Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 104 - (Cue "Rocky" Music)

I am officially done with National Novel Writing Month with a grand total of 50, 298 words. The official word counter added 33 words to my total, but here's the breakdown of how amazingness happened in the month of November:

Suite101 articles (36 total) = 21,665 words

"The Year Spent PC" posts (10 total) = 4,022 words

Creative nonfiction projects (7 total) = 14,212 words

Fiction piece (surprise!) = 10,399 words

All I can say is this:

Success - it's MINE!!!!

Day 104 - "On A Mission to Make Somethin' Happen"

I'm getting nervous about grad school.

Granted, I got an email only 16 days ago saying that the admissions committee had sent my application and other materials on to the program director, and that I should be hearing from that person in a couple of weeks regarding any possible interviews for an assistantship. But here's the thing, when I know that I want something, want it badly, and know that it is within reach, I get very impatient.

Whenever I think about it, all of these what ifs start running through my head. What if I'm not offered an interview for an assistantship? What if I bomb the interview and don't get one in the end? What if this? What if that?

Maybe I just need to calm down and remind myself that yes, this is it. Yes, I can do it. To get a little bit gangsta, I've got skillz, mad skillz.

Ouch, that kind of hurt me to type that. It felt appropriate, though.

The what if that scares me the most is the what if I don't get in. What am I going to do? By the time I find out, it would almost be too late to apply to other programs, to think about getting my MA in English first instead of later in life, and I would probably be so distraught at the idea of not getting in that I might just lose my mind and have to be committed - without having health insurance.

Well, I guess there is also going back to my alma mater to get my MFA in creative writing. In reality, though, I don't think I have enough life experiences to write another creative writing thesis. I've already done one, and while I can find a plethora of things to write about in my life, I don't feel like I'm ready to sit down and write another serious book yet. Books that I'm not taking seriously, maybe, but I need some time to regroup and get thoughts back together that are outside of the technical writing realm, which is something that I have been doing a lot of lately since the student loan bills are leaving me a couple of pennies richer than flat broke.

All I can do is hope for the best, right? Well, it's the only ethical thing I can do right now. The rest would not sit well in my mind.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 103 - "Why Put Off 'Til Tomorrow..."

This weekend is the last big hooray for National Novel Writing Month. Right now, not counting this blog post, I am sitting at 45,174 words for the month of November.

I can hear it now. "That's a lot of words!" Everyone is trying to figure out how I've done it, how I have avoided carpal tunnel, and why I'm worried.

I need to have 50,000 words by midnight on November 30. That's Monday, and today is Saturday. I told myself that after I spent almost all of Black Friday shopping and cranking out almost 3,300 words of a story that I thought was going to be a flop (and probably still do) that I was going to spend all day today writing so I can get to 50,000 or more words, have all of those combinations of letters varified, and then sit back and enjoy the rest of my extended weekend.

Ha. Haha. Hahaha.

I make myself laugh.

I have rediscovered the art of procrastination.

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. EST, with every intention of eating breakfast, taking a shower, getting dressed and writing for the day. Instead, I woke up and heard my phone buzzing as it scuttled across the lid of my closed laptop, which is purple, I might add. So, instead, I checked all 40-some of my Twitter updates that were beemed to my phone while I was asleep, and then went downstairs with the intention of getting breakfast.

You see, though, I got distracted because I was in one of those phases where I had no clue what I wanted to eat for breakfast, but I was hungry and knew I had to make a decision. However, dishes were piling up in the sink and my thirteen year old sister had gotten up by this time, so I procrastinated eating breakfast by corralling her into helping me load the dishwasher.

Then, I cut myself a piece of cherry pie left over from Thanksgiving dinner, mashed up the crust, and decided to have a makeshift serving of cherry cobbler for breakfast. Really healthy, I know.

After that, I still wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to write today. Articles? Creative nonfiction? Fiction? My will?

Just kidding about the last option.

So I sat down at my computer and decided that I would start the day off with an article or two, because that could be an easy 1,200 words that wouldn't take that long. And, potentially, could earn me some money to pay off the credit card balances I accumulated yesterday while Christmas shopping and buying things I really needed, such as shampoo and underwear.

Too much information!

I typed in the title of the first article around 8:15 a.m. EST, stared at the screen and Googled some information, and then stopped. I had no will to write anymore. November has sucked all of the words out of me and I am amazed that I have found this many to continue writing this blog.

