Sparkler Ideas

When you’re in kindergarten, you’re living life as it was meant to be lived–with nap time and possibilities. For instance, before nap time you can be a princess with all the respect of a monarch but less responsibilities and after nap time a super hero who takes down bad guys on the regular and saves scared cats from trees at least once an hour. And in between you get to sleep.

I live my life like I’m in kindergarten.

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Perhaps I’m stunted this way: indecisive and enthusiastic. My world view shifts and I’m suddenly stricken with the desire to be a pirate or a baker. It is both exhausting and thrilling. I like to call it a Sparkler Idea. Since graduation, I’ve changed my mind exactly seven times about what I want to be when I grow up–wait, eight. I forgot I still want to be a princess.

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I suppose at twenty-four I’m technically considered an adult even though I don’t feel like one. I think I’m waiting for a plausible career option to stick for longer than a few weeks or months. When that happens, someone pops out of the shadows and hands you a plaque that declares you’ve officially entered adulthood, right?

I’ve complied a list of the top 3 4 Sparkler Ideas I’ve had in the last six months exploring: What led me to them? Why didn’t I choose to pursue them? Will I ever make a goddamn decision? How many more questions can I keep asking myself before you get bored?

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1. Comedy Writer:

Sometimes I think I’m funny. This may not actually be the case but a few months ago I got it in my head that I was funny enough to write for television. Thus, I wanted to move out to L.A. and write sitcoms.

*Cue laugh track*

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As I mentioned, I discovered The Office this summer. That coupled with the reading of Mindy Kaling’s book and Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sacks made me believe that I had finally discovered my true calling. I wanted to write something as brilliant as The Office while being as badass as Mindy while channeling all of the talent of the writers interviewed in Sacks’s book. No big deal.

So I wrote sketches and scripts. I started a screenplay. This dream lasted approximately one pilot episode, two full sketches, and three pages of a screenplay. It faded out slowly and painfully. I tried to hold on to it. I was Rose and this dream was Jack. But the dream wouldn’t let me go down with it. It froze to death in the ocean and I moved on with my life.

2. Teacher:

I’ve wanted to be a teacher approximately four different times in my life. Once when I was in fifth grade, middle school, early in my college career, and a little over a month ago. Just like every other time, I thought this most recent time was the one. Just like every other time, I ended up heartbroken and alone, consoling myself with copious quantities of wine and chocolate.

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“It wasn’t meant to be!” my friends said. “You deserve something better!”

“But, you don’t have to work summers if you’re a teacher!” I replied through heavy sobs.

I liked the idea of teaching because I like children’s literature. If given the opportunity, I will hold an impromptu story time with whatever picture books I have at my disposal. I regularly read Ramona Quimby  and I seriously identify with a grumpy bear from a picture book series. Somehow I rationalized that this would make me a good teacher. I forgot about things like Science and Math, other essential knowledge needed for educating young children. I’m lucky if I can put two and two together on good days and I’m still not sure if Pluto is a planet or not.

Perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to teach anyone anything.

3. Entrepreneur:

If I’m being honest, I really gave this dream up because I can’t spell the word “entrepreneur” without spellcheck. It’s too big and complicated of a word to be a career.

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This is also why I can’t ever be a nanny. Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious is another one of those words.

4. Bookstore Owner

When I decided entrepreneurship wasn’t for me, I considered calling it something different. Bookstore Owner is much easier to spell.

This dream was born during my first viewing of You’ve Got Mail four days ago. I fell in love with the children’s bookstore that Meg Ryan’s character owns.

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That bookstore was everything I wanted in life. Eloise, Madeline, and friends decorated the walls, an army of small stuffed Peter Rabbits hung out behind the counter, there were fancy princess hats for story time, and every inch of that store was stocked with wonderful stories of adventure, family, friendship, triumph, and bravery. It was what I imagine my afterlife will be like: reading Matilda and Elephant and Piggie while drinking a never-ending supply of hazelnut coffee. Either that or I will be reincarnated as a character in a picture book. Honestly I’m okay with either.

My heart split into seven million pieces when Meg Ryan’s store went out of business. In fact, I’m still not over it. I know it was a fictional place but I strongly believe that if I had been there, I would have somehow found a way to keep that bookstore open.

But anyway, for a brief moment after this movie ended I entertained the idea of owning my own children’s bookstore one day. Maybe I’m still entertaining this idea in the back of my mind. Maybe one day I’ll own the most fabulous children’s bookstore and anyone who tries to put me out of business will be beheaded…because princesses have the power to send people to the guillotine and I still want to be a princess.

However, while I’m still figuring things out, I’m pretty happy being a bookseller.

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Now it is nap time.

Bear With Me While I Ramble About Rambling

A few months ago I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog about writing. Everyone does it and I’m a follower so it made sense.
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But blogging about writing is not as fun as writing. 

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I’ve decided to give in and just march to the beat of my own drum. I’ve been fighting my individuality for far too long.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you are reading this post, I’ve changed up my blog a bit. Well, that and I’ve developed an  obsession with The Office this summer but the latter only applies to my gif usage in this post. The former begs the question: “What has your blog become, Kylie?!?!?!” Well, imaginary reader, I intend on continuing my blog with the purpose of writing to (hopefully) entertain. I’m envisioning weekly posts that consist of me rambling on about things that will (ideally) hold your interest. 

