Glitz & Grammar

Life and Times of a Wannabe Writer


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The Mind of a Writer

I’m not normally one for award shows like last night’s Oscars, but I did 100 percent dig Robert De Niro’s intro to the best screenplay nominees:

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

So tragic. So true.

By the way, the award for best original screenplay went to Spike Jonze for Her, one of the most beautifully written films I’ve ever seen in my life.

 


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Standing Up to Live

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, but for once it’s not because I’m in some weird funk. Rather, I was recently very inspired by the following quote:

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

According to the internet, it was Henry David Thoreau who said that. But we all know the internet can be a little dumb sometimes, so I’m not going to like, bet the farm on it or anything.

QuoteMeme(^Meme cred: cheezburger.com)

Anyway, I don’t really care who said it. I just think it’s a super dope quote.

As a writer I am constantly on the prowl for new material. Every moment of my life is a potential story, every person I meet a potential character. For a while there, however, I wasn’t doing much living. To be completely honest, I was coming off about a five-month period where my nights were spent having Netflix marathons with a single person. Granted I liked that person a lot and really enjoyed his company, but when it got to the point that I was actually envious of the writers of the shows we’d become addicted to–jealous of their ideas and the stories they created–I realized it was time to get off my ass and find my own inspiration.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Living. And it’s been so much fun! My sleep schedule is a little fucked and I’m lucky if I can squeeze in more than a single meal a day. But for the first time in far too long, I am going to bed at night happy and fulfilled with how I spent my day. I am stressing less about where I want to be in the next five years because I am way too concerned with how much fun I am having with the people I am with right now. I am a thousand percent more active, I’m losing weight, and I’m saving money by investing in experiences rather than things.

While my current writing projects may be gathering virtual dust, my idea notebook is expanding by the hour. I feel like in this day and age, a writer’s success is generally determined by how quickly she can produce and push her content. But to me, the quality of my work is far more important than meeting some asinine deadline on someone else’s agenda. I realize this may throw me off my five-year plan to become a world-renowned writer. But right now I’m too busy standing up to live to even care.


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Talking to Myself

My computer’s been crashing left and right lately, so I’ve spent the past few days transferring all my old writing onto an external hard drive just in case. Reading through my old journal entries has reminded me of what an emotional roller coaster my life has been, but it has also made me so grateful for where I am now.

I thought I’d share this letter I wrote to myself on December 14, 2012–my 28th birthday. This was only a few months ago, so it kind of boggles my mind how much things have changed. (I love my job, I’ve made remarkable progress on my novel, and I’ve found the most incredible man who I am 100 percent certain I am meant to share my life with.)

Life can be pretty amazing if you just let it be.

Dear Self,

Happy birthday! Chin up, 28’s not that old. You still have plenty of time to land your dream job, find your dream guy, and adopt those African babies! Why are you stressing so much??

You’ve been stressing a lot lately, actually. About everything. Why do you always feel the need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders? You’d think that by 28 you’d have it figured out—things are going to carry on, play out the way they should, regardless of whether you worry about them constantly or not. So stop worrying about them constantly.

Quit wondering when your writing will be noticed by the right person and just write. Quit chasing after that one guy and let someone who actually cares start chasing you. Quit worrying about your eggs drying up—you don’t understand how that biology works, and you’ve always wanted to adopt anyway.

Life isn’t the pretty package you grew up believing it would be. You should know that by now.

You didn’t get that internship with National Geographic. You didn’t land a full-time writing gig immediately out of college. You got kicked out of law school. And now you’re a bartender who writes on the side. Get over it. Nobody else’s life goes according to plan either, so why are you so obsessed with your own?

Let’s make 28 about fulfilling your dreams. You’ve had plenty of fun these past few years. Heck, you’ve had a pretty kickass 27 years. So let’s buckle down. Let’s focus your time and energy on being a better person and perfecting the craft you love.

Drink more tea and less tequila. Eat more fruits and veggies and less Taco Bell Dollar Menu. Play more outside and less on your video game console.

Walk your dog every day. Read every day. Write every day. Call someone you love every day.

Pay off your credit card debt. Create a website. Finish your novel. Jesus Christ, Jessica, FINISH YOUR NOVEL.

You’re a good person who works hard, but it’s time to be better and it’s time to work harder. 

This is your year.

