The story of The Practical Orphan’s Guide began about nine years ago, when I was a freshwoman at the all-female Mills College in Oakland, California. I was taking a class called ‘Advanced Fiction for Children and Young Adults,’ and was supposed to be working on a story about a group of kids who were the result of a mad scientist’s experiment meeting up in their teens and discovering their special powers. (It was very X-Men.) Whenever I got stuck on that, which was often, I worked on what was then known as Practical Kate, a spoof of sorts on all the fantasy literature about young orphans who have magical adventures. In its very first iteration it was in the third person, but once I switched to first person PoV, the book really took off.
Sometimes I don’t know what possessed me to get a Master’s degree in creative non-fiction. It’s not the degree that perplexes me as much as the subject. I love to blog, and I enjoy memoir and personal essay, but my life is so incredibly boring that to share the details of it with you would be tantamount to torture, and, as we all know, we don’t use torture here in the United States.
I have been on such a writing streak for the last week that I’m honestly afraid of what happens when it ends. I haven’t been this productive since college – when I was sitting through lectures on literature and secretly writing scenes for my YA book instead of taking notes. Class was great for my productivity, largely because for some reason unknown to me, I get my best inspiration when I’m supposed to be doing something else, like listening. (I wrote a ton of fan fiction during high school. Literally, during it.)
I started this blog in 2008 as I was preparing to graduate from college with a degree in creative writing. I had an unpaid internship as the assistant to a producer; I was submitting my YA novel to agents, short stories to literary journals, and gathering plenty of material on what not to do. (I have an enormous MS Word document of other people’s query letters that are each horrendous in their own way.) A lot has changed since then (and, sadly, a lot has not), but what I always hoped to do with this blog was share my successes and failures in the writer’s market, and possibly help others learn from my mistakes.
So this is what I’m doing: I’m writing a comic book.
Sometimes, when you plot to take the world by storm, the world storms back. And not with just any storm – a shit-storm. Of crap. Three rejections of varying intensity in a two week period is a lot for one person to take, and while I pride myself on my ability to handle criticism, I’ll admit that when the third arrived in my Gmail inbox this morning, I was derailed….
Yesterday I started an internship with Craig Anderson Productions, and within a few hours, I knew that there were pearls of wisdom I just had to share. One of my main tasks is script reading, but before it even gets to that point, I have to slog through the e-mail queries and log lines from hopefuls eager to send in their screenplays. That’s right: I decide who lives or dies….
Post one little picture of girls showing their thongs, and blog traffic spikes. There must be a lot of disappointed people in cyber-space. I added that picture for the purposes of education, not enjoyment, sorry. On a completely unrelated topic, since I’ve now decided I want to go to graduate school, that means I have to take the GRE. I cannot think of a more pointless waste of time and…
The other week I got a rejection from Barrelhouse – seven months after submitting a short story online. While there are no official rules on turnaround time, standard industry protocol is about one to two months, longer only if otherwise stated by the journal/agent/your boyfriend. I nearly forgot about that submission. With everything I’ve piled on my plate, short stories and journal submissions have been relegated to ‘appetizer’ status: fine…