Archive | March, 2013

Keyboards vs. Pens

27 Mar

I’ve heard that they don’t teach handwriting in elementary school anymore.

This makes some sense. We all use computers. Even when I was in school, they stopped teaching cursive after the fourth grade, so my cursive has been preserved just as I last used it, which I learned when attempting to address wedding invitations last year.

However, there are times in life when you still have to write something on a piece of paper that someone else is supposed to read. Who am I? Some kind of handwriting expert? I just want to figure out your email address, not solve some kind of hieroglyphics puzzle. How hard is it to make an “a” look like an “a”?

A question remains. Do you think better through a pen or a keyboard?

It took me a long time to think through a keyboard. In college, I actually used to write all my papers out by hand and retype them. At some point I realized that my oh-so-efficient methods needed to be revamped. I had to train my brain to think through keys. I didn’t come up with a program or anything. The world just became more key-centric. Somewhere through work emails and social media and graduate school, it just happened.

I’m still not the fastest typist out there. I’ve gotten better over the years, but sometimes I still want to think through a pen. I printed out half of my manuscript so I can go through page by page and edit. There is something about seeing a physical page, not on a computer screen, and writing on it.

What do you think? Does anyone still think through pens (or pencils)?

Mid-America.

21 Mar

As you may or may not know, this blog has been an online account of my writing journey, sprinkled with little morsels from my life.

Today’s morsel? I am coming up on my one year anniversary as a resident of St. Louis/The Lou/The STL.

I saw a car commercial with Justen the other day for a place called Mid-America Motorworks.

Me: Mid-America?

Justen: (silence)

Me: Ohh, like middle America.

Justen: (silence)

Me: Sometimes I forget that I live in the middle of America.

Justen: (eye roll and snort)

I guess occasionally I think I’m still on the edge of the country.

So, in honor of my “considerable time” in the Gateway City, I would like to share 15 things (remember my obsession with lists) this California girl was not at all familiar with before meeting her wonderful Midwestern husband.

1. Hockey: Yes, California has multiple hockey teams, but the love for this sport in the Midwest is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

2. Open containers: What is this? Vegas?

3. Fish fry: During Lent there are fish fry fundraisers all over town on Friday nights. As (an almost) Catholic convert, this helps with the whole no meat on Fridays thing.

4. Trivia night: Another fundraiser I’ve never seen in the Golden state, but grab ten friends, a cooler of beer, a few bottles of wine and finally put all that meaningless information in your brain to good use? Sign me up.

5. Snow: In California, you visit the snow, you don’t live in it. Why is it still 20 degrees in March???

6. Brick buildings: I love, love, love the architecture here. It is leaps and bounds above the stucco, track housing that is California.

7. Speed limit minimums: Um, what? There is no worry that anyone in California is driving BELOW the speed limit.

8. No U-turns: Come on. Let a girl flip a u-ey (not sure on the “correct” spelling on that one).

9. Toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, St. Louis style pizza, Provel cheese, pork steaks: The first two are amazing! Not a fan of the pizza. The cheese is great on salads. Still confused by the pork steaks.

10. Where did you go to high school? Who cares? I went to Laguna Creek High School if anyone is curious.

11. Weather siren warnings:  These sirens go off and this creepy voice gives directions that I don’t know how anyone can understand. Growing up, anytime I heard the emergency broadcast system on the radio, it was ALWAYS a test. Here, not so much.

12. Local banks: There have to be 5,000 local banks here. And yet, no Wells Fargo.

13. Make a wrong turn and you are in another state: Even with my directional challenges, not something I had to worry about in Cali. And yes, I have done this here.

14. Wild bunnies: There are bunnies everywhere here! Justen tells me they are rabbits. No way. They are cute little bunnies and I love them. 

15. Basements: My experience with basements prior to last April was watching Kevin overcome the fear of his basement in Home Alone.

So, these are my little observations as a fish out of water. This fish does miss the ocean, but the Mississippi River is pretty great too.

Hope you are enjoying your week. 🙂

DIY

19 Mar

I attended a great publishing workshop last night. Believe it or not, it got me thinking about DIY. A panel of experts discussed the world of publishing, which splits into traditional publishing and self-publishing. ‘Traditional’ is taking it to the professionals and ‘Self’ is, you guessed it, doing it yourself.

I’m all for DIY in certain instances, but some things need to be left to the professionals. There is a reason they are called professionals. They have spent years perfecting their craft. You haven’t.

My dad is a do-it-yourselfer, and he is very handy when it comes to basic car maintenance, house painting, yard work, etc. He even put in our above ground pool himself, but when this confidence spilled over into VCR repair, things got ugly. We all have our limits.

