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What’s The Weirdest Place You’ve Gotten Some Writing Done?

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Don’t know about you, but one of my “surf the ‘net, find pretty pictures, save to Pinterest for ‘one day’ application” rabbit holes is searching out writing and creating workspaces.

I find it fascinating to see where people work, whether they are big-name famous artists or everyday folks toiling away at their NaNoWriMo self-published vampire fanfic (that could pay off big one day…) Aesthetically and practically.

So when I saw: This Woman Wrote Her Novel At A Tire Store And Now They Are Her Biggest Fans, I obviously had to click through.

There is no crazy hook here, or bait-and-switch. This woman took her car in to get serviced, and found such a motivated jam in the visitor waiting area (with free wifi and coffee and donuts) that she started asking family and friends if she could take theirvehicles in. Just to get more time in a sweet spot she had found.

Eventually, the tire store made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Can any of you say that you are a Writer-in-Residence for a tire company AND a published author?

Maybe you just haven’t found your perfect place to write yet; surrounded by the right people who will support you tirelessly. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

I Think You’re A Pretty Good Writer…But Do You?

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I watched an interesting conversation unfold on Twitter a few weeks ago, after Roxanne Gay retweeted a status from Kima Jones, where they were talking about how frustrating it is as an editor to tell people you want to work with them and have them “aww-shucks” their replies, decorated with insecurity.

Now Gay and Jones are two women of colour in publishing who have talked  very publicly about how much of their career has been spent being told “no.” So I did what I normally don’t do in situations like this, and I clicked through to read the replies and comments.

This isn’t about women or women of colour in the publishing industry (cause holy hell, that’s a deep rabbit hole to tumble down).

It’s about what you are doing wrong when you send submissions and pitches to editors.

Cause hooooo-doggies, is this one a frustration for me.

For those of you who have more sense and time, and didn’t click through on the link, it was Jones basically saying, “If someone gives you the opportunity, says they want you to write for them or proceed with a submission—BELIEVE THEM. Cause I don’t have time or energy to be your editorial spirit and life guide.”

I get it. I really get it.

It’s hard to put your writing (and, as an extension, yourself) out there for a publication or website to approve or reject.

When it is your own site or Medium or similar, there’s absolutely apprehension; but at the end of the day, you can publish whatever you want to post.

If you are working with an editor or publication or content manager or website, that’s hella scary!

The temptation is there to seek the positive reinforcement and nurture from an editor to soothe your anxiety and fear.

That’s not what they are there for.

Sure, as editors, part of our job is holding a writer’s hand and gently shoving nudging them through the publishing process.

When you tell us that you aren’t sure you are good enough, need to ask 27 zillion tiny clarifications before even getting started, and question our expertise and skill in choosing you in the first place…it makes editors…angry.

The backlash on the thread was surprising, to say the least. I didn’t really think her comments were all that harsh, but apparently a lot of people feel it is part of an editor’s job to foster a writer’s confidence.

A good editor will do that for you.

But it definitely isn’t their job. Their job is to find great writing and get it published.

If they can build you up along the way, that is awesome. Yet it isn’t a guarantee.

Go out there, pitch your face off, land great gigs, and know that you are good enough to do it.

Berry Pavlova

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I was supposed to make a berry pavlova for my family for Christmas dinner this past year.

Basically, this is a wondrous meringue and berry dessert (pudding, shout out for our UK folks!) that I make with a whisky whipped cream.

Funny thing with meringue is, you can’t rush it. Seems like the easiest dish in the world, whip egg whites and sugar together for a really frickin’ long time, savour the goodness after it bakes. But if you don’t whip the egg whites long enough, the meringue isn’t firm enough to hold up, and turns into a skating rink of possibly edible goo.

Last time I made it, I hand whipped the egg whites, which meant it definitely didn’t get firm enough for a wreath, but somehow made it to sheet form for our last pub quiz of the year (and my going away night.)

This time, I thought the luxury of an electric whisk would make it easier.

Boy, was I wrong.

I started spooning the meringue, and realized it was firm enough. But I was in a rush, so I poured it onto a sheet, hoping it would at least hold up. Most of my sister’s baking sheets don’t have sides, so the mix dripped and dropped off the side like a sticky waterfall. I messily transferred the parchment to the smaller baking sheet with sides.

After baking the meringue for an hour and leaving it in the over for an hour, I took it out, and went to flip the sheet to cover it with Scottish whisky whipped cream, an attempt to keep a small piece of the plans I had to be in Scotland for the holidays alive and happy. But the meringue had not set, and we could not peel the baking paper off.

I looked at my sister and tossed it in the trash, angrily with frustration. She put her arm around my should and told me “It’s ok. Sometimes, when I’m baking, I want something to turn out one way, and it just doesn’t work out the way I planned. You can always make another.”

For anyone who read my 2017 annual review post, this was the second time in 2017 I collapsed on my sister sobbing. “That’s been my entire 2017!”

Needless to say, this article, which has been going like hotcakes in the newsfeeds and shares this week, definitely resonated with me. Probably because it combines writing and the widely popular show about British people baking.

I’m always really interested in articles that take every day experiences and teach us about writing and creativity through their lessons.

It makes the breakdowns in kitchens over spilled milk and soggy meringues a little more bearable.

My 2018 Word of the Year

After spending a lot of time in 2017 (re)building and exploring my warmer-fuzzier side, I figured in 2018 I needed to be a bit more aggressive again.

But not in a way that negates everything I learned over the past twelve months.

That’s always a danger in setting goals and intentions at the beginning of a new year.

We spend hours — days — weeks reflecting on and reviewing our past year in December, and then in January we sit down to plot brand new plans and focus.

Yet how often do we stop to think about how we are applying the lessons of the past to our hopes for the future?

As I thought about what I want 2018 to look like, and what I need to do to make that happen, I didn’t want to lose the vulnerability that I worked so hard to claim.

But maybe with a little less (ok, a lot less) time curled into a fetal position.

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