Paige’s Pages: A Literary Work #5

Milk

I wasn’t really out buying milk.

            There were still two full jugs behind that little plastic door. You asked where I was going and I didn’t know how to explain it to you. I know you heard us. You always heard us. Daddy can yell pretty loud sometimes, huh? Sometimes parents do things that make each other upset. But it’s not your fault, okay? It was never your fault.

            So, anyway, Mommy just needed to take a little drive. Just like when I used to make you sit on that chair after you threw a fit. It’s for thinking about what you did wrong, remember? Sometimes adults need to think too. So Mommy needed to go think about some things and I told you I was going to get milk because I didn’t want to explain. I needed to calm down before I threw a fit too.

            And before I left, do you remember what you asked me? You wanted to ride that new bike you got for your birthday. You asked us all year for it. The red one with the gold lightning bolt on the tires. You wanted to go fast. And the morning of your birthday, you ran into our room and jumped on our bed in the space between us where you used to sleep at night. We just pretended we forgot it was your birthday. We bought the bike months ago.

            But when you asked me before I left if you could ride your bike that day I said yes without thinking because I needed to get away. And I was already gone before I realized Daddy didn’t know I’d left. I didn’t worry though because I knew he’d figure it out. He tells me he fell asleep. I don’t know if he’s lying. I wish you could tell me.

            You must have gone fast. It’s a steep hill and that corner comes so quickly when you’re six and feel the wind in your hair and you forget that sometimes the breaks stick. But it’s not you, honey. Of course not. That tree is so big. That one in Beth’s yard that you think looks like a Christmas tree. The branches are just so thick. He couldn’t see you. How couldn’t he have seen you?

            When I got back, they wouldn’t let me in. I could see the Christmas tree and that yellow tape you always thought was so pretty and I never had the heart to tell you what it meant. I got out of the car and asked the police officer what happened, and I hit him. Hit him like I told you to never hit anyone until he let me through. And then I saw you. And then I saw Daddy bent over in the grass. And then I saw the car. There was nothing on it. You didn’t even leave a scratch.

            I didn’t leave your room for a few days. I slept in your bed. Well – I didn’t sleep much. Just stared up at the soft little white clouds we painted on your ceiling for you when you were just a tiny baby in our arms. I wouldn’t let go of that rabbit you’d never let me wash. I hope you don’t mind. Daddy broke that model airplane you built together. He broke a lot of things. He spent hours trying to glue it back together though. I tried telling him it wouldn’t fix things.

            I know you probably wish you could have worn your brown cowboy t-shirt, that one that you got at Disneyworld, the one Woody gave you. But we picked your gray suit you hated because you always looked so cute in it even when we couldn’t get your hair to stick straight. We wanted you to look your best when you got there. Maybe we should have just let you wear the t-shirt.

            I hope you went fast. I hope you didn’t feel anything. Just remember how it felt, baby. How it felt to be free. I don’t know if I can ever feel like that again. Not after this. Not after feeling your warm, delicate skin against my chest for six years and getting left with this cold thousand dollar slab of marble that just doesn’t seem like enough because I know there will never be a price high enough for what I did to you.

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Clues to a Great Story: The TED Talk

“What this scene is doing…is making a promise that the story will lead somewhere that will be worth your time.”

The brilliant filmmaker behind stories like WALL-E and Toy Story, Andrew Stanton, brings us a TED Talk about learning how to tell the best and most effective story. He shares his insights on writing and drafting and using your own experiences to gain inspiration. I plan on listening to this Talk more than once, because even during my first listen, I could tell that this successful man had some amazing tips to share.

Aspiring writers? This one’s for you.

The Mind of a Wavering Future Author

How is that every time I think I know what I want,
I don’t?
How can half my life be devoted to one thing

Books

And one thought can upset an entire dream?

I want to write

yes

But what to write about? What for?

I could be a screenwriter,
A writer of films.

I’ve always loved movies. Why not?

I could write children’s books,
the next J.K. Rowling.

I like kids. Kids like me. Why not?

I could write textbooks,
The How-To of life.

I hate textbooks. Better job security. Why not?

I could write reviews for a magazine or paper,
Ebert for a new age.

Maybe they’ll give me free things. Opinions are nice. Why not?

I could be a film director, photographer, artist,
But just maybe on the side.

I don’t know enough about those things to do them for a life.

I could work in a bookstore,
Just to get me on my feet.

What if I end up liking it? Owner of a bookstore. Why not?

I could be an editor,
Of a magazine or for publishing.

But really that’s not writing at all.
And what I love is that I love to write.
And despite all these questions, that’s what I want to do.
But how do I know if what I’ll write is right?
Will it make me happy
Forever?

And if I finally do decide on a job, where will I be jobbing from?
Probably in the same place
Where all the jobbers go.

What about books? That’s what I’d always planned to do,
Is it bad to have these thoughts,
To feel like I’m cheating
on my dreams?

And what is it about college,
where you’re supposed to

Find yourself,

that makes you question

Everything.

