Monday, June 30, 2008
Atmosphere, atmosphere. You can't beat the incredible Starbucks feel. It's so easy to imagine yourself in Paris or London, smoking (nicotine-free) cigars and wearing berets and writing masterpieces on a dime.
Music, my love. The music here is much, much better than the other cafe I visit. It's loud, it's diverse and still classy (Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and excellent jazz) and perfect for writing.
Expenses, my foot. It's much more expensive here, obviously. I came because I had a gift card, but no way I could afford to visit Starbucks every day. If one has a small amount of cash, you could subsist on the $1.89 scones instead of $4 frappes.
Dahling, the Location. It's harder to get to, and ultimately this is the victory for Other Cafes. I am still license-free and use feet to transport myself. Starbucks is not foot friendly.
People Listening. The conversations are priceless. There was a banker and a bankee behind me discussing high finance, a guy talking about hypochondriac girls to his female friend, excellently dressed young women and tired, tan older women... if you ever need inspiration, Starbucks is the place to be.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I've written a lot these past weeks about writing at home during the summer: taking your laptop to cafes and libraries, or hiding up in your room. What happens if you visit your grandparents for three weeks? What if Cancun has no WiFi? Below are three tips on saving your writing career, one vacation at a time.
Change it up. If you write in the morning at home, write during siesta while you're gone. Never martyr yourself to write. Or, in other words, never feel self-piteous while writing. Writing isn't an obligation, it's a joy and any thoughts to the contrary is hogwash. So make sure it feels like a writing vacation... just not a vacation from writing.
Be inspired by your surroundings. Like every experience, learn from what's happening around you. Look for historical events and buildings, rarities, oddities, or the perfect meal for under $5.00. Keep a notebook, as these kinds of first-hand notes are great for travel writing articles and descriptive scenes.
Essay on. If you've never attacked an essay with gusto, do it now. Vacations are great for reflecting on your childhood experiences, your family, your future, turning points. If you're unsure how to structure an essay, use the basic five paragraph formula: introduction paragraph, points 1-3 (one paragraph each) and then conclusion.
Stop writing if you seriously can't do it... but define "can't."
Gabrielle Linnell likes cooking, ballroom dancing and getting published.
Out of curiosity, I clicked on the "Summer Reading for Kids & Teens" link, and here are three books Amazon recommended. The list changes every time you re-click, by the way.
A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson
The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
Suck It Up by Brian Meehl
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Monster is a contemporary classic that every teen should read, but otherwise I haven't read any of their recommendations. Even if the book world shifts more to digital than print, even if the average American... doesn't read..., book lovers will always find books. (Kristen Nelson has interesting informal survey results over at www.pubrants.blogspot.com). How do you find yours?
Friday, June 27, 2008
Also! One of my favorite teen bloggers, Noel or Miss Couturable, is blogging about her Seventeen magazine internship this summer. For anybody interested in fashion writing and the teens who are doing it, please visit www.misscouturable.blogspot.com. Noel is both entertaining and informational, and well worth your time.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Here are some of my ideas... Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of Suburban Girl as an associate editor trying to make her way to the top. Cute and apparently a stellar editor! What a bargain.
Truman Capote. Alcoholic, narcissistic and usually offensive... but he'll make your blood run cold with his stories.
David McCullough. Bit on the older side... and happily married... but John Adams just inspires awe, wonder, laud, honor, praise, glory and a bunch of historical pluses.
Jane. What can I say? You are the definition of hermit celebrity. May you rule forever. Mischa Barton. Um... ?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Charlie Bartlett (R)
The Philadelphia Story (NR, MUST SEE)
The Women (Sexist, or nonsexist? NR)
Under the Tuscan Sun (PG13, more for the scenery & emphasis on travel writing)
To Catch a Thief (NR; love, love, love Grace Kelly)
All About Eve (NR; Steve Kugler quotes this one a million times in his book and I had to see what he was talking about... omygosh, so good.)
The Holiday (PG13; best rom-com on earth)
What Women Want (PG13; 2nd best rom-com on earth)
Ladies in Lavender (PG13; is it the writing, or lack thereof?)
ALSO! Kevin Alexander was just blogging over at http://blog.writersdigest.com/writerslife/ about how Mad Men is the best TV show on for writers. I've never seen and am anxiously waiting for the DVD to come out next Tuesday.
AND! Freelance Writing Camp is on hold while I take a day off. Taking a day off of summer, I know, I appreciate the irony. But nevertheless.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thanks to Gmail for the Quote of the Day. As I mentioned in the silly script earlier, I am reading Jack Canfield's Success Principles for Teens. The principles mentioned are pretty straight-forward (visualization, goal-setting, etc.) but the real life stories and statistics are inspiring. I'm looking forward to putting these into practice.
