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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being a drifting creative

CREATIVE MIND

(Image courtesy of Yasmeanie on Deviantart Picture)

Calling all creatives, this post is for YOU.

I’ve only recently begun to call myself that term as a noun instead of an adjective. Me. Sarah. A “creative.” I like it, because when I quit drawing and painting back in high school, it started the small crisis of what do I call myself now? I knew I was a writer, but I didn’t feel like I could own the term “artist” anymore.

Now, I know that I’m all three. I’m an artist, a writer, and an all-around creative. It fits, because it covers all my bases, leaves room for growth (what if I want to start repurposing furniture? Start an Etsy shop of my knitting and cross-stitching? Start making literal book art out of book pages? Paint again!?)… and it also sounds rather mysterious.

“Hi Sarah, how would you describe yourself?”

“I’m a quirky, twenty-something creative with a passion for all things literary.”

It’s helped.

The only problem? I’m going through the crisis again.

But really, it’s one I’ve gone through many a time, as I’m sure every other artist/creative/writer/designer, etc has in his/her life. Especially before we hit 30. Where one moment you’re dead sure you’re going to be that next famous watercolor painter (me), but then you get a bad grade in Drawing 1 and you high tail it out of there in favor of acting. (Pretty close to me). You move onto something else. You identify yourself with a new project, a new passion.

I’ve had so many ideas that turn into interests, interests that turn into passions, and passions that turn in artwork and actions that actually end up falling through and leaving me discouraged. Right now I’m finding myself faced with this blog. Do I love blogging? Yes. Do I have what it takes to maintain it? I’m finding out rather quickly. But I don’t want to give it up, 1) because this is what I decided to do for a time, a solid amount of time, and because I’m way too tired of changing my mind, or giving up on something simply because I wasn’t passionate enough or good enough as the next person. How many people can say that about opportunities, jobs, even careers?

I’m trying to tell myself it’s not that I’m broken, and it’s not that I can never make up my mind. I’m sure of many things, like my love of books, my talent in writing and editing, and my passion for creativity and art and loving people. But I’m 23 and I still haven’t found my niche, the way those passions take action and root and turn into something permanent, concrete, or long-term.

I’m tired of drifting. But maybe this is just part of the process.

Do any of you 20-somethings feel this way? Creatives? What helped you narrow down your interests or passions and start focusing on that one thing that makes you you?


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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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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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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? 


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8 ideas for the overwhelmed post-graduate

Intelligent-Husky-Graduates-College-Still-Doesnt-Know-What-To-Do-With-His-DegreesFinishing undergraduate college can be a truly overwhelming experience. Suddenly you’re on your own. No dorms, cafeteria food and dining funds, professors giving you advice, and learning simply put in front of you. Everything takes effort and intentional work now – including earning money based upon your degree.

I can personally attest to feeling adrift and lost for the whole year after I graduated in December 2013. My story may be different from yours since my brain has dealt with depression since high school, but the post-university blues are a real and documented thing.

I went back to one of my college part-time jobs after graduation to “take a break” from the stress of senior semester (for example, I couldn’t read a single book or learn anything academic). Soon after, I felt stuck, stressed, and lost. I knew I needed more internship experience, but I needed money to pay for my wedding and didn’t have time besides. I didn’t even know how to look for jobs in my field, and worst yet, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m still figuring it all out!

Most importantly, I know I am not alone. For more information on on awareness of college graduates and depression, read these articles from The Guardian, The Independent, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Take a deep breath and remember that you’re not the only one. Here are some ideas to keep in mind and do as you go through this time.

1. Renew your perspective. 

Going through college gives you expectations that may be actually unrealistic! You’re only in your twenties. Talk to people. Many of them didn’t get a job they loved (or in their field, etc.) until they were much older and much further out of college. Try to view your life from another person’s shoes, and you may be surprised to see how blessed you still are. And don’t forget to admire your degree a little!

2. Re-think your expectations. 

Like I stated above, our college minds are taught about the “real world” in terms of expectations for us. In turn, we develop ideas. When we don’t meet those ideas, we may not have made a Plan B and thus fall into negative thinking. Making smaller goals (like making a list of places to apply or attending a resume workshop) can be an easy first step in heading in a more realistic direction. Then you can realistically expect to be in your field, say, five years from now. Don’t go overboard too soon!

3. Narrow down your strengths (and weaknesses). 

Unsure of what you want to do? Write down your interests and then separate the hobbies from the things you could do as a career (this benefited me greatly!). Research your field and find out what you may be a perfect fit for. Write down your strengths for interviews, and also decide on what your weaknesses are should you need to work on those (public speaking, interviewing well, etc). College was spent learning about so many subjects that you may have skipped learning about yourself professionally.

4. Find out how to prepare. 

Maybe you were that student who listened to your college’s career center and practiced interviewing, resume-writing, and job searching, but I wasn’t. I barely had time for homework much less preparing for what I would do afterward. If you feel “stuck” in your current job situation, go back to your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what you could work on. Research actual jobs in your field, ask questions, and do the small things that are helping you become more learned in the area of the real world rather than maybe what you studied. Sometimes this is the best thing you can do while you wait for that call back or interview.

5. Don’t be afraid to try new things. 

Yes, we’re all taught that we should use the degree we got all those student loans for. But honestly, maybe you decided on that major as a junior or senior in high school and were too afraid or far along in college to explore other options (also known as me). Perhaps you want to deviate a little because you found an amazing organization or a line of work you never knew existed. Explore! Take a class now and then if something interests you. Volunteer one night a week or month. Or maybe you might find you love being an Esty-shop owner, barista, or waiter/waitress – that’s perfectly okay! More job experience is more life experience, and all these things can make you well-rounded and wiser.

6. Explore your world. 

As an autobiographical writer, I know I’m probably not going to get something big published while I’m young. It just makes sense that I would need to live a little longer and more. For that reason, I know it is important for me to travel and discover new places, and what’s great for my budget is that they might be just down the road. If you can’t afford to fly somewhere, read your state’s magazine and discover all the gems the locals talk about (Minnesota Monthly and Mpls St. Paul Magazine are my favorites for Minnesotans). If it’s not intimidating, meet new people around you and learn their story. In a small way you are broadening your perspective and becoming more learned in the ways of the world. Don’t underestimate your life and experiences.

7. Enjoy your friends and family. 

It’s true – you may not have the same community of professors and students you had at college. But now that you don’t have the same “busy with finals” excuse, you can use an allotted time each week to reconnect with friends and family you don’t want to lose touch with. Isolation is the worst for depression (as tempting as it is, I would not recommend binge-watching Netflix, at least not for months at a time). Talking to people and being encouraged by them is one of the healthiest things you can do.

8. Get help if you need it. 

Lastly, seek professional help if your depression simply isn’t letting up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of by any means, but it can be hard to find someone without the free services of college right there. Though your college’s counseling center isn’t able to directly help you, they’re usually more than willing to give you a list of services in your area. If that’s not up your alley, then seek out a mentor through your church or perhaps a past professor who would be willing to listen and encourage you.

Are you or did you battle with the post-graduate blues? What are your ideas for battling depression and feeling lost in the job-searching world?