Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, October 27, 2008

Something not so wicked this way comes

Some very interesting stuff is swirling about, and I can do nothing but sit back and wonder "Is this all really happening to me?"

It's not important really what it is that's swirling about, but I can't help but be amazed at how my life has undergone a complete 180 in a relatively short amount of time.

I simply can't imagine my life ever again going the same way it was going before August of this year. To think that I did nothing most days but sit at home, read books and blogs, and dream of making things happen for myself without actually working at it... it's like I'm looking at a stranger's past.

Nowadays, it takes me weeks, if not months to finish a hard to put down book (this is something I'm not very happy about). Leisurely and last-minute lunches with friends are memories impossible to make happen again before Thanksgiving, and I barely have time to sit down and watch a movie, little else review and analyze it enough to merit writing about it.

This is all good, of course, so no complaints here. I prefer having a schedule full with things that enhance my career and knowledge to sitting around and just dreaming of doing the same thing I'm actually doing.

I am so thankful for the opportunity, or opportunities really that have sprung from the simple act of registering for one class, and meeting all the people I've met along the way. Nothing beats having people doing the same thing you're doing around to eliminate feelings of failure and hopelessness. I know it sounds so drastic, this way of putting it, but writing is truly a lonely profession. To have people on your writing journey(s), is to have premium gas put in your car.

And that's all I've got to say about that... other than keep it comin'!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There's no need to fear! The rough deadline is here!

Yesterday was another production day for paper, and issue three was the goal. The same amount of people were in the office, myself and the designer, and the same amount of pages needed to be filled. Something was different, however.

Where for the last issue we faltered, we came out with flying colors this time, thanks to a little something I instated-- the rough deadline. I e-mailed, and e-mailed some more, and nagged and nagged some more, all to actual avail. Everyone that turned in their stuff, turned it in on time and close to perfect, thanks to this rough deadline of mine. Moreover, this time around I had not one, but TWO copy editors doing what I was doing last time, all on Tuesday, all by myself.

The rough deadline afforded me two production days, which should've been the case from the beginning. Monday I was able to plow through four pages completely, leaving just three and a tiny bit left on Tuesday. The designer and I were done by 4:30, and I was home before 6.

Quite a change from last production day when I barely got home before 10, and as a result wasn't able to get the paper out on Wednesday. Nothing stinks more than putting forth a huge effort to get something done only to find out that your efforts were not only stupid, but pointless.

So, I'm still learning. There are still glitches, for sure. But at least I know how to get what I want from the staff, and if I don't, he who shall not turn in his/her work on time shall suffer, not me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fictionally moving forward

Late last night I checked my e-mail. After I deleted a bunch of junk, my eyes got completely fixed on one e-mail. The word "Editor" in the address it came from was an indicator that this wasn't junk, even though AOL flagged it as questionable. My eyes then moved to the subject, and I got further assurance that this wasn't some trick by spammers who happened to figure out what makes me tick-- it was the title of a short story I had sent out a number of days ago.

Opening the e-mail, I expected either a rejection, or a big fat "YES, WE'LL PUBLISH YOUR STORY!" So, I opened the e-mail and found that it was neither. What I found was a request to send the manuscript for a short story I had apparently just queried this online publication about.

For those who don't know, queries are usually sent in without a manuscript attached. Instead, they are just a "I have this idea/manuscript I think you might like. Just say the word, and I'll send it to you," kind of thing.

Some publications go to great lengths to make sure they are not swamped with unwanted manuscripts, and ask for query letters.

As in the case of this online publication that wanted me to send my manuscript in, they ask that you download and fill out a "Query Form," which asks for a basic synopsis of your work. I find that it makes things easier, really. That way, you don't have to agonize over writing a query letter, and know exactly what they want you to tell them. I like that.

So, the e-mail I received had very detailed instructions about format, font size, font type and where my name, address and other information should go on the manuscript. I followed the instructions, got my manuscript ready to go, and within seconds, had sent it in.

Now I must wait and see if what I promised in the query form has been delivered in the eyes of this particular editor. *SIGH*

Having said all that, I truly am excited. I just wish that I had gotten the answer, instead of just an OK to send my work in. Wait wait wait. It's all a writer can do once the writing process (which entails more than just writing) is done.

