Words

Sometimes I can’t sleep.

I can’t sleep because words.

They race through my head in artful combinations.

They intermingle until they mean something.

Something important.

Or unimportant.

Regardless of their relevance, they’re there.

Always reminding me of the sole passion burning inside of me.

Because I’m fascinated by the way little nothings can become one big something.

And that’s worth pursuing.

Words are worth driving myself crazy.

They’re worth solitary work days and frustrated periods of empty thoughts.

Because to me, silly little letters coming together to create something — that’s everything.

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Everything You Need to Be a Writer

Being a writer is tricky. I could go to great lengths explaining just what makes it so tricky, but I won’t bore you with that.

Instead, I want to share an (almost) all-inclusive list of what it takes to be a writer for a living. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or just interested in the everyday madness of being one, I present to you: 7 things you need to be a successful writer.

  1. Coffee

Early morning creativity doesn’t come naturally, people.

2. The patience to get past writer’s block.

Suddenly, all words leave your brain and you spend half an hour typing jibberish until eventually, enough aimless typing and abstract thinking leads to something worthy. (Patience is key to getting to the point of worthiness).

3. Thesaurus.com

Because let’s be real — it’s 100% necessary to think of at least 35 other ways to say any given word or phrase.

 

4. Weird though patterns

If you can’t think about things in weird ways, then you’ll never write anything creative or original.

5. Creative brain power

This is similar to #4 but different, because it’s actually a secret power.

6. Thick skin

Because “everyone is a copywriter,” and they think that blatantly insulting the work you slave over ain’t no thang.

7. Acceptance that at the end of the day, people like pictures better than words. 

Wah, wah waaahhh.

But hey, without our words, they’d just be pictures. 🙂

What Not to Do Your First Day of Work

Today I reached a new milestone. I stepped into the working world, and I’m officially on that 9-5 (8:30-5:30, to be exact) grind.

As I went about my first day in the professional working world, I came to a conclusion: I don’t know how to be an adult yet. Seriously, there are so many (great) things to get used to when it comes to a job like this.

So between the hours of 8:30 and 5:30 as I got used to professional job things, here are five ways that I was the cliche new girl at work. I hope they’ll both humor you and inspire you to be better at being new when you land your first full-time job.

1. I (way) overcompensated for morning rush hour

In extreme fear of being the least bit late for work (not that it actually would have mattered anyway), I left my apartment at 7:45 a.m. Turns out that no one else leaves that early, so I made it to work approximately 50 minutes early. No big deal though, I just sat in my parked car and watched a man mow grass to pass the time.

2. I ate lunch alone in my cubicle

What can I say? I have a case of social anxiety.

3. I sat down in the wrong cubicle

And I did it confidently, too.

I was on my way back from a meeting, and I walked into my cubicle to find a couple of strange notes on my desk. As I pondered their meaning, I took a look around to find that I was indeed in someone else’s cubicle. Panic set in as I realized that I didn’t actually remember where the heck my cubicle was. One awkward lap around the office later, I found it.

4. I didn’t realize I was talking to the president of the company

Why can’t the important people just wear a label on their forehead?

5. I just straight up looked like the new girl

Between my dollar store lunch box and taking an SBC notebook and pen to my meeting (seriously, why didn’t I bring a notebook and some pens?!), I basically screamed, “HI, MY NAME’S EMMY AND I’M NEW HERE.”

But despite my cliche, new employee antics, I had a great first day at work. It’s beyond a blessing to know that every day when I wake up, I get paid to spend my day doing something that makes me happy.

And in just one day, I learned five important lessons.

 

 

The Worst Job Ever (and other ramblings)

I was asked to write about a time when I was most embarrassed. The weirdest part about answering this question is that a particular embarrassing moment doesn’t come to mind, but rather a particular job.

