All the possible forks.

cornrow paths to the clouds

I definitely classify myself as a dreamer. I live most of my days lost in thought and wonderment. I wouldn’t say that my head is always up in the clouds, because it’s not exactly like that. I just think…probably too much.

I think of my own life and where it’s going. I think of all the possible forks in the road that are impossible to actually foresee. I think of a hypothetical life in two years, five years, ten years. I think a lot about where I’m going and where I want to be and what I really want to be doing. And I change my mind a lot.

I’ve gone through a lot of phases when it comes to thinking about “what I want to be when I grow up.” When I was really little, I wanted to become a veterinarian, probably like many young children who, like me, found an obsession with animals, particularly their own pets. But then, when I realized that having to put an animal down came with the territory of becoming a vet, I decided I couldn’t do that. I moved on to thinking I could become a researcher who would find the cure for cancer. It was the subject of an essay for a standardized test I took in elementary school. I thought I had a pretty good idea of how I could cure cancer. But, as it turns out, research is a rather tedious and difficult practice, and with more science courses, I realized that it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t long before I discovered the biggest passion of mine that was underlying all of the others: writing. But while I have known for most of my life that writing is the one thing I would love most to do for the rest of my life, I have always been fascinated by the concept of what other people do in their jobs every day.

As I encounter one stranger to the next in my day-to-day life, I ponder what their day-to-day is like. I take my coffee from the barista at the Starbucks down the street from my office, and I wonder how many hours he has to work today, and whether he has dreams beyond mixing shots of espresso with steamed milk for hundreds of customers looking for their caffeine fix. I sign for the morning package delivery and wonder how many stops our UPS guy has to make in a day. I see the woman running along a bike path and wonder what else composites her day. I deposit some cash at the bank and wonder what it’s like to stand on the other side of that counter. I sit at a table at my favorite restaurant and thank my waiter for my meal, as I wonder who it was who made the beautiful plate, and how it was they got to work here.

I told you. I probably think too much. Maybe it’s the dreamer in me–always wondering what my life would be like if I did X, or Y, or maybe even Z. Maybe that curiosity is why writing fuels me in the way that it does. When I can create a character who has a profession that interests me, I can live vicariously through that character, without having to really change much about the trajectory of my own life.

I often ask people about what they do at their jobs. It’s not just small talk for me. I’m truly interested. Most people just share the basics. When someone asks me about my job, I tell them, “Oh, I work in publishing. I have an administrative position so I process a lot of payments, but I help out with the editorial side a bit, too.” Everyone has their good, two sentence summary, right? But what if the person asking the question really wants to know?

Really, when I started writing this post, the point was to go down the list of the jobs and professions that seem to fascinate me the most. But I should have known ahead of time to plan ahead for my tendency to ramble. So I’ll carry on with that thought next time. For now, I really do want to know, what do you do at work?

And am I the only one who thinks about this too much? There has to be another one of us out there.

love always, Delia

For making my heart soar.

I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the support I have received from my last post from a whole week ago. Sometimes, there are just some feelings that you need to get down, and I needed to get those down. When I took the big step to publish such personal sentiments for the world wide web, I felt pleasantly out of my element. While I knew that even if no one noticed that short, unpublicized, almost-diary entry quality post, I wouldn’t mind, I also knew that any single person who might contact me to let me know that my writing resonated with them would make my heart soar.

And you all did.

It’s true that writers have to derive pleasure from writing for their own sake. But sometimes, we must write for other people, too. I wrote that post for me, but I also wrote it for Ryan, for my best friends, for my parents, and for anyone else who has ever felt the same at any point. So on some selfish level and at the same time on a selfless level, I am just so glad that my words could remind someone, could let them know that they aren’t alone.

So, thank you for validating me. And thank you for the opportunity to let you know that you are valid, too.

love always, Delia

What really matters if you want to get your writing published

manuscript submission piles at a publisher

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in the field of publishing. I’m not even going to pretend that I know half of what my coworkers know about publishing. But there is one thing that I have learned for certain. If you, like me, consider yourself a writer and dream of one day when you can get a book published, what you really need to do is know how to write.

I know that sounds really obvious. You’re probably about to stop reading now and say, this girl is full of it. But hear me out.

