Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Elena Kagan article posted on Associated Content

Please check out my first posting for the website Associated Content. To read it, click here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Criticism

I don't have to like it but I know I have to handle it. Criticism, for lack of a better word, is necessary. I wrote a short story today and I didn't like the feedback I received. I have a problem of getting very attached to something, and I don't like changing it. I thought it'd better to be honest about criticism instead of simply letting it pass. I have to acknowledge the importance of criticism because it's an integral part of my work. Every single step of this is a process; to say it isn't work isn't true but it's enjoyable work.  To grow as a writer I need the feedback, no matter how brutal. I of course don't want to have clips that are subpar. I want a myraid of examples of what I can do.  Here's a short story I wrote that may or may not be done, but I'll give this draft a shot:

There is a man mowing his lawn to the left of my eight a.m. window. I take an early morning class and watch him work. He starts right down the middle , clenching both hands tightly to the handle and never lets go. He works his way, left, right. Left, right. And then he stops. He puts away his lawnmower in his garage and walks out with a beer bottle. He sits on his lawn and takes a sip. Today I see him notice the mailman. He puts his bottle down and grabs his mail handed to him. He looks excited. He opens a large envelope and I see him smile and exhale. “Whew!” I see him saying. He looks relieved and hurries inside.



I pay little attention to my teacher. She’s quiet, indifferent and visibly ignores my daydreaming. I love this class! On rainy days I draw in my notebook and she never complains. She likes my art. I see the man come back outside, and settles down on the ground to finish his beer. He looks giddy with delight. I also notice a second bottle. He finishes his first, and I see him toss it in the garbage. He stands out in the street, hands on hips and looking around. It looks like he’s really going to miss this place.


And then the truck hits. Hard and fast, neither one of us sees this coming. He’s thrown. I yell. The class stops. “The man, the man outside! He just got hit by a truck!” I yell. Everyone surrounds my window. I see my teacher rummage her purse. Her handles tremble as they dial. Everyone’s quiet. The wait for help seems forever. I see the body: he’s back on his lawn, blood added to newly cut grass.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A busy week, only to continue

I've started working on my freelance writing career. I have been calling my living room my office, started setting for my self designated work hours and have researched websites and blogs for tips on how to start getting paid for my work. I have reading a lot, writing some, and looking to write a heck of a lot more. What has felt really good is the feeling of being accomplished and this almost nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I don't want to stop working. Of course there are other things to focus on as well. This coming Monday, June 28, I will be attending a taping of The Daily Show. This coming Wednesday, June 30, I will be welcoming another niece into the world (who has yet to be named). What I love (and of course everyone else in this profession) is that I can revolve my work around my life. My workday will not be lost becase I'm not in the office; I can simply pick up my work when I get home. I don't have to worry about waking up at a certain time to leave the house the next morning, because I can adjust my worktime accordingly to when I start working. I assume as I start getting paid for my work I will be working much more, putting in more hours than I assume, but I don't mind. I really like what I'm starting to do for a living.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TV vs. Film

   An argument for television being the better medium rather than film seems moot nowadays. Television costs much less to watch more frequently (if you don’t consider the price of cable), offers more variety and keeps you more informed on current events. Of course, it is not the pastime that is a trip to the movies, nor is it as romanticized as movies are. Television is film’s pesky younger sister, with a long-simmering rivalry, with one constantly one-upping the other.
   The film industry has suffered from a reputation of big blowup summer films that have the same shelf life as that of your favorite dessert. They taste sweet at the time, and you couldn’t wait to have them, but both are forgettable once they’re over. Of course, with all the reality television filling up our screens these days, the same can be said about television. However, television will always have more to offer. There is more time to develop a character, establish a history you don’t have with film. You can argue over favorite storylines, seasons and character arcs. Think about how many opening television series segments you can remember- are there many of them? Of course, because we grow up with television. Many a conversation has been had over the opening song to “Saved by the Bell” and “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. Who doesn’t know the theme song to “Happy Days”?
   Television also offers the news- something you don’t get to see at the movies, unlike so many years before, when news reels preceded movies at the theater. If you have cable, you also get world news, and if preferred, news in other languages. Information is immediate and never ending, and with so many news channels to choose from, you can choose just exactly how you like your news. Do you like headlines scrolling for you at the bottom of the screen while you watch a feature? Just turn on CNN. Do you like pundits discussing politics on an hourly basis? Try Fox News. There are also channels like History, Discovery and Science that work as the perfect anecdote to the much maligned reality tv era. Television also offers the latest weather information, which is a useful resource in everyday life.
   Film, on the other hand, is simply limited on what it can show because of the duration of any particular film. You can learn from a great documentary or a great autobiographical film (provided that it’s as accurate as possible), but you really don’t have the access to nonstop learning like television does. You can also count National Geographic, Animal Planet and the ID (Investigation Discovery) channel as other channels you can look to for educational entertainment.
   Television simply has more usefulness than film. You can watch history unfold as it happens and take advice on how to balance your budget. When film can bring me all of this at once, I’ll give it more credit.

