The TED talk all women should see

I try to start my workday with a TED talk. I wish I could say I do this daily, but sometimes I can’t. I usually do it when my work energy level is low or when I feel I need motivation to go with the work routine. Today I came across with “Why do ambitious women have flat heads?” by Dame Stephanie Shirley.  The title was enough to call my attention since sometimes when the talk’s title is too predictable, I might just pass it. But this one wasn’t and I’m glad I clicked it.

Dame Stephanie Shirley had it rough. She was one of the Jewish kids saved by being sent to families in northern England during the Second World War . She grew up in an era where women’s only objective was to get married and have kids. There were scarce work opportunities for them. I work in the software industry. Women in the 60’s didn’t just pursuit that area at all. But one woman did it. And this terrific woman showed nothing is impossible. Yes, there was a programming market in that era, believe it or not. If you want to know exactly how it worked, then you have to check the video.

Stephanie Shirley went through all the fights my generation didn’t have too. My generation won’t suffer that gender discrimination again. We have it easy. And what are we doing with our lives? We don’t aim high enough. We don’t dream big enough. We don’t do the fights for the next generations.

I invite you to watch the following TED talk (only 13 minutes of your time but worth your life change).

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The good experiences that come with writers conferences…

Well, I’m back from one of the most thrilling experiences in my life. For those who don’t know, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Writers Digest Conference in NYC. It was certainly an opportunity you don’t get to live very often and I’m glad I was able to take a part in it.

What did I learn? 

I think all can be summarized to the following points:

  • There’s still too much to learn – And it comes with time and experience. I haven’t read all the “must read” classic books or the “must read best sellers” yet, but I was relieved to find that at least I’ve read the most important/famous ones. A good fact to know is that not only it’s about reading the good old classics but also reading the latest best sellers; see what formula they’re using to be highly commercial in recent times. Old time formulas may not be suitable for these days anymore, i.e. you can’t write as Shakespeare anymore…
  • I seem to be not that lost – Yeah… this was kind of gratifying actually, because even though I was there to learn new things, it was good to know that I’ve been doing my share of work and that I’m not that lost in this world of books and publishing industry. Basics such as don’t put that your “family and mom loved your manuscript” or that “you’re sure you have the next best seller” in your query letter were already good known facts to me….It felt good to know that I was not swimming in the amateur waters anymore…

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  • I still have a long way – I’ve just finished my first novel and I’m one hundred per cent sure that I can do it better. I feel confident that I can plot and write better stories. I know the writing process will be easier each time (hopefully the revision process as well, which is the most terrifying one for me) Nevertheless, I feel pretty confident about my first project. There were tons of conference attendees who were already in their fourth or fifth book and still learning a lot…
  • I learned I can totally rock Pitch Slams – I think this was the main reason why I thought the conference was awesome. From the seven agents I pitched, I got requests from the seven. It was unbelievable. I managed to control my nervousness, forget that English is not my native language, and speak with confidence. I loved the process.
  • I can manage rejection much better now – I’ve already sent my material to the seven agents yesterday. One has already replied this morning saying that “it may not be for him” (I wonder why he seemed so interested in the pitch slam. Was it because he thought it well and decided it was not for him? we’ll never know…) But even if I get these sort of replies from the other six agents, it will only be the encouragement to keep growing stronger, to keep fighting. I made a good decent start, and the sky is the limit. I’ll continue with much force. I’ll do more research. I’ll read more books. I’ll write more. I’ll try harder. I don’t plan to give up, not now when I feel so full of energy 🙂

I read a couple of blog posts I wrote more than a year ago. In these posts I was still looking for my path. I didn’t know where I stood at that point, trying to find out my true passions, looking for courage to do what I really loved. I was trying to tell the people around me that maybe I was meant to do something different from my career; ashamed to share my longtime dreams. I felt unsure of any talents I had. Now, I feel on the right path. Even though it’ll take a while to reach my goals, I know for sure, that I’m on the right track this time. And I’m very thankful to God for that.

Beta Readers and the nerves of getting people to read your manuscript…

Well, currently I have 4 people reading my manuscript. Two of them are very good friends, one is my potential editor (we haven´t agreed on that yet), and another is an official Swap Beta Reader Partner (I don´t know if there is a term for that, just correct me if there is a better way say it.)