I’ve seen countless manuscripts float through our fiction and memoir acquisitions department. I’ve seen submissions by experienced, published writers, I’ve seen submissions by recent MFA graduates, and I’ve seen submissions by the completely unknown, green writers. There is one thing all of these people have in common: some of their submissions are bad, most are mediocre, and a small few are very good.

When a manuscript lands itself on my desk, I look at the writing first. I do not look at the author’s credentials. I do not Google the author’s name. I read, I evaluate, and then I look further into the background of the person who labored over the words. And sometimes, I’m surprised.

Sometimes, I see that the author has had books published before, or has several prestigious degrees or awards under his or her belt, but I’m surprised, because the writing on its own was, really, not that good. And then I have a moment where I don’t know what to do. I come to the acquisitions editor and I tell her my quandary: I didn’t like this manuscript, but then I saw all that this author has done, and I thought maybe I missed something.

She tells me I didn’t; no matter the author’s Ivy League background or long list of published works, if the manuscript isn’t good, it’s not good. Maybe their other works are good, and then again maybe they’re not. But we’re not going to publish something we don’t think is good.

This can be really comforting. It’s nice to know both as a reader for acquisitions, and, of course, as a writer. It’s not that your experience doesn’t matter, because of course it does. An MFA undoubtedly gives writers an edge over others who didn’t pursue a higher degree with their writing, or perhaps got their degree in something else entirely. And a nice list of credentials and awards can go a long way to promote you. But in the end, the writing must speak for itself.

Isn’t that sort of comforting?

love always, Delia

Revelations on Blogging

I’ve been reading a LOT of blogs lately—seriously, it’s gotten distracting—but I guess that’s what you start to do when you start to take your blogging efforts seriously. One thing I’ve noticed in many of my new favorite blogs is that the writers tend to delve into their personal lives at a leisurely but thorough pace through multiple blog posts.

That’s something I hadn’t really thought about doing for myself before. I guess I was still stuck in the mindset of, why would anyone care to hear so much about my personal life? or why bother going into so much detail about myself, isn’t that kind of self-absorbed? But the truth is that when I’m reading these posts by other people, these thoughts are never what cross my mind. I’ve realized that talking about your personal life is actually a way of reaching an audience, and at an intimate level, at that. Some of my favorite posts and general articles to read have to do with the personal lives of their authors. They’re relatable. They’re inspirational. They make me feel like I’m not alone. And they’re addictive to read.

Funny how I’d never thought of it that way before. I claim to be a writer, and I have the rule, “write what you know” deeply engrained in my head, and yet I haven’t fully dedicated myself to doing just that. I know that my favorite authors and songwriters all make a point of sharing pieces of themselves with their fans through their writing (heyyy, T Swift!) and that’s what makes them so great. It’s art, and it’s what makes us human.

So, hi, this is me.

So, hi, this is me.

Sure, not everyone cares about my love story with my husband, or how I felt going to college, or how I’ve ended up where I am today with my current career and future career goals. But someone might. And isn’t that where to start? Without the idea that maybe someone else in the world can relate to and be helped by one person’s words and experiences, those writers we admire would not have reached the success and fanbase they enjoy. We would not even have them around to admire.

And that would just be sad. Writers need readers, and readers need writers. Writers need someone to appreciate what they have to say, and readers need someone to write about something they want to read. It is a codependent relationship, and I feel like I can finally see that clearly.

I’m going to make more of an effort now to really write about myself. I’ll keep writing other stuff, too. But there is really too much to learn about me than I can fit on my About page, which I’ll confess, I worked on for a good while. I want my readers to know me like I feel like I know my friend Taylor Swift. And if I only reach that one person, I’ll be content.

So, here’s to getting to know each other better. Here’s to writing what I really know. Hope you enjoy the ride together!

Do you ever hesitate to write about yourself, or have any blogging revelations of your own?

love always, Delia

Stuck in Love

Stuck in Love

A few days ago, Ryan and I had the chance to check one independent movie we’d never heard of off the list. We stumbled across Stuck in Love on Netflix and decided to give it a try, and I am so glad we did.

One of my favorite things is to find a movie to watch with no expectations of how it is, and be blown out of the water. It’s even better than watching a movie I know I’ve been wanting to see that simply lives up to its expectations. This movie falls under this category of one of my favorite things. I loved it.

