what makes a great book?
still trying to figure out how to get the formatting right. it doesn't work with my browser.
I should have posted this when it went up, but, ummm, Huffington Post. Me.
here's a heckuva long blog post...
I haven’t publicly announced this yet, but here goes…
I don’t know when I decided I wanted to be a writer. To be honest I’m not even sure that I chose writing as much as writing chose me. I learned to read when I was, I don’t know, like three years old or something ridiculous like that. My parents bought me Hooked on Phonics and I read At Play, which was full of those simple Dick-and-Jane stories, and I saw stories that had nothing to do with me or my life or the dirt road I lived on or the cousins I was always with.
I saw something different, and somewhere inside of me I knew that there were a trillion other “differents” if I could only imagine them. Stories untold, characters unimagined. Worlds unbuilt.
I devoured books. Amelia Bedelia, Laura Ingells Wilder, Berenstain Bears, the Curious George books my mother brainwashed me into liking. At night when I was older and had a little sister, I would lay in bed and tell her stories as she fell asleep, imagining people and places that didn’t exist except in my mind.
I wanted to be a writer.
I had to be a writer, even if I never made any money, even if I was never any good.
I just had to write.
And then I got a little bit older and did some research in those When I Grow Up books that the school library held. It turned out that writers didn’t make much money. I had no idea what the numbers meant really, but I understood when they said most writers have another job too. Something that lets them, you know, eat and stuff.
Fifth grade. My class took our weekly trip to the school library, sat listening to the librarian read a book to us, and then were let free. I headed over to the nonfiction section - this was my big “reading biographies” year that happened when my dad told me I read too much fiction. That year I read biographies of Amelia Earhart, Michelle Kwan, the Wright Brothers, Florence Nightengale, and Charles Lindbergh. (Do we sense an all-encompassing theme here?)
But that day I pulled out the books about careers, flipped through them, and decided to be a teacher. It was such an easy choice. I’d first thought about teaching back in second grade, thanks to the most incredible teacher ever, who was the epitome of what an elementary school teacher should be: kind and caring and smart and interesting and interested. I wanted to be all of those things. And I loved kids. Always had. Still do.
I don’t know if I chose teaching because I liked school, because I loved kids and wanted to help them, or because I wanted to be like my second grade teacher. But I know the over reaching idea of it was This makes sense. I can teach and I can write. I’ll like it. It’s practical.
I was a weird fifth grader, sure, but those thoughts stayed with me always.
I was going to write, but I was going to teach. Getting published, making money at writing, was this huge abstract what-if. The kind of wish you make when you see the first star at night. Teaching, on the other hand, was solid. It was concrete.
I could go to college, I could get my degree, and I could get a job. I could be a teacher.
Eleventh grade and oh-wow-I-graduated-early.
First-year of college.
Second-year of college.
And then… how do I put this? I don’t know how to say it so that it doesn’t sound so completely stupid and childish and immature, but…
I realized that maybe teaching isn’t what I want to do.
Because I hate school. I mean, not school itself - not my classes or learning for the most part. But the whole school system. Standardized tests, teaching the test, No Child Left Behind Except For All Of Them, gearing up to get into college, omg, and then once you’re there you’re just learning more stupid stuff you don’t really need to know just so you can have a degree.
Because I have no idea where I want to live once I get done with California and I have have have to know that in order to get the right certification and not have to either go back to school later on or waste time now.
Because I see what it takes to be a good teacher. I see that you have to care, you have to be selfless, you have to really put your heart and soul into it. You have to be there, one hundred percent, or it just won’t work. Students (and this is just my opinion, informed though it may be) are pushed into a school system that is against them for the most part - recess is being taken away from elementary schools, art and music are being cut because of funds, everything is about testing, talents and interests aren’t explored. So much is against these kids that, being totally serious here, it makes me sick to think about. Teachers should be the one thing that’s for them, and they need to really, really be for them.
Teaching isn’t a “plan B” for something else. It’s not a backup career or anything else. It’s a commitment, and a huge one at that.
…and I don’t think I can do it.
Which puts me, officially, in the College of the Undecided and Hopelessly Adrift.
So what am I doing?
