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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the recent adventures of this 20-something

I know, I know. I’ve been MIA from this blog for the past month or so. I think about it a lot, but I’ve been going through the expected mid-blog crisis (which falls about a few months in) of the usual insecurities. Are my posts interesting? Do I write/market/pick topics for the right audience? Will anyone read these? Is this the most important thing I could be doing? Hasn’t someone said this before? 

All good questions, but not all helpful for motivational purposes. Either way, no I have not abandoned you. I’ve come to realize that a blog is a life too, and it needs time to develop, grow, and become the blog it needs to be. As well as the blog’s author/writer. No pun intended.

As an update, the recent adventures of this 20-something include:

1. Unexpectedly going to the last day of AWP ’15 (Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference) in my homie Minneapolis in the beginning of April and experiencing all sorts of grand bookish knowledge, overwhelming book fair booths, important people meandering around me, and furiously scribbling all words of advice and inspiration in my notebook. Unfortunately it did not involve lots of laughing with sophisticated writer friends or copious amounts of free drinks, but it did include pleasant meet-ups, awesome poetry, and much grown-up-edness. It was truly an epic meant for a blog post by itself. (It might be outdated, but I’m still going to write one. It was just so rad)

2. Publishing internship applications, application-denying emails, and general anxiety over my aging body and the fleeting number of open entry-level positions in the Twin Cities area (in the beginning? like, 12. right now? zero). I know I know, I need to relax, it was only my first round of trying.

3. Discovering that, in the meantime and possibly forever in addition to some kind of career in publishing, my dream job is STILL to work in a bookstore shelving, recommending, and selling books. I cannot tell you ENOUGH how much my nose wants to smell that new and old paper smells all day and err’y day. I don’t care a lick how it pays, I will probably be in the depths of despair forever if I don’t work in one at some point in my life. The journey begins.

GilbertBlythe-copy4. Being in the depths of despair over the passing of beloved Johnathan Crombie, AKA Gilbert Blythe, my actor-represented first literary crush. I actually watched Part 2 of the Sequel the night before I found out the news, and it was SO. SAD. I mean, AGH.

5. My new goal of going to two literary events in the Twin Cities every month. My mentor challenged me to one a week, but with all my interactions at work most days, ain’t no introvert got time for that! I plan on posting a photo and short post for each one I go to. (and no, AWP doesn’t count! Although I went to that after the challenge begun at the end of March)

6. Being so so so so excited for my husband to graduate on Saturday! We have big plans for teamed-up creativity for when he finally has the time, and I’m starting to look forward to that more than I ever expected. Stay tuned!


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I’m not going to apologize for being “crazy”

This post is for the woman.

The woman who was brought up to be guarded, dare I even mention the word “submissive,” and proper.

The woman who felt then—and still does—SO. MANY. EMOTIONS. Who just wanted to be heard, noticed, appreciated. Acknowledged that having those emotions was, and is, perfectly okay. Whether that’s being really really happy, a little (or lot) depressed, or just plain moody.

Whether you were raised in the church to always “guard your heart,” whether your parents or relatives were good at discipline and children had to be “seen not heard,” or whether there was a boy who just couldn’t “handle” your tears, I’m here to tell you not to change.

I’m not going to apologize for being emotional, for feeling everything, for “being crazy.” And neither should you.

You are either 1) not crazy, so stop thinking/saying/feeling that you are, or 2) that “crazy” is the beautiful hot mess that is you—goofiness, wonder, passion, interests—all bursting out during moments of energy. I love it. Keep it up, okay?!

I had a rough time in high school where I couldn’t decide whether sharing my emotions was going to turn people off from being my friend. I was moody, dark, somewhat depressed, and I wore black a LOT (long live the band T-shirts). I knew that I had a lot of empathy for basically everything under the sun, but I didn’t know about anxiety disorders back then or the chemical cause of depression. I thought having a boyfriend meant that he’d take you as you are, emotions and crying episodes and all. I didn’t know how not to feel.

And I remember feeling inadequate when I was rejected for showing my feelings. For being “crazy.”

And then, halfway through college, I realized that I didn’t need to apologize anymore.

I don’t need to apologize to my now husband for bursting into tears unexpectedly. I don’t need to apologize to the world for not feeling well enough to venture into another crowd. For being too anxious to pick up the phone. For feeling depressed.

Men, this doesn’t just apply to women, obviously.

I’m simply referring to the generations before us who taught us that women “shouldn’t” you-fill-in-the-blank.

