My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘Personal’

Looking for Something Better

So yesterday I had a bit of an emotional break down over my job. It was one little email that did this, but it was an email that sent me over the edge. Basically, it’s the fact I’m really taken advantage of and hardly acknowledged at work (except when something goes wrong or someone is angry). And the email pretty much made me feel like I was five years old. Anyway, this was just the last of a number of things that just made me break down.

So now I’m looking in earnest for something better. I’m a bit worried about it all though since looking for a job in such a harsh economic climate is difficult (it’s difficult even in a good climate). It took me six months just to find the one I’m at. Still, I can’t let the job market deter me–I need to keep looking.

I am going to apply for one job I found on my local library’s website. We’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t hurt to try right? I’m also going to try for this editor job at another local company, though I probably don’t have the experience required.

Speaking of experience, I always find it interesting that nearly all the editorial assistant jobs I had looked at when I had graduated college wanted some years of experience. But where does one get that experience? I’ve heard internships, but is that the only way? And when your college doesn’t help you in the slightest to find one, how does one work around that?

I don’t think I’ll be going along that path any more, mainly because I didn’t get that internship while in college and also because I definitely don’t live in a publishing center (Dayton, Ohio isn’t exactly known for much but Wright Patterson AFB and some techinical related jobs). That and I chose to get married rather than go to a major city to follow the publishing career track.

I know that there are other cities that do have some publishing in them, but Dayton certainly isn’t one for them (at least not that I’ve been able to find). I then thought about maybe going down the library science track but that requires a Master’s and I’m in no way interested in going back to school. Also the only school in the area, or in the state really, that does offer a Library Science program is Kent State and I would have to take classes remotely (which they do offer). It was something I considered but I’m already in too much debt from the first four years of college–I don’t have any desire to add more on to that and then not even get a job in that area (because we know where the Bachelor’s in English got me–working as a secretary in real estate…:( )

Blech, this is a depressing entry! I didn’t mean for it to turn this way 😛 Anyway, perhaps I’ll find something in less than six months–maybe even the one library job I am applying for will pull through. One can hope!

Foundations of Good Literature

I must admit, lately it seems I am becoming somewhat of a literary snob. I don’t want to be this way, yet I have the hardest time finishing a book, either due to the actual story not fulfilling up to its glowing reviews or because the actual writing is so poor, I get frustrated with it.

Seriously, it’s been a couple of months since I last finished a book.

Perhaps it’s because of my degree in English (which has yet to prove useful in life, lol) that I find myself more critical of things. Then again, half the books that are considered classics that we were made to read really weren’t, in my opinion, “classic” at all (case in point: anything by Hemingway. I seriously cannot understand how his work has become so lauded in literary circles).

So, I was thinking about it, and I made a bit of a list of what I consider to be the foundations of a good story. It’s pretty simplistic.

  1. There must be a character the reader can identify with. This has been something that I think has been neglected in many popular books and the “classics.” Perhaps that’s why I dislike Hemingway’s stories so much–I cannot identify with his main characters–or any characters really–that he writes about. Example: Frederick Henry in Farewell to Arms. Throughout most of the story I’m pretty disgusted by him and his actions. How then am I supposed to enjoy the story if I’m reading about someone I could care less about?
  2. The story must be compelling. I may really love the character, but if the story isn’t compelling enough for me to keep reading, I won’t finish the book. For me, this is typical of some chick-lit books I’ve read (or attempted to read and just couldn’t get past the halfway point). I’ll love the character, but his/her story just doesn’t catch me enough and the book will seem neverending. This also goes hand-in-hand with #1. If the story is compelling but the characters are distant, it also falls short.
  3. Will I be able to understand the message? Perhaps I’m not a “deep” reader, but some literary fiction (I say some because I’ve read a good number of literary books that don’t fall into this category) makes my head hurt. Questions are good to have throughout a story, as long as they are not drawn out or never answered. This is what I found particularly frustrating when I took a Contemporary Lit class in college. One of the books we read was Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It was so confusing I would literally have headaches after reading it. The only reason I was able to make any sort of sense of the book was because of my lit teacher (and some of the more talented lit majors :P). Perhaps I’m just not cut out for such “deep” prose, but I do not care for books that need a doctorate to understand.
  4. Is the message too blunt? The opposite of #3 but are you being inundated with the message at every page? This is something I know as a writer I need to work on as I’m afraid I may be making things too deep for the reader to catch on to. But you have to give readers credit; they can figure things out if the message isn’t too deeply hidden.
  5. Is the story too cliche? Is it a story you can figure out the ending from the first few pages? I know nearly everything has been done before. However, a story could be the typical boy meets girl type yet be original in how it’s presented. It’s difficult, but not impossible–I’ve read a good many books that manage to present what could be a “cliche” topic yet are still successful in my opinion–at least to the point where I finished the book.