I don’t know. Writing, of course, goes without saying. But my fifth-grade self was entirely right: I need something else. Because writing is the sort of career where you can work for years (and years and years and possibly forever) without seeing any monetary payment.
Right now I’m thinking something in the publishing field. I seem to like books quite a lot (note: understatement) and am getting interested in - not agent, that would be too messy trying to be on both sides of the fence in that way - but maybe publicist, or something editorial.
I don’t know, is what I’m trying to say.
And it’s the first time in my life, ever, that I haven’t known.
(Okay, I mean obviously I just sent out a bunch of queries and am working on my second novel so I know something, but I don’t know what I’m going to college for right now, or how I’m going to be supporting myself. It’s really scary. I don’t think I like it.)
Oh, and also? Thanks a lot to Becca for making me realize all this. It’s basically her fault I’m hopelessly adrift right now.
I have not been deserting you.
Well. Okay. I have. But I just haven't been personal-blogging AT ALL lately.
I recently (meaning: today!) made it to day 100 in my flickr 365 challenge. My photos are set back at public again.
Also I'm preparing TEH AWESOMENESS OF QUERYING.
wish me luck....
(i'm not going to write a long blog here because all the formatting is lost and honestly it's too hard to read once that happens)
I don't know what I'm going to do about this formatting issue. Maybe switch browsers, maybe not.
But for now.. a link to my latest post will have to suffice: http://girljordyn.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/missed-is-the-only-word/
Maybe this will
Apparently I can't format on a Safari browser... does anyone know how I might be able to? It's really awful that my posts end up all squished up like that; I know it's hard to read that way. OTHER RED GIRLS: HELP?
Oh dear friendlies.
Today was Family Day.
Umm, some back story? (warning: impending info dump)
Every year around my parents' anniversary (Feb. 10th for those in the know) the way we celebrate it is a family tradition unoriginally called "Family Day." Gifts are exchanged, recently there's been cake, and we spend the day doing something fun and family-ish. Sea World was a few years back. We used to go up to the "high country" or just do a board game day when we lived in Arizona.
This year, what with our new house and all, it was Ikea. (Note: my sister is currently putting her desk together.)
YES, FRIENDLIES, WE CELEBRATED MY PARENTS' 26TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY WITH A TRIP TO IKEA.
So that was fun. I got a cute ugly monster poster THAT I LOVE.
My sister (helpfully) said it looks like it should be a little boy's room. Umm, thanks.
What I really want to talk about are the gifts because I'm sure I'll share with you a picture of my room when I get it finished (I also got a book case! woo!).
Let's talk about THE PREZZIE. The one me and the Lovely spent all that time working on and that we were SO SO SO excited about. I guess I can unveil it now, now that my parents have opened it.
It was a book from Blurb - a history of our family from the time Mom and Dad got married. Pages of me and Taylor and our parents and cousins and grandparents - important events, stories, etc. Even a recipe.
It was quite something. It made my mom cry. My dad said it surprised him - apparently he'd been gearing up for something really stupid. He said he thought it was going to be a magnet-holder or something.
I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A MAGNET-HOLDER.
So there was that funness. It was proclaimed the "best Family Day present ever."
And then there was THE SURPRISE.
OH. MY. GOSH.
Months ago (months and months and months ago), my sister told me she had a "surprise" for me. She kept telling me this, mentioning it every couple weeks and never giving me any hints to when I would get it or what it was.
Naturally, I got annoyed. You would too if someone kept telling you they had a surprise for you BUT YOU NEVER GOT IT.
I decided there was no surprise. She was just talking.
Then tonight, after all the prezzies had been opened and we'd had cake (YUM cake), her eyes suddenly lit up and she said, "OH MY GOSH I HAD NOTHER PRESENT FOR YOU! Remember the surprise I was going to give you??" And thus began a duck hunt (is that a phrase? it should be) of her looking for this surprise in the few yet-to-be-unpacked boxes from the move.
It was a manilla envelope.
I opened it up.
It was a bunch of pages of notebook paper, bound together in page protectors, with her handwriting on them.
"Letters," she said. "I wrote you a letter every day for the first term of freshman year."
Best. Gift. EVER.
Don't I have the greatest sister in the world? Aren't you jealous?
I know I've posted pictures on here before.
...I just can't remember how I did it.
