An Artist Trading Card of mine. Make your dreams a reality.

An Artist Trading Card of mine. Make your dreams a reality.

I’m not new here. In fact, I’m what some of you may refer to as a veteran blogger (but I’m not really. I know a few who’ve been doing this way longer). But before I was a blogger with a column in one of my favorite magazines, I was a writer with a dream.

It was a simple dream, really. I was eight when I decided I was going to write books one day and maybe 10 when I dug my (obviously clueless) heels in and selected Canadian middle-grade author Gordon Kormon as my basis for having my own books on the shelves by the time I was 13. That’s how he did it and it seemed simple enough. Write a full-length middle grade novel for an English assignment and blow the socks off my teacher who would then prep the manuscript for me to send to publishing houses and wait for the offers to start rolling in.

Seemed easy enough, right? Seemed would be the key word here.

An original Ink Drawing: Show of Strength

An original Ink Drawing: Show of Strength

I could lie and say I totally rocked my pie in the sky three-Year- Plan but it wouldn’t even be a good lie. And to be honest, I’m pretty sure the chocolate-flavored angst that followed the year I turned 13 and realized I had failed at life, consequently sending me spiraling into my first midlife-crisis, is the kind of angst every good writer needs tucked up inside. This is the kind of inner-artistic-creative-crazy IAMTHEBESTWRITEREVER tempered, naturally with Doubt (IAMTHEWORSTWRITEREVER) and a smidgen of necessary self-righteousness (thoseASSHOLESdon’tknowTALENTDammit!), that I think most writers would refer to as our inner drive. It’s the source of our creativity and the reason we keep going when agents tell us our platform sucks because a platform that doesn’t exist usually does. As do the platforms that aren’t big enough to guarantee 10,000 copies sold if a publisher were to bite.

Sleepy Moon Series: Moon # 4 of 15.

Sleepy Moon Series: Moon # 4 of 15.

Honestly, it’s pure ego that keeps those of us with vision boards and high school classmates to impress at the next reunion from just saying Fuck It and changing our name to Snooki before querying again because platforms mean name recognition and publicity, not innate writing ability and Stop Looking at me Like That. I didn’t  say I think Snooki can’t write or ask the Gods of all Things Literary why agents don’t just stop telling us that we need anything other than a reality show, a bump it, and a good spray tan because Really? No, my friends. I didn’t say anything of the sort.

That would be unprofessional.

*Nods head solemnly*

Another ATC/ACEO card. I love making these and using bits of Kathy Murillo's paper from her Michael's line in my work.

Another ATC/ACEO card. I love making these and using bits of Kathy Murillo’s paper from her Michael’s line in my work.

What I said was that I didn’t get a book deal the first time out the gate ‘cuz I was 13 and nowhere near ready to be published. What I did get was secure in my identity as a writer. I called my friends at 11 p.m. at night on school days with my newest essay on Life and All Things Hormonal, freshly typed out on my new typewriter, and read to them the words that formed the path I was (and still am) dead-set on following. That’s all well and good, except that in telling myself I was a writer, I inadvertently also told myself that I was only a writer.

Imagine my surprise when I sat down just last year to hand draw a set of animal note cards for a homeschool lesson and The Husband — all sweet and surprised-like — told me that my drawing didn’t suck. High praise, you guys. High praise.

But it was enough to send me into an entirely new direction, complete with watercolor pencils and acid-free drawing paper and an etsy shop in which I sometimes remember to post my latest little creation. Even with art being commissioned by friends and strangers alike and the occasional sale from the artsy things I did manage to post, I still had a really hard time referring to myself as an artist. And don’t even get me started on the inner-struggle I wasted five minutes on regarding the Being a Photographer thing. I am a writer, remember? I couldn’t possibly be more than that because that’s all I had ever allowed myself to be. Until, at least, I accidentally remembered I wasn’t too shabby at this drawing and painting and mixed media thing and stopped telling myself I couldn’t be more than I thought I was.

Original Mixed Media: Autobiography by Pauline Campos

Original Mixed Media: Autobiography by Pauline Campos

We can all be more than we are because we already are more than we realize, usually. All we need to do is own our own potential.

And if that doesn’t work, I suggest talking to yourself like you would your crazy talented and inspiring BFFs who you swear to God you are going to bitch-slap if they don’t stop minimizing themselves and their talents and just say Thank You for once because Dammit, that’s what you do when someone pays you a compliment, already. Honestly, it’s like we can’t create enough variations on the “I look good? But look at this ASS! No way, Bestie, YOU LOOK GOOD!’ ‘Really? BUT THIS TUMMY FLAB!’” bullshit we seamlessly fall into when trying to compliment our Best Amigas. Why can’t we just learn to shut up and take a fucking compliment?

