A Forked Road with a Million Branches

At this point in my life, there are many career paths open to me.

It’s overwhelming.

People in my life tell me – “you’ve been writing for years, so get published.”

I won’t reply, but I’ll think of a million reasons why it’s not as easy as they think. Publish what? For what audience? Do I need an agent? Would anyone besides them buy what I did publish? How do I turn stories I write on my laptop into a career? I could also be an editor, should I do that too? How about this blog? What should I do with it? And the elusive “freelancing” career? How the hell do you find a website that won’t rip you off? While venting my frustrations over the weekend, I actually debated starting my own publishing company. Should I create my own path?

So, you see my dilemma. All these options are making me dizzy. Usually I end up doing some research, getting discouraged, then going back the work-in-progress that will never be published. The useful links I come across while doing my research (that journalism degree comes in handy sometimes) sit on my bookmarks tab until I eventually delete them. I’ve had a bad case of information overload since…well, high school.

One thing I can do is share what I find. If I discover links that will help aspiring freelancers, short story writers, screenwriters, whichever, I’ll make posts and sort them into categories. Here’s all the links featured in this post:

http://publishing.about.com/od/BookAuthorBasics/a/Literary-Agents-Do-You-Need-A-Literary-Agent-For-Your-Book.htm

http://epicintrovert.com/how-to-find-high-paying-freelance-writing-jobs-for-beginners/

https://screenshotmonitor.com/blog/how-to-avoid-scams-on-upwork-and-freelancer/

http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1810

Freelance Writing Jobs

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/how-where-to-get-a-short-story-published

Goodinaroom.com: “How to Become a Screenwriter” 

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Nostalgia Versus Reality

Since I was born in the late eighties, I love the nineties as much as the next millennial. I remember cassettes and VHS tapes and Furby. My iTunes has a bunch of favorites from that decade (though now I prefer 90’s alternative rock instead of pop). And of course, like most millennials, I put TGIF and SNICK shows on a pedestal.

That doesn’t mean I want everything back. Sure, up until a few years ago I jumped on the bandwagon. I criticized most of today’s Disney and Nickelodeon while wishing for reruns of So Weird and The Secret World of Alex Mack. Name one “90’s kid” who didn’t.

Then the cultural regression began. Classic movies are being rebooted. Disney Channel produced a sequel to Boy Meets World while Netflix caught up with the Tanner family. Nickelodeon tried several times to bring back SNICK (more on that later). Soon after, Disney Channel followed suit by playing early shows and original movies. Networks finally paid attention to the millennials petitioning for their favorites online. Across the Internet, we rejoiced.

It wasn’t as glorious as we’d hoped. Wishing for old shows to return is one thing, but actually getting them back is another. It’s a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario. Girl Meets World turned out to be a typical modern-day Disney Channel show that many of us lost interest in soon after favorite characters returned. While  Fuller House is better than expected and I’ll watch the second season, it’s not the same quality as a “real” sitcom on regular television. For the most part I didn’t even watch the throwback blocks on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Maybe I tuned in at first just for a nostalgia fix, but I don’t even think of those shows now.

I’ve realized this is because they were made for kids. They might be a little “better” than some kid shows produced today, but I can’t watch Rugrats or Hey Arnold on a regular basis anymore. There’s a big difference between reminiscing about your childhood and revisiting it as an adult. Now that we can “go home again,” I’d rather not. The most I’ll do is rewatch my absolute favorites when I get super nostalgic (note previously-mentioned Alex Mack and So Weird).

Even then, I don’t turn to Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I watch the episodes I want online. That’s another difference between now and then – in this century, I have the resources to download shows onto my laptop.

That said, I will watch old DCOMs if there’s nothing else on. The throwback blocks don’t catch my attention though because Disney and Nick always play the same episodes anyway. These networks want to capitalize on the nostalgia craze, but apparently they don’t want to acknowledge their entire library. Not to mention the few times I tuned into “The 90’s Are All That,” it pandered to millennials so much that the commercials bordered on insulting. Maybe it’s just me, but I got the impression that while Nickelodeon wanted more viewers, they didn’t think highly of their new demographic. (Stick Stickly had an edge: “that’s not at all pathetic.”)

