Happy Birthday to my Blog!

My blog turned 4 this last weekend.

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four candles

It’s been four years since I first hit “Publish” back on my modest little MobileMe site (remember MobileMe? No? Neither does anyone else). Since then I’ve written 274 posts – just over a post a week. I also earned my masters degree, had a baby, finished a few short stories, wrote a travel book, did some actual traveling, took a full time job and well, lived life. A lot has happened.

Looking back, my first post was about trying to hit a deadline. I was writing the first draft of my novel to turn in as the thesis project for my masters. I wrote 45 pages in three days!

Whaaa?

These days I write about 200 words a week. Granted, I only manage to squeeze in a few hours of writing over the course of seven days, but still. Did I suffer a serious blow to the head or something?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The 45 pages I wrote in that crazy long weekend were not good. But are the two hundreds words that I spend a week on now-a-days THAT much better?

I think I need to lighten up a bit. I so over think every word I write lately that it’s becoming paralyzing.

Actually, that’s not true. At work I pour words out all day long. I have to. I have deadlines. And come to think of it, I wrote those 45 pages on a deadline too. So maybe what I need to do is set deadlines for myself. Just bust out some words because that’s what I’m sitting there to do. At work I don’t second guess every word. I write them, then I review them to make sure they say what I meant them to say, edit a little as needed and move on. My fiction-writing self needs to take a hint from my corporate writing self.

So resolution for my fifth blog year: just keep writing and stop over-thinking.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Not-A-Performace-Review Update

I promised to tell you how my performance review went last week.

As suspected, it was not a performance review. He never said it would be, so it’s not like there was any false advertising. Mostly we just talked about the company and our current projects. He did ask what the three worst parts of working for the company have been, but he said it laughing, so I couldn’t tell if he was joking. I was honest, but gentle.

There was no mention of a raise – again, not that I really suspected there would be. That conversation will come eventually.

So work continues on. We have some great clients, and I have many fun writing projects on the horizon. That’s one thing I really love about my job. In one week I can write about tree maintenance, the downfall of redevelopment, water recycling and Twitter’s new emergency alert system. And we might maybe have a new client that I am super excited about. I can’t say anything just yet, but if it happens, I will let you know.

So that’s the haps. More than anything, this post, and the one last week, are a test to see if my boss reads my blog.

Boss man? You there?

My Upcoming Not-A-Performance-Review

As I’ve mentioned, I just passed the one year mark as a full time employee with Tripepi Smith. Well, tomorrow my boss and I are going to visit a client at 1, so he proposed we meet early for lunch to discuss my first year with the company.

“Sure,” I said, and then got the Google calendar invite for a lunch that is slated to last an hour and a half. The restaurant is only five minutes from the place our meeting is after, so I got to thinking, what are we talking about for 85 minutes?

Not one to wonder in silence (or at least, without writing) I drafted a long email asking what to expect, and how to prepare. I wanted to be able to organize my thoughts, maybe make lists of my accomplishments this past year, my goals for the future. You know, that kind of corporate stuff people do.

This is what he wrote back (copied directly)

no prep. we can talk about where things are at and where they are going.

I swear, if he hadn’t blocked out an hour and a half I would think I was getting laid off. Am I being paranoid?

You have to admit, that’s pretty vague. Where things are and where they are going…

So naturally, I’ve been googling phrases like “employee annual performance review,” and journaling away my ideas, just to be prepared for any question he can throw at me. I’m probably being really over the top about it, but this seems like a real opportunity to discuss what I feel I’m doing well, and what I could do better. If I don’t prepare, I’ll be driving home tomorrow night kicking myself for all the things I forgot to say (which is hard to do while you’re driving).

Also, I will admit, this is the first time I’ve had a performance review (aside from a very awkward hour spent in the back room at a Starbucks in San Francisco with a male supervisor who had a crush on Daniel). I have always worked freelance, or temped, or waitressed while working freelance/temp. I’ve never been a corporate type. This is all very new to me. Until I googled the topic of performance review, I didn’t even know that this was the time of year that employees sometimes (usually?) get raises. That’s a thing.

Anyhow, I’m nervous. And I’m trying not to be nervous which just makes me anxious. Which just leads me to drink. Just kiddding. Kind of.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Short Stories
to Build a Writer Platform

I have thirty-five pages left to edit. They are thirty-five of the newest, and roughest, pages in the entire manuscript, but still, it’s only thirty-five pages, which is pretty exciting.

