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Links & Loves for September 2020

Here are some reads, websites, videos, and more that have given me joy and inspiration.

Links worth a click, a read, or a listen:

Will you allow underdog thinking to determine your next move? — Wanda Abney (via Creative Mornings)

“In choppy seas, it’s better to mend the sails than return for a total refit.” (via The Guardian)

Neil Gaiman on how stories last

Advice on getting unstuck 

Loves worth checking out:

“Silence will not save you” T-shirt from Philadelphia Print Works

This decadent cookie recipe

This virtual white board that I can use when plotting, planning, or teaching

Click this button and get an amazing fact. And another. And another. And another (via Mental Floss)

“Song Association” games on this YouTube channel will have you looking up new artists and new songs

A new and free stock photo site? Gimme. 

This petty and pretty Instagram that highlights the 1-star reviews of U.S. National Parks

So, I read…Verified Strangers by Lena Dunham

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

So, I read Verified Strangers, Lena Dunham’s romance novel after reading this article and reading the subsequent Twitter hubbub .

Well, let me not lie. I read parts of it. For pandemic me, reading twenty chapters of anything is an investment of time and space. Right now, I cannot give up that much time for most things I want to do.

Alas, I read most of it and most of the press about the novel.

Here are my thoughts:
A. I don’t think she understands the convention of the romance novel. (That’s apparent in her Twitter explanation about the serial novel. She listed Forever by Judy Blume and Danielle Steele books as romances. That is a stretch. Her reference points lean to women’s fiction, and there is nothing wrong with that. But those ain’t romances.) A happy ending (don’t Google that term) is required for a romance novel. That is how the Romance Writers of America defines what a romance novel is. That is the expectation that romance readers want, which is how you can tell a romance fan from the people who like The Notebook. With all of the digital ink spilled about this being a romance, I can tell that Romancelandia is not her realm.

B. I expected the story would be awful, but I was surprised. The story was not bad. She can write. I would expect that from the creator of Girls. But platform does not trump convention or happily ever afters

C. People voted on what they wanted to happen next. (According to the Hollywood Reporter article, “After the chapter is published each day, readers will be able to vote on the Vogue Instagram account on where the story should go next, a decision that Dunham will abide by.”) But when the people choose for the story to end in a haphazard puke of words, sentiment, and non-declarations of love for now, it is not a romance.

D. I stan an artist who is always on their grind like bad brakes on an old-school box Chevy. Lena Dunham is one of these people. I don’t immerse myself in a lot of her work, and I find her to be a bit precious and privileged. But she knows how to keep her name out there and how to be creative in spite of obstacles and resistance. I respect that.

E. Have mercy. It has an average ranking of 2.7. I feel infinitely better about my work. Everything cannot be a home run. Every book can’t be a five-star bestseller and award winner.

F. It’s brave to take direction from readers.Writing an interactive romance novel is daring. But it is not new. Serialized fiction has existed. Serialization like The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and Dickens interests her, and she said so herself. She’s not a pioneer, but she is credited in significant articles for “her innovation.” Le sigh.

G. Vogue should have given the space and virtual ink and publicity to an actual romance writer or celebrity fan.

The Jealous Writer, The Envious Writer (o.g. post)

I don’t know where this post went, but surprise! It’s back.

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I have a moral failing, a vice I indulge in more than I should admit.

I am a jealous and envious writer. I see so many people hashtagging their writing sprints (#amwriting, I see you and associate your 7 a.m. tweets with smugness, joyfulness, and productivity). I know so many people writing, designing covers, editing, and launching at breakneck speed. I see so many people I know publishing and being successful at it. (Don’t ask me whatever the hell success is. I know it when I see it.) <span id=&quot;selectionBoundary_1572656451114_507372809754794&quot; class=&quot;rangySelectionBoundary&quot; style=&quot;line-height:0;display:none;&quot;></span>

And I am…not…productive at all. I’m not doing anything thanks to high levels of commitment to a stressful (yet rewarding) job, general anxiety (have you seen the dumpster fire we call this world?), and a laziness associated with burnout.

