Project Thankful: Reason #115: In Defense of Stubbornness

I am a stubborn person.

Most people would not call me stubborn.  I try to be as polite as possible and when I refuse to budge on something, it often takes them by surprise.

I think stubbornness is a good quality to have, both as a person and as a writer.  As a person, being stubborn means you stand up for yourself and refuse to give into others.  Similarly, as a writer, being stubborn helps you to stand firm in your writing, allowing you defend the integrity of a piece.

There will always be someone who disagrees with you, who tries to bully you, and who tries to change your writing in a way that makes you hesitate.  As difficult as it may be, when you come across that person, you have to show your stubborn side.  At the end of the day, you are the only one able to fully, one-hundred percent look out for yourself.

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What They Don’t Tell You in College

I have been out of college for three years this month.  That’s right, in January 2011 I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Art History.   Three years, and I wonder how different my perceptions of post-college life were when I was still in college.

When I was in college, I thought after I graduated I would find a full-time job, and I would be paid a somewhat decent amount in exchange.  This job would be one where I could put my English degree to use somehow in day-to-day job functions or, dare I hoped, would involve writing for a newspaper or for a magazine, what I considered my ideal job back then.

Yeah, none of that happened.

I reflect back on my college years, and I always think about what they did not tell me in college.  All the times I went to Career Services, all the advice and encouragement I received from different people…all of that, and they left out key pieces of the realities of post-college life.  Like how as wonderful and as impressive as your scholastic and creative accomplishments are, they do not necessarily translate into skills employers are looking for in job candidates.  That you will most likely (chances being in the mid to high 90% range) have to work at a job where you barely, if not ever, use that degree of yours (and if you think you are one of the few who do not fall into that category, I caution you to not be so confident).  But I’m getting ahead of myself with that last sentence.  Because what they do not tell you is about the waiting.  The waiting to hear back about job applications, the waiting to hear back about your interviews, the waiting for jobs to open up whose descriptions sound like ones you could not only do, but whose employers might actually look at your resume and contact you for an interview.

What they also do not tell you is that in your group of friends you might be the one who feels like they do not have a steady anchor in their life.  That you reach a point in your life where you look at your friends and realize your friends have reached points in their lives where they have solidity, a general sense of having lives they want to keep and maintain in their present states for the most part.  Meanwhile, you are still striving to reach that place where you can say you have the life you want, or you might still be figuring out what the life you want entails.

What they don’t tell you in college is this: post-college life is something you need to experience for yourself to truly find out about.

 

Project Thankful

Hello, readers.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with ones you care about.  I’ve always found the idea that it’s on this one day that people are supposed to pause and reflect on what they are thankful for a little off.  I mean, Thanksgiving is only one day out of the entire year.  Why can’t we be thankful every day?

As I was thinking over what to post about what I am most thankful this year, I decided that instead of just one post, on one day, giving a cursory list of what I’m thankful for, I would give thanks each day for one year.  Spotlight one thing each day that I am thankful for.

The kernel of this idea came after spending the morning Black Friday shopping.  Although I had posted about how ridiculous Black Friday is with its hours, I found myself shopping this morning because (a) I had to drop my mom off at her work at midnight, so I was up anyway and in the neighborhood of a store whose specials I had been eying, and (b) due to the fact that I had to drop my mom off at such an insane hour, I was up and would not have been able to go back to sleep.  Well, after a morning of shopping and convincing myself that at least this way I took care of most of my holiday shopping, I found myself sitting in the car, waiting for my mom to come out of work.  As I sat in the car, my eyes seriously hating me for how little I slept, I thought a thought many think on a daily basis: I need to win the lottery.  Only instead of casually thinking this, I said “Okay, how would my life and my family’s life be different should I actually win the lottery?”  The vision unfolded from my subconscious.  My parents quitting their jobs because they would be financially independent.  New, or nicely used, cars to replace our current ones which make unhealthy sounds every time we turn them on, and even more unhealthy sounds when we drive them.  Moving into a bigger house.  Booking trips without budget as one of the concerns.  Student loans paid off with no need to take out more to cover expenses that attending grad school will incur.

It’s a vision I have had a lot of time to think about, from how I would feel matching my numbers to the winning numbers.  About how my family would react when I tell them the news.  About what we would do first.  I thought about all of these things, but most importantly I thought for the first time about how my life would actually change.

The answer I realized was that my life itself would not change.  Sure, it would look a little different, but I would still be me.  The lottery can’t change my life, not truly change it.  It would make some things a lot easier, but true change comes from the individual. 

My goal with my year of thankfulness, or Project Thankful for short, is to change my mindset.  That instead of worrying about what I don’t have, or how life would be different “if,” or about winning the lottery – instead of all that, I focus on what I do have, not the “ifs,” and taking stock of the lottery I already have in my life.

I plan to share my experiences on this blog and one of my other blogs, The Consultant (theconsultantblog.wordpress.com). 

