Hello, Vulnerability? My name is Emelie. Please don't hurt me?

So if you read my last post, you know that I just finished a round of edits on my novel and this is where a new phase of scary begins: I need beta readers. 

Here's what you need to know: 

The book is a contemporary YA novel about four teenagers set in small town USA. Here is a quick little synopsis:

Zak is Sara's best friend and he's always told her that he would do anything for her. When Sara starts behaving strangely, however, Zak is forced to team up with her other friends Lucy and Dean to figure out what the hell is going on with the person that they all claim to care about more than anything in the world. 

He said would do anything for her, but Zak is about to learn how dangerous some promises can be to keep. 

If you read YA and you're interested in beta reading this very imperfect manuscript for me, please click on this link to apply:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd1ZWwWwDQZjNe_O4n2kDS8g0raU3JMzLlYKpJSGmUiFn346A/viewform

I will be picking my Beta Readers on Friday, May 11th and I'll be keeping it to around 10 people. If I get that many applications, I will be floored. Like wow. That's 10 times more judgement than I am prepared for, but also it would be super flattering? Or you all are like "FINALLY MY CHANCE TO TELL HER HOW WORTHLESS HER WORDS ARE YAY!"

If you're not interested, that's cool too! This book is very different from what I write here on the blog, so I won't be offended if you're all "Pass. Thanks."

But think of it this way: you can tell people that you're reading an unpublished manuscript, which makes you sound very important. Just sayin'.

Mama's got a brand new blog.

Oh hello there! Notice anything... different? 

THIS BLOG GOT A MAKEOVER, FRIENDS!! 

The Mr and I have been hard at work over the past few weeks trying to revamp this baby, and I am so happy with how it turned out. We decided to move to Squarespace for a few different reasons, and man, oh man... LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS. 

The Awkward Ambassadors have really made this possible. With a little bit of money coming in toward this blog now, investing in it (more than emotionally) has been at the front of my mind, so I asked The Mr if he would use his digital skills to help make this happen and BOOM: We have a fresh new look. 

So what do you think? Take a poke around and see what's different. Tell me what you like and what you don't like. I'd love to get your feedback! 

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Ten minutes.

I'm actually writing this on Thursday, but it's being published on Friday so let's just all pretend that when I say "today," I mean "Friday" because that reality is easier for all of us to accept. Or maybe it's just me that cares. Either way, I'm using today to be lazily productive. Most of my writing days fall into this category because I never really get dressed or shower, but I do get things done, and today is a writing day, as most "todays" are, but especially so right now because it's NaNoWriMo and like the fool that I am, I decided to participate again. I'm very behind on my wordcount, but I'm perservering because that's what the point is (for me at least), to perservere even when I know that getting to the 50k by the end of this month is possibly not going to happen, but instead I have to believe that it definitely will happen because I have to believe that future me is going to muster the motivation to put the words down even though current me is struggling.

The way that I manage it is ten minutes at a time. I sit down and I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes. Then I hit play on my laptop so that loud music is blasting and I start typing and I don't let myself stop typing until that timer goes off. As soon as that little annoying sound starts playing, I stop typing - even in the middle of a sentence -, I hit pause on the music, and I go do some other task on my to-do list (i.e. putting in another load of laundry, working on a patreon reward, taking the dogs for a walk, or arguing with the ghost in my bathroom). As soon as that task on my list is done, I do another ten minutes, and then repeat until I have finished my to-do list. I've found that it takes me ten minutes to get about 350 words out of my brain, which means that I only need to do six writing sessions to surpass my daily goal. Suddenly, it doesn't seem so bad anymore.

This method is by no means an original or universal one, but it's the one that works for me. I'm not a person who can sit down at my laptop and write from dawn until dusk. I get distracted or discouraged when I start to run out of steam and then depression and self-loathing sets in, and frankly, those are demons that I'd like to not wrestle with if I can help it (The ghost in the bathroom isn't so bad, even if its sense of humor can be gross), and I'm thinking that maybe the reason this works is that those demons need just more than ten minutes of travel time to make it to the front of my brain, but if I don't give them more than ten minutes, they miss the train and they have to wait for another one, and then I just end up never letting them catch the train and they're stuck on a platform deep in the recesses of my mind for most of the day. I'd feel bad for them if they weren't such jerks when they came around.

