Nov 14

Writing Update: Nature Words, Boardwalk Empire, the Jersey Devil

baskinginsun-300x200Behind as usual. But at least I didn’t wait a whole year this time.

The Case for Making Libraries Full of Toys and Games

I wrote this piece for Quartz back in August. Researching the importance of play was really interesting.

10 Unusual Nature Words We Should Use More Often

An excuse to write about petrichor. By the way, the photo above is an example of apricating.

Boardwalk Empire: Our Favorite Words from the Final Season

I had to pay one last word-nerd hurrah to my favorite Prohibition-era gangster show.

The Mysterious Origins of the Jersey Devil

Writing the short Jersey devil entry on the Wordnik Boardwalk Empire piece inspired to me write this longer article for The Week. What I didn’t know: New Jersey is the only state to have an official state demon. Who knew?

[Photo: “Miss J Basking in the Sun,” CC BY 2.0 by Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac]

Jun 14

Writing Update: Huffington Post, Quartz, The Weeklings

Holy crap, it’s been a whole year since I’ve done a writing update. (If you’re curious about what I’ve published since then, just check my publications page.)

technicaldifficultiesFor The Huffington Post, I wrote about how my company used gratitude, patience, and humor to handle a server outage which brought down our app.

The big surprise for me was that as I was trying to entertain our customers, I ended up entertaining my co-workers too, which, I was told, made folks feel a little better during a stressful situation.

Oh, and hey, my article is currently featured on the front page of HuffPost Tech! Although it’ll probably be gone very soon.

Jane-Addams-2696444xFor Quartz, I wrote about what 21st century libraries can learn from Jane Addams’s Hull House, a 19th-century institution.

hannibal-500x332For The Weeklings I wrote about the TV show Hannibal and the symbolism of its many suits, from Lecter’s fab three-piece deals, to his crazy plastic killing suit, to people as suits of meat.

The actual writing of this essay didn’t take unusually long, but the research did, and by “research” I mean rewatching all of season two and jotting down notes and quotes along the way.

But it was worth it, and I hope to write more about TV.

Mar 14

AWP 2014 Index

And I’m back from yet another AWP! While this year doesn’t compare to the blast I had last year, I still had a good time. Plus I got to see Seattle!

  • Number of hours my flights were delayed compared number of hours I was in the air: 2.5 : 3
  • Number of hours I was in the airport compared to number of hours I was int he air: 6.5 : 3
  • Number of times I was in the very back of the plane compared to number of flights: 2 : 2
  • Number of “preferred guest” rooms I received because I got to the hotel so late and all the regular rooms were taken: 1 (yay!)

The view from my hotel.

  • Number of hours of sleep I got that first night: 3
  • Number of runs I got in over 2 days: 2 (four and three miles, respectively)
  • Number of hours I spent in my room compared with number of hours I spent at the conference on that first day (not including sleeping hours): 8 : 4
  • Number of old writing teachers I saw and almost didn’t say hi to but then I did and I’m so glad: 1
  • Number of times I forgot said writing teacher had blurbed my memoir: 1 (I’m such a dumbass)
  • Number of online friends I met in real life for the first time: 2
  • Number of three-minute stories I wrote on an old manual typewriter: 1
  • Number of times I avoided eye contact with book fair participants: 100
  • Number of hours I lasted at the book fair: 1

Tweeting the live-tweet of someone tweeting a panel about tweeting.

  • Hours last week I spent looking for a new outfit for my reading: 2
  • Number of new outfits I bought: 0
  • Number of cute outfits I forgot already had: 1 (cute little black jacket, white button up blouse, jeans, boots, cool necklace, in case you were wondering)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous I was for my reading: 11
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how fun the reading turned out to be: 10
  • Number of taco salads I inhaled after my reading: 1

Post-reading taco salad.

  • Number of sips of straight whiskey I was able to handle at the book fair: 3
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy I was to visit the Seattle Public Library: 11

Hammering Man at the Seattle Art Museum.