I love you,
Yourself


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Dead Time

It’s midnight, which means we’re about two hours away from prime writing time. Or mine, at least. My roommate/BFF says I write best between 2 and 4 a.m. because that’s what weirdos like her call “dead time,” a time when ghosts and spirits are allegedly more active. How this corresponds to the quality of my writing is beyond me, but I always thought it was kind of interesting she’d draw that connection.

Personally, I think it’s the lack of distraction between 2 and 4 a.m. that make those hours so perfect for writing. Your chores for the day have already been done, your errands already run. And all the normal people have long since gone to bed so you don’t have to worry about being interrupted by phone calls, text messages, and that burning desire to check your Facebook notifications every 12 seconds. It’s just you, your imagination, and a blank Word document, alone in a dark and silent room.

Or maybe it is just the ghost thing; I don’t know.

Anyway, I figured I’d spend the next couple hours writing a quick post since I’ve been terrible about maintaining this blog and so I can use “dead time” to work on my new novel. Spoiler alert: It’s about a beautiful 26-year-old piano-playing prodigy who loses both her fiancé and her right hand in a devastating car accident. Brutal, right? We’ll see how many pages I make it into this one before dropping it into the “unfinished manuscripts” folder on my desktop.

I don’t know if it’s all the NaNoWriMo juice I’ve been drinking or what, but lately I’ve been feeling the need to focus all my writing endeavors on finally finishing a book. It’s just starting to seem like the only avenue I have left to making a career as a writer. Every effort I’ve made to land a steady gig with a local magazine has failed, I’ve proven time and time again I’m not disciplined enough to earn a legitimate income freelancing, and I’ve got this weird apprehension that the writing projects I have been working are starting to hit a plateau. So really it’s like, why not give this whole novel writing thing a serious shot?

Also, I really have dreamed about becoming the world-renowned author of some best-selling series since I was a little girl. Book signings, Today Show interviews, phone calls from Christopher Nolan begging me to let him turn my books into movies—it would all be mine!

In all honesty, it’s about so much more than just that. Because writing isn’t all about getting published. In fact, any true writer—those who eat, sleep, and breathe their craft—will agree that publication is only a tiny fraction of the satisfaction we get from writing. It’s not the bylines or the fame we are addicted to as writers. It’s the process.

It’s spending whole days reading in search of new ideas, then being struck with one out of the blue one night while showering or driving or watering your plant. It’s the panic that overcomes you the moment that idea strikes, to find the nearest notebook or piece of paper or fuck it, just give me that napkin, so you can jot down your thoughts before they escape forever. It’s turning on your laptop at 2 a.m. and sitting down to do work in the silence and candlelight. It’s rummaging through the deepest crevices of your brain and allowing whatever you find in there to spill unapologetically through your fingertips out onto your keyboard. It’s about pushing the print button after that final edit, and the pride you feel once you recognize you have just given life to something that was once nothing more than a figment of your imagination.

That may have sounded like a bunch of deep hippie bullshit, but whatever. If you’re a writer, you get it.

I actually wrote this piece a lot quicker than I figured it would take, so I’m going to go Google “hand amputation” for a bit. On a related note, I just realized why my dreams have been so weird lately.


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Crap

Hello anyone out there who still reads this blog! Just thought I’d take a moment to talk about how much I suck.

I was recently fired from one of my bartending jobs the day after quitting the other. That’s not even the crappiest part because the reason I was terminated is so stupid it’s a joke, but not really one that made me LOL or anything. What did make me LOL was when my manager ended her “We’re going to have to let you go” speech with, “but that’s a really cute dress!” Swear to God that happened.

Anyway, it ended up being one of the best things ever because I have since picked up a new bartending job where I work half as often and make just as much as I did at the other two joints combined. I mean yeah, I’m still a 27-year-old bartender and whatever, but at least I can pay my water bill this month. Boom shaka laka.

Still, I suck.

Here’s why: I am finally in a place where I’ve got all this extra time to write—to really make a name for myself and maybe even finally turn this writing dream into a full-time gig! I have whole days off now…WHOLE DAYS. Sometimes even two in a row. That’s two days in a row where I could be pounding out words, one after another, charming the socks of readers and literary agents and whatnot.