The bright side here is that these 90’s favorites might catch on with younger generations. While I’m not going to watch these shows, they’ll appeal to their original target – kids and young teens.

Even though I still indulge in nostalgia, I’ve also opened my eyes to reality. This overwhelming love for 90’s culture has everything to do with the economy. Many millennials are unemployed or underemployed, so I think we revert because we miss how things used to be in the worst way. We’re also one of the first generations to express ourselves – loudly – on social media. Networks and other companies pay attention because they’d be stupid not to. Petitions and email campaigns prove the audience is already there.

So that’s my two cents. There are upsides though because I’ve made online friends thanks to moments of intense nostalgia. Appreciation for 90’s culture unites us millennials, but sometimes, unfortunately, I feel like it’s the only thing we have. I guess what I’m saying is that I hope for a day when our present will be even better than the 90’s.

 

 

Coping Mechanisms

I’m weird, and one of many reasons why is that I like having extra time to process things. Most people say “oh, get it over with sooner!” but I turn things over in my mind, over and over, until it doesn’t seem so scary. Then I like to put it out of my head until the day it happens. I’m talking about the inevitable stuff, such as my upcoming surgery or a doctor’s appointment or…I don’t know, the SAT’s.

(My former coworkers and I were talking about that at breakfast this morning. I’m pretty sure I did nothing for the test and still managed to get into the college I wanted – but that’s just me.)

Up until recently I was relatively fine. I need this surgery. My aunt is a good preview of what will happen if I don’t do it, and I’ll probably be worse off since I have trouble even now. It’s not even that bad because I’ve been through worse, really. Just a little arthroscopic procedure and I’ll be out of the hospital the same day.

Then I make the mistake of thinking about the specifics. What about my other knee, is that going to be secure while they’re doing this? (I’m sure it will be, and if it isn’t, I’ll be out cold.) What if I can’t figure out how to get around? (I will.) It’ll be weird having my knee straight for so long, won’t it? (I’ll adjust.) Going to the bathroom and showering will be a major frustration. (…that one might be true. The downstairs bathroom is tiny.) All these “what ifs” swirl around until I feel too overwhelmed to think about anything. They still annoy me, even though I can give myself a rational answer right after asking myself an irrational question.

Up until recently I could deal because I had time. I could lose myself in day-to-day stuff because the surgery was so far away. Well, now it’s next week. Gotta admit, I’m freaking out a little. You can tell by my use of non-word “gotta” in a sentence.

I’ve resorted to distraction, and fortunately in the era of Netflix, there’s always plenty of that. The anxiety returns on occasion, but I’m usually okay if I’m watching Charmed (my current marathon show). I’m also okay when I’m writing. I’m speeding through my novella lately. I might even try to finish it by next Friday. Normally I believe in facing fears – or in this case, the root of my anxiety. This is not a normal situation though. There’s nothing I can do, and if I get too nervous, I might convince myself to postpone it. I think the best thing to do is write…or watch Charmed, whichever works.

 

“Adulting”

I’ll be the first to admit that I rely on my mom too much. While I never ask her for money, I do live at home, and she does help me with doctor-related stuff. Over the years I’ve started to make my own calls, but sometimes I still ask her to get on the phone with a doctor’s office because I’m insecure about people understanding me. (It took me forever to feel semi-confident answering phones at work.)

So I began thinking about this “adulting” phenomenon. I feel like twenty-somethings of the past didn’t talk about it the way we do, or exaggerate the little things such as calling up doctors to schedule an appointment. I frequently see similar posts on my social media pages. Is that part of the problem? Is the need to update pages so strong that we fill them with anything? Have we become a generation that makes mountains out of mole hills?

Is it the economy? We’re home with our parents, so we rely on them more. It always amazes me when I watch the first season of Friends and remember the main six are my age. The nearly-settled, independent lifestyle applies more to today’s thirty or thirty-five-year-olds.

Is it because we’re having babies later, if at all? (Most) New parents aren’t “adulting,” they’re simply “adults.”

Is it all of the above? Are we stuck in a time period where self-indulgence rules and living at home is an acceptable way of life?

I do realize that stereotype is just that. Some are running a business by twenty-seven while others have real challenges to overcome. I’m talking about those of us who feel “the adulting struggle is real” for various reasons. Has “the American dream” become less achievable, or is it us? I guess my point is that maybe it’s a combination of both.

