Hey, there

This blog used to be an extension of my journal. I called it my “white walls,” there for scribbling messy words on, a place to spill my heart on — back when I felt I needed publicity to validate a catharsis.

I just realized that I don’t view it in the same way anymore. In some ways, I think that’s a good thing. I’ve always been uninhibited in my emotions, and my quick tongue is something that I’m learning to curb. I’ve always felt my pain needed the authentication of attention, and I’m learning that more often than not, silence is better than hasty words.

I don’t know what purpose this blog serves in the context of my life anymore. So I’m putting her down…for a nap. Just until I figure that out.

I’ll pop in, occasionally. When there’s something noteworthy to share, or a substantive piece that I want to write in careful cursive script on these white walls.

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A Designer’s Code of Ethics // Response

I usually tell people that I want to teach, that I want to get my Master’s and teach English at the community college that I work at as an English tutor. I guess it’s a reflex, because I’m scared of the naysayers who tell me that my heart dream isn’t likely to become a reality, or that I’ll be poor forever, or that my Plan A is stupid.

But Plan A is really what I’m aiming for. It’s the bullseye of the target that I’m trying to hit.

I want to get into editing and publishing. I want to work with indie authors. I want to help produce quality literature without stepping on the heart or the rights of the creator who put so much of themselves into their manuscript. It’s a sacred balance, and one that I want to work toward.

A friend of mine probed me about that when he was in town a while back. We had some pretty great conversation that led to him hiring me on as an editor with his publishing company in Alabama. He has me working on these theology books that help me in two ways: I’m gaining experience in the field I want to work in, and I’m learning more about my faith.

It’s definitely a win-win-win (’cause it’s one less thing he has to do). I mean, I might even call it a win-win-win-win, with the fourth win being the energy, time, and resources that he’s investing to help me grow.

One of the resources he’s shared is the article “A Designer’s Code of Ethics” from deardesignstudent.com (which I definitely suggest reading if you’re involved in any part of the design/publishing world, or if you’re an entrepreneur who’s working on developing a code of ethics). He sent me the link about two weeks ago, along with the request that I write a response, shifting the information from design students (the target audience) to myself as an editor.


“Throughout their entire career, a designer seeks to learn. That means confronting what they do not know. That means listening to other people’s experiences…A designer keeps their ego in check, knows when to shut up and listen, is aware of their own biases…and fights to make room for those who have been silenced.”


Here’s the take away:

It’s all about impact. How is this — the product I am helping to produce — going to impact the world around me? Mike Monteiro, the author of the article, says “By choosing to be a designer you are choosing to impact the people who come in contact with your work, you can either help or hurt them with your actions.”

I feel like a lot of people say “I want to be an editor” (or a designer, or whatever), get some freelance gigs, and then do the bare minimum before sending the project back and asking for their paycheck. But they don’t think about the long-term impact; they don’t think about the large-scale picture, and the large-scale picture is why I want to be an editor — specifically with independent authors. I want to help create literature of lasting quality, and I want to help produce literature with stories that shape and influence lives the way so many great pieces of literature shaped and influenced me.

Monteiro brings up a good point when he says “we must judge the value of our work based on that impact, rather than any aesthetic considerations.” Not to say we should let things look bad, but we should be putting the quality of the impact over the quality of the aesthetic.

My job as an editor is not just to “fix” what I’m given — it’s not only to correct the typos or the inconsistent formatting that I see in so many of the indie books that I pick up — but also to evaluate how the work I am editing will impact the world around me. If there’s negative impact, my responsibility is to tell my client and help eliminate the negative impact.

It’s actually something that I’ve learned in my time as a Writing Center consultant. When I first began tutoring, I corrected every wrong comma, every typo, every misspelled word. And that would often get in the way of my explanations of the higher order concerns (HOCs), like a lack of thesis or organization, or an idea that didn’t actually fit. I was focused on making each essay look good on a superficial level, and now I don’t know how many students I let walk away with bigger issues still present in their essays.

Which probably impacted their grades, both for that essay and for the class overall.

Alright, here’s another story.

I did an editing test for another publishing company while I was in NY. A coworker sent it to me, knowing that I was looking for gigs — before Kyle hired me on with his group. One of the samples that I had to work with was basically erotica. It was three paragraphs of trashy sleazy romance that I worked through in an airport terminal while waiting on my flight. I felt dirtier from working on those three paragraphs than from sitting in a seat that’s seen a thousand other butts, probably of varying levels of cleanliness.

I declined the position when it was offered. I didn’t want my name attached to that because I didn’t want people a thousand years down the line to pick up that book and see my name connected to that kind of story.

