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I is a writer.

January 7, 2010

I found a book while I was home over the holidays that was called “All about me”. It’s basically this horrible culmination of things about yourself, but written for kids, and filled in by kids. I must have filled it in my entire childhood. When I flipped to the page that says… “When I grow up I want to be ______” and had to fill in the blank. I filled an entire page with things I wanted to be: Horse back riding trainer, actress, astronaut, veterinarian, nurse, teacher, actress, horse back rider, veterinarian, actress, writer, writer, writer, writer… You get the gist… basically the one that seemed to be the most was “writer”.

Well younger self. Guess what. I may not yet be a truly published writer, but I am in fact a writer.

“You’re not a real writer,” one of my friends told me once. To which I simply arched my eyebrow, cocked my head, and asked questioningly… “Why not?”
“Because you haven’t written a book,” she replied.
“But I get paid to write,” I responded.
“Yeah, but that stuff doesn’t count.”
“Well, screenwriters don’t have a book, and you’d consider them a writer, right?”
“Yeah, but that’s different…”

I didn’t like that conversation… but it made me think. What makes someone a writer? Every morning, I wake up, I come to work, and I write… I write about drugs, sure, but I write. I write journal ads, shelf-talkers, visual aids, commercials, scripts, implementation guides, and ten million other things that if I wrote here, maybe 10% of you reading this would actually understand. Basically, I write a lot. Sure, some of it is copying and pasting, but a lot of it is new information that has to be written in a way that would entice someone. That’s exactly what authors and screenwriters do. Sure, the things I write about only interest a small fraction of the world’s population (healthcare) but so do many authors and screenwriters… there are only a few of them that cater to broader audiences. But if you want to be a really good author, you’ll find a niche that nobody else has yet, and you’ll make it your own…

So, again, I ask the question… what makes someone a writer?

I’m not sure I”ll ever know the answer to that question, but I will say this. I am a writer.

And one day I will also be an author.

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New Beginnings.

December 1, 2009

I lost my job…

I got a new job…

and a promotion… and a raise…

I hope I never lose my job again, but at the same time… I kinda think it was an amazing opportunity for me!

That being said. I’m now a senior copywriter for a much much much much larger agency, and I’ve been put on a pretty big account, and apparently it’s a very creative team that I’m involved with. So I’m hoping that’s the truth… because I’ve been dying for a creative outlet. I joined that NaNoWriMo thingie, and didn’t really write. Well, I did. But I did so in my own way… I can’t stand writing for quantity and not quality. I’m not judging anyone here, I just really don’t like it for myself. I like to write out things in terms of quantity when I get stuck and have writer’s block… but when I’m trying to compose something that I’d want people to read, I really don’t like to just layer all kinds of crap on a page and hope it all goes together. I like to construct a storyline, lay it out in my mind and then let it purge out onto the paper… I’ll get through a couple of pages and go back and make changes, and tweaks… and that’s why it takes me so long, because those darn little tweaks will inevitably change the overall feel of the piece.

It’s funny. Because it’s the same way in what I do everyday, but in a slightly different way. As I was writing the above, I kept thinking about how when the client changes things, small things, it inevitably affects the way the piece works… not just that, but it also usually changes references and many other things. Soooo instead of taking time to construct a storyline, I’m trying to clean up copy to reflect all of the changes made.

My mom often asks me if I like what I’m doing. I usually respond with “yeah…” it’s a heavy yeah though. I mean, I don’t hate it, but I really just want to do something that’s going to make a bigger difference. Which is why I get home and look at my novel and think to myself… dammit ash, just finish that and get it done! I don’t know if anyone will ever read it… I don’t know if it would ever make the difference I want it to… but I know it’s my only opportunity at the moment to at least try…

So… I’ve made a pact with myself. Once I get everything settled… find a subletter… move into an apartment in NYC… I’m going to finish the novel. For real too. No more of this “i’m done” bull crap… I’m literally going to give myself a deadline, and stick with it.

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copy… writer…

September 21, 2009

By day, I’m  a copywriter for a pharmaceutical and biotechnology advertising and marketing firm. Lots of big words, but basically the word that you should focus on is copywriter. I write copy… or more often than not, I copy writing. It’s fascinating to me how little I actually write, or how little I get to expand my writing ability, and yet I am still considered a writer. 

