Dusting Blog Cobwebs

Image

I suppose I haven’t blogged in a while. I suppose I haven’t done a lot of other things, either….like sleep, do my laundry, eat froyo (lies…definitely got some yesterday). I accepted a job in publishing in February, and life has been pretty busy every since. I guess I should have announced that on here at some point, but writing tons of blogs and press releases every day for others sort of sucks the fun out of doing it when you get home. Is it glamorous? Nope. Pays well? No, not really. Worth it? Definitely.

The past few months have contained a lot of firsts. First apartment, first time living in New York, first time holding a full-timer in publishing, first time living with Miss T.R. Wallace, first time having an intern, first time getting yelled at in all caps via e-mail…repeatedly, first time assembling an Ikea couch….that might be the best one. Stick figure instructions? NOT HELPFUL.

However, the bottle of wine consumed during assembly did wonders…they should really include that in the box.

The fact that this blog isn’t (and was never really) anonymous encourages me to hold my tongue about a lot of things (including some great inside scoop), but there’s plenty to be shared nonetheless.

For starters, there’s a time to state your case at work, and there’s a time to roll over. Sometimes a little nugget or misread email becomes WWIII, and it’s just not worth engaging. Don’t worry…privately, you never have to relinquish the fact that you’re still right.

Enjoy the free coffee. Drinking it will save you the $15 per-week (at LEAST) you spend at Starbuck’s or that little hipster café every morning. Stop it.

Be pleasant. It always serves you well. Until you have to be a bitch…then own it.

creative balance.

tumblr_lybb94SsUM1qga1lio1_1280

Like stories and narrative voices, writers embody different extremes. For some, the focus is the current project and the motivator is the next deadline (or, depending on your boss, the chiding voice that accompanies error). Thankfully, I never make mistakes. Kidding…no one is perfect (coming from someone who has been referred to as “impractically imperfect,” not a misquote). Anyway, there are also many writers who do not write to make a living and write purely from the soul, and then there are writers who do not write to make a living and can’t write from the soul…writers that have no soul…you get it.

Writing and editing for a living can cause you to slide into some really intellectually lazy behavior. Personally, I find myself making excuses to avoid my own creative work in favor of the goals that my employers deem immediate and relevant…and they are so convincing!

During work hours, yes! Go above and beyond! Work late and work hard, but don’t let the stress of completing an assignment for someone else translate to the neglect of your personal goals. Balance is everything. Yesterday, this is how it went down:

“I finished that article today. That was creative. That counts.” dgo asleep in food bowl

COMMENCE NAP ———>

In a later moment of clarity, I promptly “punished” myself for self-neglect with three pages of creative work. Also interesting. Shouldn’t I be rewarding myself with creative work instead of punishing myself with it? Yes, I was creative in my work for others, but whose goals were actually fulfilled?

The creative beast is a sneaky, fat, lazy animal of the subconscious when coupled with stress and sleep depravation.

I guess what I’m getting at is that while writers earn the right to make a living at what they do, it’s important to identify those moments when you might be making excuses for yourself and deviating from the challenges and goals you’ve set for yourself in your own writing and creativity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (or can’t) be creative in work for others, but don’t forget yourself in what you do.

Also, do yoga. I have to say that starting up again is making my body scream, but it’s worth it for the calm, the clarity, and literal/metaphorical balance.

Notable, Neon, No Fakers…

Last week, a group of NYU bluestockings (and a solitary gent) climbed into the Nylon brain for a sassy and straightforward Q&A with some of the magazine’s editors and directors. Surrounded by several of America’s most notable faces in print (and by some of the most creative in person), the group of us squished into a tiny conference room, awaiting the secrets hidden behind those pristine white walls.

Nylon’s ability to mix an even cocktail of smart, underground, and culturally relevant content to a youth audience makes the magazine a stand-out among competitors, and its willingness to shape shift in small ways (without jeopardizing the brand) leaves room for the unexpected while giving readers the information they’re dying to know. Nylon is all about a lot of things, but it’s not about the sex. You know, it’s just about cool people doing cool things, which is great.

Nylon doesn’t simply garner content from other media. The real secret is getting out there, going to music festivals, exploring street and runway trends, and doing it yourself. Recycling information that someone else has already covered isn’t going to make an innovative magazine, and when you find that new band or trend, you could be the one to have it first.  Less safe, more fun. The idea behind Nylon is to be “aspirational but not untouchable,” as the magazine features what you know, what you don’t know, and what you should know.

So what did the creative chemists behind the Nylon girl (and guy) have to say about breaking into the publishing industry and preserving your voice while creating editorial pieces? Deputy Editor Ellen Carpenter recommends trying to write in different voices for fun, noting especially to “always read what you write out loud – it should have a melody to it.” Executive Editor Luke Crisell quickly added “That’s your arsenal, your words. When you’re reading, write down five words you didn’t know.” To a writer developing his or her lexicon, this advice is crucial, and while there’s definitely a common thread in the Nylon voice, the collage of different writing styles, visual structure, and content truly makes this magazine a relevant staple to savor or devour.

Thanks again to Nylon for giving us the grand tour!

Scribbling at the Height of Folly

A very quirky (very brilliant) man once said, “To take my work seriously would be the height of folly.”

The bother of being serious in that mind-hand-pen-paper dynamic rattles even the most proficient writer to the point of causing doubt. In my opinion, every folly simply needs a good edit.

Rely on your instinct.

The little impressions in my daily commute on the 6 train, the moments that imprint themselves while  I’m recharging or unwinding…these are the things that leave me rooting around in the dark abyss of my purse for a pen and the back of a receipt. You have to grab them before they dissolve completely. If you don’t keep them, they were never present.

If I were truly serious, I would probably carry a notebook.

In the spirit of my folly, a pen and some luck are good enough.