So, if you want to read my post about my Flickr 365 project, you'll have to click on over to my wordpress site... (http://girljordyn.wordpress.com)
Sorry bout that. :(
OH ALSO: THINGS I LOVE:
-demetri martin's 'important things' show
-being awake at 2 in the morning because i snoozed endlessly after work
Okay, so Amy asked me to cross-post my blog posts that I do because I haven't been writing them here lately.
Last night. Last post.
We all have our weird things, right?
Like some people don’t like garbage bags and some can’t stand wooden spoons.
Well, okay, so. You know how when you put something in the microwave it gets hot? Then when it’s done being fried with radiation or whatever it is that happens, the microwave BEEPS?
I CANNOT STAND IT.
Sometimes I stand by the microwave, waiting for whatever’s in it to be done so I can open the door BEFORE IT BEEPS. If someone else in the house uses the microwave I yell at them as soon as it beeps to TAKE IT OUT TAKE IT OUT MAKE IT STOP!!!
You see, I have Beeping Microwave Sonar.
The microwave is downstairs in the kitchen and my room is upstairs, on the opposite side of the house, yet I can always hear the microwave when it beeps. Kitchen, living room, bedroom - wherever I am. I hear it. And something inside me gets incredibly annoyed and I feel like if it doesn’t stop I might break out in hives.
I’ve never actually had hives. But I imagine they feel like how hearing the microwave beep sounds. IE. they make you want to explode in pain and/or frustration. If the beeping doesn’t STOP, and QUICKLY, I start to go swiftly insane.
I do things like yell at whoever is closer to the microwave than me/whoever is using the microwave/whoever is around. And block my ears/go “lalalalalala” to block out the noise. And grit my teeth in anger.
So yeah. I’m weird about the microwave beeping.
But that’s not the only microwave-related thing that turns me into a nervous wreck.
The other thing is when people stop the microwave before it’s done going and then they don’t hit the clear button and the time left is still there instead of, um, the actual time.
This makes me a nutter.
I freak out for a moment, saying things like, “AM I THE ONLY ONE THIS DRIVES CRAZY???” (apparently I am). I hurry over and hit the clear button, then I FIND whoever used the microwave last and give them a stern talking-to.
They tell me I have problems.
Maybe they’re right. I have microwave-related problems.
BUT ALL PROBLEMS COULD BE AVOIDED IF PEOPLE JUST STOPPED THE INCESSANT BEEPING AND CLEARED THE SCREEN PLEASE.
The blog I want to post on here is a million times long without formatting. So I'm just going to link to it on my own blog and you can read it there, if you so choose. I feel like I have to share it though; I'm so happy right now I could melt. So proud of myself for doing what I did, however small.
Ugh apparently there iS no formatting anymore. At least not as far as I can tell. Maybe I was doing something different before and I just can't remember what it was?
I don't know.
Maybe this will just be my stupidwords blog...where I just blather on about whatever.
I don't know.
There are a lot of things I don't know these days.
The four of us are in my parents’ room, covering the floor with our sleeping bags and blankets and pillows. It’s summertime, and the summer of Nick@Nite’s Block Party Summer, the one where they play marathons of Gilligan’s Island every Tuesday. We love this show and every Tuesday night we are together, at their house or ours (usually ours; it was always usually ours) to watch it. We were kids and we were up late and that night when Gilligan’s Island was over we looked at each other, dejected.
My dad got up to go to the bathroom, one of us kids asked, “What else is on?” and my mom flipped through the channels, stopping on another old show. A guy in a suit standing in a room. Looked boring.
“What is this?” I asked, clearly not wanting one of my mom’s old TCM-type movies or shows.
“Just watch it. You’ll like it.”
On the tv, someone got shot. The first scene I ever saw of this show and it was of somebody getting killed.
“Oh yeah,” I said sarcastically. “Real nice.” (I was fairly sarcastic for a pre-adolescent girl.)
“Keep watching,” she told me.
“What is it?” I asked again.
“And old show. Get Smart. Just be quiet and watch it.”
So I did as I was told. And a few scenes later I think I uttered the words, “This is the best show ever!”
And so it began…
The four of us, sleeping on the floor of my parents’ bedroom. A late summer night. My mom switching the channel from Nick@Nite to TVLand.
