Thursday, January 31, 2013

Outfit no. 41

Cardi and necklace: F21, dress: River Island, leg warmers: Target, shoes: Payless, glasses: Ray-Ban

I'm in dire need of a haircut. It's so dire, in fact, that I'm able to put my hair up in a ponytail. Which is good, actually, as a ponytail is necessary in order to get my gross hair as far away from me as possible. I've been super lazy and haven't gotten round to scheduling a haircut, though, so I should probably do that... I guess. At some point. One day.

My feet look really small in these photos. It's kind of freaking me out; it looks like I have tiny hooves for feet or something.

Last night we watched a really intense episode of TNG, where there's a Romulan defector who warns Picard of a hidden Romulan base in the Neutral Zone. It turns out he betrayed his people so that his daughter could grow up in a peaceful world instead of a world torn asunder by space war, but in the end his information was false and had been fed to him as a test of his loyalty. At the end of the episode he killed himself because he would never see his beloved planet or his family again. It was basically the most depressing episode, and I've been thinking about it all day. This is why Star Trek is the best show ever made. ...Except for Doctor Who.

Since I talked about my rings the other day in my blog, here is an up-close photo of them. From left to right: 1) A garnet given to me by my grandparents for high school graduation; 2) Bought at Camden Market in London for £15; 3) Spoon ring from a market stall in Boston during the American Heritage Tour in high school; 4) Claddagh ring from the Washington Renaissance Faire. I might be wearing the Claddagh wrong but... well... whatever.

You can also see, on my left ring finger, an abrasion where I drunkenly whacked my hand against our friend's Rock Band microphone stand. Classic.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Outfit no. 40

Skirt and jumper: F21, coat: UO, booties: Aldo, necklace: gift from friend, glasses: Ray-Ban

This is what I wore on Monday. I had a premonition I'd need some outfit photos later this week, so I didn't post about my outfit the day I took these. No that's a lie, I was just too lazy to do it, and now I am using these photos instead of photographing today's outfit. I've had a bit of a lame afternoon since arriving home. Lyall chewed up his collar and peed on the floor; he got a new parka in the mail but they sent two instead of just one, and it didn't fit; and the internet went down for like 15 minutes. Luckily I'd just been to the store, and luckily I'd done so while suffering from my moon cycle, so I bought beer and cookies. Therefore I am now in my pajamas, about to watch last night's New Girl, with a beer (2:30pm is acceptable time to start drinking, methinks), and a bag of chocolate cookies.

Again it's a bit of a bland outfit, but that's what happens during ~business casual~ week I guess. Oh well, the skirt is statement enough on its own! Was super pleased to find it in the F21 sale over the weekend. I love a bit of plaid.

Tonight I'm going to demand that we order pizza for dinner, and spend the evening watching TNG. Or something equally relaxing and awesome. I sent out several queries last night and I still feel mentally exhausted. It's like applying for jobs, but 100x more harrowing. Oh well, keep on trucking as I always say! Well I've said it once or twice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outfit no. 39

Skirt, shirt, and jumper: F21; necklace: gift from friend; shoes: Payless; glasses: Ray-Ban

Wow, I did not have any kind of luck with my hair today. It was fine last night when I went to bed, and when I awoke this morning, it was winging out like CRAZY and I don't understand! I couldn't do what I'd normally do and wear a hat, as it's another ~business casual~ week at work, so I let it fly free. Stupid hair.

Anyway, I actually went out of my way to try to be as "conservative" and "business casual" as I could today and yesterday, thanks to some new acquisitions from the Forever21 sale. I've been leaning toward more classic, basic pieces lately anyway, so it all worked out. I bought 2 skirts, 2 sweaters, and a pair of earrings from F21 over the weekend for only $23. Epic score, in my opinion! Then I picked up these wedges from Payless on Sunday while Greg and I were out running errands. I'd been missing a staple pair of black pumps in my shoe collection, and figured it was time. Plus they were only $27. I am Queen of Bargains!

The necklace was a Christmas gift from my friend Ashleigh, and I absolutely looove it. You can't really see what it looks like at all since I'm lazy and didn't get a closeup photo, but it's cool okay. I'm a fan of wearing jewelry that means something, so when someone gives me a piece of jewelry I tend to wear it often, even if it's not necessarily something I'd have bought for myself. My dad got me a necklace for Christmas as well, a pink freshwater pearl, which is worn at least a few times a week. The rings I wear all mean something to me as well. One was a high school graduation gift from my grandparents, one was bought in Camden Market in London, one I got from a market stall in Boston during a high school "field trip" out East, and the last one, my brass Claddagh ring, is from the Washington Renaissance Faire. I buy a lot of rings that break or get lost pretty quick, but the special ones always seem to stick around.