I think this is one of my biggest problems, and probably one of the biggest thwarts in my ability to actually sit down and come up with decent poetry or prose. I think I’m becoming hardwired to simply copy something else, and perhaps “tweak it” so that it fits within the paragraph I’ve been asked to insert it into. Well, that’s not going to help me write the great American novel (not that I actually want to)

But let’s go down that road.

I recently had a conversation with one of my friends, someone I’ve known for quite some time. Here’s a snippet of the conversation, just to get you on the same playing field.

“How’s the Great American Novel coming?” She asked with a smile. 
“What are you talking about? I’m not writing the Great American Novel,” I replied, confused. 
“All writers want to write the Great American Novel,” she replied, her tone had almost a hint of annoyance to it, as if I were some petulant child who didn’t understand that two plus two equals four. “And you had told me you were working on a novel.”
“I am. But I can’t imagine that it would ever become the Great American one. It’s a bit too ‘sci-fi’ish’ and it’s a social commentary on science, genetics, and the environment.”
“Ok, you lost me,” she said, and I swear, looked at her fingers as if she were bored, and was using the horrible cliche of checking her cuticles to divert the conversation. As she looked up, a quixotical expression stretched across her face. “Why are you aiming so low?”

And with that statement, I felt my entire world crush around me. I never thought I was aiming low… I just simply knew that the work that I wanted to bring to the table would in fact be a niche piece. It would probably only be read by a certain audience, understood by a certain audience, but that didn’t mean I was aiming low… it meant that I was aiming for a particular group of people that I wanted to touch, that I knew would understand, and would therefore take with them my ideas. 

Words have the ability to immortalize a person. I don’t want to become the most famous person in all of literary history, but I do want to make an impact, a difference… I tried explaining this to her, but all I got was more strange looks, and a last, half-assed answer of… “Why pick sci-fi then? Nobody’s going to read it… and if they do, they won’t believe it… therefore your ideas are wasted.”

Ok, here comes my nerd rant.

Some of the most politically charged fictional stories were placed in either fantasy or sci-fi genres specifically because they allowed the reader to be somewhat removed from the social commentary, and yet be able to relate. Look at Chronicles of Narnia… Battlestar Galactica… Star Trek for crying out loud… They took that which was going on in the world, and presented it in a different genre in order to allow the reader to feel comfortable… and yet… not.

That’s what I hope my work will do… 

Then again…

if I’m constantly just “copy’ing and pasting” I’m a worthless excuse for a writer. 
I think that’s why this novel is such an important thing for me to complete, because I’ll be proving not only to the world that I am a writer, but also to myself that I am.

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Too much for your own good.

August 25, 2009

I love the fact that the profession I’m in allows me to be on the cutting edge of science. That being said, I hate where I work because it allows me to be on the cutting edge of science, dealing with diseases that I’ve never heard of, but now I think I have every other day. 

I’m not a hypochondriac. I’ve never been. But, there are times that I have to write about all the signs and symptoms of a particular disease, and instantly, I have one or two of the signs and symptoms. 

Now, I’ve heard that this is common place for a lot of people in different medical professions. I know people who take psychology classes and come out self-diagnosed with OCD, depression, or even better, the ones that come out self-diagnosed as being schizophrenic. 
“I swear Ash, it makes complete sense now. Sometimes I see dots, especially after looking at a bright light, or when people take pictures of me. It’s a hallucination! I’m schizophrenic!”
No, darling, you’re not… but, go ahead and see if you can self-prescribe yourself some lithium for that now.

I think the people who should self-diagnose should only be the people who can self-prescribe.

That being said. I recently wrote a piece where one of the lines was something like this (please, FDA, note that I do not in anyway condone my next sentence, it’s just for show.) “PNH can cause liver damage, which may feel like you are experiencing stomach pain.”

That sentence is now screaming in my head, after a weekend of a lot of drinking, and having horrible stomach pains 2 days later. Maybe I’m overreacting, or maybe I’m self-diagnosing myself… not with PNH… just with liver damage. I don’t think drinking can cause PNH, in fact, I’m relatively certain it can’t. (Then again, no research has been done in this arena, so this is simply speculation.)

But see! I have to write about horrible disorders, and ultimately think I have one!

Maybe I’ll make one of the characters in my novel have one. Then, I can at least allow the incredible amount of information I had to learn for this piece I’m working on, not go completely to waste. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it may be interesting to try something like that. Whenever I learn way, way, way, too much about any kind of disease, I should make one of my characters have it. Then all my learning will never be in vain. As it is, my novel is helping my environmental and genetic knowledge not be learned in vain, so perhaps I ought to do the same with the things I learn at work. 