Jobs for Writers #1: Children’s Book Author

So as you guys may have noticed (or not noticed), I’ve been really busy this week. Not only have I been slowly recovering from an illness, but I’ve been maddeningly busy and may or may not have missed my usual every-other-Wednesday photo blog post (No, I definitely missed it).

All of this has caused me to have some sort of mini existential meltdown in which I questioned my purpose on earth and how it all fits in with who and what I want to be when I get out of college. But don’t freak out, anybody. Like I said, it was mini.

I still want to be a writer, of that I am certain. But what exactly should I write about? Where do I want to write? Should I write for myself or should I write for the world? Do I want to make an impact or do I want to float by under the radar?

Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to introduce a new series of posts in which I highlight and discuss a number of different jobs available to writers. These posts will be both for me and for you guys to explore the realm of writing and to look at different types of jobs that many of us may never have considered or even knew existed.

For now, I’ll be researching different jobs and discussing them, but if you guys ever have any recommendations or requests, leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to look into it. So here we go.

Children’s Book Author

English: Winner of The Macmillan Prize for Chi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though often considered the “easiest” type of book writing, becoming an author of children’s books, whether they be picture books or short novels, requires the same knowledge of creative writing as becoming an author of another genre. While it’s not necessary to have a degree to write children’s books, it is helpful to understand the ins and outs of the English language and be familiar with simple and complex literary concepts so as to use them properly in books.

Knowledge of marketing and how to market oneself to potential publishers is also a key trait of children’s authors. As an author, you’ll spend a lot of your time sending queries to publishers and pitching your ideas, so having an understanding of how The Business works would be beneficial.

Like a lot of authors, authors of children’s books are paid by the advance and royalty system. When a publishing company buys your book, they pay you an advance (depending on how well they think your books are going to sell on the market). Then, once your books have sold and they have accumulated the same amount of money as the advance (basically, once you’ve paid off your advance), you start getting paid in whatever percentage of royalties you negotiated in your contract with the publisher. Royalties are how much money you get out of the sale price (ex] If your book sells for $10 and you have a 10% contract, you’ll get $1 per book). Unfortunately, if your book doesn’t sell well, you might not be making any money off royalties.

Children’s book authors usually have to share their advance with the illustrator (and the illustrator usually gets paid more), so if you’re a writer who can draw and is concerned about making the most money possible (don’t become a writer), it would probably be wise to illustrate your own books. Sharing is no fun anyway.

Naturally, you’d have to be of a creative mindset in order to be an author. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to like kids. And books.
 

Degree
Not required

Salary
On average $55, 940 (US Bureau of Labor and Statistics)
(Tip: Salary varies. You can make twice that amount in larger cities and metropolitan areas)

Research/Helpful Links!
http://education-portal.com/articles/Become_a_Childrens_Author_Step-by-Step_Career_Guide.html

http://work.chron.com/much-childrens-book-writer-make-year-15393.html

http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Top-10-FAQs

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273043.htm

I’m Sorry This is Late Deadline Writing Memes

Due to reasons which I will discuss in next week’s post and reasons I will not (I had a test this morning and spent the greater half of the day in the car), this post is being posted very late in the evening. In the spirit of lateness (and exhaustedness), here are a few deadline-inspired items you fellow writer-folk might enjoy.

 

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” — Douglas Adams

Moderately Meditated: Self-Editing

English: Hands collaborating in co-writing or ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is it so hard to self-edit?

Most people would say that it’s important to be able to shut off the inner-editor so that writing quickly and freely becomes a much more manageable task. But what do you do when your editor needs to be switched on?

One of the hardest parts of writing isn’t actually the writing itself, but the editing. This is especially true for authors trying to edit their own pieces. It’s very difficult to critique something you put your heart into. But if you are lucky enough to notice that something is wrong with your piece, you may not be lucky enough to know exactly what it is.

Last night I found myself grappling with a self-editing issue. My solution? Ask someone else. After emailing a friend and persistently knocking on the door of a fellow English major, I got some feedback. Even after a really helpful editing session with my friends, I still had a hard time fixing my piece. How do I figure out exactly what my story needs to be better?

I finally managed to fix a few of the issues my classmates pointed out, but only after staring at the screen for a long time (maybe longer than necessary). Eventually I sat myself down (literally) and asked myself what it was I wanted to communicate with this story. What’s my point? What’s my conflict? Why should anyone read this?

I’m not sure if I can answer those yet, but I did “finish” my story (are they ever finished?).

Fellow writers! Help! Any insights? How do you go about editing yourself? Helpful tips are welcome!

Paige’s Pages: A Literary Work #4

Throwback Thursday! (It’s not Thursday.) Here’s a poem I wrote in high school.

 

Those of Our Kind

Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see
A place of wonder, dazzling
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

“Have a look!” he shouts to me
“Most truly horrifying!”
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see.

Madmen grin so easily
Behind masks they are hiding
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

On display, the world will see
The locked and barely living.
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see.

In cages, they seem to be
Mocked and forever hurting
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

This was never meant to be.
Our hearts are black and burning.
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.