Category Archives: writing

FYI: I Will Cease to Care About Anything on Friday Except Gilmore Girls

This is a quick heads-up that I will cease to care about anything or anyone else on the planet this Friday except for the four-part revival of “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix. Here are just a few things the existence of which I will forget about for six full hours:

  • Energy bills
  • My failed high-protein diet(s)
  • Nuclear proliferation
  • My unkempt eyebrows
  • Donald Trump
  • Neo-nazis (see above)
  • Deep dish pizza vs. regular pizza
  • Daylight Savings Time
  • Time
  • Space
  • Space-time continuum
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Feminism
  • Planes
  • Trains
  • Automobiles
  • Zucchini noodles aka “zoodles”
  • Fro-yo
  • Ill-fitting jeans
  • Red states
  • Blue states
  • Purple states
  • The oceans (all)
  • The continents (all)
  • Also lakes
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 1066 (I know stuff happened but I forget most of it anyways blah blah England)
  • Most of History
  • Millennials
  • GenX
  • GenC (?)
  • Whatever generation I am
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Your racist uncle
  • Birth control methods (all)
  • Indiana (included in above “red states” but I want to forget it twice)
  • The New York Times
  • Fake news
  • Real news
  • Sort-of-real-maybe news, but it was retweeted by Joss Whedon so who knows?
  • Carrier pigeons
  • Ostriches
  • All birds, really
  • Whether or not there is a God(s)
  • Reptiles
  • Whether my direct deposit for work will kick in soon
  • Apples
  • The fact that we are all, as Dickens said, fellow passengers to the grave
  • Reality
  • Satire

Why? Because after this year, I deserve this ONE THING, OKAY? WE ALL DO! JUST THIS ONE THING! SIX HOURS! FOUR NINETY-MINUTE EPISODES! PLEASE JUST LET US HAVE THIS, UNIVERSE!

Ahem.

Happy Thanksgiving.

ggirlslifestyle

 

 

Jackie’s 17 Steps for Drafting Your Young Adult Novel

I’M BAAAAACK! MISS ME, BITCHES?

It’s been a nutty couple of months. I’ve been doing job searching while also finishing a draft of a Young Adult novel (aka YA for the uninitiated). It may or may not ever see the light of day (aka the shelves of a bookstore), but I’m pretty proud of having finished it. So proud, in fact, that I thought I’d share the wisdom I gained throughout the writing process for all my 17 blog readers. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Step 1: Come up with an original, never-before-imagined idea for your book. HAHAHAHAHA LOL J/K THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE DYSTOPIAN CHILD-KILLING-GAMES-MY BOYFRIEND-IS-A-VAMPIRE SUN; pick your poison, put your twist on it, and move on.

Step 2: Draft a detailed outline of your book, including key plot developments, character introductions, and emotional arcs. This one is easy: open a word doc and begin with Chapter 1. Then, halfway through outlining Chapter 1, give up and just begin to wing it because who has time for this shit?

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-01-14-am

Step 3: Write about 5,000 words of your book and feel pretty good about it. You know what? This isn’t half-bad! Teens would like this, right? RIGHT?

Step 4: Re-read your first 5,000 words and realize they are TERRIBLE. Oh my God, my dog could have written this. Why am I even trying? WHY AM I EVEN ALIVE?

Step 5: Cry

Step 6: Remember the E.L. James is a published author of poorly-written plagiarized fan-fiction and get your shit together. YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU WILL DO THIS!

Step 7: Get to 25,000 words and feel pretty good about it. You like your protagonist, and you hate your villain. There’s real conflict here, and some humor. You’re a good writer, you really are!

Step 8: Re-read the 25,000 words and remember that you are the worst writer to ever walk the Earth and also a terrible human being. OH GOD WHY DID I DO THIS? I’m a worthless hack. I’m going to go eat everything now.

Step 9: Cry while curled up into a ball on your bed and devouring a bag of pretzel twists dipped in an ENTIRE TUB of cream cheese while re-watching Star Trek: Voyager on Netflix. To be fair, this is my coping mechanism for all my setbacks in life, not just writing-related fails.