A sample work

This is something I wrote sometime last year in an attempt to land a new job. The job didn't pan out but I did get a couple writing samples out of it. Here's one:

Autistics and Sex: not as separate as they seem

   Autism is not solely a system of repeated movements, blank faces and monotone voices. It is also not high-pitched squeals, rocking back and forth of the body, and the unrelenting desire for the most structured routine. It is a myriad of habits, movements and brain function that are as equal to the development of a person as are hormones and emotional development. Autistics are much more than a robotic type of person who lack social skills; they are also people who deal with the same problems that others do, such as puberty.
   People forget that puberty plays a central role in their adolescence as well, almost assuming that sexual desire is nonexistent because of their mental disability. For some, it can occur as early as eight years old. For others, as late as twenty. Because autism is only becoming more and more prevalent, one would think this topic would be commonplace discussion. Instead, it is often ignored and assumed irrelevant. It is (as it is with teenagers as a whole) left to the teachers to teach students about sex, even if they cannot fit it into the curriculum. Special education teachers have enough to teach their students every day; adding another subject can be near impossible, especially one as sensitive as sex.
   These teenagers need to know not to be ashamed of their bodies. They also need to know the importance of discretion and privacy. They understand that something is going on with their bodies, and they like it. To stifle their feelings and emotions is detrimental to their well being. They do not understand the taboos behind sexuality, nor do they understand that others do not know how to handle their puberty. Everything is simply left in flux as parents, siblings and teachers are left confused how to handle this. We need to have sex education for those in special education. It’s enough of both a delicate matter as it is necessary to broach.
   Ultimately, people need to have patience as autistics venture through puberty like the rest of us. They do not understand it they way we do, nor are they as prepared as we are. They need support, guidance and acceptance. They need to know it is normal, and that they are no different from anyone else. They have enough going on in their world. And even if they don’t tell us, they notice our reactions to the way they are. If there is anything they should see, it is how normal in fact they really are.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One step to writing glory

Step one: removing all old, pre-writing career blog postings. It isn't to negate what I've previously done; it's only to start anew. If I'm serious about this, it's a good start to change this blog, make it look more professional. Maybe images of a quill pen in the background, perhaps?

My delving in into the world of writing

   For the past couple of days, I've been perusing websites such as mediabistro.com to look at successful freelancer's portfolios. I've looked up job postings and "how to" guides. I've even looked up other writers' blogs. This wonderful barrage of information has been very encouraging; and while starting this career can be daunting, I am only very excited. Yesterday was my first official workday as a freelance writer. I've started a position as a Writing Associate Intern for a company based out of New York, NY. I spent hours prospecting, looking at hundreds of websites for contact information and writing a business letter. Next assignment: a press release. I don't want to say I have any clips yet until I receive critiques on my work so far. I've also taken to tweaking my resume a bit to make it more like a freelance writer's resume. I;m beginning the process of "getting myself out there". It feels good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It is a new day

As I begin what could hopefully be a long, fruitful writing career, I remembered this blog and that I should go back to updating it. It's been two years and more, and my interests have changed some, passions have developed more and like everyone else with an internet connection, I have something to say. Luckily, with a blog with my name in the url, I could write anything I want. I could be as unrealistic, self-absorbed and uninteresting as the next guy. I could also use this a chance to develop my writing. Even develop it. Even learn how to be funny.
Politics and the state of all of it will never cease to amaze me; I find myself endlessly out of the loop yet always interested. I watch political pundits and MSNBC evening shows and Real Time With Bill Maher and Meet the Press and never feel like I've learned enough. To stand a chance these days you have to be extremely well read, educated and undeniably hard working. Shameless self promotion always helps. If I've learned anything these past couple years, I've learned that you should know the constitution. And I'm not talking about the Tea party endorsement. I'm talking about knowing it well enough to develop your own opinions on things that you might have otherwise overlooked because you didn't realize it was in the Constitution. I have to get to that. I also have to get back to book reading, of course; even though there are many venues to read now (i.e. blogs such as this one, digital e-readers, books on tape-or ITunes), nothing beats a good hardcover and/or paperback. Nothing, as I'm also finding out, beats an excellent vocabulary. Thank you, GRE, for making me bond with my dictionary.
I live a very good life and feel it's time to pursue writing again. I don't know exactly what type of writer I'll turn out to be but it feels pretty good writing at all. I don't expect this blog to be read by more people than those that live in my hometown, but that's not the point. If nothing else, this could be a lot of fun.