Since then, I suddenly have had the urge to clean. In the hour and twenty minutes I have spent putting off this article, I have done chores that I normally would not do, and some that I just needed to get out of the way, such as:
  • opened up the shower drain because the drain stinks
  • cleaned the toilet
  • organized all of my toiletries
  • discovered that I have four bottles each of shampoo, conditioner, and smoothing milk and that I can stop stock piling hair products
  • color coded my closet
  • cleared empty coat hangers out of my closet

At least I've been productive in other ways, right?

But in all actuality, I need to quit this procrastinating thing and get to work. I don't have much longer to get all of those words in, and every second I waste are a couple of fewer words that I'll have to type faster and may not get in on time. The bad thing is that I proofread as I go, so even a spelling error will trip me up and make me go back to fix it.

I never used to be like this in college. What happened? I still have the crazy work ethic, but I have discovered the beauty of procrastination.

In addition, this blog post kind of worked, raking up 738 words.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 100 - "Let's Raise Our Glasses to A Toast"

The pies are going in the oven and my aunt is working on the turkey and the fixings. Except for me having to work tomorrow (see day 95's post) it's Thanksgiving!

Mind you, I'm not a big fan of turkey or stuffing myself until I'm on the verge of puking and buying new pants on Black Friday. But there are some things that I am thankful for.

Most of all, my friends, family, boyfriend, and sorority sisters. They're always there for me and hold me up when I fall down, both physically and emotionally. They're my rocks and I wouldn't be where I am today without them.

Then there are many other things: life, liberty, faith, food, peace, and the opportunity to speak my mind. Tomorrow is more than just the turkey, stuffing, and our family's annual cut throat Monopoly tournament.

Speaking of the holidays, I read an article on Yahoo News yesterday that I seemed to have lost the link to. It's about the large number of recent college graduates and college students - ages 18 to 24 - who are returning to previously empty nests because of financial reasons and the poor economy. Instead of traveling home for the holidays, many in my generation will be traveling from childhood bedrooms to the Thanksgiving table. I know I'll be one of them.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 99 - "Oh, I Should've Done This..."

I got to thinking today as yet another student loan bill arrived in the mail (to the tune of $800 a month I'm paying out to various institutions - when will it end?!?!) about what would have happened if I had stuck with the education major.

You see, I started college intending to earn a bachelor of science in education - integrated language arts 7-12 and a bachelor of arts in creative writing. Since I had an exceptionally high score on the old version of the ACT, I got to start my education classes right away. First college class? Introduction to Teaching as a Career. Also known as the class that weeds the wannabes out.

I was all set on thinking that I wanted to teach high school English. I planned on being like Robin Williams from the one scene in The Dead Poets Society, having students stand on chairs and yawping like Walt Whitman and I did in my American literature class in high school. I was going to inspire young minds and do all kinds of great things. Robin Williams meets Mr. Holland's Opus. Right?

Wrong. I got disenchanted. I grew up. Then I dropped the education major, picked up journalism and a whole bunch of minors and partial minors that I couldn't afford to finish and discovered that, hey, it is possible to graduate in four years.

So would I be better off now with an education degree than my super BA? Probably not. I probably still wouldn't be able to find a job that can let me move out and pay student loans because there are 123589071435698234765129387534092827 million English teachers out there.

Would I be happier? Probably not. At some point, I need to take time out of my day and write and read for myself and no one else but me. Call it selfish, but I call it survival. It's been working since middle school, so why stop now? Being a teacher means dedicating a large portion of time in and out of the classroom to students, and at this point in my life I'm not sure if I could have made that decision four years ago.

I guess that's what graduate school is for. After all, my advisor told me that, for people in the arts, that a bachelor's degree is what you love, a master's is what you want to pay the bills, and a doctorate is what you want to do for the rest of your life.

I guess I have a ways to go still.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 98 - "She Works Hard for the Money"

Here come the bills.

Most of my loans have come out that blessed six month grace period that kicks in after you leave school. I owe this bank $80 a month, another one $100 a month, and have decided that I'm going to be paying off my BA until my children start college - and then I'll have to worry about their undergrad degrees.

However, there's one loan in particular that is making my skin crawl when that bill arrives every month with the $298 and change monthly bill to pay off a loan. Keep in mind, the principle on the loan was $6,000 and change. The interest capitalized for the two years since I had taken out the loan is one and a third times the principle.

