Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writing Update, or, Getting Your Period While Rock Climbing

Just look at John's expression. . ."Oh, you think you're done working for the day? How interesting." 
Here is some of my recent writing news, from the heroic attempts to the almighty failures. Just in case you're keeping track. I know I should be.

The Onion Application
I applied for an intern position at The Onion, the word's most hilarious satirical newspaper. The internship description made it abundantly clear that this would not be a creative job. It specifically requested that applicants do not send writings samples. It did say, however, that small creative writing jobs might be given to the intern if they were deemed worthy.  Wanting to write for The Onion, just like any exciting writing job, is a long shot,  if not a virtual impossibility. An unpaid, noncreative internship at such a renowned establishment would be a major break into the nearly impenetrable world of comedy writing. Plus I'd move to New York!

Proud of myself for having spent all day writing the perfect cover letter, I announced to my friends via Facebook that I'd applied. The next day, three different people stepped out of the woodwork and connected me with their friends who currently work at The Onion. My cousin's husband Todd put me in touch with the paper's Digital Director, and my friends Paul and Cecily both emailed their writer friends. I cannot stress enough just how grateful I am to them for doing that.

I bet the slush pile that accumulates on the editor's desk during the intern application period is six feet deep. I imagine the editors paddling around in the office in row boats because of all those resumes and cover letters. It seems that everything worth doing these days, work wise, is almost sure to be met with rejection, but we do it anyway. If you don't apply you have no chance whatsoever in getting in the door. And at the very least, I want a chance.

Getting Your Period While Rock Climbing
I wrote a very detailed story pitch to a women's adventure magazine. I really wanted to write an article about working in the male dominated outdoors industry, my experience teaching at the kayak high school, the risk and emotions that are intrinsic with a sport as dangerous as kayaking, and what happens when tragedy strikes. It sounds a little broad here when I write it out, but it all wrapped together nicely. I waited a few weeks and then, after I'd given up and moved along with my life, I got a terse email in response. They said that while they they appreciated the pitch, they were more interested in things "Like getting your period while rock climbing." So yeah, hold on to your seats people, there may be a mind blowing expose showing up in a future issue of a certain women's adventure magazine about the unthinkable combination of rock climbing and lady business. And it will not be written by me.

Fiction Class with Holiday
This fall I've been taking an online fiction class from the awesome new site Litreactor.com.  My teacher, Holiday Reinhorn, is an LA-based author from Portland. She studied creative writing at UW, (just like me) and then attended the prestigious Iowa Writer's workshop for grad school.  She is the author of Big Cats, and is married to Rainn Wilson, my boss over at Soulpancake. I signed up for this class because I'd grown totally terrified of writing Fiction. Terrified. And I needed someone to help me back to those college days when I was churning out poems and stories all over the place.

The class is awesome. She provides class lectures, writing prompts, things to read, articles to look at, and lots and lots of insights. It's incredible just to talk with other writers. Last night I got off an hour long conference call with Holiday and some of the other writers and felt so much relief. A reminder that my own weird lets hide in the closet where the paper can't see me reactions to my work is totally normal.

The best thing to come out of the class is I have a real, working, first draft of a short story. It may take another six months or so to 'perfect' it, but I really like it so far, and I'm going to try and stick it out. Maybe I'll have a submission piece if I want to go to grad school at NYU, or something to send to a literary magazine or maybe I'll drink a whole bunch of dayquil and write a whole book of short stories, sell the movie rights to Hollywood and get super rich!

My Own Site....? 
I announced on Facebook a few weeks ago that the people over at Trailsedge were offering me my own site!  Which they did! But after a bizarre exchange of information, I turned it down. That's a whole other story. I asked to keep writing for Trailsedge instead. I love writing for them, I've published 34 articles so far on that site! Sadly, they are scaling it way back due to budget issues, and now they're publishing a lot less frequently.  Luckily, my articles always brought in a great readership, so they asked told me to keep sending one article in per week.

A few days ago the editor asked me if I would be interested in writing for a new site, a site about safe traveling. I sent them one article which they published, and am just waiting to see what will happen next.  But that's a useless sentence, isn't it? We're all waiting around to see what will happen next. Maybe I'll go back some time and delete that sentence.