Wow that was a long ramble about jewelry, I'm sorry.

Today I received another rejection from an agent I'd queried. So naturally I'm going to send out a new batch of queries this evening. I don't fall off the horse and wallow about in the mud. I get back on. Aaaannnd that's my cheesy inspirational message of the day!

Seriously though I think the whole publishing process will be so much more rewarding in the end if I'm put through a challenge. It would be no fun if someone just came to my door and was like "I am from Random House I will publish your book now, here is a check. Goodbye." I mean... okay it would be super fun, but it wouldn't be as rewarding. I've found that when I decide to do something difficult (and I really very rarely do), that accomplishing my goal is way more awesome than if I accomplish something easy. Anyone will tell you that, and I've always known it hypothetically, but after moving to London and getting my MA I realize, from a personal standpoint, that it's true. So I'm trying to embrace the pain of rejection, and realize that I may get many many rejections, but it only takes one "yes."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Journey to Publication! Part 2: Weeping and Waiting

When I spoke with you last, I had just received my first "form rejection" from a literary agent. If you're not quite up to speed, I've written a novel and am now slogging through the soul-crushing vortex of pain that is querying agents. Since last time, there have been a few minor developments.

Firstly let me say: when people tell you that trying to get published is a nooollercoaster ride of emotion, usually complete with visits to Vomcano Village on a regular basis, believe them. It is true. Only days ago I was on a high, feeling pret-ty damn good about myself for getting a request for my full manuscript, and a request for my partial manuscript, in the space of a week. I'd heard back from four agents at that point, and two of them seemed interested in my novel. I felt like kind of a big deal.

And then I got an email from the agent to whom Matt referred me. She said she was glad to have been able to read my novel, that I'd likely have success with it, but that it was "a bit too commercial" for her. Which, fair enough. I wrote it to be commercial. And not everyone is into that, nor do all agents represent that, nor did I really think my book would be a good fit for her. So I wasn't particularly disappointed, and focused instead on the kind words that she offered in regards to my manuscript. I was like, "Well yay! An agent read my whole book and didn't think it was akin to rotting offal. This is good. I can do this."

Still feeling quite optimistic, I checked my email this morning and saw that I'd received an email from the agent who'd requested the first 50 pages of my manuscript. Stomach in my throat, I read it... and my stomach plummeted into the bowel region. She said that I was a strong writer, but that my story didn't "enrapture" her the way that she'd hoped.

My story didn't enrapture her.

It didn't enrapture her.

My first and only thought process upon reading these words: OH MY GOD MY NOVEL IS BORING. It is the most boring piece of writing ever conceived on this earth. What have I done.

And you know... I haven't quite gotten over this little speedbump of emo. Not yet. I'm still of the mind that... maybe my novel sucks? Yes, I've had friends and family who've read it and enjoyed it. That is true. But I wonder how much of that enjoyment stems from the fact that they know and love me? Probably a significant amount. Would they love my book if they randomly bought it at Barnes & Noble? Maybe. I'm not sure. There are several people who asked to read my manuscript, maybe a couple months ago now, and as far as I'm aware never finished it. I mean yes, it was not the finished draft and maybe it was too rough for them to get into it. And yes, people have lives, and it takes time to read a novel, and they are likely very busy. Or maybe they just forgot.

But, well... I've clung to this fact, the fact that some of my friends and family have not finished my manuscript... and used it as proof to myself that I've written a boring, forgettable, non-enrapturing novel. I can't shake this feeling. And it's really really pissing me off.

I'm still waiting to hear back from several agents I queried a couple weeks ago, as well as the agent who requested my full manuscript. But I don't have high hopes. My query letter may be good, but does my manuscript live up to it? Am I letting everyone down? Did I write my novel all wrong? I'm paranoid and insecure and it sucks, but it's happening nonetheless.

All I can do now, other than eat copious amounts of chocolate and numb my pain with episodes of TNG, is wait. And have a cheeky weep. And wait some more. And then... a cheeky chunder.

