Tag Archives: advice

I Dreamed a Dream


By Katherine Shaye

It is hard for me to distinguish at what point in my life I went from the dreams of childhood to the career pursuits of an adult. If I’d stuck to my guns when I was eight, I’d now be a retired Olympic gymnast reliving my glory days on a talk show. Instead, I am now (among other things) an aspiring novelist, a dream that I’ve picked up only recently. So what’s the difference between my dream now and my dream then? Aside from an increased ability and drive to pursue an actual career, I would say not much.

It makes me ask myself – what really makes my dream worth chasing, and at what point do I put it on the back burner in favor of something more practical?

The reason for this sudden introspective rant is this:

Are Books Dead, and Can Authors Survive?

An article pointed out to me in a writing forum by an editing friend who thought the topic deserved some discussion. After reading it, I have to wonder, do I have skin thick enough to enter into a rapidly changing, somewhat shrinking industry, where only the truly great and quickly adapting survive? What will it really mean to be an author over the next 10 years as I try to build a career and get published? Am I gritty enough to stick it out?

I look back at where I started. Back in my early college days when writing was just a way to blow off steam and get silly daydreams out of my head. I wrote a lot, but rarely finished anything— ideas flitting too quickly through my head for me to sit with just one.  Writing was just a hobby; I was allowed to be flighty. I’d gotten a few comments from friends along the lines of “It’s pretty good,” and “I really liked it. Is there more?” Nothing I really took seriously. There was even one English paper that came back with the comment, “Very well written. Wish it were more on topic.” All praises, but nothing that said “This is it, you’ve got it. Go be a writer.”

My lackadaisical writing career continued like this until senior year when real life started looming and I decided to get adventurous. What if I really did become a writer? It was time to do some learning.

I joined a writing forum (or Accentuate Writers). Nothing fancy, just a place where I could upload my work and have it critiqued by other people in the same position as me—new and unpublished talents, testing the waters to see if we were
up to snuff. Reviews poured in and I shared my thoughts with others. I was getting positive feedback and gaining much needed confidence. Things were rolling along nicely.

Then I got my first negative review. I’d like to say that the critic didn’t know what he was talking about, that he was jealous of the profundity of my piece. But that would be a lie. This critic, while very curt and clearly not a fan of my work, gave me nothing but good advice—not that I could acknowledge that right away. It was the kind of feedback that cuts a little too close to honesty, usually echoing insecurities you already had about
a piece. They were comments I definitely needed but didn’t necessarily want.

Cue the week of mourning.

I didn’t even look at my computer screen for the next seven days, most of my time spent ignoring the fact that I’d ever picked up a pen at all.

Finally, I went back. I reread the punishing critique, picked out the relevant bits and reworked my story.  A week later, I entered it into a short story contest and a month after that I found out that the piece had won first place. It was getting published. My greatest sense of failure and success all wrapped up in that one little piece.

Fast forward to now.

Is this the story of a burgeoning artist’s epic struggle towards success? Not really, but it is the beginnings of a journey, my journey, and I suppose the point is that none of the rest of it matters. Writing is something I love to do and it’s worth a shot. Even in a potentially failing industry, even if I’m not any good. It’s still worth it to try.

CHECK OUT SOME OF THESE SITES FOR ADVICE!

Because I Said So
Vicki Winslow’s Blog
Tammyholloway
Stress Management for Writers

Odyssey of a Grad Student and the Playlist that Paved the Way (via Promega Connections)


This is something that I think grad student or simple post-grad can enjoy. Give it a try!

Odyssey of a Grad Student and the Playlist that Paved the Way Grad school is no walk in the park. Whether the topic is English or Astrophysics, most grad students would agree that the journey to the coveted PhD can simply be described as “hard”- academically, financially, mentally. It is very important to have an outlet for the associated stress such as a hobby or exercise. My outlet was music. Music is very important in my life. It is so important that most people close to me have their own soundtrack that … Read More

via Promega Connections

Foot in the Door, Tossed On Your Bum Part 1


By sendmenonmyway101

My past few posts haven’t been as hopeful – or helpful – as I had wanted them to be, so today I think I’m going to recount my first ‘real world’ interview. Hope this gives some of you a clear picture!

It was the end of June, and I was surprisingly giddy that morning; even though I had gotten up at 4:30 am to make the three hour drive to Buffalo. I may have downed two whole bottles of 5hr energy by the time I bounced onto the elevator, so I suppose being giddy explains itself. I spent the whole car ride into town going over potential questions, and my best answers. Then I begged the interview gods that I wouldn’t forget them.

