Let the Freaking Out Commence: School Is Starting

PSU starts on Monday. This Monday. Two days from now. And to say I’m unprepared for my second (and final) year of graduate school would be an understatement.

Things I Don’t Have Prepared (followed by my internal screaming):

  • Class Locations (WHERE ARE MY CLASSES?)
  • Class Schedule (WHEN ARE MY CLASSES?)
  • Notebooks (WHERE ARE MY NOTEBOOKS?)
  • Calendar Dates (WHEN IS EVERYTHING?)
  • Internship Research (WHAT DO THEY DO?)
  • Vanguard Copyediting (WHY HAVEN’T I PUT IT ON MY SCHEDULE?)
  • Chronicle Blogging (WHAT AM I DOING FOR BLOG POSTS AND WHEN?)
  • This Blogging Schedule (SAME AS ABOVE!)
  • DPP Author Stuff (WHAT AM I DOING FOR MARKETING?)

So. Many. Things.

So, to that end, this weekend I’m going to be preparing for school.

Thankfully I had a meeting with Chelsea, my co-manager for Write to Publish today, so we have that pretty much covered. And, to be fair, I am having coffee with Ripple Grove Press (my internship place) on Monday, so we’ll figure stuff out then.

I’m just much more prepared by now, you know? It’s awkward. And oddly stressful. But I have my tea with milk and honey and I have a plan of attack for getting everything done, so I’ll be good.

Are you prepared for school to start? Or were you, when it did? (Surely I can’t be the only one, right? Right?)

Warm regards,
Kellie

Three Random Haikus

On Writing
Drink tea, write, sip wine
So many words on the page
I have to revise

On Editing
Novel edits are
Not as smooth as I wanted
Spent hours on it. 

On Life
I lost my glasses.
Where did I leave them today?
Oh, gosh! On my head.

Have you ever dabbled in poetry? I often do, just to clear my head.

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

WritingHack: Motivation

Ursula K. Le Guin, on world building: “You can’t just build the world. You have to go there. Live there. It has to be real to you.”


Last night I had the privilege of seeing Ursula K. Le Guin at Powell’s. Needless to say, the top floor of Powell’s was packed, and they kept announcing Le Guin would only sign one book per patron and only if that said patron had a book signing ticket. (No, I didn’t get anything signed!) Le Guin was amazing! Sharp as a tack and hilarious, too. She said some lovely things about writing, ranging from how authors shouldn’t be afraid of the “old white men” to how it took her fifteen years to figure out how to write in her own female voice (and not in a man’s).

During the Q&A, one audience member asked if Le Guin had any advice on motivation. She couldn’t really give any, since her own experiences centered on people who were (and are) already driven to write, who are passionate about their work, and who basically don’t need motivation.

I found this quite interesting, because I struggle with motivation sometimes. I have so many responsibilities on my plate—grad school, Write to Publish, work, volunteering—that sometimes I say that I don’t have the motivation to write. But, if I’m really honest with myself, it’s because I don’t dedicate the time to write.

And that, readers, is my first tip (of six) on how to motivate yourself.

TIP #1
Dedicate time to write – This can be as little as one day out of the week or as much as one hour every day. If you set time to write, you will write. If you consciously set aside a specific amount of time per day or per week, you’ll motivate yourself to do it.

TIP #2
Have a set goal – This one is for the people who don’t like schedules. Don’t worry, I know you’re out there, and I don’t judge. (Much.) If you don’t want to schedule a specific time slot out of your life in order to write, have a set amount of words per day or per week instead. This can be as little as five hundred words per day or as many as ten thousand words per week. Pick a goal that seems doable to you. What’s great about this strategy is that most likely if you do reach your goal, you’ll want to write more anyway.

TIP #3
Turn off the internet – Yes, I did just say that. Turn off the internet. Turn it off. No Netflix. No Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, newspapers, blogs. Just turn it off. The less distractions you have, the more likely you’ll want to write. (Some people like to listen to music when they write and that’s okay.)

