Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weighty Matters

So there's this girl who has a blog (no, not me!).  Liz is a twenty-something Canadian who's been chronicling her weight loss from 200-ish pounds to her goal of 125.  She's halfway there and I've been rooting for her as I lurked around her blog.

She's nice and pretty and very candid as she tries to find herself on her weight loss journey.  I still maintain that she's nice, despite a recent blog post that sparked some backlash.  In the post, Liz talks a new friend she made who she estimates must weigh around 300 lbs.  She and her friend touched on the subject of weight loss, naturally.  The friend wishes she could lose weight and took some steps to do so, like joining a gym, but still has a self-defeating attitude, since she says she's tried everything, but to no avail.  In the next breath, the friend orders something fatty, which to Liz, signals she isn't fully committed to losing weight.

Liz writes in One Twenty Five:

"I saw myself in her so much. Really, I did. It was actually so bizarre how much I related to this girl I had literally met a mere 40 minutes before. As she talked to me about her weight, wanting to lose weight, and her plan, I could see through it. She wasn’t ready to actually lose it. She isn’t ready. She hadn’t 100% committed. Simple, really. I know she’s going to fail at whatever routine she is on now… why? because everything she said, also came with an excuse.
  • I have a trainer, but she can’t make me sweat too much because I have work after (RED FLAG).
  • Well, calories don’t matter because I work out (RED FLAG)
  • I’ve tried everything! (me: Calorie counting?) No. I hate writing things down
  • My mom, sister and brother are all over weight. It’s in my genes (RED FLAG)
  • Did you know it takes more calories to burn certain fruits, than eat them? (RED FLAG)
  • It’s 50% food. 50% exercise. (HUGE RED FLAG)"

I totally get what Liz is trying to convey in comparing their situations and ultimately, their level of commitment to getting healthy.  The problem is that Liz comes off as...well, judgmental, to put it nicely.  Or an "asshole," as one commenter said not-so-nicely.  I wouldn't go that far, but I have to admit, I felt a little uncomfortable reading the post and even winced once or twice.  As a former over-300-pound person, I felt kind of bad about the mild condemnation, and dare I say it, condescension, in Liz's tone.  In Liz's defense, she did acknowledge her own weakening will power, but still...I don't know.

Maybe it's because it doesn't seem sporting to compare a morbidly obese person to how she herself used to be.  I completely agree that anyone who attempts to lose any weight, be it 100 pounds or 10 pounds, needs to make a commitment and take the necessary steps.  But comparing  one's own issues to someone else's is a tricky endeavor.  Liz doesn't have as much weight to lose as her friend does, so even if Liz is being sincere (which I think she is), she comes off as self-righteous.  

That's the thing about public fora, though.  You can't control how others will interpret your words, no matter how tactful you try to be.  How do you respond to backlash?  Do you ignore it or address it head-on?  I wonder what Liz's reaction will be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Publishing Career, Part V

So I was an intern at Dorchester, an independent press that specializes in romance and horror fiction.  As someone who used to read tons of romance from the Love Spell imprint, I was very excited to work there.   The good thing about working for such a small company (about ten people on the book side, since they also owned a magazine) was that I was able to rotate through editorial, publicity, marketing, and managing editorial.  Even more exciting was how I finally got to work on front list titles, as opposed to dealing with the back end of things as I had in reprints, which was quite dull.

In the midst of that internship, I also decided to go back to school; I got into NYU's masters in publishing program, but without financial aid, the costs were prohibitive.  I withdrew immediately and took advantage of my student status to later secure internships at Simon & Schuster, Random House children's, and Writers House Literary Agency.  I was interning full-time for no pay (with the exception of Writers House, which did in fact pay a stipend), but I thankfully had my parents' financial support to back me up.

I was applying to jobs all the while and getting many interviews, but no job offers.  Some weren't the right fit, but I was often shut out by internal transfers and people who already had jobs (sadly, it's easier to get a job if you already have one).  It was aggravating.  I was on the verge of giving up when it finally happened.  