Step 10: Remember that if she could see you now, Captain Janeway* would tell you buck the fuck up, guzzle some black coffee, and get back to work, Ensign! I’m sorry, Kathryn, I was weak. I WILL KEEP WRITING RIGHT AFTER I STOP THAT WARP CORE BREACH AND PREVENT THE BORG FROM ASSIMILATING THE SHIP, CAPTAIN!

janeway-borg-meme

Step 11: Read a really good book by an excellent author and come to peace with the fact that you will never be that good but at least you can write grammar real good; and know how to do punctuation and stuff and things.

Step 12: Damn it.

Step 13: Finish your draft! Wow, what an accomplishment! Even if no one reads this, you’ve written a fucking book–how many people can say that?

Step 14: Go on Twitter and realize everyone and their mother has written a YA book just like yours. Fuck.

Step 15: Edit your manuscript which primarily deals with the lives of teens and realize that you have no idea about the lives of teens. I think I made a reference to desktop computers in there…do kids even use computers these days? Or do they operate their smartphones via chips embedded in their brains that allow them to send Snapchats with the firing of a single neuron? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS? I guess I could ask an actual teen, but…ew, amirite?

Step 16: Shake your fist at the sky and curse the day that the first members of Generation C were born. Little bastards expecting their lives to be accurately depicted in literature–don’t they know that you are OLD AF RN?

Step 17: Remember that Generation C will soon supplant your Millennial Generation as the most hated of all time. Steeple your fingers while laughing maniacally at their forthcoming generational pain. NOW GO BUY MY BOOK, KIDDOS!

THE END

*I apologize for the obligatory Star Trek reference as I know certain people (ahem, L**) think all I do is talk about “Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek,” but I’ve basically just embraced being a ridiculous obsessed nerd so…yeah, get over it. 

**J/K, L, you know I love you.

 

5 lessons from the A-Z Challenge

The April A-Z Challenge is over, and I completed it! Yay! Yeah, I started late and ended on the first day of May, but overall, I’m pretty proud of myself. Wait brb.

Okay, back now, and, WOAH! So, I just did that thing that Obama did once where a fly flew at me and I def caught it in my hand and smushed it SO I AM A SUPERHERO! I am feeling pretty good about myself at this moment! I mean, I’m basically Obama now, right?

Ahem. Anyways, as I wrote this weekend, I wanted to share my (beware corporate speak) KEY TAKEAWAYS from the experience for my fellow bloggers out there to compare and contrast. These “lessons” are very personal to me, and are in no way meant to tell anyone else how to blog, but in case others are interested I thought I’d put ’em down on virtual paper because I always like reading about others’ blogging and writing processes.

Lesson 1: I’m a planner: In the past, I’ve always had a vague goal of blogging a few times a week. Sometimes I’d accomplish this, and other weeks I’d fail, usually due to procrastination or pure laziness. During this challenge, however, I made a planned commitment to blog pretty much every day for a month, and I set aside a time to do it–around 9 pm every night for the following day’s post. And, guess what? It worked! With the exception of this past Saturday, which was supposed to be Z but got pushed back due to my being in NOLA for JazzFest and then getting a killer cold virus, I didn’t miss a day, and I finished the challenge. So, moving forward, I’m going to commit to posting minimum 2x per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with my planned blog writing time being Monday and Wednesday evenings. Huzzah for planning!

Lesson 2: Less is sometimes more: I felt better about (and got more views on) many of my shorter posts over the course of the challenge–especially humor posts. I’m going to try to keep my posts under 800 words, unless I feel like I need to go in depth on a topic. I can be a rambler in my writing, and since I don’t really edit my blog posts I need to just cut myself off. Lol not every thought I have is gold!

Lesson 3: Personal stories always connect: I love writing humor on my blog, and a lot of readers like it, too, but the post over the course of the month with the most views was the most “serious” one, F is for Fatass. It was hard to write, but it was worth it. I’m not saying my blog is going to become The Sad Sob Stories of Jackie–sometimes I need to write about boobs whether y’all want to read it or not–but issues I deal with like mental illness and body confidence connect with my readers, and are important for me to share, so I will continue to share them.

