Archive for the Writing Category


Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2010 by Sara Lilly

(Don’t read this is if you haven’t seen the movie. It’s not a review, more like an analysis and just a reflection.)

Know these things about me:

1. I’m a film fanatic.
2. I am pathetically obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio. (Really. It’s quite sad, actually. At work, when people buy cigarettes and they’re obviously old enough, I type in his birthday [11.11.1974] when prompted by the computer.)
3. I am in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
4. Ellen Page is one of my favorite actresses.
5. I was excited as FUCK to see Inception because of the above reasons.

I also had my qualms. I am not an action movie person. In fact, I used to hold a rather cynical point of view on action films. I believed they required no acting nor writing, just–bedazzle. Explosions! Hoorah!  A gunshot! Inception completely cured me of all my prejudices.

I absolutely adore this film. I cannot even express how much I love it. I have not felt this way about a movie in a very long time–I am compelled to see it again, and again, and again. (Today was my second time and I have every intention of going for a third and fourth.)

This is going to be cheesy–but, I feel so connected to this film because of my own personal experiences with dreams. As stated before, I’ve lost a friend to suicide. I’ve had realistic, extremely vivid, emotional dreams with my lost friend at the center. I’ve spoken to him. During my worst episodes of grief, I desparately prayed to God to let me sleep longer–forever even, if I could just see him and talk to him some more because of the utter relief I experienced in those dreams. Seeing him was like a huge weight off my shoulders and I felt so genuinely happy and excited because he was alive again.

But he’s not. He’s dead. It took me years and a therapist to come to terms with that so I could finally accept reality and live my life without regrets and without thinking, “I should have helped him.”

This movie was just so…AHHH, I can’t even think of the right words. It was so me, on so many levels. It has easily made it on my list as one of my favorite movies of all time.

By the way–the ending? (If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re still reading this, stop. Now.) I can’t accept that he was dreaming. My first instinct after seeing it the initial time was that it was real. I still feel that it was real. Maybe I want to because that’s the only way I relate to it. I feel that if it ends in a dream, the movie proved nothing. I think Nolan is a better writer than one who writes a circular narrative. In fact, he’s a fucking brilliant writer and deserves a giant, shiny Oscar for the phenomenal screenplay.

I cannot wait to see it for the third time.


I Write Too Much?

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Sara Lilly

I realize my last post came off as very snobby. Sorry. I’m sitting in Seattle’s Best in Borders and writing again. Is it normal to update a blog all the freaking time? I keep having ideas in my head and I keep feeling like sharing them though no one is hardly reading this. Someone is. In fact…seventeen people today. Yay. I’m famous. 17. Wooot.

So I mentioned bad pop culture references in my last post. (Someone trying to allude to the Karate Kid by wrongfully quoting “Wax on, wax off” as “Wash on, wash off”.) A friend of mine in my writing class two semesters ago said something clever about pop culture references: always use ones that aren’t well known.

How’s this? It’s a short excerpt from my novel. The narrator is reflecting on a movie his girlfriend liked when he’s thinking of what to do with his brother. Can you guess what movie…

Sara had this movie she liked—it was about these two male prostitutes who drove around the Pacific Northwest on a busted motorcycle. They did drugs, slept around with an old German guy, and even ventured into Europe. One of them was a rich kid, set to inherit all this money when he turned twenty-one. He said he’d stop his antics then and make a huge turnaround.

My brother Drew is a rich kid and a borderline alcoholic. He and I drove to the Midwest in a dilapidating, ugly, yellow Dodge. Drew is set to go to the best college in the world when he turns eighteen, and he swears he’ll stop his drinking then. I got to make sure of that—he might end up in Idaho with a man named Hans for all I know.  I’m probably letting that movie pervert my judgment, but once you see it in film, shit, you never know what can happen next in reality.

How to Submit a Manuscript. It’s Simple. I Promise.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Sara Lilly

My office is dead. 

I haven’t read anything in days so I thought I’d write for a while. I’ve learned a lot of things from interning at this lit agency, notably: 1) I don’t want to work in publishing and 2) So many “writers” have no idea what they’re doing.

Tell me if this is common sense or not. When you submit your story to an agency, never, I mean NEVER put a dedication, a quote, pictures, or any sort of thing like that in the manuscript. You come off as being an egotistical schmuck. Really.

What’s more is, you are trying to be “hired” by an agent so you better as hell, make sure your manuscript is formatted correctly. I don’t care if you’re a genius; if you show up to a job interview in pajamas and a stained sweatshirt with dirt on your face, you’re not getting the job. If you submit a manuscript ridden with typos, grammar errors and a fucking quote in the beginning–you’re not getting the job!

