Showing posts from 2010

Bugs Bunny vs Yosemite Sam

I just left Barnes and Noble in a frenzy.  They were closing up and I hadn't finished reading the magazine article from Poets & Writers.  Luckily, my smartphone (T-Mobile G2) has a Microsoft Office app, allowing me to write down all the new magazines I was perusing and online literary journals I wanted to check out.  Driving home in the car, a wave of euphoria passed through me and I couldn't wait to write. The holidays proved to be more than my simple mind could handle.  Like every woman, I inherently posses the ability to multitask, but unfortuantely I reach maximum overload when I've gone over 20 tasks.  Then, my creative flow goes on strike.  I sit down to write and nothing comes out.  I avoid my computer, indulge in T.V. shows and movies, but the issue at hand always finds me. (Cue ominous music)  WRITER'S BLOCK.    
The past month or so I've worried my creativity might disappear for good.  As though the entire thing was a fluke.  Preparing for Thanksgiving …

First Experience with a Magazine Editor

I braved the cold and traveled into Philadelphia to the offices of MetroKidsMagazine last Thursday. I’ve been interning for them for the past two and half months. Since most of my time is spent at home updating attractions listings, I wanted a chance to see how a magazine was put together for publication. Little did I know, everything is done on computers, and unless I was in charge of a specific section, I wasn’t going to learn much.
When I emailed my interest to observe the production process, the editors told me to bring in the attraction listings and article I was working on because they were fully engaged in preparing the January issue. I was a bit nervous about bringing in my article on the 10 Family Movies of All Time, since I hadn’t made much progress with it. I couldn’t get a list of 10 movies for ages toddlers to teens to save my life. Another problem I ran into was determining what movies would not only entertain children, but their parents as well and offer discussio…

Warning Labels on Critique Submissions

Everything requires bubble wrap and warnings to avoid complaints and lawsuits when someone invariably gets hurt or offended by something they encounter in the world.The Internet immediately brings information to us when asked, and with the lack of restrictions comes the responsibility to ensure visitors are aware of the dangers and possible PG or higher-rated material.The following material (violence, sexual content, foul language, etc.) may not be suitable for you.I knew I might discuss controversial topics or use adult language on my blog, so I included a warning.Is this necessary?I believe it is and isn't.I wouldn’t want someone to stumble upon something only to have the disturbing images permanently burned into their memory, although, a little shock could do them some good (I am still battling with my public image).Living in a bubble causes damage as well, folks.And I certainly wouldn’t want children to see something that might possibly steal away their innocence.Now, what abo…

The Final Stretch of NaNoWriMo

Word count: 37, 198The Winner’s Circle.The adoring fans delight in the triumphant victory as they surround the winner.Cheers and confetti rain down, while the champion embraces their loved ones, accept gifts and gracefully bows to the acclaim.The glory to win NaNoWriMo, unfortunately, was not mine this year.Obstacles of work, holidays, a stomach virus, and exhaustion proved far more difficult than I anticipated.My typing and imagination stalled at 37,000 words and I bowed my head in defeat as the clock ticked closer and closer to 11:59 pm.An admirable attempt I think.I pushed myself to write a novel and I’m almost finished. First chapter tie down many writers for weeks, while I am riding the wave of the rising action about to clumsily type the climax and conclusion.In one month, I have come so far as a writer and now hold an almost complete first draft in my hands, soon to be revised.The pride I feel is comparable to the winners. What I learned about my strength and writing capabili…