Lesson 4: Ask and you shall receive: Bloggers are always saying, “If you want people to comment, ask them to do so!” For the longest time I didn’t, but now I do and the frequency with which people comment has increased a ton. YOU WERE RIGHT, OTHER BLOGGERS, OKAY?

Lesson 5: Fun and engagement are the goal: Throughout the challenge, there were several times I started posts and deleted before publishing because I didn’t have fun writing them, or didn’t feel engaged while writing. I’m glad that I did this, because if I don’t like writing a 500 word post at all, or am not interested in it, then why the fuck would you want to read it? For instance, I’m liking writing this blog advice shizzle right now because I think it is useful and sort of funny, so I’m gonna keep typing away. If a topic doesn’t engage me, I won’t force it. It’s not like I’m gettin’ paid for this, so I’m NINE YEARS OLD I DO WHAT I WANT, ya know? So, have fun out there!

 

Anyone else participate in the challenge? What were your takeaways? Did you have fun? I had a blast 🙂 Lmk what you think in the comments! ❤

Gilmore Girls Season 1 Ep. 2: Welcome to FancyPants Academy

Here we are, recapping episode two (see Ep 1 here)! Let the drama at Chilton begins! Though, it’s probably nothing to the drama that will no doubt unfold in the Gilmore Girls revival when a pretty girl who ISN’T RORY gets lines and Rory pouts forever.

God, I’m so mean to Rory* AND I LOVE IT (steeples fingers, laughs maniacally, paces around evil lair).

Before the credits, Lorelai paints Rory’s toes red in preparation for Chilton so she can be a “bad girl” underneath her uniform and saddle shoes. Slow your roll, Lorelai, it’s not the end of season five yet, Rory’s got plenty of time to go bad!

After the credits, however, it’s Monday morning and Lorelai is the bad one, having overslept and apparently left all her profesh-looking clothes at the cleaners, so she has to drop Rory off at her first day of Fancy School looking like a rodeo queen, which, depending on whatever fetish the headmaster might be into, might actually give Rory an advantage over her fellow students.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.24.27 PM
Remember when tie dyed tshirts were a thing in the early 2000s? Ugh.

They drive off to Chilton, and while Lorelai is perfectly happy to let Rory go in all alone, Rory insists that she come in to meet the headmaster. Of course, Lorelai can’t step three feet into the courtyard without immediately getting hit on by a Divorced Hot Chilton Dad, who, while ogling Lorelai, promises Rory that he’ll have his daughter look her up, which I’m sure won’t be awkward for Rory or his daughter AT ALL. Rory finally extricates her mother from her meet-cute and they go find the headmaster, walking by some snobby-looking girls who have apparently just finished a movie night marathon of Mean Girls, Heathers, and all the Amber scenes in Clueless.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.53.05 PM
She could be a farmer in those clothes!

Once at the headmaster’s office, they make it past a secretary who is most likely Norman Bates’s mother, and go in to find Headmaster Charleston, and…EMILY!

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.38.52 PM
I came to slay, bitch.

Lorelai is not thrilled, especially when she learns that Emily and the headmaster’s wife, Biddy (FFS people is this a real rich person name that exists?), are BFFs and the headmaster plays golf at the club with Richard every week. Emily and the headmaster are both, of course, EXTREMELY insistent that Lorelai take her coat off and sit down, so she is forced to reveal herself as the Rodeo Queen and neither Charleston nor Emily love her look.

After Lorelai reaches peak embarrassment, she and Emily leave Rory with the headmaster and go to argue about Emily wanting to be involved in Rory’s schooling. Lorelai eventually is like, FINE WHATEVER DO WHAT U WANT I’M AUDI 5000, but it turns out that she’s right to think that Emily’s interference is unnecessary, because back in his office Headmaster Charleston is being a grade-A dick to Rory. Don’t get me wrong, in later eps and seasons I LOVE people being dicks to Rory, but in this case it’s not cool.

After asking Rory about her aspirations (Harvard, then journalism, specifically Christiane Amanpour, because Rory doesn’t know what a shitshow CNN will be by the time she enters the workforce), Charleston basically tells her that he doesn’t give a fuck who her grandparents are and that because she’s a month behind and comes from a small town that she’ll probably fail(?). And while I personally think a hint to Rory not to expect special treatment because of her family name would be appropriate, telling a kid on her first day of school that she is likely to FAIL is not the best plan for any educator who wants to keep his job. It’s not the last time Charleston is an asshole, though, so at least his character is consistent.

