There and Back Again: A Writer’s Tale

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I know it’s been a while. Again, a lot has changed since I wrote last. This time, I’m fortunate enough to say that I’ve had my fair share of victories.

Since March, I’ve traded the sequined scene of the big city for one with a few more stars, a few less people, and a whole lot more dogs. New York taught me a lot of things, and I think it prepared me for the next stage of my life pretty damn well.

So now, I write to you from the comfort of my very own couch, in my very own apartment, in a city I can finally call home. I moved from Poughkeepsie to Rochester in the middle of May, in the freezing cold. Wouldn’t be Rochester without some weird.

And here I am! I’ve got a cozy little attic apartment, a rickety window AC unit, and a whole lot of fizz to get me up in the morning. I even have a job where they pay me to write.

They pay me to write! How cool is that?! I may not be writing poetry every single day, but I’m writing, and I couldn’t be happier. This job is challenging, and sometimes I don’t love what I’m writing about, but I take on every challenge with spark.

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I can walk to this little cafe in less than ten minutes!

It might not seem like the most glamorous occupation, but I’m so proud to be there. The people I work with have blossomed before my eyes, and I hope I’ve done the same.

And Geneseo? Geneseo, that lovely little castle in the clouds. I can honestly say that my time, friends, and mentors there have all held a monumental role in where I am today. They have taught me strength, resolve, and perseverance.

The first time my sister visited, she told me she felt happiness in the walls. I believe her.

It’s hard to believe this isn’t all a dream sometimes. I still have that New York anxiety sometimes, still wake up at 4:30 in the morning & feel phantom train wobbles. But surely, slowly, I’m beginning to realize that this sunny little patch of the world really is mine, and I can do with it what I will.

Adulthood isn’t so bad, after all. There’s a new kind of shimmer in my world lately, and I can’t wait to explore it all. I hope you’ll stick around to see where the next adventure takes me.

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Small Poet in the Big City

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What do you get when you drop a college graduate with a knack for noticing the little things into New York City with an internship, a too-small savings account, and a freelance job? Me. You get me.

Today, my site notified me that I haven’t written here since August. AUGUST. And I figure it’s about time I get back into it and tell y’all about my adventures since then. My life has undergone violent & beautiful changes in the last seven months, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world around me in that time. Through many struggles and a handful of triumphs, I now find myself living with some relatives in Poughkeepsie NY, and commuting to The Big Apple twice a week to work an unpaid internship at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. At the same time, I’m working as a barista at my local Barnes & Noble, where I sit on most of my days off anyway.

I get to work with some great people at DGLM, people who have put some amazing literature into the world. I couldn’t be more excited to be able to see that process happening in front of me. As a person who loves to bring new worlds to people through writing, being able to interact with the people who make that happen is a truly amazing experience for me. However, working without pay is another story (broke as shit). It’s tough to get by, but I’m grateful for the chance to catch up to that dream I’ve had for such a long time.

The dream, since age 12, has been living in the world of Sex & the City. The bright lights, the cool underground clubs, and money to afford it all. I’ve since learned a little bit more about the reality that New York City offers to its survivors. There’s a sense of hurry around every person I see, like if they don’t  walk fast enough they’ll disappear. The advice that my uncle offered before I left–keep your head down and your hands in their pockets–follows me like a ghost. With so much to see, how could I possibly keep my head down? The city shimmers, it reaches up past the fog that hovers over the streets like maybe it has a message for the sky.

I’ve come to realize that maybe I have too much heart to ground myself in this city. Sometimes I wish I could stop every person I cross on the street and tell them to look at the little birds coming out to greet spring, or the budding magnolias in the park. I’ve spent train rides mourning the young people who ask for spare change in subways, or feeling guilty for choosing my lunch over theirs. I miss the rolling hills that welcome me home; the stairs that tap their goodbyes one too many times across my feet.

New York is big, and fast, and it doesn’t slow down for any one twenty-something trying to figure it out. I respect that, and beyond anything, I want to thank New York for teaching me that lesson. I’ll be here for a little while longer, but I can’t shake the feeling that somewhere else is waiting for me.

In the end, I’m learning that adventure isn’t always what you expect it to be. I’ve learned more about myself in three months here than I could have in eight spent at home. I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll learn next while I’m here, but I hope to keep discovering and re-discovering myself endlessly while it lasts. The city’s not done with me yet, and I’m certainly not done making my way. I promise it won’t be long until I come back with more words to offer. Until next time, dear readers.