Good Hair Day. Photo by Pauline Campos

Good Hair Day. Photo by Pauline Campos

We can pay them forward all day long and we mean them when we say them to the women we care about. Which makes me think I had the “Stop Defining Yourself Through Other People’s Eyes” thing wrong. Maybe we need to do the exact opposite, if the Other People are the ones telling us that we are Beautiful, Smart, Important, Talented, Funny, Inspiring, and Chingona to the hilt, that is. Maybe it’s the perspective change that we need because we’ve been brainwashed to always see ourselves as Less Than because Celebrating Ourselves is seen as improper and stuck up  –  which is complete and utter bullshit, y’all.

Bull…

Shit.

So maybe the trick is to start with changing the inner dialogue and swapping our own internal Critical Tia for that of a good friend. Look in the mirror and let HER tell YOU why you are All Things Fabulous. You’ll know you’re doing it wrong if you suck at being a friend and tell your besties that they suck at that thing that they secretly think they might be sort of good at. If that’s the case, I’m betting your friendship circle totally gets bigger if you give my way a try. You can thank me later.

A Mile in Her Shoes. Photo by Pauline Campos

A Mile in Her Shoes. Photo by Pauline Campos

Obviously, I eventually got over myself — at least in this particular case — and that was a good thing. I’m still a writer. But now, I’m more. And I like it that way.

Now it’s your turn. I don’t often ask for comments on my writing here, but the point of this Aha! Moment of mine is that we all could use a reminder here and there to swing our hips a bit more confidentially and to stop playing the Humble Card because Self-Pride is entirely underrated. Whether you are a proud member of the #ChingonaFest community or a writer, blogger, or fledgling underwater basket weaver, you are always more and capable of so much more than which you give yourself credit. Always Celebrate Who You Are. No One Else is Going to Do It For You. That’s one of my most popular Chingonafest quotes, and for good reason. We are too often told that , as women and, for many of us, as women of color, that we aren’t supposed to be anything but humble and unsure of ourselves outside of cultural and societal dictates.

I’m a writer. An Artist. A Mother. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Photographer. Friend.

I’m creative, driven, bull-headed, caring, bitchy, sarcastic, and sassy.

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I’m that and I’m more and I’m ready to be open to the possibilities of what and who I may become tomorrow and proud of who I was yesterday, just as I am of myself and my capabilities today. And this is where I leave the ball in your court.

Tell me, amigas

Who are YOU?

 

 

What follows is what you would call a composite in the journalism world, Based On a True Story on the Lifetime Channel, and enough reason for the psychiatrist to up my Prozac dosage seeing as how the conversation didn’t actually happen.

Well, okay, it did. Kind of. But I basically spared y’all the commercials over the past two years and boiled it down for for everyone to be able to follow along. Except for HC_Palmquist, who didn’t realize until she was halfway through reading the first drat that she doesn’t have to be physically present to be this funny.

Me: I finished the book. Now what?

HC Palmquist: You write a query. My sister has a workshop she teaches for that. You should sign up.

Me: I’ll look into it. After I send the Pure and Obvious Genius I have penned out to the top agents on my list and wait for them to all start tripping over each other with contracts in hand. I promise to at least look like I wasn’t expecting it when the day comes.

Four minutes and no responses later…

HC Palmquist: So how’s that Pure and Obvious Genius thing working out for you?

Me: *Honestly confused* I’m not sure. I don’t have any responses yet. And that’s mainly because I’m not counting the ones that said no.

HC Palmquist: Maybe you need to check out CJ’s workshop?

Me: I’ll look into it.

HC Palmquist: Sure you will.

Me: Okay, I won’t. It’s not like I need that kind of help. I mean, I’m not an inexperienced writer or anything. I didn’t start writing yesterday, you know. I even have Published Clips from the newspapers I worked at and freelanced for. Hell, I stepped over puddles of blood at the scene of fatal car accidents to avoid pissing off the fire chief, for crying out loud, and stood This Close to People Eventually Convicted of Murder while covering their trials. I think I can handle a fucking query.

five minutes and six query revisions later…

HC Palmquist: How’s the query writing going?

Me: I think I’d rather present The Husband with an itemized expense report showcasing my extensive “Oh So and So sent me THAT RAMDOM THING I FOUND ON ETSY thing for free hoping I’d mention it on my blog collection and wait for the steam to stop pouring out of his ears.