As I said, when we decided to try Stuck in Love for some weekend entertainment, we had little idea of what the movie was really about. We skimmed the brief and typically uninformative Netflix description, surmised the general tone of the movie based on its poster art and screenshots, and decided to give it a go. I had no idea that the entire movie is basically about writers, their lives, and writing in general. I had no idea how many literary references would be dropped throughout each scene of the movie. And I had no idea how real these characters could be–so real, in fact, that they seemed like extensions or fictionalized manifestations of our family.

The story, in case you’re wondering, is about a broken family. The father, Bill (Greg Kinnear), is a famous novelist whose wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), left him for another man three years ago. Sam (Lily Collins) and Rusty (Nat Wolff) are their daughter and son, also writers, thanks to their father’s insistence that they keep diaries throughout their lives, to keep them writing.

Stuck in Love

Bill remains obsessed with the idea of getting back together with his ex-wife, though she has appeared to move on with the other man, and he hasn’t written anything since she left him. Sam, pent up with issues from her parents’ divorce, seems closed-off against any relationships other than those with her father and brother. She hasn’t spoken with her mother in over a year, and takes out her pessimism on any boy who seems like he could be an actual emotional investment. Little brother Rusty, on the other hand, is the exact kind of guy Sam avoids, a complete romantic. He devotes his whole heart to one girl he barely knows, hoping for a day when they might actually be able to be together.

Stuck in Love quote

When Sam comes home and makes the big announcement that she has published a book, each family member is affected by the news differently. Bill is both thrilled for her and disappointed that she had never consulted his help on the manuscript. Rusty is jealous of her success, but sparked to be more bold in his everyday life, like she is, in hopes of bringing himself some inspiration in his writing. Erica, who must find out Sam’s news through Rusty, is painfully reminded of the rift between her and her daughter, and wishes that she could share the exciting time with her.

The ensuing action involves Rusty, in his new approach to life, finding his chance with his crush, Kate (Liana Liberato), who has vices he, blinded by love, finds a way to ignore. Sam meets a boy named Lou (Logan Lerman) from one of her creative writing classes, who manages to reach her emotionally in such a way that terrifies her. And as the day of the launch of Sam’s book nears, Bill half-heartedly attempts to move on, yet remains hopeful of a reunion with Erica, while Erica hopes for a new chance to reunite with her daughter.

Stuck in Love

My plot summary does not do the reality and complexity of this film justice. There is a closeness between Bill and his children that warms my soul to see. There is a solidarity between Sam and Rusty that I admire, yet there is also a competitive tension between them that is so familiar to me, it felt like their characters were drawn from people I know. I definitely knew the girl behind the shield, Sam. Her cold treatment of love is frustrating and saddening, but not unfamiliar to see, and not immune to a resilient hope that she may have an opportunity to change her views. Luckily, such a hope is inspirationally maintained by Rusty and Bill, and not to mention, Lou, whose character is so open and charming, you just want to be his best friend.

Stuck in Love

“Stuck” in love is an apt title for this film. Each character is stuck in his or her approach to love, though it’s unclear how good or bad each of their conditions are. This is a fantastic story, in both senses (I have to say that the idea that Sam gets published by a major publisher at age 19, and moreover that this happens within a matter of months, is quite the fantasy, for us in tune with publishing), and it is a story filled with characters and relationships so real it feels like family.

As a writer, you also can’t go wrong with a movie about writers. At least I can’t. There is something so pleasing about seeing writerly quirks you thought only you had played out onscreen. There is something so intimate about knowing that there are other people who can see the world the way you do, who can appreciate the significance of a great line when it falls into place. One of the greatest moments of the movie is when Bill reads Rusty’s diary and tells him he couldn’t help it, for when he caught a glance of one line, it struck him so much he had to keep reading: “I remember that it hurt. Looking at her hurt.” Bill told Rusty he could start a novel with that line, and he’d have his reader hooked. He was right. And there are plenty more brilliantly quotable lines where that one came from in this movie.

But don’t just take my word for it. Watch it for yourself, and see what you think. And to anyone who has seen it–what did you think? Do you have any unexpected favorite movies?

My new priority: me.

This year was the first where January came rolling around and I actually had that spurt of refreshed positivism, with a real idea of what I could and want to accomplish in the 12 months to come. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely altered my view on New Year’s celebrations, but for whatever reason, I have just been able to approach the new year with the sense of purpose that other people seem to have mastered (or pretended to) long before me.

