I Quit!

I normally always try and find the good in things. This is not to say that I don’t have my fair share of complainer moments, of course, but when one of the things I love about writing this blog is that I never like to go negative, so as long as I keep writing for it, I generally have a pretty sunny outlook on life.

In my last blog post I wrote all about how much I loved freelancing.

Since then I have quit freelancing.

Or rather, I’ve paused my freelancing career.

“But Emelie,” you’re maybe thinking, “You were just raving about how freelancing has been pushing you as a writer into fun a new territories, forcing you to write about things you didn’t think you’d ever want to. What changed?”

Well, my darlings, that’s just it: freelancing was pushing me to write so much about the things I didn’t want to write about that I no longer had time to write about the things I do want to write about.

I posted about this on my Patreon (thank you to all of the amazing Patrons who keep this blog running, by the way!) a few days ago, and I was telling all of them that freelancing was supposed to be another side project that could help keep this blog and my book writing afloat. Instead, it became the thing that was drowning these projects.

I was constantly cancelling plans with The Mr and our friends because I had deadlines to meet. I was freelancing through Fiverr primarily, and on there you don’t really get the option to accept or decline a job. You can request a cancellation once someone has hired you, but that will negatively affect your stats, which lowers your visibility, therefore harming your chances of getting future jobs. It kind of sucks.

But I’m fortunate to not be totally relying on that money. I work full time at the bookshop, and The Mr works full time from home, so after almost a year of stressing out over projects that were more hindering than beneficial, I decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore. I’d rather pour my energy into this blog and its Patreon page, which is how I pay for the web hosting fees and any advertising expenses, or the travel blog that The Mr and I launched last year and that we’re reviving now (please give us a follow if you like travel and dogs!).

Money is important, yes, but I’ve never wanted it to be what drives me.

So I’m turning back to my passions where I get to explore what it means to truly be awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar.

You’re about to see a lot more of me, I think, and I hope you’ll stick around and even join in on the ride.

If you’re interested in supporting the blog, please do consider visiting my Patreon and becoming an Awkward Ambassador. It’s $5 a month, and 10% of everything I earn goes to a charity of your choosing. If you don’t want to do that, or if $5 a month isn’t in your budget, that’s okay! The fact that you’re here, reading the words that come out of my brainspace, means the world to me.

Here’s to living the dream.

Stay weird, friends.


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 bonus content or pictures of my dogs), please click here. Thank you so much to Ellen W., Rachel P., Hanna B., Lena S., Sara O.. Leah B., Maddie G., and Grace V.


P.S. I need to give a shout out to my friend Katie who just launched her travel blog, Open Atlas. Go check her out and follow all of her adventures. She’s amazing and I promise you’ll adore everything about her.

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.

 

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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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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his 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 from me, please click here

Surround yourself with brilliance.

The other night my writing group held a reading at a local restaurant to honor the memory of a long-time member who recently passed away and to honor the work and life of one of the founding members who is moving away shortly. It was all very sad and very humbling, but also incredibly uplifting and joyous. This writing group, The No Name Writing Group, has been meeting for over thirty years and is more talented than most of its members care to admit or realize. I half-joke a lot about how I'm waiting for them to realize how much of a fraud I am and kick me out. It's not because I don't think I'm a good writer, I think I can put words together just fine, but when I hear their work every month it's hard not to think that I don't belong.

But then I realized something: I'm becoming a better writer every day and it's because of this group. I actually don't think of myself as a complete hack anymore and it's because of this group - and it's not because they are constantly telling me I'm brilliant (although they do try and remind me of it when I need it most), but it's because they are brilliant and I think that it's finally rubbing off on me to some extent.

So this is what I'm here to really say:

  1. Don't surround yourself with people you think you're just as good as, or better than. If you really want to get better at what you do, surround yourself with people who blow your freaking mind.
  2. When you find those people who manage to make you say "Crap, I've got some work to do," make sure that they're people who will love and support you as you work on your projects. There's nothing worse than a brilliant jerk, and they should be avoided as much as possible.

And finally, I want to share the work of some of these brilliant people with you. Please go and read their stuff and bookmark it and tell them how much you love them.

Davyne Verstandig: http://www.davyneverstandig.com/

Karen LaFleur: http://www.lafleurartworks.com/

Merima Trako: http://www.worldaccordingtoblam.com/

This amazing short story by Tom Lagasse: https://www.femininecollective.com/beyond-the-finish-line/

And Tom's website, too!: www.tomlagasse.com

(They don't all have websites, but if I'm missing any, I'll update this list as I go!)

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.