Tag Archives: advice

Sage Advice for Young Writers and Bloggers

Renee of Life in the Boomer Lane is a former hula hoop champion and a writer that keeps a hilarious blog, one of those blogs vampire blogs wish they could suck dry. Recently I asked her to write something for Snotting Black on the advice she would give to a 23-year-old wanting to be a writer or a blogger. She graciously agreed and sent me a really beautiful piece that I found touching, informative, and jealousy-inducing because of its depth and wittiness. May it invoke similarly complicated responses in all of you.

I’m not worthy.

Sage Advice for Young Writers and Bloggers

The first thing I did when Emily asked me to guest write a post for her blog was to be amazed that anyone would want to take such a risk.  The second was to look at the topic: what I would tell a 23-year-old who wanted to be a writer or a blogger.  I did a quick calculation and discovered that in the intervening decades between age 23 and where I am now, I have lost approximately  239 lbs and gained approximately 259. My hair has changed color and style 41 times, and my bra size has gone from 34B to 34D. My shoe size and hat size have remained constant, but my height has decreased by 1.5 inches.  Two husbands appeared, but not at the same time. Small beings in my immediate vicinity have appeared, gotten larger, and eventually disappeared. One has now produced two small beings of her own, thereby assuring me that in the distant future, after I am gone, someone will look at photos of me and wonder why people looked so funny back then.

Writingwise, the decades have contained fiction and non-fiction, some self-published, some published by others.  A couple contests were won. A short story was read on NPR.  Many rejections were collected. A blog was started a little over two years ago.  None of my writing has made me famous, and very little of it has made me any money at all.  All of it seemed of value when originally written, but not all of it withstood the test of time.

So, back to the topic: What would I tell a 23-year-old now, about wanting to be a writer and/or a blogger?

The good news is that you are coming of age at a time in which anyone has easy access to self-publishing.  The bad news is that you are coming of age at a time in which anyone has easy access to self-publishing.  Chances are overwhelming that the only way you will see your work in print will be because you put it there, not because you are discovered.  Chances are also overwhelming that you won’t get paid for what you write.  There are way too many writers out there, really good writers, happily giving their words away.

Most people who are currently successful in publishing are online.  Print magazine subscriptions are plummeting, while Huff/Post is thriving.  The Kindle has passed the vibrator as the #1 sex toy for women.  So throw out your dildos, and whatever you do, do it online.

Just because you have a passion to write doesn’t mean that the world is waiting for your words. They are too busy stockpiling water for the Armageddon or watching Bachelor Pad 2 or standing in line for the next iPhone.  Whether you have a publisher or not, the only person who will market your book is you. If you don’t create a demand for your book, there will be none.

The easiest way for a literary agent to assess the quality of your work is to ignore it.  Literary agencies throw unread manuscripts into large boxes and anyone who has time on their hands can take free reading home.  Few people do. If you want someone to actually read what you submit, you are going to have to be very creative and very diligent. In other words, you are going to have to do more than send out query letters.

Like book writing, people aren’t waiting for your blog posts, either. Building up a blog readership can be ridiculously time consuming, and, just when you are patting yourself on the back over having 1000 followers, you discover someone who has 10,000 or 100,000 followers and they aren’t famous, either.

Freshly Pressed is like a one night stand.  A hot one night stand, yes.  A one night stand that will make you shriek and rock you to your toes and back again. But it won’t last longer than that.  You won’t be able to take it home to introduce it to your parents.  It might ask you out again for more one night stands, but on subsequent romps, no matter how spectacular, some part of you will know the deal.  You will know that in the morning, you’ll be alone again, and Freshly Pressed will be gone, off to fondle another blogger.

The bottom line is that you won’t listen to any of this because you really, really believe in the depths of your soul that you have what it takes to be a writer.  You believe that what you write will be the next Big Thing.  You believe that the world will take a texting break in order to read what you have written.  And thank goodness for that.  Because after the marriage and the mortgage and the mayhem of child rearing, you might set the writing aside, in favor of more pedestrian pursuits.  And that would be a shame.  Because you might have been the one to beat the system.

P.S. from Snotting Black: Isn’t she great? Visit her blog! Give her a high-five!

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Say No to the Egg Sandwich

Note: it did not look this good

I have recently tired of my daily falafel sandwich, and have taken to eating the mediocre and overpriced sandwiches from the cafeteria on campus. The main interesting feature about them is that they are cold, whereas the falafel sandwich was hot. This provides me with the variety that spices my life. It doesn’t matter which one you pick, they all essentially taste the same and the meatless ones all cost the same.

Unfortunately, one of these sandwiches provided me with an experience that left me with a valuable lesson and the answer to one of the more important questions of life, that question being:

Should I eat this thing that looks like an egg sandwich the day before I’m going camping?

The answer is no. You should not eat that thing that looks like an egg sandwich the day before you go camping. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons why:

1. Regardless of where you are in the world, mayonnaise is essentially a petri dish, a fertile and suitable growing environment for all kinds of bacteria.

2. Even in the states, egg salad is at least 50% mayonnaise. Overseas, this percentage jumps to 70-80%.

3. People seem to believe that an egg sandwich, as a finished product, can be left anywhere for an unlimited amount of time and will not go bad: the backseat in a hot car, on the picnic blanket in the sun, or outside the cafeteria in Cairo. This is patently not true

4. The incredibly mushy texture of the sandwich indicates that the contents of said treat have been pressed together for no small length of time. To someone slightly less hungry with a firmer grasp of common sense, this would be what is referred to as a “bad sign.”

5. The bizarre sweet flavor of the sandwich, and the fact that even after consuming it I wasn’t sure whether or not it had egg in it, also indicate that it was either spoiled or never fit for human consumption in the first place.

At any rate, as a result of said “egg” sandwich, I’ve been subject to one of the most thorough purification treatments I’ve ever had, something rich European ladies would pay thousands for I’m sure.

And the best part of all is that I feel better enough now to go camping! Wish me luck and see you on Tuesday, probably!

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