(12/14/00 3:53:17 pm)
|How to talk about our work...|
I thought I'd bring another of Kate's suggestions to a new thread! (good ideas for threads, Kate- keep 'em coming!)
Oh, my. I seem to be getting these mixed reactions lately, too, when I tell people my little chapbook is full of poems based/inspired by fairy tales. My boyfriend only sees the connections after I explain it, some people think they're going to be frilly, lovely little dears, and others just smile in a sort of, "Well-done. And on your own, too. But I'm still not buying it." Many don't realize when I write (or do anything artistic whether performing, crafts, arts, etc) it comes from my soul, mind, heart. I found a spark and used it as I wanted. I didn't think I would actually go out and print my writing on my own so soon, but I'm happy with my accomplishment, it feels good and right to me. With poetry, especially, I've found people shrink even more. "Oh, you write poems," and they're thinking, "So small, hardly could be called writing. Writing is a novel or at least a picture book by Chris van Allsburg." (Don't get me wrong, I love his work.) I don't really fit anywhere with my very short short stories (often only one scene- I've begun calling them vignettes), poems, fairy stories that are too wordy for young children (yet the subject matter is too fairy for many adults), abstracts, etc. I just throw them all together with nice sounding words and overwhelm people until they begin to nod their heads and I begin to look smart. (Which could take a lot of talking) And as for trying to sound more resectable, not just a copy gal, I find it hard. I get the praise and support, but it sometimes seems superficial ("That's nice, but you should really look at something when drawing it. Have you submitted anything lately?" "No Dad, not yet.") and trying to do it on my own is slow. But I'm working on it.
Gee, this is sounding more like a gripe list or personal whine.
Sorry if it is. Hope this helps at least in letting others know
they aren't alone.
Edited by: Kerrie at: 12/14/00
(12/14/00 4:13:33 pm)
|Re: How to talk about our work...|
It *definitely* does. That's actually what I enjoy most about this board - the camaradarie. We all take this stuff seriously enough to devote our lives to it - I think that you got it in one when you said "heart, mind, soul" - and the gods know we're not in it for the money or prestige. Being able to share it with like-minded others provides support, and it's thin on the ground in the real world sometimes - even those who love us and want us to succeed don't quite understand what we're doing sometimes. The other night my father wanted to discuss my future with me, and said "What are you going to do for security? Folklore...don't you spell that U-N-E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-D?" (and in Russian, no less, which at least had the effect of making me feel kinda amused as well as helpless). Being able to get advice from those who'vebeen through it, or are going through it simultaneously, is, to quote some ad guy, pricelss. You're further ahead than a lot of us (than me, at any rate), and you should be really, really proud. I know that I'd love to read your work ... and I doubt I'm the only one. Thanks for introducing the new thread ... a place to drown our sorrows in sympathy. I know I'll need it when grad school responses start coming in!
(12/14/00 4:33:04 pm)
|Fathers, been there, done that, and experience ...|
My father actualy inspired me
to go into Math and science instead of drama (Pick something that
pays). With a love for the arts, dance (especially that most fairy
tale-ish form of ballet), writing, etc as well as the sciences (can
we say Muses are my patrons?) the balance between reality and fantasy,
art and science, dreams and loans gets me dizzy! He does support
me, more than I thought he would, but I think it's more of his own
"been there, done that, failed and sold out," as opposed
to succeeded, and wants to see me succeed. (He went to art school
for jewelry design, was rather abstract in that and poetry, tried
to start his own business and failed, so joined the family jewelry
business) He even is going back to art school (for illustration)
and has been promising to illustrate one of my fairy poems (but
he wants to do it in the fashion of Brian Froud's pressed fairies-
not for this poem!) I've felt so giddy since finding this board
(and especially since people want to read my writing) that It's
my top spot for each day. I feel more respected here than at work
or home (parents' and family home, not sweetie- he's great), but
I still feel a bit behind, myself. I have a BS I can't do too much
with, a BA in Humanities I didn't expect (not sure what to do with
that), too many ideas but few outlets (or at least time to use them).
