the process of becoming

a blog for twenty-somethings trying to navigate the world and follow your dreams


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the end of an era

It’s official. I’m going to semi-retire this blog. Not because I no longer desire to share the joys and woes of this 20-something life, but because my passion lies in a much more specific field, and it’s not fair to neglect this blog with the intentions of not doing so.

Whenever I prepare for an interview—whether for a paying job or an internship—I re-realize why I’m doing it and why I’m pursuing book publishing. I have SO much excitement about the literary scene and community here in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota (the “Twin Cities” for those of whom do not live or have ever been here), and books and writers themselves bring me the greatest joy. I’ve had the privilege of meeting awesome people in publishing and the joy of becoming acquaintances with writers and MAGERSliterary figures who either call the Twin Cities their home or are visiting.

So why am I telling you this? I’m not going to dissolve all my interests into only book-related things (secret time: I have lots of hobbies. I play a few video games, I knit, and I LOVE horror movies, to name a few), but I am going to start something that I’ve been meaning to return to for a while, which is creative writing (in a new way), and I really want to share my excitement about the people and experiences that I’m getting here.

AWP-signA year ago, my mentor challenged me to go to one literary event/reading a week after hearing me express how many I was finding out about and how I felt it almost too much. Suddenly, I found myself last minute at the Saturday sessions of AWP—by myself—and loving being there. And then there were more readings, and events, and then a job where that is what I do, and an internship and gwsuddenly I know people. Not only is my husband graduated and excited about art, but I have this very young community around me that I want to reach out to in new ways.

Thus, my new blog will be about that. About the amazing literary events happening right rain taxi 2013.jpghere in my hometown (and oh, yes, across the river in St. Paul too ;)). About authors, debuts, poetry slams, book festivals, collaborative readers, books in art—you name it! And hopefully also a place for discussion to start.

So farewell, the Process of Becoming. I do believe I achieved what I set out to do—become a 20-something who, despite the mishaps of post-college adulting, is proud to have discovered who she is, who she’s become.

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes,

Sarah

P.S. I will tell you when the new blog is live!


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hello again, friend

It’s been a while.

Things have changed, rather drastically, and dare I say that I feel like a different person? I think so. It’s December, and 2015 is coming to a swift end, which, obviously, calls for reflection!

Couple things!

I’m looking into re-launching this blog/website, but I’m ready for it to be a little more focused, and little less personal, and a little less commercial (in those few and far between posts that seemed so much like random articles we read online). But I’m not sure what that means! I do know that it means I want to add a page for my freelance writing services and possibly merge my portfolio onto here, while also keeping the other site as well.

I also know that I want the book reviews to come back and the reflections on literary events series to be in full swing. I mean, I get to experience SO many every month now!

Which brings me to my career update (and the bringer of joyous news!): 

  • I took a hiatus from blogging when I was hired by an independent bookstore (and the best, IMHO) as the Events Assistant. I have been privileged to work alongside authors such as Nick Offerman and Marlon James, to name a few. I also assist with social media and general retail in the store. (YES, I get to touch books all day, new and old!)
  • I started freelancing more and am currently a company newsletter producer and designer (and writer and journalist all in one!).
  • I became a barista at an independent coffee shop and trained in Dogwood Coffee classes.
  • But the best part is that I was hired as a Marketing & Publicity Intern at the prestigious Graywolf Press in Minneapolis!

I could have written a big giant post about all my excitement, but I realized that with these 4 unexpected new opportunities, I would need to concentrate on giving my 100% to all of the above. And being at Graywolf really showed me that all my 8 months of planning, researching, networking, and prepping to break my way into the publishing industry had paid off and helped me step into the glorious book publishing world.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Now as the internship draws to a close, I turn to the new year with more hope than I have ever had for my future career — no matter the timing, I know I can succeed (without moving to New York!).

So I will be brainstorming and deciding what this blog is really going to be. It was a journey to get to where I’m at now, but it’s also an opportunity to grow and share even more of what this creative world holds.

Cheers to change, hope, and reinventing creativity.

 

 

 

 


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what I’m currently reading

Lately, I haven’t been reading as fast as I was only two weeks ago. This is because 1) I went to visited family, which included lots and lots of social time and not very much reading time, 2) I worked way too much when I got back, and 3) I had an emergency root canal done on Wednesday, and the pain has been debilitating ever since. To the point where reading is annoying (and you know it’s bad when I’m like that).

Despite all the hold-ups, I still have had way too many books waiting for me at the library.

Here’s the typical me: I put books on hold at the library before I forget I want to read them, knowing there are long waiting lists for most of them. When I go to pick them up, there’s usually three or more waiting for me. But on my way out the door, I glance at the new releases the librarians have tempted me with on the end caps and usually pick up one or two of those (my library is special in that is it the only one in our system you cannot request their books on hold and have to physically grab them. Thus lots of new and popular books).