“Tell me about your most embarrassing moment,” she said with a smile on her face. Her long, dark brown hair was pulled into a ponytail. Not just any ponytail, though. Her roots were voluminous, and her bangs swooped across her forehead. This ponytail was one that said, “Yeah, I’m forced to wear my hair like this, but I’m going to look good while doing it.”

That voluptuous, stylish ponytail gave me hope. Hope that a serving job, which would inevitably force my hair to be pulled back into a ponytail every time I worked, might be manageable.

As I quickly offered up a memory of mistakenly walking into the men’s restroom at Walmart, she laughed and proceeded with the rest of the obligatory interview questions. At the end of it all, she offered me a job.

“That was easy,” I thought as I walked to my car.

A few days later, I came back for orientation. After listening to a bunch of talk about what working there would be like, I was graced with a uniform – the uniform. Little did I know that the pile of solid black poly-blend that I cradled in my arms would evoke endless tears, frustration and pure discontent in the days to come.

Shoes must be non-slip. They must have leather uppers and be polished at all times.

Pants must be a solid black poly blend. A crease down the middle of each pant leg is not required, but preferred.

Shirt must be a solid black, button-down shirt.

Tie (yes, a tie) must be solid black, tied in a Full Windsor knot.

Apron must be heavily starched with a crease down the center.

Hair must be pulled back into a bun or a braid with no unnatural colors.

There you have it – the uniform of all uniforms. What power it bestowed. It stripped away all feelings of confidence, erased any hint of sex appeal and actually inhibited the ability to walk. If you think I’m exaggerating, I’m not. I’m just not.

The first time I put it on, I barely recognized the girl in the mirror. “But I can do this,” I told myself. “It’s only temporary.”

That pep talk ran through my head as I walked through the revolving door for the first of my six days of training. Upbeat, elevator-like jazz music filled the restaurant, the soundtrack to its perfectly clean, strictly corporate, wannabe-ritzy façade.

My pep talk ran through my head the following day when I was told that I have to address each customer as ma’am, miss, sir, ladies or gentlemen, and NEVER as “guys,” because it’s rude and unprofessional.

And again when I wasn’t allowed to ask people at the table who ordered what as I stood there holding scalding plates of food. Oh, no, we don’t “tableside auction.” I had to read the seat number that corresponded with each plate of food on the order ticket, remember those numbers, then silently and confidently place the plates in front of the correct people. Except that never happened like it was supposed to, and I was given far more questioning stares than I was looks of approval as I continually sat the wrong plates in front of people.

My pep talk was the only thing that held back tears after I was pulled to the back room because the bun in my hair wasn’t perfect enough, as miss voluminous ponytail woman proceeded to style it in a hideous French braid.

Then, I hit my breaking point. And I quit.

I quit before I actually made it through training, because why was I letting myself be miserable over a job that meant nothing to me or my future? (Don’t let me fool you, though. It was my mom who helped me arrive at that bold decision.)

So I called in a few hours before I was supposed to go in for my last day of training and I quit, just like that. Later that afternoon, I walked through the revolving door for the final time. As the frantic jazz music played, I watched the servers scurry across the floor in their slicked-back braids and floor length aprons. I listened as they recited their lines to each table, ending every exchange in an undeservingly polite way. As I watched, my arms cradling that God-forsaken pile of solid black poly-blend, I smiled. I smiled because that wasn’t me. It never would be. It never could be. And that’s okay.

So when someone asks me about my most embarrassing moment, I’m taken back to the interview for undoubtedly the worst job I’ll have ever had, even if it was only for five days. In those five days, I learned that slicked-back hair, an unsightly uniform, sickeningly polite language and too many rules to count didn’t make me happy.

I’m clumsy, and I call people guys, regardless of their gender, and I have a high level of enthusiasm about fashion and my hair. But most importantly, I’m a writer, not a waitress.

Although, being a waitress did give me something to write about.

My Experience With Life Drawing

Anyone who’s been following my blog knows that a few weeks ago, I promised a story about my experience drawing a naked lady. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, then you can read about it here.

