You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘writing’ category.

Thanks for showing your concerns y’all. I still haven’t decided on the fate of ye olde blog, but I am doing another project that is taking up a lot of my webwriting energy. I’m writing reviews of local businesses and “anything with an address” for Yelp! I have to come up with over 30 short reviews a week, so I’m thinking of it as paid, review-blogging. It’s not as hard as it sounds, mostly because I have a lot of opinions. About everything and anything. Come, hear me spew, rave, slam, and praise at http://maikopunk.yelp.ca.

Feel free to also create your own profile and start reviewing and networking on the site too. Be my friend, and make me look popular. ‘Kay?

But I’m having one of those days when I just don’t want to be a writer (or editor) anymore. When you’ve gone out, gotten some experience, gotten some training, and gotten an earful of cheerleading about “knowing your worth” and “charging accordingly for your services” and then turn around and go out there only to have employers cringe at you for asking said professional wage, well, maybe it becomes time to pack in the delusions and pick another job.

All writing is only so much content creation and all editing a glorified manual spell-and-grammar-check, right? Who needs to pay anyone to do that? I’m sure someone is already working hard at an SEO article content generator anyway, and everyone already has MS Word, which will check your subject verb agreements quite handily.

Yes, yes, persistence and positive attitude. Stay on course and work hard, something is bound to happen. Don’t give up on your dreams. Chase them rainbows. Says my persistent, hardworking inner pessimist, “Know when you’re bloody well licked.”

And just as I finished writing this little screed, I got a phone call offering me a regular freelance editing gig with a magazine/publisher I really like, and at an acceptable wage.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Update: I also got a little raise from my other freelance gig. I can’t remember the last time someone offered me more money for doing anything. Feels pretty sweet.

It’s not as though there is a dearth of interesting topics to write about. Transportation, the Olympic$, the Climate Change Dividend, even the asylum next door – all kinds of people are doing interesting things and events are going on all around us. People are blogging about them too. Every day, something new to know.

As for me, I signed the papers I’m over the shock. And here I am again: my own boss and cruise director, tasked with doing something useful, not just the dishes. That means thinking up my own projects as well as mustering up the courage to go after all the opportunities that cross my desk. (At least the ones that don’t look too dodgy.) Sometimes when there is a legitimate posting, whether it comes via the Editors’ Association mailing list, Craigslist, Jeff Gaulin or Freelance Writing Jobs, I talk myself out of it before even applying. This habit must be stopped – if I plan to make any money.

I like money.

Writing for money is hard work – I’m not kidding – if you plan to get paid for it. It feels like that today at least. Getting a job was a way to get money that I needed at the time, but it’s the easy way out. You don’t have to think for yourself and the cheques come regularly.

My sister, a creative chick who’s been at the freelance game for awhile, said to me, “You have to stop working the backup plan and the safety net, and go do it.” She’s absolutely right. There is no happiness in mere acceptance at the workplace, I need to go achieve something and make a name. It would be easier to just fit in, but that is not to be.

There I was, playing with my nieces, ages 1 1/2 and 3. We were playing “school” which is the 3-year-old’s favourite pretend game. But, since it was dark outside, she stated that she didn’t normally go to school at night.

I suggested, in the spirit of pretending, that we pretend it was dark because of a solar eclipse. She looked puzzled as I waxed on about the moon moving in front of sun and making it dark for a few minutes. Then she ran away to her mom, wailing. I gathered up the 1 1/2 year old and went to see if what I had just said had really scared her.

And of course, it had. In my zeal to explain some strange beautiful rare event in the world, I had planted a picture in her three-year-old mind of the sun crashing into the moon and all the world going dark. Good work, Einstein, I thought, as I held the small crying girl and tried to make it right again. Nothing bad happens, no one gets hurt, I assured her.

What was I thinking, trying to explain the cosmos to a three year old, albeit a totally brilliant three year old. Who I made cry like I haven’t heard her cry since she was a small baby. Oh, there’s no worse feeling in the world than making a kid cry and knowing it’s your fault.

You never can tell what your words will do in the mind of your listener.

Normally, I don’t pick up the 24, but yesterday’s deliciously alliterative headline drew me in:

Snow Dooms Dome

I wasn’t quite sure why it captured me so at first – perhaps just the rhythm of the three short words with their “o” vowel sounds. Then it was the “dooms dome.” Finally, I realized that it was the succession of sounds in the headline – o, oo, o – which sounded a lot like the “dum dum dum” that is the sound effect that often signals something ominous, like in a horror movie or an ironic turn of events. And so, the news of the report into the collapse of BC Place’s improbable roof was perfectly foreshadowed.

I don’t like the 24 on the whole, for the way they are always shoving it on people outside SkyTrain stations and then the bloody paper is all over the place because people discard it so easily, but I have to admit they have some brilliant headlines. Matt wrote last year about their deliciously ambiguous “Cold Spurs Rush to Shelters” headline, and I’ve never quite forgotten about it.

As a bonus, on my way home, the local community rag also caught my eye:

Police get Proactive

And the name of the program? “Project Protect”! Delicious.

