a prompt for a while. The two pieces I came up with weren't much, but the act of brainstorming was too fun to quit.

I only got a couple of hours of sleep as a result, so this is going to be it for writing. I did read quite a bit more of turquoise and I will be writing up my book review tomorrow.

Thinking about this today: It isn't so hard to live far away from your family when you aren't anything like them. It's harder to live close, in that case. I've been thinking about the reasons I feel like (and behave as) the outsider. They feel like I have rejected them, because I don't want to eat the foods they do. I feel cut out because they forget to invite me to family dinners. They think I would sacrifice them for a writing career. I know they would sacrifice me for a nice family portrait. How many times have I said that I want to get out of here? I've been daydreaming about trading my lousy cat in for a rescue dog. A dog can be a better companion than a cat, but only if you enjoy doing the kinds of things that dogs love to do.

Here are the rejected stories from last night's Tweet Me a Story competition. My required word was "appetite."
  • She worked hard on the boy's cake, yet her appetite betrayed her: she swiped a finger across the side, let the chocolate melt on her tongue.
  • "This will soothe her unruly feminine appetite," the doctor proudly orated as he clamped first one electrode and then the other to the girl.
  • Young Love: He will always remember the B side of "Appetite for Destruction" and her blue eyes; she has already forgotten his last name.
  • She told herself it was the baby's appetite as she reached for seconds. Yet she hoped the onions on her breath would keep her husband away.
I posted a poem to Fictionaut, and I am worried that it is terrible. I never know with poems--like I am colorblind to bad verse.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 150

Every day I wake up with a song stuck in my head. I don't fall asleep listening to music, and despite a huge and obsessive collection of iTunes, I actually listen to it somewhat rarely in the house (I am learning what I need to write, and minimum distractions work best). Do I hear music in my dreams? Do the earworms get me there? Or maybe it's snippets from the muzak at work the day before (though that does not explain some of them... like, they never play Ween--a band I hate on principle--on the muzak).

In any case, these songs get in there, and bounce around and inform my day, I suppose. Today it was America's Horse With No Name. The plodding nature of the narrative perhaps spoke to me about my sluggish morning to be.

But, I got my ass up in time for the bus, and what a great day for writing it became. I tweeted some cnf tweets. I read quite a bit of the turquoise book. At work, I wrote a blog post and performed some social media functions. On my lunch break, I posted one of the 52/250 pieces on Fictionaut (and have been getting good feedback since). The bus ride home was spent brainstorming my Tweet Me a Story entries -- I got the word "appetite." I submitted them once I got home.

I also asked the Desert Botanical Garden for a pollinator contact on their Facebook page (though still no answer).

(These are amazing sculptures!)

Now it's time for soup, reading, and bed (right after a little Lie To Me--today's guilty pleasure).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 149

I'd like to think of myself as a spontaneous person, but that is rarely the case. While I like surprises, when it comes to the shit I have to do everyday, I really appreciate a routine that is stuck to.

One of the biggest problems for me with my current day job is the variable hours. I need to know when I will be doing all of the things I need to do in a day--and I need to know this is in advance. Getting a new schedule each week with a mix of different open and close shifts makes me cranky and hinders my productivity. I'm tired; I know that's whining, but I'm tired and I don't care. I have to get up in less than six hours.

Today I submitted a piece to the Bellingham Review's call for short form pieces. I tried (for the third time) to submit to VerbSap, but the editor's mailbox is still full. I signed up for a couple of classes at the Garden. And I didn't get nearly enough reading OR writing done.

Still no thoughts on a journal that doesn't give even a single contributor's copy? That's bumming me out: I know I have at least three opinionated readers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 148

I got a few hours of work done on my Night essay. I have a thousand words and am hoping for three. Because of a change in the way I am thinking about this piece, I sent a note over to one of the pollinator-specialists at the Desert Botanical Garden to see if she could meet/chat with me about the night blooming garden.

The DBG is also hosting weekly geology classes for twenty bucks each:
* SW desert tectonics and hydrology
* Grand Canyon and geologic time
* Paleontology of Arizona
* Volcanology of Arizona
* Geology of the Valley of the Sun

I am going to pay for the first one (plus a birding trip in Feb), but if you are a fan, you can sponsor a class by using that paypal link over there. If you do, I will send you a rock from my rock collection (or a shell, if you want to sponsor the paleontology one).

Today's poll: Would you submit to a literary magazine that doesn't offer at least one contributor copy? Does it become sort of a "how bad do you want to be in print" thing at that point? I sent something off to a press and then later saw that they don't offer any contributor copies, but that a "digital download" would be available for contributors. If such a press accepted my work, and I then had to pay for a copy, how different is it from the old "" anthologies that you could pay to be included in? Are there valid reasons for putting your work into such a publication?

Now I'm off to read more. I am really digging this turquoise book.

