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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Business of Writing

It is good to have a mediation decided in your favor-- especially after, despite your best efforts to resolve it gracefully, the debate got hairy.
It is also good to send invoices.
It is also good to realize that cul-de-sac efforts sometimes best pay off after a brief respite.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing the Perenial Question: What's the Point of All This?

It's so easy to continue plugging away at my journalistic efforts— when they're paying off. That is, when people are responding to my repeated phone calls and emails; when editors are responding to, accepting, paying for and publishing my work.
Then there are days in which my work seems done in a vacuum. No one responds to repeated attempts at communication, the money doesn't hit my bank account in a timely fashion, an editor belittles me.
Then it's just nice to crawl into the books I'm writing.
At least in theory. My work is going so poorly at the moment that I would rather crawl into a bed, never to be heard from again. It surely doesn't seem that the editorial world would care much. Those are the times it's good to get away from all work. Pushing against the tide is useless as reading in the dark.
Today has been somewhat improved. I've received two callbacks from sources across the country and my focus has been stellar, without harming myself with overdetermination.
We'll see what the future holds for me. It's hard for me to understand how this works. How can one feel unequivocally that she's meant to do something yet have virtually everything try to disprove her?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Completing the writing

Upon finishing two articles today I underwent short waves of emotion. The emotion first came to mind as postpartum depression. However, as I explained it to a friend who asked why I was humdrum, I thought perhaps it was more like the empty nest syndrome. The articles are finished, after all. I cannot change them now that they're in the hands of editors. I've sent the pieces off to the world. They'll be handled and paid and printed in magazines and online.
Does anyone else have this experience?
The only other one I've noticed like this is the article that won't go away. A former editor used to liken those to lovers who you wanted to kick out of your house.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The happy, healthy writer

Tis physically healthy to start the day with even a simple breakfast.
Tis psychologically healthy to take breaks from writing and interview.
Tis professionally beneficial to leave space between interviews.
Tis spiritually delicious to cook a fish and veggie dinner for your Daddy.
Tis emotionally undergirding to talk to one of your best friends for a couple of hours.
Tis Romantically healthy to entertain your almost long-lost cousin for the weekend.
Then it's good to shut off from social media, from information gathering, from expectations, from a forthcoming alarm.
Writing never stops; Sometimes the speed bumps are a welcome reprieve.
This is a moment of gratitude.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Good Day of Writing, Architecture, Construction and Urbanism

The day can't be bad when you start with three interviews on your calendar. All three are for different journalistic pieces I've sold. One is architecture, another is urban design, and the third is on construction safety for an energy company. Diversification requires focus!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rant about Architecture Journalism in the US

How thrilling to see the things I've discovered or learned more deeply about writing becoming habit. Yes, it is grand to be able to begin a piece in the middle of a sentence or paragraph I left at during the previous session. Yes, it's effortless to continue writing for more than an hour without looking at the clock. Yes, it's possible for me to sustain a long-term project. I can also mix writing styles and lengths, including blogs, journalistic pieces of varying lengths, and two books.
All this is fine and good, but if it doesn't bring in more bacon my words aren't worth the cyber space this is written on.
Show me the GD money!
Admittedly it's nice to have just sold four articles to magazines I write for in Hong Kong. But it would be nicer if the magazines who've accepted my work in the US and the UK would continue. It would also be nice if the designers I contact would recognize good publicity when they bloody see it. (Yes, this has turned into more of a rant than a semi-literary post.)
I wish I could completely forgo the desire to recommence writing for publications in the US. I wish I could forget about goals and having a decent bloody income in the US. I wish I could sell at least one out of every three bloody pitches in the US. I'm tired of exerting this much effort when nothing comes back to me. If the only publications who consider my work worth buying are those in other countries why should I remain here, why should I have such patriotism, why should I bother to think so highly of US publications? By now means am I the best writer alive or even the best writer I'll ever be. But for gracious sake I know I can write as well as anyone I've read for the past four months.
This period has also given me a desire to diversify and alter some of my angles. Please, God, just don't tell me I've wasted this many years of striving and praying and ruining myself financially and almost physically for a goal I can never reach: to make my living by being a self-sufficient journalist and author.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Writing: Back to Architecture Journalism, Blogging, and Books

Finally to be far enough along with the transfer of content between the PC and my new Mac! It's now possible to commence on weekly blogging for an Indian client and for this very blog, and, even better, to be back at work upon my own two books.
Three pitches complete today and one article accepted on Chicago-based internationally renown architect Jeanne Gang. Momentarily it'll be back to writing up a sample chapter on a simple yet exceptionally informative book on US architecture. Specifically I'll be churning out the content on Art Deco, Art Moderne, Art Nouveau, Craftsman, and others.
The trip to Peru is approaching at least, too. I'll be leaving as of 5 June for six months.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Approach to Writing Shows Improvement: Non-Fiction