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy I was to run into the Gourmet Dog Japon cart: 11 (I got the Samurai)

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy I was to have some alone time in my room with my Samurai dog (don’t be dirty) and some stupid TV: 1,000,000
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy I was to have brunch with an old college friend: 1,000,000
  • Out of five stars, how yummy the food at Steelhead Diner was: 5+
  • Number of days it rained out of 1.5: .5 (It was beautiful but chilly on Friday, and only a little drizzly, though cold, Saturday)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy I was when I was finally back home: 1,000,000
  • Number of hours it will take this introvert to recover from all the socializing: 24



Jun 13

Writing Update: Salon, Digg, BlogHer

It’s time for another (sporadic) writing update, in which I tell you what’s been going on in my writing life.

salon_com2Earlier this month, I wrote about 1920s language for Wordnik. Our content partner, The Week, reprinted it, and the next thing I knew it was up at Salon.com (another partner of The Week)! It’s been a long-time dream of mine to get published at Salon. I’m thrilled it’s finally happened.

I also got all meta and wrote about my experience writing that 1920s language post.

1000px-Digg-new.svgLast week was the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In addition to my usual live-tweeting the bee for Wordnik, I wrote about common words that people still have trouble spelling. Somehow the post ended up on the front page of Digg that day and maybe for part of the next day (as far as I can tell from our blog stats). Now you can find it on Digg under spelling.

How did I know this happened? By the proliferation of insightful comments, such as this gem: “This article is terrible. Just awful.” Thanks!

rootsI’m happy to announce that my essay, “Life Is a Bowl of Noodles,” will be included in the newest anthology from BlogHer, Roots: Where Food Takes Us and Where It Takes Us. This ebook is available on June 4. Until then, read about Rita Arens’s experience editing the book.

Finally, you may have noticed that I changed my blog format, and in so doing, I’ve set up my Publications page a little differently. On the main page, I’m listing my most recent pieces (hopefully I’ll actually keep it updated) and the rest in categories: Blogging, Writing, and Technology (which I’m writing about more for work now); Language and Words; Personal Essays; and Short Stories and Children’s.

Until next time, happy writing!



Mar 13

AWP 2013: Writers, friends, and snow

Last week I was at AWP and had a blast.

I actually had more fun than last year, which was overwhelming and lonely since I was there as an individual writer. This year I went to work the book fair for my company, which I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 5

Set-up for the fair was on Wednesday, but I didn’t like the idea of getting in late and feeling rushed so I flew in on Tuesday.

That night I crashed with my friend ES. Getting to her house via public transportation was pretty easy, except for the fucking weird guy on the Silver Line (which is a fancy way of saying “bus”) who kept staring at me. At one point, I stared right back him, which was probably not a good idea, but, as I often do nowadays, I had assessed that I could take him in a fistfight so stare back I did.

I ended up getting off a couple of stops too early, and didn’t have to deal with in for much longer anyway.

ES had yummy food waiting for me when I got to her place: pasta with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe. I pigged out and we chatted and watched TV until two AM, ES because she’s a night owl, me because I was on darned Pacific time.

Wednesday, March 6

ES and I spent the day working together, and eating more of that tasty pasta. Then I was off to the hotel. “Set-up” for the book fair comprised of checking to make sure our giveaways had arrived (they had), and then I was free as a bird.

I was also starving. I dropped in a Wagamama and had their chili ramen. Delish!


View from my hotel window

By this time the weather had turned crummy. When I arrived on Tuesday, it was dry and in the 40s. Now it was raining and snowing. Blech. Luckily I didn’t have to go outside to get to the train station so getting back out to ES’s wasn’t too bad. We grabbed some southern food for a late dinner, and then I was back at the hotel.

Thursday, March 7

My first full working day.

My hotel was a 15 minute walk to the convention center. However, since I walk fast, it was more like 10 minutes for me, and it was all inside. It’s connected to a mall, which connects to another mall, which connects to two other hotels and finally the convention center.

What with the snowstorm, I didn’t leave the complex for three days.

The first thing I noticed at the book fair was how fancy some people’s booths were. They had furniture! art! beautifully displayed books! Our booth was, shall we say, streamlined in comparison. All we had were our giveaways, these adorable little notebooks with hearts on them. Then I got the brain storm to place them like this:


I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a couple of people said they loved how the notebooks looked, and that our schwag was “the best at the conference.” Wow!

I had a lot of fun talking to people. I told them about our site and our contest: give us your favorite word and you’re in the running to win a random drawing of some pocket-sized dictionaries. As for the little notebooks, I think people assumed they were for sale, so I had to yell, “Free notebooks!” often. Several people made 180 degree turns when they heard “free.” It was funny.

My neighbors at Red14Films were also super-nice. They were fun to talk to and shared their chocolate.

