Showing posts from September, 2009

when you have a hammer, Nemesis Intern looks like a nail

Sometimes, an INTERN needs to put on a slinky dress and toolbelt-as-purse and go out dancing on a Tuesday night.

Techie Boyfriend: Where did that dress come from?
INTERN: Alley behind our building.
Techie Boyfriend: Hang on.
Techie Boyfriend: (returns holding a small hammer). Take this.
Techie Boyfriend: If you're going to wear that toolbelt, you totally need to be carrying a hammer.
INTERN: Got it.

Fast forward two hours. Music is playing, INTERN's girl friend has gone to the bathroom, and INTERN is making her way to the dance floor when a semi-familiar face pops up in front of her.

It's Nemesis Intern, who INTERN has not run into in months. He is wearing a blue dress shirt and jeans, and mostly looks like his normal Wusiness Beek self except the top four buttons of the shirt are undone, revealing a rather un Wusiness-like patch of skin.

Nemesis Intern: Oh my god, I totally know you from somewhere.
INTERN: Big Fancy Office Building. You're the intern f…

internet write-for-hire? INTERN would rather process a goat.

INTERN has been off the wire for several days, and in that time she had the chance to collect her thoughts on internet write-for-hire operations and learn hands-on how to de-gut and process a goat.

Yes, both those things in one weekend. Multitasking rules.

The short version?

Goat: totally worth it. Internet write-for-hire: totally not.

The long version:

A few weeks ago, INTERN started lurking around writing and publishing job boards, and came across the same postings all around the web: something to the tune of "make money writing!" or "now hiring writers!". She visited a few sites, and lo and behold, here were promises of real money in exchange for writing informative articles on an infinite range of subjects.

INTERN's Boondoggle Bell started ringing, and she knew she had to investigate further. So INTERN regis—um, "applied" for several of these so-called writing jobs. A few days later, the e-mails began to flood in: INTERN had been hired! Hu…

most beautiful typo award

Yesterday evening when INTERN was biking home, she went past a construction site with the words "No Tressing" spraypainted onto a cement block. It conjured up images of Rapunzel-ish construction workers studiously ignoring their own hair while they worked, and made INTERN very happy.

ceci n'est pas un livre

Late last night when INTERN and Techie Boyfriend were walking through the park, Techie Boyfriend's supersonic ears detected the sound of two kittens somebody had abandoned in a cardboard box. INTERN has never had any kind of non-brine shrimp pet and was baffled re: what to do with said kittens, but luckily T.B. is some kind of expert and built them a doublewide kitten spaceship back at the apartment, complete with litter box lined with shredded drafts of INTERN's latest fiction project. Oh, and flashing LEDs.

Now, INTERN is just out of an editorial meeting, and her nose is still a bit sniffly from the kittens. Editorial wisdom of the day? Some books are not books, and some books that are books are not the books they think they are.

If your manuscript has gone as far as an editorial meeting, the Eds are going to be discussing not only where your book would go in the book store, whether it would sell, and whether it's any good, but whether your book is even a book at all…

hare e. coli

Every now and then when INTERN gets off the train in the morning, there is a little card table set up on the street with people in orange robes chanting and tinging little bells and handing out flyers for free meditation classes. On the card table, there is always a plate of orange slices, sitting right next to a bottle of disinfectant spray. The orange/disinfectant combo never fails to give INTERN pause. Do these guys need to spray down their oranges periodically to satisfy health codes? Do passers-by routinely pick up an orange slice, turn it over in their fingers, and put it back down, covered in germs? What's the deal here?

INTERN feels the same way—fascinated, suspicious, wary—when those submissions come into the s. pile with a bio listing "high school short story contest 1982" as a writing credit, and "Ms. Tinkleby, the Head Ed at Otherbigfancy Publisher [in 1971!], said this was the most heart-wrenching asian fusion cookbook she'd seen in her entire c…

autumn jabberwockery

Today INTERN's heart is full of despair. She wanders, listless, from bookshelf to filing cabinet to mail machine, the Bermuda triangle of busywork, then retreats to her couch to listen to some Ravi Shankar on headphones while re-proofreading a manuscript about the ancient druids.