I'd love to get my Masters or teach, but have low confidence and
not too much experience. Have thought about teaching Adult Ed or
one of those online courses through Barnes and Noble. Anyone have
suggestions on that (teaching with no experience)? I think the more
I discuss here on the board, the more I might feel I know enough
to do that. Who knows.
(12/14/00 6:26:03 pm)
|Muses and kindred spirits|
I was wondering about your math/science degree. I have always worried about 'security'. I'm too practical for my own good. I'm incredibly lucky in that I have many people who love me (and those whom I've just met) who greatly encourage me to take the plunge, take a chance, live my life, share my gifts and passions. To not just 'worry' about what could happen and to 'make' something happen. But like you (perhaps worse?) I have confidence issues (and I enjoy food).
I feel lucky to have met you. I believe you have alot to offer and I would jump (crawl, babble, dance, sing, spin, climb, etc) for a chance to take one of your classes!!! Please please please please please!! let me know if you opt for the online teaching.
(12/16/00 5:10:47 am)
|Parents and security|
I've been there and down that too. A word on fathers- they come around. Truly, they do. After all, parenting is a mutual learning process- keep pushing the barrier gradually, further and further, and eventually the landscape will seem quite "natural" to them (parental manipulation 101!).
I know the looks, the jibes everyone has been talking about. Frequently, I am informed (usually by middle-aged men, I notice) that my Phd means I will be a small wonder- a secretary who can spell! And I have to smile sarcastically, as if that's a terribly good joke and I've never heard it before.
The point is - it doesn't stop. No matter how far you go, it doesn't stop- I guess it's one of the "conditions" you have to accept and gradually learn to overlook or brush aside. I read a litte gambit about Margaret Atwood the other day. She was at a party and a brain surgeon came up to her and said "So you're a novelist? I'm thinking about writing a novel in my spare time." To which Atwood replied "Oh really? Well, actually I'm thinking about trying a little brain surgery in my spare time".
When it's all said and done, security is desperately over-rated. If there's something you want so badly you can't concentrate and security gives you a migraine, do it now, do it now, do it now. Life is too chancey for you to be sure of getting the opportunity again at a later date. kerrie, as everyone on this board can see, you are a talented and courageous woman- you don't need any more than that.
(12/16/00 5:59:32 am)
|Fathers come around|
Yes, Karen, my experience is they do, provided the mothers, who seem to be far more sensitive to the direction their child is going in, steps in. My mother advocated for me with my father when I enrolled as a fine arts major in painting. He wanted me to go into law, which is what he had gone into. Three years into MFA, I discovered I preferred writing to painting and switched universities as well as majors...and he was just getting used to the painting idea.
He accepts the writing now, though he hardly understands it, clinging instead to the thing he does understand: teaching. So long as I teach, he's happy, because that's a "giving back" kind of profession that he can work with.
(12/16/00 10:48:38 am)
|Gee, thanks! (this is long)|
Thanks for the kind words, everyone! (My ego is growing three sizes this day- sorry, Grinch seems to be everywhere and affecting my brain) My confidence has been growing a bit, especially since I started posting to this board, but as soon as someone from work or home steps in with, "Oh, you don't have time for that!" or "Don't you need training in order to do that?" etc, I shrink.
As for parents and support, my father seems to support me as long as I work with the pros (submit to big namers as opposed to waiting to print it myself) and my mother is happy, but seems shocked that I can do things without real training. I had to move to Boston, otherwise I wouldn't have pursued my dreams as much as I have already. I'd still be working in podiatry! (Not bad for the dancer in me, but not very conducive to creativity!)
But I've learned a lot working in publishing that I didn't think I would- like the houses are very picky about who they publish and that "conflict of interest" is something I'm having to be very cautious about. I'm still uncomfortable sharing my writing, because I'm afraid they'll say they need to have first crack at it, or that I can't do anything at all. It's scary wanting to be a writer and working in the place that can lift or crush a dream.
As for my degree, I chose Human Biology because I've loved science since 2nd grade and it sounded like it would be more "secure." Wrong. I had no wet lab experience, so I couldn't get jobs in the labs. I went to a more liberal arts school, so my classes weren't exactly pre-med. I ended up back at my summer job, the podiatrists' office, working as cleric, data entry, appointment scheduling, podiatric assitant (on site training, talk about scary!) and then was trained as a medical secretary. Because I had no family to take care of, I worked every day, all day, and was called in if someone was sick when I wasn't already there. (Even if I was in Boston- the office was in RI- they'd call!) Sounds a bit like a "secretary who can spell"-- aside from the doctors and one other woman there (in her late 50's/early 60s with a degree in Accounting and quite- well, I won't go into it), I felt out of place with a degree.
Luckily, I had balaced my love of the sciences with my love for the arts. I double minored in Literature and Theatre. I was studying Child Life (another reason I chose science- it's working with children and families in medical settings to calm fears, do medical play, etc). I took classes in almost every department. I did independent studies in writing and stress & movement. So trying to fit it all into something I could call work seemed hard, until I decided to write. Which led to the idea of self-publishing. Which led to learning more about publishing. Which led to my current job.
Now I feel more a part of the publishing world, but still yearn to add the writing side into my job description. Since it's not as developed, and scattered (like the rest of me, as seen above), the right words don't seem to come. And being a young dreamer doesn't help in a company of professionals who have been at it 15 years minimum. As I've said, this board has helped me a lot in figuring out those roles and words, or at least the path to finding them. Thank you so much!
Sorry about all the griping. But I'm glad this thread is helping
others vent a little too. It's making me really want to focus more
on writing and teaching and doing it now! WHich is scaring me. Loans,
bills, rent- I'm trying to live in two worlds and it does hurt.
(12/18/00 2:12:17 pm)
|the writing life|
I've been away from everything for about a week but I wanted to respond to your post. I fell into writing as a business almost three years ago when I took a class taught by the editor of Arizona Highways. Since then I've been writing non-fiction and have been supporting myself and my twins by doing it. My problem has been finding time to write my fiction and when I've already been writing all day -- I usually feel brain dead when it's time to work on my own projects. The way I've finally started to tackle the problem of writing things I'd rather not, is to query stories that have some -- even the tiniest bit -- of folklore or myth in them. I wrote a feature on the roadrunner, another on the coyote and a short Valentine's piece incorporating flower folklore. I'm hoping that this way I'll still be learning about topics of interest aa well as inspiring myself to write fiction. I hope to eventually make the transition to larger non-fiction projects rooted in myth and fairy tale. I think this will help with my fiction as well. These are just my own ramblings. But I think I've found that you have to incorporate the things you love into the business you're in --especially when your business is the thing you love. I know when I see my byline I get a little pinch of pride but seeing my name under the title of a cover story was nothing compared to opening Realms of Fantasy, reading Terri's Snow White article and seeing my name next to a set of quotation marks. That is the piece hanging on my office wall as a motivator. Ahhh...well... I'm off to do a piece on Ironwood Trees. I wonder how much folklore I can find on this interesting bit a desert foliage?
(12/19/00 8:41:59 am)
Carrie: I adapted that "Snow White" article published in Realms into the Introduction to Tanith Lee's strange and very dark new Snow White novel, White as Snow...so you'll see yourself quoted there too.
(12/20/00 5:12:12 pm)
|I am proud|
I rarely post, because I am intimidated by the brilliance of the contributors here, and not really trained in this field, but I love lurking and learning from all of you. This particular topic seems right up my alley, though…
Like many of you, I have always longed for my father’s approval. He is a lawyer and wanted me to do something “serious” when I went to college instead of all that flaky theater and art and creative writing I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I obliged him and got a degree in psychology. I never went on to grad school, as one must do in that field in order to support yourself though, and I have had a string of unfulfilling professional/office/management jobs since I graduated. I know my dad has been confused and perhaps even disappointed by my lack of direction and resultant lack of “success” these last seven years. All this time I have secretly worked on my own little projects – particularly writing and various crafts. I am fortunate to have the support of an amazing sweetheart, however, and bolstered by his confidence I was able to finally tell the truth about six months ago.