I’ve slowly and gradually learned that there’s only so much you can do to “self-improve.” Find where that stops and celebrate who you actually are.

There’s no stopping my emotion train, but there is therapy or medication for anxiety disorders for those who need them. And then there’s just really emotional people, and sensitive people, and artsy people. And poets. (I could go on)

And I am so so blessed to have a husband who recognizes me and my emotions for who we are and lets me be me. I’ve stopped apologizing and spent more time bursting into laughter over emotional breakdowns now.

Women, stop being sorry. You are beautiful for all the neurons and brainwaves and things you feel. KEEP FEELING THEM. Don’t apologize.


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i am a [somewhat] successful adult!

According to Thought Catalog (which I should in fact be writing for, but hey, applications), I am very much a (somewhat) successful adult! Read this post to find out what I’m talking about: 17 Ways To Find Out if You’re Somewhat Successful at Being an Adult.

I would like to add a few of my own, as I think we 20-somethings can really relate to these things.

1. You actually check your bank account every so often. Even if you, you know, cringe and cry a little each time. Or panic when you can’t remember making certain purchases… like a tank of GAS. (Hey, prices are good right now!)

2. You own (and use) a checkbook. Even if it’s just for rent.

3. You make your loan payments and pay your bills on time (usually). Or you just set everything you can to automatic online payments and rarely check your emailed statements because you don’t actually want to know your electric bill for the month.

(Notice a theme here?)

4. You actually go to the library, like, not for school research. And you use it well. And usually return your books on time. But when you don’t, you never pay those fees because you don’t want to dig change out and stand in shame in front of the librarian.

5. You don’t half-ass brushing your teeth most of the time. YOU CAN DO THE TWO MINUTES, I DARE YOU.

DISNEY6. You are able to go to Magic Kingdom as a responsible, indifferent adult and of course you do not take 20+ photos of the castle from every angle. Just kidding, that’s a lie. You take crazy selfies because you are ELATED to be there and not ashamed.

Yep. Anyone relate? Can you add some things to the list? (Humor not required)


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when life gets the best of you

March has been a crazy month for me.

One, it is the time to scramble to submit applications, cover letters, resumes, and writing samples to all the publishing houses I have envied and admired for the past few months. I had been waiting for March to come for so long, I panicked when it finally got here. The pressure is now ON. And as time goes on, I am reminded again and again of how under-employed I am and how much I want my literary and publishing dreams to come true. I just need to keep telling myself that life will go on if I don’t get an internship, and I can find other ways to get my foot in the door.

Two, I was reminded by my lovely body of how my biological clock is ticking. That is sarcasm (but really I am totally fine with my body… this is just related to health things I can’t seem to control). I woke up with some serious tooth pain the day after we came back from being out of town. This just after I had researched dentists and picked one out–only to find out that she wasn’t in office on Wednesdays. So I Googled emergency dentists and found one close by that had great hours and specialized in people who just needed to get an issue taken care of.

Turns out, I needed an immediate root canal. Not only am I the biggest baby when it comes to dentists (hence why I haven’t been in a while–that and lack of insurance), but I am an even BIGGER baby when it comes to pain. I haven’t even had my wisdom teeth out yet! After it was over, I went through two complete weeks of mouth and jaw pain, trying painkillers that weren’t working, and all around just being miserable. Lesson learned: I will religiously floss my teeth now. And probably give this place a mixed review, because they didn’t take my pain seriously until after a week, and even now 3 weeks later I am still having pain. Not. Fun.

Lastly, as you may know, I am a caregiver at a very medical group home, so basically every day I am unsure if I will have to call 911, stay with a resident at the hospital, or deal with copious amounts of texts to the house nurse. I plan on doing a humor post about being a PCA soon because I am now at the point where I can laugh about how crazy my job is. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

But here’s what I’m learning: 

I am learning that it’s okay not to have it all together. 

My theme right around two years ago was trying to find a life that is okay while not being okay. (And then I fell in love with Looking for Alaska by John Green). It was when I realized that most of us are dealing with pretty rough things, but life doesn’t even slow down for us. We just have to push through. It’s okay to be honest about the pain you’re going through, but if it’s an every day thing, then express your hope as well. Even if that hope is just looking for the silver lining or enjoying the sunshine for thirty minutes.

I am learning the value in my job and the lives that I assist.

You can tell me that being a PCA is an under-employed filler job. It pretty much is. But there are people who make their careers in working with people who have special needs. I admire them even while I know it’s not for me long term. But instead of wishing I was an employed writer, I’ve decided to start writing about my work and about my friends and co-workers and clients and everyone who is affected by the special needs community, which is everyone. I just finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and am running through my head the ideas of the value of life and what makes a life valuable. Which leads me to my last point…

I am learning what life is about and how I want to live mine. 