NaNoWriMo-Day 14

Current word count: 24,051The weekends.A time to sit down, shirk all other responsibilities and write.Let’s be serious.Melting into the couch with my boyfriend Kevin is far more appealing.Although, I found time on Saturday morning while he worked to update 13 more attraction listings for my internship and scribbled a few drab words for my much-neglected blog, but still no NaNo writing.My goal was to reach 20,000 words by Saturday so that I could get myself back on track, but I fell short of my goal.BUT, I did manage to make it up today by writing over 5,000 words!I’m a writing animal.3,200 of those words were written in two hours at my weekly Write-In at Borders fueled by Alex’s (fellow Wrimo) yummy brownies and chocolate chip cookies that smelled like Christmas and cold-brewed marble mocha iced coffee.As the Write-In came to an end, we discussed our concerns and dilemmas with our novels.Alex asked me and one other participant, Greg, to put excerpts of our story on our NaNoWriMo websi…

NaNoWriMo-Day 11

Current word count: 13,061-17,341One caveat for NaNoWriMo participants: Avoid bookstores.Seeing the shelves of new writers, wishing my name were there, is defeatist.It leaves you in a desolate place where doubt and fear swallow you whole.Crap.All I have written is crap.Literary junk food is the only level my novel might attain, and literary is overly optimistic.The dialogue is suffocating the narration.There is too much and it’s starting to annoy me.Lexi is a silent main character.No one, including me, knows what she’s thinking.Clearly, balance does not exist in my writing toolbox.Revision is an inaccurate word to describe the next stage once I’ve finished writing.Complete overhaul sounds better.Reading my words brings on fits of despair.Don’t even get me started on the lack of interesting in my sentences.You would have thought I was a first grader just learning to put words together to make sentences.Quantity over quality.Wait, I think that was the goal of the challenge.Either way, m…

NaNoWriMo-Day 10

Current word count: 12,197I didn’t get any NaNo writing done until 10 o’clock tonight.I worked on my internship and web design class earlier.Theresa Hegel from The Intelligencer newspaper ( interviewed me regarding my participation in NaNoWriMo.I’m excited she’s going to plug my blog in the article. Since I waited until the end of the day, I only wrote about 800 words.Fear kept me from writing today.Fear of the words needed to get back on track.How silly.I am truly enjoying the writing experience and the creation of my novel.Fear shouldn’t be able to wiggle its way into my psyche.One attempt to block fear: I place index cards with statements and words of encouragement around my writing area to spur me on. It still finds a way to paralyze my fingers and confuse my thoughts. My inner editor has been whispering through the cracks in the box its been locked in, too.Apparently my characters are in service to my plot, when the p…

NaNoWriMo-Day 8

Current word count: 8,076-9,985Well, I spent an hour and a half completing the murder scene.The victim, Ken, is dead from multiple stab wounds.Those almost two thousand words came quickly.Now, I have to get myself ready to tackle the police investigation scene next.As a former English teacher, my crime scene investigation and police procedural skills are limited to what I’ve read and seen on T.V.It’s really important that it sounds realistic.Barnes and Noble has a set of books on the shelves of the writing/publishing section covering these subjects.I could always go to the police station across the street from me and do some research as well, but I think right now I need to focus on getting the story on the page.Research, although should have been done before the writing and outlining began, will need to be done during the revision stage.I need a break.

NaNoWriMo-Day 7

Current word count: 5,924-8,076Well, I have slacked off for the last 3 days.The shame has latched onto my back, pulling me down.Luckily, I met up with a few other Wrimos at Border’s for a Write-In and got myself back on track.We all accomplished 2000 words in the two hours and earned the Socializing badge.Go Team!I find working independently with other writers motivating.It was comforting to share space and talk when moved to, and encourage each other to write.A more productive environment than what is set up at my house.None of us were tempted to putter around on Facebook or e-mail for fear of being caught.We enjoyed it so much we are meeting up again next Sunday.Unfortunately, I am still further behind that I would like to be. I might try to write a bit more tonight before I go to bed, but no promises.

