thelizbrownshow

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Rejection Project Month 2 Report: Two ‘Nos’ and a Baby

In My Life and Shit, Project Rejection, Uncategorized on March 3, 2016 at 3:42 pm

rejected stamp

February was quite a month over at Rejection Central (my apartment). In the second month of my quest for a year filled with rejection, I’ve already DOUBLED my success rate. If you’re new on the scene, you can read about the 2016 Ultimate Rejection Project here

In January, I scored a piddly ONE rejection off the 15 submissions of articles, scripts, videos and pitches I sent out into the world. This month? I got TWO! But they weren’t just any two. This month, I hit the crown jewel of rejections. I got a “no” from the New York Times!!!

queen elizabeth (2)

She may be Queen of England, but I bet she never got rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES!

“But Liz,” you may be thinking. “Doesn’t pretty much EVERYONE get rejected by the New York Times?”

No dude. No, they don’t. To be IGNORED AND DELETED by the New York Times may be a commonplace occurrence, but to actually get rejected by them? It takes a lot of work. I submitted a super personal essay to the NYT’s parenting blog months ago. I got ignored. I sent it again. Ignored. Then I sent it a third time with a pushy note about how highly relevant it was and tying it to a popular hard news story. Then, I got back a heart-stopping, soul-inflating personal email back from the editor. She said “I’m thinking about this one.”

Ermagerd ermagerd erma-GERD!!!! It was a “maybe!!!!”I was up for consideration. By the fancy-pantsiest news source in the world. Cut to a full week of me dance-a-brating to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory everywhere I went.

lady gaga edge of glory

Aaaaaaaaaand then I got a “No.” It was a thoughtful “no” though. It was a “no” with an explanation and a pat on the back. “Keep writing,” she said.

Some very smart, fancy pants writers I know said I should consider it a huge accomplishment. And I do. I mean,…it’s not the accomplishment I WANTED, but I do have a crowning achievement for my Rejection Project just two months in. Plus, it inspired me to send my article to a slew of other places, which earned me ANOTHER very supportive rejection letter from an editor who said she’d love to use the story, but was quitting her job in a week so wouldn’t have a chance to feature it.

I made a commitment last month to attempt to double the amount of submissions that I made in an effort to up my rejection harvest, but one week into the month I got slightly sidetracked by giving birth….

liz with peanut

In case you were about to tell me “that’s no excuse Liz!” I want you to know that the night I came home from the hospital I DID attempt to submit my drama pilot in the Sundance Episodic Storytelling Lab competition, but there was this…like…BABY in the house? And he was like….CRYING and stuff, so at 11:56 PM, 3 minutes before the deadline, I had to accept that there was no way in Hell I was going to be able to pull a descriptive essay on the story arc of the entire first season of my imagined series out of my butt. Sorry Redford. You’ll have to wait until next year.

I did send out a slew of query letters for my novel on the last day of the month, and I don’t want to spoil next months post, but lemme just say things are looking good when it comes to me getting smacked down in March!

2016: The Year of Rejection

In My Life and Shit, Project Rejection on January 3, 2016 at 1:17 pm

rejection no 1

2016 is going to be a painful year, and not just because I plan to squeeze a giant baby out of my delicate lady parts sometime around Valentine’s Day. The pain of giving birth is supposed to be, like, “difficult” and stuff, but I have something potentially more excruciating planned for my new year. I am making 2016 into my “Ultimate Year of Rejection.”

I’m a writer. I’ve actually made a living doing it for a few of the greatest years of my life, but it’s not exactly an easy life to sustain. Over the past few years, most of my writing has been unpaid, for spec projects that I hope will one day become things people actually read or see on TV. I’ve got a novel (it’s dark but funny), two pilots (dark, but funny), a handful of articles (yup…dark/funny…OK one of them is JUST dark), and a massive clusterfuck of pitches and proposals that swirl around my brain with the furious intensity of a drunken Tasmanian Devil.

And this is the year every single one of them gets rejected by the whole world.

I can be a pretty negative person, but not this year. This year I’m actually seeking out the thing that has crushed my fragile little artsy soul for so many years of my life: rejection. Fear of rejection has had me cowering like an ill-treated pound puppy for most of my life.

I run from it. I lament it. I wail and tantrum over my lack of success and tell myself every “no” is a confirmation that I am a talentless nobody who should give up and leave the art to the people who actually have something worth saying. But this year is going to be different. This year I will find success in my failure because I’m going to fearlessly seek it out.

I am setting a goal to acquire 50 official rejection letters for my writing this year—articles, scripts, pitches, proposals, agent queries, publishing house pleas and contest courtships.

rejected image 2

It’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. You might think that I could just find 50 places to submit my work and just wait for the negativity to roll on in, but I’ve learned something profoundly sad over the past few years. Rejection letters aren’t always so easy to come by. Most places I’ve sought to place my work don’t even have the common courtesy to tell me to go fuck myself. They just ignore what I’ve sent them and never respond at all. So, to get 50 real rejection letters I estimate I’ll have to send out my work to at least 100 places—probably a lot more.

Now, instead of dreading checking my email inbox to find out if my hopes of writing superstardom have once again been dashed for the umpteenth time, I can eagerly await the joyful resounding “No’s” of national magazines, novel agents, network fellowships and literary agents and collect them all in a pretty little binder that I can flip through whenever I need to feel a sense of accomplishment.

It’s going to be a great year.