Rory goes to the office to complete paperwork, where a student assistant steals her file and passes it out the window to Paris (yay!) and her crew, Madeline and Louise. Paris, worried about potential academic competition, devours Rory’s file and immediately hates her, since, as an aspiring journalist, she’ll probably be going out for the school paper–which is Paris’s bag. Paris laments the fact that they’re letting new kids in and wonders why they would bother. I have an answer for ya, Paris, it’s called MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY HEY HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS THING CALLED MONEY? WE HAVE HERE AT CHILTON AND WE WOULD LIKE MORE PLEASE THANKS BYE.

Back in Stars Hollow, Lorelai gets made fun of for her Rodeo outfit by pretty much everyone, and then once at home Emily calls to offer to buy Rory the entire Chilton merchandise store. It’s cute, but the action is mostly at Chilton, so I’m making a u-turn back to Hartford!

Rory’s in her first class, where Paris knows the answer to every question, making Rory feel like a N00B. Class is interrupted momentarily by the entrance of Tristan Dugray, who’s coming back from a visit to One Tree Hill seeing his sick grandfather. Next…oh, wait, I know that teacher! The teacher is Dr. Phlox from Star Trek: Enterprise! I KNEW I knew that guy!

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.05.51 PM
Is my hair gelled enough? No, really, is it?
Phlox 2
Well, in my last job, I taught English to a bunch of rich little brats, so hurtling through space with Scott Bakula is a HUGE improvement.

Ahem. Sorry. Extreme geek moment over.

Anyways, Tristan is intrigued by Rory, asking the forty-year-old man posing as a student in the seat in front of him about her.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.10.45 PM
Who’s the hottie? Also, can you buy me some beer after school? 

Tristan calls her a “Mary,” because she looks virginal, because…sure, ok, whatever.

A note: at no point in the entire episode do I see a non-white student at Chilton, which I guess is not a shock but pretty sad. Even in the early 2000s schools like Chilton made some kind of effort to admit a more diverse student body! Later on in the show I think we meet an Asian student who gets a crush on Lane, but right now I’m having trouble remembering any other non-white Chilton kids. Come on, Hollywood, I know it’s 2000 but you could have done better than this!

After class, Rory gets a ton of study materials (and the shit scared out of her about her workload) from Dr. Phlox the teacher, and is then promptly accosted by Paris in the hall. Paris informs Rory that this is her school, and the Franklin (the school paper) is her thing, and she’s going to be valedictorian, and they’re never going to be friends and live together at Yale AT ALL NAH NAH NAH I DON’T LIKE YOU! Rory, understandably, is like, -_-, but I giggle because in one of my head canon timelines Rory and Paris end up together lol.

At the Independence Inn, Jackson and Sookie are arguing about produce (peaches, specifically) and it’s cute and I can’t wait for them to get together! Lorelai comes in to bitch about her less-than-impressive Rodeo performance at Chilton, but Michel interrupts to tell Lorelai her mother is on the phone. Emily has bought Rory a parking space at Chilton and wants to buy her a car. Lorelai is like, UGH, so Emily backs off, but I’m sure Rory would be pissed to know her mom is turning down the offer of a car on her behalf.

At Chilton, Tristan introduces himself to Rory in the douchiest way possible, by offering to share his notes from their literature class, and then backing her up against a wall and being skeezy and offering to help her “study.” Rory is icked out, and so am I. I was never team Tristan, he was gross.

Meanwhile, Hot Divorced Chilton Dad has shown up at the Inn to ask Lorelai out. Showing some good sense, she declines, realizing how bad it would be to immediately date one of Rory’s classmate’s father. Not that the day could get any worse for Rory, who, at that moment, pulls too hard on her faulty locker door and knocks into Paris, who drops some sort of model on the floor, destroying it. Rory just went from a bug for Paris to squash to Paris’s Enemy No. 1.