On Freelancing

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The first time I ever heard the word “freelance” was when I saw Peter Parker do it in Spiderman. I never thought much of it until I learned that freelancing is more than a way to cover up your super human powers. (Not that it wouldn’t be cool to have that excuse to do freelance work.) Freelancing is a whole world of opportunities for people with all different kinds of skill sets. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ll be talking about the world of freelance writing.

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disclaimer: amount of coffee shown in picture is less than the amount normally required for freelancing

Before we get started, there are a few myths about freelance that I would like to dispel. The first of which is that freelance, contrary to popular belief, is not free. Whatever type of freelancing someone decides to do, rest assured they are getting paid for their work. The major difference between freelance and a 9-5 job is that freelancers get to choose what projects to take on and which companies they would like to be associated with. Not all freelancing jobs work exactly the same way, but that’s the general idea. The second thing I want to make abundantly clear here is that freelancing is not what Carrie Bradshaw does on Sex & the City. Most of the time, there is hardly any glamour to it. It has its boring moments just like any other job, and should be treated like any other paying job. But I’ll get into that more in a little bit.

Rewind to the beginning of this summer. I’m extra fresh out of college, desperate for a job that will actually utilize my skills, and unable to afford not living at home. Of course I still can’t afford to not live at home but that’s besides the point. I wanted to get some experience, and of the 13 companies I applied to for a full time position, not one contacted me. I was beginning to get discouraged, but then I thought about doing some freelance writing. It couldn’t hurt to apply to a few places, right? I needed the experience, and anything to keep me writing.

Finding freelance job postings was not easy at first. I scoured the web looking for entry level positions, but there were seemingly none in existence. That is, until I learned where to look for them. The best website that I’ve found to date is freelancewriting.com. There are job postings, calls for submissions (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction), as well as a very handy newsletter subscription. The newsletter, called “The Morning Coffee” is site creator Brian Scott compiling a list of freelance opportunities and sending them out to subscribers. Every single day. If that’s not commitment to helping your fellow writers, I don’t know what is. This newsletter was extremely helpful in my search for freelance jobs, and it included a range of opportunities from entry level to senior editor.

Another source of information for me was a blog from Luna Luna Magazine that goes into a lot of the same things I’ve talked about here, but with a more technical approach. I love Luna Luna’s blog material, especially all of their work relating to the job search or tips for writers. So go check it out! Their blog is updated daily, and covers everything from feminism to freelance writing.

Long story short, I ended up applying for a freelance position at a web-based SEO company, and I’ve been writing for them since the beginning of July. I’ve learned a lot about freelancing in that short time. Mainly, like I said before, about how it is not what Carrie Bradshaw does. I learned pretty quick that most freelancing is the opposite of glamorous. When someone needs an article written about hose clamps, you better suck it up and do the research. Sometimes it’s not fun, but like my dad always tells me, you don’t get a job to have fun. While I don’t think he’s entirely wrong, there is some fun to be had in freelancing. It’s nice to be able to control your own hours and to tell people yes, I am working in my field. If you have to write a few snore pieces about mortgages and oil tankers, so be it. The idea here is to keep writing! So if you’re stuck with a few crummy freelance positions before you go into the big leagues, don’t sweat it. Keep writing, keep researching, and keep your chin up!

So This is the Real World

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Well here we are. It’s May 22nd, and I’m a SUNY Geneseo alumna. Crazy how time flies, huh? It’s been nearly a week and I’m all questions about how to find a job and why does every company ask for five years of experience and oh god what if nobody wants to hire me?? Legitimate concerns, people.

While I’m excited to begin my life as a professional and start building my career, for the most part I’ve just been sad. It’s difficult to move past a place that taught you so much and really became your home for four years.

As much as I miss (and will continue to miss) Geneseo, I can honestly say that the things I did and the people I met there have made me better. I’ve become a better person, a better writer, and I’ve learned a lot about the way the world works. I got to work on some amazing projects, too. This semester alone, I worked as the poetry editor for Gandy Dancer, I created my own chapbook, and I was part of the start-up campaign for Nothing But Notes (performing arts division of the Nothing But Nets malaria net campaign) with my A Capella group. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do all of these things.

At the end of last summer, I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish out my Geneseo career. But look at me now, all graduated and filled to the brim with love for the people who made it possible. I made it out alive and well.

I know this post is a little bit sappy, and I promise we’ll get back to more practical things soon, but I think it’s important to acknowledge where all of my skills and interests came from. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Geneseo and the people I grew to love there. I will never be able to express the true amount of gratitude that I have for all of these experiences over the past four years. I will carry them with me and let what I’ve learned guide me through the maze of the real world. I can’t wait to see where I end up.