Anyway, I finished writing the other day, and I figured I’d share, because I know there are at least a couple people who have been dying to read it.

Enjoy 🙂

As I sat at a table beside my friend, Jen, and a classroom full of strangers, I waited anxiously for the professor to arrive. She was late. Very late. I headed into the hallway to get some water and avoid the questioning stares I was receiving.

“Are you one of the students?” someone asked excitedly from the end of the hallway.

Taken off guard, I looked to my right. There was a curvaceous 20-something wearing nothing but a leopard print robe.

“Well, sort of,” I answered. “I’m actually a journalism student, so I’m going to write about this life drawing class.”

The conversation continued for a few minutes, and as we grew more comfortable with one another, I grew uncomfortable with the notion that I would soon be staring at this woman’s naked body in a futile attempt at drawing it.

My last serious attempt at drawing must have been in middle school. I don’t remember what I drew, but I know with certainty it wasn’t a naked woman. So when Louise Captein, the life drawing professor, finally came bustling into the classroom, I was the farthest from my comfort zone that I had been in years.

Since time had already been lost, Louise didn’t waste a second more of it. After I briefly reminded her of what I was doing in her classroom, everyone setting up pads of drawing paper on rickety easels.

The woman in the robe walked into the center of semi-circle of students at easels. She nonchalantly stripped off the only article of clothing that spared all the details of her body, which was similar to those I’ve seen in Renaissance paintings. But there was nothing classic about how she went about her morning’s duties. She plopped down on the wooden platform as she awaited the professor’s posing instructions. She crossed her legs like a carefree man, resting her right ankle on her left knee, which caused me a higher level of discomfort than I already had.

Rather than delving straight into drawing, everyone had to start by making one abstract mark on every easel in the room. I thought I didn’t know where to begin before, but now I was faced with a paper full of charcoal markings that meant nothing to me. I looked around, trying to decide what to do with both the marks on my paper and the perfect side-view of the model’s butt that I was graced with.

The sound of quick charcoal strokes against paper filled the air as students engaged in quiet conversation. As I cowered behind my easel, I wondered how people gain the ability to become comfortable in this type of setting. “How does anyone become interested in drawing naked people?” I wondered. “And what’s the point?” I asked myself.

I’ve wondered the answer to those two questions since freshman year when Jen, an art major and one of my best friends at Otterbein, told me about her experience drawing Steve, the naked man. I remember expressing to her how weird I thought it was as I wondered about the benefit that nudity has for artists. Wasn’t that just something that was done in classical art, an outdated practice that has no place in modern society?

What I learned, however, is that people like me, who have little affiliation with art, have a negative attitude toward life drawing, because we don’t understand it. People wonder why the model must be naked during the drawing process. The answer is simple: When naked, the human body is timeless, and its lines, shape and depth are mastered.

And it isn’t only art professors who believe in the importance of life drawing. Even Walt Disney required his animators to take an in-studio life drawing class. He started the tradition in 1932, and it continues today. The idea behind the requirement is that when artists understand and capture anatomy and sense of motion from a live model, the animated characters they create will be more original and realistic.

In Louise’s classroom, I was unappreciative of the practice and naive to its roots. I struggled through the class as I did everything in my power to avoid the one thing that students are supposed to do when they attend it: draw. After nearly two hours of avoiding it, the model’s current pose began to tempt me. As she lay there on her side with her back facing me, I was convinced that this pose would be an easy one to draw. I surrendered to both the temptation and my boredom and picked up the smooth piece of charcoal that had remained untouched until that moment. Louise made her way to me and my easel, stopping to admire my left-handedness and my pitiful attempt at figure drawing that covered the paper. She stood behind me with her head cocked to the side and her hand resting on her chin.

“She kind of looks like a dog bone,” I said, gesturing toward the sketch of the woman I had finally attempted.