Writing is hard. Trying to get published is even worse. Until next time!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Outfit no. 38

Cardi, necklace, and dress (worn as shirt): F21, skirt: eBay, hat: H&M, booties: Aldo, glasses: Ray-Ban

I'm much more partial to these booties without socks, it turns out. I experimented with walking around in them sock-less, and they actually don't slide in the heel at all, I was having a mild hallucination when I came to that conclusion. They do squeeze my left little toe a bit, but pretty much 90% of my shoes have some sort of minor pain problem that I overcome simply by being a Badass, aka the same thing every other girl in the world does in order to endure cute-yet-slightly-painful shoes.

I came home to an email from another agent today, which I will share in the next installment of my "Journey to Publication!" series. Just know that I find myself in the annoying predicament of needing to write a synopsis of my novel really quickly. So, good luck with that one, Meg!

In other news, I've become completely addicted to the podcast Errand of Mercy, and not just because one of the guys who does it is my friend. It's basically two British dudes talking about ridiculous things and being fucking hilarious while doing it. As in, I had to pause the podcast 3 times today because it was too funny and I didn't want to explode in laughter at my desk in the middle of a quiet office. I'm pretty sure my coworkers already think I'm insane from all the snickering and silent convulsing as I try not to straight-up lol, but oh man. One of my favorite things is geeky guys talking about weird stuff and having hilarious banter, and another one of my favorite things is listening to British people talk, so basically Errand of Mercy is A+ would buy again. I urge you all to listen to it; it's on iTunes available for download, and if you listen and enjoy it, you should like their Facebook page. I swear Geraint didn't force me to plug this on my blog; I am seriously just totally in love with his podcast and I need everyone to listen to it so we can laugh about it together OKAY? It makes my work days a billion times more entertaining. Listen. Go.

And now I must go write that synopsis. At least it can't possibly be as bad as the query letter... right?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Outfit no. 37

Dress: H&M, cardi: New Look, socks: Urban Outfitters, shirt (worn under dress): Primark, booties: Aldo, necklace: gift from a friend, glasses: Ray-Ban.

I bought myself these boots as a reward for finishing my novel. At least that's what I told myself when I started entering my payment information on the Aldo site. They were like 30% off though, and I've been wanting some Chelsea boots for a long while (all the UK bloggers have them!), so I couldn't possibly deny myself the indulgence. I'm a bit annoyed because they slide a tiny bit in the heel, thus the need for socks, but I hate how they look with socks. SO. I'm going to have to get some little socks that don't go above the ankle, just for these boots. The things I do for love.

Greg and I have been watching Star Trek TNG almost every evening on Netflix. I've only seen scattered episodes from both TNG and the Original Series, so it's tons of fun to watch them all in order. We're only on season 2, but if our history of watching all 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 -- twice -- is anything to go by, we'll be finished in no time! We just met the Borg, and god are they creepy. Oh Picard... you don't even know the half of what you're in for...

Did anyone see this week's episode of New Girl? SO FUNNY. Julius Pepperwood was my favorite. Let's talk about tv shows foreverrrr I could seriously do this. Does anyone watch Suits and do you hate Mike as much as I do right now? Are we all dying of excitement for the new seasons of Game of Thrones and Doctor Who? I've been a bad fangirl, though, and haven't seen any of the new season of Downton Abbey yet. Ugh, I'm sorry, I'll catch up eventually...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Outfit no. 36

Skirt and cardi: F21, shirt:, coat: Urban Outfitters, hat: H&M, shoes: New Look, leg warmers: Target, glasses: Ray-Ban

I'm taking a leaf from Olivia's book and wearing my coat as a cape. Solely for outfit photos, of course. I wish I was the sort of person who could get away with wearing my coat as a cape and look awesome doing it, but alas, I'm not. Mostly I just didn't want to freeze to death while still showcasing my clothes.

Trying my best to get back into taking regular outfit photos. Part of the problem is that 99% of my wardrobe is currently piled on my bedroom floor, and I can't be bothered to do laundry or hang up the clean things, so I just rummage around each morning and hope I come up with something vaguely presentable. Which is why there's been a dearth of outfit posts here. Who knows what I'll do, though; I always have plans for my blog and then I always go off and do something completely different. So we'll see!