One night when my dad’s older sister was visiting him from Europe, we all had dinner together. She and I have a strong bond – I lived with her for a year when I was twelve- and she was curious about what I have been doing with myself. I glossed over the “real world job stuff” and began describing my play/work and my plans and hopes and dreams. I told them the basis of the story/novella I am writing, and of my desire to tell stories and perform, particularly with puppetry. I have to admit here that my aunt laughed, but in a loving way – and it didn’t really hurt – it just fueled my passion to make her understand. In the end she did. I think she said something to the effect of “You always were a strange and creative kid!” with a wink and a kiss and went off to watch the news. Everyone else started getting up to go in various directions and eventually I was left alone at the table with my dad. We sat there in silence for what felt like a long time. The giddiness I had felt when I was directing the discussion at my aunt left and I began to feel a little fear at what Dad would say after sitting so quietly through the last hours of discussion. He took a deep breath and I peeked up at him from the silverware I was arranging and re-arranging on my placemat. He said, “I’m really proud of you, Bunky.”
I could barely hear myself reply, “Thanks, Daddy.” It was the most amazing feeling I have ever had in my whole life – thirty years of waiting and now – when I haven’t really DONE anything yet – other than believe that I CAN do what I want to – I will never forget that moment. I seriously doubt that my dad has any idea how important that was to me – he might not realize he never said it before – but he will when he reads my story (a mythic fictional autobiography of what could be.) And I am more determined than ever to make my dreams work for me.
It seems to me that all of you have taken this critical step (deciding what you want and love to do) already and many/most of you are already successful, whether you realize it or not. I hope that if they haven’t already that your parents will tell you that they are proud of you – even if they haven’t said it, maybe they really are. This may sound corny – I admit, I AM really corny sometimes, but…
I am very proud of all of you.
(12/21/00 8:39:22 am)
|Re; I am Proud|
'He took a deep breath and I peeked up at him from the silverware I was arranging and re-arranging on my placemat. He said, “I’m really proud of you, Bunky.”'
It doesn't get any better than that. And puppetry is very very cool. Of course, I'm prejudiced since among other projects I'm working on a fantasy the central character of which is a shadow puppeteer.
Save a little of that pride for yourself. You've earned it.
(1/16/01 3:30:31 pm)
|How to talk about your work|
Geeez - i just read thru all the postings. A lot of angst and search for approval. Gregor said it right. Damn fine words. As a Dad, living w/o his kids, with a 21 y.o. daughter (lord, has it been that many years?) who wants to make a go of it as a grade school teacher and two little ones, 8 and 10 who are still able to see the REAL fairy tales, all I've got to say about my folks (and I hope I can live up to their standards!) is they always supported me in my pursuits, tho I never really knew it and was always searching for their approval. I have tried to encourage my kids to press on for the things that will please THEM, not me. It's odd, Stacy, after leaving home and serving 20 years in the AF, two marriages, 4 kids, and 2 degrees, I never knew that my Dad was proud of me until 2 years ago, when he told me he was, that I was able to pick myself up and start again, with an entire new life and all. I glad that your father was able to tell you sooner in your life. It makes a difference. Well, lord, I went and rambled on, too. Keep the rubber side down. And to all... a bit of the bard? "to thine own self be true..."
ThanX! all Rebel, somewhere in Germany
(1/19/01 10:12:21 am)
I saw the subject title and simply *had* to put my two cents in. I'm an English and history major at Ohio State University...who just happens to come from a family entirely populated with doctors and engineers. So, family gatherings are always very entertaining, especially when the aunts and the uncles come up and say "Oh, you're going to be a doctor just like your mother, right?"
