Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Completely Gratuitous: I’m getting old. And I don’t like it.

October 26, 2009

I don’t like having my picture taken.

I actually hate it.

In childhood, it was because I had a serious overbite from ten years of thumb-sucking and a gap between my two front teeth that you could drive a car through.

And for some reason, my natural smile is wide. Super wide. I smile with reckless abandon. Like I’m really really overjoyed that your camera is in my face.

Even though I’m not.

So when I get a request for a photo to be placed on the contributor’s page of a magazine, I panic.

I’ve always pored over the contributor’s page of every magazine I could get my hands on. Everyone always looks so fashionable, so with-it and happening. They all have amazing bios and their photos are always perfect: a family shot with adorable cherubs, a glam shot taken by a professional, a care-free picture that looks like it was taken by a lover.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I think all writers stress over submitting these pictures. We take a million of them right at our computer, trying hard to make it look like we didn’t take the picture just for the magazine. Here’s me right now:

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Out and About: Dear Kym

October 22, 2009

Dear Kym:

Remember a few weeks ago, when you assigned me a travel story to [Insert Midwestern City Here]. And remember I called you  halfway through the trip because I was about to go off on one of the PR reps who told me that a baseball game was “not optional” and I had to go even though I had been up since 6 AM and I was dead tired and willing to walk back to the hotel alone?

I didn’t have much fun on that trip.

Now don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate that I’m in your Rolodex when travel stories come up. I’m not a travel writer, per se. But at least three times a year, you send me somewhere fun to cover travel for your section. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

Have I ever told you that?

There was Paris. Anguilla. Barbados. The list goes on.

And it’s because of you, dear Kym, that I get to go on these wonderful (read: free) trips and eat great food and have a getaway from the stresses of everyday life.

But the reason for this letter, my dear Kym, is to inform you about my most recent trip.

I write to you from Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place I have never been.

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Poetry Sundays with Stacia: Poetry for Hire’s a Pain.

September 27, 2009

A month ago, I stood up in front of my seat at a banquet table, fumbling with two folded pages I’d concealed in my purse, and began to read my aunt a tribute poem at her semi-formal birthday party. She was shocked and so was I.

It was the first time anyone had heard me read an original poem publicly in about six years. It was the first time I’d written a poem for someone, without being asked, in nine years.

Afterward, there was the typical surprised, but positive response:

“I heard you were a writer, but I didn’t know you could write like that!”

“That was beautiful!”

“You really captured her personality!”

I smiled graciously, offering a single, deprecating nod and a sincere, “Thank you.” Then I thought to myself, “I won’t be doing this again for a while….”

It isn’t that I mind reading poetry aloud, now that I’ve decided to resume writing it. It’s the writing on commission or in tribute that presents a bit of a problem. I’ve always found writing poetry for hire (or by special request) to be a bit schmaltzy. When someone asks me to write for a wedding, a funeral, a baby christening, a family reunion, or a birthday party, spontaneity is sapped from the experience and all that’s left is obligation and a list of mannerisms and personality traits to describe in eight or fewer stanzas.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Having a creative skill that other people admire is an honor, and being able to write something sentimentally resonant for friends, family, or strangers is nothing to sneeze at.

But seeing my work printed in an event program or hearing it read by a member of a wedding party or listening to myself read it semi-impassively for a paycheck just makes me feel like a mascot. And I always wonder if the people listening think the free verse I’ve written is any different than poetry made entirely of rhyming couplets or those acrostics we used to write in elementary school.

A is for awkward.

There’s also something a little artificial about writing for people you don’t know well. You wonder if you’ve worked in all the information their loved ones wanted to you to mention. You worry that you haven’t captured their essence accurately or thoroughly enough. It can be stressful and disheartening. It’s never fun.

Fortunately, writing for my aunt’s party was another story. It came as a complete surprise to her and no one knew I’d worked on it. So there was no pressure, no expectation. No one hoping it would rhyme and no one wishing it sounded more like the poem I wrote for their relative two years ago.

Are you the go-to poet in your social world? Have you experienced my angst? I’d love to hear about it.

And if you’d like to read Stacia’s poem for her aunt… please do.

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Ugh. Part Two.

September 14, 2009

Still writing.

Still editing.

My hair is oily.

My face is breaking out.

I haven’t had a sensible meal in three weeks. Neither has Tog.

The dog’s peeing all over the house because he’s not getting enough exercise.

My TWA is linty.

I have 42 voicemails that I haven’t heard.

My cell phone is about to get disconnected.

My emails are overflowing. And unanswered.

I have 54 Facebook Friend Requests.

When I drop Tog off at daycare she asks, “who picking me up? Gramma? Dadddy?”

I read my edits in one hand while I’m rocking her to sleep at night with the other.

I have to go over the final manuscriipt of Frank Lucas’ Original Gangsta by the 17th.

And I shill for Yummy’s on a daily basis and provide weekly reports on our progress.

Until my world makes sense…

-A

Ugh.

September 8, 2009

I’m petro.

Scared stiff.

Deadline for handing in edited draft for No Tea For The Fever has now officially passed.

I’m not done.

I need to get done.

I’m very very happy with the progress I’m making. I open my laptop, fall into this frothy world with these flawed men and women and have a ball.

Alas, I must buckle down for real. And get it done and handed in to my editor.

So, I’ll be back.

In the meantime, Haftime will be tweaking the design of the site, (right, Haf?), The Ombudsman will be patiently waiting for me to get back to blogging so I can be ripped apart for talking about my dog too much. We’ve got a great entry for Tech Support and two cute Fashion Friday entries with Little Miss Brown. And fun with poetry with Stacia Brown.

But until my edits are done, au revoir.

Oh. If you see me on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr, do me a favor and send me a reply in all caps that says: ALIYA GET BACK TO YOUR EDITS! NOW!

Thanks.