So I’m going to turn this envy and jealousy into something productive.

I am going to follow the example of The Jealous Curator and turn &quot;jealousy into get-your-ass-back-into-the-studio inspiration.&quot; (Well, without the studio. I have an office, but I would have to clean my office and excavate my desk from 10 years of clutter. But same concept.)

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The Jealous Writer, The Envious Writer (revised post)

Damnation, this blog post disappeared. I hate blogging. I hate technology and unreliable wifi. Damn you, Mercury Retrograde. Here’s my best recreation of what was an excellent damn post.

Most of my life, I have been jealous and envious of other people. Don’t look at me like that. You have felt the same way too. In my writing life, I am enthusiastic and proud of my friends for what they are accomplishing. But inside…boy, I am wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Why can’t I do that? Why are you scrolling the #amwriting hashtag when you’re just outlining/responding to email/not doing writing things? Who would buy that crap? Thank goodness you’re using a pen name — you write shitty smut that everyone will laugh at. What’s keeping me from going after that? Why can’t you write GOOD ENOUGH FOR SOMEONE TO ACTUALLY WANT TO SIGN YOU? (Yeah, I am a bundle of joy on my therapist’s couch.) Between tight job-that-pays-me deadlines, the stress of those tight job-that-pays-me deadlines, imposter syndrome, a tendency toward procrastination, and a strong belief that what I write is garbage, I get nothing accomplished.

I am stuck in a creative rut, and I am sick and tired of being in the damn rut. 

I stumbled across The Jealous Curator awhile ago, and I loved the premise:

The Jealous Curator launched in 2009, as a place for me to show artwork that “made me jealous”. Yes, I was jealous of other artists’ work, their lives, their success, their studios. I felt like I’d never have any of that – and I was right – because I wasn’t making art! I was stuck, and so busy comparing myself to everyone else that I didn’t even allow myself to be creative. It was awful. I started the blog to document the work I loved, but more importantly, I wanted to find a way to flip the jealousy into something positive – admiration and inspiration to be specific. It worked!

Right on! God, that site and its author — Danielle Krysa — gets me and my life. I hate these contradictory feelings that I have. I am not mad or frustrated about anyone else’s success. I’m proud of so many people I know through my RWA chapter or my online friends. They have worked hard to get what they wanted and deserved.

I believe that the year can start at any time. I’m not a January 1 purist. New seasons, new semesters, new challenges all mark the start of a new year for me. November 1 is the start of Nanowrimo, and this is my chance to make a fresh start. I am tired of feeling like shit because I won’t have some writing success since I can’t/don’t/won’t write. I can only change me and focus on me, and that’s what this is all about: showcasing the good things I see from romance writers and chronicling my own path toward getting my writing done. This is my way to “flip it and reverse it” — it being my sense of comparison, my lack of writing, and my active competitive streaks. 

#amwriting for Nanowrimo

Day 1 writing badge

#amwriting

Nanowrimo fills me with dread and anticipation. I don’t write long. (Blame graduate school for killing that part of my soul. Plus, I like to read short novellas so that’s my groove.) I don’t write every day. I don’t do a lot of things I should do. (Like floss. I use that example in my messaging and campaigns lecture and a lof of other people don’t floss either. I feel less alone and trifling in that regard.) And I don’t like to share what I am working on. Nano pushes that supercompetitive button that I have tried to lock awayor keep at bay since I stopped being an mathlete/quiz bowl player. (Yes, nerds can be competitive and petty and rambunctious as hell.)

Nevertheless, I am here, fighting the need to go on social media and see how much others are writing or seething (politely) over everyone else’s word count. I am doing me and focusing on my own work. I #amwriting. I #amnoteditingduringamwriting. By golly, I’ve posted 2,000+ words. (Yay me on Day 3.) I’m trying.