Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
Our world may be simplifying itself and compacting information and products and technology into smaller and smaller doses to handle, but that doesn’t mean that the work involved gets any easier or lesser in itself.
For everything you do, and that’s to presume you do it well, it will still take time. A stamp of care, research, and the creation of a voice to lead the way. Oh, and some fun too. Enjoyment of the process, organic as it may (and will) be. And in no shape or form condemning it to be trivial or something that can be easily mechanized or spat out. Or make you feel like you need to prioritize it so heavily above your own personal life. Which does and always will matter and will definitely be what you use to work towards.
Today I saw a freelance writing position online that wanted the candidate to write 4-6 blog posts each day and have 3 ready by 10 AM EST with “the remainder produced throughout the day” and I looked at myself with my full time job and other side duties and I don’t know, life things too that you need to take into account for, and I immediately thought, “FUCK THAT” to myself. You can make busy be your new happy all you like, but doing too much too fast and too often, you’ll burn the fuck outta that really fast and worse, develop contempt and general dislike for something you once genuinely cared about doing, if you keep going 80 miles an hour in a 40 mile per hour zone for an undetermined amount of time.
Slow it down. Don’t hyperventilate if you don’t write or blog all the time and think because you aren’t doing something constantly, you aren’t relevant or don’t matter. Write to write something real and leave the dribble of an endless stream of jibber jabber behind. Write to write for you.
Because let’s face it if the damn position leaves you feeling so keyed up you can’t even drink, you don’t need that sort of nonsense in your life.
(A conversation between two friends, Abby and Paige on a Sunday afternoon at a bar. Paige is drunk. Abby was drinking, but receives a text message from her on-again, off-again hookup buddy who showed potential interest in dating her for some time that is less than the anticipated response she wanted.)
“No, I am not okay!” I whirled around on my bar stool, turning sober faster than I anticipated, “Oh my god. Oh my GOD. Listen to what this little prick just texted me, just listen to this!”
I cleared my throat. “And I quote, in verbatim, ‘I wasn’t really happy about how things happened between us this morning but for my part I want to apologize for leading you on in any manner and making you believe I wanted to seriously date you. I’m really trying to move on past my ex and I know it will take time. I don’t think I communicated that well. I hope you can understand that sometimes guys can be a little awkward when communicating with girls. This probably doesn’t matter to you but I wanted to get that off my chest and be clear that I can’t be with you. Thanks Abby.’”
“What was that even? Did he write you a book? That was like, the novel of texts!” Paige stared at me with her mouth open.
“I don’t even understand what he means by this. We weren’t seriously dating. We were doing each other.” My phone lit up again and I checked the messages, “He just texted to say I should probably delete his number now. Oh.”
“I did tell you to do that in the first place.”
“You knew, Paige, you did.” All of a sudden I felt deflated, like a helium balloon losing its air, “Fuck. Fuck. Why does this keep happening to me?”
“Why does what keep happening to you?”
“You know what I mean! Absolutely no guy wants to seriously date me or be in a relationship with me. They look at me and it’s like I have this big sign on my forehead that says I’m here for the short-term, nada for the long end of the stick. What’s wrong with me?”
“It’s the law of the universe. When you’re in a couple, everyone wants you, when you’re single, nobody wants you. You’re not the first girl that this has ever happened to. Ahem! I’ve been wearing that sign on MY forehead for years now!”
“But I…” I twisted my hands together in my lap, feeling the alcohol heavy on my breath, ready to drop a secret or two that I kept locked away in my mind, “I don’t want to be alone in the end. But I want to be alone. But I don’t at the same time, y’know?”
My eyes began to water. Beer tears. Oh no. “I was so close to getting married and it all fell apart. And then I see everyone on Facebook getting married or engaged or having children and letting their lives progress onward… I’m in a war with my single self and my former couple self. I want it but I don’t and I don’t really know most of the time what it is that I want even.”
