I’m getting published!

That’s right! You heard me, I’m getting mo fuggin published again!

My short story, “What Counts,” is being published by a magazine called Mistake House.

This has come at the best time.

I love to write; I have always loved to write.

I was just beginning to lose my faith in my ability to be a success at it.

And now here we are again. Yay!

Student Teaching Round Two

I’m feeling better.

I turn into a completely different person when the weather changes. As soon as it becomes sunny out I’m like…I’m trying to think of a good simile. I’m like Mary Poppins? No. I’m like Joy from Inside Out? No, I’m not that manic. Am I the only one who would punch her if I got trapped in the same room with her?

Anyway, I’m happier and I love sunshine.

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows…

I’m over half way done my second practicum now. I have two and a half weeks until I’m done. This practicum has been three million times better than my last one. 

I’ve been placed in a high school this time, not an elementary school, and I love it. My supervising teacher is the bees knees, the school is awesome, and I’m actually making meaningful connections with the kids. I was sick this week, and I actually missed being there. Crazy, right?

The classes that I have are tough because the kids in them are just not interested in English. Which is maybe good because if I went into this and got super academic classes that love reading, I might go into the profession expecting every class to be like that. The critique I keep getting is that I really know the content and that the lessons I have planned are fantastic, but I lack the ability to engage the kids. This is no surprise as my passion is literature, not teaching. But I’m trying to get better, and that’s why these classes who don’t dig literature are actually a blessing in disguise. If I can engage these classes, an academic class would be a breeze.

I finally feel like a teacher for the first time since starting this program.

It’s about damn time.

Free Write– “Typical”

The result of a free write exercise. There are bad words, sexual references, and drugs in this post. Sounds like a good time, right?

It needs, he thought, it needs…to be held. Gently in soft lubricated hands with long fingers tipped by carefully manicured nails. It needs to be pleasured, made love to. Fucked. Hard. It needs…it needs cocaine. That was it. You can’t go wrong with cocaine. Well, maybe you could. But what did he care? His heart hurt, after all. It needed to be held, or it needed cocaine, and the former wasn’t going to happen. Not since she’d gone.

He thought of the energy infused in his muscles after snorting a line, mouth chattering almost faster than the words spouting out his throat, eyelids peeled back, taking everything in faster than possible, his energy lashing out in all directions, feeling larger than his body. And his heart. Oh, his heart would race with joy. It would thunder and leap in his chest. It would palpitate with life, with the rush. Energy. Rage. Love. He needed cocaine.

Getting up from the disheveled bed, he rubbed his hands across his unkempt beard, brushing out the stale granules of last night’s pizza from his face. He stumbled over to the coffee table, sticky with pop spilled a month ago. A month. A whole month gone by without her, his heart cold and untouched.

He’d devoured a large pepperoni pizza and two pounds of salt and pepper wings the previous night in an attempt to feed his heart, thinking that maybe after all this time that it might just be hungry, and that it was just crying for food. But his heart didn’t want pizza and wings. The food hadn’t made it happy. Instead, it had only made his skin oily and his stomach protrude with an unsightly food baby beneath the fuzz of his body hair. His bed sheets were filled with crumbs and his heart was indifferent, untouched.

He had touched other things in attempt to heal the shuttering gasping thing in his chest. In fact, his genitals were well loved—not by anyone else, but at least they responded to his efforts, like his stomach did to food. They allowed themselves to be indulged unlike his sad heavy heart.

But somewhere in the city, there was cocaine.

The thought spread in him like warm honey oozing down an aching throat. He didn’t have any coke in the house, hadn’t for years. He didn’t even remember his dealer’s name, let alone his contact information. Why was life so hard?

With a sigh that wreaked his whole body, the man fumbled with a slip of cigarette rolling paper and dumped in some green from the absurd amount in the jar on the sticky table. He ran his tongue along the paper, the moisture picking up little flecks of weed, green on pink. Bitter. Like everything in his world.

He pinched the paper together, lit the end and took in a breath matching the ferocity of his sighs. The cloud of grey smoke rushed into his lungs. It filled his whole chest, but it didn’t reach his heart. Typical.

Transcribing

On optimism and working for nothing as a transcriber.

I’ve always wanted a work from home job because A. I could work in my jam jams all day and B. I don’t really like people all that much, and the less I have to interact with them, the better (said the future teacher *Sobs*). It would also be awesome to be able to pick up my life, and wander off somewhere and be able to take my work with me.

However, most of the work from home opportunities I’ve come across have seemed too scammy for my liking. In fact, my research showed that the best stay at home job is running a successful blog, but I’m just not there with this blog. In fact, I may never be because the principles of Search Engine Operations are like Klingon to me.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while are aware of my struggles with finding relevant work after graduating with an English degree, and well, any work at all. I couldn’t even get a job in retail after 10 years of experience. The economy is really horrible up here in Alberta. So I’m back in school to be an English teacher instead, and right now, I’m on Christmas break.

Yesterday, I finally got a “job” (I’ll explain why I put the word in quotations later) doing something that’s relevant to my skills and I can do it from home. I bet you’ve guessed what it is from the title of this post. That’s right blogosphere, I got a transcription job at Scribie!

Scribie is a transcription website that pays from $0.50-$0.90 per every six minutes transcribed (all audio files are all broken down to six minute increments). You choose the files you want to transcribe and when you want to do it (as long as the file is completed within two hours of you selecting it). When you submit your transcription, it is then reviewed and assigned a grade out of five for accuracy. As someone who gets a high off of good grades, I really like this system.