If you're looking to achieve something specific and having a hard time starting, I recommend the book as well as Kelly L. Stone's Time to Write. Both are helpful, practical and inspiring. Don't mean to sound like a blurb-giving author, but they are.
It's an interesting balance: success and fulfillment. I feel pretty strongly about the undercurrent of perfectionism that drives many of our best students, the pressure to get into Harvard/Yale/Princeton, achieve perfect grades, get the perfect job. Perfectionism makes few people happy, and it can burn out brilliant students. I've seen it happen, and it's sad.
On the other hand, I'm ambitious. I believe in dreams and working for them. I admire people who have worked against odds to get what they want. I want to push myself beyond my comfort zone, write better, work better.
To be a successful writer, as Ariel Gore says in her excellent book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead, you have to be both an artist and an entrepreneur. You have to be creative and meditative to make great art. You need to be market savvy and calculating to get it sold. To be a successful writer, you have to balance both success and fulfillment and the desires for both.
Time management, as Mr. Penn suggests, is a good place to start.
JOHN LITHGOW: Gabrielle faces a morning without writing. She has an obligation at church until 12pm, but she also has an obligation to herself to write for all these cool new markets she discovered over the weekend (more on that later.) So, what does Gabrielle do?
GABRIELLE: I will wake up at 6am (even though I HATE getting up that early) and write! Because I am a WriTeen!
[Fake Cheery Face]
JOHN LITHGOW: Uh huh, sweetie. So Gabrielle sets her alarm and goes to sleep. Next morning, at 6am...
GABRIELLE: No friggin' way I am getting up. I can't think. What day is it? What's my name? Why am I up at this ungodly hour?
JOHN LITHGOW: But then Gabrielle remembers the quote she pulled from Success Principles for Teens (more on THAT later), about how Olympians train for 4 hours per day, 310 days per year, for 6 years before succeeding. She remembers the Thomas Edison quote about "Doing all we are capable..."
GABRIELLE: I am SO capable of doing this... and compared to my gymnastic friends, what I have to do is not... that bad. Maybe if I just open my computer...
JOHN LITHGOW: (in a BEAMING voice) And so Gabrielle gets an hour of writing done, before breakfast, without food and at an ungodly hour of the morning. She will have to get more done this afternoon, but still: what a victory! What a writer!
GABRIELLE: Get me food. Now.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I present the twelve author interviews we've had since our inception in July 2007. As a note, I know Robin Wasserman has Skinned coming out soon, as well as Laura Preble (Prom Queen Geeks) and Melissa Walker (Violet in Private.)
Mark Peter Hughes (author of Lemonade Mouth and I am the Wallpaper) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/11/interview-with-mark-peter-hughes.html
Robin Wasserman (author of numerous series and Hacking Harvard) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/12/innovative-word-for-writeen.html
Laura Preble (author of the Queen Geek series)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2007/12/innovative-word-for-writeen_16.html
Melissa Walker (author of Violet on the Runway and Violet by Design)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/01/innovative-word-for-writeen.html
Judy Gregerson (author of Bad Girls Club)http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/01/innovative-word-for-writeen_20.html
Jessica Day George (author of Dragon Slippers and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/02/innovative-word-for-writeen.html.
Kelly L. Stone (author of Time to Write and Grave Secret) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/02/bookshelf-interview-with-kelly-l-stone.html.
E. Lockhart (author of The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and most recently, co-author of How to Be Bad) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/03/bookshelf-interview-with-e-lockhart.html.
Thomas Wade Bounds (author of Choices: My Secrets) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/03/bookshelf-interview-with-e-lockhart.html.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein (author of The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/04/bookshelf-interview-with-dr-barbara.html.
Marissa Doyle (author of Bewitching Season) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/04/bookshelf-interview-with-marissa-doyle.html.
Steve Kluger (author of My Most Excellent Year) http://innovativeteen.blogspot.com/2008/06/bookshelf-interview-with-steve-kluger.html.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I'm a cheapie who doesn't read Publisher's Marketplace, but I don't quite get one of the sentences here. Debut fiction from an Indian? Huh? Is the author a resurrected Native American? Because otherwise, I don't see anything super spectacular about an Indian (as in: native of India) or Native American author publishing fiction. Last I checked, people of all races were equally adept at writing novels.
This is probably just a typo, but it proves that you must watch your typos! Or Gabrielle will come after you.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
My first writing class was divine. Julie Bogart (www.bravewriter.com: highly recommended) was my first teacher in an online class where we read Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and then wrote our own story, just so. Mine was How the Cat Got its Paws. We ran through several different printings because I kept changing my pseudonym from Dr. Danielle Lupin (combination of Ever After and Harry Potter) to Danielle Lynel and finally Gabrielle Linnell (real name. Just FYI.) This class, and this teacher, made me write.
