Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017.

I've never really been a big sucker for New Years resolutions. I've always regarded them with a sort of jaded wariness. New Years' resolutions seem to have radioactive half-lives, faded to burnished partial promises within days.

But with the quietly momentous year that 2017 has been for me, I think it's apt that for once, I truly, vividly celebrate the end of the year and welcome the new one.

In 2017 I

tumbled through changes faster than I'd ever expected. participated in my first march, clutching my homemade sign and yelling, demanding to be written into history for upholding the values I held dear. got into a dream college that I never had dared to hope for.  celebrated the end of high school properly, earrings glistening and smiles beaming through the vermillion spring youth of college declarations; prom; high school graduation. moved states. missed the scorching, humid summers of the Midwest and my spirit city with the ache of losing a place that had shaped me; my heart; curved around my tongue with its strong Chicago accent. learned to make a new home of the west coast; fell into In-n-Out and Birkenstocks and beautiful craggy beaches. began college. read beautiful books. met wonderful new friends and relished old ones. left and returned to writing. started a new writing project that scared me, that I challenged me to my core, that I almost gave up on time and time again, only to return to more inspired and more enamored. realized that love fails not always to oblivion but to make way for new, richer love.

In 2018 I vow to be more patient. to be kinder to myself as the scars from years ago fade completely. to understand what I want; to embrace what makes myself and not reject it. to reach out to others and surround myself with the people that dazzle me and challenge me and whom I feel at home with. to appreciate the ones I love. to finish this damn first draft, because it's been four years since I've finished the first draft of a new project. to be patient. to be patient. to be patient (and follow the Junot Diaz quote, heavily paraphrased, "people tell you to hurry but art tells you to be patient. always listen to the art"). to learn how to do my brows. and to learn; infinitely, uninhibited.

this blog is now five years old. wow. I was thirteen, five years ago. I was truly a baby when this whole endeavor started, wasn't I?

and finally, because this seems to be a thing now: a song?


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Chapter One Young Writer's Conference Blog Tour: Interview with Katelyn Pettit



Hi! Welcome to my installment of the Chapter One Young Writer's Conference 2017 Blog Tour!

One of the things I get most excited about in my writing endeavors is this magical thing called the Chapter One Young Writer's Conference (Ch1Con for short), an annual national writing conference organized by and for young writers ages eleven to twenty-three. This year, the conference is going to be held on Saturday, August 5th in downtown Chicago! We're bringing a fantastic panel of speakers and mentors from all across the publishing/writing field, from New York Times Bestselling author Kody Keplinger (whose debut novel she published as a teen, DUFF, is now a movie!) to literary agent extraordinaire Brent Taylor, and I'm honestly so pumped.

What's equally incredible, though, is the Ch1Con team I get to work with every year--a group of motivated, kick-butt, and incredibly passionate young writers. Today, I get the absolute honor of interviewing our inimitable transition consultant, Katelyn Pettit!

A Quick Bio: Katelyn knows everything there is to know about non-profits, so she’s leading the initiative over the next couple years to transition Chapter One Events, LLC to an NPO. She recently graduated with honors from Oakland University, where she received her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She has previously interned at Dzanc Publishing, worked as a freelance editor, and studied Medieval Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and is currently working at the Detroit Zoo where she is heading several creative projects, including writing scripts for a worldwide conference and exhibition that will take place early next year. When she isn’t forgetting to update her blog (*ehem, oops*) she can be found curled up in her bed watching Korean dramas (who knew they were so entertaining?!) or at Target where she spends way too much money.

How did you first get involved with Chapter One Conference? 

Well, I went to high school with Julia (the conference founder) and she invited me to attend multiple times but I was either busy or unsure it was for me. That was a stupid thought to think, come to find out, because everyone who runs the conference is super nice and fun, and I get to spend an entire day with like-minded young writers!!! I first attended Ch1Con in 2016, which is the same year I jumped on board as the non-profit coordinator. I loved every second of my time with Ch1Con and I just knew I wanted to be involved somehow :)

How has your experience with Chapter One Conference fit in with your journey as a writer and as a part of the writing community? 