Monday, January 10, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 147

I think it might be time for a you-know-what-I-hate post.

You know what I hate? When you tell a person a thing overandoverandover and they say, "no way, can't be, nuh-uh, thanks anyway," and THEN someone else comes along and says the same damn thing ONCE and all of a sudden it's like "oh-ho! what wise words! you are so right! thank you so much for your support and wisdom!"

And before you think I am being overly judgmental, this is a hate that comes from a place of perspective. I have been both the giver and the receiver of advice/opinion/experience that has gone unheeded.

Here's something true: it is far easier to be unheedful than to go unhed, so to speak. A couple of writer friends/mentors have told me overandover that you need to have faith in your writing, that if it is good, solid writing, that someday it will find a home. The ocean piece found a home and the starlings found a home. These are evidence that could point toward the veracity of the advice I have been given. Yet, still I fret, pine, and worry. I feel like I need closure before I can move forward--and this habit of thinking is death.

The trick is in balancing new writing with revision. (Which, by the way, I did neither today--I'm still trying to get through the turquoise book.)

I also hate when people who are not me are way more right than me. I hate it like a five year old hates to clean her room. But it's a discipline, just like any other--this learning to consider the possibilities.

Now to read.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 146

Today I did a little research on honeybee eyes, I wrote a couple of paragraphs on the long winter's night of the bee, and I read more about turquoise.

I also finalized my Arizona application (I guess I forgot to cross a T) and read all of the Flash in the current issue of the recently prize-winning Grey Sparrow lit mag.

I also drank coffee, made a delicious dinner with my boyfriend, and did Bikram yoga (though not in that order). It was a good day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 145

This was going to be a political post. I wrote this whole speech, then deleted it, because really? Who the fuck am I to be spouting political shit? I react to the incendiary bullshit just like the gun-toting nutjobs. Today was very frustrating. I wanted to act, to act out.

Really, all today has shown me that's true is that guns shouldn't be legal here. I know that several of my good friends would disagree with me on that, but I still love them anyway. I will not own a gun until the day I need it to protect my gas supply from bands of roving fur and feather wearing madmen.

I got up and wrote a bit on the Night essay today. I don't think it is dramatic. The website clearly states it should be "vivid and dramatic." This essay will have no river rescues, no orphaned wildebeest babies raised as my own, no exploding bombs killing fish by the millions. Just hummingbirds (not) dying in the night and honeybees (not) seeing in the dark. Maybe the CNF Night competition isn't the place for it, but I am going to try to finish it in time anyway.

Friday, January 7, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 144

Still tired. I need to scroll back to the last time I couldn't sleep all week and try to figure out my triggers.

Today, I read on the book I want to review, posted another story up on Fictionaut, and submitted one of my flash pieces to a small lit mag.

Also, my latest 52/250 piece is up. This week's theme was "Floating Away," and I wrote an imagined Monologue. In my mind's eye this girl looks like one of the tuff girls from my junior high / high school. She wears black eyeliner all along the inside rim of her eye and has feathered hair. She probably wears black acid wash jeans and has weird bruises on her forearms sometimes. 

Now I am off to read more about turquoise, both the color and the stone.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 143

It feels like there are a lot of beer bottles still on the wall.

I haven't gotten to bed at a decent hour in a couple of days. The Internet's days are numbered here. Any ideas on how I could update this thing without it? I hate all of the apps I've tried on my phone. Can I complain again about Blogger's lack of an app?

Here is the announcement of my Runner up-edness:

I spent today reading book reviews and tweeting for my day job. I also secured a galley copy to review (woo!) although I'd like to get an initial review written and out before it gets here -- as practice. So I am going straight to bed to read The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky.

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head for like three days...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 142

Today was exciting.

Early in the day, I found out that the starlings finally won something (almost). I have just sent the contract back, so I will stay quiet until the site announces it. But my birds came in runner up in an essay contest somewhere in the innerwebs. I am torn, because I am so so so glad that the starlings finally found a home, but I am a little sad that it wasn't a paid home. It's a good essay. It won honorable mention last year and got good feedback from at least one editor since--ergo, some mixed feelings. But ultimately, GLAD. This is going to be a science-y piece out in the world, and that makes me feel good.

Then later in the day, I heard back from the managing editor at Xenith, and he is letting me contribute book reviews to the site (assuming I don't suck at it). I am really excited about stretching this particular muscle, and have already reached out to a couple of possible contacts for books to review.

All in all, it was a good day to be a writer. Sadly, I was only able to celebrate virtually, as I have no community here. If you are out there, raise a glass with me: I'm the one drinking liqueur over ice while I stand by the sink.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 141

I was going to get up and write, then run, then read... except, my post went up over at The Rumpus and all I wanted to do was lay around in bed and send texts and emails to everyone I know to go look at it. I love seeing it on the front page. I love seeing that 51 people "like" it (well, 50 if you don't count me--but I'm counting ME).