Lesson learned? Unless it is an actual bank, with the FDIC logo and branches with people to talk to, don't take out a loan from a company that just lends out student loans, because you'll pay dearly.

Like me, to the tune of almost $300 a month. That's three-fifths of my biweekly paycheck.

With all of the talk about health care reform, how about we do a student loan reform? Down with all of these companies who loan to students with little to no credit! Down with the loan sharks who pray on students whose cosigners have bad credit! Down with interest rates on student loans that are higher than the interest rate on my Old Navy credit card!

Okay, the last one I exaggerated, but not by much. Not joking.

At this point, I'm almost glad that I took this year off between finishing my undergrad and starting graduate school. I mean, I could potentially have graduate school paid for, but this undergrad degree, the one that everyone claims is the key to success, is going to send me to the poor house. So much for all of those scholarships.

I guess I should have taken that free ride that I had gotten at another school. My parents probably would have been glad for the lack of loans that have to be paid back to private institutions. Just those Stafford loans.

Oh, loans...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 94 - "Oops, I Did It Again"

Is it wrong of me to use old school Britney Spears to title a blog about Fox News.

According to this article from The Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, Fox News accidently rolled the wrong footage when airing a report on Sarah Palin's book tour for her memoir Going Rogue.

The footage that was aired was from Palin's 2008 vice presidential campaign. Apparently there was a sudden change made in the newsroom and no one was informed of it until the footage had already aired.

Really, Fox?

We're not sure what exactly happened behind the scenes right before that footage rolled. It could be that someone told the unfortunate new guy that is going to get disciplined to switch out the footage because something happened. It could be that someone accidently slipped. Or, this is an awful long shot, some camera guy didn't do his job and grabbed a sandwich instead of going to watch Sarah Palin sign books.

Whatever it is, it's these kinds of slip ups that I think cause people to not trust the media. Footage of crowds is footage of crowds, but there is a big difference between a crowd at a political rally and a crowd at a book signing. Someone in the newsroom should have noticed the difference and said something. Heck, someone should have noticed that hey, the people in this reel don't have books in hand. What's going on here?

Hopefully, Fox and other media outlets learn from this mistake. While it is easy to make mistakes, the position that the media industry is in right now doesn't leave much room for mistakes. If we make too many mistakes and don't take action to correct them soon, we as media practitioners may lose our very livelihood and our entire industry, one mix up at a time.


Day 94 - "He Had It Comin'"

Yeah, Chicago.

Anyways, I feel the need to rant, and just so you know, this completely off topic. I'm not ranting about Chicago the musical, the movie musical (which is great, by the way,) or the band.

I want to rant about Twilight and New Moon.

I know I'm going to get a lot of flack about this, but I don't see what the big deal is about Twilight. My sister bought tickets for the midnight showing of the new movie and is driving halfway across Akron to see it! There is no way I'd risk life, limb, or my sleep to see this movie.

Here's my problem with it - Stephenie Meyer, you can listen to this. As a writer, the books stink. Sure, there's a story there, but where are the characters? Where's the depth? Where, for the love of God, is the beautifully crafted language that literature is supposed to embrace?!?! Where is the substance, the depth of human experience, the hidden knowledge of human (or vampire) existence?

Maybe I'm asking too much, but whenever I see someone reading Twilight I honestly want to barf. I can't say that I haven't read my fair share of poorly-written books, but there's just something about me that cannot come to love Edward Cullen or whatever his cohorts' names are.

Not to mention that I think Amelia Atwater-Rhodes does YA vampires much better.

So to sum this up, I would like to say a few things.

Dear Edward,

You are not as cute as millions of screaming young (and not so young) women think you are. In fact, I think you are terrible for convincing young, impressionable minds that Twilight is great literature. Please endorse something classic, something timeless, to show that reading is not all about the latest fad and that there are much greater things out there if children simply want to pay attention long enough to think. I would start with something easy.

However, I would like to thank you for getting children to read. At least it's a start.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 92 - "Stuck in the Middle With You"

I feel like I'm stuck.

An example of my day: get up before the buttcrack of dawn, go to work. Work my butt off for decent pay given the job, but deal with more crap than I'm getting paid for. Go home. Write what's left of my butt off. Crash on the couch until I'm told that I might sleep better in my own bed.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On the weekends, I basically write. Write, write, write, type, type, type. I feel like I'm getting nowhere with this, too. It's not the money; I never expected to make much money from writing right out of college. Heck, even some of the most famous writers in history were broke for most of their lives. Their works helped their children and grandchildren financially, while the writers themselves lived in their time's version of a cardboard box.