My SBRP (Swap Beta Reader Partner) was actually fun to find. I dig up into the Beta Readers Group from Goodreads and I found some people asking for beta readers. Of course, I knew that the best way to find a Beta Reader was by offering to read first for somebody else, so that maybe later, I could seek for the same favour in return. I was struggling to find an interesting manuscript blurb that I would love to read, one that would take me away from the books I´m reading now (Yes, I haven´t learned my lesson, I´m still reading several books at once, you can check out my previous post, to know what I mean). Anyway, a story blurb called my attention, it was a memoir manuscript. Memoirs are usually not my first pick when I go to bookstores, unless it comes from somebody famous (no celebrity type, but other interesting people). I must admit that I actually enjoyed all the memoirs I´ve ever read, so I thought it would be a good option to beta read for this author. I was thrilled to find out that she was willing to swap manuscripts, even better! that way I had somebody else guaranteed to read my manuscript in return.

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I´m thrilled about my SBRP. I´ve already started reading her manuscript, and although we set a time frame of 10 days, I´m about to reach half of her manuscript in less than 2 days. It´s really good and I´m looking forward to see it published. And this leaves me in an insecure state, I can´t stop worrying about my manuscript. I mean, I know it´s my first novel ever and that I still have a long path until I learn how to do it properly, but still I can´t avoid thinking: “OMG, what happens if she is hating my manuscript or she´s getting so bored that she can´t see a way to finish it?” I know, insecurities on first time writers are normal. I know many of us fear sharing our work. But I guess, I just have to deal with it and take the feedback as best as I can.

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I don´t fear too much the feedback from my friends (that´s why it´s necessary to get other beta readers besides your friends), because even though I asked them to be as honest as possible, I know they will try to do it in a way that doesn’t disencourage me.

How about you? For the people who write out there, did you face those fears when you had beta readers reading your work? I would love to hear your experience with beta readers. 

How to get your hand not to agree with you

My whole life, or since I can remember, I’ve been invaded by Ganglion cysts in my wrists. Those are small liquid balls that appear in your wrists for no apparent reason but to disturb your life. They usually come and go, but some of them like to stick around causing pain. I’ve already got them surgically removed twice, leaving “good looking” scars.

The thought about scars is that they always leave space for good stories, like the one on my right wrist that led this weird guy in a club approach and tell me that He used to do that but not anymore… it took me time to realize that he thought it was some sort drug mark or maybe suicide attempt (which would be dumb since veins are on the other side of the wrist), and when I told him No dude is not what you think, he told me something like Yeah I used to deny it too… anyway…

www canstockphoto com

Image source: www.canstockphoto.com

The problem now is that the “thing” as I call it, won’t go until my hand stops making “efforts”, the good doctor has advised me to use the wrist the least possible, type the least, which me having a full time job as a Technical Writer and having the long-time dream of becoming a Fiction writer, maybe be outputting… but I guess life is not always easy…

Luckily, there are always ways, and I’m happy that I found them. I’ve reduced my manuscript edition workload to the use of pen and paper, right hand is the good one this time (lucky me!), and I’ll see if I can find somebody later who can do all the computer typing. Also, typing at work has improved thanks to a recently acquired Ergonomic keyboard which is magnificent!  And since I had to be careful with the type of exercise I chose (one where I don’t use hands), I bought myself an AirClimber (my first Teleshopping – equivalent to QVC – purchase ever!) and I love it!.

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And although my hand may not agree with my writing duties and lifestyle, I still have found ways to overcome this situation. And you, have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? (it doesn’t have to involve ganglion cysts) 

Guest Post: Juni Desireé – fellow blogger and writer

When you enter the blogging world, not only you start communicating with the people that follow your blog, but also you start following other blogs you start connecting with. In my blogger journey I had the chance to meet many wonderful people whose blogs I love to read, one of those persons is Juni Desireé, a wonderful blogger and writer who has always struck me with her honest words and her openness to the world. She writes from her heart and she’s very passionate for everything she sets her mind into. I totally recommend following her blogs and checking out this interview for her future projects.
Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Juni Desireé (aka JD). My blog is called JD on a Page (http://jdonapage.wordpress.com). It’s a blog where I share my stories and the lessons I learn, in the hope that it offers something good to people. I also have a writing blog called Write to Wrestle (https://awrestlingwriter.wordpress.com).
I’m currently studying a Master of Writing and Literature and I’m working on a book about what I’ve learnt this year when I moved from Victoria to Queensland.
I love dogs! Everyone should have a dog; they make life better. And my favourite food is fish and chips with tartare sauce.
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How did you start writing?
My first memory of writing is when I was in my first year of primary school. We had to write a diary each week. I loved it and have been writing ever since. I started journal writing when I was eleven when my mum bought me a journal.