I’ve made a list of things I need to do once I’ve finally finished the draft. While my lovely readers are compiling their thoughts, I will be working on the following:

  • My synopsis (ug)
  • A list of thirty agents who have represented work like mine
  • A query letter to send to said agents, and
  • A few short works to send off to journals to see if I can’t bolster my platform a bit before sending out the query letter.

I was talking with my writing group about that last one, wondering what pieces I should polish up for submissions to journals, and they suggested I try to pull an excerpt from my manuscript. At first I thought it was impossible. They whole thing seems so interwoven that I couldn’t figure out what section could stand on it’s own, but in the pages I worked on last weekend I think I found a chunk that could suffice.

It would likely need some editing, to lay some basic story background, especially since the chunk I’m thinking of using comes late in the story, but it could be done. And actually, they are some of my favorite pages.

I also have three other short stories that have been languishing on my hard drive for years. I’m not sure how much work they would need, and in fact, I’m very curious to re-read them now that I’ve learned so much about writing as a craft. I’m hoping the holes that made them unsatisfying when I abandoned them will seem less daunting now that I have more experience. That would be great.

Then there’s the Writer’s Digest writing competition. I received a flyer for it in the mail last week. I usually toss the flyer, because I never have anything that’s polished enough (because I’ve been working on the novel FOREVER), but this might be the year I submit. The early-bird deadline isn’t until May 6th. I bet I could put something together for that. I know the odds of winning are slim, because they get a brazillion entries, but if I don’t enter I definitely won’t win, right?

It’s time to start putting my work out there.

I’m Not The Same Writer I Was In August

On Monday I posted about a panel I’m going to be on next week, about branding in the modern age. In that post I said that I’m “someone who does branding professionally.” This is true, but as I reread it, I can’t help but cringe.

As someone who works on branding and marketing professionally, all day every day, I have come to hate my website. It needs a lot of work.

Here’s the thing – when I set up this website, which is actually the third design iteration of aprildavila.com – I was in a very different place as a writer. Back then, I was working as a freelance writer. I was looking for work anywhere and everywhere. I needed to showcase my feature articles, my travel writing, and my copyediting, not to mention my fiction.

But the day I took this full time gig, that all changed. I don’t have time for writing assignments. While there is a part of me that would love to write more features, the truth is, I don’t have time. And nothing makes a girl prioritize like a serious time crunch.

All I want to write (outside of work) is fiction. Fiction, fiction, fiction.

And all I want to blog about is my fiction. In fact, looking over my posts since September, when I started full time, almost all of my posts have been about fiction writing. So I need to do some serious re-branding.

So I’ve started to think about another website overhaul. (As a side note, I tell clients at work that websites need to be completely updated every two years. They never believe me, they want their sites to last a decade, but things just change too quickly for that. I last renovated my site in early 2011. So I’m totally practicing what I preach here.) I want the new one to still be centered around the blog, but I’m going to downplay all my writing that isn’t fiction.

Instead of pushing myself as a writer who can and will write anything (which you have to do when you’re living the freelance life), I’m going to change the site to reflect what I really am now – a full time working mom and wife who takes advantage of every free minute to try to finish her novel and get it published.

I’m still working on design ideas, so it may be a few months in the making still, but doubt not – it’s coming.

Branding As A Way Of Life

A few weeks ago I received an email from a science fiction writer friend named Amy Sterling Casil

. We are both alumnae of Scripps College and we met a couple years ago on a panel called “What do I do with a degree in… English.” It was kind of comical that I was invited to be on that panel, as I got my undergrad degree in biology, but the woman who runs these things is really great, and she assured me that my perspective would be valuable so I went and had a great time – it was a dynamic, interesting group of women and a good conversation.

Well, Amy and I kept in touch, and as it turns out, she is the Scripps Alumna-In-Residence

this year. As such, she is responsible for putting together a panel for the students on a topic in her field. The title she decided on is “Branding as a Way of Life or – What Oscar Wilde would have done with Facebook and Twitter,” and she’s asked me to be a part of the group.

I’m excited and honored to be invited. As a writer I’m drawn to the Wilde reference, and as someone who does branding professionally, I feel like I have a fair amount I can bring to the discussion.

After a little internet stalking, I’ve learned that my fellow Scripps alumnae panel members include two marketing experts, a talent agent and someone who may or may not be a journalist (there were multiple returns on her name in google – so that’s my best guess).

If you happen to be near Claremont, CA, next Wednesday (Feb. 13), the panel is going on from 7:30 to 9. You can find more info here.

If not, don’t worry about it, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about it after the fact.