That night ES and I had plans to see a play, but the weather was so bad, our plans got canceled. I actually didn’t mind. I was spent. I went to the gym and ran three miles, showered back in my room, then wandered the mall for food. It was after seven, but a lot of stores were still open, which for some reason delighted me. I didn’t want to shop but I liked knowing that I could if I wanted.

I felt like having bad Chinese of all things, and got myself a plate of Panda Express. It was pretty good! The vegetables were fresh and only lightly cooked with no sauce, the way I like them, and I enjoyed orange chicken. Then it was back to my room for some herbal tea and television.

I watched a terrible movie with Robert Pattinson. From the movie, I realized that a) Robert Pattinson is a kind of weird-looking dude, and b) he can’t act for shit. Christina Ricci was quite good though. In their scenes, she seemed to force Pattinson to tone down his overacting.

Friday, March 8

Another day at the book fair  and lots more talking. I had plans with my friend PL in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen PL in years, since before I moved to San Francisco, and was glad to learn that she’d be at AWP with her magazine – and her nine month old.

I was yakking with someone when all of a sudden a woman with an adorable baby walked up to our booth. It was PL! Her son is soooo cute. He’s very chubby and smiles at everyone. I wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to SF.

After I finished working, I went up to PL’s room and hung out. It was so great catching up with her. It had started to snow a lot earlier in the day, which was a good thing because PL and her sister (who had come along to help with the baby and for fun) ended up staying that night instead of leaving during the day, which gave PL and me a chance to have dinner with ES too, who would be staying with me in my room, as well as a couple of PL’s friends/colleagues.

None of us really wanted to go outside so we ate at PF Chang’s. It was pretty tasty, though quite salty. I found out one of PL’s colleagues, who’s a writer/editor now, used to be an actress and had a small but pivotal role in one of my most favorite shows ever. I forced myself not to act like a stupid fan girl and limited my questions to half a dozen. She was super-nice about it.

Saturday, March 9

I was really tired on this day since I didn’t sleep well the night before. I slept well all the other nights, at ES’s and at the hotel. But the night ES stayed over, we stayed up very late, past two AM, and I got stressed about getting up in time to work the fair and to pack my stuff and check out. I got maybe two hours of sleep. Ugh!

But working the book fair was fine. With lots of coffee and adrenaline, I was able to power through it. I was, however, worried about having a lot of leftover notebooks to ship back.

PL and her sister (and the baby!) came by, and I complained to them about my plight. They told me to go ahead and use the bathroom if I needed to, and they could watch my stuff. When I came back I saw that they had totally taken over the booth and were giving away notebooks like crazy: “Free notebooks! You know you want a free notebook! Yeah, you do!” They were so awesome. They had heard my spiel several times so they could repeat most of it. I got to show lots of people the site and we had a ton more entries in our favorite word contest (the results are here). That day the fair was open to the public so ES was there too. It was loads of fun.

After we were done, we grabbed a late lunch at the food court, and then PL and her posse was off.

ES and I schlepped back to her ‘hood to head out to a cooking party one of her friends was hosting. Luckily the weather had improved tremendously so getting around wasn’t too bad.

Since I was dead tired and am not a confident cook, I sat around like a bum while everyone worked to make delicious crepes. (Crap, I should have taken some pictures.) The crepes were delicious. ES made a layered dish with spinach, lots of cheese, and, well, crepes. It was so damned good.

Sunday, March 10

My last day in Boston! ES and I had every intention of seeing a movie, but ended up yakking the day away and missed the start time. I was just as happy to walk around and enjoy the nice weather.

In the late afternoon, we went to a town that’s on the way to the airport and had an early dinner of yummy Korean food. The restaurant was very modest, but I knew it had to be good because there were Korean people eating. And good it was. I had duk mandu gook, which is a clear beef soup with beef dumplings, rice cakes, glass noodles, and egg. I want it now!

Then we were off to the airport, and I was catching my flight to Newark. Since it’s only an hour in the air, the plane was quite small. One row of seats were singles, which felt totally luxurious, especially since the flight was half empty. I had to a wait a while for the train from the airport to my parents’, but the ride felt fast, even full of drunk college kids on their way home to Rutgers. Then I was at my ‘rents’.

~ ~ ~

The time with my parents was nice. I got to catch up on sleep and work, and eat my mom’s good cooking. I also got to see another college friend for lunch. Inevitably my parents started to get on my nerves, and I was very happy to head back to SF. I’m currently still on east coast time, which means early to bed and early to rise, but I like that anyway.