Louise chuckled in agreement but said it was good that I saw a resemblance to something familiar in my work. She interjected my process, and I was given my first drawing lesson.

“First, you need a better piece of charcoal,” she said as she discarded my tiny, broken piece.

She then began drawing a box, making strategic points on the paper where certain things should be drawn. She told me that drawing is nothing more than connecting the dots, just like the method I practiced in coloring books when I was a kid. After her brief lesson, I continued sketching in hopes of making the drawing look less like an animal toy and more like a woman. While that never happened, I did manage to become understanding and appreciative of life drawing. Through my experience in the class and some research, I was finally able to grasp the point of drawing a naked person.

During the 3 hours and 45 minutes I spent standing behind that easel, it would have been helpful if I had known then what I know now about life drawing. If I would have had some background knowledge, I wouldn’t have flinched as the model stripped off her robe and flaunted her naked body. I would have realized, as Louise later told me, that “The moment the door closes and everybody’s drawing, there’s nothing strange about that.”

 

The Man in the Wide-Brimmed Fedora

Last time I posted, it was about a feature writing assignment I was about to complete. If you’re wondering, yes, I’m still in the process of writing about my experience drawing a naked lady, which is actually called life drawing.

Anyway, the assignment we were given yesterday was to go to a place and act only as an observer. We have to sit down casually and quietly, acting like we aren’t about to be a complete creeper, and write about a person in the room. Then, we have to develop this person, this complete stranger, into a character, and write a brief scene about them. We even have to go so far as eavesdropping on their conversation to get quotes for our story.

I was way too excited about this assignment, so I headed to my favorite coffee shop and made myself at home with a caramel latte. This is who I found, and this is his story, according to what I saw, and, of course, my imagination:

“The only thing that counts is money in the bank,” the old man in the wide-brimmed fedora said into the phone.

The conversation is serious–so serious that he tunes out the clamour that fills the room, talking as if he were alone. As he sits in one of the corner chairs, he listens intently to whomever is on the other end of the line. The matter of business, whatever it is, is so pressing that he didn’t bother to remove the red jacket he wore over his light blue button-up shirt before beginning the conversation–not that the jacket would make much of a difference, in terms of his bodily temperature; it’s not nearly heavy enough to shield him from the 10 degrees of frigid winter air that exists just beyond the walls of the building. But it’s okay, because he’s tough. His thick, handlebar mustache and prominent nose prove that.

As he talks, he never touches the shiny, navy blue mug sitting on the coffee table beside him. The coffee is long gone, because he doesn’t come here to sip his drink and soak up the inviting atmosphere the way others do. He comes here because he needs a drink as bold as him and a place where he can escape to discuss business privately, away from his nagging wife.

“Well I’d go, but they need to send someone younger along with me to carry the ammo,” he said.

He continues to listen into his phone. All the while, he listens much more than he speaks. Growing impatient with the person on the phone, or perhaps growing irritated with the explosive conversation being had by a group of teenage girls in the other room, he shifts often in his seat.

Then suddenly, he sits up straighter in his chair, and his face becomes even more serious.

“Don’t go then,” he said firmly into the phone.

He continues to listen, because listening is what he does best. Finally, he speaks again.

“If you’re not going to win, don’t get in the ring,” he said nonchalantly.

Then he leans back, relaxing into the chair and disappearing from sight, still listening. He sits upright once again, and the seriousness briefly leaves his face as he laughs. Perhaps the laugh was one of satisfaction, the satisfaction of a job that was on its way to being done, and done well.

“Buh-bye,” he said, finally hanging up the phone.

Finishing his business for the time being, he picks up a book and once again relaxes back into the chair. There would be time for more business later. But it’s the weekend, and time needs to be savored, even if only momentarily.

I loved doing this so much that I think I want to dedicate every Friday to writing fictional stories about coffee shop dwellers.

Thanks for reading, and happy Friday. 🙂