I'm so in love with Lyall, by the way. I've become the horrible person who takes 500 photos of their dog in only slightly differing poses, and then posts them on Instagram. I'm trying so hard to hold back but we'll see how long my self-control lasts. I'm so sorry. At least I'm not a cat person doing this. It's so much worse when it's cat people, because cats have only one facial expression. At least dogs are a bit dynamic and varied. Cats all look the same to me. (Yes I am racist against cats. Even though I have some really great friends who are cats!)

Thus, I leave you with this. Lyall refuses to hold still unless I hold his ducky out for him. He loves his ducky. (And he just came in from a walk, that's why he's wearing the sweater! I don't just put it on for fun, I swear. But yes I left it on for a few extra minutes so I could take pictures of him in it. I mean look at him. Look at his sweater. IS HE NOT PERFECT.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Outfit no. 35

Dress, cardi, and necklace: H&M, booties: Blowfish, glasses: Ray-Ban

I couldn't be bothered to do my hair last night after showering, but I really wanted to document today's outfit, so -- with much reluctance -- I've decided to subject everyone to un-styled Meg hair. Apologies.

That said, I'm super excited about today's outfit mostly because it's 1) super comfy, 2) super cute, and 3) super cheap. I went to H&M yesterday in hopes of scoring something good on sale, and voila! I found this cardi for $7. It's quite warm and soft, and the color is perfection. Then I found this dress, not on sale, for $17.95 or something. Which is quite good in my opinion! I've been told by the Powers That Be not to wear drop-waists, as I already have a long torso and short legs, but fuck 'em. I like this dress and who cares if I accentuate the parts of myself that actually exist, and aren't that hideous and terrifying. Normally I hate my short legs, but this dress is so cute and comfy that I can't be bothered to care.

Would've taken more detail photos of my necklace and cardi, but alas, it's about 18 degrees F outside (warmer than it's been recently!) and I didn't want to die. So instead I chose to be hasty and retreat indoors where a tiny warm dog awaited me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet Professor Lyall

A lot has been going on in my life in the past couple of weeks, it seems. I finished my novel, started querying agents, and now... apparently we've adopted a dog. He wheedled his way into my heart before I even met him. So now I'd better formally introduce you to Professor Lyall, the newest member of the Smitherman/Kalaris family!

A few weeks ago he showed up on Petfinder. If you follow me on twitter or facebook or really... if you know me at all, I've been obsessing about getting a dog basically ever since I moved back to the States. Greg and I made a point to rent an apartment that allowed dogs, we had the time and money, and since I've desperately wanted a dog ever since I moved out of my parents' house, the moment was nigh. Greg and I agreed to wait until after the holidays to get a dog, since we were traveling a lot, and spending a lot of money, etc., blah. So as soon as we got back from Vegas I started checking Petfinder daily, reading all the profiles of the small dogs, falling in love liberally. But when I saw the little wide-eyed face of "Peanut"... I fell hard.

Greg can attest to this. Every few days I'd say, "Greg... Peanut is still available to adopt..." and show him the same picture of his tiny face. Greg didn't like the idea of a chihuahua (I've rarely met a man who did like the idea of tiny dogs), saying they were yappy and rat-like. But we finally decided that we could afford to start meeting dogs and seriously looking for one to join the family. So I emailed CAWS, the shelter that was fostering him, and asked if I could meet Peanut. They replied saying that I had to fill out an application before I could meet him, and then Greg and I were plagued with doubt. How much would the pet deposit cost? How much more per month would we have to pay in rent? How much would dog supplies cost? We took a moment to breathe and try to sort it all out more clearly before jumping into something prematurely. So I tried to forget about Peanut.

But after a week or so of letting Greg consider whether he wanted to spend his money on adopting a dog (after we did the math it all added up to about $700, which is insane), or upgrade his computer, he finally agreed that we could apply to meet Peanut, who was miraculously still available to adopt! So I filled out the application... and waited.

When I wasn't contacted the next day about meeting Peanut, I emailed CAWS and asked if my application had gone through. I was told it hadn't, so I submitted another one... which also didn't go through. I was getting desperate, sure that someone else would adopt Peanut before we could meet him. But it turned out that the next day (this past Saturday), CAWS was holding an adoption event at PetSmart, which they do every two weeks or so. I was told Peanut would be there, so I asked Greg if we could go meet him, and he agreed.

The next morning I got up 2 hours before the event started, determined to get there as early as possible. We showed up right at 11am, when the event started, and Peanut hadn't shown up yet. We wandered around PetSmart, waiting, and I was so nervous -- what if someone else wanted to adopt him too? What if he never showed up? What if he didn't like us, or we didn't like him? Well he finally did show up, and he was wearing a little blue sweater.

