Don't Box Me In Bro

I was facetiming with my seven-year-old nephew the other night. We were talking about the show he had just performed after a few weeks in theater camp, a thing I found particularly fun because I, too, was a theater kid. But he’s seven, so after a few minutes, he was kind of done talking about it. So I asked “What else is going on?” and he said, “Well… actually, is The Mr there, because I want to talk about a videogame.”

Me: I mean, yeah, he’s right here, but… you know I like videogames, too, right?

Him: Really??!?

Me: Yeah, dude! I play videogames all the time!

He was so pleasantly surprised that it was almost concerning, but also, I’m used to this reaction. From him it was because I’m a girl, and I don’t really think this is anything that has been necessarily said to him, as much as he just happens to be a part of a family in which only the boys are into videogames. I don’t think anyone actually said “Hey, kid, only boys do this,” but that’s all he’s known. And to his and his family’s credit, it’s not like he argued with me when I was like “girls can like video games too, you know?” Instead he thought about it and was like “Huh, I guess…. cool! So lemme tell you about War Robots. I’m a level 23!”

But most other times that I get the shocked reaction is because I’m a bookworm who works in a bookstore and therefore couldn’t possibly and absolutely should not be into video games. No way. There’s no way that I could simultaneously value the written word and the pixelated, silly world of games. NO! BECAUSE BOOKS! BOOKS ARE THE ONLY PURE FORM OF STORYTELLING. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.

Guess what, I also watch some reality tv.


And I like folk music and classic rock and punk and even some heavy metal and yet I also played classical cello and french horn for 9 years.

I’m a writer and a bookworm who barely graduated high school by the skin of my teeth.

I am so much more than the one thing some people want me to be and I have multiple interests.

And I’m sure you are too, aren’t you?

Let’s all be like a surprise lady in a cake and bust out of our spongey, frosting-covered prisons! Tell me all of your contradictions in the comments.


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.

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.

Sure, why not?

Freelance writing is a weird thing.

I currently freelance through the website Fiverr, which has its ups and downs. On the one hand, you can find tons of jobs. On the other hand, tons of jobs can also find you and sometimes you get asked to write really strange things. Things you have not said you were qualified to write about.

One of my most popular gigs is simply “uplifting and humorous content,” and through this gig I have been hired to write a series of educational youtube scripts about microbiomes and gut bacteria (which I’m pretty sure never saw the light of day, but hey, I got paid), a blog post about a woman whose husband lit his dinner on fire, an article about why free-range hens make the best eggs for an omelette restaurant, and a 4,000 word article about “the soul of metal working from past to present.”

Every time one of these weird gigs dealing with a subject about which I know literally nothing comes my way, I am filled with a small feeling of dread.

How can I make gut bacteria funny?

What the heck does he mean by “the soul of metalwork?”

Are people seriously still questioning whether or not free-range eggs are a good thing?

But then I dive in, maybe have a small panic attack along the way, and get to work…. and weirdly, it starts to become fun. For those bacteria videos, I essentially went to science class every week, took a bunch of notes (way more about poop than I anticipated, which always makes for great comedy), and then wrote a funny essay about what I learned. And I ended up working for that guy for, like, 7 weeks. It was awesome.

And for this metalworking gig I’m working on now, I’m discovering this whole entire new-to-me world of people who make our world way prettier with metal by hitting it with a hammer or spraying it with fire. It’s insane.

Of course, not every gig pushes me completely out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I get gigs where I get to write about books or my dogs, but most of the time it’s these kinds of jobs.

One day, I hope to be able to get more of my own ideas pitched and published in proper magazines, but until then, I’m enjoying pushing myself further and further with my writing. Without these gigs I doubt I would have ever written about these subjects, and now I’m not so scared of saying “yes” when people ask. It’s a nice feeling.