TIP #4
Read. Read. Read. – Quite simply, if you read more in the genre you want to write in, you’ll be motivated to either a) match whatever fabulous writer you just found or b) do better than the writer you’re currently reading. Reading is a great way to get motivated because you’ll get excited about your genre again.

TIP #5
Write something different – If you’re seriously stuck on this one section of this one story or poem, try your hand at something else. It’ll get your mind off that problem and, hopefully, by stepping away and working on some other short piece, you’ll come back to the original problem with a new set of eyes and some fresh ideas.

TIP #6
Have a splurge day – So this one is a bit new for me. I call it a splurge day, because it’s the day I can do anything. I can write anything I want to or I can write nothing at all. I can purge a bunch of stuff from my system by fleshing out a world or a character that I may never use or I can bang out a few thousand words in a novel I’m working on. I can spend the entire day with my fingers never grazing the keyboard, completely unplugged. I encourage everyone to have one, just because I know setting a goal everyday may seem daunting to some, and it’s always good to unwind.

Those are my tips for motivation. What are some of yours?

Warm regards,
Kellie

WritingHack: Submitting Your Work

So, these past few months I’ve been cataloging the submissions for Cirque, a literary journal based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I was an intern with them for a year before graduate school so I’ve done this before. (I’ve leveled up to Editorial Assistant, though, so that’s pretty cool, yeah?)

It’s a fun job! Basically I check the submission email and catalogue any submissions we get based on genre (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Art). I update this giant table with all the necessary information, save the work in a different folder, and follow up with the writers and artists if necessary.

Now, most of the submissions I receive are normal. I’d say over 95% are good. The writers do everything correct, attach all the right things, and generally make me feel wonderful about the community I’ve immersed myself in.

The other 5% though? Well, they are the…interesting bunch. And because they are…interesting…and make silly little (or possibly intentional?) errors, the editors might not take them seriously.

In hopes of derailing any future mistakes by my writer friends who may wish to submit to journals (Cirque or otherwise), here are some things you should watch out for:

Follow the Guidelines
Be sure to read the submission guidelines. Every journal has them up on their website so read them, understand them, and follow them. If you have a question, let the editors know! If the submission says they only accept a Word document or a cut/paste work into the body of the email, do that. It does not mean they will accept PDFs. It does not mean they will accept already designed poems with boarders and flowers. It does not mean they will accept pictures, unless specifically in the Art category. And it certainly does not mean they will accept a picture taken of your desktop of an open Word document displaying the poem you wish to submit. (I laughed at this…and then cried a little.)

Title Your Work
This one is self-explanatory. Okay, all of these are, but this one especially so. Title your work. Title it something that’s connected to the work in some way. Or title it anything, really. Just name the freaking work. Don’t tell the editors that “This has no title,” and they can pick whichever string of words from the piece they want to for the title. Doing so will not end happily. (Granted I’m a nice person and picked a good string of words, but it could’ve easily gone downhill.)

Listen to the Reply
When the editor (or in my case, the editorial assistant) gets back to you and asks you for a 100-word bio, they mean a 100-word bio. And saying “sorry for going over the 100” is bull because you clearly went over the word limit intentionally and is cause enough for them (me) to reply, “No worries, we can always cut it down for length.” While we can, and will, do this, doing so only gives the editors more work. Listen to the reply. Listen to what they say. If they say 100 words, give them 100 words (or less)!

Write Professional Emails
I’ve saved this one for last because it ticked me off the most. When writing your email, be sure to use a professional tone. If you start off the email with “Babe” and end it with “What more do you want?” it’s going to taint your submission (if not get it completely rejected for unprofessionalism). These editors have your work literally in their hands—they can just as easily delete the submission if they want to. If you don’t take the submission process seriously, the editors won’t take you seriously either.

So, fellow writers, be part of the 95%. Please. If you’re part of the 5% it’ll dampen your chances of getting in and will just give the editors something to buzz about around the water cooler. And not in a good way.

[FYI: If you’d like to submit to Cirque, submissions closes on September 21st! See here for details.]

Warm regards,
Kellie