My second writing class was not so hot. I was subjected to a writing curriculum called IEL or some form of EVIL, which consisted of repeating other people's words in barf-worthy ways. This did not last long. My third writing class was with other normal human beings. I was in the fourth grade and already I had formed ideas about style and adjectives. I stayed the year, next time I didn't even bother signing up.
There was also the infamous Writing Camp*. I attended it with my cousin (the only redeeming factor) and... well... the teacher told us to use big words (NO! NO!), the teacher did not recognize my genius (BAD! BAD!) and the teacher just loved that annoying Gina who wrote a short Harriet Potter story (PLAGIARISM, ANYBODY?) I mean, how can you call that original? Granted, I was in my poet stage and anything produced by my chubby hand was worth little. But still.
Excepting years of Julie's classes, I haven't taken writing classes since. I love English classes, because it's academic writing and literature discussion. But when it comes to creative writing, I prefer to self-teach. I know my experience is not everyone's. There are many wonderful writing teachers out there, who have shaped artists and given wind to literary wings. I just haven't met too many of them.
What's your opinion? Have you had good luck with writing classes? Are they worth the expense/taxpayer's money?
* This is not to be confused with the utterly fabulous, incredibly useful Freelance Writing Camp which Gabrielle conducts on a one-by-one basis with herself this week. This is the Dreaded Writing Camp with Evil Gina and Big Words. Very different.
BYOM (Bring your own music.) I'm having trouble hearing the music played in the cafe loud enough. I need BLASTING-LEVEL music.
Be surprised. I'm staying longer each day, so far, and not getting bored at all. I just have more and more work. This is fantastic!
Tally up your earnings. At the end of the summer, go back and see how much money you've made and compare that to the cost of a writing camp... except this time, the cash is in YOUR pocket!
Schedule computer time. Because I'm non Wi-Fi, I need to schedule time to research projects and upload files onto an internet-friendly computer.
Go healthy. I've been pigging out on donuts and other deviltries, but I'm going to try one of these today....
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
So remember that everything you write has value--even if you don’t recognize it at the time.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thus, the email.
I have a quibble with you over the Puritan section in [module.] I realize the Puritans were not pluralistic, and by no means perfect. Yet I feel like the slides neglected to mention a lot of the good that the Puritan culture did for our country. They helped foster both financial and intellectual independence, which laid a foundation for future generations. Without hte Puritan work ethic or their defined, separate identity from England, colonial America would not have been successful in leaving the British empire. Boston dominates many of the slides in [later module on American Revolution] as a center for the rebel colonists, but these Patriots were sons and grandsons of the original Puritans and their Boston was one derived from Puritan values and beliefs.
The slides also glossed over the fact htat the Puritans left the Netherlands and England because of heavy persecution from the English government (from which many of the Virginia cavaliers came.) I don't mean to trivialize the Salem Witch Trials, because the trials were a horrible event in our history. However, it is one of the few blemishes on the Puritan name and to treat the entire Puritan heritage based on this extreme example is similar to condemning the Islamic world based on the extreme tragedy of September 11th.
David Brooks, a columnist in the New York Times and commentator on the Lehrer news hour, recently wrote an op-ed about the Puritan work ethic and how it helped stabilize the early American culture, and how a loss of respect for that work ethic has led to recent cultural excess. You can read it here at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/opinion/10brooks.html?ref=opinion .
Proof that writing, whether from practice or publication, is useful in real life.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Creative people need each other. Your weird way of processing the world can make more sense when you hang out with a teen who paints murals or sings ballads. So find these people! Make friends with your school's drama nerds. Take art classes and draw stick figures so you can appreciate a different medium, and those who are really gifted at it. Artists are symbiotic, we learn from each other.
So nourish your inner artist and be nice to people in smocks.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Melissa's also giving away advance copies of Violet in Private, so if you're hooked on the Violet fashion scene, definitely drop by her blog.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
When I Google-image "Summer," this image appears.
Somehow, to the Higher Power of Google, this means summer. This is either because of the American love of camping or this particular resort's advertising budget. Still: summer it is. So what does summer mean to a WriTeen, who is generally free during the summer?
Lots of free time. School is out. Will this summer mean getting ready for the NFL or getting published? One can do both, and without devouting your waking hours to the solace of a computer.
Library stalking. Ask an author for writing advice, they will always tell you to read. So read! While our gas prices go up and our book budgets decrease from nil to zilch, use the one of the best-run government institutions known to America (and other countries): our public library system. Ask to volunteer, and always have a full library card.
Consider joining our freelance writing camp. Whether alone or with millions, I will be setting aside several hours a day (okay, maybe 1.5) to work on freelance projects. As previously advertised, this means procrastination, theme songs and lots of YouTube videos involving musicals.