When we went to his cage and I put my hand up for him to sniff, he backed away and barked; he was clearly super freaked out. I would be too, after all -- he was in a cage surrounded by other dogs in cages, with strange people looming all over the place. Greg didn't like the cut of his jib -- he said he was yappy. But I needed to meet him before we made any decisions, so one of the CAWS volunteers pulled him -- reluctant -- out of his cage, and we finally met him. He was so sweet. As soon as he was out of his cage he stopped barking, and was happy to be held. Even Greg had to admit he was "pretty chill," and after seeing his folder and talking to one of the CAWS volunteers (the one I'd been emailing), we decided to adopt him. So we filled out some paperwork, gathered up a bunch of dog essentials (bed, toy, treats, food, etc.), and left PetSmart with a new family member.

We agreed in the car to name him Professor Lyall, one of the few names I'd suggested that Greg actually liked. And yes I'm a total geek -- Professor Lyall is from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series; he's the Woolsey werewolf pack's Beta. And he wears a top hat. Clearly Lyall needs to become a steampunk chihuahua.

Anyway, it all happened so fast, I had a knot in my stomach the whole drive home. Lyall was shedding all over me, and he had shed all over Greg in PetSmart -- did we adopt a dog that was going to cover our apartment in dog hair? Was he going to like us? How would he behave? Would he poop on the floor? Would I be a good dog mom? Did we do the right thing? But he was so calm sitting in my lap, and so alert and sweet when he started exploring our apartment, I fell in love completely, and all second thoughts vanished.

I still can't handle how sweet and cuddly Lyall is. He's the most adorable creature ever, and even Greg seems to be warmed up to him; he let Lyall sit on his lap while he played Civilization yesterday while I was out at a movie. I'm so excited to get to know him even better!

Yayyyy dogs. I think adopting dogs from shelters is the best way to go -- our family dog Pippin, who lives with my mom in Montana, is absolutely the best dog ever, and he's 18 years old and still kicking. Rescue dogs are so happy and healthy, and there are so many of them out there that I can't imagine buying a dog from a breeder, or -- god forbid -- a pet store. There were so many sweet dogs at PetSmart on Saturday, and it breaks my heart that there are countless dogs out there who are perfectly sweet, loving, and amazing animals -- but for whatever reason their family gave them up. I can't imagine getting a dog and not adopting from a shelter. It's the only option in my opinion. I know people who've bought from breeders, and their dogs are amazing, but I couldn't do it myself.

And now everyone has to tell me about their dogs! Did you adopt? Buy from a breeder? Something else? Share pics! Tell me stories! I love dogs and I want to know about everyone else's furry family members. x

Edit: I think it's important to add that our estimate of $700 was just for the initial costs and fees of adopting a dog (adoption fee, basic supplies, and pet deposit). We've basically adopted a child, and what with healthcare, food, toys, additional rent fees, and other costs, adopting a dog is no small decision. So keep that in mind if you are looking into becoming a dog -- or any pet -- owner!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Journey to Publication! Part 1: First Rejection

I've been warned, repeatedly, endless times, over and over again, that the process of trying to get your book published, namely finding an agent, sucks. Like, really sucks. Everything sucks. It sucks writing a query letter, it sucks even more writing a synopsis, it sucks querying agents, it sucks being rejected. Over and over again. So many rejections. Never-ending rejections. "GROW THICK SKIN" they say, "OR ELSE YOUR SOUL WILL BE TORN ASUNDER, YOUR BODY LEFT AN EMPTY SHELL, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAIN, YOUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE LIKE A BLACK HOLE OF ENNUI, EVERY PARTICLE OF LIGHT SUCKED IN AND DECIMATED." Etcetera.

And I thought, in response: HA you guys are a bunch of pussies, who can't take a rejection letter? It's not that bad. There are so many reasons, mostly subjective, why an agent would reject my book. I totally understand. I mean, not everyone can love my book, or even want to read it, or even want to represent it. It's cool. I completely get it, and I am ready to dive head-first into that world! I'm ready. Let's do this.

Cue me sending out one query letter. One. Just one.

Cue the next day. I receive a form rejection via email.

I sit there. I go, "Oh, okay. This isn't surprising. Good. I've got my first rejection out of the way!" I continue to watch The Vampire Diaries.