Jan 13

Writing update: Language and words, The Week, submissions

Writing on the train

My latest writerly shenanigans!

Language and words

To Catch Some Thief Words, January 17
Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Words We Found There, January 24

A bit of exciting news: The Week, a news and culture magazine (they own the awesome Mental Floss), will now be featuring some of my Wordnik posts. Check out the ones on thief words and Lewis Carroll words. Right now the Lewis Carroll one is in the top 10 most read (squee!) but that probably won’t last very long.

This also means that the posts will be cross-posted over at Yahoo! News. (Note to self: don’t read the comments on Yahoo! News.)

Submission goals

Earlier this month I asserted that I didn’t want to set any submission goals. But I have anyway.

My goal is the same as I mentioned in that post, 12 for the year, but I’m going about it differently. First, I added it to the $10 deal with MB. If I submit 12 times – meaning 12 different pieces, not just 12 submissions- before I reach $50 in the reverse-bribery pot, I get my money back. (There’s $10 in there now.) To remind you, I have to pay $10 for each week that I don’t work on my writing at least five days or don’t go to krav maga at least twice.

Second, I’m not bothering to comb through the Poets & Writers database. It’s an awesome database, but it’s overwhelming. I’m relying almost solely on Twitter to tell me about contests and places to submit, and between my own account and the one for work, I should be pretty well covered.

So far I’ve submitted one piece, hope to submit another next week, and another next month. Actually there will be two next month, but one is the same story I submitted this month so that doesn’t count.

Jan 13

Imitation as Flattery, and Other Plagiarism Myths


[Photo: “Crackers,” CC BY 2.0 by elhombredenegro]

I’m going to write about something that happened a while ago but which I’ve kept quiet about.

Someone plagiarized me.

It wasn’t a 100% word for word plagiarism, but this person’s piece imitated mine in style and structure, line by line. The opening in fact was almost exactly the same – except for a couple of words swapped out – and with one sentence copied verbatim. This person also tried to imitate my voice but failed, in my opinion.

I was very upset and didn’t know what to do. Call this person out on it? Alert the editor (who had also published my piece but sees hundreds, if not thousands, pieces of writing and had probably forgotten)? Make a snotty comment on the plagiarizer’s piece?

I was told that perhaps this person didn’t realize what they were doing, that I should play nice, make a joke of it. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this is ridiculous.” WINK. Wink cuz, you know, it’s no big deal. In the end, I did nothing except hold a silent grudge, which I hold to this day, vowing never to help this person or promote any of their work.

Now someone I know is experiencing something similar, and their “supporters” are also responding with “be nice” comments. “The thief didn’t mean it!” “They probably didn’t even realize they were doing it!” Hearing about this person’s experience made me relive my own, and I decided I couldn’t keep quiet about it anymore.

Here are some plagiarism myths that need to be put to rest.

Copying structure and syntax isn’t plagiarism. First, the basics: the definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism.org gives an excellent one:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)

How hard is it to put quotes around something and say “according to So-and-So” and give a link. Are plagiarizers so insecure that they can’t admit that they get ideas from elsewhere? They have to claim every idea as their own? Some stuff I write is almost all quotes and attributions, and people still read and enjoy it.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattering.” BULL-FUCKING-SHIT. Imitation with proper attribution and credit may be a great form of flattery. Otherwise, it’s outright fucking stealing.

I love Austin Kleon‘s distinctions between “good theft” and “bad theft.” I’ll let his image speak for me:


See? Study is good; skim – as in skim an article and not read it carefully enough to give proper attribution – is bad. Stealing from one is bad. Credit good, plagiarism bad. Transform good, imitate bad. Speaking of which. . .

Imitation does not equal inspiration. My essay, I’m Glad My Husband Cheated, was inspired by this essay, I Slept With Your Husband. Here’s Why. My piece, in the form of a letter from a wife to her husband’s mistress, was a response to the latter, a letter from the mistress to the cheating husband’s wife. I didn’t go and play Mad Libs with that essay, swapping out details. It was an original response. A transformation.

Still, I went out of my way to tell the editor my essay was a direct response to I Slept With Your Husband, and if she thought the style was too similar, I would change it. However, she didn’t, and in fact both essays ended up the website’s favorite articles of the year.

“Err on the side of the generosity.” Fuck that shit. If this happens again, I’m confronting the thief directly. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll give them a chance to take their stuff down, but if they don’t, watch the fuck out.

