Monday, August 16, 2010

My other passions

I don't talk much about my other passions on this blog, but I had a momentous weekend that I want to share. And since it's my blog, I will.

I've been studying Tae Kwon Do for about four years now. I stumbled on it by random happenstance in college when the yoga class I wanted to take was full (which now that I know myself a little better, I laugh at the thought that I ever wanted to do yoga). My dad had studied Tae Kwon Do many years ago, so I thought I would take it to make him proud, and to have something to talk shop with him about. I didn't mean to fall in love.

But I did. Oh, I fell in love instantly. It's a sport suited for my personality, and one of the few exercises I can do that doesn't feel like exercise. It's become a way of life for me, and I can't imagine not having it in my life. I found a great school after college with an incredible community and, if I can brag, the best instructors in Texas. They pushed me, challenged me, wore me out, and taught me the true meaning of DON'T QUIT. I am the fighter I am because of everyone I work out with, and I might not have stuck with it if I didn't have such an incredible group around me every day.

Still, I was nervous for the test. Really. Really. Nervous. Like sick to my stomach couldn't eat well or sleep all week nervous. I'm an upper belt, inching closer to black, which means the tests get harder and harder, especially in the August heat of Texas. When I arrived at the dojang for the first part of the test Friday night my nerves had taken hold so strongly that my hands were shaking. I took a few moments to meditate, repeating my usual mantra of "I will be the strongest, fastest, and best fighter I can be" to myself, but the words weren't working. They were just strung together syllables with no meaning, and my stomach was threatening a mutiny.

But then I remembered an argument I'd made earlier that day, an argument I make to myself and the rest of the world on a daily basis: words matter. They mean something, I just hadn't found the right words for myself yet. So I searched in my mind for the right words to face my fears head on, and came up with the following:

I will be nervous, but I will get on the mat
I will sweat, but I will keep fighting
I will get tired, but I will throw one more kick
I will want to quit, but I will throw one more punch
I will mess up, but I will move on
I will be the strongest, fastest, and best fighter I can be

And you know what? It worked.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Waiting is the hardest part

I know what you're thinking. This post is about waiting to hear back from agents, waiting to hear back from editors, waiting for your publication date.

But you're wrong.

This post is about the waiting that comes before that. The hardest waiting, I think.

Waiting to be a good enough writer that you can send your work out.

I remember when I was just going into junior high I went to summer camp for the last time. Several of the girls I made friends with were older than me, and they would all troop off to the showers as a group to shave their legs. So of course the first thing I did when I got home was demand (fine, ASK, I was a polite kid) that my mom take me to the store to get some razors because I needed to start shaving my legs. NEEDED. To which my mom said, "You have to wait six months, and if you still want to start shaving I will let you."

That was a looooooooooong six months. And each week I checked my legs, hairless as they were, and longed for a single or maybe even a double blade so I could join the club. Once my probationary period was over my mom took me to the store and got me my first razor. I started shaving that night, although I'm positive that it was nothing more than peach fuzz. But I was proud of myself; I was a big girl now.

That's how I feel about writing right now. I so desperately want to be a big girl, especially when there are all these shiny tempting contests going on around the blogosphere (ZOMG, have you SEEN the WriteOnCon contest?). But I'm not ready, and neither is my manuscript. I know this, I KNOW, but the waiting is so hard. I'm totally the person who will pull the brownie pan out ten minutes too early because it smells so friggin good. And it's alright until I get to the middle where it's half-baked and gooey and kind of nauseating. I mean, I'm all for brownie batter, but not some Frankenbrownie that can't decide if it wasn't to be goo or mush.

So that's where I'm at. Waiting for my manuscript to get to the point that I can smile proudly and hold it up in public maybe like the Ten Commandments and proclaim it THE GREATEST WORK EVER CREATED (BY ME). It's hard and frustrating and totally based on my own development. Which is sometimes the hardest part.

Where are you in your development? What are your hopes for your future writing?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blogger might have taken over my life

What does it say about me that I open Blogger before I open anything else, including my email?

We've got a good community going here, blog-o-buddies. I've laughed, I've cried, I've laughed until I cried, I've cried until I've laughed, I've learned, I've forgotten, I've been reminded. I've read posts about how to improve my writing, I've read posts about LOLcats, I've...

Woah, going off on a Dickens tangent. The point is, gentle readers, I appreciate the connections I've forged here, and it's thanks to all of you. So this Friday post is dedicated to you. Give yourself a pat on the back or a high five (but maybe not in public because you might be shunned or ridiculed). And thanks for making this the first site I sign into every morning :).

Happy Friday!

(Don't mind Rihanna's dead eyes, I'm sure she's just sleepy)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In which I, bleary-eyed, wax enthusiastic on you

If I seem tetchy or incomprehensible (not always mutually exclusive), it is because of this, gentle readers:

Courtesy of

I gave myself 20 minutes to read last night. That's a chapter, maybe two. Four hours later I was reading the acknowledgements and wishing I worked for people who loved books as much as I do so that when I called to say I'd be in late because I stayed up all night reading a book they would TOTALLY understand.