I didn’t want that to be my legacy. I didn’t want that to outlive me or speak for me. Because impact is more than an aesthetic; it’s more than the initial draw based off of how nice the cover looks. Impact is long-term — impact is the mark that the story will leave on your heart and your soul. And that should be a priority over anything else.

bloom

you remember being young

17, 18, 19 —

the feeling of isolation

impressed

permanently, it felt

even when surrounded

by those who

you called “friend”.

that was before the betrayal

the abandonment

the whispers —

you thought you’d be alone forever,

and you wilted

for a dark winter of

ice and cold, frozen bones

aching

gasping

swallowing knives

in search of breath

 

then one day

it passed

you looked up to see

a garden

of smiling faces

blooms

that met you at the end of winter

 

hello, spring.

growth.

maybe life is a

never-ending process

of finding yourself.

maybe this

edge-of-a-precipice

sensation

doesn’t mean i’m insane.

maybe it’s a normality,

and i’m just one

of the millions

trying to find their way

in a world gone dark.

maybe i just need to

turn on

the damn light.

 

Popping in

Just a quick hello. She isn’t dead! How many times have I said that? I swear, someday, maybe, perhaps, God willing, I’ll be better at this.

We’re in the final stretch of 2/3 summer courses; there are just two exams and a written assignment left. The written assignment is actually open just behind this Safari window. WordPress, Facebook, Pinterest — all distracting me from my academic responsibilities.

Guys, your girl here is wiped. out. I went into these classes thinking, “summer courses are never that difficult! I’ll knock them out, no problem.”

Your girl here was delusional. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have been crushing these four week psychology courses; I’m averaging A’s in both. Which is a fantastic feeling, I’m not going to lie, but it has meant a definite sacrifice of personal life, sleep, healthy habits, and regular church attendance. My body is doing all kinds of crazy things (mostly my hair is falling out and I’m broken out so badly a teenage boy might mistake my chin for pepperoni pizza — oh, and my left eye has been twitching for three weeks).

Oops.

But the end is nigh, and that’s all I’ve got tonight. Stay cool out there, ladies and gents.

Incomplete Thoughts About: The Things WC Students Say

The frustrating thing about writing is that there is no one right way, but there are a multitude of wrong ways to go about writing a sentence. One poorly chosen word or misplaced piece of punctuation can not only impede clarity, but change the entire meaning of a sentence, leaving your reader to sit in confusion as they attempt to untangle the meaning behind the jumble of words just read.

I think that’s why I see so many students who come into the Writing Center and say what breaks my heart to hear: “I’m bad at writing.” I hear those words at least once every work shift, if not more. And it never fails to send a little shock of pain through my heart.

I try to encourage them, to say “I’m sure it isn’t as bad as you think it is.” To point out something positive, whether it’s as vital as their thesis being strong or as seemingly little as their formatting being correct (but let’s be real, formatting is a hassle).

And sometimes it helps. Sometimes they cheer up, they smile or shrug with a little laugh and look down at their paper, waiting for us to go to work on it. Those sessions are a dream; those sessions are the ideal. They are a conversation, a sharing of the pen, the poster-child for “teamwork”.

But sometimes they argue. Sometimes they shake their head and say, “no, I mean, really bad at writing.” Emphatic and unrelenting.

Often times, those students have one specific struggle, one specific aspect of writing that they don’t know how to correct. Maybe they haven’t identified their struggle yet, or maybe no one has made themselves available to work with them on correcting it. To be frank, sometimes they are lazy and just want the extra credit points they get for signing in to our computer, and “I’m bad at writing” is an easy conversation starter — it tugs the English major’s heart strings.

Perhaps worse than “I’m bad at writing” is: “I hate writing.”

It’s worse because you can help a student develop stronger writing skills. I did last semester, working twice weekly with a student who struggles with severe dyslexia, who was taught to summarize and never how to create original content. At the beginning of the semester, he would barely speak to me. He would lean so heavily on me, on my abilities to analyze and develop opinions and create ideas, that I had to close myself off before I found myself spoon-feeding him.

But as we worked together, he developed stronger skills in reading and writing until, by the end of the semester, he had improved to the point where I could walk away and leave him to write for over half of the hour he’d been scheduled for.

It’s more difficult to do that with the student who claims to hate writing. Because being bad at something is correctable — you can help someone develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy. But it’s harder to change someone’s mind about an opinion that’s emotionally based.

Glass Box

the last few weeks have been difficult. 


Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a box made of glass. My mind retreats from the world, a little girl’s mind curled into a tight ball in a corner. Arms wrapped around knees pulled tight to chest. The world turns on, spinning too fast for me to keep up. It’s like my mind hits the mute button. Life goes on, but I’m removed. Remote. On an island only I can find. One I’d forget the way to, if only I could. If only. But some days the tide pulls me in and it is too strong, too fierce, to resist. I see all that’s going on but cannot find the energy to respond.

So here I am, trembling from the weight of an imagined solitude. Hoping but too afraid to ask for a lifeline. How do I explain what I don’t understand myself?