Instead, here is a list of things I haven’t been writing lately:

  • Anything for this blog (obvi)
  • Freelance articles that could potentially earn me legitimate income
  • A single word for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, a writing challenge I’ve “participated” in the past three Novembers)
  • My own column (I took Halloween off since it’s my favorite holiday and all, and have yet to write anything since. I’m probably going to get fired.)

Essentially what I’m getting at here is that since being granted all this free time for writing, I have spent exactly zero minutes of it writing.

While I’d love to say the problem is I’ve been sooooooo busy, I can’t. Because I’m a terrible liar. And it’s not like I have nothing to write about, either. So I can’t even use that CREATIVITY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE RUSHED!!! excuse.

Mostly, I’ve just been a lazy f*ck. I recently deleted all my Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 data by accident, so a good chunk of my life has been devoted to getting my rank back up in hopes that 13-year-old boys will quit calling me a noob. The rest of my time has been allocated between working (pouring beer into cups, etc.) and drinking this one bottle of 192 proof vodka I just bought that tastes like gasoline mixed with farts.

Oh, I have also developed a sleeping problem, which sort of makes me feel like the guy in Fight Club. Side note: I was Marla Singer from Fight Club this Halloween. But yeah, I can’t seem to fall asleep before 3 a.m., and generally wake up around 6 or 7 all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on my super exciting day of pouring beers into cups, etc. and NOT writing.

Do you guys think I’m in a funk or what? What do you, fellow writers, do when you get into this pattern of non-writing? How do you get back into the groove?

Any and all suggestions/criticism welcome.

Also, if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, tell me about your progress. I was thinking about finishing my mermaid novel this year, but then I was like, Ooooh maybe I should just get a mermaid tattoo instead!


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Sorry. Been busy writing stuff about masturbation, etc.

I have been meaning to blog, I really have. It’s just that I’ve been so busy what with my other projects and all that I haven’t really had much time to spend here on G&G. Take this piece about masturbating, for example:

True story: I didn’t masturbate until after I lost my virginity at 18—almost 19—years old. I was never really comfortable with myself and to be honest, the whole thing kind of weirded me out. I always figured masturbating was for 13-year-old boys who just discovered Lubriderm and the internet for the first time. It wasn’t until college that I realized everyone was doing it. And not only were they doing it but they had been doing it for like, ever. This is how I found out:

Scene: Living room of girlfriend’s apartment. Five-to-six college freshmen are enjoying a girls’ night in. Toe nail painting, romantic comedy watching, hair braiding, all that shit is happening. Sex talk ensues.

Me: “So what does an orgasm even feel like?” [Continue reading at www.wildflowermagazin.com]

Anyway, I hope to get back on track with a regular blogging pattern beginning next week. I know I’ve been promising this for like, ever, but I really want to do something with glitzandgrammar.com! Something big. Something bigger than big! Honestly, it’s probably not going to be all that big at all. But still. You should definitely keep reading. Because I really need someone to have a little faith in me right now.

Love you guys. Here’s a fun comic that I think most freelance writers will relate to:

(Click image for source)


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You Might Need This

Hello writers and fellow wannabe writers! Because I am a good friend (or at least a semi-decent internet friend), I have decided to share with you this awesome new shirt I just purchased from Raygun. ($19…what a deal!) I will also link you to the website where YOU can purchase your very own. See? Told you I’m not so bad. Just make sure to call and give me a heads up the days you wear it so we don’t look totally ridiculous rocking twin blog-a-lot shirts. How embarrassing.


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Wanted: Old Couples Who Still Get It On, etc.

I just finished a piece for the print edition of this amazing women’s magazine. I actually submitted two pieces for the issue, one about all the dope new music coming out this fall and one about how nearly impossible it is to have a normal relationship/sex life when you write a biweekly sex column.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe I should just ask my editor if I can write about something else. Like cooking or finance or health or parenting. But then I remember how much I hate writing about all those things and it’s just like, Oh yeah….THIS is my life:

I love what I write about. And to be honest, I kind of enjoy the challenges it has posed in my life. If a guy can’t handle the fact that sometimes I talk openly about digging things like role play and bondage and threesomes and first kisses, then clearly he’s not the man for me.

