Home stretch

One more week until I can rejoin society again! (and go back to my regular sleep schedule…)

Not much new to report on since last time. Novel is going well – I ended up writing just enough extra to get myself a full day ahead. I’m really hoping I don’t have to take advantage of that this week, but it’s there if I have to.  This week is going to be weird anyway because I pulled the short straw to work Thanksgiving (please, everyone, hold your murders and house fires), but even if I hadn’t, my gramma is coming out from Washington, and she’s one of those people who expects everyone to stop what they’re doing for the week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that doesn’t mean Black Friday shopping because if it is, I’m not going. Family is nice and all, but I would rather spend the day writing by myself and almost passing out donating blood than standing in line for three hours to buy one thing.

Current count: 38,614

Halfway point

So about that regular posting during NaNoWrimo… I guess 200 extra words every day was too much.

Anyway, things are going well. Today is the halfway point (25,000 words), and I’m at 26,163 today because today was productive and yesterday I spent way too many words on a fruit tray. I’ve only had two days when my daily word count hasn’t been at least the minimum, but I’ve always written enough to be on top of the overall minimum, and I’ve been shooting for 2,000 a day to cover days where I have a lot of stuff going on or when I’m severely lacking motivation or an idea. The rest of the month is a little worrisome because I’ve only made it to 27,000 in the past and that was only once, plus I’m working on a very basic outline because I passed the previous attempts with this story a long time ago. Write-ins and making writing buddies with other members of CT:East have definitely helped with morale and production.

Work has been going well too. Election Night went a lot more smoothly than I had expected, mostly because I had my story half-written ahead of time and my town’s counting was quick and painless (no recounts, no machine problems). Stories have been fun as well; check out the professional page for an up-to-date list because the paper’s website only lists the 10 most recent. And even though I drew the short straw for working on Thanksgiving (the girl who was me before me was originally scheduled and it was either that or rescheduling Christmas at four different houses on Dec. 25), that will be a nice paycheck.

Only 23,837 words to go!

Going mobile

It’s now officially November, which means it gets dark out before we eat dinner and I’ll be spending the rest of my free time furiously clacking away on my keyboard for NaNoWriMo.

I went to a kick-off for the CT East group in Glastonbury and drove up with a friend I met on the region page. I brought pan de muerto to share, and I was under the impression that it was a meet and greet with snacks and such, but everyone else decided it was a write-in at the last minute, so I was stuck with a skinny notebook and my phone for writing. I managed to get my minimum word count done at the library on my phone, but there’s only so much work you want to do when you only have two fingers to type with rather than ten. Fortunately, I spared a potential disaster by not bringing my laptop: I spilled my tea all over my workspace and my lap, so if I had been on my computer, it would’ve gotten soaked, as would my phone since the tea hit my right leg and my phone goes in that pocket. So yay?

Overall, Take #3 (#4? #5?) is going well so far – between the obligatory midnight segment, writing at the write-in on my phone, and finishing the first chapter at home tonight, I have 2,451 words (though that number changes depending on which software you ask, so I’m going with the lowest number). The minimum daily word count is 1,667, but my goal is 2k a day because even though I’m hoping to get some writing done in the morning before I go to work, I have rehearsal on Wednesday nights and don’t get home til after 9:30, so I won’t get much nighttime writing done on those nights. Plus things happen like family events, and Thanksgiving will not be forgiving because I’m back home this year and we have family coming out to visit.

So we’ll see how things go, and hopefully I’ll remember to post to keep non-Twitterites in the loop.

The end is near

And by that I mean the end of my free time and eventually my sanity because it’s that time of year again: NaNoWriMo. Officially it doesn’t start for another week, but any good planner has been working on prepping their story for months (or in one case in the CT East forums, several years). I’d like to think of myself as a planner because I’ve seen multiple times that jumping in last minute has not served me well, but honestly I’m kind of a combo planner/pantser, so we’ll see how it goes. This will be my fifth year trying it and fourth time attempting this particular story idea, and I’m hoping that work won’t be as much like school in sucking the fun out of writing. (And yes, I do realize that I am a journalist by trade and writing is all I do.) I even quit Facebook for October and November to help combat procrastination. More updates on NaNo fun times once it actually starts.

