Summer Update

It’s been almost a year since I’ve published something to this site, and I can say with confidence that I’ve lost (and now gained) a bit of vision in that time.

There’s something about struggling to make it day to day that makes it hard to keep a vision, much less act upon it. No excuses here, simply observation.

By writing here tonight, I’m hoping to accomplish a few things:

  1. To share with anyone who reads this what’s been happening in the professional life/vision the last year or so.
  2. To set forth reasonable goals for summer writing (aka. I’m getting back into it so any writing is a challenge at this point)
  3. To make this an active blog again. (Read: for the first time.)

So first of all, an update on my professional endeavors.

As many of my people know, I graduated from Pace University’s publishing program in December 2015, which was a relief because I was ready to get out of the classroom and into the industry. I had started looking for a full-time position in July 2015 because I was only in school part-time for my last semester, but despite application after application, nothing was giving. At the same time I was applying and studying, I sensed a tentativeness about getting into the publishing industry in the first place. Questions like “Do I have what it takes?” “Do I care enough?” “Is this what I really want?” and “What if what I want doesn’t exist?” plagued me, and pile on top of that my built-in tendency toward hesitance and insecurity, the job hunt obviously wasn’t going to go too well. There’s a difference in approach when you’re fighting for something you want and when you’re doing something just because that’s the standard of expectation. (Sidebar: part of the reason I’ve decided to commit to writing every day–more on that later- is to overcome this insecurity about my writing.)

Truth be told, by deepest desire is to do full-time work in straight-up copyediting/proofreading/story development. Working one-on-one with authors. Another side of my deepest desire is to be invested in my own writing, publishing pieces and entering contests in order to have exposure. Do I want to publish an actual book? At this point… not really. My heart remains with small publications, specifically literary magazines and such-like publishing endeavors.

I’ve been told that the way to work up to a position like that is to spend a good amount of years in the big book publishing industry, and so that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last year-ish. I had the opportunity to intern at Penguin Random House in the Digital Production department for a few months, and I learned a lot, and value the experience a great deal. But I realized something else by the end of it: I didn’t like big corporate environments. Granted, I already had a feeling this would be the case, but it was only a feeling before the internship. I was surrounded by great people, which made being there more pleasant, but I hated being sequestered off in my own cubicle. Once upon a time I thought it’d be awesome to “go to the office”… but it was simply very overwhelming for me.

When my internship ended, I had become even more hesitant about getting into big book publishing. I kept applying to jobs I found on Publisher’s Lunch and Bookjobs.com, but i felt more and more burdened with every cover letter I wrote. What I’m describing is just part of the search process, but there is more to it. I didn’t want to apply to jobs because simply because I felt like I had to. I wanted to want to apply to the jobs I applied to. Am I being picky about my employment? I had to ask myself how much of my feelings were caused by just not wanting to be in a less-than-perfect position. I also had to re-evaluate what I thought I wanted to do, seeing as editorial assistant positions no longer held any charm for me. I didn’t know what was happening to my vision for my future. It had always been very straightforward, but with almost a whole year now looking for a full-time publishing job with no luck, I was questioning whether I wanted this for real.

So, I joined the Editorial Freelancers Association, because the logical next step to me was to step out and try what I was told was extremely difficult to accomplish. Without many years in the publishing industry, contacts and networks to potential clients, how could I possibly make it as a freelance editor?? Sure, I had some experience, but it was minimal, and as of today I have had zero success on freelancing sites like Upwork and Freelancer. I thought I’d give it a shot though… after all, that’s what I ultimately wanted to do, yes?

Something still wasn’t clicking though. I felt vastly unprepared (as I should) because going freelance is starting my own business. And there’s a lot more to doing that then just deciding one day to start a business. It takes planning and strategic approach, and I was not prepared for that.

Then I found an editorial fellowship with Poets & Writers and everything suddenly fell into place. I dropped everything and hand-wrote a seven-page cover letter (for the record, this was the first time I cared enough about a cover letter that I used an real pen). In writing that letter, I realized that I desired to be connected to the writing community while also engaged in an editorial capacity; I wanted both worlds. It wasn’t until I wrote it that I realized that I felt I had to choose one or the other: writing or publishing. Plenty of people have chosen both, but for me, I felt it had to be one or the other. This position was the one that showed me that perhaps it didn’t have to be one or the other. This discovery also recalled to mind my sudden interest in creative nonfiction during my senior year of college.

I’ve been following Hippocampus Magazine for a while now, and have enjoyed a great many pieces they’ve published. I’ve had in the back of my mind that I want to submit to them, but again, the “pick one” mentality and my writer’s insecurity kept me from actually doing it.

Once I applied to the Fellowship, I started proactively looking for more literary magazines and smaller independent publications in an effort to expand my awareness of what is out there and also to begin reading more for the sake of my own writing. Come to find out, Creative Nonfiction is an amazing magazine based in my home city of Pittsburgh! (Can I hear a collective WHAT?!)

Anyways, something I’ve come to realize and accept is that maybe big book publishing isn’t for me. I’m all for (and really have always been about) the little guy–powerful things by small bodies. The ability of smaller publications to have a greater ability for flexibility and focus is very appealing to me, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m searching for something that isn’t easily found. But I do feel more focused, and as a result, I feel freer to pursue the things that make me. And that includes writing, which brings me to my next goal:

2. Set and fulfill reasonable summer writing goals

Woohoo! Writing! I feel completely unprepared to be writing again, but I’m going to do it anyway. I used to write for hours a day, uncaring of how “great” I did, or whether I struck a good idea. I just wrote. and wrote. and wrote.

I want to get to that point again, but I realize it’s going to take some work.

So here’s the goal: 300 words min. every day for the month of July; fiction or nonfiction. What I want to do is post a weekly snap of these writings to maintain some accountability, so expect to see a post at least every Friday.

As for making this an active blog again, I realize that it’s important to be present. I’m still figuring out what that means specifically for me, and even if it’s continued writing updates, I want to be posting a time or two each week. Requiring myself to post something means that I need to force myself to be out and about, reading, thinking, writing.

So here’s me saying that that’s what I’m gonna do.

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