On that same note, I have been thinking a lot lately about branching out and interviewing other open-minded people about their love and sex lives. I would love to talk to people with weird fetishes, for example, or maybe interview a really old couple who still regularly gets it on to find out their secrets. In the past, my column has been very self-centered. While I am always more than happy to throw myself under the bus and expose all my love, sex and dating mishaps in the name of making my readers feel better about themselves, I also feel like maybe it is time to grow and expand.

What do you guys think?


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Writing epiphanies, fedoras, and fortune cookies

This Thursday I attended my first ever “Las Vegas Writers Group meetup” which is, shockingly, a meet up group for writers in the Las Vegas area. I went alone and for no other reason than because I want to be a writer.

It was the first time since I can remember that I attended an event for nobody’s benefit but mine. These past couple years I’ve devoted so much time and energy to supporting someone else’s dream that I almost forgot I used to have my own.

So, down a boyfriend and up a few free weeknights I decided I might as well crash this sure–to-be-poppin’ writers shindig. It took me three hours to prepare. Not my writing, but my outfit. And the last hour of that was just a back and forth with myself over whether I’d look cool or douchey if I wore a fedora.

As you see, I decided to go with it. Not that it mattered since I ended up being the youngest one there by at least two decades and nobody really gave a shit about me or my douchey hat.

Regardless of everyone’s disregard for my innate ability to accessorize, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the meet up. Except I didn’t know there was a cover charge and got kind of pissed when I had to pay a $3 ATM fee to withdraw the $5 cover. OH! I also get super pissed when grocery store checkers are like, “Would you care to make a donation to help cure cancer in children?” I’m aware this is a total tangent, but it seriously boils my blood every single time. How can I possibly say no to helping cure cancer in children? I mean sure I’m charging that $1’s worth of ramen noodles to my credit card, but why not? Throw an extra five spot on there so I don’t look like an asshole to the person in line behind me.

Anyway, that whole cancer thing just happened again today, which I guess makes it sort of relevant. But I’ll get back to the meet up just the same.

So there I am, $8 in the hole but feeling like a million bucks in my fedora. (I made a pact with myself in the parking lot before I walked in that if I decided to wear the hat, I would have to 100% own the shit out of it.) After paying my 5 or $8 cover, depending on how you look at it, I grabbed a seat in the way back because it was the only seat left in the house. And by house I mean dive bar/tobacco shop that serves “Italian American” food and warm beer.

There were at least 50 fifty-somethings, a handful of peeps even older than that (not that fifty-something is ancient) and, if I’m being honest, I guess there were a couple dudes in there close to my age. It was a smorgasbord of writers, nonetheless, which totally made my heart happy. I sat there scoping out each and every one of them, wondering what they were working on, what characters they had created, what stories were playing out in their minds at that very moment.

Which were authors? Which were screenwriters? Which were just bloggers with really high aspirations and a fondness for felt headwear?

Once the stragglers (me) were situated, a guest speaker humbly introduced himself as writer, Richard Wiley. A less humble handout indicated he was founder of the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Associate Director of the Black Mountain Institute, and author of several novels including one that got him the PEN/Faulkner award for best American fiction. Mr. Wiley sipped pale ale while discussing the topic of the hour, “Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Avoid Making them.” It took less than 20 seconds for me to fall deeply in love with him.

Within the hour, I learned I was guilty of most mistakes made by writers, in particular, cardinal sin number one: looking past the work to the reward. Mr. Wiley’s suggestion for overcoming this is to try and imagine publication doesn’t matter. He said that writers should write “not to say something, but in order to find out what it is they have to say.” And I thought, “Crap. That’s deep.”

While I really do love the process of writing, in fact I’d say I’m addicted to it, the process is sometimes overshadowed by a greed to see my name in print. “by Jessica Farkas” – I love the way it looks! I’m not even all that fond of my name, it just looks so damn good in writing. I’ll pump out a 1,000-word article on some BS topic I don’t give an S about if it gets me a byline.

But Wiley’s right. Writing is about the joy you get while doing the work, not the praise you receive when you’re done.

Truth is, the only time I don’t feel like I should be doing something else is when I’m writing. Even if it’s just a silly post for my lame blog, writing is what reminds me that I am alive. Everyone should have something like that. If you don’t, well then find it. And once you do, don’t you dare allow yourself to forget about it. Not for anyone.

Anyway, I also think it’s important you guys know that I ate some cheap Chinese takeout tonight and this was my fortune:

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