The internship will be over in a month. INTERN is not sure what to do with herself. INTERN is not generally the month-in-advance planning type except when she's feeling despairing, in which case everything is fair game. Therefore, it would be helpful if readers could vote on the following:

In a month's time, should INTERN

a) get some kind of menial hipster job and stick around the city
b) sell her organs on the black market and stick around the city
c) attempt to find some kind of publishing job, somewhere
d) be a fire tower lookout like Jack Kerouac (this is a legitimate option)
e) hitchhike to northern British Columbia to live on her friends' commune (also legit)
f) move to somewhere cheap a…

what is and isn't a book promotion plan

INTERN just finished reading a proposal for a non-fiction book about a young woman's experience volunteering at an orphanage in China while on a church mission trip and her subsequent realization that philanthropy had to begin at home. After a ho-hum summary and chapter outline, she got to the punch:

"I will use the advance money and royalties to open an orphanage for abandoned babies in downtown San Francisco. The grand opening for the orphanage will provide all necessary publicity for the book."

*Bang head on desk*

INTERN cannot count how many times she had read this kind of thing. "I will use my advance to build an aquarium for endangered whales." "I will use my advance to find a cure for colon cancer." "I will use my advance to open a ballet academy for children with rabies." Every time, the writer tacks on something to the tune of "and the aquarium/cancerarium/orphanage will obviously generate more than enough publicity for the …

a completely unscientific look at book-buying: part 1

INTERN has been doing a lot of thinking about why people buy the books they buy. Head Ed says it has a lot to do with where the book is placed in the bookstore and other marketing-type stuff, and this is very true. But their are other, squidgier reasons: people buy also books out of guilt, or self-pity, or indulgence, or a feeling of righteousness, or need, or even terror. It's all very Catholic (and INTERN is allowed to say that because all her elementary school teachers were nuns).

INTERN's mom says she buys whatever books are necessary to keep up in the dog-eat-dog world of her ladies' book club (terror).

INTERN's hipster friend who works at a Borders in a fairly small town says pregnant women come in to buy pregnancy books, then slip in romance novels the way people slip chocolate bars into their groceries (indulgence/deservingness).

INTERN is thinking about the last few books she paid cash moneys for. As an intern, INTERN gets a lot of free books already, and she…

scientific proof that publishing a book won't make you happier

INTERN interacts with a lot of writers (some of them her friends) who have elaborate fantasies of rapture and eternal contentment following the acceptance for publication of their chapbook/short story collection/thinly-veiled college honors thesis.

But then, at her internship, INTERN interacts (or usually, overhears interactions) with writers who have book deals, but have deferred their rapture and eternal contentment to when their book sells 1,000,000 copies, or when they get interviewed about it on the Daily Show.

And yesterday when INTERN was dumping flour in the bread machine, she noticed that the rather humble bread machine cookbook she was using had sold over a million copies (and this, apparently, in 1991). INTERN was suddenly swamped in the feeling that her life was futile, and required two hours of high-octane pep-talking from Techie Boyfriend to come around. INTERN's book is slated to be published in May. The initial rapture-and-contentment has worn off, and now she i…

scrapple in the apple

This is the first September since INTERN was four that she is not going back to school, and it feels weird.

To compensate, INTERN went to the library last night and checked out a stack of incomprehensible books on physics and philosophy, and plans to read them in the back of the van while on tour with her harsh noise band this weekend, and possibly to read them onstage too, because in terms of the band INTERN is the harsh-noise equivalent of a tambourine-banger or triangle-dinger, and could probably get away with it.

Also, INTERN has been slowly compiling a reading list of her favorite writing-advice books and resources, by genre. Here goes nothing:

Chick Lit: Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley is an intelligent look at the history of the chick lit genre, how to write it, and how to pitch it. If you're prejudiced against books with pink covers, this one will set you straight: all killer, no filler, and no punches pulled.

Literary Journals: If…

why you should be writing something besides your manuscript

It turns out one of the hip, young Editorial Assistant's more pleasant jobs is to keep her finger on the pulse of hip, young indie magazines (hellooo Pirates Magazine) and scout for bookworthy talent.

At this morning's editorial meeting, she pulled out some obscure, paisley-covered music magazine and pointed to an article by some guy who specializes in urban magic. Urban magic, e.g., quickie spells you can cast to dispel heat-toting gangsters when you're riding your bike through their neighborhood. e.g. divination w/found movie ticket stubs. e.g. dowsing for $^#% public bathrooms in the city.

Magazine gets passed around. Everyone loves it. Head Ed gives Editorial Assistant the thumbs-up to contact this lucky urban warlock about the possibility of a book. And all this, without said warlock ever writing a query letter or affixing postage stamp to envelope.

And also, a week ago, INTERN's roommate dragged her to a very long and positive affirmation-heavy yoga cla…