I don't know why I'm feeling like this. I've always loved to write. I have composition book upon composition book upon flashdrive of all of my writings dating back to the fourth grade. That's when I was old enough to realize that I should start writing my stories down. That, and I think I read something about an author who had saved everything she had ever written, and I decided to do that too in case I became famous someday and my early writings would become priceless artifacts.

Who was I kidding? Well, no one yet, because I was only nine or ten at the time. I had no understanding of what it took to dedicate your life to the arts.

But at the same time, I love what I do. I love seeing my words realize themselves in front of someone's eyes, putting a world in various lenses and seeing what comes of it. I love the rush, the release, of what comes out of my pen and out of my fingers. It's amazing, because I don't remember when I figured out that I had this talent. I just started doing it one day.

And then I wrote a story about Santa Claus going on vacation with his last name spelled like the part of a sentence. Then, in sixth grade, I set the record for the dictation portion of the state's gifted and talented exam. Then, I decided to write one short story after another, until those turned into novellas, then novels, then the memoir that was my college creative writing thesis.

Maybe it's that I've been writing too much for money and not enough for me lately. This 30 articles in 30 days challenge has been killing my creative streak, or whatever streak is trying to wade through search engine optimization and keywords and subheadings. Maybe, after I finish this challenge, I just need to take time to myself to sit down and explore the world in my head. Or finish the fiction novel that's been sitting on my flashdrive since the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college.

I think I just needed to get that out. Is feeling trapped a part of adult life? In some ways, I feel like it is just a part of life in general. Knowing what you want, but having to wait for life to take its course and for just the right moment to occur when everything falls into place.

On the other hand, I think it's just me. I've always been the type that gets bored easily and needs something to keep me occupied. I think I just need a change of scenery, a change of pace, and once I'm done challenging how much paid material I can crank out, hopefully I can change the scene of my flashdrive.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 83 - "It's What I Love About Sunday"

I was right - my boyfriend did take me to the zoo yesterday!

I've always loved the zoo, but sometimes I get the feeling that people look at me strange when I say that. It's the look that subtly screams, "you're 22. The zoo is for kids and people with families. After all, they're animals. Go be twenty-something and hang out at the bar."


I've always liked animals. That's that and if you want to judge me, go right ahead. You can have a beer, I'll have a look at some wallabies.

In other news, NaNoWriMo (which is easier to type out than National Novel Writing Month) is going well at 13,470 words as of yesterday at midnight. Just have to keep typing away.

In other other news, my first student loan payments are due in one month and six days from today. The big old angry god-like voice is booming overhead, "You're an adult now. Pay back the Feds!" I just have to remember which payments I make online, which ones I have to mail in, and remember that some of my loans don't enter repayment until January, which is more than six months after I graduated. Oh well.

Now, I'm off to write some more to see if I can earn a fraction of a student loan payment. I never went into writing to be rich (okay, maybe famous) but it's more than I had, right?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 78 - "Baby Get Ready, Get Set"

Yes, I did just use Billy Ray Cyrus lyrics as the title of this blog. So what.

National Novel Writing Month started on Sunday, and so far I'm doing well as far as numbers go. In terms of content, well.... Like I said on Facebook, this could be glorious or not so glorious, and I definitely know that I am not going to be producing any presentable creative work out of this endeavor. As far as articles, those have to be publishable, considering that's how I make money.

It's frustrating because I keep wanting to go back and make everything perfect for that stage in the process before I continue on, but I know that if I'm going to produce 50,000 words in 30 days I don't have much time for revision. Count that on top of a 30 articles in 30 days challenge for my writing job, and I have time to go to work, write my butt off, sleep, and wake up to do it all again the next day.

And if you were asking, hell yes I am double dipping.

However, I got my graduate assistantship application resubmitted. This time, I splurged and spent the $6.15 to send it certified post so that I know it gets there. I would like to know who thinks the post office isn't making any money. They can look at the reciept for mailing three pieces of paper 55 miles away and getting someone's signature.

Tomorrow's Wednesday, which means it's one day closer to the weekend, and I'm taking this weekend to relax with my boyfriend. I heard that the zoo may be on the agenda - yay!