 

 

 

That Old Time Rock and Roll

My aunt has been struggling with Parkinson’s Disease for a while now. Her mind is still agile, but she has trouble getting out words. They’re sometimes a whisper when she does finally speak them. More often than not she has to stop, breathe and start over before she can form a short sentence. It’s heartbreaking because (and this with all due respect) this is a woman who loved to yell. Even now, when my cousins start teasing each other, you hear her loud and clear.

Another time she speaks clearly is when she’s singing along to her favorite songs. Her speech therapist said for her to sing her words, and the tactic really works when Sinatra or Motown is on the radio. I noticed this because my cousin has 50’s and 60’s stations set up on Sirius XM in her car. My aunt will sometimes avoid speaking more than one word at a time, but if the right song comes on, she belts out the lyrics.

I got the idea to download Pandora onto the iPhone she just got for Christmas. (This phone is actually better for her because she can type easier. Her hands shake, so with her old phone, we all had to decipher her short, jumbled texts. Now with auto-complete the messages make a lot more sense.) My aunt and I created a 50’s and a 60’s station, then I told her to click “shuffle” if she wants to combine them. I hope she’ll play around with it and find more stations she likes.

More than that, I hope she sings along all day, every day. Maybe the practice will improve her speech when she’s not singing.

To me it’s not surprising that music would help in this situation. Sometimes, even I feel better after a favorite song comes on the radio. Personally I love a song that tells a good story, or takes me back to a time before I was born. Of course, like most, I also love songs I remember from my childhood. While listening to the radio with my family, I often think about how my aunts were teenagers or in their twenties when these 50’s and 60’s classics were new.

It constantly amazes me how I can’t remember what I had for dinner last Monday, but I can effortlessly recall songs from my favorite Spice Girls CD. Like many others, I wonder how much more efficient my brain would be if it wasn’t crowded with lyrics acquired over the course of a lifetime.

Then I realize maybe I’ll be singing along to 90’s hits on satellite radio in fifty years.

There is a proven connection between Parkinson’s Disease and music therapy. Check out these links for more information.

http://musictherapy.imnf.org/services/category/inpatient-parkinsons-disease

http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Music-Therapy-to-Benefit-Individuals-With-Parkinson’s-Disease

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553388/

http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/news/20000620/music-helps-parkinsons-patients?page=1

 

Life Is Short – I’m Reading Whatever I Want

Whenever the subject of literature comes up, you’d think I’d be the first one to say how I love Jane Austen or Mark Twain or any number of authors we’re forced to read in high school. Writers are supposed to love the classics, right? They’re the best of all time, the epitome of “good writing.” I should have a long list of classics that changed my life, which I often rattle off in order of influence.

Here’s the thing – I don’t. I love reading though. From the beginning I devoured any book I got my hands on and could spend hours in a bookstore. This is also true now. What I didn’t love was being forced to read classic literature in school. My friend from high school and I still joke about how we both fell asleep reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Sure, I liked “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby,” but I wouldn’t call them my favorites of all time.

What do I read? Anything else. I love genre fiction, always have. Give me a good mystery, supernatural or even a romance novel any day. My Kindle app has a growing collection of Nora Roberts trilogies (mostly her paranormal romances). Sometimes I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, but I always have one or multiple “currently reading” novels. Lately I surf Kindle for self-published ebooks or read works uploaded onto social media websites. To me it doesn’t matter what people read as long as they don’t fall asleep while reading it.

(Personally speaking, it’s ironic because with music the opposite applies – I prefer The Rolling Stones, Motown, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel. This phenomenon only happens with classic literature over thirty years old.)

Maybe I’d seek out more classics if I came across one I liked just as much as a contemporary novel, but it hasn’t happened yet. Now, that doesn’t mean classics don’t have value. They do because they influenced the authors who are on my Kindle app. They shaped the way we tell stories in the present day.

Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to read them.

I do hope I’ll come across a classic I absolutely love and finally get it. Once in a while I feel guilty about all this, but time is precious and I won’t force myself to read a book solely because librarians think I should. I’ll still write what I want and hopefully, some day, people will read my stories because they love genre fiction too.