Mindy's Contest
Positive association product placement. You're welcome, Mindy
I entered a very quick writing contest (I wrote it over dinner) that Mindy Kaling was hosting to help promote her new book. And I won! I was one of the winners, anyway. I got a  free signed copy of the book in the mail, and when I met Mindy at the show I worked last Saturday, I asked her to sign it again. Write girl, write! She wrote. You MUST! I put the book on my desk next to the picture of John Stewart. Sometimes I pretend that John Stewart is my loving but hard-driving boss and Mindy is the girl in the cubicle next to me. From time to time we act conspiratorially.

Gear Gal
During my extremely brief stint as the GearGal on Trailsedge, I got to review one thing. I was told to choose something from the Trailsedge retail store for review; I'd get it in the mail, use it, write about it, and it would be mine. I could choose anything, and after I reviewed that one thing I could choose another thing! And on and on forever!

But I knew too much about the industry to get too excited. A set up that good is not going to last. So I chose accordingly, and picked the one thing I wanted more than anything. Sure I could have reviewed a new belay device or water purification system or something useful, and I would love to do that, but I already have all the outdoor gear I really need. And the memory of my Kokatat botch is still fresh in my memory.

When I worked at the high school, I sold a photo to the Kokatat Watersports gear company. They used it in their print catalog, which was kind of a big deal. In exchange for the photo I could choose any piece of Kokatat gear I wanted. So I chose a neoprene top. It was probably worth 60 bucks. I could have chosen a 1,000 dollar dry suit! But I decided to be polite about it and choose something cheap. After all, it was just one photograph, and I wanted the company to remember me as a great person to do business with. Well, do you know where polite gets you? Freezing cold on a river in a damp neoprene top staring enviably at the people wearing expensive, mango colored dry suits. That's where it gets you.

Lesson Learned. So I mined the Trailsedge site and found these absolutely kicking Ariat Rodeobaby cowgirl boots. They were shipped to me, as promised, and I wore them, wrote about them, and then my job as Geargirl quickly evaporated as the site shrank. And my editor wouldn't put up the review because it wasn't outdoorsy enough. (He has a point.) I may post the review on this site instead so you can all see what my Peppy Review Writing Looks Like! If the personification of my normal writing self is a leg-warmer wearing slouched over the desk back of the classer, my review writing self sits with perfect posture in the very front row. Squeaky clean stuff.
And that's it for now! Check back in six months to see if I'm published, famous, or maybe I've given up the dream and settled for a nice boy instead. Let's all just wait and see what happens next. 


Tracy said...

Keep up the great work, Lina!

Katie said...

Wow, period while rock climbing? Oh my stars, that's like the end of the world! Is this the 1920's or something? I think you dodged a bullet not writing for that magazine. Lets set outdoorsy independent women back a few steps by making something out of a non-issue . . . .

Melina said...

Thank you Tracy! See you in Vermont so soon.

Melina said...

Katie...I know....holy shit, right?

Kathy Kelley said...

Nice boots..

Kathy Kelley said...

Nice boots...

Kathy Kelley said...

Seriously, I love your writing!

GirlsontheRox said...

I am so proud of you, it seems like you are constantly doing new and amazing things. As for the women's adventure mag and wanting to write about periods but not anything meaningful, screw them! That magazine is probably written, produced, and published by men anyway. On another note, I am sure the Onion will love your stuff, you are so witty! Good luck and Congrats!

thegirlfriendmom said...

The woman biz and rock climbing bit was hysterical and so friggin' spot on(pun intended) that the mag would want that. Now following!

SJJ said...

Good thing none of those have come together (yet) so that you still have time to write for us.

Melina said...

welcome, thegirlfriendmom! I loved your pun.
xo MC

Melina said...

GirlsonRox Chels....

Thank you! That means so much especially coming from YOU.

Baby By The Sea said...

First, have a fabulous holiday. And I loved reading all about your NY adventure.
So hope you get The Onion. How freakin' cool would that be?!?
Goodness -- where did you get those awesome boots? Love the detail.

Melina said...

Thanks SJJ. I'll always write here though, no matter what! As long as you're reading!

Cassandra said...

Haha well done on scoring the boots