Who I am, who I’m going to be… those are not questions that end when you find yourself an adult living on your own. Those are ideas I get to ponder my whole life, and I don’t plan on waiting. I’ve decided to stop being apathetic about spiritual growth just because I’m angry at my past and try to move on already. I’m learning that the meaning of life is maybe just to love (and hopefully be loved in return), which means selflessness is a thing that’s not just for the super religious or church enthused (the old me).

(Source: Tumblr)

(Source: Tumblr)

If you’re reading this, basically know that I am still in my 20-something funk, but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. No… I take that back. I have no idea what that means because I’m pretty sure we never leave the tunnel. To think that one day everything is going to be perfect is a lie. This world is pretty messed up, humans are messy, but there’s beauty found in all of it. I am finding my hope.

When life gets the best of you, find a way to move forward. Floss your teeth, eat more fruit and vegetables, and read good books, all the while trying not to worry as much. We’re so young.


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7 best friends for fighting cold symptoms

honey-and-cinnamonLet’s face it. Everyone gets sick. Especially with those pesky cold symptoms, even if you got the flu shot this year.

When my husband told me he had a sore throat last Monday, after just having kissed me no less, I knew my time had come again. With the end of winter hopefully upon us, these may not be as applicable to you now. But keep these ideas in mind for the next time you get the sniffles. They certainly helped me this weekend! I cut my cold symptoms short by more than half their usual endurance.

I used to have a terrible immune system and get sick about once a month with symptoms continuing for sometimes weeks. Last year was bad as well. But this year I vowed to find something new. And I think they work. I’m already completely better!

Here are my secrets. No science, just what I’ve found to work for me. Hopefully these 5 things will be your best friends when you’re sick as well.

Note: These are not medications! We all know NyQuil is heaven for some people. But for some, like me, maybe you find that the medications don’t do a thing, and you’d rather try non-medicinal ways to get healthier. Start here:

1. Extra vitamin C. 

As soon as you experience that first symptom — the one that makes you go “oh no, here it comes” — take an extra dose of Vitamin C, either by eating lots of oranges, a vitamin pill, or an Emergen-C packet for your water. I take 1,000mg a day with lots of water when I’m experiencing cold symptoms. The nice thing is, if you don’t use it, you don’t need to worry about it building up in your body.

2. Lots of water. 

This is a must for everyday life, of course, but given that we 20-somethings don’t usually drink our recommended amount a day, it’s especially important for when we’re under the weather. Even if you’re running to the bathroom more often than you prefer, this is helping to keep your body hydrated and happy.

3. A humidifier. 

I didn’t use mine this time, but last year when I had a bad cough and felt really dry, I found that my humidifier was my life saver. Also, I’ve never tried it but Vicks makes products you can put in their humidifier to help relieve congestion (I’d love to know if it works!). Just don’t shut the bedroom door or leave it on too long.

4. Naps. 

Sleep may be hard to come by when you’re sick, but naps are a different story. My prime time was in the mid-afternoon in the bright sun while trying to read a book. Napping until there’s hot chicken noodle soup waiting for you? Dream come true. I hope you get that lucky, too. But either way, I feel so much better when I let myself fall asleep and leave fighting the symptoms up to my body.

5. Honey and cinnamon. 

I’m going to swear by this one! I read about it from multiple resources, and the honey I use is raw, so there’s really no harm in it besides the extra sugar. This has worked for me twice — and is what has cut my symptoms in half both times. Just eat plain or mix in hot water 1 tablespoon of raw honey (regular from the store is fine too) with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (which is a lot!). It takes some getting used to, but I do this once or twice a day depending on how I’m feeling for the duration of my cold symptoms.

I mean, what can it hurt to try it? (Seriously, just Google this, I’m not kidding).

6. Smoothies. 

Eating well can be hard when you either have no appetite nor the strength to make anything. If you’re sick of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, try making a smoothie (if you can). Throw in any carrots, spinach, celery, or other antioxidant-rich veggies you’re willing to risk juicing and then add fruit (oranges are best!) and whatever else to make it taste good. I know that I feel better when I’m eating well while sick.

7. Netflix. 

What more can I say? Reading may be hard, finding friends willing to endure your nose-blowing impossible, but our good friend Netflix will never leave you. Marathon on, my friends! When you’re not napping, use the time to get caught up on all your shows.