Oh, and loans are coming due soon, so I guess you can also say that it’s the end of my savings account as we know it. Hooray student debt!

In the meantime, work has been going well, and I’m hoping to get to the CT Renaissance Faire this weekend because I’ve never been and there’s a Halloween thing tomorrow night.

Back-to-school update

There are lots of things that I have missed out on while working 58 hours a week this summer, and posting is one of them. Fortunately that means I have a lot to provide updates on.

First, that interview I mentioned last time I posted. I ended up getting the position, but unfortunately with my student loans being as absurd as they are, I wouldn’t’ve been able to afford to make the move without picking up a second job. It really hurt having to turn that down because I know that part of the post-graduation experience is to be broke. And admittedly, part of me was ready to make that choice because I would’ve been closer to my boyfriend and Ithaca. But I couldn’t justify shooting myself in the financial foot.

It was probably about 5 or 10 minutes after I called my was-to-be editor to turn down the position because I couldn’t afford to move when I got a call from one of the editors for the local paper (the one I deliver for). I had almost forgotten about that application because I did it during the school year and it was at least a month later, but we set up an interview and that went pretty well. What followed was a two-month game of interview/phone tag: my schedule was a perpetual mess, then one of the editors I was supposed to interview with was sick, then he went on vacation, then the editor who called me first went on vacation, and finally I got the call two weeks ago that they accepted me. Pay scale was both more than the other place and more than what I was making at the computer place, and because it’s the local paper, I could stay at home while I got myself situated. And it meant I could drop the paper route; at first it was because I might be put on the reporter rotation and therefore have to work nights every once in a while, but honestly I deserve to sleep on a normal schedule.

So that’s where we are now. This morning was my last day delivering the papers (it was supposed to be Friday, but my manager made me stay a few extra days to train the new guy and I had to fight not to work tomorrow before my first day on the new job). Tomorrow, I start my position as the assistant to the community editor, which means that I help the editor who first called me (who happened to be a customer on my route) to produce a series of small hyperlocal weekly papers that are sent out in the mail. From what I understand, it’ll be a combination of editing and writing, plus I may have a part-time town beat as well. More info on that once I get it.

As for non-job things, I got another axolotl. For anyone who missed out on the drama from January, I rented out my boy axolotl, Chalchi, for breeding purposes, and while he made it there ok, he did not make it back. The breeder was going to give me half the eggs, but since I had too many other things to worry about, I told him that I just wanted a baby once I came home for the summer. It still doesn’t have an official name: I was going to continue with the Aztec tradition and name it Tonaca because Tonacatecuhtli is the Aztec god of food, Chalchi loved food, and the mom was named Burrito. In the meantime, my sister’s friend decided it was going to be called Chewy Jr. (she couldn’t remember Chalchi and Xochi so she called them Salty and Chewy, and even though the baby is technically Salty Jr., Chewy Jr. stuck). I’ve just been calling it the little one or the baby.

little one

I decided to get a yellow one because Chalchi was green, Xochi is black, and the pink ones kind of scare me.

In other fun news, our pool exploded at the beginning of the month because the inside rusted just enough without us knowing and the side just blew out. No one was in it at the time, thank goodness, but our yard and driveway was filled with rocks from around the pool, and my dog got caught in the wave and got soaked. The following weekend was our annual family picnic, which mostly involved people asking what I was doing, me saying I had no idea, eating smoked meat, and having to go to bed early like a loser because I had to do the route the next morning. The weekend after that I got to give my boyfriend the grand Connecticut tour because he’s barely left the state of New York, plus we hadn’t seen each other since graduation. I tell you what, trampoline parks are a lot of fun, but we were easily the oldest jumpers there and by far the sweatiest. An hour on a trampoline is a workout. And last Monday was my birthday, so we did a few days of sporadic birthday dinners and snacks and whatnot; I’m a little old for a party, plus I only have two friends in-state and again I was confined by my 7pm bedtime. I bought myself a cheap used student viola because I was corrupted by my strings class last semester and wanted to have something constructive to do in my newfound spare time.

