Jumping back in

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hey readers, I've been a little absent for the past month. I've still been writing articles, just haven't posted over here. Honestly, I'm kind of proud that I only went a month without posting. No more permanently abandoned blogs for me!

I've really wanted to focus more on creative writing for the past few weeks, and that's what I've been doing. I'm working on a couple short stories, so with any luck you'll see links to where they're published back here soon!



>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You know, I really kind of dislike blogging. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the feeling that I'm writing to a potential audience, but not for that audience. It's like I'm given the opportunity to get up on a stage and talk about anything I want, topic and format and page views aside, and once I get up there I have stage fright and just want to run away.

It's hard to give much specific commentary on anything I've written lately because it's been a while, so consider this my "I'm back" post, and there'll hopefully be more later if I can stir up my writing discipline for the day.



>> Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I wrote a very personal article today. I don't know why, but Associated Content targeted me with an assignment titled "I don't believe in God because..." and I accepted it right away.

Before I knew it, I was deep inside an article about a topic so close to me that even most of my friends and family aren't aware of it. I'm not going to repeat the whole article here, but it made me wonder again about fear and writing. If people I know see what I've written, they'll see that I'm an atheist now. And what will they think of me?

I hope this doesn't come back and bite me in the future, but for now I'm glad I wrote that article. It's true to who I am and who I want to be, and I think that's the bottom line.


On Celebrities

I've never been much of a celebrity follower. Take me to the biggest movie of the year and I probably won't recognize anyone in it, but I keep hearing that celebrity news sells and that's just what you've got to get yourself into.

I took that advice today with the beginning of a three-part article for Examiner on how celebrity relationships parallel the lives of normal teenagers. You can still catch it in the twitter feed over to the right. It's a topic I actually find interesting. They're people too, after all.

The controversy here is that I started out with a subject I've already ranted about before: Twilight costars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. I thought the tendency teen girls have to obsess over Robert could help them understand what to do when one member of a relationship is much more popular than another. I think it turned out well, but let's see what the all-knowing Page View Gods have to say over the next few days.

Again, there's this embarrassment over being out there in the spotlight, but whatever comes of this, it's not going to ruin my life. It'll probably improve it. We'll see.


Keeping e-busy

I've updated this page with a new layout, header, and a widget for my Twitter account that you'll see just over to the right. Since I'm planning on tweeting new articles whenever they're published, you'll be able to see them over there instead of having to dig through my posts for links.

I also pointed my domain, jadenkelly.com, to this page. Now you'll be able to access it through that or jadenkelly.blogspot.com, whichever you prefer.

I've been slacking off the past few days, not getting much writing done. I'm working myself into a minor panic waiting for Associated Content to review two articles I submitted for upfront payment. I'm considering applying to Demand Studios - has anyone ever heard about them?

I'm probably off to get this week's Examiner articles up. It seems like I get more views when I publish one of those per day instead of slapping five together in a 24-hour period, probably because of the way they promote the articles.

I'm already starting to wish it wasn't all about the page views, but it's not so bad as long as I'm writing something people want to read. I haven't done a lot of promoting and at least a few people think my content is interesting anyway. It should turn out well once I can make myself sit down and work more often.



>> Monday, June 7, 2010

I am not a motivated person.

In fact, I have chosen so far not to share this blog and much of my online writing with my friends and family simply because they have seen me come up with so many crazy plans and fail to follow through. I'd love the views, the clicks on my Examiner and Associated Content profile pages and articles. But it's scary.

It's funny how my fears run so contrary to my goals as a writer. If I'm scared to show my work to friends and family who have stuck by me for this long, what am I going to do when something I've written gets a bad review?

Or maybe that's not the issue. Maybe I just want to fall into this pattern of safely writing when I feel like it, never being bothered for more or asked when I'll update, and then if I stop feeling like writing I can quit.

Well, that's just not how it works.

There's an infinite number of guides out there on how to motivate yourself as a writer. They suggest setting aside solid blocks of time to write, because of course every writer lives alone or with family and pets who are considerate enough to keep to themselves for more than five minutes at a time.

They suggest rewarding yourself with new clothes or a nice meal out. I guess a 99 cent burrito from Taco Bell might fall under that category.

I'm sure these tips work for some people, but to me they sound like self-discipline for those already capable of self-discipline. I stick by the idea that if you care enough about something, it's not lack of motivation that's holding you back. It's fear.

For the past few days I've been relentlessly working at mindless little tasks -- cooking, cleaning, job applications. But I haven't wanted to write. There's a lot of fear in art. What's beautiful to you isn't beautiful to everyone. You're exposing your inner world and anyone who criticizes it is criticizing you.

I guess the key is to learn not to take it personally. Everyone dreams of having themselves and their work in the spotlight, and you'll never get there if you can't handle someone, somewhere disliking who you are.


Social networking?

>> Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm young. I'm 22 and in college. Shouldn't I be off playing Farmville or something?

I don't get social networking. To some extent I do get blogging, or I wouldn't be here. I understand the concept of having something to say and wanting it heard, though if I wasn't out here trying to promote my writing I'd probably still stick by the idea that I got my life's worth of whiny neediness out in my high school livejournal.

