13 August 2012

Alec Baldwin is key to all success...and other things I learned from Bossypants

I don’t typically read books written by celebrities, on principle.  I spent nearly 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars to receive a piece of paper stating I have mastered the English language.  I may still have to spend thousands hours more to be deemed worthy of publishing. So, I find it unfair that any Polizzi, Conrad, or Duff can publish a novel and make money simply because they already have money.

This passionate resistance is why it took over a year for me to succumb to the curiosity and peer pressure to read Tina Fey’s memoir/self-help guide/laugh factory, Bossypants.  Sometimes you have to get off your high horse to pan for gold. I’m glad I made the dismount for this gem.

This book is full of little crumbs of hilarity laced with wisdom where you’d least expect it.  Bossypants follows in the fashion of Fey’s screenplay for Mean Girls.  It brings attention to some ugly realities of being female, and then flips them upside down so we can laugh at them and at ourselves.  When it comes to being a lady boss, Tina demands her peers take her seriously without doing so herself.

Here are 5 things I already kind of knew but for which I found affirmation in Bossypants:

1.       We should leave people alone about their weight,” and their looks, and their choices about childbearing and breast-feeding.   Fey asserts that social expectations for women are largely unattainable, unless you’re “Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”  So, just accept what works for you, which is sometimes skinny, and sometimes a little chubby, and sometimes not what works for the next girl.

2.       Career advancement is not an election for homecoming queen. You don’t automatically lose if another girl wins.  “People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel like you are in competition with one another… Don't be fooled. You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone.”

3.       “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”  If Tina Fey cried every time someone told her women just aren’t funny or that she is an overrated troll, she wouldn’t have the time to be the Emmy award-winning, money-making BOSS that she is. 

4.       Going home for Christmas is a good way to stay down-to-earth.  Fey and her family make an annual pilgrimage from Philadelphia to Youngstown every year.  They have a sweet Christmas, complete with a senile, chain-smoking Mamaw, and “hugs and kisses and pies and soup and ham and biscuits…”

5.       Age is nothing but a number. Turning 40 (or 25, or 30) is only enormous if you allow it to be.  What turning 40 means to Tina Fey:  “I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do. “
Oh, and, although you may never find yourself in this position, in case you do, “…when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your f***ing life."

10 August 2012

For the Love of Words: Getting Real

I have a very difficult confession to make. I have been a fraud. I am a writer who doesn't write. I'm pretty good at it. I'm passionate about it. I have blueprinted my future on the foundation of writing. I largely associate my identity with it. I've done it all my life. 

I write important emails for my boyfriend. I am one of the few people in my generation who still sends hand-written cards to friends and family. I do a few guest posts on friends' blogs here and there. I even get paid to write at my 9-5. 

But somewhere in the past year, I stopped writing about what counts, when it counts. I got busy. I didn't have anything important [enough] to say. I had writer's block. I was using all my creativity during the work day. When friends asked how my writing was going, how that book is coming along, I'd say "I'm working on it. It's going. I just need to make more time."  And then I didn't.

And I have felt the big, empty hole left behind for months and months now. Then I felt that I couldn't possibly write anything good anymore because I have allowed my hands and my right brain to atrophy. It was too late.

 Then I started seeing little messages like this blog post by Seth Godin: 

" Writer's block isn't hard to cure.
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better."

And this one, by one of my writerly friends whom I very much admire:

"I'm afraid of using a bunch of words to say nothing. Or using a bunch of words to say what's already been said. So, sometimes, I really do just say nothing. Is that writerly? I wonder."  

To which my answer is YES.

So...this blog is making a comeback. And I am about to get real.

 “It's hell writing and it's hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.”
―Robert Hass