Of course, Rory’s next class is with Paris AND Tristan “Harasser” Dugray. Paris was due to present her busted model to the class, but since she can’t the teacher wants to give her an incomplete. Rory tries to help out, saying she accidentally ruined the project, but Paris doesn’t want her help, which is…dumb? I get Paris wants to be independent, but, girl, Rory speaking up gets you an extension to fix what she accidentally broke. That’s gotta mean something!

Lorelai heads to Luke’s to fuel up on coffee before picking Rory up from school, and of COURSE mentions that Hot Chilton Dad showed up to ask her out because she’s definitely not interested in Luke’s reaction to this information, oh no, not at all! Luke makes this face when she tells him she turned the guy down:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.35.12 PM
This is “happy” Luke. Take note for future episodes.

This interesting moment is interrupted when Lorelai receives a call from her neighbor Babette, and goes home to find Kirk (ugh), except he’s calling himself Mick(?) because I guess they hadn’t figured out Sean Gunn’s character/presence on the show yet. Anyways, Kirk-Mick, or Kick, as I’ll call him, is there to install a DSL line at the house, which…did they not have that before? I feel like DSL was ubiquitous in 2000, right? No? I mean, it’s hard to remember as I’ve been personally plugged into the internet via telepathy since 2005. I am one with it. IT FEEDS MY SOUL.

Anyways, Emily has ordered the DSL, and Lorelai goes off to confront her, while at school Rory tries to pass Paris an “I’m sorry, let me help!” note, which, you’ll be SHOCKED to find out, Paris does not accept. Realizing, rather cleverly, the only way to deal with Paris is by blunt force, Rory instead begins calling out correct answers to the teacher’s questions. Paris is not happy to be beaten to the punch.

Lorelai confronts Emily at her hair salon to tell her to butt out of their lives. “I decide how we live, and not you.” As with all Emily/Lorelai scenes, it’s great, and made even greater by Kelly Bishop in a showercap:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.46.04 PM
She still slays

Lorelai picks Rory up, and they commiserate about their mutually shitty days. After some pizza with Lane, who then has to go home to endless tofu from Mrs. Kim, Rory rather maturely tells Lorelai that she doesn’t need her help with Paris; she’ll deal with the problem on her own. This just makes me sad, because later in the series Rory seems to lose this ability to figure shit out on her own. How is 16-year-old Rory so much more mature and reasonable than 21-year-old Rory? Did I get stupider from 16 to 21? I feel like I got sort of smarter, though…not by much. I dunno.

They pass Luke’s, and Lorelai asks Rory if she thinks Luke is cute. Rory says Lorelai can’t date Luke because when they break up they won’t be able to eat there anymore. This is prophetic, but it doesn’t detract from the sweet last shot, which is of Luke gazing longingly after Lorelai in front of the diner before closing out as we are la-la-la’ed into the credits.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.50.46 PM
Lorelai, come back, I luuuuurve you!

That’s episode 2! Next week, Rory and Richard go golfing and I die because I love Richard! TTFN!

*To be clear, while I have issues with Rory, I think Alexis Bledel does a great job playing her, in all her incarnations. Any faults with the character are with the writing, not the execution. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thirty-First Year of the Jackie

So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).

Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.

This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby!  What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”

I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.

This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.

What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.

I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.

I experienced the love of my family, and the grief of saying goodbye to a family member, albeit a furry one. I also experienced the excitement of welcoming a new love into my life, though this created drama with my old love, which was iced coffee (sorry bae).

I experienced the stress and exhilaration of travel, from people-watching the crazy costume-clad nerds of San Diego Comic Con to getting knocked up by food in Florence and trudging through the rain in Paris in super ugly shoes and seeing Britney dance way worse than when I saw her on tour when I was sixteen.

I witnessed two amazing couples get married on opposite-ish sides of the country and cried my eyes out both times because I AM A SAP, OK?

I experienced breakdowns and bad nights, and discovered new coping mechanisms to pick myself up when I fall or when the world seems too much to handle.

In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.

So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂

Love,

The Birthday Girl

 

 

Paris, je t’aime

 

Sappiness Warning: this post is sappy but I am sappy so yeah.

