Archive for July, 2013

I Love My Paper Planner So Much, It’s Ridiculous

Sometime during the middle of spring, I decided to go back to a paper-based planner. I’ve always been slightly in love with planners, agendas and organizers — part of my ongoing stationery fetish, I guess. I had the most intense relationship with the free weekly agenda they gave out to undergraduates at Duke, where I went to school — it was just a simple little notebook, divided up into weeks, with a blue leather-y cover embossed with Duke’s official seal. I used it all the freaking time, and covered every bit of free space with lists, brainstorming, doodling, and random information. Early on, I realized I liked a weekly view of time from this planner, and I haven’t really wavered from that format since.

After graduation, a generous friend gave me a fancy-schmancy Louis Vuitton pocket agenda — it was made of yellow Alma leather with a purple leather interior — and I used that pretty regularly for a few years, until they stopped making the paper for it. (Insert sad trombone noise here.) Plus, it was tiny, and at some point, I think my life was just getting way too complicated for it to fit into the pocket format. After I gave the LV planner away, I tried experimenting with larger planners and different systems, but nothing really took. A planner is a deeply personal thing, especially if you’re a creative person, I think, and I didn’t quite find my planner soulmate for some time.

Without a true paper home, I experimented with various apps, devices and other electronic gizmo-magic in the past few years. For awhile I used the calendar on my BlackBerry to keep track of appointments, as well as a series of notecards for to-do lists and project planning, but I didn’t like how my time and planning was split. Then I went all-electronic once I got an iPhone and tried out various apps — there are sooooooo many of them, but I ended up settling on WorkFlowy, which I liked a lot for its simplicity. It’s a list-maker’s dream, and it’s an incredibly well-designed app. And I did use it a lot for both personal and work — which it worked brilliantly for — but I was just missing something. Something fun. Just that extra little something that would kick up my inspiration just a bit. I missed doodling. I missed making little star- and heart-shaped bullets next to my lists. So I decided to go back to paper, only I would have to do it my way. DIY planner, I suppose.


Applying for Your MFA: Tips, Tricks and General Straight Talk

I’m getting a lot of hits to my site lately about MFA programs and applying to film schools in general, so this post is really meant for these curious peeps. I’ve written about this before, mostly on the question of whether or not a film MFA is right for you. Just for your handy-dandy convenience, here they are in one splendidly convenient place:

This is a bit more “service-y” than my usual m.o., and if you’re not interested in Master of Fine Arts programs, film school or any of that, there’s fun stuff planned for later this week. But if you are definitely going to apply to a MFA program, I’m more than happy to be a cheerleader and Girl Scout to help you along your way, especially since I have some insider-y knowledge of the process.


Sparks & Beauties: Salvador Dali Does Alice in Wonderland, Saudi Arabia’s First Female Film Director and Ponies That Strut

It’s been a quiet week on the homestead. After two weekends of city adventures, I’ve laid low, cleaned house and wrote and read like the Cancerian introvert that I am. There’s all sorts of astrological craziness happening: beautiful things like Grand Sextiles, but crazy oppositions between key planets happening in my house of partnerships. There’s definitely manifestations of it, so I’m kind of just hiding out till I can get through the rest of July. (Is anyone else in this phase of “let’s just hide until this damn month is over”?) But, y’know, I’m good, life is good and my book is meandering in the world, making friends, which I am so happy about. Lovely Keight Bergmann wrote it up in her booklog at Uncapitalized, and I was stoked beyond stoked when Grow author Eleanor Whitney in NYC! Excited to see my book back in its spiritual home, you know? Anyway, these are the beautiful things I’ve squirreled away to read in my little Midwestern refuge.

+ Haifaa al-Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first woman feature film director — a remarkable achievement in a country where cinemas are banned. “Wadjda” is about a rebellious 11-year-old girl who wants to buy a bike in a country where women aren’t even supposed to drive. Needless to say, her own country isn’t showing the movie, but it’s being screened at fests around the world, and is getting award attention. This one’s on my radar! The Economist has a great little Q&A with her.

+ File this under “ravishing visual beauty” — Open Culture did a post on Salvador Dali’s illustrations of “Alice in Wonderland.” You can see the full slate of Dali’s work over at Retronaut — they’re gorgeous and hallucinatory.

+ I’ve had my eye on adding the new novel to my list of summer must-reads; Sarah McCarry at superb blog The Rejectionist has a Q&A with the author Stephanie Kuehn, and it’s a great one. (I also can’t wait for Sarah’s own book as well!)

+ Writerly types, Esme Wang (a former nogoodforme.com intern!) did a great post on winning writing grants. I’m not a grant-applier myself (I just don’t see anyone wanting to give grants about nutty books about 19th-century perfume makers or teen skater werewolves, you know?) but I know a lot of people who read this blog write literary fiction, and this could be up your alley!

+ I always read big-picture touchy-feeling stuff and one of the pieces of advice is usually “MAKE A VISION BOARD!” whether it’s for money, career, love, whatever. But sometimes you’re just basically vision-boarded out, you know? They take a long time to assemble and put together, and sometimes, if you’re like me, you just end up with lots of pictures of clouds and shoes. Anyway, Smart Cookies did a post on making a targeted, focused vision board that does its job and gets down to business.

+ Finally, I have to shout out my own Tumblr, because, you guys:

Don’t want to click? Okay:

On Becoming a City Girl Again, At Least for a Weekend

The past few weekends I’ve been heading into Chicago to see various friends coming in from out of town, so I’ve been gallivanting and flaneuring and gadding about a lot more than I usually do these days, especially since I moved from NYC. And it’s been super-wonderful: being a city girl is kind of in my blood. After all, I lived in them for so long during some very formative years. I have the instincts and inclination towards exploration, adventure and, yes, public transportation that living and working and playing in cities seems to spark in people.

A city, of course, is a type of enchantment: a playground for curiosity and experience. And the wonderful thing about my wanderings and adventures in Chicago is feeling my mind wow and flutter in new combinations, even if the city is familiar with me. There’s just so much to see and take in, starting with the visual inspiration on the street:

Or even the skyline:

And of course, there is access to world-class cultural resources, like the amazing “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” exhibition I caught at the Art Institute of Chicago, which I’ll write about more in detail later because I found it so rich and intellectually stimulating:

And I got to do things like go to Pitchfork and eat at Cosi (my favorite city chain), take the subway and drink at semi-fancy places. Cities constantly renew themselves, if only because there’s always an influx of new people, new endeavors, new ideas. It was easy for me to slip back into “city mode.” But there were some differences, some things very different about me this time around that changed the way I experience the city and everything it has to offer.