The next adventure will be figuring out this whole professional journalism thing and hopefully getting a new(er) car at some point because I have one winter of snow driving under my belt and my car is old enough to drive itself. And who knows, maybe I’ll commit to NaNoWriMo in the coming weeks if I can come up with a decent idea.

Credit where it’s due

I probably can’t do enough justice for THREAD last week, but it was a blast and definitely worth going. The speakers were great (including our local NPR station’s Saturday afternoon lineup of Glynn Washington from Snap Judgement and Catherine Burns from The Moth), my workshop mentor and fellow group members were awesome, and I got to help eat the most ginormous crepe I’ve ever seen.

As if eating lunch with two prominent Middle Eastern journalists wasn't mind blowing enough.

As if eating lunch with two prominent Middle Eastern journalists wasn’t mind blowing enough.

Oh, and sleeping in was as nice as I was hoping… when my paper customers weren’t calling me at 5:30am to tell me that I (meaning my sub) didn’t deliver their papers on time/at all. As a journalism person, I totally respect and appreciate that people want to read their paper in the morning, but I’m pretty sure it’s not worth calling me at 5:30 in the morning when the slip of paper that had my phone number on it also said that I was at a conference from the 8th through the 10th. The one redeeming part about that debacle was that one of my customers who had called to say the paper wasn’t delivered correctly (she’s wheelchair-bound and needs to have it thrown right in front of the porch door) asked me about my conference the next time she called.

I also managed to get an interview on Friday, which is almost unheard of for me. Fortunately the editors were forgiving and didn’t make me drive 6 hours to do it in person, but technology didn’t want to cooperate, which forced us into a Skype/Google Hangouts/phone interview. I was also given a surprise writing test (my prompt was that one of the editors interviewing me died and I had to ask the two of them questions as various characters to get a quick story). Unfortunately I couldn’t touch it until about an hour before it was “due” because of my Friday sessions with Modern Notion (it was about 3pm and I still had two pieces to finish before 6), but somehow I managed 375 words. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I’m a hellaciously slow writer. The application is still being considered, but I’m sure I’ll post about whatever happens since this is the farthest I’ve ever been in the journalism job hunt.


Post-graduation funemployment

Somehow taking only 15 credits resulted in me having less time and fewer things to post about. Nevertheless, my final semester is over, graduation is done, I only had a meltdown on the day I left Ithaca, and now I’m home… which leads us to the “funemployment” thing.

Admittedly, I didn’t make up the word but rather borrowed it from a fellow journo classmate on Facebook who, like most of the rest of the department, now has a relevant job. I guess I also shouldn’t use the term in reference to my current situation because I am neither unemployed nor having fun. Forty-two journalism job applications later, I’m still working IT for the defense contractor at home, plus my internship editor wanted me to take on another day in addition to my Fridays, and then because I have no social life when I’m home, I decided it would be a great idea to pick up a paper route. For those of you counting at home, that’s 3 days doing IT, 2 days doing actual journalismy things, and 18 hours a week waking up at 3am and delivering 200+ newspapers for a grand total of 58 hours a week. So no, it’s not really “funemployment.”

However, because I like the word so much as well as sarcasm, it’ll be the theme for this summer while I send out more applications and try to get a job in my field. My goal from here on out is one application a week and trying to stay local, but by the end of the summer, I’m just going to pull out all the stops and apply anywhere and everywhere (which I’m starting to do now but on a smaller scale). I’ll add a counter at the bottom of each upcoming post to keep track of how many places I’ve applied to since graduating, since the 42 I submitted beforehand are probably duds.

In lighter news, I get to flex my journalistic muscles this coming week at Yale’s THREAD gathering, which is a cross between a conference, a workshop, and just hanging out with other narrative journalists and talking about storytelling. I’m pretty excited, not only because it means I get a 3-day reprieve from waking up at 3am but also because I really enjoyed my narrative journalism class last semester and want to get more involved with this kind of writing. I submitted the piece I wrote for that class (available here), and as much as workshopping makes me nervous, this will be a really valuable experience to get feedback and advice from industry professionals. Fingers crossed it goes well.