When I started writing the travel book a few months ago I approached it in hourly increments. Today when I go at it, I don't even measure the time; if I'm sitting to write, at least an hour will float by without my awareness.
Combined with the depth of my recent work and the simple longevity of the projects-- from longer journalism pieces to books-- this past few months has shown growth I'm happy for. Ironically, it's also a time when I'm first being paid to blog professionally. Those pieces are only 200 words.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writing: the Short and the Long of Nonfiction Forms

The past week has seen a shift in my writing. I no longer wish to write pretty little 800-word stories about pretty little houses. I wish for more depth. I have for a while, though I've lacked the concentration for it. Or, as my favorite grad school professor used to tell me, I lacked the focus.
Even my reading has changed. Today, whether reading The Atlantic Monthly or a David Rakoff book, I see structure. It occurs to me that I got mired in the details of writing up until now, and now I see the forest rather than those pesky individual trees. Hopefully this difference in reading and writing could be construed as a sign of maturity. That same professor did frequently say, 'No one takes you seriously until you're forty.' I'm only three years before that.
Today I have the focus and concentration and desire to write a book. I began my first book in January, and lat week I started my second book. They're on vastly different topics and each will take a while to complete. But gracious what a difference it makes to find a structure. It begins with an idea, blooms with an outline, and blossoms with the focus of filling in the pieces between. This structure allows for my concentration and focus.
(So does staying off Twitter and Facebook, the purpose of both I only scarcely and only periodically find. Insert your own commentary here about the brevity of these outlets versus the longevity of outlets such as full-length books.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ding Dong! Bin Laden's Dead: Where Were You When?

What was I doing when I learned Bin laden had been killed? Reading an email to prepare for my trip to Peru. Sort of.
I was indeed reading emails in the few minutes I had after breakfast and before being cabbed to Dayton's Public Health Center. A message from the Mumbai ACS (American Consulate Services) sat in my personal email inbox. This isn't a common occurrance. In fact, since having signed up for any terror or health warnings (or whathaveyou) with the ACS when replacing my stolen passport in Mumbai last year, I've been impressed not only with the professional verbiage and tone but also the failure of the ACS messages to raise panic. Typically the messages warn against visiting certain parts of India (such as the neighborhood of Kashmir and the border of Pakistan) for disease outbreaks or potential terror threats. Having steered clear of these areas both times in India I've never been concerned, though I do like to read them, especially if I'm traveling within the country. This time, however, the message line was all in caps: WORLD WIDE TRAVEL ALERT. It was at this time I realized the value of the emails' tone, tenor, register. It occurred to me that perhaps I should look at this. Why would my Mumbai ACS email contain a worldwide alert? They're not riot inciters. I opened it to read this:
'The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan... This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011.'
My interest piqued and I turned on MSNBC, barely thinking of how it might impact next month's departure to Peru. There it was, clear as day: Bin laden was dead. I admit my eyes did well up but not enough to actually fall down my cheeks. What a boon! Almost as soon, however, I realized that this really didn't mean much. I recall where I was when Hussein was captured. I remember where I was when the Towers were bombed. None of this country's self-professed accomplished missions will end terrorism.
I then shifted my attention to the tasks at hand: preparing for my PHD round of immunizations. On today's menu was a first of three shots for hepatitis B, one for typhoid (my previous typhoid immunization wears off next month; nothing like timing, eh?), another shot for hepatitis A, and finally one for yellow fever. Melissa, the administrator of these injections was quick and relatively painless. I kept her laughing, which somehow takes the pressure off my loathe of shots. Stick stick stick. The thin needles pinched my bicep fast as lightning. By the time she was finished and I pulled my blouse back on, the pain she'd said I could take Advil for had crept into my arms. I kept fanning them around as she'd suggested, but it's three hours later and now the pain's grown to a thud. It's also exhausting. She didn't warn me about that. I've got so much writing to do it's difficult to fathom not sitting here for another four hours as I did yesterday. If I continue to write, however, I might start writing drugged out stuff about Bin laden, who's dead. I'll worry, for right now, about finishing this blog, placing my next hep B shot on my calendar, and being tankful that it was under Obama's watch that the US could claim the demise of the world's leading terrorist. It's not likely I'll forget by accidentally falling asleep where I was when the news came around.