Anyway, here’s my long list of what I am currently reading:

me-talk-pretty-one-day1.  Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Excellent book of essays. Slow going because it’s located at my work and I can only read it to my clients occasionally. But I have enjoyed it immensely thus far.

2. The Maze Runner by James Dashnerthe maze runner

Of course I am reading this because I saw the movie. Basically, I want answers. And a friend graciously borrowed it to me but unfortunately then the slew of books came in. Another one of my YA-read craze.

unbroken3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

So so good. On hold because, again, library books a’calling, but oh so good. My mom borrowed this to me maybe… right before the movie came out. I went and saw it about a month ago, even though I hadn’t finished the book, and the movie did not disappoint. But of course the book has way more depth and I am excited to finish it.

4. Things That Are by Amy Leachthings that are

Since I own this delightful Milkweed Editions book of essays, it is also on hold. But beautimous. (Yes that is a word). I hope to get back to it soon.

you-must-remember-this-web5. You Must Remember This: Poems by Michael Bazzett

Another wonderful Milkweed book, this time borrowed from a friend. So good. It has reminded me that I want to read poetry more often (:

6. On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Bisson immunity

This is a popular Graywolf Press book that just came out that I am super curious about. So far, it’s truly remarkable and fascinating. Definitely not as light as all my YA, but very insightful and interesting. Unfortunately I had to return this to the library yesterday, but I am about halfway through and can’t wait to get it again.

neverwhere7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Decided to go with some adult fiction instead of YA! So far it’s super mysterious, so I’m having a hard time keeping up. But I do like it enough to keep reading.

8. Uglies by Scott WesterfeldUglies_new-cover

Another YA dystopian, but one that’s been around for around 10 years. I’ve been meaning to read this for about that long, but forgot about it with all the new releases that are catching my eye constantly. I’m halfway finished and so far I like it but not as much as others in the genre.

So that’s it for now! I’ll probably start another library book tomorrow though 😉

What are you currently reading? 


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book reviews have moved!

Since I was bogging down this 20-somethings blog with book reviews, I decided to become an official book blogger and make a book-reviewing blog. Especially since I am trying to debut in the publishing world and get as organized as possible, I thought this would be better for everyone.

Check it out at The Bookcase Wall.

I will still be posting book-ish posts like what I’m reading or maybe short summaries of recommended books. But this way you don’t need to read reviews of books that aren’t so great (: And now I can focus more on getting the articles and humor posts that you guys want out there.

my reading challengeOh, and this picture pretty much sums of why I need to have a book-reviewing blog. My goal for 2015 was just 35 books and I’m already halfway! I had no idea I was going to be so crazy about reading this year. Maybe its because of this Minnesota cold 😉

Thanks for bearing with me!


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thoughts on The Hundred

the 100

(Source: Wikipedia)

Another YA dystopian! Will it stand the test of trilogies that are making Hollywood? Not so sure.

Honest review! The premise? I just learned it is based on the CW Network TV show, so if that scares you, be warned. I won’t say whether I’ve seen any of the show or not.

100 teenagers from Confinement are sent down to Earth after 300 years of living up in space. The government on the space ship wants to know if the radiation has gone away enough for them to come back to Earth and repopulate. But the only way of knowing is to see if the 100 survive. Follow Clarke, Wells, Glass, and Bellamy through this gripping new dystopian YA romance to find out.

Now that I think about it, it really does sound (and truly is) so so so unrealistic. Um, radiation? Nuclear war? Is Earth really gonna be livable and why wouldn’t they know that through technology? They survived 300 years in space! Also, how do not all of the 100 not die when landing on Earth? Seriously, the amount of details that were stretched and skipped to make this book – and TV series – possible is insane. It’s so unrealistic it’s not worth listing all the details. Just stay away from it if you’re a sci-fi fan (this is not sci-fi) or need a book to be realistic at all in order to enjoy it.

The other downside, if you’re able to look past the missing details of the background and surroundings and the almost-completely-absent explanation of why the way things are the way they are, is that there are four main characters POVs you must follow. Four. And if that wasn’t hard enough, there’s a good amount of flashbacks per chapter that all explain the background emotions and actions of the characters. A little confusing and hard to follow, to say the least. It was hard to differentiate the voices as well, even though two are girls and two are guys.

Lastly, this is not a survival novel. This is a romance, plain and simple. But hey, I’m a sap. This book confirmed that I still fall for contrived, cheesy teenage romance in thrilling environments. It’s true – all the actions the characters made were not from common sense but out of their teenage emotions (some of which drove me crazy by the end). It didn’t make me cry, and I didn’t really feel anything for the characters. No plot, no “survival,” no actual details of what Earth is really like. But oh well, I guess.

But for some reason, the book kept me reading. It went very fast (hardly any background given before the plot just takes off), but I went with it. Goodness, I don’t mean to rant. I just like it and I wanted it to actually work. I want to end by saying that it gave me hope: even when a book isn’t perfect or the “best,” it can still be enjoyed.