Paige grinned at me, albeit hazily, “Those people on Facebook don’t know either! They can get divorced and be unhappy just like anyone else. But that’s the difference between you and them – they don’t know and you do. What you know is just; it’s going to take you away from making bad decisions. Or making really bad ones anyway, the kind that you wake up every morning of your life after and wish you hadn’t done what you did. There’s greatness in that. You must embrace that.”
I smiled and felt a tear fall out of my eye and hit my hand. Paige gasped out, “Don’t cry about this Abby! Who cares about weddings and babies and shit people are doing on Facebook? This isn’t the end! You’re 28!” She reached out and hugged me and I hiccupped a little bit.
“I am 28.” I started laughing a little bit, “God, what is wrong with me? I’m grossing myself out sounding like this – all needy and self-conscious. I feel like I’m in the 5th grade all over again going through like, my second puberty or something. Only this one… well, it’s pretty much the same as it was the first time around actually. Worried about boys and my ovaries and rando girls judging me for my life choices. Stupid. So stupid!”
When I was in high school, I used to work at a Subway on the weekends where I would routinely get high at. There was a great structure in doing so - I’d come in at 3:45, make a batch of chicken teriyaki prep, clock in at 4, and around 4:15 or so head outside to the alley behind the store with one of my coworkers who had weed and a pipe and we would get high together, then go back inside and work. There is literally no greater place in the world to be stoned out of your mind in than a Subway restaurant because the food is right there, in front of you, available for all of your cotton mouth needs which I usually had! Sometimes you felt like crying because it was that overwhelming, all the options in place.
Anyway, when I was really high, I used to be very fond of making a lovely culinary treasure we dubbed “ghetto nachos” for which the recipe went a little something like this. Take a snack size bag of Doritos nacho cheese, dump the contents onto a piece of wax paper, sprinkle on lots of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese, pop it into the toaster oven for 30 seconds, and voila, ghetto nachos are served! You had to eat them within like a 10 minute window though or else that shit congealed into a hardened cheese lump.
I still remember the first time I got high there. A bunch of cops came in and I was laughing so hard that I had to excuse myself from making their sandwiches, let someone else take over, and go into the back and turn on the sink nozzle spray as a means to cover up my laughter, it was that bad. And loud. Those were the Subway days. I should probably share more stories from that time period in my life here sometime because it was all very coming-of-age for me. I mean, the Subway crew were the first people who ever got me drunk and recorded it and let me tell you, having watched that video the morning after said first drunken night (when I really did think I was going to die) I am literally ALL the drunks in that video. Happy, sad, slutty, adventurous, philosophical ugh I am that asshole philosophical drunk for all of five minutes - all the drunks, I tell you.
Semi-hypothetically speaking in this scenario but in general for real life things, if you are a guest blogger submitting articles in to our company blog and you include a picture, you need to tell me where you got that photo from and if you have permission to use it before I can publish it.
Sir. SIR. A Google search is not permission to use said photo! It’s okay if you didn’t take the picture either because I have a bountiful folder filled with purchased stock photos to use. I don’t mind digging through the folder for one either. Just don’t attach photos with no description or a very flimsy mention included as to where you found them. Cause I won’t be using them in that case. Sound good? Great.
My second year anniversary at work is a much quieter affair than it was last year, when I was practically bellowing on Facebook and all the assorted other social networks that, “Hey guyssss ONE WHOLE YEAR WOOOOO!!”
Already you may be getting the impression that I’m not particularly jazzed to be saddled in my second year here, but don’t let the lack of leaping in the air and fist pumping the sky fool you. My second year is in its own respects reminding me of the scene in Mad Men’s fifth season when Don Draper, creative director extraordinaire, is looking through a series of advertisements and copy produced by his team copywriters. A lot of the work is Michael Ginsberg’s, some is Peggy Olson’s, not much of it is Don’s. And he knows and can see this looking through the portfolio. Joan, standing in front of Don, sees this all in a different light - that because of his direction, this great work is all gathered before them from very talented minds.