For writers, this is how you format a manuscript. It’s extremely simple and can be found out simply from googling “How to format a manuscript.” It’s what I googled when I tried submitting. Everyone has their own take on it but this is the basic format:

1) Cover page. In the center of the front page, put the title, your name, and how many words it is. By God, do not put 55,628–round up. 55, 628=56,000.
2) Font. Anything legible works, though the standard is either Times New Roman or Courier New, size 12, double-spaced. Try to go for 250 words per page because that’s the usual in a typical book.
3) Heading. On each page, put your last name and the title of the work.
4) For every new chapter, start a new page.

That’s it. Isn’t that simple? How come people can’t do that? Two other things that irritate the SHIZ out of me (yes, I said shiz) when reading manuscripts:
1) Wrong pop culture references. I was reading something that was trying to allude to the Karate Kid. They misquoted the most famous line as “Wash on, wash off.” It was a smack forehead moment. “WAX on WAX off.”
2) Wrong use of quotation marks. I hope to teach creative writing one day at a college level, and I will make it clear in the beginning of class that if anyone misuses quotation marks, I will take off five points immediately. I’ve seen all of this:
“Hi.” Said Joe Schmoe.
“Hi” said Joe Schmoe.
“Hi said Joe Schmoe.”
“WHAT” cried Joe Schmoe!
“WHAT?” Cried Joe Schmoe.

Note to people who do the above: Read a book.  

I’m mean, aren’t I? Maybe. In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo walked the same street that I do every Thursday and Friday. Except he walked there last Tuesday. Oh snap.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Sara Lilly

In The Heights by Peter Hedges, character Tim Welch instructs the people at a dinner party to simply think about what they find beautiful. What moves them, he wants to know. Here’s my list: (in no particular order)

1. Dark theater. Lit screen. Film.
2. Smell of coffee beans in a cafe.
3. New book.
4. Bouquets.
5. Empty highway.
6. Sunrise.
7. Window seat at the cafe.
8. Blank paper.
9. New pens.
10. 219 Poetry anthology. (I wish that sounded prettier.)
11. Breakfast table.
12. Tracy Chapman
13. Best friend hugs.
14. The Hidden Words.
15. J.D. Salinger
16. Snuggling with Simba, my sister’s cat.
17. Long rides with my Ipod.
18. Ice cream.
19. Starbucks Lemon Loaf
20. Starbucks Earl Gray Tea Latte.
21. New York.
22. Immersing myself in the ocean of His words…
23. Yankee Stadium at night.

Stop be now before it gets too long…


Posted in Love, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2010 by Sara Lilly

I’m writing in this practically everyday now because the boss is on vacation and there are no manuscripts coming to my desk to read at work. So, I pass the time by playing FreeCell, this donating-rice thing my co-worker sent me a link to, and this. (ADD moment: Holland just took the lead over Brazil! WHA?!)

My friend and I drink tea every Sunday night together like old women. We laugh, we cry–really, we do. I was talking to her about my frustration over the shitty manuscripts I read because some of these “writers” think anyone can write a book. That’s offensive to me and one of my co-workers as writers. It’s like telling a heart surgeon, “Anyone can perform a triple bypass!”  (ADD moment #2: Felipe Melo was just red-carded after having scored an own goal earlier. Shit, the Brazilians are going to kill him.) I told my friend I can’t stand people who try to be what they’re not, who claim to be something deep and yet they’re so empty–

“I know where that feeling started,” she said, “and why you get so worked up about it.”
“It started when our friend died and this girl wore jeans and a tank top to his funeral.”

I still vividly remember sitting between two guy friends and looking across the aisle at this girl. She was blonde and had on a red spaghetti strap tank top and blue jeans. Her hair was back in a ponytail and she was pressing away on the keys of her cell phone. I was filled with unbelievable frustration and mostly anger–what the fuck was she doing there? Was she just hanging out for the sake of telling everyone she went? That level of disrespect was such a low blow. It probably sounds so trivial to people reading this but my and my friends entire lives changed forever because one death and here was this girl, in beach clothes, on her cell phone. She probably went to the mall afterwards and said something like, “Oh yeah, I went to the funeral–sad. So you want to get your nails done?”

 My best friend cried every day for a year. I was sitting in therapy four years later. And the girl who showed up to the funeral in jeans went on just fine.

Whenever I see someone doing something shallow or being immature or submitting a shitty manuscript that they think is gold, I think of the girl at his funeral in the red tank top and jeans.

The Heights

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2010 by Sara Lilly

Peter Hedges’ comment inspired me to read his new book. I downloaded the e-book version to my mom’s Nook and then went to Borders and bought my own hardcopy.  I hate e-books. After a class last semester known among its students as “English Boot Camp” I am incapable of reading without a pencil or highlighter. I can’t pencil or highlight an e-book so paper is the way to go for me. My mom and I run a very informal book club between the two of us. We collectively enjoy the work of Russo, Nabokov and Khaled Hosseini. She has a love affair with the writing of Ian McEwan–I have yet to even read Atonement. I’ve discovered that she hates the British humor that I enjoy (Evelyn Waugh) and I don’t have much of an interest in detective agencies in Botswana. We’re a good match the two of us though.