Talk to colleges about English programs. If you are nearing the collegebound age and are traveling to visit different universities, make a point to talk to English professors and admissions counselors about your love for writing. Will the professors at XYZ College help you get published? What kind of guest speakers do they get? What about their literary magazines?
I always start out with summer resolutions and end up with memories of seeing every Monk episode ever taped. However, out of three past summers I've ended up with two manuscripts and several clips: it IS possible. Summer starts in just a few weeks: be ready with your laptop in hand.
Gabrielle Linnell has a history of insane summers along with a resume of 25 or so published clips. She enjoys Psych more than Monk now.
Freelance Writing Camp: The Most Productive Camp You've Ever Signed Up For. Writing camps in general are nonproductive. You sit, you listen to somebody ranting against adverbs, nothing gets published. However, you have never been to one of MY writing camps. MY writing camps are when you block out several hours of your summer days and write. You have a list of publications, deadlines, and you don't get to eat cookies until the queries are out. And forget about s'mores and campfire songs.
I'll be live-blogging, I'll be giving examples and success stories, we will have theme songs and Youtube breaks. What with school-year craziness, the summer is the best time to "catch up" with your writing. Don't let these frivolous hours go to waste!
Famous Author Profiles. Who was an editor at Mademoiselle in college? What Southern author broke into publication at fifteen (trick question: they ALL did)?
The Writing Workshop. That fun thing we did the other day? Still coming.
And of course, I am always open to suggestions.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
By now I think most of you have read the previous post "A Manifesto." Today we're going to look at (geez, I feel like a talk show host) how to turn a brainstorm, diary-style piece of writing like that into something publishable! Seatbelts and other protective garments prepared, let's go.
You had a horrible day, you let it out on paper and kazaam! You get something like my post previous. But now your ambition takes over and you want to write an essay about this Horrible No-Good Day. How would you structure it?
Categorize examples. Make a list of all the things that went wrong: "rejection from team," "no phone calls," "bad job," "frustration," etc. You can use these as points in your essay.
Connect to an outside theme. Essays or op-ed pieces work best when you connect a personal experience (a bad day) to a universal or outside theme. This could be an international event (the tragedies in China or Myanmar) or a culture trend (depression medication) or a historical person (Sylvia Plath.)
Work on tone. You want the entire essay to feel like those two paragraphs of brainstorm did, without being in that form. As you write the essay, try to recapture the same emotion that prompted you to write in the first place.
You've had a horrible day, wrote something like my post previous, and bazoom! it's a short story, right?
Create the situation. What you have is an emotion, what you need is a setting and a cast of characters. The "easiest" thing is to make it like your own sitch: a teenager with a bad day, staring out the window at a rainy future, etc. The "harder" thing would be to take these emotions and attribute them to a person most unlike yourself: a grandmother fearing Alzheimer's, a quadriplegic watching the Olympics on T.V., an insurance salesman who's just been laid off.
Translate to dialogue. Internal monologue (when the protagonist talks to himself, or to the audience) is not always as readable as dialogue. All those awesome phrases and examples of depression can be turned into a dialogue between two feisty/depressed characters. Your message will still come across, but it will be more interesting.
You had a terrible day and abacadabra! you're writing a Pulitzer poem. But how does it happen?
Take exact phrases. Poetry is the jewelry-making part of writing. Poets are delicate and precise with words, so in this case you would take the exact phrases from the piece and style it into a poem form of your choice. I'd recommend free or blank verse for this kind of thing.
Translate paragraphs into stanzas. The last part of the post previous was in paragraph form. To make it into poetry, take the most important ideas from your diary-style writing and form them into lines.
You eat chocolate
Conquer the world one day
One miserable day
One beautiful day
At a time
I don't think this is how Maya Angelou wrote it, but take a look at her poem "Still I Rise." You can see how potentially she could have worked from paragraph/diary-style form into a poem with a fantastic rhythm and powerful message.
Monday, June 2, 2008
When you are rejected from your school's going-to-Europe team as no. 3 out of two,
When you haven't written anything publishable in a month,
When you wish your friend would call,
When you are broke and receive a false hope of money,
When you are filling out applications for hopelessly boring jobs,
When you face a semi-existential crisis when you're doubting whether you are any good at anything anyway,
When it seems the world is not out to get you because why would it bother,
You eat chocolate. You manage not to cry because that would be giving in. You eat more chocolate. You plan devious dealings for the two boys that were picked as well as a sexism lawsuit, and then realize you are going to Europe twice in six months and that most older people are hopelessly sexist. You also realize that anyone capable of creating devious plans is capable of working in Disney imagineering, which is the dream job. You realize you are gifted beyond imagineering and may even be a published author one day. You will travel more than anyone else in the school put together. Ever.
You are the conquerer. You eat the last piece of chocolate, and set out to conquer the world.