Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Movie Sensational Enough, I Had to Share

I rarely watch something that I can say is utterly unique. Amélie is. To begin with, it's a lovely movie, visually. But what's more, it appeals to a sarcastic, embittered adult humor while maintaining such a beautiful childlike innocence in both character and plot line. Amelie is a whimsical, quiet girl, who likes to toy with those who are a part of the everyday world that she seems only to watch, never fit in to. This movie awakened in me a sensation I often forget, but as a writer, need so desperately to cling to.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Then Everything Comes at Once

Funny how nothing happens, opportunities don't seem to come, hope is lost and work seems undervalued, then suddenly, everything changes.

My job search, for instance, seemed a lost cause for a while.  I filled out so many applications that I began to feel as though applying to jobs was my job.  Then, over the course of three days, six opportunities presented themselves, back to back.  I snagged three interviews, got a promotion at the SAC Writing Center (my part-time job) and secured two writing gigs: as a grant writer for Alamo Colleges and as an Art Examiner for San Antonio.  I got word that "Disengaged" was chosen for an anthology, due to come out in March of 2011, and it doesn't stop there!  Within the same three days, I was asked to do a radio spot on The Author Show and an interview for San Antonio Express-News about Luminaria and Musical Chairs.

So, damn, I'm busy now.  So busy, in fact, that my next two months are booked solid with either work, appearances or events, leaving little time for rest--which, to me, is bliss.  I guess it just proves that perseverance and hard work do pay off, you just never know when.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Notes on Publication

I've been asked to participate in a panel discussion about the pursuit of publication.  Details on this event, which will take place at San Antonio College, can be found here.  In preparation for this discussion, I've been thinking a lot about what it really means to pursue publication.  And although I plan to focus mostly on the ways to take a completed piece of writing from the archives of a personal computer to the eyes of a public, the idea that so many people desire publication is what's weighing heaviest on my mind.

In collecting my thoughts and compiling a solid list of resources to share with the writers who will attend this event, I began to reminisce about my own feelings on publication, and how these feelings have changed since I've earned a small list of print and e-credits for my writing resume.  I have to say, my perspective has changed dramatically.

When I was beginning to write, publication was at the forefront of my mind, constantly.  I associated writing with being read, as though there were no steps in-between the production and sharing of work.  And, in many cases, there weren't (let's be clear: my audience at the time consisted of my parents and teachers, both of whom felt various levels of obligation to read my work).  I remember how romantic the idea of publication was then.  I imagined seeing my name in print as a marker of success, assurance that my ideas and words mattered.  What I never considered then was the complications associated with having an audience.

When a writer is first published, the silence that follows is sobering.  At least it was to me.  I called my friends and family, sent emails to people who cared and those who I thought maybe should care, and I relished in the few cheers from those who sent back a polite and congratulatory response.  Then, I was published again; then came the first time I published for money; then the book and more prestigious publications.  And now, when I publish a story and decide to share it, although I still post on Facebook, Twitter, and send out a smaller group of emails, I'm lucky to get much response at all, and I think this is good.  Why?  Because, writing should be about the writing.

The reason I bring this up isn't so much to say I won't continue to share my words.  I'm the queen of shameless self-promotion, and this will not stop.  Rather, I bring it up because I'm realizing that I'm less inclined to share my words at all, before knowing my audience.  Sure, there are a few standbys, people who insist that they want to read everything that I write; and to those people, you have incredible and insightful taste in literature and should be commended.  But, for the most part, audiences change as much as the output, the themes that drive the output, and the journals that print it.  Some people, for instance, don't read online journals.  Others don't read print.  Some only read The New Yorker or Atlantic... or only pieces that have a certain political slant, genre or flavor.  So, what's my point?  My point is that publication is an entirely different animal than writing and that although I will be offering resources about where to submit work on Thursday, I think that each writer needs to check that inclination to submit the piece until it's finished, so that the urge to publish doesn't influence the voice.  Let the work dictate the audience, never the other way around.  That's step one, anyway.  Steps 2-10, well, they come next. 

Just some notes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Living Light

Content Warning: This post verges on preachy ... I didn't intend this, and I kind of hate it when people preach to me, so if you're like me and you don't like listening to people talk about how to 'live right' or what have you, you might want to skip this one.  I'm sure I'll be back to my normal sarcastic self soon.  

I've acquired a lot of bad habits, written about many of them and even acquired a few new ones in the past year or so (drinking too much chai and coffee, forgetting to put on deodorant--don't worry, I've learned to counteract this one by keeping a travel-sized backup in my bag, saying I'll workout tomorrow, adding too many books to my to-read list so that I'll likely never catch up in this lifetime, and it goes on) but I do have one habit that I've recently realized is quite good, and it's a habit I've kept throughout most of my life, one that I very likely gained when I ran away from home: I travel light.

Recently, I've been rather stressed about my financial situation, the fact that I have yet to find a job.  Chris suggested that I utilize this time, while I have it, and begin to focus more on my writing.  Thinking this some of the best advice I could get, I began researching blogs, thinking that I'd begin to take this one more seriously and even attempt an angle bigger than 'it's about me' when I came across one of Time Magazine's top 25 blogs of 2009,  Zen Habits.

This blog is about living simply, and it's focus made me feel better about my constant urge to reduce the amount of clutter in my life.  Some of the advice on this site even urged me to further reassess what it is that I truly need.  Although the fact that Chris and I own only seven plates (a bit excessive by my standards), a two-person set of silverware and a handful of drinking glasses seems somewhat inconvenient when we have guests over, it is also a surefire way to ensure that we're never faced with a sink full of dishes to clean.  Moreover, the fact that I still own a few racing T-shirts from when I was a child makes me think twice before running out and buying something cutesy and retro to wear on the weekends (they still fit, but not quite the way they used to).

I'm no Zen master.  Hell, I still over-consume plenty, especially when it comes to ice cream or books.  I also spend an obsessive amount of time on various social networking sites or reading news online.  But, as a whole, I live an incredibly simplistic life.  The life of a writer without a trust fund lends itself to such a lifestyle, I think.  I have a small apartment (writer's budget), I don't own a gym membership (who needs to when there's FitTV and free weights and oh, I don't know, outside!), I have very few distractions at home (no big screen TV or video game collection) and a comparatively small wardrobe (partially due to my pickiness and again, the writer's budget).  Yet, I have enough.

I think about all the people whose lives have been destroyed or displaced by natural disasters, such as those in New Orleans or Haiti, and it makes me realize how comfortable my simple life is.  I wanted to share this site because I realize that many people, who may have more than me, some of whom might even have pride in having more, might benefit from a life that is modeled on those of us who don't yet have much.  When I think about Haiti right now, I think about how much I really need and I feel less desire for more.  Granted, having a lot requires a person to have responsibility for what he or she owns, and in part, it's somewhat of a relief to not have all that much and inspired by the idea that we could have nothing in an instant.  At the same time, the less people consume, the more we can share, and believe it or not, I think there is less stress and far more reward this way.

So for all my bad habits, I think this is one that's pretty damn good.  And, even though I'm making a personal correlation here, I really do feel the urge to share.  I feel a little less want, a little more empathy, just taking stock.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to Summarize My Search For Full-time Work...

I think I'll let a YouTube video take care of it...

Dragonfly escapes frog attack -
It's been a month since graduation (oh wait, not even that long) so I'm just getting started.  Nonetheless, I feel that I can relate to this little guy (the frog).

Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...