When I first started my job, I wrote everything. Every article, every blog post (with the mild exception of the ones on Fridays since a legal intern would typically grab that one up), and yes, all of those Forbes posts - all ghostwritten under my hand. I did this because as the only social media employee period, I was the only one who could write everything, but also because I love to write and will never say no to working on a piece, no matter what the topic may be. I look back on a lot of my “early” work and shudder hardcore, but smile because in light of various circumstances at the time, I could not have written those articles any better then than I would now. They might read a little more “chop chop, on with the program” now than they did then, but there’s a great creative spark in many of those pieces that I’m awfully proud of.
In the same category of pride falls my two former interns, James and Kelsey. This summer, they’ll be full-blown associates, no longer under the “intern” title umbrella. As a team, we’ve all grown together so much it’s ridiculous. If you had told me in college that my former roommate’s boyfriend would wind up working with me and consider me to be his boss in many ways, I would have laughed in your face. Same goes for the girl acting in the campus stage play I was the assistant stage manager for. Who knew? Life can be funny and so far, I like this joke. It’s been good to me.
My job has evolved quite a bit as well. James and Kelsey blog an awful lot now than they did a year ago. We’ve secured so many more outlets to write with now than we did first starting off too. And I’ve settled into a close to Don Draper presence in the process of giving them more responsibility - scheduling articles and guest posts and confirming emails and sitting in all meetings and writing the occasional post here and there, but mostly serving as the head of our department more than anything else. It’s been an interesting shift, but not one I’m surprised about in the slightest. And definitely not a shift that allows me to rest on my laurels either.
Enough time has passed for me to discuss a change that occurred in March to our department. Without going into too much detail other than to say that this was not a decision made exclusively to our account there alone, Forbes decided to close several blogging accounts, with ours included. It was also an email that came from a producer from the site and not our editor. In the span of an hour, I went through stages of shock, anger, and acceptance which is a rollercoaster ride of emotions to the absolute max. I was moody about it for 24 hours (same day I went home early and made a burger and sat by the pool) because it was, well, it was so odd! When it comes to blogging, there’s no set date in mind for so many sites and you more or less wind up assuming that you’ll be blogging there until you run out of ideas. Or don’t, and keep making more up as you move along because it keeps you relevant to the internet. I don’t know why I assumed we’d be writing there forever and living happily ever after. Two years was long enough. There were a lot of rules to follow and quite honestly, it. was. so. stressful! As an example of some of the rules, every paragraph could only be 5 sentences long or less before publishing. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But we ended on a very solid, tidy note, with a post that was so pulled together that I couldn’t have asked for a better way to exit a website.
Moodiness aside, that minor hiccup remained exactly that: a minor hiccup. My boss and team were wonderfully encouraging and we pushed forward with other endeavors instead. I’m quite fortunate in this regard because I know for a fact that there are many CEOs who would be less forgiving with their social media departments if that happened to them. But… I don’t work for those
crazies, old disgruntled WASP men, companies so that’s that! And our current endeavors have been paying off in spades, with much better outlets, one of which I’m pleased to say is The Huffington Post! (Which I “re-discovered” through a Google search my boss had a long-dormant account with and we’re gonna dust that off to get it all shiny and pretty again.)
So here we are, in 2013, a world apart from where we began, but still are so very rooted firmly in the same enthusiasm and drive that we had first starting out. My days only feel long when I get home and get asked by a roommate what I did that day. I blink once and it all comes rushing back all over me, like the ghost of a foggy dream from last night that the very sight of an inanimate object like a pen could invoke the very memory of.
What did I do? What did we do? What will continue to be done?
Only time, and more writing, may tell.
When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up or what I want to do with my life and the only answer I ever have is, “uhhhh, I just wanna write and be a writer?”
