Getting Started in the Writing World – Part 1

I’m sure many of my fellow aspiring authors and writers out there have been wondering about the same things I have when it comes to their writing careers – namely, where do I begin?

Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a right answer. The advice I’m about to give you might not even be what works for you, but I think it’s a good place to start.

Recently, I was browsing the Writer’s Bible (A.K.A. Poets & Writers magazine) and I stumbled across a listing of writing jobs. And one of the jobs listed, though not a “job” per se, caught my eye. I read through the description of the job a few times and mulled over whether or not I should apply:

It’s not a paying internship. Strike one.

But, it would be a great opportunity to get my name in print and some experience on my resume.

Plus, contacts. Nothing means more to a writer trying to get published than making some friends in the publishing industry.

I’ve already got a few things on my plate right now. Strike two. Will I have the time for this?

Heck. Why not?

I applied.

And though it took me a few hours to perfect a sloppy resume (if anyone needs help making a professional resume, I am now your girl) and write an engaging and convincing cover letter, it was well worth the time.

Why, do you ask?

Well, I submitted my application a few days ago and have already received confirmation of my progress into the next level of the application – a request for writing samples.

Clearly, I made at least a small impression on the minds of the people at this magazine (which, for now, shall remain unnamed) and am moving forward into the next stage of writerdom.

I’ll keep you all updated as soon as I hear back from them again (it will be posted under Getting Started in the Writing World – Part 2).

My advice for now? Look for a way to get your foot in the door. What is it that you want to do? Publish a book? Try applying at a literary magazine. Work as a publishing editor? Try getting an internship at a well-known company. Read writing magazines and journals, and read them every day so that you can keep up with more recent news like posted writing jobs. Do something. Be active in your life.

We’re finally getting somewhere, guys.

Movie Review: Miss Potter

It’s tough being a woman in the literary world.

No one knows that better than famed early 20th century author Beatrix Potter.

And while she has come to be known as the creator of, among numerous other children’s books, the beloved Peter Rabbit tale, Beatrix Potter was not taken so seriously at first.

As an unmarried and slightly eccentric woman well into her thirties, Beatrix Potter’s abilities both as a writer and an artist were often mocked, not only by her soon-to-be publishers, but also by her mother.

But Beatrix soon found solace in the positive encouragement of one of her publishers, Norman Warne.

The 2006 film Miss Potter chronicles not only the budding love between Norman and Beatrix, but also her struggles to break into the publishing scene during a time when women were wished to be a little more domestic in nature.

The movie has a light and fun tone, with only one instance or so of a deeply sorrowful event. The film mixes a touch of animation (very little of it actually, not overly distracting) with real-life acting as it delves into Beatrix Potter’s very heart and soul.

Though the film does take its usual few liberties with her life story, it remains fairly true to the actual happenings of her life.

 (I did take the initiative to do a bit of research and the filmmakers got a lot of it right – even Norman Warne’s mustache)

Ewan McGregor as Norman Warne

Norman Warne

(But honestly, how could you mess up a great mustache like that?)

An excellent film for any aspiring author or period film enthusiast, Miss Potter sheds some light on a woman who, despite unhappiness in her own life, sought to bring happiness and joy to others through her heartwarming stories.

Moderately Meditated: Home

At what point does something become home? It doesn’t seem right that a place which seemed so foreign before should now seem more real to me than the place I grew up in for the first 18 years of my life.

But in the short span of eight months, I’ve become accustomed to the (somewhat less than typical) independent college lifestyle. I embody a more mature adult now and have obtained an older soul.

This place will be known to me as the place where a new retainer gave me a slight lisp for two months, where I went out to dinner by myself for the first time, where I bought my first fish, and gained the confidence to forge new friendships.

But have all these new experiences obliterated old memories entirely? Why is it that I find myself referring to two places when I say “going back home”? It is a difficult task to remember a kind of previous life when you’ve become so immersed in a new one, though I believe remnants of it will always withstand time.

And when I inevitably leave this home and move on to the next, will my count of homes rise to three? Will each new step in life become my home while the past fades into a distant memory? What is home?

Home is where the _____ is.

Just something to consider.

What I’m Inspired By: Music

Most people have a song that reminds them of some past memory, but very few have songs that make them think of something that hasn’t even happened yet. Writing while listening to music (or after you listen for those of us who can’t concentrate with noise) is like putting a soundtrack to a written movie – it complements the action in the scene. And while this music won’t be playing alongside your words as the reader reads them, it does play an important role in the overall feeling of a scene and how you create it. For me, certain music often sounds like it would accompany a particular type of scene (in which case I use these songs as inspiration for writing that type of scene). For example…

Sometimes I associate songs with particular actions because they’ve been used in a movie soundtrack before, like this next song used in Elf over a shot of a bustling New York City crowd.