Only, I felt vaguely as though somebody had torn my soul from my body, punched it in the stomach, and put it back inside me.

"I'M NOT A PUSSY" I said to myself, pouring an entire thing of Reese's Pieces into my mouth and chewing, slowly. "IT'S COOL. I DON'T EVEN CARE."

As the minutes and hours wore on, I realized, detachedly, that I couldn't get up from the couch. It's comfy here, I thought, stuffing my face with leftover Christmas candy. I DON'T EVEN WANNA GET UP.

Cue Greg later asking what I wanted for dinner, in a clipped tone, and me jumping to the totally reasonable conclusion that he hated me and wanted me to die. "WHY DO YOU HATE MEEE" I said, feeling completely justified. "I CAN TELL YOU WANT ME TO DIE I CAN HEAR IT IN YOUR TONE."

"I just want to eat dinner?" said Greg, confused. "Are you okay? Seriously what's wrong."


"But seriously what's wrong."



"I'm embarrassed, okay? I'm embarrassed I'm so embarrassed I didn't want to tell you."

Cue me explaining that I'd sent out one query letter, unsolicited, without telling anyone. And, just as quickly and quietly, I'd been rejected.

"Oh," said Greg. "So what do you want for dinner?"

It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. I just wanted to curl up into a fetal position and fade away into nothingness. Clearly there was no reason to live anymore. Nobody wanted my novel. Everyone hated it. Nobody would ever publish the senseless piece of drivel I had dared to call a novel. What was I THINKING? This publishing industry business isn't the magical, cozy, "let's all be friends" sort of Care Bears scenario I'd been imagining. It's a business, just like any other. I mean shit, I probably wouldn't take on my novel if I wanted to make a buck. I'd look for some YA urban paranormal fantasy romance starring a blonde 17-year-old hottie. I'd be like, "Clockpunk? What the everloving shit?" and copy, paste, and send that form rejection. Bam. The end.

"It's just the same as when you start applying for jobs in a new city," said Greg, this afternoon. "Your first few rejections are really hard, but then you suck it up, and it's not as bad."

But he doesn't realize that this is different. It's fundamentally different in that, when I don't get a job, I think "UGH THIS SUCKS I'M STILL BROKE" and cry a little. But after my query being rejected just once, I feel as though my entire existence has been invalidated. Okay maybe not quite that badly... but this book is something I've worked hard on, I've cried over it, I've sweat over it, I may have bled over it at some point. It's my baby. And to send your baby, even in the form of a one-page query letter, to somebody and for that somebody to be like "Meh, not really interested, not even interested enough to tell you that in person or to say something nice about your baby. It's just like all the other babies. Can't be bothered. Here's the same letter I send to all the moms whose babies are so nondescript and/or shit that I forget about them moments after hitting send" is REALLY HARD. It's really hard okay. It's like "but why do you hate my beautiful child, I love my child, whyyyyyyy" and it sucks.

So yeah I HAVE HAD ONE REJECTION and it was from a super popular agency and it was one of those "I'm doing this for shits and giggles" sort of things but it was still a rejection, and I'm still moping about it.

And I also realized that I'm not really feeling the whole ~publishing industry bullshit~ thing right now, and I'm taking a break. I'm not going to push myself to do anything right now. I deserve a bloody break, y'know? I deserve to watch Stefan and Damon brood together in leather jackets for hours and hours every day if I want to. And hey, maybe tomorrow I'll be super pumped up about it again, and positive, and excited! But I figure, if I'm not pumped up and excited... then what's the point? So here I am, treating myself well (aka sitting on the couch watching Star Trek and eating pizza with Greg) and not forcing myself to do things simply because I think I should. Which, admittedly, I do. A lot.

I am waiting to hear back from an agent who Matt put me in touch with, but she doesn't really rep fantasy, so I'm not expecting anything big. I only hope she has some advice or agent-y wisdom to bestow upon me in my time of need. I mean, that's what this Matt connection is for, right? To make people feel obligated to help me out in some way?

Ah, Meg. Why did you ever decide to become a writer. BECAUSE I LIKE PAIN. That's why. I like pain.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What do I do now?

Welp, I finished the novel. What do I do now?