HC Palmquist: But the experience! The Clips! The pools of blood!

Me: Right…I can do this thing…

Fifteen minutes and nine more revisions later…

Me: I can’t fucking do this. How the HELL am I supposed to convince a perfect stranger who has no idea how utterly AWESOME my book is that my book should be a, you know, BOOK in the BOOK STORES on their SHELVES for PEOPLE to BUY with a one page letter? I SUCK at writing letters. That’s why God invented email.

HC Palmquist: Don’t tell me you haven’t looked up agents that accept e-queries.

Me: *Eyes shimmer with faint hope*

HC Palmquist: But you still have to write it in the same format.

Me: Shit.

Two minutes and forty-five revisions later...

Me: I think I finally have something here.

HC Palmquist: Good. Maybe this time you won’t embarrass yourself completely when an agent finds a query with your name on it in their inbox.

Me: You mean like that time I wrote Muff Top?

HC Palmquist: Yeah. That.

Me: I was really hoping that one would have worked based on the humor factor alone. I mean, really. That would have made a kick-ass How I Got My Agent story for  Chuck Sambuchino.

HC Palmquist: No arguments here. Now, back to the query…and the workshop?

Thirty minutes and fifty more queries circulating in Publishing Land.

Me: This one is SO going to work. I mean, it’s PURE and OBVIOUS GENIUS REVISITED. And Friends A-Z all agree it’s SOOOOOO much better than the first one I sent out (shut up) so that means it’s practically perfect. Now, how long is appropriate to wait before agreeing to a contract? I don’t want to look desperate or anything.

HC Palmquist: At least three seconds. Anything sooner and you just look like a whore.

Me: Thanks for the tip. *Sits back to wait for Happy in the Inbox.*

Six months later and still waiting….

HC Palmquist: So, not that you are interested or anything, but my sister is offering her last query workshop ever next week.

Me: I think I’m signing up.

HC Palmquist: *Falls over dead*

Me: Seriously. I obviously have no fucking clue what I am doing and need serious guidance and CJ obviously knows what she’s doing.

HC Palmquist: *recovering quickly* Ok, I’ll send you the link.

Three days later

Me: Why didn’t you tell me my query SUCKED ASS and I needed this workshop LAST YEAR before I blew that shiny first impression with that crap copy? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOUR SISTER IS A QUERY GENIUS???????

HC Palmquist: *Wondering if I know what Twitter is and how I have never heard of CJ Redwine, the fact that she has an agent, a book deal, and a clue.* Oh? *blinking innocently* Right. My bad.

 

I need a platform.
And while Platform The Secret Agent Monkey seems to have taken over my blog, I doubt he alone is going to make me Famous Enough to get an agent or a book deal. But don’t tell The Husband that. I’m still working on convincing him that I need a finger monkey or my dreams will never come true.
Until that happens, I need to come up with some other Platform Building plans. Right now I am considering any and all of the following:

*Move to Jersey Shore. Make friends with Snooki. Steal a Bumpit. Make it work with my Mexifro. Say something to piss Snooki off (on camera, of course) and let her beat me up (on camera, of course). When she offers hush money to keep me from suing, I counter offer with a contract with her agent and give her back the Bumpit I stole from her dressing room. It didn’t work for me, anyway. Then? Wait for book deal.
*Divorce The Husband. Move to Hollywood. Shack up with a Rock Star. Divorce Rock Star after granting exclusive interviews to the paparazzi hiding in my garbage cans. Move back in with The Husband (who was totally in on the plan) and grant more exclusive interviews to the paparazzi I invited over for pizza. Wait for book deal.
*Get pregnant with 15 babies at the same time. Force The Husband into a reality show he wants nothing to do with. Make sure to get all the free plastic surgery I can while my 15 minutes is still riding strong and a few more when no one will touch me except for my garbage paparazzi crew. But I draw the line at the reverse claw mullet. My Mexifro already has enough “character.” Wait for book deal.
*A murder rap. Wait for book deal.
*Buttercup’s cute enough, me thinks. Talk The Husband into moving to Questionable Parenting-ville so we can join up with the Toddlers and Tiara’s circuit. I figure just a few appearances is enough to get my name out there before Buttercup is scarred for life. (side note: this plans is banking on a sizable advance, since I’m gonna need a chunk to spring for the preventative therapy to keep my kid from going all Celebrity Rehab on me when she gets older as payback.) Also? Wait for book deal.
*Rob a bank. Get lipo and a boob life. And a tummy tuck. Oh, and cap my baby teeth.  Approach Sports Illustrated and get the cover. Parlay that experience into a television show host gig. Divorce The Husband so I can hook up with an ex-actor-turned-musician who is now only famous in Europe and in the States for being married to me. Wait for book deal.
*Buy a time machine with the leftover funds from the bank heist. Become a cute child actor who grows up to be a messed up adult who also happens to be broke now because I spent my millions on too much crack and crystal meth. Clean myself up, find and marry The Husband, have my Buttercup, and hire a ghost writer to pen my story, because being famous once is usually Famous Enough for a memoir to actually happen, even if it’s socially acceptable to not even be expected to write it yourself. And? I probably wouldn’t have to wait very long for that book deal.