Maybe it comes down to the plain fact that I'm antisocial. I'm not the intended audience. I don't want to know what the guy who sits next to me in history is doing Friday night. Good for him, but I don't care.

Except then that guy ends up getting a great job as a local newspaper columnist and posts to his Facebook that there are more openings to be had, and I'm not watching because I'm not willing to slog through the morning-after posts and kissy face pictures.

I sound angry, but there's no one to be mad at but myself. After a full day spent writing and promoting content, I made roughly fifty cents. I want to say that it'll pick up as I get more articles out there. If I make one cent a view but only get one view per article every day, then all I have to do is write a couple hundred articles...

Ah, well. My grandma's been asking for a computer. Maybe I'll give her my old laptop and the two of us will learn how to live in this century together.


Where are all the fatties in fiction?

>> Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I was not a pretty young girl.

I spent most of my childhood and adolescence as this awkward, overweight, bucktoothed, big-nosed creature that barely felt female. This is embarrassing to look back upon, but it's true, and I know I'm not the only one who has ever felt that way.

All the articles I've just completed about dating and self esteem have me thinking about how the concepts relate to fiction. Sure, we all know that TV rarely shows the chubby, clumsy kid as the beloved star. However (whether this is accurate or not), novels are still widely thought to be a more intelligent and productive form of entertainment compared to what comes out of Hollywood. And that brings me to my question: where are the fat kids in books?

I'm not talking about niche romance novels or erotic literature designed to cater to fetishists. I'm not talking about the bumbling, weak, deplorable fat boys found in children's books like Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Piggy from Lord of the Flies. I remember reading both these books in school as a kid and wanting to die of humiliation. All of a sudden, I wasn't the quiet girl in the corner anymore. I was just like the ugly, whiny boy who eventually met his end.

Even the Harry Potter series' Neville Longbottom is portrayed as a coward and a failure until the later books, and never mind the picture we get in the early books when Harry is pictured as bony, swift, and smart, while his evil cousin Dudley is wide, stupid, and always hungry. Can't a fat kid be nice, smart, and confident?

The picture grows even more depressing when you look for examples of fat or otherwise imperfect female characters. I can't even think of any in YA fiction.

There's Joan in Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle, who I found easy to relate to, but she lost the weight as she grew older. Worse still, I seem to remember her losing it through limiting her meals to frozen vegetables or a single cracker.

Usually, the best you get is a "plain" female protagonist, and you get the impression that those girls are really supposed to be slender, glossy-haired beauties who just have low self-esteem for no particular reason. Twilight's Bella is "plain", yet within days she seems to have half the male population of her new town falling at her feet. And though I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse novels myself, I've heard that the main character is supposed to be a size 10. That's a far cry from her TV counterpart Anna Paquin (who I'll admit I think is adorable), but at least it's something, even if it's a size or two below the average American woman.

I'm not a fat advocate. I don't know if people can carry too much fat and be healthy at the same time; I'm not a doctor. But I've been on the fat side of things. I've stood on the scale with the sky-high numbers. And I know that if I'd seen more positively portrayed large characters in fiction as a child, I would have found it easier to build self-esteem and gain the strength to deal with my weight in a healthy way.


Finally, some articles!

I'm the Orlando Teen Relationships Examiner at Examiner.com, and I've been having a hard time getting a steady stream of articles going, so I set some time aside today and wrote five. I'm trying to promote them a little, so even though I don't think many people are reading this right now, I'll give it a try.

Please note that I usually publish nonfiction under a different name, but I promise it's me!

My articles

I'm especially proud of the one titled "Building and maintaining your self esteem while dating". I think it's something a lot of teens could benefit from reading. I see so many young girls and guys complaining that their partners are constantly calling, texting, and checking up on them. They don't have any independence or life outside of the relationship, and I find that troubling.

I'll be honest: I attribute some of the recent changes in attitude in young relationships to the Twilight books. I'm of the opinion that Edward is an abusive stalker and Bella has no hopes or dreams except to become a vampire and get married.

Don't get me wrong, I think this would be great if the fictional teens realized the truth eventually and tried to work toward a healthy relationship. And I'm not going to go trying to get the books banned, because at the end of the day it's just a story. But I know hundreds of kids, older teens, and even adults have little guidance aside from these books, and when you're growing up the temptation to allow someone else to define your identity is strong. I know, I was there recently. Strictly speaking, I'm still there.

I don't know if I'm that great at relating to teens and communicating my point, but I'll be happy if just one person rethinks an unhealthy relationship because of this article.


Working from home?

I confess, I don't just want to be a writer. I want to be a writer for a living. Don't get me wrong, I'd still write no matter how long and hard my day job might be, and it isn't just that I want to wear my pajamas while working all day. I want to be able to live off what I love to do.

I've got a few plans in the works. Besides my usual articles, I've just applied to be a guide at ChaCha.com, which is a neat-looking search service you can access through your phone. I'll let you know how it goes. It looks like a fun way to make some spare money.

I'm also thinking again about seriously putting in some time working on the rag dolls I'm trying to make. I'm just not that great at arts and crafts no matter how you slice it. Maybe with some practice I'll be able to get those up for sale online someday soon.

If anyone out there knows of a good way to make money from home, tell me all about it!