I had a bit of a revelation tonight, at commencement, somewhere in between laughing at Mr. Carter’s quips, crying when Stefan so deservingly won the Alex Gillespie Friendship Award, and walking across the Rosedale aud stage to receive my fake diploma (a rolled-up poem) from the superintendent of schools, Beth Butcher.
The revelation came while I was watching the ASL interpreter who stood beside Mr. Sketchley, motioning out everything he said. At first, I thought about how I want to go to school to learn how to do that, maybe. Then I thought, well, I’ve never really done ASL, only been transfixed by occasionally watching someone do it, so what makes me think I’d want (or be able) to study it for 3+ years? Then I thought, I should really study something I KNOW I’m good at and I KNOW I’d enjoy, like writing… And then I thought: MAYBE I SHOULD GO TO JOURNALISM SCHOOL.
Before and after getting my hair done today. Shorter, darker, (temporarily) straighter.
That’s my hairdresser standing with me. He’s been doing my hair since I was a wee lass. Such a great guy and talented hair whisperer.
Anonymous said: How much weight are you planning loose?
My goal is to lose 40 pounds total (so, another 23, since I’ve already lost 17) but I’m going to keep an eye on how I look and stop when I think I look how I want to look, whether that’s above or below my initial goal.
(I’m referring to my Twitter feed in order to write this because it’s weirdly the most complete record I have of my life these days)
-Got straight A’s for the first time in my university career.
-Interviewed for a dream job of mine. Didn’t get it, but I am definitely reapplying next summer because a) I wannnnt the job and b) they told me I made a great impression on them and they were sorry they could only pick one candidate.
-Started a weight loss journey on May 2nd. Have lost ~17 pounds so far.
-Saw a bunch of amazing theatre (Of Human Bondage, Angels in America, Company, Glenn).
-Recorded a Magnetic Fields cover for a lovely lady’s wedding at her request.
-Vomited on public transit for the first time, after a night of raucous lunacy (a.k.a. tequila shots and part of a weed cookie).
-Saw Tegan and Sara play three times.
-Sat on a youth advisory committee for a Planned Parenthood project about technology, youth, and sexual health. Gave a presentation at a conference with the rest of the committee.
-Sold a lot more blog ads than I ever have before. It’s now the second-highest category from which I’ve received income this year so far (the first-highest being writing gigs).
-Got an iPad. Have been using it a lot for writing, editing photos, and dumb things like Netflix and Pinterest. It’s going to be extremely helpful once I go back to school.
-Traveled to Peterborough to spend a night with friends.
-Started work on a new album, with Max as my producer.
-Reworked my personal style concept into something more grown-up, sophisticated, classic and preppy.
-Made my magazine debut with a feature story on toxic sex toys in Herizons.
-Got published on xoJane.
-Robin Williams died. I don’t really have any words for this.
-For the first time ever in my academic career, acquired my own desk/workspace. LOVING IT.
Anonymous said: any writing advice?
This is weird; I literally just wrote a (long-ass) email to a blogger friend yesterday when she asked me this same question. Most of my advice was specifically tailored to her, though, so I won’t copy-and-paste!
1. Do your morning pages. They’re explained in detail in The Artist’s Way if you’re interested, but basically they’re just three longhand pages of stream-of-consciousness writing done first thing in the morning when you wake up. (I usually pee and fill up my water bottle before sitting down to do my morning pages, but, y’know, close enough.) They are often really boring and whiny, but the point isn’t for them to be interesting to read; the point is to clear out your brain and jumpstart it and get your writing muscles moving. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous or unlikely but it REALLY does help with productivity and creativity. When I’m doing morning pages every day, I’m a writing MACHINE, brimming with ideas and energy to work.
2. Read a lot. You can’t be a writer if you don’t read, IMO. But don’t marry yourself to one particular writer or genre, or you’ll end up a copycat. Read a wide variety of things, including (but not limited to) the genre(s)/medium(s) you aspire to write in.
