Am I A Writer?

Yes, I know, it totally did take me another 6 months to write a new post on this blog. Oops. Mea Culpa.


As I type this, it’s been exactly one week since I’ve graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with my master’s degree. Here’s photographic evidence:

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See? Done.

And while I don’t have a full-time job lined up just yet, I have two wonderful summer opportunities that I’m super geeked about. On Tuesday, I accepted an intern position with the amazing edtech company 2U. I’ll be their Content team’s first-ever Content Strategy intern and I cannot wait to get started working with them! Also, did I mention that their NYC office is located on Chelsea Piers? Yeah. And two piers over from a SKATEPARK, no less.

The second opportunity I have is one that seems almost too good to be true. Just thinking about it gives me the beautifully unsettling feeling of a dream that’s been pulled from sleep into one’s waking life; the sensation of an “ideally” becoming a “possibly”. As you know, I hope to pursue a career in children’s media. It’s why I set out to complete a master’s degree in the first place. Well, while surrounded by people who supported me and believed in this crazy dream of mine, I decided to apply to the brand-new Sesame Street Writers’ Room Fellowship (SSWRF) this past March. And…?

Out of 800-plus applicants, I (with my unfinished 9-page script) was one of a handful of people selected to participate in the inaugural fellowship this summer! Starting next Wednesday, I’ll be receiving six weeks of workshops and training sessions in the art of writing educational media content for children from the folks at Sesame Street; the literal OGs of the industry. Words cannot express…*sobs*

[At this point, you’re probably wondering where the title of the blog post gets looped into all of this. It happens now, as a matter of fact.]

SSWRF is the very first writing fellowship I’ve ever applied to, so naturally, I feel very fortunate to have been selected. And very underqualified. I’ve never been one to give myself too much credit, but I wonder if/when I can confidently call myself a writer. I love having written things, but the actual process of writing and rewriting is always a fight—a worthwhile fight, but a fight nonetheless. This deficit in writerly discipline is the main reason I hesitate to call myself a writer. Hopefully this fellowship will provide some practical advice for building writing stamina, so that I can put more of my work out into the world and maybe get something published/made.

I guess we’ll see.

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Sleepy & Filterless (A Life Update)

Sorry in advance for any typos, continuity issues, run-on sentences, or overall foolishness; the title of this post is an accurate description of my present state of existence.

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It’s been a mighty long while since I’ve made a post here (my apologies, I’ve been distracted), though I’m ready to change that right now. You see, I should be doing my hair and making sure it’s somewhat presentable for church tomorrow, but I haven’t the energy nor the patience to make that happen without my tufts of tangled coils ending up as litter in my carpet. I am in NO condition to wield a detangling comb, so I’m just going to put on my satin bonnet and call it a night in that department.

Now, back to whatever it is that’s happening right now with this blog post. I guess I could fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately. Since early January I’ve been interning (yes, I’m a postgrad intern, again) at an educational media company in Brooklyn. My primary role is to assist with research and educational content development. I’m really enjoying my time there; the employees are super kind and approachable and I love the work I’m doing. As I’ve noted in a previous post, educational media and technology are the career fields I’m most interested in pursuing, so this has been a fantastic opportunity to learn and get my proverbial foot in a proverbial door of some sort.

I meant to talk about this earlier, but I guess I forgot: Around the time I was offered this intern position, I was also offered a full-time position with a well-respected nonprofit organization, which I turned down. While it was an exciting thing to field my first big-girl, full-time, salaried & benefitted job offer, I wasn’t excited about the position. If I had said yes, it would’ve been solely for the notoriety of the organization and the money. I’ve never been one to allow money or other people’s opinions of me dictate my decisions and I wasn’t going to start then. So, rather than the safe/sensible choice, I chose the risky part-time internship that pays only slightly above minimum wage and probably won’t hire me afterwards.

Call me a hopeless career romantic, but I think love is more important than money when it comes to work. The majority of your waking hours are spent at work, so it’s in your best interest to at least like what you do. Also, I figured if I can’t take a career risk now when I have very little to worry about (beginning of my career, no dependents, no bills other than loan repayments and a credit card with a $500 limit), then there’d be no way I’d be able to take risks further down the line when there’d be more at stake. All in all, I think I made a pretty solid decision.

I should also say that in addition to my internship, I took on a part-time position at a fancy NYC preschool earlier this month. There, I help with administrative stuff and substitute in classes when a teacher is out sick. My initial application was to be considered for a full-time associate educator position for next year, but they needed someone promptly, so I stepped in. I’m still being considered for full-time, though it’s nice to (a.) get a feel for the school environment beforehand and (b.) become well-known to teachers and administrators so they’ll want to keep me around. Hanging out with 2- through 5-year olds everyday isn’t all that bad either.