It was my particular obsession, this show, but we all loved it. The school year came and the three of us that were in school would race off the bus and get to the house just in time to see it on TVLand every afternoon. The show itself was interspersed with commercials, most notably for the George Foreman Grill. To this day the name ‘George Foreman’ reminds me of Get Smart.
While I am incontestably the one who liked (understatement, understatement) the show the most, it is inextricably tied up with the legend of the four. When the movie came out I thought, I wish Brad and Madi were here to see it with us, and when me and Taylor settle down to watch my DVDs of the show at night the only thing that seems missing is the other half of us.
I miss them, Brad and Madi. I miss spreading blankets out on the floor during the summer and watching tv all night. I miss the Dark Game and midnight snacks and everyone’s particular neurosis and laughing at each other. I miss the perfect balance we seem to strike when we are together. It is true that we are older now, that I am an “adult” and Brad and Taylor are teenagers, and Madi is starting that whole process of “teenagedom” herself. We are beginning our lives as separate entities, no longer always together and no longer the events of our lives flowing seamlessly together. We aren’t kids anymore, and it scares me a little.
It scares me that it is true that time in our lives, the Get Smart, the summer days and nights, the perfection of it all, ended with the ominous THAT SUMMER, and that it is something we will never get back. I am wary of all this time that is passing, all this time that we are changing into people we don’t know. I am nervous every time we get together that things will be different somehow. That something in our lives, something in the natural succession of life, something out of our control, will have changed the four. Will have changed the balance we strike when we are together.
And every time we get together those fears prove themselves to be either unfounded or unimportant. Because we are the four, and we are bound by something that is either friendship or family ties or something unknowable that keeps us tethered to each other. We change and we grow and we become teenagers and adults and people with our own lives, and then we come together again and stay up too late watching the tv shows we grew up with and we play the Dark Game and Ghost in the Room and have midnight snacks and go back to the balance we have always had.
I love them. I miss them.
And, as a very related aside, I talked to Brad tonight and he told me he won MVP of his jr. high football team. The conversation went like this…
Brad: Hey, I won, uh, uh, MVP.
Me: You did? That’s awesome! Clap, clap!
Brad: Thanks. Everyone voted for me except for one guy.
Me: Who didn’t vote for you? Your mortal enemy?
Brad: No, me.
Also his team went undefeated. Two years in a row, woot woot! Go Brad!! And go BR!!
Remember how I used to blog here? And how I've slowly gotten away from it? And how I want to get back to posting things both at wordpress and at here because I MISS IT? Well my new goal: (or one of them at least) post my wordpress posts here too. Just in case anyone checks them. :)
So my last post....
this one is heavy, dudes.
This has been in my mind for the past couple days and is finally coming to fruition since I just watched the new House episode…
I drifted away from many friends when I moved, and a few others for other reasons, and I’ve fought like mad with my best friend. Fought so much that I really thought, this friendship is over, but then I was, thank goodness, wrong. I have lost sleep, have worried, have cried, have felt my world shift because of this thing we call friendship.
But never have I gone through the loss of a friend in one full swoop, in one huge event or a chain of life-altering events. Or if I have it was a person whom I considered a friend but who maybe didn’t exactly consider me a friend, so that’s a bit different.
But it happens, and it has happened to friends of mine. One in particular that I am thinking of tonight. And I’m not talking about death - that’s a whole other subject - I’m talking about losing a friend because she isn’t who you think she is, isn’t who she pretends to be, isn’t who she used to be, or a whole host of other isn’ts, wasn’ts, and won’ts.
A couple nights ago I saw, or at least heard, a flickering of the effects of this. A conversation about “was she there?” and “did you talk to her?” and “no really, be honest, did you?” And as my friend asked these things of the person she was talking to I saw her face, and I saw in it something that was either sadness or anger or sadness buried beneath anger.
It was that expression people get when they try to hide what is inside of them but the suddenness of facing it is too much to hold in. Neutral, but hurt. Expressionless, but sad.
I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. And the reason I didn’t is simple, straightforward. It was because I didn’t feel like I could. Not only because my friend is a private person, but also (mainly - let’s be honest here) because I was out of place. Because for so long the (best) friend she lost was a girl I was jealous of, for reasons that do have to do with this and reasons that have nothing to do with it.