Last week was pretty terrible.  On top of ISIS The First Evil’s attacks in Beirut and Iraq, earthquakes in Japan, the continuing Syrian refugee crisis, general racism, and a million other awful shitty things I am no doubt forgetting, there was Paris.

Paris is one of my favorite places in the world.  I returned there for the first time since college this past August, when I was overjoyed to introduce one of my best friends to the city where I first discovered the joy of cheese for dessert (and lunch, and a snack, and breakfast).  Paris is the subject of more than half of the “artwork” pieces “decorating” my lame apartment.  It’s where I spent more evenings than I care to admit drinking two euro wine next to a dirty canal while various Frenchmen asked me if I was Mexican(?).  It’s where I fell sleep on the bus after a night of clubbing and ended up stranded in the suburbs at 3 am in a skimpy dress and heels higher than any I’ve worn since the age of twenty.  It’s where I got the news that a friend had died in an accident and cried my eyes out in a café at the thought missing her funeral while the usually stuffy waitstaff looked on sympathetically.  It’s where I learned to be an adult.  It’s where I first understood that I am a citizen of both the United States and the world. Seeing Paris under siege for hours on TV Friday night left me paralyzed for a good 24 hours.

None of this is different from what anyone else who loves Paris (or Beirut, or New York, or any other place ravaged by terrorism) has said or written before, but I just had to get it out, here and, as it turns out, on paper.  A new piece of (extremely lame) “artwork” now adorns the walls of my (extremely lame) apartment, in honor of the city that helped me grow up.  Paris, je t’aime.  Mon coeur est à toi pour toujours.

wpid-wp-1447714706814.jpg

 

The Power of the Doodle

I had a great weekend.  On Saturday, I worked on NaNoWriMo and followed it up with a fantastic evening complete with Thai food, wine, friends, and Mad Men.  Then, yesterday, a friend visiting from out of town and I took the Caltrain down to South Bay to see our other friend’s (too adorable to exist) new baby.  Finally, last night I started knitting a new sparkly scarf and decided to re-watch a couple of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls before conking out for NINE UNINTERRUPTED (HUZZAH!) HOURS OF SLEEP!  It was a fantastic weekend, full of friends and activities and fun and personal time.

It was also the weekend containing one of the worst breakdowns I’ve had in recent memory.

From about 11 to 2 am from Saturday night into Sunday morning, I cried uncontrollably and felt like a horrible, worthless, bad, evil person.  The demon voice in my head was at full volume.  I’m not sure why I lost it so hard.  It’s likely that the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine I drank had something to do with it (note to self–when your brain chemistry is already effed up and making you clinically depressed, do not consume additional substances that are known depressants), but I know it’s also likely the effect of the season and the upcoming holidays.  November and December are two of the best and worst months of the year.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas in general, but I hate the pressure to enjoy food and drink without gaining weight (ha! hahaha!) and the societal expectation that I have a significant other to share all the festivities with (whether or not I want to be coupled at present).  I love the decorations and lights, but hate the fact that the sun sets IN FREAKING CALIFORNIA at 4:45 pm, which makes me want to vomit endlessly and also live inside a giant onesie until March.  As Dickens said, it is a good and bad epoch at the same time (I think that’s what he said…ish?  I’m paraphrasing.  I haven’t read that one since high school because I have an aversion to stories depicting decapitation).

The point is, I had a really bad night of weeping and dark thoughts.  I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, but it was too late to call friends or family without being exceptionally rude.  So I had what turned out to be a good idea: I went online to my favorite website’s Saturday Night Social open thread, where a wonderful poster gave me the following advice:

If you’re at a loss for something to do tonight, while you’re in this dark place, create something beautiful. A painting, a sketch, or (as a friend of mine who battles self-harm herself does) use markers to draw beautiful designs wherever you’re tempted to harm. Make beauty there.