I'm still processing this book. There were things I liked, things I didn't like, things I believed, things I didn't believe, plot lines that drove the story and plot lines that died halfway through, characters that seemed realistic and characters that didn't. It was not a book without flaws (find me one, I DARE YOU), but it was incredibly compelling. Obviously. I have grand plans to go back and dissect the book from a writer's perspective, but as a reader I enjoyed the story immensely. I'm not even sure if YA weren't so popular right now that this would be YA. I don't say that to take away from YA readers, but I'm not sure I would have understood a lot of the character observations if I were 16 or 17.

I highly recommend this book. As a reader, as a writer, as a lover of the word you'll be very gruntled to have read this.

And don't worry about me, I've started an IV drip of caffeine that should be kicking in aaaaany second now.

Oh, and if you've read this book and would like to discuss with me, say your piece in the comments! I'd love to know what other readers took away from this book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reasons why I haven't joined Twitter

I'm on a list kick, I guess.

Although I should clarify that I do have a Twitter account, but only because someone many years ago made me feel like it was going to be the nextgreatawesomegmailthing and if I didn't get my name soon that I would have to be like JEMlovesvolleyballandgrillingandsometimessocks5489. So I made an account, but I don't actually use it. That would be uncouth.

Also: disclaimer. I have nothing against Twitter, nor against the people who use it. These are just my own personal feelings about my own potential Twitter usage. Tweet on, Twitter lovers!

1) I am totally not interesting enough to tweet things, even on a daily basis. Unless you want to know how often I  get up at work to go pee or the amount of sandwiches I eat in a day.

2) I'm kind of like that old guy in Up about technology. Yes, I work with it for a living. Yes, I blog. Yes, I email. But I still sometimes get all "what's this newfangled tag thing?" and "why am I poking this person? it's obscene. in my day we asked a girl out to a nice steak dinner first."

3) I already waste  spend countless hours perusing the lovely blogs I follow, I can't add Twitter accounts to that. Not if I ever want to sleep again.

4) The instant gratification of Twitter gives me way too much leeway to say something really stupid that will be forever immortalized in internet databases everywhere. I really shouldn't be allowed out in public, but certainly not a public where I can write exactly what I'm thinking without any filtering.

5) I can't be contained to 140 characters. I don't care if concise writing would make me a better writer. If I have something important enough to say to put it on the internet, it's going to be longer than 140 characters. Trust me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dudes, please don't enter this contest so I can have all the prizes!

Somehow I don't think that will work, but here it is anyway:

Roni over at Fiction Groupie is hosting a contest with Julie Cross (sorry, Julie, but your blog title is way long and my fingers are LAZY). It's kind of awesomely epic, so definitely go check it out here, and the deets are below for your edification:

As a reminder, here are the fabulous prizes up for grabs this week:

  • Hannah Moskowitz's Break
  • Lisa Desrocher's Personal Demons (ARC)
  • A query or first five pages critique from Fine Print Lit's intern, Gemma Cooper
  • A query or first five pages critique from Janet Reid's assistant, Meredith Barnes
  • A query or first five pages critique from agent Suzie Townsend
  • A query or first five pages critique from editor Brendan Deneen

Entries will be accepted until midnight (central time) Sunday night August 8th.  Six winners will be chosen.  First place will get their choice of prizes, then second place will choose, and so on.

Some things that will make your book better

A quick note: I've had some things come up over the weekend that are forcing me to put my super awesome contest on hold. I will hold a contest in the near future, though, and it will be so awesome it will blow your mind (maybe).

A Brief List of Things That Will Make Your Book Better
1) Put me in it (for reals, I've been FDA approved to increase your awesome by 37%)
2) Circus bears. Seriously. Circus bears.
3) Adverbs. Adverbs aren't used nearly enough in writing. Especially the word very. You should probably have at least one very per sentence, and in all dialogue tags.
4) Give all your characters similar names. Even better, give them the same name spelled differently. Catherine, Katherine, Cathryn, Kathrynn, the more creative the spelling the better (P'Cauthevyrn?)
5) Dialogue is so namby-pamby these days. You need to add more realistic ums and ahs and huhs and f-bombs. That's the only way editors will know that you really know what you're talking about. Voice of a generation, people.
6) You need to use bigger words to show off your academic prowess. My suggestion? Spatchcock (and oh PLEASE look up the definition).
7) Werewitchpires. They're all the rage in Germany right now.
8) Lists. Lots and lots of lists. (What? No, this is NOT a filler answer to get to 10, how DARE you accuse me of such things)
9) Extended paragraphs in which you expound on the deteriorating morals of a corrupt modern society and the need to overthrow the system. These work best in children's books. Especially with illustrations.

HELLO, Nobel Prize in literature.