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 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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the jumble of my brain, growing up, and other messes

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Do you ever have something you really really want to say, talk about, or bring up, but you don’t know how to do it?

This is me when it comes to my Christian, fundamental, homeschooled upbringing.

Yes, that is a Lion King quote. But if you’re around my age, maybe you remember and relate to that move as much as I. It was my favorite, and I thought of this quote when writing this post.

I don’t know what to say about my past because I don’t want to bash – I didn’t hate it, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who endorses all that. I love my parents and am thankful for their excellent parenting in many areas (pretty sure I turned out all right!).

But I’m realizing now how much I disagree with many of the books I read, concepts I was taught in churches, and leaders who spoke to me throughout my entire life – including my private, Christian university. I’m having trouble sorting it all out, what’s “good” what’s “bad” (if those categories are even okay!), and whenever I’m asked about it, I want to explode. So many thoughts in this brain.

I’m only a year removed from all of that – a year since graduation. I’m not removed from my faith, I just attend a different church than I did even while at college, and I am surrounded by friends who don’t constantly bring our childhoods up. But when one of us does, and we have childhood stuff in common, it’s like I’m a top that can’t stop spinning. Or we exchange similar memories one on top of the other like caffeinated pre-teens.

I guess I’m writing this post because I literally do not know where to start. I want to share what I am learning and the opinions I am forming about stuff I’ve known about my whole life but that looks so different to me now. I want to talk to 20-somethings who grew up similarly to me, about things we were all taught, about youth groups, Christians who hurt us, Bible verses and concepts that hurt us, books that confused us, maybe even people who judged us. But to talk about it all in order to sort out the good that existed, that came, and that continues.

I’m tired of being angry or hurt.

And I don’t just want to talk about faith and the Christian church. However, that is the lens through which I used to look at every single thing on the planet. So to think about my childhood and teenage years while excluding Christianity is like trying to look through purple sunglasses without seeing any purple. It just can’t be done.

So bear with me, if you are interested, in the jumble of my post-college and growing/changing-of-my-faith brain.

And as I invite you to participate in the ramblings, please don’t hesitate to share your experiences too! I think it’s time our generation spoke up about homeschooling, fundamentalism, the Purity Movement, or whatever burden you are carrying around unspoken about. And then turned it into a conversation about how we can do even better for the next generation.


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you don’t need to achieve everything before 25

With my recent birthday – 23 – the age where I could no longer deny my post-college age and lifestyle, I have been thinking a lot about the way I function through my age. We 20-somethings deal with so much social pressure to be the best we can be right now without realizing the age we actually are.

Now, I agree with being your best (you should always be your best), but maybe we should define what “best” means for you. Maybe that means being the best at the age and place you are – excelling at your current job, building your experience, and meeting people.

For me, it means doing a little something towards my future every day, even if that just means going to work to earn my paycheck. Recently I’ve been getting down over not blogging every day, not working on my poetry/creative work, not “doing” anything to make myself the 20-something I want to be soon, career-wise.

What is this sense of urgency that drives me to feel this way? I don’t need to achieve everything before I’m 25 (or 27, or 30)!

I find myself becoming self-conscious when I see someone’s resume with tons of internship experience, or a literary agent’s assistant with all of his or her credentials, or a published article written by someone who has so many more. I think I want to be like them! Why am I not there yet!? 

But when I think about my actual life, I remember that I’m only newly-23. They probably are not, and if they are, good for them!

I’m only one year out of college – a year spent getting to know the special needs and health care community, a year spent getting to understand their behaviors, thoughts, and actions, a year spent figuring out what direction I want to go besides to be an advocate for them, and a year spent forming my marriage to my husband (don’t laugh at me, but since I’ve always treated marriage as the beginning and not the “end life goal,” I act like it’s no big deal that I got married. It is. And I shouldn’t take it – or the fact that it took a lot of work/time/energy to get here – for granted).

We are told the lie that we have to be achieving things now to be getting to where we want. But the fact is that these things take time. 

Have you made a LinkedIn profile? Edited your resume on InDesign? Written cover letter after cover letter, editing and making sure that everything looks perfect? Given yourself a well-earned episode of Friends after submitting your application, resume, and cover letter because you just spent all your energy on that one job application?

Well, I have. And even if you get that dreaded rejection email/phone call, know that your time was still well spent.

You don’t need to write a novel, publish a million articles or poems or creative work, or land a starter position at your dream company before you turn 25 (or 30). If you’re a 20-something like me, relax and keep at it. If I do achieve things in the next 2 years, I hope it’s something I can be proud of rather than something rushed or that caused anxiety, too much stress, or made me forget my other priorities in life.

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(Credit: Buzzfeed. Quote: New Girl)

What other priorities? Exploring my fabulous city, spending time with my husband and close friends, reading great books, trying the best food at recommended restaurants, and keeping up with pop culture, world news, and the best new music.

I’m learning how to be content with 23, with slowly working my way up in the world while also enjoying my life. Are you?

Can you relate to wanting to “do all the things” before you reach a certain age? What are your priorities that you don’t want to let achieving your career overshadow?