I was aware of the interview for a week before hand (after surviving the phone interview), but the only person I had mentioned it to was Kyle. I didn’t want my parents to get their hopes up for me, and then be disappointed when I didn’t get the job. In the end I caved – unable to think of a good enough reason for why I would be getting up at 4am (well, I came up with some pretty good reasons, but I wanted some advice from my Dad, and when I told him he insisted I tell my Mom).

I had gone to bed late the night before – not my best idea, but I was up gathering as much research as possible on the people I would be meeting with. I could tell you who graduated from what university, with what degree, and exactly what their extra-curricular activities were. Creepy, I know (the fact that I was able to find this information so readily, and the fact that I memorized it), but I wanted to be prepared.

I knew I was going to have to step my whole game up a notch, so I dressed in one of the outfits I had bought specifically for post college interviews almost two years ago (fortunately, the pants and shirt still fit – black slacks and a beige blouse).

I was there for an office position where, if I had gotten the job, I would be responsible for handling customers, answering questions about the software, and editing the surveys (it was a survey company. Not exactly my first choice, but I was impressed with what the company aimed to do – forge a bridge between college students and the faculty/staff that affect their education).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I could feel the vomit building its way back up my intestines. Hell, I could taste the stomach acid burning in the back of my throat.

I swallowed it back as a woman guided me inside. The main work area was small but open. No cubicles. I was deposited into a glass conference room off to the side, and left alone.

Someone had once told me that employers will leave potential employees alone for a few extra moments just to psych them out. With this in mind, I tried focusing my thoughts on anything other than my nerves.

First I tapped my fingers along the counter top, marveling at how small I was in comparison to the bulky, tall table. I wished there was a telephone book or two to prop me up.

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I would be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile.

READ PART 2 Tomorrow Evening

Can A Parent Be Too Supportive?


By sendmeonmyway101

My dad graduated from University when I was eight. I can still remember being crowded into stadium seating for what felt like four hours, watching parades of people I’d never seen before crossing the stage, all dressed in bulky black robes and looking like penguins from our nose-bleed seats.

He was hired in October of that same year. By Michael’s birthday in November, our family had packed up and moved halfway across state. Kyle and I were already in elementary school. Kyle prospered in our new school, but it took me much longer to adjust. This new school expected more of students than our previous school, and I had a difficult time keeping up during my first few years. Since then I have only reflected on how that move affected me, and I never thought to ask what was going through my dad’s head at the time.

Following my first failed interview, my dad and I sat down and talked about his own experience post-college.

He was a chemistry major in a time before chemistry was a cool thing (i.e., before forensic-fueled shows like CSI came onto the scene). He had also been out of his mother’s home for close to nine years. He was independent, in a rather non-competitive market, and he had a wife and children to support. Bills were piling up, and the job that he had wouldn’t do much good once student loans hit. He had a reason to find a job.

I told my dad about the questions the interviewers asked, and the answers I gave (and then I told him about the better answers I had come up with on my drive back home). He told me about the four interviews he had prior to being hired, and how he had bombed his first with poor answers; how he had been promised a job on his second, only to have the company declare bankruptcy before he could get started; and how he had been unable to impress a key member during his third interview. But he learned from each interview, and by the time he landed his fourth, he was ready for them.

After telling me all this, my dad said, “You watch any newborn first learning to walk, and they fall down, and they fall down, and they fall down. But they have the natural instinct to keep trying until they’re successful. Every person has that natural instinct, but somewhere along the way life beats it out of them. The thing that you have to do is find that drive that you had as an infant.”

It’s great advice, and it does make me feel less harried about the whole job thing (which I suppose was his intention). But at the same time I’m afraid he’s too supportive. He had a family to maintain post-graduation. I live at home, and living at home isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I suppose I’m afraid that knowing I have such a soft cushion to fall back on will hinder my interest in job hunting. I don’t have the same motivation that he had. His advice, which would be brilliant if I was in the same spot he’d been in at my age, only reminds me that failure is OK.

It is, but failure is really only OK if you learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Any infant keeps trying to walk because they’re motivated to get somewhere on their own. I have a roof over my head, my bills are paid, I get paid for doing housework (something that I quickly realized I love to do), and I have freelance activities to keep my mind occupied. The only goal I’ve held my whole life that has motivated me is graduating from college. Without that, how do I figure out what to do next?

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