I Miss Having a Bookshelf

I know, I know – “You call yourself a writer and you don’t have a bookshelf? What’s wrong with you? Next you’ll say you don’t have a library card!” Hear me out, okay? (And for the record I do have a library card!)

My family and I live in a three-bedroom detached house in Queens, and I use the term bedroom loosely. Two are average and the third is the size of a walk-in closet. I started out with the bigger room, but after a few years I voluntarily traded for the tiny one because it had more privacy. The bigger room my sister now uses also has the only actual closet in any of the “three” bedrooms, including the so-called master. Her room also has the only door to the backyard. (This house has the weirdest construction ever, I swear.) So you see how both a supposed grown adult and a teenage girl would have issues with it. Even now my sister regrets instigating the trade.

For the most part I don’t care about the space. It’s a place for me to sleep when I’m not hanging out downstairs in the finished basement/lower level/potential apartment. When I graduated college I had delusions that I would be living in my own place soon anyway, so why obsess over a room in my family home? The part of me that hasn’t completely given up hope still feels this way.

When chatting with my friend a while back, I realized that I miss having a bookshelf. When I was a teenager we had a huge colonial – three bedrooms, not including a private sitting area attached to the master, a finished attic room and an unfinished basement. Plenty of storage for everyone’s stuff. Built-in shelves in the spare room housed my library of YA books and junior novelizations (the latter probably led to my fanfiction obsession now that I think about it). Sadly we got rid of almost all of them when we moved and I dormed at college.

Now I wish I had at least one bookcase. In my own hypothetical house or condo in the far-off, hypothetical future, I want an entire room with wall-to-wall bookshelves. This will not double as my office though, because all those novels would be endlessly distracting. My office would have writing resource books and large desk for my desktop computer. For the most part I stay in the present, but sometimes it’s nice to fantasize.

For now I’ll have to settle for the Kindle app on my phone and laptop. I’m not an ebook snob so I’ll gladly buy that version to save space. It’s just that I would like to buy regular paperbacks without thinking “Where the hell am I going to put these?”

Family Time

It’s easy to feel out of the loop when you’re working full time. As someone who used to have afternoon tea with my mom and aunt at least once a week, working until five every day was a little isolating. Sometimes over a month would go by before I saw my cousins. At least I could still stay at my other aunt’s house once in a while and spend the weekend away while getting to hang out with my Staten Island relatives.

So the major bright side of being unemployed is that I can do whatever I want, which includes seeing my family more often. I can stay at my aunt’s house during the week and have tea on Friday afternoons. I like knowing what’s going on in their lives and just…being there. Eventually I will have more of my own stuff going on like everyone else, but for now, this works.

Nothing much to report except I’ve been constantly adding to my novella for days now. I’m at that sweet spot where characters, backstory and plot have finally clicked together. It feels like this took a long time since my novella was a drama script first, but the script did help me figure out the plot. I’m thinking I might write a script version before all my novella and novel projects.

I might be writing so much because my surgery date is coming up fast. I know, I can always write after (especially since I won’t be able to do much else), but for some reason it’s like a giant deadline in my mind. I’m midway through my novella so part of me is curious to see if I can get it done.

Soon after I’m probably going to post it on Wattpad.com. Before that I’ll have to make a cover, but I have some Pixabay images bookmarked so it should come out okay. Most of the time I stick to writing but once in a while I like to play around with graphic design.

 

Maybe It’s Time I Actually, You Know, TRY to Get Published

I’ve said in more than one post how I feel more confident now, how I believe in myself and my writing skills more than I ever did. I’m even serious about freelancing and getting paid to write for the first time ever. Now I’m realizing this is the perfect stage in my life to focus on my life’s goal – being a published author. Like, literary magazines and query letters-type publication. The thought is terrifying but when else will I have the chance to do this?

At the very least I’m more comfortable taking steps in this direction. Freelancing is mostly an unknown, meanwhile I’ve looked into the process of publishing for years. My current project is a novella/part one in a novella anthology, so I could submit that to contests and publishers, maybe even agents. I could also write short stories in between and submit them to magazines. I also like the format of Wattpad.com so I will post my novella anthology there too, or at least the first part.

Okay, this is good. I’m feeling good about this.