I read this person’s post and immediately went to my “Crafts” box (yep, I have a crafts box because I AM IN MY THIRTIES AND LIKE TO MAKE HOMEMADE GREETING CARDS SOMETIMES OK?) and dug out my markers and colored pencils, and I drew this:

wpid-wp-1447105687891.jpg

It took about 30 minutes to make, and it’s obviously not, you know, good*.  But in those thirty minutes, I stopped crying.  I also had some fun.  I explored, uh, symmetry (is that a thing you can explore, art people?  You know what, I’m just going to say it is.  Go symmetry!).  Best of all, after finishing my doodle I was able to curl up in my bed and finally fall asleep so I could spend the following day with my friends and one hella cute baby without passing out.

So it was still was a great weekend despite the breakdown–not just because of my great friends and fun activities (and in spite of too much wine), but because I discovered a new tool to dig myself out of a tough spot.  I discovered the Power of the Doodle as yet one more way for me to manage my often unruly brain.  All Hail the Doodle!

Have a great rest of the week, and stay strong through those early sunsets 🙂

*So, art people, if you actually do think this is good in some sort of avant-garde way please let me know so I can sell it for one million american dollars.  That’s how art works, right?  RIGHT? 

On Writing II: The 15 Stages of Choosing a Book Title

All writers know the extreme pressure of having to choose a book title.  No matter how epic your sci fi fantasy semi-autobiographical post-apocalyptic vampire romance novel may be, if you don’t name it something somewhat catchy, ain’t NOBODY gonna read it.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 7.59.41 AM
Actual title and pseudonym I may have considered at some point

The issue is, choosing a good title is like going to buy a pair of jeans: you think it will be easy and only take thirty minutes, but instead you end up sobbing and berating yourself after hours of fruitless effort.

Don’t believe me?  Well then, I present to you the 15 VERY REAL stages of choosing a book title:

Stage 1:  Finish writing your book and editing your manuscript.  Write down the first title that comes to mind – it’s perfect, and cute, and catchy, and everyone will like it! Now on to the query letter…

Stage 2: As you’re about to send out your polished query letter, decide to Google your chosen title just to make sure no one else (or very few others) have used it before.  You’re sure that all will be well because you’re so clever and original and definitely the only person who’s ever thought of this adorable turn of phrase, but better safe than sorry!

Stage 3: FOUR MILLION OTHER BOOKS HAVE THIS TITLE OMFG ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME.

Stage 4: Cry.

Stage 5: Spend hours scribbling possible titles on scraps of paper, hate all of them.

Ughhhh
Ughhhh

Stage 6: Find a title you don’t completely hate and yell “MWAHAHAHAH TITLE GODS I DEFY YOU!” while shaking your fist in the air.

Stage 7: Send out queries with new title, get agent*.  Agent reads MS and is like, “Overall pretty good; change these things, and also the title sucks.”

Stage 8: Cry.

Stage 9: Procrastinate trying to find a new title by meticulously addressing all of agent’s edits.

Stage 10: Procrastinate trying to find a new title by knitting.

Stage 11: Procrastinate trying to find a new title by cleaning out your closet.

Stage 12: Procrastinate trying to find a new title by drinking.

Stage 13: After fortifying yourself with alcohol, go back to your scribbles, scribble more title ideas. Cry.

Stage 14: After like 12 back and forth emails with agent, finally choose a new title.  Agent submits MS to editors.

Stage 15: Wait and resign yourself to the likelihood that if your book is sold that the publisher will immediately want you to change the title.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

AND SO THE WAITING HAS BEGUN.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH ALL MY WRITER PEEPS OUT THERE!

*Of course, getting an agent takes a while, but that’s an entirely different post.  My agent is Sharon and she is great and despite the snark in this post I am very grateful that she told me to think up new titles because my original ones did, indeed, suck. ❤  

How to remain sane in a crazy world

I haven’t blogged in over a week, and there are several reasons for this:

  1. I became engaged to Iced Coffee and have been spending a lot of time planning our wedding (wedding planning is no joke, especially when your fiancé is a chilled caffeinated beverage and also SO EFFING NEEDY AND YES HONEY THE WEDDING WILL BE IN A REFRIGERATED ENVIRONMENT CHILL OUT – WELL, CHILL OUT MORE, OK?).

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.26.22 PM2.  I had like actual editing/writing things to do which took actual time because I AM A PROFESSIONAL WRITER NOW OK?

