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Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

13 Jan

It’s such a tiny, little book. It fit so snuggly in my purse, and I took it out almost everywhere I went the week I was reading it. It’s not even a book as much as an amalgamation of all the different things she has learned in her years as a writer. It’s her wisdom, it’s the wisdom of the people who have inspired her, it’s little tips on how to approach writing.

I had fun reading this book. So much so that I bought my own copy while I was still reading the one I had checked out from the library. It now sits atop my printer on my writing desk with its own designated bookmark. Each nugget of advice is only a page or two long, and I’m trying out a ritual (at her suggestion). I read one little nugget as preparation for an hour of uninterrupted writing. It inspires me and reminds me why I write. It makes that hour of solitary writing a little less lonely.


10 Jan

Two types of veterinary technicians exist. There are the ones like me that enjoy the career as is, possibly want to do it their whole lives and bask in the freedom of much less responsibility. Then there are veterinary technicians who are earning an income and gaining experience on the road to becoming a veterinarian. I work with three of this second type of technician, and in this last week, two of them were accepted to Cornell University’s Vet School.

I SHOULD be happy for them. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and they are both hard-working and deserving girls. They’re going to make wonderful veterinarians one day, and I know that. But that wasn’t my internal reaction when I found out about their news. I was jealous, angry, spiteful. I found myself thinking that maybe they’d fail out of school eventually. And I felt disgust with myself soon after.

I carried around this ugly, jealous feeling for most of the day, ashamed of it, and trying to decide exactly what to do with it. I don’t even like to think that I’m capable of those thoughts.

I decided two things. One, I will be happy for them. I will find a way. I will smile and ask all about it and support them until I make myself believe it. Not sure if it is possible to kill those jealousy feelings in there, but succumbing to that kind of resentment is the first step on the road to bitterness. Two, I have to focus those feelings on myself and change them into something else.

I don’t want to be a veterinarian. I know that. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and the medical/science field is not for me. My creative spirit pulls me elsewhere. But the jealousy comes from their accomplishment. Those two lovely ladies worked hard, for years, and will have to work hard for years to come. And while I don’t want to follow the path they’re on, I have dreams and aspirations that require hard work, perhaps years of it, perhaps a lifetime of it. The last week I have brainstormed a good New Year’s Resolution for this brave and glorious year ahead. I tend to pick many specific commitments, but this year I have decided to pick one that is vague and noncommital.

Work Harder.

If I want things to happen for me. If I want those big accomplishments, I need to make some changes. When I think of the hours spent playing Candy Crush or the hours watching the same youtube videos over and over again or the dozens of times a day when I refresh my news feed on Facebook, such a waste of time! This isn’t to say that there won’t be any of that. I love relaxing and unwinding. There just needs to be less of it. I need to work harder, and I need to start now.


12 Apr

tumblr_inline_mkx7ziRwCA1r79k32 Let’s talk about Twitter for a moment. It confuses me. I don’t understand it. I find it to be a constant source of Internet frustration for me.

When it first came on the scene, I stuck my English major nose up in the air and thought that its short-form expression would never last. Now it’s kind of a big deal. It’s everywhere, and I still just don’t get it.

A good friend of mine helped me sign up a couple of months ago and was patient enough to answer a bunch of questions. But it still confuses me, and I have yet to tweet anything. I’ve thought long and hard about what to tweet, what to say, and I’m at a complete loss.

I occasionally look at the Twitter app on my phone and read what other people have tweeted, but I still don’t get it. Are people having conversations with one another? What’s with ReTweeting? The tagging, the hashtagging, the mentionings, the back and forth! I’m soooo confused.

I feel as an aspiring writer I should get more comfortable with the format as it is important for self-promotion. But Internet self-promotion is something I have never been able to master. Most of my friends become shocked to find out that I have a blog as I never promote it on facebook. I just have it humbly listed under my websites on my about page, and it is my status on gchat. That’s it. I’m not comfortable with self-promotion, but I know it’s only hurting me in the long run. I really should get over that.

I digress! Twitter! Help me! What should I tweet? How do I do it? What should I know? Can anyone out there in the Internets help a girl out?!

Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran

10 Apr

whywewriteI found out about this book from the ever amazing Brain Pickings website which is a great place to find inspiration and guidance in leading a creative life.

The book (despite consisting of 20 author interviews) is short and quick to get through. I read it in two days on subway trips to bars on a Saturday night and to softball games on a Sunday evening. But the advice and the guidance within is invaluable.

What I admired about this book is while I’ve read similar amalgamations of writerly advice, this isn’t just one type of author. You have some very commercially successful mystery thriller writers, some nonfiction writers, some indie writers, a little bit of everything. And for being a book about creativity, it’s also down-to-Earth. The authors talk about their literal journey to where they are now. The logistics of paying the bills, getting published, finding time to write, changing careers.

What struck me was despite how vastly different they all are in every sense, they all kind of said the same thing. Write for yourself, work really hard, don’t give up when someone doesn’t like your stuff, work hard, write about what inspires you, work even harder.

It includes some authors that I already know and respect like Michael Lewis and others that I’ve never heard of. All of their stories were valuable though, and I recommend this book to anyone who desires a writerly life.

What about writing?

4 Feb

This Dog loves me

This is a conversation I’ve had in a variety of ways and shapes over the last couple of months with a number of friends and family.

I was at a friend’s birthday party and another friend was telling me about a hip-hop karaoke event that he’d attended and asked me why I wasn’t there as karaoke is one of my most beloved past times.

“I just got my biology text book in the mail, so I’ve been all study, all the time,” I told him.
“Oh, so this is for vet school.”
“Well, no, it’s for vet tech school. I don’t think vet school was ever for me. I’m thinking maybe going into animal behavior or zoology one day.”
A concerned look sweeps across his face.
“But what about writing?”

Well, what about writing? I ask myself that question every day. I have Mondays off of work, so I spent my entire day poring over a Biology text book. I occasionally took breaks to cook, take a walk, read, and write. I also took some time to research possible careers in animal behavior and/or zoology. It’s all interesting. I know I could do it. But it all feels like such a farce. Like who am I kidding with this shit? I feel like a square peg, shoving myself into a round hole and hoping no one notices that my edges don’t quite match up.

I’m quite ashamed of my job history. It’s something I joke about, because it is funny. But in a greater sense, it shows how little commitment I have. It’s not just the job history, it’s the things I’ve pursued. Three years ago, I thought I was going to go back to school to be a teacher. I studied an LSAT book for a couple of weeks. I took a graphic designing class. I bought an introduction to linguistics book. Nothing fits.

While I know that a lot of people my age are at a loss as to what they want to do, I don’t want to be among them. My friend who had the birthday on Saturday is my age, and she has a successful career, a stunning apartment, a graduate degree. I suppose I thought things would fall into place for me by now.

But what about writing? It’s all I’ve really wanted to do. I just don’t know how to swallow my pride, my fear and do it. I simply don’t know how.



NY Writer’s Coalition

3 Jun

About a year ago, when I was at the Brooklyn Book Festival, I ended up signing up for a bevy of email lists for different writing groups in New York. I want so badly to live a more writerly existence, but I simply haven’t figured out a way to balance writing with making a living, cooking dinner, traveling, hanging out with friends. So I sign up for a bunch of things hoping something will shine the light on how to write a novel whilst having a full life.

One of the groups I ended up signing up for is the New York Writers Coalition. It’s a pretty neat organization that sponsors different writing events and uses their resources to bring creative writing lessons to communities that can benefit from the outlet.

I have admittedly not been very active with them, but I recently saw their newest event, a write-a-thon, and decided to sign up. Ira Glass is going to give a motivational speech, and I have an unbelievable nerd crush on him.

I’m supposed to fund raise for this, but fundraising makes me so utterly uncomfortable. I hate asking people to give me their money, especially when I somehow end up getting to do something cool because of the donation, like hang out with Ira Glass. But it is a good cause, and I figured posting something on here would be less irritating than sending out some sort of a mass email. I plan on donating a good amount when it is closer to the actual write-a-thon date.

So if you are interested in helping a good cause or even signing up yourself if you live in the New York area, here is the site. I appreciate anything you can put towards the cause!