Unlike a lot of the young writers who attend ch1con, I had a significantly smaller amount of peer interaction. Particularly in high school, I had convinced myself that writing was a completely solo, "me, myself, and I" type activity. It was only later in life (when I took my first couple of creative writing classes in college) that I realized this wasn't true. In fact, having a support system of other writers is incredibly helpful. Ch1Con helped me broaden my mind to this fact even more. Honestly, if I could go back in time and give my baby writer self some advice, I think it would be to reach out in the writing community. Ch1Con is a great way to do this!

What's your favorite part of the Chapter One Conference experience? 

I feel like for me this is a bit of a hard question to answer because 1) I attended for the first time last year, and 2) I'm on the oldest age range of the spectrum, so I think my take away is pretty dramatically different from some of our younger attendees. That being said, I think my favorite part of last year's conference (and one of the main reasons I love Ch1Con so much) was seeing all of the potential in the room. When a bunch of young writers are gathered together like that, talking about mutual interests, tips, and struggles, the atmosphere is incredibly exciting. Honestly, you end the day thinking, "okay, how can I best write the book in my head in the next hour?" The amount of inspiration is truly unbelievable.

What's the next book on your TBR list right now? What was the last great book you read?  

I will be the first person to admit that I am really slow on the uptake when it comes to the newest best reads out there. For example, several months ago I read A Monster Calls for the first time, and it was amazing! I have also been on a large non-fiction kick lately, reading stories of folklore and mythologies from countries around the world. My next TBR are Six of Crows and Truthwitch. So, yeah, again I am a bit late coming to those parties :)

What's your advice to younger writers who are just starting out? 

My best advice to young writers would be not to hold yourself to high or unrealistic standards. How many people are published by the age of twenty? Hardly any! It's honestly very rare, and it is certainly not what qualifies someone as a good writer. Hell, some of the most popular authors of our time (JRR Martin, JK Rowling) didn't publish their first books until later in life (my bad if that is an untrue fact, but I'm pretty positive those two are good examples). Write what you love because you love it. You will find much more enjoyment in your craft and what may seem like intimidating tasks become enjoyable challenges when you love what you do.

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Katelyn! Stay tuned with the rest of this blog tour! :)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Starting Anew

Hi, blog.

It's been a while since I'd shared my thoughts on here. I don't quite know how to explain it--

Well, let's start with 2016.

Though not without its highlights, 2016 was, for the most part, a spectacular mess. I remember scrolling through newsfeeds and panicking about the horrors going on in Syria. I remember hearing news about Orlando and sitting in the car, numb with shock and thinking, one more reason to not be who I am. I remember spending hot, sweltering summer days making phone calls and handing out flyers for the woman I believed should be president, only to spend November 9th sobbing with classmates as we saw a man who spewed bigoted views get elected to our highest political office.

Personally, 2016 found me in a state I'd never been in before. I was stuck in a state of fear and anxiety. Words were hard to put on the page, and the constant background hum of characters and plots and pages to write had ceased. Having unreservedly charged through things for much of my earlier life, always building a presence for myself, always trying to give myself a platform to stand on, I shrank back this past year. Doubt reigned, and in addition to very personal losses in my family, there was always, always this cynical fear in the back of my head; fear that I wasn't doing anything productive, fear that I was taking risks that would never pan out.

Then, this November, I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

For two hours, I sat in a movie theater, truly spellbound, seeing the magic I'd loved as a child play out before my eyes again. I gasped at the resplendent colors and characters of Newt's briefcase; I adored the novelty of the story.

I watched J.K. Rowling's beautiful world she'd created, thinking that despite everything, there was still magic in this world.

The fear receded. I started watching more movies and reaching out more to others. I girded up my political activism; I called representatives and donated and vowed to fight for what I believe in for the next four years. I read Maggie Stiefvater's wonderful post about choosing to be the hero of your story. And I chose to write again, realizing that, like Elizabeth Gilbert had said in one of her TED talks, the desire to create superseded my fear of failure.

Slowly, I'm finding my way back the thing I love to do. I'm finding my way back to the caffeine-fueled adrenaline of NaNoWriMo, to the home of crinkled pages and the click of keys against the muggy summer rain.

Here's to hoping that 2017 is a year of intrepid beginnings and sweet resolutions, of courage and moxie and everything in between.

Oh, and how about a song? :)