While self-publishing has gained traction in recent years and upgraded from it’s previous red-headed step-child status, the big sellers you see in bookstores and online are still traditionally published. I am taking this traditional route for a few reasons. One, I know my limits. Aside from writing, the only useful skill I have in this endeavor is marketing. Outside of those two arenas, I know very little that would be beneficial when it comes to the business of selling a book. I’m also writing what’s termed literary fiction, which essentially means I’m writing about nothing. The Seinfeld of books, but not as funny. (I mean if that doesn’t make you want to read it…) Basically I’m not writing in a genre (i.e. mystery, science fiction, romance). Apparently, it is not very common for literary fiction to be self-published because it prevents the book from winning prestigious literary awards, which I plan on just racking up.

From the weight of the paper to the thickness of the spine to the international rights on a contract to the electronic distribution, after a book is written, there are copious details that go into making and selling books, and that is where I want to hand things over to the pros.

DIY can be great, but sometimes you just have to know when you can’t fix a VCR.

Happy Tuesday!

Smarts.

12 Mar

Smarts.

I’ve been thinking about how we define “smart” or “intelligent.” IQ tests, I guess. Although, I’ve never actually spoken to anyone who knows his or her IQ. Do they even perform these tests anymore? And who administers these tests? Did I miss this at some point? Do you know your IQ?

I would like to consider myself smart (I guess everyone would though), but my lack of directional skills, poor memory, and airhead moments can state otherwise. Sometimes I feel dumb. I’ve always been more English, History, and Art smart in school. I can write a decent essay. I’m creative. What can I say? I use the right side of my brain, while the left side sits there like that Bowflex I swore I would use (but it’s not a bad coat rack).

My dad makes sure that planes take off and land safely, without crashing in the process. As an Air Traffic Controller, he has different smarts. Smarts I could never have.

Some smarts seem to be more beneficial than others, don’t they? Those who we truly revere as intelligent were the Math and Science smart in school. Doctors. Scientists. Engineers. They were born with synapses firing in their left brains, and with a little nurturing along the way, their brains became brilliant.

So, if you are a writer or a creative person, how do you reconcile your smarts? Just like anyone else. You have to understand who you are and what your kind of intelligence can do for you. Then you have to work hard and have a little faith. Then you will live happily ever after and make lots of money. What, you don’t believe me? Well, I’m writing this blog, so I get to come up with the ending.

Am I jealous of the Math and Science smarties? Maybe a little. But then again, I wouldn’t trade writing and a little creativity any day. It’s where I feel smart.

I love hipsters.

7 Mar

That’s right. I said it.

Thick rimmed glasses, a beard, maybe some suspenders. I’m not talking about your grandpa. Hipsters!

I’m not a hipster (I’m not that cool). However, I can’t help but love a place that has hipster written all over it. A local grocery store and deli selling microbrews from St. Louis? (And no, I don’t mean Budweiser).  Yes, please. A coffee-house displaying local art and showcasing local musicians on the weekends? Sounds fabulous.

And while sometimes hipster places can seem, I don’t know, snobby, the core of the establishment is probably not so bad. The hipster movement, if you want to call it that, has roots in counterculture and possesses a progressive foundation, but now, it’s as trendy as a one piece swimsuit and a pair of TOMS. I am all for local businesses, unconventional fashion trends, and some organic kale, but, I mean isn’t Miley Cyrus kind of a hipster now?

And what do hipsters have to do with writing? Well, I do spend half my days in a local coffee shop, the hipster mecca, so, I see my fair share on a regular basis. And don’t worry, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin, so I know a good hipster when I see one.

Alright, I’ll admit this post might be a little weak today, but I woke up this Thursday morning with hipsters on the brain, and this is what happened.

If nothing else, can you count how many times I said hipster? Turn it into a drinking game. A blog drinking game. So hipster.

 

Los Angeles University and other fake places.

1 Mar

Hello Friday! Though I still have some traces of nagging sickness, this week has been much more productive than last.

Right now I am contemplating how specific to be in my novel. I always lean towards realism. Unless I’m watching a Lifetime movie, I want things to be believable.  Those who know me are probably familiar with my dislike of all things fantasy, science fiction, and magic, and while I’ll never write a novel about gnomes battling witches three hundred years in the future, I wonder if this stunts my imagination a little.

In other words, it’s difficult for me to just make things up. I am distracted by made-up places in movies and books. Los Angeles University, for example. For anyone who is unaware, there is no LA-U. But fake restaurants, schools, etc. give the author the authority. No one can say, “That was such an inaccurate portrayal of Los Angeles University.”

Over the summer, I read a book that was set in Nantucket. My knowledge of Nantucket is from television, the Internet, and books, so as long as the author didn’t throw in skyscrapers, I trusted her. It sounded right to me. However, if the story had taken place in Santa Barbara, a place I lived for four years, I probably would have been a little more discerning.

When you have an intimate knowledge of something, which is more distracting, the fake or the real? And moreover (I just wanted to use that obnoxious word), do other proper nouns distract you? Diet Coke or diet soda?

Just curious. 🙂

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