In the meantime, I'm moving forward. I've been mulling over an idea for a story the last few weeks, and I feel ready to start writing it. It should be easy to find a publication where this particular story I've got in mind will fit, because though it is fiction, it is inspired by actual, very bizarre events. It is nothing that happened to me, but I'm so intrigued, my imagination has created vivid images I can draw a good, solid story from.

The idea of writing about this thing is recent, but I have been intrigued by it for months. It was last year, I believe, that this thing intrigued me and now I'm putting it to good use by writing what I hope will be an interesting story.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm resting

Today, I chose to just stay home and communicate via e-mail regarding matters concerning the paper. Boy, what a difference rest makes.

For the last couple of weeks, I've pretty much spent every weekday, except Friday, on campus. It was necessary last week, seeing as how it was a production week, and my physical presence was crucial. This week, and all upcoming non-production weeks, are going to be for relaxation. It is going to be a time for me to gather my thoughts, rejuvenate, and most important, focus on my class.

My class has been suffering through my adventures with the paper, and I think I've struck a balance, finally, that will keep me on track with my plan to only rush to campus on non-class days during production weeks.

It's amazing. My first run in college, I was working part-time, going to school full-time, writing for the school paper (a weekly paper), and even had a full-blown social life. All this and I rarely felt tired or stressed enough to need "me" time. Then again, I was 17 when I started college, and graduated just before I turned 23. I was still fresh, and sharp enough to not really need a planner. I kept a planner, but I rarely needed it enough to tell me what I needed to be doing. I just kept going, going and going some more.

This time around, which isn't even really a second run in college, but more of me trying my hand at taking an independent writing career-enhancing class-- has been hard. I need "me" time, I stress, I forget things to necessitate not only writing them down, but to also have reminders and I feel tired enough to have my fatigue manifest itself in physical form.

I really don't know how I did all I did in college, but I know that it is something to look back and feel glad I was able to do at some point in my life.

For now, I must learn to take it easy, focus and only push myself far enough for a challenge. A challenge should be hard, NOT not humanly possible.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Issue two is a success

Issue two of the Arapahoe Free Press came out today. It was better than issue one, but wasn't devoid of mistakes... pretty darned close, though. We made the advisor super proud, and he gave each one of us thumbs up for our work. I'm proud, but want issue three to be better.

I suppose the biggest, most blatant mistake was bad planning for production day, which was Tuesday. The designer and myself were in the office working on issue two until after 9 p.m. that night, and as a result, the paper didn't get printed and delivered to us until Thursday. I was very upset about this, given that I was working my butt off until after 9, but I find that getting upset about things doesn't change them. All I can do is plan production day better, and get stuff done earlier.

For issue three, I've implemented what I've dubbed a "rough" deadline. Writers are to turn in rough drafts of their articles the Wednesday before the final deadline, which is Monday. I hope that by knowing what everybody is doing by Wednesday, we'll be able to start plugging stuff into the layout by Monday, and have production day, Tuesday, just be last minute touches to the paper.

This also will hopefully eliminate the need for anyone to stay in the office late enough to need an escort to get them to their car.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A reflection

Today marks the first day of Eid al-Fitr-- the big feast following the month of Ramadan. Last year I did a sort of reflection on the past month, and this year, I will do the same.

This year's Ramadan was a mixed bag.

On the one hand most days I didn't even notice I was fasting. I think I was either too busy to think about it, or was doing a good job of replenishing the night before. People were eating in front of me and bringing food in to the newspaper meetings to share, but none of it even fazed me. I felt strong, empowered and able to do anything.

On the other hand I had a very difficult month. Having just come out of a long absence from set schedules and dealing with the world on a daily basis, I was still getting used to my new life and schedule when Ramadan came along. I was already having trouble, but with fasting it just got way too difficult to concentrate on certain things. Plus, things happened at the newspaper that stressed me out, and that would do anybody in, whether fasting or not.

Also making things difficult this Ramadan was me being too tired to perform the spiritual rites of this month. Reading the Koran took a hit this year, which I'm very bummed about, though I did pray, or did tarawih, each night, which counts as reading the Koran, but still... it's just not the same.

Now, I'm gonna have to get used to breakfast again, along with lunch and everything else that I don't do during Ramadan. It's nice to have things go back to normal, but I don't feel like I did enough this year. Next year I plan to manage my time better and do everything right, inshalla (God willing).

Happy Eid al-Fitr