Presumably, the unspoken clause included is that in addition to writing, I also factor food, family, friends, travel, laughter, and music into the mix, but I assume that all goes without saying. I’m very curious about how other people respond to this kind of question, seeing as my plan for a structured, scheduled life pretty much ended the moment I accepted my diploma.
Does it really warrant a long pause afterward when people hear about my semi-lackadaisical in appearance but wholly driven and motivated in my head and actions future life? I just want to write about a little bit o’ everything under the sun. Do people seriously expect to work in the same field their entire life? Or do I just get really bored, really fast and want all the jobs dot com all the time? I’m still in the lower portion of my 20’s. Let me just have this.
I was so excited for every moment leading up to the inevitable today: when I signed my lease and put down the deposit for my new home. But all of a sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m leaving my apartment of three years behind. The apartment I’ve known and loved for every moment of those three years and seen so many roommates come and go in and out of. The time I’ve spent there I will never have again, never repeat like that ever, can never go back to. Change is good. Change is healthy. Change is growth and evolution to what we are and who we become. But it made me realize that I don’t know the next time I’ll ever be as grounded and still in one place like I was (and still am for two more months!) at the Canyons.
In the next five years, I predict that I’ll be constantly moving from place to place, with bags that grow lighter with every move, and a head that wells up bigger with memories no matter where I go. In the weekends to come before the move, I’m going to be donating so much of what I own to make that so. I don’t own a lot but I have more than most, I think, and anyway it’s always the cards and notes from people I like the best at the end of the day over some fancy schmancy wall art. The only thing I ever wanted to be when I “grew up” was a writer, but now I like the idea of being there too - scattering little pieces of myself all over the place in search of the bigger picture to come. I’m a puzzle that’s slowly being put together and it will not happen all at once. I’ll lose things, material things, along the way, but gain stories, my own and from others and just general observances and actions wherever I go from here on out.
But I’m not giving up my toaster oven, lest you think this post is getting too hippy dippy. That’s just like, a lifesaver for me.
Sample of some fictional writing I’m working on.
(from a little fiction side writing project of mine…)
“I could go a long time without being touched. Without being held or hugged or kissed. I could go a long time without that, but it didn’t mean I liked it. I managed, but struggled simultaneously. I often felt like I was in a glass box that…
When I was 17, I had my first article published was in a student newspaper that got delivered to my school, StudentPaths.
Already this story sounds old, what with the mentions of newspapers and being 17 and published which by today’s standards is practically Tavi’s retirement age but I digress. The internet was a different place back then with dial up and CompuServe and badly coded HTML on your GreatestJournal blog and Apple products just barely starting to get awesome. I read these newspapers because I enjoyed them and noticed that they were looking for writers on the back page. So I wrote an article, submitted it, and hoped for the best.
The article that got published was about my tremendous hatred for taking the ACT. Growing up in the Midwest, you didn’t have to take the SAT if you didn’t want to as pretty much every school there accepted you without it so I never had to worry about that. The ACT was another story. There was this special scholarship given to anyone who achieved a 30 or higher simply for that number called BrightFlight that took two grand off of your tuition at xyz college (though whether or not this was for all four years there or just the one was never made clear to me - if it was just the one that’s pretty shitty.) Obviously, I didn’t get a 30 on the exam because then I wouldn’t have written an article about my upset in taking it. But what did happen was that I took that damn test four times and got the exact same score each and every time.
4 times, 4 different months, 4 different seasons, 4 identical scores.
I excelled at reading, English, and writing (I was the only person I knew who was all “gimme that extra writing portion please!”), did average at science, and crumbled in math. Luckily, I was from a family that believed in placing stock in the things you did well and continuing to finesse those areas to bigger and better heights rather than pull all-nighters in the areas you didn’t do so well in and forcing yourself to go off the deep end in your GPA. “As long as you try your best, we’re proud of you!” was the running mantra in our household. And so I embraced early on that I lacked a certain skill set in the mathematical department and did what I could there without pushing myself to a freakish degree. The way I felt about writing and the stress/joy I got out of that was where I pushed myself instead.