Ah well, such is life, I suppose. Of course, now I'm infinitely scared just because I'm supposed to meet with the head of the Creative Writing department on Tuesday, bringing a writing sample, and she's promised to be "brutally blunt". ::wince::
My friend told me to bring the "Swan Lake" and "Beauty and the Beast" retellings I've done, but I'm not sure. The latter is rather long and the former desperately needs to be tweaked--I wrote it two years ago only to read "The Black Swan" by Mercedes Lackey and realise the plot had already been done.
Does this happen to anyone else? Or am I the only one?
Anyway, I'm griping, so I'll shut up.
(1/19/01 11:32:31 am)
The thing about working with fairy tales as a source material for creative writing is that *all* of it has already been done before--over and over again as each generation discovers it as a wellspring of story and image. So don't worry about that. What makes your version particular is your voice, your style of writing, and your emphasis in the narrative. It is the interpretation, or reinterpretation of known stories--not the reinventing of the stories that matters. In fact many interpretations work precisely because they ask the reader to hold in their mind the accepted version even as the author plays with the reinterpreted version.
In terms of selling a piece on the market, yeah, you have make sure that there isn't too much overlap--(five Swan Lake stories in a selling season might be too much) but these things are cyclical...and a good retelling will always find a moment in the sun once again. Hang on to your retelling of Swan Lake...if not now, maybe later you will reread it, find another possibility in it that further excites you and reintroduce it where it will be proclaimed as fresh and innovative.
As for creative writing teachers who promise to be "brutally blunt"...they should be smacked with wet fish.
(3/27/01 2:43:37 pm)
|My tiny voice... **help?**|
Oh my, life has not been going well for me...
I've just been told for the second time my contract will only be renewed for 3 months. I understand it can renew or terminate at that point, but between this and my Nana dying, it has me thinking about my line of work, heavily. I want to do what I enjoy, and that involves a strong interest in fairy tales, folklore, mythology, writing, art, etc. I realize I may, throughout my life as I am doing now, not always be able to do what I love. But I don't even know my options. I entered into publishing from the world of podiatry. My background is diversified as far as course work goes. I'm beginning to get comfy doing workshop-style presentations. I have a great passion for my interests. Any ideas, in case I end up thrown overboard? Help????
Still working on getting my email back up and running,
Edited by: Kerrie at: 3/27/01
(3/28/01 9:38:13 am)
|Re: My tiny voice... **help?**|
Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. For the past 4 years I have worked at a large chain bookstore, only to learn last week (on my birthday) that they are "dissolving my department". The company will try to find us new positions, but we have to start from scratch with the interview process. I'll have a job here until June. I have a Master's degree in English that I'm not really using, even this job hasn't paid me a living wage, and I don't know what I should do now. Actually, I'm going to try to forget about it for the weekend and drive from Michigan to Princeton for the Literary Fairy Tale conference.
Wishing you luck,
(3/29/01 10:37:29 am)
Kerrie, I too wish you good luck. You are a smart and creative person and deserve to have a vocation that fulfills you and uses your many skills to the utmost.
(4/9/01 2:24:10 pm)
|Thank you. :)|
Thank you for your kind words.
Donell, sorry to hear about your situation as well. Wish I had a Masters degree, I can't get far with my Bachelor's in Human Bio, at least not in publishing.
But things are looking up- I'm feeling better about things, about starting my own little business, about beginning to freelance (I'm attending a workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed on freelancing on my birthday- nice little present to myself), I've settled down and accepted I may have to work a little harder in the next few months to keep myself flowing down the right branch of the river, should I come to it. My father, as I mentioned earlier, has actually returned to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) for a degree/certificate in illustration and just joined a nature illustration guild while I joined SCBWI. He's been supporting me a bunch, and I think it's to help him in part follow his own dreams. He even wants to start a group for me, him, and my sister (who just graduated in Photojournalism)- I think it would be an interesting proposition, but that our ideas often clash. Who knows, maybe it would make us stronger by working together. If only I could chip a larger hole in his shell and let the dreamer leap out again!
How's everyone else doing in this department?
Kerrie / Perrina