I guess the point is that we don’t know what we don’t know, but what I do know is that I can at least try to figure it out. I never thought I’d be writing bacterial comedy, but if I had said “sorry, not my area of expertise,” I’d be a lot poorer and know a lot less about what’s happening in my own body.

So thanks, weird Fiverr gigs. Keep ‘em coming.

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'.

Let's talk about goals, baby. Let's talk about you and me.

Happy New Year, friends! I know today is just another day and that nothing is really all that different from yesterday, but it's hard not to get swept up in the optimism of a new year, isn't it? Twice a year (January 1st and my birthday), I am reminded to check back in with myself and see how I'm doing goal-wise. Am I where I want to be? Am I going where I want to go? What about my life needs tweaking?

This morning, The Mr and I sat down and we talked about what we'd like to make a point of changing. What are our financial goals, our geographical goals, our lifestyle goals, are we ever going to own a bouncy castle and do we even want one anymore (obviously the answer was yes). I made writing goals and reading goals and, of course, blogging goals.

I want to grow this audience and take myself and this blog even more seriously this year. Whoa. That sounded grown up. Are you uncomfortable? I'm uncomfortable.

LET'S. NOT. PANIC.

I'm not saying that I'm about to start throwing my philosophies at you all the time or that I'm going to stop being a complete fool: that is never an option.

All I'm saying is that I really want to see where we can take this thing.

The whole point of this blog is to share all of my embarrassing stories and ridiculousness not just to make you laugh, but to also help maybe a handful of people out there realize that they are not alone. We are all idiots, and as long as no one is getting hurt, that's not a bad thing. Our foolishness is what makes us learn, it's what ensures that we are still curious and full of wonder. It keeps us human. It keeps us all awkwardly alive and pleasantly peculiar.

So here's to a brand new year. I hope you'll join me in my adventure to keep the awkwardness alive. I encourage you to comment more on posts and share them with your friends - not just because it helps this blog (of course it does), but because I want to get to know you and your loved ones better. And because I can't do this without you.

Let's make 2018 the most awkwardly wonderful year yet.


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.

Congratulations: You Make Me Sick.

Something strange is happening to me... I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach. A metaphorical one, obviously. I didn't swallow one the of the dog's rope toys or anything, don't worry. It was more a general feeling of dread, doom, and overall anxiety.

And I didn't know why.

Normally when I wake up like this it's one of four reasons:

  1. I've done something terrible to someone, i.e. I ate all of The Mr's cookies or I forgot a birthday or  I remembered a birthday and then got that person a flock of opossums and I am only just now realizing how bad of an idea that was because my mother hates rodents.
  2. Someone has done something terrible to me, i.e. Someone stole all of my opossums.
  3. Something terrible has happened in general: Hello, 2017.
  4. My psychic powers have finally kicked in and something terrible is about to happen. This one is weirdly exciting and terrifying all at once.

But nothing out of the ordinary had happened this morning. (Except maybe option 4?) I don't even have a flock of opossums, so theoretically, they were all accounted for. The Mr was fine. I was fine. Everyone I knew was fine.

And that's when it dawned on me: I hadn't written in two weeks. Barely a word. I haven't even journaled.

I've never been one of those people who needs to write in order to live fully or whatever. At least, I didn't think I was, but maybe I am. All that I know is that I'm in a writing rut lately. Maybe it's because it's the height of the holiday shopping season and I work retail as my full-time day job and I'm coming home exhausted.

Actually yeah, that's probably it. I'm tired and it's the holidays and I spend a lot of time telling people what to buy for distant relatives they barely know and trying to explain that books are not for boys or girls because they are not operated by our genitals and if that's how you're reading then you're doing it wrong, but you're also really talented and I have A LOT of questions.

Either way, this isn't really a real blog post and I don't know where this is going, but I'm tired and I miss you, dear readers, so I just wanted to say hello and that I'm here and apparently not writing to you all makes my stomach turn.

I hope you're flattered.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

 

via GIPHY

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.

 

via GIPHY

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.


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.