Tag Archives: Twitter

Creative Nonfiction Magazine Writer’s Conference 2015: Take aways on pitching, publishing and platforms

I just returned from the Creative Nonfiction Magazine 2015 writer’s conference in Pittsburgh which, while fabulous, made me painfully aware that I haven’t contributed anything to my blog in months. Ironically, today is it’s 4 year anniversary (sad blog. so sad).

I have a couple feels about this blog and blogs as platforms: it’s cool, I like blogging but, man, do I not have time for it. I have a full-time job (when I started writing, I did not), and on the side of that full-time job, I hustle to do liv lit performances and writing to submit to lit journals etc. It’s a busy life. Plus whenever I wrote a blog post that was a story, I found myself in the quandary of wanting to expand it further to submit. So, I wouldn’t post it because there are rules about originality when you submit. Hence a lack of posts.

I suppose this problem might call for a change in tone with this blog, a change of focus…I’m not quite sure. And granted, I didn’t leave the conference thinking that having a blog was a must for being a successful writer, but it obviously has its merits, especially since mine is already out there.

While I figure that out, I’ll share some take aways from the conference, which was seriously informative, fun and you should go to it if you’re all up into creative nonfiction. This is a mix of advice for both book and editorial publishing.

On pitches

  • Have your argument upfront, a fresh outlook
  • Have room for curation; editors like to be involved in deciding the angle
  • Writing that illuminates the margins; looking for people who have been told “no” (more diverse voices please!)
  • Have your cred and platforms included as assets for marketing the piece
  • If you have questions in your pitch, give the answers. Don’t leave editors hanging. They want the full arc of your article

On bad pitches

  • Don’t pitch me a “surveillance is bad” piece
  • Starting with “As a millennial…”
  • Pitches that are still happening: “I was beaten this week”
  • Essays that are therapy, and that don’t let you as an editor be honest with the writer because the issue is still too close
  • A pitch with judgment that isn’t contemporary or with an agenda
  • Cancer or divorce memoirs that don’t have a fresh perspective

On getting published

  • A good book proposal can take 6-8 months to write, and can be up to 50-60 pages long (depending on research)
  • BE SHAMELESS AND AGGRESSIVE (but not a dick)
  • Use your invisibility as a weapon for self-promotion and experimentation
  • Push for book contracts to be at least 18 months; finishing a book in a year is hard
  • You need an agent for a book; you don’t need an agent for your magazine article
  • Video is breaking, especially for online publication
  • Editors love finding writers who haven’t written for big outlets before (yay!)
  • Big outlets ask for exclusive pitches while other outlets frequently re-publish from, say, literary journals
  • Be careful about non-paying exposure becoming overexposure, as in, you give up all your best material just for the cred

On platforms

  • A platform is what an author brings to the table in terms of credibility and expertise; also what they will bring to the marketing table
  • Social media presence is important, and there are a plethora of tools that can support that (no, you don’t have to be on Twitter)
  • Don’t forget that your writing is the bedrock of the platform; if your writing isn’t strong, your street cred don’t matter
  • What’s your accessibility? How many readers, curators, editors, professors have the opportunity to read and hear you (hence a blog being important)
  • If you are scared of Twitter (and who isn’t), and yet feel pressured to have it, become a resource. Use it to promote other people you read and admire, have conversations about the craft. Just remember that Twitter rewards consistent engagement (this doesn’t mean being a trolling self-promoter either)
  • Think about your audience when your joining/on social media: is your writing style more attractive to those on FB or Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr, Youtube or Vimeo (and on and on and shoot me)
  • Remember that the more sophisticated social media platforms become, the less we are able to use them for free

What I will do (promise) is follow up with a post on who some fabulous people I met, including one who interviewed me for a writing podcast. Overall, it was a very inspiring experience, evidenced by me actually writing a post. CNF magic.

A translation of some cryptic tweets as an exercise in writing bullshit

I’m tired of writing about cancer. I know, it was only, like, two posts. But still– it was difficult. So what’s the opposite of cancer? Twitter (though maybe you disagree). Let’s just roll with it for now.