I find myself a bit overwhelmed with the possibilities. I could finally watch the last series of Merlin, I could re-watch Sherlock, I could read more of the Infernal Devices series, I could mainline One Direction videos and decide which one has the best voice, I could make art, I could continue watching The Vampire Diaries even though it's awful, I could start a Supernatural journey, I could play League of Legends, I could play WoW, I could start planning the sequel to my novel, I could write something totally different, I could lie on the couch and eat Cheez-Its until I become as wide as I am tall. I could do anything.

You may be like "BUT MEG you could always do these things, what are you talking about?" Yeahhh but every time I did something like that, I felt guilty. Because my novel wasn't finished. And most of the time I was thinking, "I SHOULD BE WRITING I WANT TO WRITE" and so I was either always living in guilt, or writing. Now I don't have to feel guilty, because I deserve a break after writing and editing a novel! But also I have a lot of things I want to do, and not enough hours in the day.

PLUS I have all these social things happening suddenly? And by "all these" I mean about two, but still. Tonight I'm gonna go to the SLC Writers Group write-in, and decide where to put all the chapter breaks in my novel. ...OKAY maybe I'm not 100% finished, but I can bang that out in like an hour. And it'll be nice to write and sit in a cafe with fellow writers. Hurray!

Regardless of what I decide to do with my afternoon, my Fangirl Feels are coming back in full force... and I intend to use them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thoughts Post-Novel

It's true, it's official, it's finally happened -- I finished my novel! I FINISHED MY NOVEL. As in, I finished it and there's no more to write. It's edited and fixed and polished and done.

I don't exaggerate when I say this is the best thing I've ever done in my life. Even better than living in London for a year, although the two are pretty closely intertwined. I went to London to get my Creative Writing degree, after all, and I met some of my best friends and biggest inspirations at Brunel's MA program. Studying at Brunel was the motivation I needed to start and finish the novel I'd always wanted to write, and I'm so beyond happy that I did it -- I can't put it into words.

I've wanted to be a novelist since I was in middle school, when I wrote a story about a goat, a lizard, and like... a bird of some sort in a college-ruled notebook. It was pretty plot-less and obviously not very memorable, but the feeling of creating a story, an adventure, was my favorite feeling in the world. Since then I've written short stories, flash fiction, poetry, half-finished novels, barely-begun novels, fanfiction, porn, and even a song or two. But nothing ever came of them, and the one time that I submitted a poem to my high school's literary magazine, The Troubadour, it didn't get published. And let's be honest -- I never put much effort into finishing any of the novels I started. I just got bored of them, and didn't know how the story would pan out, so I quit. I figured when the right idea came along, I'd run with it and finish the novel.

Wrong. I had to force myself. It was a lot of bloody hard work, self-discipline, and weeping/hair-pulling/panicking sessions before I even finished the outline of the novel. Thank god I had that outline, too, because I'm not sure I could have finished the thing otherwise. So thank god that Brunel required us all to write outlines!

What I'm trying to say, in a very wordy way, is that I've been scrabbling about for years trying to do something with my writing. Anything. I've started so many novels I couldn't possibly remember all of them, and given up on so many projects that I put so much time and thought into. Sometimes I thought I'd given up on ever finishing a novel or getting published. And then I saw a novel-writing program at City University London, while looking for a Psychology program in London (my plans had been slightly different when I started looking at grad schools in the UK). As soon as I read the title of the program, it was like everything inside me lit up. This was what I wanted to do. Not psychology -- fuck doing things to make money, for a career. I wanted to write more than anything, and when I saw that novel-writing program at City University, I knew that was what I'd do instead. Obviously I didn't get into City Uni... thank god, or I wouldn't have met Claudia and Lucy and Matt and all the people who have been so amazing and integral to my work on this novel. But I didn't look back, and took a novel-writing program even though I knew it would probably never propel me onward toward a career.

It did something better. It reminded me what I want to do with my life. Why I exist, if you'll allow me to be melodramatic about the whole thing. It really was like a wake-up call to my soul, and writing this novel was the most difficult, stressful, exciting, fun, terrifying, and awesome thing that I've ever done. The fact that it coincided with a year-long move to London just made it that much more incredible.

So finally, after years and years of writing aimlessly and never finishing a novel, never getting published, never knowing exactly what I wanted to, or could, do with my writing -- I finished a novel. And I could not be more fulfilled, proud of myself, excited, and fucking happy. This is who I am. This is what I do. I'm doing it, I'm making it happen, and it fucking rules!

