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Small Goals | August 2017

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Small Goals

Long time no see! I’ve been taking a lot of time for myself over the past few weeks, focusing on the things I want to do (mostly reading, exercising, and cleaning the house) and trying to avoid pressuring myself to do too much of anything else. I dropped off on my bookstagram, too, for a while, even though I’ve been doing a ton of reading. I just needed some me time. To be honest, I’m still not going to be posting as often as I was before, but it’s nice to be finding the right balance for myself now.

Continue to send out writing submissions. Only one, but that’s something! Plus, it was accepted, so it’s definitely a win for July.

Get caught up on 100 Horror Films. Yeah, not quite. I’m still about twenty movies behind, which I don’t think is going to take me long to reach, so I’m not quite freaking out–yet. But I do need to get cracking.

Clean my office. LOL. This did not happen, but I’m actually on planning on doing it today. It’s even on my to do list in my planner!Send out two more submissions. One last month was good, but since I’ve got a few things in the work this month (a couple more poems, mostly), I’d like to get them ready start sending out, because the more I put out there, the more chances to get accepted!

Read seven books. I actually achieved this in July, without even trying, and I’d like to keep the momentum going. I think requesting so many from the library has been helping to keep me engaged and excited to read.

Finish my horror short story. It’s this kind of ethereal yet macabre piece inspired by the Marilyn Monroe biography I’ve been reading and all of the horror films I’ve been watching. I’m feeling so enthusiastic and excited about it, so I think if nothing else, I’ll definitely achieve this one.

What are you aiming for in August?

August 8, 2017
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Small Goals | July 2017

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Small Goals

Sometimes I wonder why I bother doing these posts if halfway through the month my goals are going to be different from what they were at the beginning of the month. It’s a lot like my tbr lists, actually. I make them, and then just kind of shrug and say, “Screw it,” if I decide something more interesting or important has come along.

Finish writing and revising Whatsername #4. Okay, if I’m being honest, I still have a few pages to fill with content in this issue, but considering I not only wrote and revised but also laid them out what I have so far, I think this counts as a success. I should even have the issue finished and ready to list on Etsy before July is through.

Write for at least fifteen minutes every day. Maybe? I stopped filling out my habit tracker partway through the month. (Full disclosure: I just got lazy. It happens.) I can’t quite call this a win or loss, but I feel happy with what I did produce in June, and that’s what really matters.

Read five books. Technically, I only read four and started a fifth. So I’m going to call it a win, even if only one book was from my original tbr for the month.

Continue to send out writing submissions. I actually sent out two submissions in June, even without it being a “small goal,” and I’d like to keep doing so. It feels good to try putting my work out there in a different avenue than my usual choices (i.e, doing it all myself).

Get caught up on 100 Horror Films. I’m not uncomfortably behind, but I’d still like to get caught up so I don’t have to worry about falling even farther behind before the last third of the project comes along.

Clean my office. My office at home hasn’t been a particularly enticing place to work lately, and I’d like to go through everything in it, get rid of anything I don’t need/want, and reorganize what I can. It’s just kind of a hot mess right now, and I want to be excited to work in it again.

What are you aiming for in July?

July 3, 2017
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Small Goals | June 2017

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Small Goals

I did my first monthly/small goals post in a while last month, and I really enjoyed having a focus for May, especially only a few small ones. I didn’t feel too overwhelmed, and even though I–spoiler–didn’t fully accomplish any of them, I do feel like I accomplished something on each of  them, so I’m not getting down on myself either. I’m excited to go over last month’s goals, see what I can continue versus what I want to change or set aside for a while and share a couple of goals for June as well.

Send out three writing submissions.  I sent out one. However, I did make a list of places to submit, and I’m currently revising a piece to send out in the next week or so. Sometimes you just don’t have the right thing to share, either because the publication has a certain theme or you just haven’t found the right place for what you have. But I’m excited to be taking steps, even if they’re slow baby steps for now.

Finish my Daria zine.  I’ve got all of the text laid out in InDesign and ready to print, but I started second guessing whether or not I want to finish this project the way I’ve set it up so far. I’m not feeling enthusiastic about the pieces I’ve written, and part of me would like to open it up to submissions for a bigger comp zine. I’m nervous to do it, though, because the last few times I’ve tried, I haven’t gotten nearly enough submissions. So I think this is going to sit around on my laptop for a while until I decide where to take it.

Write another 3,000 words on my novel.  Close! I got through 2,000 words, which is more than I’ve done since about February, so I can’t fault myself for it. The first thousand flew by, which was of course exciting and encouraging, but then as I moved onto the next thousand, boy, was that a slog. But I managed that much at least, so at least I’m that much further along with the book.

Finish writing and revising Whatsername #4. I’m thrilled to work on this issue of my perzine because it’s all about my relationship with horror and being a weirdo goth/emo/punk kid in school. I started working on this before I’d even finished issue three simply because I’ve been getting so deep into horror again, and it’s brought back a lot of nostalgia for me over the past couple of months. I’ve got a rough outline, and I’m having such a blast writing each piece, so I think this one is definitely achievable for me.