I think the next hip thing to do will be taking your parents out with you everywhere you go

Truffle oil. Skinny jeans. Butt shorts. Bacon in ice cream, waffles, footwear and Snocones. Things from Brooklyn. Ignoring that you’re in the second wave of gentrification by taking part in your neighborhood’s cultural street festivals.  I spend much time wondering, what will be the next new trend and how can I get ahead of the curve? I think the answer will sound a lot like  your mom saying you never call anymore.

bacon-bra-bow

also next big thing

I wish I had enough appts with my dentist to start a series called “conversations with my dentist” but at the same time, I’m glad I don’t

After I started my full-time job with a semi-comprehensive healthcare plan, I went to the dentist to catch up on 2 years worth of dental work. While my dentist was filling one of my 20 new cavities, he told me about living in Old Town, one of the originators of the gentrification movement in Chicago, and taking his kids to the park to play. He said there were always a group of young children running around being watched by a 14 year old girl. One day, a couple of younger boys from the group hopped over a fence to pull some air conditioning units down from a building window. My dentist said to the 14 year old girl, “Why don’t you stop them? You know better than that, you’re older than them.” And she said, “I tried to tell them but they won’t listen.” So he went over and told them to stop because it was dangerous and not their property. They hopped back over the fence, and one of the boys, probably around 8 years old, comes up to my dentist and says, “I don’t have to listen to you! I’m a GD!” while flashing a gang sign. My dentist looked at him and said, “I am so disappointed in you.” The young boy hung his head, ashamed, and walked away.

I don’t know about you, but I thought that was a bad ass story. Children still need parents, y’all. And I was like, damn, I really want to have more conversations with my dentist! But that would mean more days spent drooling  out the side of my mouth so…

spotify commerical “your fav band just announced a secret show, but you have a UTI” uh…what?

This was seriously a commercial on Spotify for urinary tract infection medication. It got me thinking of the demographic that really uses Spotify: slutties sequestered at home for the weekend drinking 10 gallons of cran listening to Tori Amos and Ani. Hello again 2000 and 1!

I am in a land where people give hugs for way too long

I performed at a festival that was a free event for families and apparently a major attraction for new-agey people who groove to free art. They were great, don’t get me wrong, but…the long hugs, guys. Really, really awkward, re: I do not want to exchange my energy with you so freely.  Please stick to a 3-second hug rule, and then move on to the plastic bags and painting-with-your-body exhibit with the child you are dragging by your boob.

You can’t bring your cats on your zombie escape plan D:

Dan has already concocted a zombie escape plan for us that I asked him to share after I  saw a zombie movie trailer and got the crap scared out of me. His escape plan only increased my anxiety when he informed me we couldn’t bring Rawr-Rawr and Shmeow-Shmeow in our bike panniers while we cycled out of the city on the Bloomingdale Line.  This is why I live in constant fear of a zombie outbreak.

reminiscing about that time in college when I ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s like I didn’t care about living another day

fairtrade_chunky_monkey_0

I recalled this memory while in the freezer aisle of some local grocery store. Why I go down those aisles is beyond me considering I can’t buy pretty much anything sold in them. But I came across BJs Chunky Monkey and thought of my college friend Jesse and how we visited the corner store at midnight with the sole intent of each eating a pint of ice cream while watching Friends re-runs in the dorm room common area. We did and it was glorious. I’m pretty sure we made out later too. That was also when I didn’t care about getting mouth herpes either.

That’s sure a snug fit

Dan and I were walking down State Street when a mother and young child walked past us. The mother had on a very tight, short, white dress which was perhaps not super appropriate for outerwear. This was a comment from the group of construction workers who also found her choice in apparel notable.

I’m sorry, but I seem to have run out of compassion today

I was in the midst of wedding planning and didn’t really care if anyone liked my invitations anymore.

what if, like, I needed therapy, but actually just signed up for singing lessons instead

barbra-streisand-6

I’ve been in therapy 5 times and recently ended the 5th therapist relationship back in February. It was totally amicable, but now I’m just considering other options for self-expression as it’s tiring to think of going back to therapy to work out the same issues of abuse, repressed anger and commitment problems that I haven’t somehow managed to completely resolve in the last, oh, FIFTEEN YEARS.  Perhaps some of you know what I mean? You just think, man, again? I have to talk about this again? Pass me an accompanist and some bawdy show tunes and let’s Streisand the shit out of that!

“I was in the middle of the best spin of my life!”

This just happened to me during an epic RV trip to Ann Arbor to watch the UM vs Notre Dame game. I know that sentence for many of you will be a major turn-off because you don’t like sports and didn’t think I did either. You’re mainly right though, don’t worry. I don’t like sports. I just like my alma matar kicking the shit out of an annoying team while pushing my body to the edge of it’s 31-year-old partying abilities (which are severely limited in normal life).

Besides that tangent- we stopped at Meijer at 2am (like ya do) and while there was a “striker” team assigned to get more booze and pickle juice, the rest of us tossed the frisbee in the parking lot. Or actually, I talked to my friend Shannon about this black-tie party she went to in Brooklyn. I then pretended to rip off non-existent snap-pants to reveal a non-existent ball gown, which I imagined I’d be wearing at a black-tie event, and started to spin around only to get immediately clobbered by a debilitating frisbee blow to the shin. Upon falling to the ground, I screamed, “I was in the middle of the best spin of my life!” which, despite growing up a child of old-school Disney princesses, I believe to be true. frisbee

what a pleasant surprise

This was what an ex-boyfriend of mine said to me the day we saw each other for the first time after I’d gotten engaged to Dan. It was super awkward because we hadn’t seen each other in about a year and we were at a work function where you can’t act like an asshole– though I wouldn’t say that seeing me was truly a pleasant surprise for him. More like, what a pleasant surprise (you bitch).

sitting on the couch, practicing not being a bitch.