Considering that I have a week off before school starts again with no job, no car (RIP Kia), my boyfriend out of town, it being too cold to play Pokemon–yes, I’m that one person who’s still playing–this was an awesome time to get started.

I did my research before applying and accepting a job with them too: it is not a scam! However, it’s biggest accusers call it a bit scam-like because of the low wages, and I thought, you know what? It’s still money and it’s something I’d like to get experience in.

Now that I’ve been doing it for a couple of days, I’m understanding that their complaints weren’t hyperbolic.

At first I thought that $0.50 per 6 minutes wasn’t too bad, but then I realized that it’s $0.50 per completed 6 minutes. To complete a transcription, I listen to every file twice to double check my work, so that’s 12 minutes of work, and I can type about 80 wpm, but that’s still not enough to not have to pause the recording to affirm what was said every now and then (I’m brand new at this!). So in total, it takes me about 20-30 minutes to complete $0.50 of work.

I’ve been doing it for two days, and I’ve only accumulated $3.60 USD. Yeah, ouch.

However, Scribie is completely honest about their low wages, and I was well informed going into this. On their page it says that for an average transcriber spending 8 hours each day, 6 days per week, could only earn about $200-$300 per month. 

But you know what? I think it shows integrity that they’re honest about it, and for someone like me with zero experience, it’s a really good place to learn the ins and outs of transcription. Plus I get to get paid for writing something. That’s important.

And no, I’m not writing this because Scribie paid me to or whatever. Like I said, I don’t really get that making money off of blogging thing. This is just my opinion, and it might change after another day.

But as it stands, I have a week off to learn a new skill in my own time when I choose, and make a bit of small change. I’m totally okay with that. I’m thinking I might put away all of the money I make from Scribie into some kind of small gift for myself.

For transcribing virgins like myself, I’d definitely recommend checking out Scribie and getting some experience and a little bit of cash if you have some extra time on your hands.

 

On Reading Bad Writing

On the worth of published poorly written fiction.

There’s something incredibly inspiring about reading a poorly written book.

Yesterday I spent $25 dollars on  a book (I’m a student; $25 on a book is a lot of money) that turned out to be absolutely horrendous. It was one of those ones where the prologue was written really wonderfully, but what followed was a predictable, stereotype filled cliche with zero characterization or style. The protagonist also turned out to be a writer. Yawn.

One of my biggest pet peeves is fiction writers who write their stories about writers. I mean, could you be any more lazy with your characterization? I feel that every novice fiction writer at some point has written their protagonist with this career out of a sheer lack of inspiration. “I can’t think of anything to write about, so I’ll write what I’m doing right now! I’m a genius!” the novice writer cries with glee in their head, “no one has ever thought of this before!” But the thing is, almost all of us have. And it’s lazy.

There are only a few authors who I feel are exempt from this rule. Stephen King is one of them because his characters are actually that–characters. They have details, quirks, and drives. The idea for the writer protagonist may have initially started off as laziness, but by the time his books are published, the character has bloomed into well-rounded person that feels alive.

The book that I bought yesterday most certainly fell into the you’re-not-Stephen-King-how-dare-you-try category. I was utterly disappointed. Out of respect for the author, I won’t name the book. But the point is: it was bad.

However, I read the whole thing because as I mentioned, I was inspired by it. Every time I came across a horrible cliche, poor dialogue, or a plot hole, I was filled with a sort of glee because if something with this many issues can get published, then maybe my manuscript could be too!

I know the author likely had connections which helped them send their unpolished novel out into the world, but still. It gave me hope, and hope shouldn’t be taken for granted.

This book also made me think that perhaps I’m being to harsh on my own manuscript, and maybe it’s time to start seriously querying some agents. Up until now I’ve sent out an email here and there, but I’m thinking I should try to set aside an hour per day to research agents, send queries, and polish my novel.

Today I also submitted my story about an old man and some toilet paper to an international magazine a friend of mine was published in (sending your work to places your friends have been published is a strategy I haven’t been able to use until now because this is the first friend I’ve made who’s also been published). We’ll see how it pans out!

In summary, it seems that to writers, even bad literature can be good literature.

Poem: I am, I am, I am by K. Carrier

On life writing poetry.

I am a child’s art project, a collage of cut and pasted characters from literature

I am Kat, not Katie, renamed in the tradition of Shakespeare’s shrew

I am Daisy Buchanan’s smile, her fleeting attention, and no, I won’t still love you when you’re no longer young and beautiful
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me

I am Jane Eyre, but

I am always trapped, always stumbling into the same nets over and over; I am not Jane Eyre

I am the mad woman in the attic

I am depressed and anxious

I am forever peeling back the yellow wall paper, trying to free myself
I am a child’s art project, a collage of cut and pasted characters

I am irrelevant

I am Ashley Wilkes at the end of Gone with the Wind; the time for people like me has long come and gone
I am nothing, but

I am trying
I am trying cauterize this passion for literature, to make it stop flowing like puss from an infected wound, to let it heal into something useful, productive

I am trying to belong, to serve a purpose, and to no longer depend on the kindness of strangers

But I am not Blanche Dubois, or Jane Eyre, or Daisy Buchanan, or Ashley Wilkes

I am Kat–not Katherine the shrew. Just Kat.

I am carrying on and maybe there’s a chance that I can separate myself from these fictions because

I continue, I still am
I am, I am, I am