3. Work on your spelling and grammar if that’s a problem for you. Spell-check will not always save you; in fact, it will frequently fail you.
4. Keep a notebook, index card, iPhone note, or some other similar thing – anything which you can keep on your person 100% of the time – to jot down ideas when they come to you. Trust me when I say that ideas, even good ideas, can disappear off the face of the earth sometimes if you don’t make a note of them somewhere. It’s so fucking useful to have a list of blog post ideas, pitch ideas, etc. to refer to when you have the time/energy to work – it’s really a hack against writer’s block because you let the ideas in as they come and then use them as you’re able. Inspiration and energy don’t always strike at the same time so develop ways around that fact.
5. I like George Orwell’s writing tip about how you should avoid using any phrases/metaphors/figures of speech that you have ever seen in writing before (“sick as a dog,” “manicured lawns,” “crazy in love,” etc). I don’t believe you should avoid these sorts of phrases ALL the time, since they can be used to great effect on occasion – but it is usually more interesting to come up with your own way of phrasing whatever you’re trying to express. Writing feels punchier and more memorable when you use metaphors and phrases and figures of speech that the reader has never heard before, and has to really think about and process instead of just glossing over.
6. Edit. Proofread. Read your shit out loud. Read it to someone else. Look for holes in logic, missing words, unclear ideas, unexplained assumptions. Make sure everything makes sense and would still make sense if you were a reader who had never heard of whatever you’re writing about.
7. Figure out what sorts of environmental triggers help or hinder your productiveness, and set up your workspace(s) accordingly. I like soft instrumental music, a comfortable temperature, clothes I can move in, a big cup of tea or coffee and lots of water, good light (preferably natural), and minimal technological distractions. That’s the ideal; I’m not always able to achieve that, but those are the conditions under which I write best. Figure out yours and make ‘em happen. If that means you have to buy some stuff to upgrade your space (oscillating fan, looseleaf tea, new lamp, better speakers, whatevs), do it if you’re able.
8. Make your first sentence and first paragraph interesting. If they’re boring, the whole piece will fail.
9. Look carefully at your verbs and adjectives – all of them, if you have that kind of editing time – and replace the more boring/mundane/ordinary ones with snappier, punchier, more unique and interesting ones. You can convey a more specific message with more specific words. Sounds obvious but it’s true and worth considering. (It’s like that scene in Dead Poets Society… “A man is not ‘very tired,’ he is exhausted… He’s not ‘very sad,’ he’s morose.”)
10. Heed that now-somewhat-famous Ira Glass quote about how beginners in creative fields often have tastes that far exceed their talents. Your talent will catch up to your tastes. There will be a time when you like what you write, if you keep at it, even if you think you’re no good now. Get your 10,000 hours in (that’s a Malcolm Gladwellism if you feel like researching it).
It would be so great if I could walk to school and back every single day. It’s a 4.4 mile round-trip so that would be 22 miles a week, which is great exercise, AND it would save me transit fare. (Metropasses are so fucking expensive!!)
But I know I won’t have the willpower to keep up that good habit once it starts to get cold out, and dark in the mornings, and my S.A.D. creeps in for the winter.
Then again, maybe the very act of exercise helps encourage more exercise by increasing energy levels and overall happiness. And maybe the more I do it, the more physically and emotionally resilient I’ll become around things like snow and wind and ice.
Amazingly, not The Onion:
“[W]e now have young men telling Bloomberg News that they basically view their female peers as rape bombs just waiting to explode and ruin their lives.”
I’ve heard this argument so many times and I’m just amazed that there are people out there who are so stupid or socially inept that they can’t or won’t understand what consent looks like in practice.
It’s not hard! If someone is consenting, they’ll go along with what you’re doing, they’ll physically respond in positive ways, they’ll make good noises, they’ll let you into their space. And if you’re not sure, ASK! Wow. So easy. There are no excuses.