Here it is, if you haven't already, might I suggest you have a look at it? Funny Women #41: W4M

In other, less awesome news: The blackbirds were rejected by the Sonora Review today. Here's the submishmash tally so far:

Are you making the sad trombone noise? I am. Both my Utah flash nonfiction and the blackbirds essay have received two declines each (that's just here, there is an email folder, too). At least Sonora sent a note. Still nothing from the other lit mag, which is pretty poor form, in my opinion.

I think that after the Night essay and the litcrit piece for my KSU packet I am going to rework the blackbirds, give it an overhaul. The starlings still need to be pitched to The Smithsonian (but I'm too scared!) and the Utah piece is weird enough that I'm cool to just keep trying to find it a home.

I'm not yet sure how I want to use my space at Fictionaut. It seems that posting something there would be considered "publishing" it by most journals. But I don't just want to put rejected stuff up there, or pieces that I don't think are worth trying to publish. Any Fictionaut users care to weigh in?

A lot of jibber jabber today almost hides the fact that I did not in fact write. But I'll count it as a day of celebration. There's always tomorrow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 140

Some serious shit got accomplished today!

First, I will say that I am still avoiding the Night essay. The same as the glacier essay and the hummingbird essay. I don't know what my hangup is about these pieces. Possibly I am too afraid of fucking them up? Since I have such high opinions of their possible results?

Anyway, instead, today I went to my favorite coffeeshop (presumably to meet up with job-guy, who flaked out) and I:
* submitted stuff to five journals (one already bounced because of a full mailbox)
* applied to two tech writing jobs
* applied to an unpaid "book reviewer" position on XENITH
* exchanged emails with the editor at The Rumpus who is going to post my "Funny Women" piece TOMORROW. So. Excited.
* received an invite, set up an account, and posted a story to Fictionaut

This is me on "positive attitude"--it's like cocaine without as much sniffling and embarrassing white crust.
Happy New Year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 139

I was ready to throw in the towel today. Call uncle. It's not that I was going to stop writing, it's just that it is becoming increasingly difficult to say that I am a writer.

Surely it's a mid-winter (in the non-winter desert) funk that's grabbed hold, but I've just felt like a reality avoider lately. I'm not a writer, I'm a grocery store clerk with delusions of grandeur. I write sometimes, but so does my dad (he was recently published, he mentioned in the last message he left), so do all those folks who get jokes printed in Reader's Digest. They are as much a writer as me at this point.

But that's no way to start off the New Year. I am committed to trying harder to be positive, or at least less-negative. Starting today off with a rejection (wherein the publisher didn't even bother to send a note, just checked a box on submishmash) didn't help. As an aside, how shitty is that?

Anyway, the day improved when an editor responded to a piece that I had submitted to an online journal back in late August. She's an editor I respect, and in her note she said, "I love love love this piece and want to publish it!" Talk about a comeback. Just like that: the day is saved from the pit of despair. There will be a link once she posts it.

I also dropped a line to the potential job contact and submitted another mini flash to 52|250 A Year of Flash. And used a Barnes & Noble gift card to subscribe to Poets&Writers magazine. The day was not a loss at all.

Why didn't I work on my Night essay, though? What am I so afraid of?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 137 & 138

Yesterday I ran from home to work to home to out. I barely had time to get drunk, never mind write. I promised to make up for it today. I reworked my desk area with a new table from Jeff. Now I can use my speakers and larger monitor with my laptop. We also lazed around a bit and ate lucky and delicious food, then watched Fargo. Currently, we are at a local coffee shop reading and writing.

I found myself really jealous of people's time off over the holidays. Time off in general. I am hoping the last couple of weeks are symptomatic of working too hard and not playing hard enough. (Plus the difficulty of the holidays this year.) Otherwise, I am afraid it means I'm just not serious about all this. I wanted so badly to just escape to some room somewhere, ideally surrounded by snow. Maybe even with no internet.

But then, when I have had a day or two off work--I haven't spent them writing. It's almost like I've resented writing, for sucking the fun out of life. I resent people with normal lives, who work during the day without hating every minute of it. They go home and they enjoy some hobbies like reading or sewing or hiking or going to the gym. I mean, this is the life I had in Austin, and it wasn't good enough for me. Now I've adopted this stupid mission to change my life, and it seems like it requires the sacrifice of everything else. When I am not at work, I should be writing. Not running. Not knitting. Not hiking or even reading. Whenever I do any of those things, in the back of my mind I feel like I am failing. But I need these things to give me a sense of success. I mean, I am not succeeding at anything else in my life, at least I can knit a sock. I don't know. I don't know what the matter is.

I want this to be a good year. I don't want it to be a year I have to make it through if it kills me. I need to look at things differently, but at the moment I have no idea how. Tomorrow, I am going to run and clean the house (not at the same time). That's all I know right now.