Write for at least fifteen minutes every day. I have a little row of habit tracker boxes specifically for this, and it’s kind of a dream for me to fill out every one of them for June. I’m going to count all kinds of things, too: blog posts, journaling, poetry, novel work, whatever–just maybe not my grocery list. I’ve never had a good habit for my writing, at least not a lasting one, and I’d like to start making it a more regular part of my day. I’m hoping to go back over the bit on writing in Lauren Graham’s book because that made such a difference for me when I first read it that I think it’ll be helpful to take another look.

Read five books. I’ve been a very slow reader this year. By this time last year I’d read about twice as many books as I have now, and while it’s not a contest, I do love to read. I just haven’t been making it a priority, instead letting myself get sucked into way too many shows on Netflix or listening to podcasts and coloring (which is fine and relaxing, but maybe something I need to take a break on, especially now that I’m caught up on my favorites). It’s just unusual for me not to read more than I have been, so I’d like to get back to my usual self. My tbr right now only has three books for the month, but I’m sure I can find more once I finish those.

I really wanted to include something that wasn’t “write…”, but I guess the best I could do was a reading goal instead. What can I say? I’m a lover of the written word.

What are some of your June goals, big or small?

June 5, 2017
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girls in the underground. | a prose piece

Posted in Writer Life, Writing by

The glow of a suburban streetlamp shines on us, three teenage girls throwing punches at one another because we have just seen Fight Club for the first time. Holed up in the weed punk smoky bedroom of one of us, we drank in the narrator’s words, Tyler’s words, with each sip from the hard lemonade bottles we passed around. Anti-capitalism, anti-authority; we are adolescent experts, of course. (And my heart beats for Ed Norton, but I’ll never tell.)

In the auto body shop’s parking lot, our pockets are empty. We are untraceable. We are anonymous. We are three teenage girls taking swings at each other in the dead heat of a summer night because we can.

 


This piece originally appeared in my poetry collection Reflections in a Dirty Mirror (2015).

If you enjoyed this piece, please consider becoming a Patreon sponsor, checking out my zine shop, or just buying me a cup of coffee to help support my writing. Every dollar makes a difference and allows me to keep plugging along at my work.

June 2, 2017
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Cursive Letters Into Knives: About My Newest Tattoo

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When I was thirteen, I fell in love with my two favorite bands, one right after the other. I listened to Green Day’s American Idiot on my Discman every morning and afternoon, to and from school, and I was quickly sucked into the mystery of who was singing the opening to “Letterbomb.” Digging through the liner notes, I found Kathleen Hanna’s name credited and did what googling I could from there. YouTube didn’t exist yet. Wikipedia was still so young. The best thing I came up with was a thirty-second clip of “Rebel Girl” on the VH1 website. So I took a few notes, and on my next trip to FYE, I picked up a copy of Pussywhipped.

I listened to it in the car on the way home, the sounds harsh and unpolished in my headphones, and it might not have been instant love, but it was definitely second-listening love.

A month ago, just over twelve years later, I got my second Bikini Kill tattoo (the first being the turntable off of the New Radio album). Dan and I were driving home Brattleboro on a Saturday afternoon, windows down, Green Day’s Revolution Radio loud in the few speakers my car has, and it felt like it was finally time for this one. It’s an idea I’d had for probably ten years, but in the last few I’ve just never had the money for it, so I kept putting it off and getting smaller black and grey pieces instead. But this time the money was in savings, and I couldn’t in my heart wait any longer.

A switchblade tattoo with the words "We are turning cursive letters into knives" wrapped around it

I’ve listened to every Bikini Kill album countless times since I first discovered them. Various songs have cycled through my life as something of an anthem at that moment when I needed it, but the one I always come back to–besides the undeniable “Rebel Girl”–is “Bloody Ice Cream,” from the album Reject All American. It’s always appealed to my writer sensibilities, and its impact has grown all the more noticeable over the years.

The song is short, half a dozen lines or so long, but it’s always been influential to me.

The Sylvia Plath story is told to girls who write
They want us to think that to be a girl poet means you have to die
Who is it that told me all the girls who write must suicide?
I’ve another good one for you
We are turning cursive letters into knives

It’s brief, but it’s full of bite and meaning to me. The phenomenon of women writers committing suicide (Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Virginia Woolf). The bullshit nature of that overwhelming narrative–these women weren’t just cases of suicide but amazing writers. And the power that we have when we write, using the words to fight and to survive.

That last line has always felt like a big “fuck you” to that fatalist narrative to me, and it’s stuck with me. It’s how I made it to twenty-six and how I’ll make it to twenty-seven, twenty-eight, and beyond. And this tattoo is to remind me of that and how much it matters to me and the impact that women writers–tragic or not–have had on my life and the world.

May 22, 2017
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Small Goals | May 2017

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Small Goals

April was a hard month for me. Some reasons are legitimate; some are just excuses.

For May, I needed a way to refocus myself in my work and my goals, and I realized the somewhat obvious solution was that I actually needed to have goals again. Sure, I’ve got my goals for the year, but I need to break them down further to be both mindful of what I want and gentle on myself as I take the steps to get there.