I’m still working out the kinks, of course. The Husband is being all You’re crazy and Just Be Patient and You wrote a great book and it’s cute, but seriously?

I’m just me. I’m not a name. After I end up on the cover of The National Enquirer?

Oh yeah. That’s the ticket.

Platform? Here I come.

 

I got tired of sitting here with my thumb up my ass waiting for responses to a few queries still floating around in Publishing Land, what with not having a clue what I had even sent out to whom and all, so I took the initiative (read: HC Palmquist made me do it) and trolled through my gmail account to set up a proper excel sheet. You know, so I’d have half a clue.

I cringed at some of the quick form rejections, smiled at the You Don’t Suck, The Market Does responses, and even did a little jig when I saw an invitation to query an agent with future projects.

Then? I saw this:

Dear (Mystical Gatekeeper Agent Person),
When you see my query you also will see a very obvious typo…in the
title of my book. While I am known to typo more often than should be
legal, I am well aware of how to spell “Sane.” Unfortunately, I am
coming down with a cold and shivered while attempting to make the
correction. That is when my fingers hit send for me before my head
fixed the word.
I understand if this takes me out of the running for consideration.
But I did want to take a moment to explain myself.
Please have a wonderful weekend.

Sincerely,

Pauline M. Campos

So, who’s surprised that I never heard back from this agent?

Anyone? No?

Yeah…I figured as much.

 

@LukeRomyn: It’s a sad day when you Google yourself and the results tell you to get a life

Oops…that’s been happening to me a lot these days. I’m in the middle of my personal Sit and Wait after the Queries Phase hell, and believe you me, I am about ready to get a restaining order on myself with the sick sad obsessive online searching.

What will an agent find if they are interested enough to look beyond the query? (Read: I may have dropped one too many F-bombs in tonight’s tweet stream.)

So I decided to take a break on my new self-stalking hobby and stalk Mercedes Yardley instead. And for kicks? I asked her to stalk me.

Cue the Jeapordy theme.

Answer: Spend entirely too much time on facebook, twitter, fouresquare, and their own blogs under the guise of “research for their next project.”

Question: What does a writer actually do?

Mercedes is one of my favorite people on twitter. And not just because she beta read my entire manuscript in record time, either. And also not because she actually liked it. A lot. And definitely not because my middle name is her first. (Ok, that was really the reason I started following her, but our relationship has since moved far beyond the superficial. Seriously. I may even introduce her to my mother soon. After my mother gets a twitter account, that is.)

For the sake of my art, let us all pretend that Mercedes does not yet have an agent and is still toiling away in the Land of the Unpubbed like the rest of us, shall we? That makes it easier for me to justify Google stalking.

Let the games begin.

Did you know that Mercedes:

*can be found here on Twitter? Her most recent tweet to (how cool is this?) author Luke Romyn (as of the writing of this blog post) is as follows:

@mercedesmy: But…I want to believe.

*Blogs at A Broken Laptop. (Kick ass name, by the way.) A quick search of her blog tells me and my ninja-like skills that she loves stillettos, has killer legs, likes to build snowmen out of old liquor receipts and cocaine (after the kids have gone to sleep, of course), is gorgeous, knows how to market herself (hello PLATFORM!), and is just made of awesome.

*is not the first Mercedes Yardley you will find on Facebook. Trust me.

*is as eloquent as she is snarky (Just follow her on Twitter if you aren’t already.)

And that’s just page one. If you have no life like me or are an agent and in the business of doing this sort of thing for a really good reason, you’ll also find Mercedes on SheWrites (which also serves as a nice reminder to stop stalking myself and my friends for five minutes tomorrow to set up my own page. Ok, maybe six.)

I can’t wait to see what Mercedes dug up on me. I’m guessing lots of self-deprecatation and typos.

But really, it’s just a guess.

Now it’s your turn. Google yourself. And report back in the comments.

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