"She’s single, urban and loving it—but she’s no Carrie Bradshaw. Not necessarily looking for a husband, nor looking for just a good time, this leading-edge millennial woman, age 28 to 34, has a career to tend to and money to make."
At the Pillsbury Bake-Off last month, one of our speakers was Phil Lempert aka The Supermarket Guru who described one of the future trends in grocery shopping for 2014 and beyond to include the rise of “the indie woman.” I immediately liked the term and even introduced myself afterward to him as such, especially since I was one of the youngest people covering the Bake-Off.
The rise of the indie woman, as illustrated by AdWeek, looks a little something like this:
- Career first, marriage and kids later. (Perhaps not even in that order.)
- Fashionable, but also excels at window shopping even more than actual shopping.
- A fan of brand names.
- “They can work late or go out late, and they can bring home whoever they want.”
Muy bien. And now, here comes my personal anecdote.
When I started my NaNoWriMo story last month, it came out of a place deep inside of myself. I had been thinking about women in recent literature for a long time. Supposedly modern women and how unmodern they really were. It’s always the same story of the girl who was so very unique because she didn’t talk to other girls or licked her lips a lot or possessed a very “haunting” beauty with her pale skin but hey, that was okay because the boys liked her. Or, on the flip side, the very upset 22 year old who just graduated from college into a cold world where she didn’t immediately become the editor at a fashion magazine and bitched and complained about everything despite the fact that her parents paid her student loan and oh yeah, wailed on and on about boys.
Seriously? We’re still doing this? This is what still sells? Where were the girls who were playing by their rules and confident in the skin they were already in? When did it become acceptable to encourage a girl to settle because some rando guy had a thirst? How are you gonna bring girls into this world and build them up if there are no books around to encourage them to be their own woman?
So I had wanted to write something about a small cluster of girlfriends who were all cusping on the end of their twenties and were not even close to having made all of the so-called “right moves” with their lives, but also lived for themselves and valued the relationships they had that mattered. My girls (literally how I refer to them in my head) were all smart and independent and did not give a shit what anyone thought about them. They were also full of flaws, lest I started thinking they were too cool for school.
One of the first scenes I wrote up was one in which the protagonist Abby is sitting at a table for a dinner she was invited to with seven other people, six of which are married couples, and the seventh person is a single guy desperate to be like these married people (presumably Abby is invited to the dinner as someone he could potentially date but she’s not feeling how basic he is). The couples are all discussing their photos on Instagram and the monotonous ways they spent their weekends and Abby is bored. She is drinking the most out of anyone at the table, flirts with a married guy from across the room, and gets into an argument with one of the couples in which she begs them not to reproduce because she has a hard time figuring out whether the mom will pay more attention to her child over her MacBook.
Writing that was a lot of fun because I think every single girl who has ever been trapped at a table filled with nothing but couples could relate to it. The best part came from yanking myself open and letting everything fly out. No restraints, no limits, no cares as to who does like it or not. No biting the tongue, no polite smiling, just coming out and calling people out on their bullshit. There are no stories for twentysomethings that do that.
But the whole process for the NaNoWriMo story was never to write something that took itself too seriously or hit the bitter ground running either. This wasn’t going to be some thinly veiled version of any potential insecurities cropping up (“everybody’s getting married on Facebook but meeeeeeeee”) of mine you could read into. This was their story. Everyone was different and went through their own troubles and there wasn’t an ending. It’s a story, but doesn’t mean it can’t feel real, be self-deprecating, and sarcastic with heart.
These are the indie women. All the real girls. And that’s me telling a little bit about my own (fictional) story. That I’m proud of it and where it’s heading.
I’ll keep working on it, don’t worry.
Working on an article that I thought would not take me long to compile but it’s turning out to be much more lengthier, detailed, and all-around thoughtful than I thought it would. This is not a bad thing either. Just unexpected. I am also being picky on my selections for this piece too which makes it go slower than usual, but that’s because I want to be able to stand by my list with pride and know I had a good reason behind every choice I made.
Just another reminder to the world that good content is not built to be based on an assembly line model where you lather, rinse, and repeat it on an endless loop.
"As anybody who has lost someone close to them can tell you, the funeral gives you a strange kind of focus. I knew that God was not responsible for any of this—that God does not kill children or parents or burn down houses. As the minister at the service said, ‘God is not a puppeteer. God cried first.’"
- Madonna Badger, The Long Road Back: How to Keep Going When the Unimaginable Happens
I like the minister’s response here. I like it a lot. I have never prescribed to the belief that religious entities fall into one of two categories - that they know exactly what they’re doing and do it anyway to be “vengeful” as a means of teaching a specific person a lesson or that when trouble comes we need to immediately scapegoat higher beings for what has happened. Bad things happen to everyone and so do good things - nobody is exempted from this and nobody can control the amount of good vs. bad that enters their lives. Also, this article is my favorite read of the year so far and I’m glad she wrote it and shared it.
Working on an article and I want to include the terms “idk” and “the thirst” in there so bad and maybe toss in a #basic hashtag but… BUT JOURNALISM AND BEING PROFESSIONAL WHEN WRITING.
The past couple of Novembers, I’ve this ambitious little voice inside of my head that says, “Hey Heather, you clearly aren’t busy enough you know what with a full time job and freelance work and stuff WHY NOT ATTEMPT TO TOSS YOUR IDEAS INTO A WORD DOCUMENT SOUP AND WRITE A BOOK HMM???”
It always sounds easier to accomplish than it looks.
A year ago, I did write something up for NaNoWriMo but fell far under the 50,000 word minimum the monthly contest is infamous for. It was a dystopian tale that took place in 2098 that revolved around a young(ish) girl who was going against the grain in everything pre-mandated by society in N.U.S. (New United States). It was also a very bleak story, one in which I never quite managed to get to an ending of, but in review of it since I don’t plan on giving it any sort of happy ending or closure. If anything, it would probably end open to interpretation. Ending it was never the focus though. I just wanted the main character to be a girl who was full of life, drive, strength, and stuck to her convictions - no pale, thin, whispery wisp of a girl that all the boys pine after and manic pixie dream designate.
So the question now is do I do NaNoWriMo again and revisit this story OR write something completely different instead? Like, everything I write fiction-wise tends to feature a female protagonist who is her own confident person so you wouldn’t have to worry about seeing me work on a story that starts with “she was unique because no other girls understood her and she always read a book instead of going on Facebook, blah, blah, blah, the basic girl’s guide to being basic.com.”
I had a nice enough time going out for the pre-Emmys HBO luxury lounge earlier today (though this year’s event for press was alarmingly sparse and I wasn’t the only person noticing either) but the better time was spent on the ride home with my Lyft driver who fed me the kind of conversation I would never have had in that hotel. We discussed being thankful for our five senses, healing, gardening, travel, the dirt of this earth and the mountains above. Life, essentially!
Last year I went to the same press event where my one of my former editors was in attendance. I dreaded going to that more than anything because I would have to stick around for as long as she did which was from 12PM to 5PM. I dreaded it because I had a feeling that we would not get along IRL since we didn’t in our telecommuting emails and I was not wrong either. We didn’t get along and it had nothing to do with not being nice. It was just a personality thing. You can’t click with everyone. But she said something so strange to me when I was eating my lunch - that I should be constantly introducing myself to people, getting their cards, finding out where they work, etc. And all I could think to myself was “Well that sounds obnoxious and ass kissy I will definitely not be doing any of that at all.”
Veni, vidi, vici for writing and that’s the end goal too. I like a good, hearty conversation. I like meeting new people and hearing their stories. And I do like how some events bring together a motley of people who eventually do drop their snobbery at the door and cut loose and enjoy the night. But I’m not here for the rat race portion. I don’t treat events as a means to rack up LinkedIn connections. The need to get up in your face and obsess over who wore what best and not partake in eating or drinking certain things because there are calories included. I felt like laughing at my nail technician earlier when she chided me on biting my nails. Who cares, really? Am I supposed to feel bad about that? There are so many bigger problems and issues in the world and nobody, not even myself, will go to bed tonight worried about my fingernails. What about the story? Shouldn’t that be the matter of importance?
Smaller diversions to the bigger picture that are blown up to outrageously huge proportions. And so it goes.
Which I don’t talk about aloud as often as I should (I guess?) because:
a) Having your work go live close to every other day is great, but exhausting - moreso than you’d think too. Which is why if you can, take some breaks here and there. I promise that just because you aren’t tweeting every 5 minutes, you’ll still be relevant.
b) The glamorous part (that ‘omg I want your life’ Facebook side) where you go to premieres and parties and stuff only comprises maybe 10-15% of the writing experience. The real magic is in your bed, at your desk, on the floor, on your computer, hunched over and typing furiously to race the clock on a deadline. Often this part is not super fancy but that’s why I stay dressed up when I’m writing too.
c) I don’t like to talk about writing something before I have it written, submitted, and published. Not every piece makes it in the end and then you wind up with egg on your face when it doesn’t and you rambled on at length on Facebook about it for too long. Or not - the internet may be less involved with your life than you are, but YOU will feel the egg cracked all over the place.
Anyway. ‘Bout the worklife…
This morning, the big story was about the casting choices for the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ film adaptation which naturally, I hopped on writing about immediately. I mean, I was excited and still am. Casually, I mentioned to my editor that I’d love to keep covering any new developments as far as this film goes and was granted my wish with a yes (!!!!) so now I’m going to be writing about any and all things ‘50 Shades’ related which is great because these books are my current guilty pleasures. (I’ve had more questionable ones in the past. Remember Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Speak’ album? I owned that. I really like it.)
Great start to the week already! (Will probably make for an interesting anecdote for any future high school reunions too!)