Finally:
Does the story stick with you long after you’ve finished? I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a great story. If it’s a book you’d want to pick up again and again, a story that haunts you hours, days, weeks after you’ve read it–then it’s a great book. Many stories are good but the truly great ones achieve this aspect.

I know as a writer this is everything that I need to live up to as well, at least if I want my book to be moderately successful and not one that people wonder how it was published in the first place 🙂 I think as writers, these are things we should keep in mind.

I realize that all of this probably makes me sound even more like a literary snob/elitist when it comes to reading–and perhaps I am in a way. But as a reader, I’m spending valuable time with an author and their story. It can be incredibly disappointing when the book you had great expectations for turns out to be a dud in the end. Truly good literature can be hard to come by, but when it’s found, it’s equivalent to gold 🙂

Anyway, any comments? Any suggestions of a good book are welcome too as I am always willing to try anything.

Let the Madness Consume Me

A little more than a week and the NaNo craziness begins!

Not only that, but November 1st is also my birthday (I’ll be the big 2-4 this year). What can be better than birthday cake, word counts and word wars?

I am hoping to get more of my chapter summaries done; the goal is to finish those but I’m uncertain if that’s going to happen. I am trying, though I’m normally utterly exhausted from work when I get home at 4…and I only work five to five and a half hours a day. It’s hard for me to want to do anything but laze around on the couch during the week. It’s sad; I need to push myself more despite the exhaustion.

Work has been a little on the crazy side, considering now I’m the “official” office admin assitant (the PC term for secretary). This past week there have been times where I seriously had to remind myself to breathe as there was so much to keep up with!

I’m still missing things here and there; if not for the former AA  (who stil technically does a lot of the AA work and helping me transition) I’d be making mistakes left and right. I’m getting things slowly, but there is SO much that I have to remember it’s insane.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who desires to work in the real estate industry 😛 It’s ever changing and ever frustrating.  Agents can be very demanding, though most have been very understanding that I’m still learning and that it’s not going to happen overnight (in fact it’ll probably be another six months before I feel truly confident). The industry is constantly changing though, especially with the slow economy (even though I wouldn’t think that by the number of closings I am processing on a weekly basis). Still, I shouldn’t complain, as it is a job and I do work with many good people.

So I’m trying to balance myself between the madness of work and the impending insanity of NaNo–though I’m looking forward to the latter 🙂 Cranking out 50K + words in a month could be considered a mark of insanity, too…then again, I’ve not met one writer in life that doesn’t border on the sane/insane line 😛 It’s what makes us be the wonders that we are 🙂

Goodbye, dear Bailey

My parents had to put their dog Bailey (and my dog too…) to sleep 😦 She was nine years old. I remember getting her as a 6 month old puppy at the pound when I was a freshman in high school.

The last time I saw her was on Labor Day….

Not sure what killed her exactly–she’s been having issues the past few weeks (even when I went up last month) with her left side and coordination. They think it might have been some sort of spinal abscess or tumor.

Mom called crying .She said Bailey was howling…and in the nine years we’ve had her, I never heard her howl. I guess I just feel really horrible for my mom….she’s been through so much the past six months, what with Grandma’s stroke and caring for her and visiting her daily at the nursing home, to Bailey getting sick so suddenly and dying like this….

I can’t lie; I’m pretty much a basket case right now 😦 I think it’s the combination of never seeing her again and the pain my mom’s going through….and the fact that my sister’s at school four hours away, wishing that she could be at home around family.

Phil and I were going up to see them this weekend; I was so looking forward to seeing Bailey. Now I won’t see her again…:( I really wish I could’ve been there, at least to help my parents…Sorry for such a depressing post but I had to get it out.

)

Bailey at age 7.

Overcoming the Fear of Critique

Tonight’s my turn to be critiqued in my writer’s group. As much as I know this is necessary, I still dread it everytime 😛

I always know it’s not a personal criticism of my ability to write…still, it’s always a bit painful to watch as your carefully planned and written chapter is dissected and analyzed to shreds. Of course, I know in the long run it will make it better, more marketable to an agent or publisher, but being the overly emotional person I am, it feels as if my very heart is ripped out each time…

BUT, on the positive side, I always know that each and every reader will see it differently, so what one critiquer might like, the other may hate (which has happened every time in the dozen or so times I’ve been critiqued). No matter how much I may perfect it, no reader will see it the same way and there’s no way that every person will like it.

At times, I think I’m also my own worst critic.

I’ve gotten better over time; once, not so long ago, I wouldn’t even let people read my stuff, so overly critical of it I was. But, I found a Christian writers’ website and started entering their mini writing challenges…and the first one I entered placed and was put in their quarterly anthology (hasn’t happened since then, but a few times have been close). So, I’m not as bad as I once thought.

So, though it’s sometimes painful, I’m very glad that I’ve been able to be a part of these critique sessions…even though that shadow of dread creeps upon me every time 😛

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