The last year has been composed of my frantic wedding planning, moving into an apartment with my husband, and adjusting to the routine of being post-grad and working an 8-5 job, while managing the house, cooking, and trying to find time to relax and enjoy newlywed bliss. In short, not much besides manic thinking about the wedding and marriage and all that has been able to take up much real estate in my mind. My other passions like writing and photography fell by the wayside. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve had writer’s block since 2012, and I know I haven’t gone out for a real photo shoot since the end of 2012 when I was finishing my photography class in my last semester of school. So, while the thoughts of life on our own together as a married couple were very exciting, and I dove happily deep into planning mode like I always do, I am glad that now enough time has passed that I can accept my new life routine and move on to new (old) obsessions.

And now, I’m going to do those old passions better. Now that I’m done with seating charts, guest lists, price comparisons, discussions about colors and flowers and musical arrangements, thank you cards, and moving, I can take some time to rediscover my writer’s mind and my photographer’s eye. Now, I can focus on this blog as my creative forum and inspiration to keep going with my passions. I can (and will, soon) rearrange it so that it really reflects what I want to do with it. Because I really do want to make something of it, though the lack of posts thus far might reflect otherwise.

So, be on the lookout for a blog makeover here in the near future. Be on the lookout for more posts (I’m being serious now). Hold me accountable. Follow me. Maybe we can bond over our passions, or just the hope to make a passion come to life again. I would love that.

Hello, NaNoWriMo. We meet again.

I failed again.

Right around this very time last year, I was sitting in my writer’s workshop with my fellow writing friends, tucked in the back of my college library, talking about writing a novel. Not just writing a novel, but writing one in one month. A whole novel.

You may have heard of this concept. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. Every November writers from every corner partake in a large, communal effort to write an entire novel.

I actually hadn’t heard of this event until just last year, in my writer’s workshop. It sounded overwhelming to me. A novel. In one month. I could never do that…could I? Actually…it’s a fantastic idea. Give a writer a deadline, and–at least in my experience–she will work harder, simply because that deadline exists. Maybe she (I) will not fully meet the deadline, but a hell of a lot more will get done because there is a reason to be doing it.

Last year, I decided that I should definitely partake in this overwhelming yet inspiring event. In a year. I needed to prepare some sort of idea that could spark a novel, of course. I needed an outline, mental preparation, more training. Yes, next year definitely would be the time.

And…here I am. Having forgotten about NaNoWriMo again until just this morning. And the excuses are still there, tempting me. I’ve already lost five days. I still don’t really have a good idea for a novel. I’m out of practice. I’m busy with my full time job. I just want to be lazy.

But then, there is this more important part of me that is screaming to do it anyway. I’ve been looking for a reason to dig back into my writing, and here it is, staring me in the face. Didn’t I already start a YA novel for a class my last semester? Didn’t I want to finish that? Oh, yeah, that’s right. I can do that.

I can do it.

So you know what? I may not join the movement officially, but I am going to bust my butt to do my part. I spent a good half hour at work this morning just getting giddy about the fact that I might actually be able to force myself to get moving on my writing again. Maybe I’ll even finish a long-term project, for once. Maybe I’ll become inspired enough to dedicate more time to all of my writing in general.

Here goes! I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me.

Join me?

Remember, Recognize

One thing I have found the time to write for recently is a fun, new local news source in Albuquerque: NewsCastic.

If you are a Breaking Bad fan, you may be interested in reading what I have to say in my recent article that NewsCastic honored me with publishing, about Breaking Bad and its connection with Albuquerque. Here is an excerpt:

“I would argue that the most celebrated part of Albuquerque in Breaking Bad is not the vice that strikes its select inhabitants, but the very soul of the city.

“What do I mean by that? I mean the vast skies. I mean the iconic mountains. I mean the piled, billowing clouds. I mean the most beautiful red dirt you will ever see. I mean the local food joint where your best friend got her first job. I mean the intense normalcy that is everyday life, ever punctuated with the unforgettable beauty of the surroundings and spice of the food.

“And that’s what has made this show extra special, to an extent that could not have been found if the show had been filmed in California, as originally planned. Albuquerque gave Breaking Bad that quality every filmmaker looks for: some element that no one else would have thought of before.”

Read the rest of the article, Remembering Breaking Bad, Recognizing Albuquerque. And let me know what you think.

A New Leaf (Again?)