3.  I may or may not have started reading Twilight Reimagined and then cried because I spent twelve bucks on a CTRL-F name/gender replacement of a book I didn’t like too much to begin with it because I thought it might be mildly interesting, and, you know, an actual new, original book (Lies.  All lies).

4.  The world SUCKS.

This last one has been the biggest reason for my radio silence.

Murder, rape, bigotry, mayhem, climate change, gross pictures of Justin Bieber’s naked body – these are just some of the atrocities we are bombarded with on TV, in the newspaper, and on the internet on a daily basis.  However, the shooting last week in Roseburg, Oregon kicked off such a week of complete and utter world stress shit that it shut me down, including but not limited to: the Kunduz bombing, presidential candidates saying more ridiculous shit about how victims of gun violence are somehow at fault for their own deaths (?), that new Muppets show, and another TWO school shootings in the last two days alone.

So I did what you sometimes have to do to remain sane in a crazy world: I hid.  I hid in work, and long walks, and HGTV (David won on Love It or List It and it was NOT OK), and long talks with my mother on the phone, and even in that new Twilight book (seriously, though, guys, just don’t buy it).  And all of that was ok, because it made me more ready to face the world again.

So I decided today was the day to jump back in, starting with this post.  Ironically, I found out from Twitter that today, my day of jumping back in, is actually designated as World Mental Health Day.  What a great day to acknowledge that I needed a break from this imperfect, stressful, often sick world, and that there’s no shame in that.  What a great day to remember the things I’m grateful for – things like family, and friends, and my new fiancé Iced Coffee (love you bae), and humor, and art, and all the people who work so hard to fix everything wrong with the world.  What a great day to celebrate the necessity and beauty of self-care.  What a great day to remember that I’m not alone.  What a great day to go get some more iced coffee.

I wish for you, dear reader, the ability and time to step away from the world when you need to, so that you can rejoin it stronger and ready to help make it better in your own way 🙂 ❤

Writing Update – I Am This Dog

So anyone who has been reading my blog is aware that earlier this year I wrote a book.  It’s a memoir about my time as a chicken farmer in Kansas.  Ok, so that’s a lie, but it is an actual novel, with words and sentences and characters and stuff, and after writing it I was like, “Huh, I think this is ok.  I will try to get it published!”

Then I went online to learn about publishing, and cried because all the articles said, “Oh, you want to get published?  Never going to happen – HAHAHA #BYEFELICIA!”  And then I was like, well, screw this, I’m gonna try to get a literary agent anyways because I HAVE DREAMS.

I started querying (if you don’t know what that is, thank your lucky stars and move on with your life) and I was this dog:

I was this dog but less adorable.
I was this dog but less adorable.  And I didn’t wear a tie.

Publishing is a crazy business, and the more I queried and the more I read about queries online, the more I needed wine and a nap.  Then, something miraculous happened – I was referred to a couple of wonderful agencies, and they read my book and wanted to represent me!  When I was given this information, I was this guy:

canttellifserious

It turns out they were serious, and I said, “Are you aware that I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing?”  I actually only said that in my brain; outwardly, I pretended like I was confident and also that I am a professional human non-canine who knows things.  It was only 20% totally awkward.

Then I had to decide, and I was like, THIS IS AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES (FYI: it took me four tries typing “embarrassment” before I got it right; thanks, spellcheck.  Yep, I’m a writer.).  And then I decided, and now I have an agent, and she is wonderful!  I’ve signed with Sharon Pelletier of DGLM, and she’s fantastic and funny and gets my book, but now I’m worried she’s going to see this blog and ask, why did I sign on to represent a dog who has no idea what she’s doing and also lacks opposable thumbs?

I don’t know, Sharon, but you’re stuck with me now.  Sorry!

So that’s my writing update.  As you might be able to tell, I’m pretty psyched.  I’m also scared, because I’m a dog who has no idea what she’s doing.  But honestly, aren’t we all that dog at some point in our lives?  I think that’s the moral of this blog post, and maybe the Bible, too.  Peace!

P.S. A completely unrelated shoutout – Happy 30th Birthday to my girl T of Tears. Sweat. Sea.  WE ARE GOING OUT TONIGHT!  I know I’m a dog, but I can still drink wine, I promise.