The 2007 edition of Fugue, an anthology of creative non-fiction by UBC Creative Writing students, is being launched this week. I bought the 2005 edition, and it’s high-quality reading, my friends. Check it out. Here are the details of the launch event, according to the Georgia Straight:

Hear from tomorrow’s authors of travel writing, memoir, and more at the launch of the 2007 edition of Fugue, the school’s creative-nonfiction journal, on Wednesday (June 13), at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library (350 West Georgia Street), beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is free and no registration is required; no word on whether there will be a refreshment stand. The last time I went to the party for this, they had it at the lit-friendly Crush Champagne Lounge. Good times.

I’ve seen this ad for a writer’s assistant on Craigslist a couple of times now. Typically it offers no pay, but promises to provide “valuable experience” working with 2-3 professional writers. One line in particular puzzles me: “Although there is no direct remuneration for this particular role there will be opportunities to work on some projects that may offer payment.” What does this mean? Do you get tips for blowjobs? Can you keep the change from Starbucks runs? Will you dance the hokey-pokey while they throw quarters? Also notice the hedging – although there WILL be opportunities, there are only SOME that MAY be paid.

I have heard of this type of arrangement before, where an established writer takes on a new writer and helps them break into the business of selling novels or screenplays. But I think it’s more common in the US (read:***Hollywood***) and perhaps includes room and board in the bargain.

I’ll bet I get to provide my own rent with these people.

  • Have to think up stuff for self to do. Tempted to just give in to daytime TV and snacks.
  • Tendency to check Craigslist thousands of times per day – purely to check if anything legitimate has been posted in jobs area yet. Also to feel righteous indigination at the gigs area AKA “everybody wants something for nothing” pages. People: my portfolio is full and my wallet is empty, dig?
  • An office mate that spends half its time snoring and the other half licking my toes. He also tends to shed on my pants.
  • Refreshing e-mail mercilessly.
  • Taking breaks “just to think” but end up eating leftover gyozas and making tea.
  • Dog (AKA office mate) appears to be getting so used to having me around that he is developing separation anxiety.
  • When there is really nothing to do, I feel guilty about reading books in the middle of the day, even if they are professional ones such as On Writing Well.

I really should be writing.

A few years ago, in order to break the writers’ block that had been plaguing me for years, I cracked open The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the very first chapter, I came face-to-face with what was preventing me from writing: the fear of people reading from I wrote.

I’ve always had this fear that if I write using characters and events from my life, people will read what I’ve written and laugh at me, second-guess me, or hate me. This is a real problem for me, since I like to write personal essays and memoirs based on my own experiences.

It stems from grade 6. I was writing a novel in my binder which was heavily influenced by what I was reading at the time. It was about a girl (me, really), her horse, and a boy (based on and stupidly named after the boy I had a crush on). The whole thing was a blatant plagiarization of the movie International Velvet, actually.

Close your eyes, it gets painful: I was dumb enough to let my best friend read this masterpiece-in-progress in class. Other people got curious about what I was letting her read, and soon the entire class read it, including boy-crush. Dumb and dumber, I was – I had even put in a kissing scene. I tell you, it was a sensation. People chanted “Horse! Horse!” at me. I tried changing the name of the main character, but the damage was done. I couldn’t even hide inside one of those giant tires that were so in vogue for school playgrounds back in the 80s.

The saving grace was that this all happened close to the end of the school year. I took my binders home, ripped out all the embarrassing loose-leaf pages and flushed them down the toilet. But my story refused to die. On the first day back to school, kids asked “Did you write any new stories over the summer?” snicker, snicker.

I’m 20 years older, but that old fear of writing personal stories still haunts me. And I’m probably thinking a lot about this right now because of a new writing project I want to start that involves telling the story of my first boyfriend. And I could just barely write that last sentence to tell you about it. Even though he’s not in my life and hasn’t been for a good long time, I’m scared of him reading it by chance (gulp. publication? dare I dream of it?) or of my husband reading what I write on the subject and wondering why I’m still thinking about shit from all those years ago.

Fear of what people think: it can keep you from writing. It can especially keep you from writing about the painful and awkward subjects which seem to make the best stories. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

I wish I could say I wrote that but it’s actually from a Barenaked Ladies song, “Blame it on me,” from their first major album Gordon.

I recently finished the Print Futures course. The downtime is nice, but I’m feeling a bit burnt out at the moment. I assure you this is not my best writing. It will get better. Something about the joy of writing is lost right now. It comes from overly analyzing what I’m writing as I’m writing it, like wondering if I’m using too many “I”s to start sentences. Grrr. This is hard.

This move to WordPress represents a new stab at blogging, this time under my real name. The plan is to eventually merge my blog with the shamelessly self-promoting website that I built during Print Futures.

And even though this is a brand new blog, I decided to brought along the old Blogger posts for the ride. Some of that bitter twisted stuff written during temp jobs is my best work. Could it be because I just didn’t care who read it?

Eventually, the writer and editor are going to quit their bitchin’ and let each other do their jobs. I’ve seen it done.

Flickr Photos

Kettle River Wildlife Club

Kettle River Wildlife Club

Kettle River Wildlife Club

More Photos