Anyway, I'm not sure if any of you are slogging through something this month, whether it's a wordcount or some other daunting task, but if you are, I hope you have something like my ten-minute system to make it less scary. If you do, leave a comment down below and tell me what it is, because it took me a while to find mine and maybe someone else reading this is in need of one.

 

The Titanic Was a Thing and A Movie Theater Is a Place.

I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I had a long list of perfectly good reasons not to do NaNoWriMo this year:

  • Writing/editing 1 essay a week for submissions
  • Editing two novels
  • Updating this blog twice a week
  • Keeping up with the Patreon Page
  • Working full time
  • Running a Youth Group twice a month (which requires way more planning and organization than one would think!)
  • Running a weekly teen writing workshop
  • OH and maybe some personal time to spend with The Mr, our dogs, our friends and maybe sleeping sometimes too?

See? Those are all really good reasons not to do NaNoWriMo.

And I was also feeling really comfortable with this decision. I wished all my friends who had decided to dive in good luck and told them that I was cheering them on.

But I had one friend who decided to email me. On November 1st:

Subject: NaNoWriMo

Body: I'll race you to the 50k :)

And I responded with my whole "Oh, I'm not doing NaNo this year because <see reasons above>, but good luck!"

And he was all "Hey, we all have shit to do. Here's my laundry list of reasons why I shouldn't be writing a novel this month either." And then he essentially was like "do it anyway." I'm totally paraphrasing here, but that's basically what he said.

And I was all "Even if I could, I don't have an idea! I don't even have a character in mind that I could just start following around in my brain!"

But then I talked to another friend - a friend you only talk to when you want to be talked into writing - and she gave me a pretty great idea...

So suddenly I had an idea... and a laundry list of reasons still not to write the book... that I decided to ignore. Not ignore, exactly because I'm still doing all of those things... I just decided to add to it? So now here I am, waking up every day at 5am to put words onto the vomit draft of a new novel. And one of the best things is that I've got this weird husband who was all "Alright. Let's do this." instead of being all "EMELIE WHY?" For example:

So as of this blog post on November 3rd I am 2,201 words into a strange novel. And I can't wait to see where it's headed.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Buddy me so that we can support each other.


And now, for some business:

 

I’ll be performing at this open mic night on Saturday Night (November 4th) with some really amazing people. All proceeds go to the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in New Milford, CT. If you’re able to make it, please do! I’m reading one of my most awkward pieces I’ve ever written, and everyone else will be reading really incredible stuff, so it should be a good time for us all.


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So maybe I'm not marketable. 

I've been feeling a bit low as a writer/person in the world lately, which is weird because the thing I've been feeling low about is the fact that I'm not angry all the time. I am a feminist. There's no denying it and I'm happy to say so. And I am angry about a lot of things. I just refuse to let those things make me angry all of the time. I refuse to believe that there are more bad people than there are good, and I refuse to believe that the world we live in right now is the reality we have to accept. If we start simply accepting that things are terrible, then we let the terrible things win.

It's not that I'm ignoring the terrible things. I just don't want to validate them. My goal is to give you just a small break and to remind you that there is still good out there.

I choose to believe in and acknowledge love.

But I'm not just a feminist, I'm also a writer. And while I love this blog, I'm also trying to "make it" as a writer and I'd like to be published on other websites as well. ...except that most of the websites I find that I think might be a good fit for my style are, well, only publishing angry-feminist stuff right now.

So there's a strange sense of loneliness creeping in... all because I'm refusing to be unhappy.

I turned to Bestbian today, who always knows what to say in these situations, and... well, she didn't disappoint:

I've seen a few of my writer friends falling down this rabbit hole lately. "What do the readers/publishers/editors want to see?"

But I think we all need to remember that that's not the question we need to be asking. The question we need to be asking is "What do I have to say?"

I have stories of my foolishness, my uterus, and love.

Maybe that's not marketable.

And maybe that's okay.


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And they shall call me "#Sedawson!" Wait. No.

For my birthday The Mr took me to see David Sedaris. He was performing, we didn't pay him a visit or anything. It's not like The Mr was all "Pack a picnic, darling, we're off to visit with David!" and then drove me to some grand estate with groundskeepers and things.

