A Big Mistake

So I made a mistake.

It happens. I will be the first to admit that I’m not perfect. Far from it actually. I mean there are days where things just come out of my mouth (usually really dorky things at work) and I’m not “Just stop talking!” to myself.

But that’s the the mistake I’m talking about this time.

No, this time, I decided to calculate how many pages there were in the American editions (hardback) of the Harry Potter series. I mean, I have to read all seven books by Feb 27th so I might as well figure out what I’m getting into.

Do you want to know how many there are?
4,100. On the nose.

I’ll let that sink in a bit.

FOUR THOUSAND AND ONE HUNDRED PAGES.

In a little over a month. Sure, when I fist read the Harry Potter that would be no problem. But now I work and have a grown-up life.

PLUS! I have to do research.

See, it was a mistake. I have to read 96 pages a day. On off days that’s a piece of cake, but on days I don’t get home till 7:00 pm… Not so easy.

If you could see me now I’d be puffing my bags up.

It’ll be okay though.

Granted, I’ve only read a little over 730 pages so far. So that’s like…18%. Or not. I’m not so great at math.

But I’m going to keep on keeping on. I adored Harry Potter growing up, and how many people get to spend an entire semester writing one paper that focuses on something they’ve loved since they were in 6th grade (maybe more than I think) but it’s still awesome.

TO VICTORY!

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I Feel Like a Zombie…

So I think I know what a zombie feels like. Apart from the wanting to eat human brains and what not… But yeah, the half-awake half-asleep thing.

I’ve been spending most of my waking hours working, doing house work, or studying. Yes, school is back in session people and I’m doing an independent study. My goal is to write a 15 (conference length) – 22 (article length) paper this semester focusing on a Jungian archetype in the Harry Potter series. Sounds like fun right? I mean I love the Harry Potter books. I was part of that generation that grew up with Harry. When he was 12 I was 12… with each new book we became adults together. So, one would think it would be awesome to spend an entire semester focusing on something I love.

And to a degree it is.

But I have to read a book a week. For me, that would normally be easy. But not when I’ve been working closer to full time these last two weeks. It’s been hard.

I think I finally understand this song by Sister Hazel (my sometimes favorite band) the hook (or part of the refrain or whatever) in the song is “life got in the way.” I come home from work (tired but not exhausted) and see all the things that need to be done at home. I mean, it’s not fair to ask Husband to do all the chores, not when he’s in school too. And by the time I feel like I’ve done my share (or part of it) I’m too tired to read essays on Harry Potter or even the books themselves.

BUT! I will say this. My New Year’s resolution was to be better to myself by writing more and cooking more. While I haven’t written a word in my novel, I have been cooking. The other night I made my own ranch dressing and some challah bread…all from scratch. Boo-freakin’-ya. That my friends is the bright side to my little freakout/ tirade.

Writer’s Conference Notes (Finally!!!)

Hey there readers. I know I know, I’ve been all MIA. Why? Intense work week. Good for my bank account but not as good for my blogging life.

So, I decided that I would do what I said (months ago) and tell you about the SCBWI conference I went to. I tried to take some pictures with my iPhone and be all awesome in my blogging, but the pictures turned out horribly.

However, here is a picture of my schedule of the days events and whatnot…

Overall the regional conference was pretty awesome. It was held at a high school near my apartment and people from our region came and hung out for the day. The fact that it was at a high school is important. Why? You may ask… Well because I am a young adult. 24. Not old. I look a lot younger. AND I was the youngest attende of the conference, by at least 10 years. Most of the people there were my parent’s age or older. I’m pretty sure they all looked at me and were like, does she go to this school? No, ohhh… she’s here for the conference. Yes, I got lots of weird looks.

At first it was really intimating. But then, when I went to hide and freak out in the bathroom, I realized something. I was lightyears ahead of these people. Sure, some of them were more experienced than me in lots of ways, but here I was, 40-10 years younger than them, and I was rocking it out along side them. I was a peer (or sorts) and I was badass.