But when that conversation happened? I didn’t feel how I expected to feel.
I didn’t feel guilty; the reasons for their failed friendship had nothing, nothing, to do with me.
And I didn’t feel smug either, like haha I win you lose! That’s not me. At all.
I just felt sad. Because I’ve known what it is like to think you are losing a best friend, but no idea what emotions you go through when it actually happens. I know what it is like to care about someone you have known forever, have grown up with, but no idea what it is like for that to suddenly disappear.
Because though I don’t know the exact emotions of the exact situation, I know what is contained in that facial expression. And I know they are feelings hard to deal with; and I know they are deep, not shallow, emotions; and I know they are awful, that sometimes “awful” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
But I don’t know what the right thing to say is, or if I should say anything at all.
Edit: Ugh. I don’t even know if I want to keep this post up. I said a lot of extra stuff when all I really wanted to say is that I don’t know what to say. Ugh.
PS. I tried to format this and seperate the paragraphs but it didn't work and I don't have the time to mess with it right now. I've gotta get to work.
Let’s talk about weight. Because that’s the in thing to do now, right?
I’m rather skinny.
Oooh, I know. I’m not supposed to say that, am I? I’m supposed to complain about my pudgy belly or flabby arms or SOMETHING, ANYTHING, even if people routinely comment on OHMYGOSH YOUR WRISTS ARE TINY!
But why? It’s a fact: I. Am. Skinny. When I went to the doctor last week and stepped on the scale I was a little surprised at how low the number was, and I’m used to being skinny.
But here’s the odd thing about it:
When I was younger, like up until the ninth grade or so, my weight was somehow TEH PLAGUE. There’s pictures of me and my friends in mid school and I look like bones and skin. So skinny it shocks me; no wonder people commented on it. Junior high came and I was still that way…
and my school did an assembly thing about eating disorders. Because I guess seventh grade is THAT AGE for girls? Anyway, after that girls would come up to me. Completely well-meaning girls of course, and they would mention that maybe I should Eat. That maybe Being Anorexic Is Bad. That I was Already Very Skinny.
Of course I knew all that. I wasn’t anorexic. I was just skinny. And their comments didn’t hurt me exactly, they just made me aware. Aware that apparently maybe probably people might think I am anorexic if I don’t Watch It.
And then something happened. Either suddenly or slowly I can’t say, but one day it seems instead of being Too Skinny, every girl around me was worrying about gaining weight. Skinny girls! Counting carbs and staying away from pizza!
Then it felt weird to me, that I didn’t care. I remember distinctly one night, going over to a sort-of-friend’s house to watch a movie with a huge group of people she’d invited. We had salad and pizza and all the guys ate pizza and all the girls ate salad, each of them saying something about how they were trying to not get fat or about eating healthy or about something-or-the-other.
So I felt a little odd being the only girl eating pizza. I thought to myself, Maybe I should have salad instead. Pizza is not the healthiest thing in the world.
But guess what? I’m not the hugest FAN OF SALADS. And I was HUNGRY. So I had the pizza.
And now things are topsy-turvy from how they are in junior high and instead of being aware of myself when I don’t eat, I’m aware when I do. Not because I’m afraid of becoming fat, not because I’m trying to Watch My Weight, but just because everyone else seems to be. Even my sister has lately begun making comments about her “fat” tummy. And I can’t tell if she’s serious or not, but either way it gives me the willies. Is this how girls are supposed to be? So obsessed with their weight, whatever it may be, always thinking they could stand to eat a few pounds or that they should take the salad instead of the pizza even though they really are hungry?
Am I some sort of freak of nature that I JUST DON’T CARE? That I eat when I’m hungry (and if I feel like eating ice cream I do) and I don’t eat when I’m not? Is it truly crazy that I choose the pizza over salad or that, occasionally, I’m not quite sure what my weight is because I don’t keep up with it? Am I a freak of nature that I have no body issues whatsoever related to my weight?
What’s upside-down: is it me or society?
Oh, also, if anyone is going to comment on it: I’m NOT talking about the obviously overweight who have reasons to be concerned about their weight. I’m talking about everyone else.
Also, I’m officially starved.