So…

Maybe knowing too much is really for your own good.

Then again, this is all just science… which is nothing more than theory… because tomorrow someone could come out with a paper that proves that drinking can cause orphan diseases to occur.

I think I’d freak out, then go ask to be tested for PNH.

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From Biotech to Fiction

August 19, 2009

I go to work. I sit down at my desk, and I am ultimately inundated with job jackets filled with client comments, editorial comments, boss comments, account people comments, and perhaps if I’m lucky… my own markups after speaking with each of these people. 

So, something that I wrote to begin with… ends up as something that everyone collaborated on. *sighs* 

I also come into work and deal with exceptionally heavy duty, very depressing data and information about diseases and conditions that can ultimately kill a person if left untreated. It’s no wonder then that when I get home and sit in front of my personal computer that I seem to shed my writing juices and often stand up from my desk and walk into the living room, where I either plop down on the couch, or the chair, depending on which one is not currently being occupied by my cat/kitten. (I refer to him as a cat/kitten, even though he is 2 1/2 years old. This is mostly because he may look like a cat, but has the mentality of a kitten… we are perfectly matched I suppose.)

So?

What am I to do? 

Well, yesterday I created a twitter account ( http://twitter.com/creative_niche ) I figured this would help me start pushing the creative juices around in my head. I started it to basically pluck different bits and pieces from my book so that it would get me back into the mood to finish my book. Let’s just say, this has been a work in progress for the past nearly 4 years, and it’s immense, and completely flushed out, and written out… but hasn’t yet found an ending, or really, a beginning. I have all the meat in the middle, but I keep finagling things here and there and finding that my original starting point isn’t where I wanted to start. 

It’s set about 500 years in the future, and I’m honestly contemplating having it start right now, and then jump a couple of hundred years within a chapter or two, to show a quick snapshot of what’s to come. 

I like to compare writing my novel to the kind of writing I do at work. Basically, at first, when given a project, I have no idea what I’m writing about… and have to distill a whole bunch of nitty gritty information into a couple of pages in order to make it understandable for everyone else. But, poor me… I really am researching and trying to figure out everything I can about the topic. The only real big difference is the fact that my novel is set in the future, and there aren’t too many clinical papers that are published that reveal exactly what happens in the future. Maybe in the future, this will be more readily accessible, but currently, I’m flying by the seat of my pants with the world I’ve made up. 

Ok, I’ve got to get back to working on a European project. Why can’t the British and the American’s just spell things similarly? They’re said the same way… *sighs*

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First blog jitters

August 19, 2009

I spoke with one of my friends about the fact that I’m trying to finish my novel. She laughed and said. “Just do it already.” Easy for her to say. She’s not a writer, hasn’t really ever been stuck in the creative process, and honestly doesn’t know how difficult it really is to just finish it already. Mind you, I’ll bet there are ten million authors out there who will tell me opposite, but for my very first book, it’s a nerve wracking experience. 

We continued to talk — my friend and I — and through our conversation it came up that perhaps using a blog to help me get a bit more creative, and yet not, might be the best way to go. So… here I go.

 

Let’s start off with some basics.

I’m a writer. Literally. I’m a copywriter at an advertising firm.

I’m a scientist. Literally. I have my undergraduate degree in Biology… no, I’m not a doctor, but hey… I took all the same courses as every other scientist in the world. 

I want to mesh the two and create a niche for myself… you know, make science relatable. I do that on a medicinal, high-science level every day at work. (I work in pharmaceutical and biotech advertising.) I’d like to do it on a more creative level, hence my novel. 

I’m not really going to reveal all about my book, mostly because I don’t want to give away all the important bits… but… basically it’s a young adult sci-fi novel, set in the future. It has social quandary overtones based on environmental factors… and the future of the green movement… and how evolution plays a role in human survival. Basically it’s taking everything I know and understand about science, and creating a social commentary about how we affect the world we live in, and how that, in turn, affects us.

Now… what does that mean for this blog?

Basically, it means that I’m going to try to blog each day about the things I learn for my job (medicinal science) and the things I learn for the novel (environmental and biological sciences) and try to provide you with an interesting look into the life of someone who wants to cultivate a niche for herself that is both scientific, and creative.