Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: Writing

Practicing

I read yesterday that for writers to maintain a habit of writing, they should take a  similar approach to how musicians practice, i.e., devotedly, everyday, in spare moments.

Great, I thought. Because I’m the girl who’s picked up her violin only once in the past year. My chances at maintaining a writing habit are about as great as my chances of getting into the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. Which is to say, I can do it, but only if I try.

I can see that once I get around to devoting the time, the approach is similar. When I practice, I tend to start out with scales and pieces that I memorized years ago. When I feel sufficiently in sync with the instrument, I’ll try a new piece, or go back to a passage over which I always trip.

For the last few weeks — months really — I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I wrote the first chapter and a few character sketches. Then I stopped. I wasn’t sure how to breathe life into it from there. Was my protagonist actually my antagonist? Should the best friend be the leading lady? Could I write it in a fairly regular atmosphere or should I add a fantasy element to it — demons, mermaids, prophesies — to dramatize the point?

Of course, thinking about a story is part of the writing process, but I have a history of over analyzing. I know this is spelling doom for my little project. So here I am, practicing my scales, the type of writing I figured out how to do long ago.

That’s me in the corner

“Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me…”

The man sitting beside me at the Beantown Pub sings along to R.E.M. as it wafts through the tight spaces in between bar stools and coats. I was just fitted for my wedding dress — which I so long to post for you here but I can’t risk Jon stumbling upon it — and now I’m sitting on the corner stool at the bar, drinking a beer. The bar tender sweeps by me, her hands full of empty mugs, and she takes up the tune with a sweet voice,

“…That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight, I’m
Losing my religion”

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, but the place is full to the brim and I wonder where Jon and his friends will sit when they get here. I take a sip and decide that being alone at a bar isn’t quite as uncomfortable as I expected. And I suddenly wish I had a notebook.

But I don’t. The best I can do is capture this moment in my mind and recreate it later in the week on my blog.

New Year, New You

It’s a week after New Year’s now, but you know what, it’s also my birthday. For me, this is the new year. Maybe not the beginning of 2011, but it is the beginning of year 25.

Someone asked me last night, why Snowflakes in France? And at first I couldn’t remember. Then I thought my summer in France, how it tore apart my safe relationship back home and opened up the possibilities of being single, of being hurt and being proud, of learning what it is to be a feminist, responsible for my own choices even when I want to blame someone else.

Snowflake was a nickname that a boy gave to me in 7th grade. He may have been the first boy to toy with me, flirt with no intentions and no abandon, and at the time I was naive enough to blush and smile and think it was nice. But when I traveled to France in college, I began to grow into a more realistic — and more bitter — version of that girl.

That was five years ago. I’ve grown a lot since then, but people say you should write about what you know. I know a lot of teenage angst, dashed dreams, YA novels and puppy love. (And now I know of happy endings, but for some reason my writing is never very good when I write about that)

So here at my quarter-life mark, I’m going to make a resolution to write about what I know, and not to analyze it in the process. And this time, I’ll try to do it in fiction. I have a hunch that a little writing group in town might be my saving grace in this endeavor.

Giving Thanks

When Thanksgiving practically throws a topic into my lap to blog about, I guess I should come out of hiding and get writing. I’ve been drafting a Christmas list of things that I want, so to balance it out, here’s the list of things I already have that I’m thankful for:

1. Jon, for being everything I always wished for in a man: Smart and funny with soft eyes, a sense of financial responsibility, impressive social skills, a kind heart and dashing good looks; and for being there for me.

2. A Practical Wedding, which is so much more than a wedding blog, for providing a meeting spot for supportive women to gather, a modern Red Tent if you will.

3. My family, who have graciously accepted and encouraged my life choices, even though it has meant that I am now 1,000 miles away and marrying a man they hardly know.

4. Books, in their many formats, for giving me knowledge, entertainment, some cozy home decor, and a job. Seriously, what would I do without them?

5. Friends — far-flung, back home and down the block — for their advice, for laughs, for listening and for the small moments they’ve shared with me.

Cheers and apple pie! (Oooh, did I mention that I’m also thankful for food and holiday cocktails?)

And now, the next best thing!

If you hadn’t noticed, I took a 5 month hiatus from blogging. We’ll see how badly my writing has suffered because of it. But for now, a few updates:

1. Remember my last post in March when I was whining about my tiny room and the cold? Well it’s summer now, hot (finally!), and I have a 3 story townhouse with a deck! I can’t believe my luck.

2. Of course, the new place costs a bit more, which I’m able to afford because Jon is moving to Hoboken! He’ll be here on July 27th. Amazing how things turn around in 5 months…

3. Alas, I do not have a dog. And yes, I’m still aching with withdrawal every time one passes me on the street. I think pets must be more addictive than cigarettes.

4. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was that I basically gave up on my computer and its ability to function properly. Now I have a lovely one of these:

MacBook -- the most basic of the brilliantA MacBook. It’s much more capable.

5. I still have my job. Unfortunately I feel like this is something that has to be confirmed ITE. So much so that society has coined an acronym for the phrase “in this economy.” 🙂

They say that in NYC someone is always looking for a relationship, a place to live or a job, and no one ever keeps all three for very long. I hope I’m an exception!!!