Be nice. Again, FUCK IT. And I don’t mean “don’t be kind.” Being kind and being nice are two different things. People who care about being nice care about how they appear. People who care about being kind care about others’ feelings.

Like Wil Wheaton says, don’t be a dick, which includes don’t steal my stuff because I will cut you. . .with my words. (And in other ways if need be.)

Writers need other writers. For advice, feedback, promotion. A writer screwing over another writer is about the dumbest thing they can do for their career.

Jan 13

If You Hate ‘Marketing’: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means


Search terms that consistently bring people to my blog are “I hate marketing job,” “I hate marketing careers,” and “why apply for marketing.” It’s because of this post I wrote back when I was applying for any kind of writing job. That post recently received a comment:

Ah, the artist’s conundrum, working a job you don’t believe in. I’m doing the same thing.

I feel for you, man! That was me for many years, although it wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe in the work but that I was being pressured to do work I didn’t want to do. I was perfectly happy being more marketing operations than marketing marketing. It was a job that needed to be done, and I was good at it.

But it wasn’t valued, at least not by my last marketing boss. When I left the team, he wanted to give my projects to his secretary. First of all, FUCK YOU. Second of all, his secretary did not want to do that stuff. That was why she had chosen to be an administrative assistant. And what was extra stupid was that there was an administrative assistant who was interested in those sort of projects, but she had been shut down so often (by this same boss) that by the time I left, she had left too.

I was so scarred from my experience at my old job that I vowed never to do marketing again. However, I’ve recently realized that “marketing” doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. At my old company it meant, “Do a bunch of stuff that costs a lot of money that may or may not increase sales of things that are unrelated to the stuff we’re marketing.” Our team was, shall we say, a special case, and because of this, I think some people felt the need to overcompensate and put on a show of doing a lot of stuff. There was a lot of stress and pressure to meet arbitrary deadlines, and freaking out over mistakes that only mattered to the higher-ups.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, three years ago I found a job that I love with a company that I adore, and so while I’m no marketing expert, I thought I’d try to think of some tips for those, like the commenter, who are currently in marketing and hating it.

Play to your strengths. Duh, right? At my old company, I had just one boss who told me it was okay to want to be in operations. “Play to your strengths,” he said. My strengths at that time were being highly organized, efficient, meticulous, and process-oriented, all skills you need in a field that involves multiple players per project (marketing manager, marketing agency, a review committee with several members, the actual marketing operations person, etc.).

Those four words made me realize it wasn’t me, it was them, those who were pressuring me to do stuff I didn’t want to do, and that I should emphasize those strengths while applying for new jobs. While I never got a job in marketing operations, I did eventually find a great position (at the same company) as a communications manager.

Your hobby, your job. Since I was 12, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But I was always reluctant to write for my nine to five because I thought it would take energy away from my more literary pursuits. However, after freelancing for six months, I realized that wouldn’t be the case.

(Full disclosure: I was able to quit my shitty New York corporate job, move to San Francisco, and write full-time because my boyfriend was supporting me financially. I know not everyone has that option. However, I also realize now that I had enough money saved up that I would have been okay without a full-time job at least for a few months.)

I applied for blogging gigs and writing jobs, part- and full-time. It was pretty discouraging at first. I guess without professional blogging experience, I couldn’t even get a bite. Finally, I expanded my search to outside San Francisco, spotted my current workplace’s job listing, and the rest is history.

In my current job, I’m technically part of the marketing team, but my job is more writer/editor than marketer. I LOVE my job. I can’t emphasize it enough. The strengths I use every day are my writing skills and creativity, but also organization and efficiency. I blog about almost anything I want, do some author wrangling, edit, and tweet. Keep in my mind that in addition to writing, I was already blogging and tweeting well before I got this job. I’ve had a blog in one form or another since 2005, and have tweeted for fun and to market my book and other writings since 2009.

Believe in the product. It really helps. And I don’t mean force yourself to believe in it when you don’t. I mean look for a job with a company that makes something you like. Easier said than done, sure, but at least look.

What marketing really means. Another post that comes up with those “I hate marketing” search terms is this post by Remarkablogger, who says it so well:

As a marketing channel, blogging and social media are NOTHING like traditional marketing. They are the opposite of it in almost every way. You don’t have to sound like a marketing brochure. In fact, it’s way better if you don’t. Just be yourself. You don’t have to sound like Crazy Eddie the Used Car Salesman or Precious Roy (bonus points if you know who Precious Roy is).