Will I read the next two books? Maybe, if I’m in the mood for a quick, YA romance, yes. And I sort of still want to know what happens… but there’s always the (very different) show.


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thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

zookeepers wife

Time to catch up on some book reviews! I have been reading and putting books on hold at the library so much. But for this book, I took a break from YA and fiction even to read a historical story I will remember.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by poet Diane Ackerman is the non-fiction story of Antonina Żabińska, the Warsaw, Poland zookeeper’s wife, during World War II. Based upon Antonina’s diary and other research, naturalist Ackerman paints the tremendous story of an unlikely heroine’s care for refugees and animals during the world’s most darkest time.

Ackerman, as the poet that she is, paints a rich description of not only the environment of living during the war in Warsaw but the emotions of the zoo itself. I’ll admit I’d never even thought about what happened to animals during the war much less exotic ones. I came away from the book with a greater appreciation of them – almost caring more for them than the protagonist! One is definitely able to become lost in the beautiful words Ackerman uses. Learning the history was very informative and interesting, although I didn’t feel it was as complete as it could have been.

If you are not into reading about facts and history, you may not enjoy this book. I couldn’t decide whether I liked her style of going back and forth between research and the “made up” stuff (filling in the gaps of the diary as there obviously were), all the while including quotes from the journal. It reads like a history book in that she provides a plethora of background information (the Ghetto and a few of the famous people the Żabińskas come into contact with, to name two examples).

What I did not enjoy was the extreme focus on this background information as well as the descriptions of the animals. I never really understood the wife the story was supposedly about. It didn’t read like a story or a bibliography, and I honestly have no idea what the characters were like. It not only continually lost its focus on Antonina Żabińska but failed to give a complete picture of any character or setting featured. The diary quotes were not enough. Overall, it lacked the emotion I was expecting to feel.

I won’t give spoilers in regards to the ending, but I didn’t much like the post-war details either. Honestly, the details and people Ackerman chose to focus on were seemingly random. As a reader, I wanted to know the facts about how they went about harboring Jewish people in their zoo, but I really couldn’t tell you after having finished the book. She pays a little too much attention to beetles, artists, politics, and superstitions, etc.

Overall, I’m happy for Ackerman’s fulfilling journey to Warsaw to visit the places that may be still there. She still writes beautifully, and now I have more emotions for animals I suppose? But maybe I should return to her poetry and leave the history writing for the historians.


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thoughts on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

So many book reviews! I have been on a reading role. 

It’s like, because I’m doing so much processing and thinking, I really need to time to just escape into another world and take a break from my life — a world that I can put down at a moment’s notice. I’ve found that it’s very relaxing and good for me, as long as I don’t make it a manic habit.

I’ll try not to make this primarily a book blog, but bear with me! But also I think reading is therapeutic for the recent college grad – finally something you can choose to do on your own time. However, I am thinking of condensing reviews/thoughts on books into one post per, say, three books. If that would be preferable, let me know!

WickedsmallWe all know Dorothy’s story in the classic tale The Wizard of Oz, but what about the other side of the story? Meet Elphaba, the little green girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West and discover a gripping tale set in Maguire’s fantastical world of Oz. 

Now, this book is kind of old news, though it’s the popular Broadway musical starring Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth that made this book the rage a few years ago. However, I made the mistake of – ahem – never having seen The Wizard of Oz OR (you heard me) Wicked, the Musical before reading this book. And I say mistake because maybe I would have loved it more or understood it more had I already been introduced to Oz.

I found myself steeped in description and confusing language all explaining a land I have very little connection to. I know the Musical’s songs, yes, but I was banned from the movie as a child and have never made the effort to see it since (something my husband has decided to change). I read it because I was very curious about the story, and the book had been recommended to me.

I found the theme of “what is the true nature of evil?” question from the book’s description to be very intriguing, especially when, as I read on, I found I kind of liked Elphaba. But on a different note, I wasn’t able to like her completely because sometimes Maguire painted her so flat. I felt so many characters lacking and their motivations fuzzy. Much of the book was very confusing. I think overall that Maguire is actually a genius in the background story he came up with for the Witch, but some of it flew right over my head, and his writing style is definitely not for me. I had to read other reviews and answered questions to understand some of the elements it was unclear if he explained (I wasn’t about to go back through the book to figure them all out). A few things did not seem plausible or believable to me, but hey – it’s a magical land called Oz. I’m sure that gives him the right to fuzzy a few things. I’m sure if I read it again I would probably understand.

Lastly, as a disclaimer for those who want, two things: cussing and sexual elements.

Thus, it didn’t make for a kid’s story but was an overall pleasant read for the background of the Wicked Witch of the West. The short-version lesson I learned was that things are not always as they seem, and even the most broken stories can be beautiful.