Just wait until, fingers crossed, this thing gets published. I'll have accomplished every single one of my life goals: live in England, write a novel, publish a novel. Bam. The end. Bring it on, then, publishing industry! Let's do this thang.

[Art by my lovely/amazing friend Emily, who read one of my earlier manuscripts and drew fanart of Cecily and the Duke for me. Let's all marvel at her incredible skills of an artist. And definitely go read her new webcomic, Living History; it's super awesome!]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Outfit no. 34

Coat: Urban Outfitters, cardi and shorts: F21, leg warmers: Target, shoes: Payless, necklace: gift from Dad, glasses: Ray-Ban

Haven't done one of these in a while! To be fair I've lately been dressing solely in reaction to the weather, which has been Ass Cold. Even in Vegas it was in the 30s, and this morning when I tried to wash off the windshield with a bit of wiper fluid, it all immediately froze. :( So cold. Thank goodness for legwarmers.

I'll be honest and admit that this is probably the least offensive of the outfits I've worn in the past several days. They mostly consist of whatever layers I can find near at hand, piled on hurriedly and without thought. And... let's be frank, this outfit is kind of wtf. STILL. I felt the legwarmers warranted a post, at least. I've been a super fan of legwarmers ever since they came back "in" which was... what, 5 years ago if not more? I bloody well love them. Sadly this is my only pair -- the rest disappeared somehow in the billion-or-so moves I've made in the past few years -- but I'm ready to start building a new collection. Any recommendations for good places to buy legwarmers?

And let's not forget the coat, by any means. It was a Christmas gift from my mom, and I. LOVE. IT. It's fuzzy and I feel like it's kind of an old man coat, but it's got these amazing faux leather pockets and trim, which notches it up into the realm of badass. Plus it's ridiculously warm! As it should be, at $109, Bloody hell.

You can see by my pink nose that it's cold as balls outside.

I thought I had more to say but it turns out that I don't. I'm going to spend the rest of my evening writing, and with any luck, I'll be done with my novel by the end of this week. ...I KNOW. It's really soon! But I think I can do it! GO ME GO.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheesy post incoming

I've been in a weird headspace for the past few weeks, as I've been traveling a lot, and the holidays are always good for putting one off-kilter. Which isn't to say it was a bad weird headspace... but weird it was. I've moved almost once every year for the past 3 years, and over the holidays I found myself revisiting every place I lived in before London. Which, admittedly, is only two places... but now I'm in Salt Lake City, and I still have a hard time remembering what the hell city I'm in at any given moment.

Anyway, all that traveling was bizarre psychologically. It brought me back to a city I love, and to a town I love but could never live in again. And it made me think about all the changes and moves and all the things I've done since 2010... and then I had a dream.

It wasn't anything too special -- I just dreamt that I was still in London, and that (just as in real life when I had the dream) it was almost Christmas. But instead of being happy that I was in London in the dream, I was angry and frustrated. I missed Greg and I was frantically trying to find cheap plane tickets so I could fly back to the States to be with him for Christmas. I kept saying, "I'm over London! I'm done with it!" All I wanted was to be with Greg again. Okay yes blah blah it is a sappy dream, but it made me realize something. I may miss London, but I'm happy to be back home, to be with Greg again. I realized I'd go anywhere in the world for Greg. I'd even (god forbid) follow him back to Montana if it came to that (sorry, Montana). It was so nice, though, to have that dream and realize consciously that I'm glad the way things have turned out, and I wouldn't go back to London for anything. Not right now, at least, and not without Greg.

And then I had another tiny epiphany in Vegas, hanging out with Greg and all of his Salt Lake friends for an entire weekend -- I don't want to leave. I kept thinking to myself that I was going to be so sad when I had to move away from all of them... but then realized, wait. I'm not moving away in a year. I can stay as long as I want. I've been so used to making friends in new places with the knowledge that I'll be moving away soon, and it's so relieving suddenly being in a place where I can settle in comfortably and not worry about saying goodbye to people immediately. It's honestly a huge weight off my shoulders, a weight that I didn't realize was so heavy.

It's been an incredible few weeks, but I'm super glad to be home. All I want to do right now is settle back into my routine, write, read, play some video games, and hang out with Greg. I feel doubly contented with life, even if I'm still lonely at times. At least I know that I'm exactly where I want to be. I wouldn't change a goddamn thing, and it feels fucking awesome to be able to say that.