It’s funny how time gets away from you. I can’t believe it’s already mid-October. I almost feel like the summer didn’t even happen. It was a long, wonderful dream I just woke up from, and yesterday was sometime in March or April–I can’t remember, because I am still so groggy from that long dream.

But, somehow, it actually did happen. Even though it seems like a few months ago that Ryan proposed to me, the one-year mark of that day is less than a month away. Our engagement was a whirlwind of nine months. Suddenly, I was not only graduating, but also planning a wedding, and each month along the way, I was learning more and more about how much work that can actually be. A month after graduating, I started working at a job I knew wouldn’t be permanent, while also interning at the University of New Mexico Press. I also began writing for a new local news source, and eventually landed a position with UNM Press.

That was all pre-wedding. The past two months since the wedding have consisted of moving into a new apartment together, slowly settling in, and adjusting to adult lives where we pay bills and wake up early in the morning to partake in the “daily grind” five days a week.

All this has made for a very busy time.

But that’s funny, too. How keeping busy never seems to go away. I thought I’d catch a break when the wedding madness was over, but somehow, that never happened. I long to return to Cabo, where we could lie around doing nothing, and feel great about it. Is that how it always feels when you return home from your honeymoon?

The funniest thing is, now, when I do catch some moments of free time, I don’t know what to do with myself. The fridge is stocked, the apartment is clean, the bills are paid, the family obligations are done, and I don’t have to worry about doing homework anymore…what on earth do I do with myself? I’ve forgotten how to relax. Funny how I tend to do that.

But I’ve just come to the realization that it is in these times that I am most making an excuse for myself. A spare couple of hours, and you waste them thinking about what to-do item you must have missed? That sounds like a perfect way to avoid doing something else important to your life fulfillment…like writing. Or reading. Or finding new outlets for my passions for writing or even photography and design.

I don’t know why this is how I’ve come to operate. I would do that in college, too. In order to “procrastinate productively,” I would clean my dorm room, do my dishes, take a shower, and….sigh, and resign myself to my fate. But now, I don’t have a syllabus to keep to. I don’t have a grade depending on my dedication. So it’s easier to put off things like finishing my screenplay or writing new stories. Or, obviously, things as simple as keeping up with this blog.

So here’s the new plan. I’m going to write whenever I can. Whenever one of those moments of, hmm, what should I do now? comes up, I’m going to buckle down onto my computer and write a blog entry. Or work on a story. Or research my creative outlets and options. Anything more productive than just sitting there musing about when I might next need to buy groceries.

To help facilitate this, I’m going to approach this blog with a little more versatility. I’m definitely going to stick with mostly writing about writing, but I’m going to take a cue from my best friend’s blog and just write when I need to, too. About whatever. Because “whatever” matters, too.

Even now, I’m thinking of all these things I just need to get onto paper, or the digital equivalent, anyway. Let’s get to it!

A New Year: A New Blog Post (Finally)

I may only have fulfilled about half of my goals for 2012, as I outlined in this post for the New Year holiday, but I got a hell of a lot done. While I didn’t save quite as much money as I would have liked, didn’t get as much done with my creative writing as I had hoped, and didn’t make all of the travels that I listed, I did manage to make a wonderful trip to the east coast, finish my last semester of college with exemplary grades, line up a couple big-girl-jobs for post-grad life, and grow more passionate and confident with the career paths I hope to one day carve my own way into. Not only that, but I also decided to get married.

2013 is going to be a big year for me. A year of firsts. A year of growing up. Of hopefully making progress towards my dreams. Probably a year of some strife I cannot foresee.

And I can’t wait. There is so much to look forward to:

  • Starting a new job
  • Getting a foot in the door at the local book publisher
  • A road trip to Denver to hang out with best friends
  • Taylor Swift concert!
  • Attend commencement with my classmates
  • Family vacation in San Diego
  • My wedding.
  • Seeing all the family that will be in town for the event
  • Honeymoon!
  • Moving into our own place
  • Being home for the fall season for the first time in four years

And who knows what surprises will crop up along the way?

I have to remind myself that in all of the excitement of my life right now, I need to also be sure to remember to take a step back, and just appreciate it all.

So this post is the first that I am making in 2013, the first I am making as a college graduate, and hopefully the first of many more to come in the next year. Because now is the time for me to work even harder towards my dreams of becoming a writer.

Thank you to all those faithful readers who have not terribly chastised me on my hiatus, yet have constantly pushed me to keep up my work. You’re the reason why I love this.