Should I talk about my sister, too? She’s doing well! It’s been 5-ish months since she finished her last cycle of chemo and she went back to work in January. She’s also going to CancerCon in Colorado next month. I’m so very proud of her.

So, that’s my life in a sleepy, filterless nutshell. There’s lots more I could write about, but if I’m not asleep within the next 15 minutes I will be very unpleasant to deal with, come morning. Good night!

Monique’s Law

“Once you have to do something, you no longer want to do it.”

This is Monique’s Law.

I can’t tell you how many times my interest in completing a task has all but disappeared the moment that task becomes mandatory. My current situation is a key example of that. You see, I should be writing a 30-page novella for my advanced fiction class right now, but I’m taking advantage of a bit of productive procrastination and updating my blog, following a long-ish hiatus.

For weeks, I’ve planned out my story, researched the historical time period, created characters, and gotten progressively more excited about the opportunity to write a longer piece of fiction than I’m accustomed to. Though, now that I’m on Spring Break and it’s time for me to actually put pen to paper and bang out a first draft, I’d rather apply for jobs, or catch up on world news, or do absolutely nothing, than write.

I know I’ll eventually overcome my bout with Monique’s Law, otherwise I’ll fail my class and be ineligible to graduate in May, but I still find it funny how this always happens. For now, I’m just going to continue procrastinating (productive or otherwise) until I feel guilty about wasting time. We’ll see when that happens…

Does this happen to you guys? Do you struggle with Monique’s Law, too?

Pitfalls of ‘Productive Procrastination’

(Originally published to the Cornell Alumni Magazine Student Blog on Oct. 26, 2012.)

Procrastination is the vice of every college student I know. The urge to spend hours watching YouTube videos of laughing babies, playing Tetris, or napping can be very strong when your other option is writing a twenty-page paper on whale communication.

But what about neglecting one assignment in favor of another? Or cleaning your room and editing your resume instead of finishing your required reading? In these instances, you’re doing something useful with your time—just not necessarily what you ought to be doing at that moment. This is the essence of what I call “productive procrastination” and, unfortunately, I’m a pro at it.

My struggle with productive procrastination has gotten much more difficult to manage since becoming an upperclassman. Because I’m involved in so many activities and have a more rigorous course load, I can always think of at least ten things I could be working on, in place of what I should be working on.

The fact that productive procrastination can sometimes be justified makes it quite the conundrum. First off, it’s exponentially better than unproductive procrastination (doing something useless). And in some situations, productive procrastination can actually be appropriate. For example, if you’re stuck on an assignment you could benefit from taking a break, working on something else, and returning to it with a fresh perspective.

That being said, one thing to keep in mind about productive procrastination is that, however you slice it, it’s still procrastination. So even though you may be able to reorganize your closet, map out your five-year career plan, or write a short story in the time you took off from your assignment, be warned: that whale paper will still be waiting for you. Only now, you’ll have even less time to finish it.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Hello!

This summer has, so far, proved to be a lot less restful than I originally expected. It seems that I always have something to do. And even when I’m doing the things I need to be doing, there are other things I feel I should be doing with my time, as well. It’s crazy!

I have a summer internship in NYC that I have to commute to and from daily. I have to leave my northern New Jersey home at 7:10am to get to work by 9am. This means I wake up before 6am five days a week. To be honest, I don’t love my internship placement, but I’ve met some interesting people, I’m gaining some much-needed work experience, and I’m earning a very nice paycheck. So, I guess it isn’t all bad.

I also have a 2nd internship, also in NYC, that is less demanding and much more fun. This one involves a non-profit organization that puts on concerts and events in parks throughout the 5 boroughs. Needless to say, it’s awesome and I love EVERYTHING about it. (Sigh, if only it paid.)

Apart from my 2 internships, I’m trying to spend more time writing. Tonight, I’ve finally had the time to work on the screenplay I had begun in my Dramatic Writing class. I only have 10 pages, so far, but I want them to be the best first-10-pages-of-a-screenplay ever, before I continue writing the other 100-ish. I’m working on a few essays for a scholarship application, as well.

Not to mention, I started editing the 700 pictures I took at the Cornell Fashion Collective Fashion Show this past May and will slowly, but surely, be adding them to my Flickr.

So yeah, I’m busy, but such is the life of a college student nearing adulthood.

I can’t believe there was ever a time in my life where I actually wanted to grow up.