 

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Why are David Sedaris, The Mr, and I suddenly in a Jane Austen novel? None of this seems right... Oh duh, that's because The Mr bought tickets to go see David Sedaris speak in Massachusetts. Now things make more sense.

Clearly, I do not hang out with David Sedaris (and I believe it's pretty obvious that that won't be changing anytime soon.), but I've been a big fan of his since college when Bestbian introduced me to his work. I thought he was funny then, but now my affection for him and his work has grown from being a fan to being inspired. His ability to write an essay is frustratingly brilliant.

 

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The personal essay is something that I've been working hard at lately, and in doing so, I've been turning to his work more and more.

There's just one problem with looking to my heroes for inspiration: They always seem to be more interesting than I am.

David Sedaris seems to witness a completely different world than I do. Jenny Lawson always ends up in these ridiculous situations and conversations. After reading their work, I find myself not feeling inspired, but instead feeling inadequate.

But then David Sedaris said something in response to a question at his reading that changed things for me. A couple people asked him questions about how he got into writing memoir or if he goes out and gets himself into situations for the sake of the story and he began talking about how none of this was ever part of the plan.

"If you read my work, you'll notice that nothing big ever really happens to me," he said. "I just have to figure out how to make something out of nothing most of the time."

He also said something along the lines of how going out and doing something just so that you can write about it immediately turns that story into a lie. He writes about things that happen to him and what he thinks about those things. Staging those situations immediately takes away the truth from the story.

I couldn't stop thinking about this. For weeks prior to this reading, I had been saying to The Mr that we need to go do more interesting things and get ourselves into more interesting situations - all for the sake of having material. Of course, now I realize that this notion is completely ridiculous. I can't put myself in situations like David Sedaris' and Jenny Lawson's and expect the great, fresh material to flow out of me. The world already has David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson. They don't need a Sedaris-Lawson impersonator. (#Sedawson?)

I'm me. It's my perspective and my ideas that should be going into my work. I just need to learn to make something out of nothing.

I simply need to learn to make something out of nothing.

And maybe when I'm feeling like I can't do it or that I have nothing good to say, I'll call my good friend David for a little pick-me-up. Oh... right. I'll just think about that time I sat in an audience of a thousand people and heard some good advice.


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Some curtains and a tv.

For me, writing is a lot of sitting around not knowing what to write about. Occasionally I come home from work and know that I need to sit down and write some things, but for some reason whenever I set aside time to write, my mind goes blank when the moment arises. I stare aimlessly at my screen and realize that the worst has happened: I have nothing to say. Okay, sure, for some of you reading this you're probably thinking "Finally," but for me, the writer, it's not the greatest. In fact, for me, it's one of the most frustrating things I can go through.

Because normally my brain is very busy and full of activity.

And then on the days that I say "TODAY I SHALL WRITE MANY WORDS," my brain just goes... blank.

 

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What if I never think of something to write again? I'll say to myself. What if this is it? 

And, of course, I know deep down that's most likely not the case, but then I spiral down into the blank pit of writer's block. The giant hole of nothingness.

So I'll read a book about writing to try and get my brain going. But today, for example, the passage I read was all about how you need to focus in on the small moments in life. It's in the small things that the lessons hide and are learned.

So I look for small things. I stare around the room for a while and try and focus on objects that might conjure up some fantastic story.

I have curtains, I think. So... those are things. I have a giant tv that I wish wasn't so giant. That's also a thing, I guess.  

Turns out that my curtains and my giant tv don't really have much to say about my life. The curtains came from IKEA and the tv, well it's a tv.

And I know that the writer of this book didn't actually mean to find small "things," but instead was referring to small moments that illustrate the effects of a bigger life lesson, and I know that those small moments exist in my life, but whenever I sit down to write, they vanish.

All I have is some curtains and a tv.

This will pass. I take comfort in knowing that all writers go through this. Surely even J.K. Rowling has her off days. Heck, how long have we been waiting for the next Game of Thrones book?

The important thing is the not giving up. The perseverance to put words down anyway, even if it means writing about not being able to write about anything. After all, if I can get these words out of me, then maybe some good ones are waiting just around the corner in my brain.