I admit I don’t who Precious Roy is but I love this explanation of blogging and social media as a marketing channel. This is why I love my job so much. I get to be myself and write about stuff I’m interested in (which happens to fit the brand of the product). Writing this way gets readers to our blog (and by extension, the products) and creates a brand and a voice.

I don’t know if these points will help people at all, but writing this post helped me understand marketing in a new way.

Jan 13

Writing update

My latest writerly shenanigans!

Language and words

Election Day Soup: Words on Politics and Campaigning, November 6
Hobson-Jobson Soup: English Words From Indian Languages, November 13
Taxi Words: A Brief History, December 6
Celebrating ‘The Hobbit’: Journey Words, Unexpected or Not, December 14
Words for the Apocalypse Now (or Later), December 20
Best of Word Soup 2012: TV Word Love, December 26
The Words of Rudyard Kipling, December 27
Best of Language Blog Roundup 2012, December 28

I’ve been a busy word nerd.


I have a new page up of mentions and whatnot of my writings. A particular highlight for me was a mention and link in The Economist‘s language blog, Johnson.

Now back to work!

Jan 13

One Resolution and the $10 Deal

I saw this article today about making only one New Year resolution. Poppycock! was my first response. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Last year my plan was to adjust my expectations, celebrate my accomplishments, and have short-term goals in mind but to not write them. I don’t know if that worked, but I was able to form a couple of good habits mostly because of the $10 deal I had with my boyfriend, MB:

  • If I didn’t work on my novel at least five days a week, I had to give him $10. But if I finished my novel before reaching $100, I could have all the money back.
  • If I didn’t go to krav maga at least twice a week, I had to give him $10.

I’m a cheapskate so I hated handing over the money. Still, my debt racked up to $70. Then on Christmas Day I finished the first draft of my book and I got all the money back. As for krav maga, I ended up getting my yellow belt in September.

I’m going to continue these two $10 deals – work on personal writing at least five days a week and go to krav maga at least twice a week – perhaps with the added goal that one of those two krav maga times, I have to go to a level 2 class. I’ve been awful about going to level 2. It’s much more fun and comfortable to stay in level 1.

My other short-term goals are to work out at least four times a week and to read one book a month or so. These have also become a habit for the most part so I’m not too worried about those.

So what do I want my one resolution to be? I thought it might be to submit my writing more often. Back in 2011, I tried to do a 12 months, 60 rejections project and failed. Sixty submissions in a year is too much for a slow writer like me. I thought maybe 12 would be more doable, one a month, and even came up with a plan and submitted one piece just now,

But then I started to execute on my plan – check listings for magazines and upcoming contest deadlines – but immediately became overwhelmed. There are just so many contests and magazines, and I don’t have too many things to submit.

What I need is to write some short pieces during this break I’m taking from my novel (at least one month, maybe two), and to get the momentum going to be able to work on short pieces and revise my novel at the same time. So working on short pieces is built into the whole “work on personal stuff five days a week” or pay up.

So if not submitting more, how about meditating? It’s something I’d like to do more consistently. I get pretty anxious about stuff (often made-up stuff) and want to be able to handle my anxiety better. I meditate when I do yoga at home and in yoga class, and sometimes on the train to work if I remember. But usually I completely forget. For instance, I haven’t meditated at all during this holiday break.

The article goes on to suggest three more steps after picking your one resolution:

  • Come up with a specific action plan.
  • Avoid previous resolutions.
  • Tailor your action plan to your personality.

What works for me is when something becomes not just a habit but something I feel I need. If I go more than two days without working out, I just feel blah. The $10 helped motivate to keep working on my novel and krav maga-ing, but I also grew to love getting in a little personal writing after dinner instead of just watching four hours of TV. I grew to like practicing punching and kicking, as well as socializing with my classmates.

But first meditation needs to become a habit. I’ve looked online and all the articles say the same thing: start off with just a few minutes, pick a trigger, reward yourself, blah blah. But I always manage to find an excuse: I have work to do, MB is around, MB might come home any minute (he’s all for my meditating, but I’d rather be alone). The only thing that seems to work for me is the $10 deal. Would it be somehow anti-meditative to have to pay $10 for every day that I don’t meditate?

Well, the article does say to tailor my plan to my personality, and apparently my personality is “cheapskate.”