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Writer Years Are Like Dog Years

This weekend I head to HippoCamp, a fantastic conference for creative nonfiction writers in Lancaster PA, which happens to be where I now live.

So convenient!

I attended my first HippoCamp four years ago. Four years that have gone by in a flash and at the same time feel like a lifetime ago.

Is that what time feels like for dogs? I've often wondered, being a new-ish dog mom to Lucy, my 9 lb. chihuahua mix. But I digress ...

When I walked into the Lancaster Marriott for HippoCamp 2018, I was just on the other side of a couple of very difficult years navigating coming out as LGBTQ+ and a divorce resulting from that coming out decision. 

I had been furiously writing since coming out, trying to make sense of the life-changing experience I was going through. What was it really about? Why had I made the choices I'd made? Why would anyone care about my story?

I was definitely in "1st Draft Mode"—writing to understand what I was writing...

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Don’t Read the Comments

I’ve finally arrived as a writer because now I know why they say “Don’t read the comments.”

Insert sad face.

If you’ve read my latest newsletters or you follow me on social media, you know that I had an essay go viral on today.com.

Haven’t read it yet? Here it is!

What a high that was to have that piece published and to hear that it was one of the site's most viewed posts that week.

And then the comments by members of the general public rolled in…

There were 3 categories of comments.

Some were lovely:

“This is a beautiful story. I applaud her!”

“So brave!”

“Love the Slinky story!”

Some were in the vein of: “I’m not a lesbian and I drive a Subaru.” 

Are there really that many people incapable of understanding irony or taking a joke?

Or as one commenter wrote: “The number of y’all declaring your heterosexuality because of an inside joke in the LGBTQ community is both...

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My 15 Minutes of Fame

Hi Suzette, the email began from an editor I had pitched two months earlier.

I am so sorry for the delay in responding to you! But I love your essay and I’d be happy to publish this on TODAY.com.

Have you already placed it elsewhere? Please let me know if it’s still available.

"Holy shit!" I screamed at my sister from the passenger seat of the car.

A few days later, "The Subaru Should Have Been a Sign," was published.

The editor emailed two days later to say that my essay had been one of their top performing pieces all week, with over 250,000 views. 

I won't deny it: the 15 minutes of fame have been a blast.

Subaru has reached out—as has a reality TV producer! Don't worry, I'm not planning to be the next Real Housewife, although the new face of Subaru might not be a bad gig.

But more important than the 15 minutes of fame is that I've taken my writing to a new level. I'm more confident. I'm less afraid of putting...

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The Writer's Life: Tools of the Trade & Setting Aside Time

Tools of the Trade: 

Dropbox or Google Drive? Or some other organizational system? 

What matters most is you have a cloud-based system to contain and organize your writing. Otherwise you risk wasting hours of precious time hunting down drafts and bits and pieces of writing. Set up a folder and subfolder system with categories that make sense to you.

Factors to consider: 

  • Cost & Storage Capacity: Google Drive and Dropbox both have free and paid options. How much storage do you need? How big is your project?
  • Ease of use: Which system feels most intuitive to you? Which system feels frustrating?
  • Sharing Your Work: Are you sharing your pages with an editor or a book coach? What system does she prefer?
  • Cloud-based: I can’t emphasize this enough. It will only take one hard-drive crash for you to never make this mistake again. Save yourself the heartache. Choose an organizational system that is cloud-based—TODAY.  

What’s your favorite...

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