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I have some plans. I have some posts scheduled. I have some gifs. I have hope that you, lovely reader, will enjoy these things. I have dreams. I have coffee. (I always have coffee.) I have to go watch another episode of The Office so I’m going to leave you here.

Beginning

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have a penchant for fairytales. Therefore the words “Once Upon A Time” get abused quite frequently when I write. But every story can’t begin like that (even though I would like that very much) so, often I end up with an unmarked notebook page before me or a blank word document open, pen poised above the page or fingers resting above the keyboard waiting and waiting for the right words to come to me. Writing is hard. Beginning a new story or novel or essay is even harder.

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I’ve wanted to write for the past week. I had great aspirations of writing a short story or a personal essay. But I didn’t. I bought a new notebook (a lot of thought goes into my notebook purchases) along with a fancy new seven-year pen (it’s not actually fancy–it is bright orange and has an exclamation mark on it). I had every intention of sitting down to write. I had a week off from work and literally nothing else to do but write and maybe read a book or two. Alas, I was so intimidated by beginning that I didn’t even try. I am sure I am not alone with this miserable affliction and there are others who have a difficult time starting their writing. (Side note: watch Purple Violets. It’s a good movie and one of the characters struggles with being a writer who stopped writing. Also one of my favorites.) The fear of starting keeps me from writing anything. And suddenly a week goes by that will ultimately lead into two and then three and then before I know it I will have stopped writing completely because I’m too intimidated to start.

There is a unique beginning out there for every story, though it may be hard to find. I’ve done it before and I’m sure I can do it again. I’m hoping that this post will hold me accountable. I’m also hoping that maybe this time I will let myself use the wrong words and just write without concern for the end result.

Plus, now I have this nifty new typewriter to use. Funny thing about typewriters: there’s not “delete” button.

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Maybe next time I’ll have something actually written to blog about instead of blogging about my intention to write.

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I Lied.

My intention upon finishing my last post (when I declared that I was finished writing my thesis but that it was the start of a longterm novel project) was to actually keep writing.  I said I was going to do it and I really thought I was going to keep writing. I lied. I haven’t written anything.

I hate lying. I’m the kind of person that though I’m twenty-four years old, when my Dad calls to check in and asks “How was your weekend? Did you have fun?” I respond, “It was fine. Nothing exciting to report. Well…I went out. I may have had something to drink. Okay I had three beers but I promise I was responsible! I’m sorry! I swear did all my homework!” To which my dad says, “Oh, okay. Well, I’m glad you had fun.” No, but really, I’m unnecessarily honest sometimes.

So every day that has gone by since my last post and I haven’t written anything, I feel like I have been living a lie and it makes me anxious that this lie is so public.

I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Well, just because you haven’t written anything in a week in a half doesn’t necessarily mean that you lied.”

But I have a confession: I’m not sure I want to keep writing.

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Whaaaaaat?

Okay, calm down. I don’t mean I want to stop writing forever but I don’t know what I want to write anymore. A little history on my life as a writer: I’ve always written young adult or middle grade. It’s always been fiction and almost always fantasy. It wasn’t something I ever gave a second thought to. Somewhere along the way I neglected to make the transition to “real” books in both the books I read and was trying to write. But lately I’ve been wondering what I’ve been missing by living in my children’s literature bubble. Between these blog posts and a few creative nonfiction classes I’ve taken in my college career, I’ve gotten a taste of a different kind of writing. And I think I like it.

I feel stuck in the crossroads between this direction I’ve always been heading in and the potential for something else I’m starting to feel passionate about. Maybe I try something new? Maybe I stick with what I know? Maybe I do both? Gasp!

So who knows what I’ll write next. I think maybe I’ll start with trying to read some different book–books outside of my comfort zone. We’ll see where that takes me. I just maybe won’t make more promises I don’t know if I can keep. 😉

My Life’s Work is Complete! (aka sometimes I can be kind of dramatic)

Today I handed in my thesis. It was a culmination of a semester-long war in which most battles ended in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, I’m exaggerating (I do that) but it was a monumental moment as I removed my pristine, bound thesis from my Harry Potter tote bag and handed it over to my advisor. Months of sleepless nights, frustrating moments where my notebook took several beatings (from long journeys flying through the air and landing on the other side of the room), and a semester’s worth of thoughts focused on plot, character development, and setting was now in her hands. I’m still a few summer classes away from the actual degree that proves my credentials as a writer but this moment was one of great triumph.

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(Lovely cover art by a friend that conveys the Hansel and Gretel essence of my story. And I should say I’m not too happy with the title but I had to call it something.)

I feel like the word “thesis” always leads to thoughts of pages on pages of academic research and hours upon hours spent among tall stacks of books, sobbing quietly into a cup of coffee, hoping the librarian doesn’t come and “shhhush” you again. This is not that kind of thesis. It’s a creative thesis: the first fifty pages of a novel. It involved me at my desk, in the break room at work, or at my kitchen table sobbing quietly into a cup of coffee with notes splayed out in front of me and never-ending new and re-worked ideas filling up every ounce of space left in my mind. (I’m being dramatic again.) It wasn’t quite that scene, holed up in the library, researching and shaking from stress but my point is that this creative thesis took a lot of work.