But still. Getting the same score four times in a row does have a way of making you feel like you’re stagnating to some degree. I wrote about that feeling and how standardized testing shouldn’t make you feel any less smarter than what you are and my general distaste for being seen as a number in the eyes of a university and the article got published!
Since my homeroom was right next door to the radio/TV show that did morning and afternoon announcements (where I participated in both on a regular basis), I think you can guess what I did next when I saw the printed article on everyone’s desk. I barreled from my homeroom to the production studio and got myself a sudden guest spot on that morning, waving that paper around with our production room coordinator as he mentioned that I had an article that went live in it.
Accompanying that piece was a headshot of me taken in a friend’s bedroom right after I had gotten done smoking a cigarette (not pictured) and a quote from Mean Girls.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
Last week, my dad celebrated his birthday. The big 6-0. This is very strange to me to think about because he doesn’t act like he’s 60 in any way, shape, or form, but then again nobody in my intermediate family has ever acted their age which is both awesome and somewhat questionable if you think about it for too long. What I mean to say here is that he may be 60, but he still acts about the same as he did 15 years ago which brings about the following memory I have of him.
Growing up, my dad had a lot of trouble hanging onto important items which chiefly included the following: his wallet, tie, handkerchief, keys, and wedding ring. As a result, every morning of my life between the ages of 5-20 I would hear him walking around the house mumbling these item names to himself as he attempted to round them all up before leaving for work. We always left the back door unlocked for at least twenty minutes after he left in the event that he would come back in a hurry after realizing he forgot one of the items on that list. If you left the door locked for whatever reason, he would pound on it until it damn near came off of the hinges and would then run into the house shouting expletives until he found the item he needed. My mom would follow him around, using her soothing Southern voice to calm him back into behaving like a sane person and he would eventually start breathing normally and head off to work not about to burst a blood vessel.
If you have to compare my parents to any fictional TV couple, they would be Larry David and Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm, minus the divorce in season 8. Dad who says or does something he probably shouldn’t and Mom who makes everything better and serves as the voice of reason. They are like peanut butter and jelly together with me and my three brothers serving as the bread.
At some point in everyone’s life (ideally) there comes a time where you look around and think, “hey, this is my family.” and really understand where you’re at and where you belong. For me, that moment came in the 1st grade when my mom had a stroke. She made a full recovery, blowing everyone away with the sheer rarity of it all, but things were very bleak for some time in our household where I more or less remembered moving through life in a weird daze. On one of the first visits to the hospital room to see her that my dad, brother, and I made, I remember we all walked in and sat around her in the hospital bed. We were all very quiet for a moment because nobody knew what to say or if they could say anything without immediately crying. And I had already cried a lot and didn’t want to anymore. I remember seeing a Jell-o pudding cup on her food tray and asked if I could have it if she wasn’t going to eat it. I don’t know why but this moment broke a lot of the sadness in that room and we all started laughing and cracking jokes and then she started laughing with us and it felt like victory not to be upset anymore. Like life really did keep on moving and you could see and make light of what normally couldn’t be light-hearted.
My family is not composed of perfect people. We’re moody, prone to getting upset easily, are loud and jovial and use our hands to express everything we feel and think, and like inside jokes about silly stuff way too much. We’re only like this when we’re all together. Splinter one of us from our little tribe and some of those emotions we tuck away until we’re all back together. But while not perfect, we do love deeply and my parents have given me gifts that nobody else could have. I have my father’s work ethic merged with my mother’s inability to give up on a person. The very best of both worlds. Who else but they could have given me these invaluable traits?
I’ve got a lot of gratitude for the Taylor family, my family. Couldn’t imagine being born into a different one.