As always, thank you, readers.  I will always be thankful for your audience.

 

Confessions Of A Writer #21

This confession is about ambition. Because any writer who claims not to be ambitious is a probably lying. A writer does not set out to build a story. A writer sets out to build an empire.

I have been a neglectful empire builder, leisurely choosing my bricks and waiting too long to transcribe my plans. But with notebook and pen in hand, I hope to get back to building.

Last night, I was thinking about what makes me happy. As I wrote out the draft of this blog post, I fully realized writing is what makes me happy (along with a few other things such as family and dark chocolate). There was nothing original in this realization; I’ve long known writing is one of the pieces to my happiness puzzle. What was new was the other realization of how dampened that which makes me happy can become by the mundane, and the value I was placing on the mundane.

So here’s to not getting entangled by the mundane. Here’s to the empires out there, the names and the stories. Most importantly, here’s to the builders.

I Made It!

I am doing a happy dance right now because I received an email from Amazon with great news: my books have amassed enough sales so that I have reached the required minimum $10 sales mark to get paid!

I have reached the minimum.  I’ll take it and continue with my happy dance.

Being an e-book author, you are pretty much your own team for the most part.  Marketing, editing, cover design, etc are fields you often have to take on yourself in addition to, oh yeah, writing the books.  So when you hear that you are making it, you are overjoyed.

It’s been a slow struggle.  I will be the first to admit that my sales are not phenomenal or that my books are not hotcakes flying off the e-book shelves.  But they’re great books I worked hard on and worth a read.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible and continues to make this possible.  I’m talking about you, Reader.  A writer would be nothing without readers, and I thank you.

And resuming happy dance.

Confessions Of A Writer #17

Sometimes I reexamine a career decision and wonder if it was a good decision.  I always come to the conclusion that it might not have seemed like a good decision at the time, but it was a necessary one to help advance me towards where I ultimately want to be.

If this was Twitter, that would have to condensed to 140 characters and would be #noregrets.

As I reflect back on where I was a year ago, I realize that a year ago I was at a crossroads in terms of my career.  I was accepted into the English MA program at Northeastern University although I had only applied to the English PhD program at Northeastern; I wasn’t accepted into the PhD program, so my acceptance into the MA program felt a bit like a consolation prize.  Torn between pursuing a career in Academia and focusing on my writing, I reluctantly sent in my acceptance (along with the $100 fee).

In the end, I decided against going to Northeastern due to the very expensive price tag in loans I would be paying back in addition to my undergrad loans.  At the time, my decision against grad school did not seem like a very good decision.  For me, grad school was a sensible, logical decision given my strong background in academic research as well as my interest in Academia.  Besides, going to grad school would make me sound impressive.  Instead of saying, “I’m a substitute teacher, currently looking for something more permanent,” I could say, “I’m going to grad school for my Masters.”

A year later, I do not regret my decision against attending grad school.  Because if I had gone to grad school, I would not have published my books or created this blog or any of the other blogs.  I might have eventually, but building my writing career would have continued to remain on my To Do list.

I guess the point of this blog post is this: go after what you love.  No, I rephrase that: don’t simply go after what you love; do what you love.

There is a wonderful video from a Dale Carnegie Training conference where the speaker says, “Give Your 100.”  To illustrate his point, he tells the story of how a teacher one time called him to the front of the room and asked him to try to throw a piece of paper away.  What did he do?  He threw the piece of paper away.  The teacher said no, try to throw the piece of paper away.  So, the speaker took the piece of paper in his hand and kept flicking his wrist, making the motion of throwing away the piece of paper without ever actually throwing it.

If you try to be a writer, you won’t be successful because you won’t actually be a writer.  Try is a word implicit of a void in action.  Don’t let your life be filled with voids; fill your life with things you do, not try.

Help With Kindle Formatting For Your Manuscript

Last night, I was reading a post on thinkinglazy (thinkinglazy.wordpress.com) about how the blogger has decided to publish their story on Amazon Kindle.  As I was reading their post, I had a déjà vu moment because around this time last year was when I really thought more about publishing my books on Amazon Kindle.  After conquering my fear of heading out into the great unknown – the Internet – I published both books on Kindle the end of last summer.

When I decided I was going to publish on Kindle, I began doing my research on manuscript formatting.  My head felt like it was spinning worse than on an upside down rollercoaster.  There was no red, bolded section on the Kindle formatting guides I found that read: The Way You Wrote Your Manuscript Is the Wrong Format, You Will Have To Completely Reformat It This Way.  Instead, I was left searching for simple instructions that did not make me feel like a total tech loser on how to format my manuscripts so that they would not look extremely distorted on Kindles.

In all my research, I found one site that was the most useful.  It’s an article written on the site WOW! Women On Writing, and it is appropriately titled “How 2 Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and/or NOOK.”  This is the link to the article: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/46-How2-FormatManuscriptForKindle.html

I hope it helps!  As always, best of luck with your writing!