Speaking of being a bitch, this is what I was thinking when Dan didn’t take out the trash or some shit I’m supposed to be upset about as his dutiful wife. Fortunately for all of us, I did successfully repress the urge to fly into a domestic rage.

I’m going to seriously pretend this dude is not watching porn next to me at Caribou Coffee.

I did not succeed, and the event was even more traumatizing because I was unable to finish my foamy latte.

sadlatte

Note: that porno did not contain a buttplug, but this post does contain a Twitter plug, so follow me bitchez: tactlessgrace

Can I get a minute (OMG this post is amazing!!!!) to myself?

Lisa Nesselson is a long time film critic currently writing for Screen International.  In this clip, she comments on how the internet has changed festivals like Cannes, and film-watching in general:

“The biggest change I think I’ve seen is that we used to have the time to luxuriate in thinking about what we just saw.  There was no Twitter, there was no internet…now people are telegraphing what they think of a movie 10 minutes into it…”

I’ve never been bothered by spoilers, but I am intrigued by the evolution of knowledge sharing, as demonstrated through the example of movie watching.  As a teen, I went through multiple steps to gather movie information: the TV trailer (which didn’t give everything away), reviews in a (paper) newspaper,  word of mouth, either at school or on the telephone (Oh my god (not OMG)! Titanic is the best movie ever!), calling the movie theater’s phone line for movie times (does that even exist anymore?), and finally, determining which theater would let in under-18s without an ID.

While Nesselson bemoans the loss of time for thoughtful indulgence of a subject before engaging in dialogue, did we really have time to think back then? Unless we went to the movie alone, we naturally discussed what we just saw.  We shared feelings, thoughts, observations, complaints over a milkshake and pancakes at Denny’s.  However, I suppose Nesselson’s complaint is that people can’t even get through a movie without both hearing and passing critique.  And even if you were with that annoying person who talked through movies (whoops) well…you were annoyed at them for doing so because their commentary interrupted your experience.

With each advancement, we become more aware of the power behind our technologically driven “collective knowledge”, and realize a large majority of the power lies in instant, accessible sharing.  But how much sharing is too much? We could say, “Just turn off the TV”, but at this point, can we really avoid intrusive knowledge and opinion distribution without sequestering ourselves in a the middle of…uh…where exactly?

While I’m an advocate of collective knowledge sharing, I also believe we’re losing something innately human in the midst of digital engulfment.  Yes, Twitter is just another form of communication, and yes, we would discuss movies on Facebook the same way we would in person…but when we use these avenues of communication, the space for personal and private thinking becomes smaller and smaller.  We automatically share and invite feedback, without a time for self-reflection first.  Perhaps we are losing ways to listen to ourselves, and gaining ways of garnering approval (liking/comments/re-tweeting) or attention through hasty debate, of which I, myself, am guilty.  Instant access to sharing means instant access to connection; but without the substance gathered from private reflection, the collective knowledge we share becomes superficial.

Technologically Inefficient

I had one of those days in technology land.

You know. Where NOTHING WORKS. And you want to throw your beautiful, very expensive MacBook Pro out the window (I didn’t mean it darling, I swear. I was just angry, I would never hurt you).

As I squatted underneath the desk in the quiet area of the library, struggling to get my laptop’s magnetic power source unplugged from the socket, I thought, “I am wasting valuable moments that could potentially be filled with productive work!”

I wasn’t really going to do any productive work after I fixed my technological problems.  I was going to stalk people on Facebook.  Write twitter updates.  Save drafts of emails I should have sent to friends long ago (isn’t that why there’s Facebook?).  I was going to use the addictive attributes of technology to distract me from one of its main purposes: increased productivity.

And as I angrily walked downstairs for the 4th time to the IT department, which smelled not-so-deliciously like fish, I thought, “Why am I so utterly dependent on technology for my work? How did I get this way? I feel so dirty.”

Technology wormed its way into my life.  From Atari to the Commodore 64, games like Cave of the Word Wizard and Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego? (bonus point if you know the theme song!), from the first time I sent an email and heard a modem ping, technology has lulled me into its gleaming, gaping maw.  Now I live inside the belly of the whale, not quite knowing the final destination, if Geppetto will save me, or if we will find a symbiotic relationship and live in harmony forever.

For now, my relationship to technology reminds me of this adorable kitten:

And just because I mentioned it: