Friday, May 3, 2013

The Flippant Girl's Guide to Conference Success

As a writer, it's important to um... well, write. This goes without saying. Another important thing is to be all professional and go to a writer's conference. This is a great place to meet other writers, get ideas, and be smart and shit. If you're new to the conference scene, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of things: people, freebies, ideas, agents, and the concept of not wearing pajama bottoms while conducting your writerly self.

Fortunately for you, Flippant Girl is here to help.

1. Bring a stenographer. You'll be too busy being in awe of your workshop leaders to take notes. Because you don't want to kick yourself for not doing this, find someone to do the hard work for you. Let them write down the crucial bits while you fangirl/fanboy out over how brilliant so-and-so is.

2. Wear roller skates. With only a few minutes between conference sessions, speedwalking is too slow. Zip through the crowds to get that prime seat for you and your stenographer. You'll appreciate the skates when you're also rushing to that book signing/bathroom stall/open bar*.

3. Say something memorable. You're going to meet a lot of people, including industry pros. When you do that follow up thing in the weeks to come, you want to make sure that these people remember who you are. They'll definitely remember the girl who has the theory that squirrels are taking over publishing versus the dude who talked about the literary importance of Jonathan Franzen.

4. Host in-room cocktail parties. We're writers. Drinking seems to go in-hand. Besides, after a day of fawning over your literary crush or being crushed from a manuscript consultation, you'll want to unwind. Bring on the Solo cups and fill the sink with hotel ice!

5. Collect as many business cards as possible. Almost everyone will have one and it's your duty to collect them all. Think of the scrapbook you'll have later one.

Bonus Tip!
Create a book fort. You're at a conference with 600 attendees. If everyone has at least one book in their bag, you can do it. However! Pictures or it didn't happen.

* Not that conferences have open bars. That's wishful thinking.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Querying and Job Searching Simultaneously is Like Being Repeatedly Punched in the Face

With the exception of a few odd jobs, yours truly has been out of work since October 2011. For someone who has been working since 16 1/2, this is horrible*. The uncertainty of where the next paycheck is coming from, whether or not health insurance is happening, the meaningless-ness of TGIF. I'm sort of used to it by now and thankfully I had a 5 month reprieve from job searching, which ended 2 weeks ago.

That's right, I'm looking for work again.

If you've ever looked for work, you know how aggravating it can be. You apply. You wait. You wait some more. You either get called in for an interview or you get a form response saying that they went another way. If it's the latter (and it was a job you were salivating after) you feel the rejection on a visceral level. Yet, you go back for more.

Querying is exactly like that.

For those who don't know, there isn't much difference between looking for work and querying an agent. All of the job search principles apply to looking for representation. For both you need perseverance and the ability to hear no more than yes. Thick skin is a prerequisite.

No one likes hearing no. It's a rejection. A rejection of you. You're not good enough for Company A or Agent B. You're worthless. You're wasting your time. You won't amount to anything, so why are you even trying?

When you do both searches at once, these feelings of rejection magnify. You're no longer hearing it from one angle, but two. Your worthlessness really hits home, and soon you question whether you're good enough for anything. You desperately want to avoid the job search, the agent hunt, these things that make you question your general awesomeness.

Yet, you step up for another round. And another. And another.

* It bears mentioning that I'm not one of those people whose identity is based off of the day job. I'm a writer, not a cashier/AA/CSR/general bad ass. Well, maybe that last thing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beware of the Miraculous Sword Appearance

A week ago, I went to see a collegiate production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. I know it isn't groundbreaking blog fodder--especially when there is legit drama happening all over my city this week--but I do like to share things that are relevant to writing. Which this post will be. Eventually.

First, some important background information:

  • This production was at my alma mater, where drama isn't a major. 
  • I'm pretty sure that this is still the only production during the academic year.
  • I "acted" for this theater troupe for 5 years.
  • I have zero acting ability outside my feigning enjoyment from horrible gift ideas.
  • I went to this play as an additional level of support for a friend, who wasn't even involved in this production. (Which is a totally separate story and not mine to share.)
I totally admit that I embarked on a Twitter spree during the production heckling a lot of what I saw. Don't get me wrong, I do acknowledge the amount of work these students put into the production. Shakespeare is hard, there's no denying that. And to put on an amazing Shakespearian production, you need a budget (or at least the ability to have all believable props on set). 

This doesn't change the fact I noticed some troublesome things during the ~3 hour production, namely acting so stiff that even high emotion scenes were like cardboard and the lack of props and set dressing. So of course I heckled the production, but even with the most heckle-worthy art, there's a learning experience that can be applied to writing.

In this production of Antony and Cleopatra, all the men are weaponless. This is problematic for two reasons: one, the text contains oaths that include "by my sword" where sword isn't a euphemism. Also, there are skirmishes between Antony and Caesar. This means there should be weapons galore, but we only see wooden staves during the battles and Pompeii's shield in Act I. Until we get to the part of the play where Antony begs for his underling to kill him; only then is a sword finally seen.

A little too convenient, don't you think?

It's also a bit of a cheat. During the first draft process, chances are that you've committed this kind of fraud. That's acceptable. It's easy to introduce a critical prop in the eleventh hour. This is the beauty of first drafts. This is why we revise.

The job of a writer is to be a storyteller. That means connecting all the dots and allowing the reader to be so engrossed in the story that they live it with your characters. We know this. One way to ensure that this happens is to make sure props show up realistically and not conveniently.

What's the oddest last minute prop or set piece you've incorporated in a story?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Back in the Saddle

When I was still tied to my Aerosmith fan contract, whenever I or one of my Aero-related friends would return from a forum hiatus, the requisite announcement was to create a thread entitled, "I'm BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!" because of the 1976 song, Back in the Saddle. It's no surprise that my return to blogland begins with a hat tip to this.

OMG, I missed you so hard! Where have you been!?
In short, Facebook.

A lot of crap personal stuff attacked me from 2011 until very recently, which made blogging and tweeting very difficult as everything got worse. I had no energy to be entertaining. I couldn't muster any creativity. It blew harder than Hurricane Katrina.

However! I'm over the hump of my pity party, and pushing my back to you. For real this time.

Thank god. The internet hasn't been the same without your special mix of sarcasm and cat obsession.
I know. Fortunately, my sarcasm is more, um, sarcastic and my cat obsession hasn't waned. (It hasn't grown either. Be grateful for that.)  Over the next few weeks, I hope to bring that and more back to you. If you have a burning question or topic you'd like me to cover, you know what to do.

In the meantime, here's a video of Aerosmith playing BITS. Because, let's face it, I still have a piece of my fan contract.

I've missed you, Lurkdom. I'm happy to be back.
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