Anyway, to get back to my original point. I drift a lot from topic to topic because my brain thinks faster than my mouth lets me speak or fingers let me type. Okay. Really, this time, I’ll start writing about what I set out to write. The Heights by Peter Hedges. I’ve only gotten to page 40 or so between last night and fifteen minutes ago when I sat at the counter at the Park Avenue Borders with my cold veggie burger, office-snatched Gatorade and 100-calorie pack of Cheez-Its. So far I’m surprised/impressed by a couple of things:

1) He’s like a chameleon with narrative voices. Aside from random moments here and there, there’s not  a breath of Gilbert Grape in the first person consciousness of either Kate or Tim.

2) It has a light Revolutionary Road aura. I loveeeee Revolutionary Road and The Heights is already far more comedic than Road was, (for those who have not read the book nor seen the movie, it’s a depressing tale of the pitfalls of suburbia) but something remains in it that constantly reminds me of the absolutely amazing Richard Yates novel.

3) The author has something about big age differences and sexual tension. Gilbert Grape had three notable hookups: one involved the title character who was 24 with a 40-something woman. Another was the title character with a 15-year-old and the last was a 16-year-old with a 27 (or 29?) year old. They’re all a little weird but it’s interesting–it’s like a moral dilemma. It’s a, “This is wrong but I can’t stop reading,” kind of thing. *edit: Why does this strike me as weird–I wrote an entry about me and a 28-year-old.

That’s all for now. Like I said, it’s page 40. I enjoy it so far though. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Oh, so in tradition of my last post “I Think I’ll Feign Fainting,” I started a short story called “How Max Mitz Feigned Fainting and Brought Down an Entire Corporation.” It’s the most ridiculous, absurd thing I’ve ever written. Maybe it’ll turn out well or maybe it’ll just be ridiculous and absurd. Who the fuck knows?


I Think I’ll Feign Fainting.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by Sara Lilly

I’ve already said I’m a miserable cashier at a fucking grocery store for half the week. The other half, I’m a slave to a multi-millionaire literary agent. While neither job is particularly satisfactory to me in my going-on-20-degree-seeking-student stage of life, if I had to pick just one to do all summer–I’d pick slave. Does this show how much I truly hate being a cashier? How much it makes my skin crawl? How I want to leap over the counter and punch some customers in the face and the only thing that keeps me in my place is, “You’re getting paid. It’s shitty but, you’re getting paid.”

The front end is run by a group of young people who thrive on making their cashiers’ lives miserable because they realize that they will never have another opportunity in their life to be a boss. To be fair, (because that sounded harsh) I directed that last statement to a select three people whom I’d like to ask every now and then, “Hey, what is it that you DO exactly?” The group of young people, particularly three who I have in my mind, make it their duty to enforce the long list of absolutely absurd rules:

1) No drinking on the register. (But it’s a 100 degrees!)
2) No leaning. (But I’ve been standing here for 7 1/2 hours!)
3) There is no reading on the register. (But it’s 7 AM. There’s no one here.)
4) Stand in front of your register. (What. Really? C’mon.)
5) No purses behind the register. (Huh?)
6) No unrelated work conversation. (…there’s no one here.)

None of these rules apply to the group of young people who run the front end. They are free to drink their water, go on coffee runs, dinner runs as they read through things and laugh about unrelated work conversations.

I’m going to purposely faint one of these days. I’ll sigh and go down to the floor and when they ask how I was feeling I’ll say, “I needed water. But you wouldn’t let me have any.” I’ll then call the local media and have my workplace exposed as a sweat shop posing as a grocery store. Mwahaha.

The end.

Oh. One last story about the front-end running kids:

I’m also a flower girl at work. I cover the permanent florists’ vacations and go there on holidays and whenever I’m needed. I worked full time there before I quit for the past semester. Anyway, on Mother’s Day, you had better believe the floral department was packed. My co-worker and I got there at 6 AM and by 10 AM, we ran out of flowers. Literally. We were out. They had to run to the other store 10 miles away to pick up more. Amidst five girls (2 of whom knew exactly what they were doing), tissue paper going everywhere and rose petals, the phone was ringing. We’re all stripping roses, curling ribbons and wrapping daisies. The phone goes unanswered. Twice more it rings before I finally pick up the phone.

“Floral department,” I say, exasperated.
“Hi, it’s me,” says catty voice from the front end. “A lady has a question about flowers and she’s yelling at us because no one in floral is answering. So can you learn to pick up your phone when someone calls?”
Oh God, I’m not someone for cursing out anybody. I took a deep breath and said,
“Go ahead and tell her it’s Mother’s Day in the floral department. Goodbye.”
I hung up. Yes.