This blog is able to remain ad-free because of the awesome community of Awkward Ambassadors on Patreon. If you’d like to become an Awkward Ambassador and receive special perks (like exclusive vlogs or messages from my dog), please click here.

Do you write words? I need you!

First of all, thank you for all of your well-wishes over the past week! I'm happy to say that I survived the plague and everything except for my voice is back to normal. I did an amazing Fran Drescher impression the other day and I regret not capturing it on film now.

 

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This weekend is a holiday weekend, but it's doubly special for us, because it's also Fiancé's thirty-first birthday, which we are celebrating by pretending that we live in the woods like wild people... wild people who happen to have access to grocery stores and air mattresses. We're not exactly glamping, because we're still doing the tent thing and we do have to hike to our campsite, so I'm giving us a pass with the decadent sleeping arrangements.

Anyway, all of this is to say that this isn't really a real blog post as much as it is just an update, but also... a request:

I am getting married in less than a month and I'm also going to be going on a honeymoon for two weeks! Yay!

BUT I don't want to abandon you all, soo..... I need you! Specifically, I need guest bloggers. This gig does not pay in dollars, but it pays in gratitude, and hopefully some new fans for you, so if you're interested, please email me: samuelson dot emelie at gmail dot com.

That's all for now! Tata!

 

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This makes me uncomfortable, but I'm trying a thing.

The best career advice to give to the young is, 'Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.' -Katharine Whitehorn

I have a really hard time asking for money, especially when it comes to things that I enjoy doing. For some reason, my gut instinct is to say "Sure, I'm working hard, but it's work I enjoy doing, so the work is its own reward! Why would I want to be paid for it?"

This is a stupid approach. It's really stupid considering how much I believe that you should find a job that you enjoy doing.

So... I'm accepting the fact that even though I enjoy writing funny stories and it's a lot of fun for me, it is work and it's a thing I work hard at doing, so maybe I should be able to make money doing it?

God, I'm so uncomfortable right now...

Here's the thing: This blog will always be free, and I've never been comfortable with the idea of ads or paid posts. Whenever I see advertisements anywhere, I'm annoyed. I don't want them before my videos, I don't want them in the middle of my tv shows, I don't want to see them when I'm driving on the freeway. None of it. So why would I want them on my blog?

I've thought about asking people to advertise their blogs here on my blog, but then I think to myself "Eh, I just want to list those for free because I love them, not because they paid me."

But I also think that writers should be paid. I think creative people should be paid. I am a writer and a creative person. And I work hard at what I do, but I also think that the only way I want to be rewarded for that is because people also like what I do. So... I found Patreon.

Patreon is basically a way for you to support the creative people whose work you enjoy. It's like Kickstarter, but continuous, and if you choose to support me as a writer, you'll get special perks outside of this blog - like a book recommendation from me, a cute picture of my dog thanking you personally, a live q&a session with me, or even a crocheted critter.

And if I reach my goal, I can create even more funny content for you guys. I can tell you even more funny stories, and the more funny stories I tell, the better I'll get at telling them, and together we will make this blog even better - all because of you and your support. I have big dreams to take this blog and this community further, but I can't accomplish them alone.

Now, you don't have to do this. You don't have to pay me a dime. Even if I never make any money, I'll keep writing this blog and I'll keep writing stories because it's something that I love to do, but if you think that creative types deserve to be paid for what they do, I urge you to at least consider it.

 

Are you a creative person on Patreon? Share your work and your Patreon link in the comments below because I'm not just looking to be supported, but I'm looking for more people to support!

Now go forth and do the thing!

We all need anxious puppies in our lives.

I'm in NYC today, where it is gross, rainy, and cold, but that makes for the perfect writing weather. I'm deep in the editing phase with the novel I've been working on and things are feeling good. I got some really great feedback on it and now I'm running in this new, fresh direction and making progress in a way that feels like I can actually tell people that I'm working on it. Before I used to say I was working on it and what I meant was that I was staring at it a lot. Now I actually am working on it. Yay for honesty!

In other news... Fiancé sent me this video today and it made everything instantly better than it already was. I hope it does the same for you, even if you don't have an anxious puppy.