After two-and-a-half years of working for free, I received two offers.  It was a tough decision because they're both great places, but I made my decision and haven't regretted it for a minute.  I'm now working at a major children's publishing house and I absolutely love it.  I'm on the marketing side of things and enjoy peddling kids' books to the masses.  I'm not exactly where I'd like to be (I'd like to move into editorial down the line), but I can honestly say I'm happy where I am.  

I'm lucky, what can I say?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two Cool Things

So, two things:

Vermont College of Fine Arts Admission Packet

I got my Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA packet and am stoked (Have never used the word and yet it feels so right).  I brought home some work, so I'm saving the packet for the weekend when I can absorb it all, but I just wrote up the check to send off my deposit first thing in the AM.  I will not give VCFA the chance to change their minds.  Once they cash that check, they're on the hook.  I'm all theirs and there's nothing they can do about it.  Bwah ha ha ha!

Girl Scout Cookie Love

I finally got me some Girl Scout cookies!  As a Girl Scout Cookie newb, I have just eaten some Samoas and Thin Mints.  Where have you been all my life?  My sister and I have been speculating as to the ingredients that are used to make these cookies so awesome. Our conclusion is as follows:  Crack + Girl Scout sacrifices.  

Whatever it is they're doing, I'm officially endorsing it, sacrificial lambs be damned!  Girl Scouts, I will no longer avoid you when I pass you peddling your wares.  I will now pursue you in a fashion I can only describe as "avid."  You have been warned.  

Tomorrow I will be moving onto the Tagalongs and Trefoils.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

MFA Application Success

Yesterday I received the answer from the MFA program:  I've been ACCEPTED!!  

I missed the call, but when I checked my cell, I practically hyperventilated when I saw that the phone number was the program director's.  I experienced a moment of doubt as I dialed my voicemail to retrieve the message, but my fears were allayed when I listened to it.  I should be receiving my acceptance package sometime next week, so once I sign on the dotted line, I will be officially enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts for the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

It's a low-residency program, conducted by correspondence and with twice-yearly two-week stays on campus.  The faculty is stellar, all accomplished writers like Martine Leavitt, Matt de la Peña, An Na, and Franny Billingsley, among so many others I don't have the space to list!  And the graduates?  Just as accomplished:  Jandy Nelson, Lauren Myracle, Carrie Jones--again, I could go on.

I'm honored to join the VCFA community and can't believe I actually can.  I may have slipped in by mistake, but I won't say anything if you don't!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

MFA Application

So the Director of the MFA program I applied to called me yesterday afternoon while I was at work.  Very exciting!  I could tell she and the faculty like my application materials, BUT if I could re-submit something?

I had a feeling that was coming (sigh).  She was referring to a critical essay on a piece of children's lit and I wasn't exactly sure what the committee was looking for, so I sent in something I had written in the past, hoping it would suffice.  My gut instinct told me maybe, maybe not.  I was uncertain.  And a bit lazy, truth be told.

The director was really sweet and said that the faculty just wanted to be 100% sure I'd be able to write a critical essay, so would I be okay with re-submitting that part of my application?  Would I be okay?  Of course!

The fact that the director called me has to mean something good, right?  Even if I don't ultimately get accepted, they're at least considering me, I hope.  Otherwise, why even bother calling?

The director said I could take the time I needed with writing the critical essay (approx 3-4 pages), a week if I needed it.  She said she didn't want to make feel like I should do it overnight or something, to which I responded, "Oh, you have no idea!"  She laughed.

So naturally, I wrote that sucker in a few hours and emailed it before 9 AM this morning.  I think I did a decent job of it.  It's been a few years since I graduated Cornell, but I apparently remembered something from all the paper writing I did then.  I'm glad that's over with!

Now I just have to wait 1-2 weeks for the decision.  Dun, dun, dun...