In a fit of inspiration gleaned from the myriad small goals posts out there each month (my favorites being Kay’s, Nicole’s, and Mia’s), I’m writing up my own. Maybe I’ll do them every month, maybe I won’t. But I needed them for May, so here we go.

Send out three writing submissions. / I mentioned this in my April recap, as well, but I wanted to expand on it a little bit. I’m excellent at self publishing my work. I have number of outlets for doing so, but I almost never submit my writing for publication by other people. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had anything published in at least a year. While I don’t need someone else to say, “Yes, this writing is good and we want to publish it for you,” it also doesn’t hurt to offer myself up in the hopes of expanding my audience to people and places that might not find me without that middle person. So in May, I would like to write and send out three submissions–three separate submissions or one submission to three places, either one will count.

Finish my Daria zine. / The ridiculous part about this is that my Daria zine is almost finished already. I just got stuck on it in March, then fell apart in April and lost all motivation to just wrap it up. I’d like to take May to finish the last piece or two to include and wrap up the assembly. It’s been a bummer not having anything to share after such a strong February and March and watching my Etsy sales plummet without adding anything new to my distro. My hope is that this will kick up interest again and help me start getting back on schedule with my zine goals.

Write another 3,000 words on my novel. / I haven’t worked on my novel in months, but it hasn’t been too far from my mind. When you think about something like NaNoWriMo, three thousand words doesn’t seem like much of a goal, but as I was choosing a number, I tried to keep in mind my other goals and obligations for the month and be realistic. I don’t always accomplish realism in my goals, and it’s something I’d like to start working on more to keep myself from feeling too overwhelmed by everything I want to achieve.

And that’s it. I was considering doing five, but as I mentioned, I want to keep it realistic and avoid inundating myself with too much all at once.

What are you hoping to achieve in May?

May 1, 2017
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unspoken. | a poem

Posted in Writer Life, Writing by

Two teen girls
in ragged band tees and flared blue jeans
practice kickflips
on the middle school blacktop.
Their faces flush
pink in the summer heat as
they pass glances across the asphalt,
and their skin gleams with sweat.
They can’t hold the words yet for what’s happening;
it’ll be too late by the time they can.

Two teen girls
curl back to back in one’s bed
as they whisper
across the cavernous darkness.
One tells about her virginity
gone.
One squirms to listen.
They inch closer and pretend not to notice.

Two teen girls
don’t say goodbye when
they walk away,
leaving the pieces of themselves
in the footsteps already washing away
in the rain
like tears.

Two teen girls are nowhere to be seen.

 


If you enjoyed this piece, please consider becoming a Patreon sponsor, checking out my zine shop, or just buying me a cup of coffee to help support my writing. Every dollar makes a difference and allows me to keep plugging along at my work.

April 7, 2017
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A Quick Contemplation on Comparison

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Comparison is the thief of joy.
Theodore Roosevelt

Since I’ve started putting so much of my time and energy into writing, running my distro, and doing things that make me happy, I’ve felt so much better about…everything. I’m writing and mailing out more zines than ever, it seems, and I’m getting so much support and enthusiasm from everyone around me. I’m not boxed in by routine but still producing so much great stuff every day. Life feels great.

Why, then, is it still so easy for me to look at the life and work–the Instagram, the writer’s website, the published works list–of a woman I went to college with four years ago and have barely spoken to since and get so down on myself? When I look at her posts, it suddenly feels as if I’m not doing enough or not doing things “right.”

The list of questions that run through my head looks something like this:

Am I less legitimate in my work if I’m not submitting all the time? If I don’t have a list of links to web publications who have accepted me, then am I really doing anything worth bragging about? Should I be spending less time posting and even more time writing? Should I be writing different things? Why don’t I have as many followers as she does? What am I doing wrong? Am I not (cute, quirky, smart, stylish, etc.) enough?

All of this occurs in a matter of seconds, of course.

It gets my head all muddled, and I start to feel like what I want is wrong or isn’t what I really want. I wouldn’t call it jealousy because I like that she’s doing well–I want us both to be successful–but it’s also far from confident or secure. I just can’t help wondering if that’s what I should be doing; maybe there is a right way to go about this writer thing.

It’s confusion and self-doubt, and I’d like to think it will go away with time and more hard work, but I know there’s almost no chance of that happening for good. If it does, then I’ve probably gotten overly confident in myself and turned into an asshole. We don’t want that to happen.

In between all of the good days, the ones when I get compliments from friends and strangers who have just finished reading a new zine they got from me or the ones when I’m just happy, there will still be the ones when I’m asking myself if I’m doing this right or why things seem so different for me compared to others doing this. While it gets old and depressing, maybe it’s not the worst thing. Maybe it keeps me on my toes, self-evaluating and evolving over time as we all do (and should).

It’s a bummer to think that maybe someone is doing it better and to know it’s not worth fretting about but being unable to stop yourself.

What do you do when you get down like this? Let’s chat about it and lift each other’s spirits!

March 17, 2017
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