It began with the desire to adapt a fairytale that hadn’t been told, retold, and told again as well as a yearning to explore a relationship that wasn’t two people falling hopelessly in love in a star-crossed lover kind of way. Thereupon, I decided that Hansel and Gretel fulfilled both of those requirements. It’s changed a lot since it’s inception and it is no longer a “modern day Hansel and Gretel meets Alice in Wonderland” (which is how I used to describe it). There was a moment at the halfway point in the semester when I had a revelation about the plot that completely changed the novel. The forty pages I had already written were worthless now–okay, to be fair I wouldn’t have had said revelation if it weren’t for those forty pages but at the moment I was at the oh-so-daunting beginning once again but with fewer weeks to finish this time around.

So I began my new version of it: a story about a brother and sister with a mother who killed herself and a father who abandoned them due to grief. I didn’t know much else about it at that point but I was figuring it out as I went. As I got further into the story, I likened it to putting together a puzzle and as the page count went up, I was starting to see the picture form. There were still a few glaring holes in the plot but the story was flowing a lot smoother this time around.

I managed thirty-five pages of this new story before my brain exploded and I could not write another sentence. (Do I have to say I’m being dramatic again or is it obvious that my brain isn’t splattered all over my bedroom walls?) So I added fifteen pages of the old stuff on at the end dubbed “Part Two: The World This Story Existed in Upon Its Inception”, printed out everything, took it to get bound, and well, you know the rest.

Even though my thesis has been turned in and all I have to show for my attempt at a novel is two mis-matched stories and a plot that isn’t fully constructed, I’m not done with my (vaguely) Hansel and Gretel retelling. I’d really like to see this novel come to full fruition. It will be more of the aforementioned stress, anxiety, and tears shed over cups of coffee but there’s something oddly gratifying in that.

Writers thrive on this kind of thing. We enjoy putting ourselves through this kind of torture.

“I promise I write better than I speak!”

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a writer and I like to tell stories. I’m just not so good at the whole verbally telling stories thing. Actually, I’m not good at talking in general. I tend to include a lot of unnecessary “um’s” and repeat myself. I fumble my words and forget what I am trying to say halfway through saying it. Sometimes, I can’t think of anything to say in response to conversation which leads to an uncomfortable amount of silence before I ultimately reply with the generic responses: “hmmm, that’s interesting” or “oh, really?”. Thus, my inability to form eloquent sentences coupled with the fact that I am soft-spoken and my voice has the pitch of an eight-year-old child does not lead to effective communication on my part. I tend to keep silent a lot.

When I write I am free of these communication restrictions. There’s pressure on conversation that doesn’t exist with the written word. I feel like if I have something to say, I can say it best through my writing. This doesn’t bode well for the reality where verbal communication is a fundamental life skill. I feel like after the tenth graceless conversation with someone who knows I am a writer I have to say, “I promise, I write better than I speak!” I sometimes feel like my impaired oral communication skills reflect poorly on my cognitive development. Even though I can’t get my words out right, I do know how to use language effectively. So sometimes I live on the pages of my stories where ironically enough, dialogue is one of my strengths. I thrive on the words that I write down, their meaning clear and concise even if it took me three tries to get there. I feel like I have an actual voice when I write. And as the semester is coming to a close and pages upon pages of final papers are due, I am finally saying everything my teachers won’t hear. In writing my novel, I feel like I am trying to speak to the world, speak to my readers, or just put my words out there to make up for the twenty-four years that I’ve been quiet.

Verbal communication is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately–something I feel I need to improve on–especially with graduation fast approaching and the door to the real world almost within reach. Perhaps this post is partially a declaration to anyone who has ever heard me speak that I’m not as senseless as I sound. Perhaps this is in defense of anyone who struggles with articulating speech. Regardless, my words are out there and I’m being heard.

Once Upon a Time…

There was a girl who liked to tell stories. She spent most of her days locked in a room with her fingers attached to a keyboard. By her side were giant mugs of fatigue-fighting coffee and countless pages of illegible plot notes. She dreamed of signing her books one day (even practiced in her school notebooks) and the notoriety that came with the job of being a great writer (like being recognized wandering through a bookstore).

And then she decided to make a blog.

So here we are.

My name is Kylie and I’m a writer. I have a great and terrible fear of people reading my writing. Even this very blog. As you read this (is anyone actually reading this?) I am probably sitting in a corner somewhere, hugging my knees to my chest and biting the polish off my fingernails, worrying that I typed the wrong thing or someone out there is thinking: “This isn’t even a very good blog post. She should probably reconsider her greatest passion in life.”

And if they are…well, so what? They don’t have to read this blog post and they don’t have to read anything that may or may not be published by me. I love to write and this is my way of trying to overcome my irrational fear. This is also my way of documenting the harrowing yet lovely process of writing a novel (and hopefully many more after that).

And so it begins.