And then it got even better. I went to my little workshops on how to get out of the slush pile and what literary agents look for and yes I learned a lot (which I will share with you here in a minute) but I also knew the answers to lots of questions that other people were asking. Why? Because I’m getting a MASTERS in creative writing. I get exposed to all sorts of information at school on this stuff. So bam! I was younger AND knew all kinds of info that others didn’t. I felt like a little rockstar. Talk about getting some reassurance.

Here’s what I learned from Lisa Yee (published author) and Alexandra Cooper (editor at Simon and Schuster)

  1. What really gave Lisa Yee a big push was going to a SCBWI conference and meeting people there. She said she felt like she “meet her tribe” there. (I know the feeling, but I get that more at school…)
  2. Lisa said, “Don’t think, just write” (Something I need to do more often) and that she wrote her frist novel like it was an e-mail. It took the pressure off. 
  3. You really do need an agent if you want to get published
  4. Cooper said to find something that works and is working (something kind of popular ((not vampires!)) ) and then put a twist on it
  5. When your work doesn’t get picked up by an editor it’s not always your fault: the editor can only take on so many books at a time a may have signed something similar to yours already (and by similar it could just be genre or time of year that the book is going to be published aka picture book about chickens would come out around Easter and they might already have an Easter book)
  6. Tips: A) Do your homework: See what’s getting attention and see what there’s too much of and B) Aim your pitches for people who have done similar books… meaning check out the acknowledgments at the end of books, figure out who in the publishing world published a book similar to yours and then shoot for them

Did I find the conference helpful and awesome? Yes I did.

Would I go to another one? Hell yes.

It was scary and amazing all at the same time. I found my place and realized that I’m not like a lot of these second career/ hobby writers. I know the genre, I study it. I know things and I know what I want. I have put myself in different environments to get what I want. And yes, I will get a book published. It’s just a matter of time. 

Overload and Why Reality TV is Okay

Today was a library day for me. It was super awesome. It feels like it’s been years since I’ve holed up in a study room, gotten strung out on coffee, and knocked out a ton of work. And maybe it has been. Usually when I’m on campus for grad school I mostly hide in my room or sprawl out on the sofa and knock out the work. Maybe it’s been since college since I had one of these days.

You may be thinking to yourself: Holy cow, you’re crazy! You actually enjoy that?!?

YES I DO!

I love learning and being a student and being a student focusing on something that I actually love – as opposed to class that I have to take to graduate. Grad school and college are two different kettles of fish.

But that’s not what this post is about.

No, this is about the after effects of studying for 6 hours non-stop and drinking too much caffeine. Sure, there’s that accomplished feeling you get, but then you want to veg out.

This is easy for my husband: He plays video games. Which is fine with me, gives me time to write and read and he gets to decompress. Win win in my book.

But I think decompressing is harder for English people. What do we do for fun? Read. What do we do for work/study? Read. After 6 hours of reading that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t care if it’s fun reading or not. It’s still words. Words that start swimming across the page.

So what do I do to decompress?

I watch horrible TV. Not awesome TV that requires me to think. Total and complete brain candy. And non-English people just don’t get it. They don’t get the draw of the totally idiotic and stereotypic characters of reality TV. You don’t need to pay attention to what’s going on to make connections later in the show. There is always the bitch. There is always the “good” girl/guy. The slut. The goof-ball. The backstabber. It’s just new faces each time. It’s not like you’re invested on a deep level.

I would argue that a healthy balanced dose of horrible television is needed in a person’s mental diet. Okay, and here you can substitute video game or whatever. But yes, when you study for 1/4 of a day it’s allowed to watch 2(ish) hours of complete crap. For the same reasons Weight Watchers allows you to splurge a little bit each week. To keep you sane.

Now, for all of you people who are like: Why don’t you go out there and get some exercise?

You obviously haven’t studied for 6 hours non-stop. Or are really intense.

Thus I rest my case.