Pennies from Heaven – Louis Prima

Then again, some songs are from soundtracks you’ve never heard, yet you can get a sense of the dramatic mood and feeling as it plays out an imaginary sequence of events in your mind.

Overture (Halo 3 OST) – Martin O’Donnell & Michael Salvatori

And many songs simply sound like they come from a foreign place, which can be essential when writing about a land far away.

Esta Soledad – Carla Morrison

Then you’ll hear a song that you’re just really in to, but you have absolutely no idea why or how you could use it. Like this next one…is it a trippy city street action sequence? Some weird psycho killer’s jam before he kills someone? Think Quentin Tarantino here, people.

From Rusholme with Love – Mint Royale

Now it’s your turn. How does this song make you feel? What does it remind you of? What kind of scene would you write to go along with it? Let me know in the comments.

Thistled Spring – Horse Feathers

**Also check out What I’m Inspired By: Photography for even more inspiration!

Book Review: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

If you’ve ever been immersed in 1950’s British upper class society, you’ll know just how difficult it is to keep a secret. But as Eva Rice explores in her novel The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, in a world where gossip reigns as the most common form of communication, there is still much to be learned of people’s true selves.

Check out the book at Barnes & Noble

As very few of the characters behave in a manner that exposes their true likeness, the reader can have a lot of fun discovering these people without getting lost in the glamor of society themselves.

The main character Penelope – one who knows as little about herself as she does the workings of society – grew up during WWII, never having known another kind of life. The reader witnesses her struggle as she is tugged between two distinct walks of life: the pre-WWII proper elegance and the rock n’ roll driven post-war era.

Rice writes with utter clarity and liveliness, bringing about characters as real as the world she describes. Wrapped in beautiful symbolism, her witty dialogue and subtle humor compliments the era, and keeps the reader entertained on every page.

Nodding to 1950’s history (there are some Elvis Presley mentions), Rice grounds the reader in the age, but maintains a lighthearted narrative filled with love, music, and stories relatable to each generation.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is actually one of the few books I would be excited to see translated into film, because Rice writes each scene so clearly, it’s like you’re watching a movie already.

This book has been a joy to read and I’m sad that it’s over, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing and enchanting book to spend an afternoon with.

Mind Your Please and Thank-You’s

I would probably need more hands if I was going to try and count how many times an adult has reminded me to say “please.”

Be polite — or else society will shun you.

They would look at me, scrunching up their brow like they were trying to connect the two, and mouth under their breath “Say please.” The older I got, forgetting this one common rule became like giving someone a door ding: I knew I did something offensive, but it was small enough that hopefully no one noticed.

But if you dinged up everybody’s car doors, eventually that would start to reflect on you (and the door of your own car). So, you try to be more careful. Set up a routine. Every time someone gives you something – “Thank you.” Every time you ask for something – “Please.”

But the more I use these words, the more I realize how robotic they sound. It’s almost like being polite has been programmed into us, so much so that we don’t even register what we’re saying anymore. And not only that, but there’s a sizable gap between being polite and being sincere.

I mean, regardless of my happiness with whatever this person did, I say “please” and “thank you” (that’s what being polite means, right?). But when I actually feel like someone really tried to do what I needed, or maybe seemed genuine themselves, I make the effort to seem sincere.

To do that, it’s really all about the timbre of the voice and the wrinkle of the eye-corners. A genuine “thank you so much” for me tends to have that sparkly-eyed optimism that says You did a wonderful job. Thank you for making my day.

I think people respond to that kind of “thank you.” It’s easy to get stuck in the polite rut where you just rattle off whatever necessary statement is cued. And despite the best of polite intentions, these scripted words don’t really help anyone feel more appreciated. So today when I got my hair cut, I tried to really mean my “thank you.” That time, I hope she noticed.

big news

(Also, this is an attempt to create the most sincere “thank you” that ever was. Today I hit 100 followers. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have this many people interested in what I have to say after only a couple short months. The purpose of this blog is to share life with everyone, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to reach out to people and share my passion and, loosely, wisdom. I hope you all enjoy what I have to say and stick with me for the next 100. Thank you so much.)

How Oatmeal Saves your Grammar

Oatmeal

Mmm…delicious grammar.

 

When it comes to the rules of grammar, there really seem to be none. Yes, a general set of basic structure rules exists, but as for the rest of them…they appear to be ever changing. I, for one, can never seem to remember when and when not to use a comma (I can be a little comma-happy…), so it can be helpful to have some little tricks for keeping all these rules straight.

Now, though The Oatmeal is actually a humor site, it actually includes some very unique tips for grammar, ones that I find myself referring to again and again. My personal favorite is the comic for How to Use a Semicolon. The Oatmeal’s humor may not be for everyone, but you can bet you’ll remember those rules whether you find them funny or not.

Check out the website below for hilarious tips on grammar and how to use them. It might actually make grammar fun!

 

The Oatmeal

Click here to go to the website!