NaNoWriMo-Day 4

Current word count: 3,269-5,924
I started my day off getting my internship work and web design class completed. Now, I have all day to NaNo write. I feel more rested today, and I have more motivation.
I am not working at the moment (won’t last for long), which allows me more time to get my creative flow moving. The other day I went into to my seasonal job, Williams Sonoma, and filled out my rehire paperwork. I missed the warm holiday smells of mulling spices and pumpkin and talking with some of my favorite co-workers. Some of the characters and murder location of my NaNo novel are based on employees and the store itself. Although I might lose time to write, going back might prove helpful for development of details and scenes in my story, and I might earn another NaNo badge if I secretly write at work.
So far this challenge has taught me novel writing is extremely hard. After spending two hours of typing, huge waves of exhaustion crash on top of me. Then, the days I can't must…

NaNoWriMo-Day 3

I’m really tired today.Writing is very exhausting.Luckily, many of the attractions updates I worked on today for my internship were not in the database.It afforded me more time to get other things done, write more, and see my boyfriend.All my grand plans were thwarted when UPS delivered my greenhouse.I was going to wait to put it together, but my mom offered her assistance.It took us about an hour and there is still one pole that is not completely in its place.It was a bitch to get together, and the frustration made us edgy.Several times either one of us would have killed someone if they stepped too close.My exhaustion rose to a new level.Because I couldn’t find the energy to write, I put my outline and character sketches on index cards.That’s where I left the day, but it a total waste it was not.My boyfriend, Kevin, came over and imparted a few words of wisdom.He told me to write about my fatigue, even if it didn’t have anything to do with my scene.He said I could only then really un…

The NaNoWriMo Insanity Begins!

NaNoWriMo started on Monday, and I began with a bit of a rough start.
I spent the entire month of October plotting and sketching my mystery novel in my head and jotting down notes everywhere. Halloween night I finally wrote a basic synopsis, showing me the entire story from beginning to end. Then, I created the outline of basic plot points including a few notes on what information was necessary to include in each scene and leaving out any major details. This way I could really experience the creative process.
It felt good to have the story staring back at me, but for some reason it didn't feel right. My nervousness began creeping in. The 2,000 words I planned to write on Monday were weighing heavily on me. Questions prayed on my already weakening confidence, leading me to think I wasn't up for the challenge.
Does my story make sense? Am I going to be able to make it to the end of the month with 50,000 words written? What if I make it to the end with a terrible story …

New Internship Washes Away Bad Taste

Recently, I applied for an entry-level position with Philadelphia Magazine, but unfortunately my resume was discarded because I didn't have any magazine experience and I never worked with the computer program they use to put their magazine together.
And after an unsuccessful experience with my last internship, I applied to one with MetroKids, afree Philadelphia based magazine for parents, hoping for better results. I sent my resume and three writing samples: a personal essay and two biography entries. I was ecstatic about interning for a magazine. I would learn how it runs, how an issue is put together, experience working with an editor and get published.
Since I had worked with children as a former teacher, I thought I made a good candidate for MetroKids. The skills I would gain would increase my chances of being hired at a magazine if that's what I wanted to do once I completed the internship.
After I clicked "send", I realized I didn't include a cover le…

A Musical Muse Prompt

I receive emails from the Writer's Digest blog, Promptly, every couple of days. Using music lyrics to produce a few hundred words was yesterday's prompt. It hoped to inspire the writer by asking them to choose two favorite songs. Pick a line from the chorus of one song, and a line from the chorus of the other song and integrate into their scene.
I was really excited by the prompt because I love music lyrics. The song writers always seem to say exactly what I'm feeling when I've gone mute. The words evoke strong emotional responses from me. So, why not take advantage of the writing exercise and put the strong emotional responses down in a short scene, giving my thoughts a voice.
Alexi Murdoch's "Wait" and Florence and The Machine's "Heavy in Your Arms" and "You've Got the Love" are the three songs I chose (two songs weren't enough). I started the scene with "If I can’t be, all that I could be", used "I&…

Can I write a novel in 30 days?

A challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days or National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is quickly approaching. November 1st marks the day participants begin writing every day for one month in hopes of completing 50,000 words. The creators of this writing project hoped the dreams of aspiring novelists would come true by writing without inhibitions and putting the internal editor to sleep. Which, right now, is something I struggle with every time I sit in front of my computer.
Here's a peek into my daily writing routine: stop every few lines, go back, reread, shift words around, stare at the screen, plan my next move, check email, walk around, and repeat. I end up with more frustration than success. Perfecting an unfinished piece does nothing but waste time. You can't properly revise writing without seeing the whole picture. Yet, I do just that and all I accomplish is a lengthy list of excuses, getting no closer to finishing a project.
NaNoWriMo really challenges its parti…

Internship and Writing Project Leave Bad Taste in Mouth

When I began my internship with Mr. H, an English professor/playwright, in July, his close friend Mr. C needed a web page to inform potential investors and other interested people about the ballet company International Ballet Classique in Delaware County. As a board member, he hoped to keep costs down for the non-profit company by utilizing the free service of Wikipedia and Mr. H's interns. Ultimately, receiving free publicity. Mr. H offered the project to me, thinking it could lead to a Wikipedia writing business.
How often would I receive professional writing opportunities with no experience? I thought about it for a few seconds--encouraged by Mr. H's confidence in me--then said yes. I knew this experience would help me find paid writing jobs in the future.
The first step was to email Mr. C and attach a writing sample. I used the only one I had to date from college: Alice in Wonderland re-imagined. When I called him, he and I spoke about my piece and my writing aspir…

First Submission

Since I'm cultivating a freelance writing career, submitting my work for publication is Step One, I thought, to determine if my work is worth reading, letting me know if I could succeed. So, I drafted an essay for an online collection of commentary on trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the Philadelphia area called Metropolis.
To get an idea of the site's style preferences, I read a few essays. They ranged from writers discussing their love life to a play-by-play of trash picking in Society Hill to a woman complaining about the misuse of sidewalks by bicyclers, strollers, and alfresco dining in the city.
Thinking of events that occurred to me in the past month or so, I decided to write about a frustrating experience with the professor I intern for in Upper Darby and describe my attempt to steer clear of bruising his fragile, inflated ego.
Once I finished, I realized writing this piecewas a difficult undertaking, much harder than writing blogs, prompts, and short stories…

Bittersweet Contest Winner

I woke up to my phone alarm Saturday morning. As I turned it off, I noticed I had an email from Writer's Digest. I quickly opened the email in hopes to find out the results from the Office Swag Giveaway Contest I entered. I read the email as quickly as I could to find out if I had won, and there it was: "the names of all the authors who wrote stories went into the magic hat, and four emerged--Nathan HonorĂ©, Dare Gaither, Laura M. Campbell and Jo O’Connor." I won!
My excitement spread across my face and I bounced around in bed. Upon reading the email more closely, I noticed, although it required participants to send in their response to the prompt, the winners were chosen at random. Disappointment swallowed my joyous celebration.
They didn't even read my response. The winners weren't chosen based on merit? How anticlimactic. Sigh. I laid back down and stared at my ceiling, upset and embarrassed. How could I tell anyone I won a writing contest when it …

4:30 am inspiration

I cannot believe I am up this early. Thirst took me over, and while I laid in bed debating if I should get up, I tossed around ideas about my writing.
Since I was a little girl, I had an imagination that would create fantastic worlds I wished I lived in: I was adorned by friends, personified a strong independent spirit, embodied an importance in my community to be rivaled, and of course, all the boys were enamored with me. The ideas worked into chapter books I wrote in between talking instead of paying attention in Mr. Pecuch's 5th grade class. The plot was weak and circular, describing this perfect life I desperately wanted, illustrated with hideous pictures on lined paper. Boy, did I think I was the coolest.
Fast forward 19 years and I am in the same romantically delusional world I created at 11. Writing fascinates me, and I dream of becoming a writer. Unfortunately, reaching this goal, one must remove head from clouds and write.
Well, I wasn't rehired at the urban…