Oh, and I’m going to have a baby.

cute baby

Liz Brown 2015: Her Year in Numbers

In My Life and Shit, Rants, Uncategorized on December 31, 2015 at 9:38 pm

(NOTE: THIS LIST IS ALMOST ENTIRELY ACCURATE)

Prescription and non-prescription drugs given up: 6
Cats euthanized: 1
Human babies created: 0.85

preggers announcement
Panic attacks experienced: 103
Pounds gained: 37
Hours spent in the basement of CBS: 4,000
Pilot scripts completed: 2
Spec scripts completed: 1
Minutes of original stand-up written: 18
Dollars paid in student loan interest: $3358
Dollars paid to student loan principal: $337
Years left in debt for a degree I don’t use: 29
Articles published in the New York Times: 0
Novels rewritten: 1
Hours spent in individual therapy: 102
Hours spent in group therapy: 96
Puppets acquired: 2
Hours spent learning puppetry from the REAL ELMO KEVIN CLASH: 36

essence outside

Commercials booked: 0
Yoga classes taken: 79
Most baths taken in one day: 4
Weeks spent pregnant: 34
iPhones broken: 1
Pounds of pizza consumed: 6 (approximate)
Hours spent listening to Beastie Boys: 195
Viewings of “Breaking Bad” from beginning to end: 1
(Cumulative total of “Breaking Bad” full series viewings: 6)
Hours spent worrying about things completely beyond my control: 3,106
Tiny newborn baby bunny suits purchased: 1

gap sherpa bunny suit

Pairs of shoes purchased: 2
Minutes spent successfully meditating: 30
Hours spent on Facebook: 934

Thank you, and goodnight,…. ‪#‎HappyNewYear‬

Holy shit. I’m a sex writer.

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm

‘Tis a glorious day in the world of Liz Brown.

I had my first piece published on LA Weekly’s ‘After Dark’ Sex Blog today, and now even IIII know I’m a real-live professional writer.  For a sex blog.

Please God, don’t let me ever be THIS annoying:

If you know me personally, you have some idea how hilarious it is that I’m now passing myself off as a sexpert. The wildest sexual thing I’ve ever done is watch ‘Requiem for a Dream’.  If you don’t know me personally, feel free to envision me as a Goddess of Sexual Knowledge. Either way, you’d better read my shit. There WILL be a quiz.

Check out my first LA Weekly After Dark piece here:

5 Sexy Condom Tips for More ‘Pro-Phylactic’ Safe Sex

Slow going: a rewriter’s lament

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I love having a big project to work on piece by piece, day by day–except when I hate it.

I started rewriting the first draft of my novel about a week ago. I”ve turned 35 single-spaced first draft pages into 25 double-spaced second draft pages, which means I threw out a whole lot of stuff in my first 35. I guess that was to be expected. The beginning of my first draft is sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. There are at least four alternate story lines going on, so I chucked the pages from the three I’m not using and a few more pages of mortifyingly cheesy dialogue between the main character and a character that totally doesn’t exist anymore.

The whole beginning of the book was feeling pretty sluggish to me. Besides this novel, the majority of my writing experience has come in the form of blog posts and sketch comedy–two places where you need to get your point across immediately or risk having your audience tune out. In the first draft of my novel, nothing happened for the first thirty pages. Now, in the second draft, I’m making the opening line of the whole book an explanation of the premise.

There are a lot of great classic novelists who took their sweet time getting to “the point” in their books, giving fifty pages of historical context and their characters’ personal genealogy before revealing a single piece of action to their readers.

I don’t think I want to do that. I think I want to try to suck people in right away. I guess that will make my piece more pop culture-y than classic novel-y, but I guess that’s okay. I just want it to be good and for people to like it.

DEADLINE FOR SECOND DRAFT: FEBRUARY 29, 2012
FIRST DRAFT (SINGLE-SPACED) PAGES REWRITTEN: 35/250
SECOND DRAFT (DOUBLE-SPACED) PAGES COMPLETE: 25
DAYS LEFT:  51
PAGES LEFT TO REWRITE: 215 (Ouch. It hurts to even write that.)

I wrote a book. You can’t read it.

In Hello Giggles articles on January 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

The warped pages stained with spilled coffee prove this novel is totes legit. You still can’t read it though.

I spent just over three years writing the first draft of my first novel ever: three hundred-ish pages of dark comedy, darker tragedy and real life experiences thinly veiled in fiction.

I was preening like a kitten when I finished it this fall. I even thought of a really great last scene – and the perfect closing line. It was a totally fulfilling, empowering experience. I had done it. It was only a matter of time before I’d be crowned America’s newest contemporary literary genius. Once published, my dark, comic tale of a fragile heroine ravaged by cruelty of life’s day-to-day grind would become an underground hit. Then Oprah would read it and immediately announce she was coming out of retirement for the sole purpose of reviving her Book Club just to share my genius. (YOU’RE getting a Pulitzer Prize and YOU’RE getting a Pulitzer Prize and YOU’RE getting a Pulitzer Prize!)

I felt like pretty hot stuff.

“I finished my NOOOOOOOOOO-VEL,” I’d tell friends when they asked what I’d been up to. I said it in a snotty, self-mocking tone  proving I knew how pretentious it sounded. Secretly though, I didn’t care if I seemed like a braggart.  I wrote a novel. I felt entitled to boast a little. I’d spent hundreds of hours staring out windows, crying over lack of inspiration, reading excerpts at my weekly writing group, staring out windows again and, of course, actually writing. And then, finally, it was done. It had seemed like an insurmountable task, but I had surmounted it.  I was an inspiration to aspiring novelists everywhere.

“That is SO AWESOME, Liz!” said my best friend. “I’m so proud of you! Can I read it?”

That shut me up pretty quick. You could almost hear the sound of my self-satisfied smirk melting away, like ice going soft and collapsing at the bottom of an old fountain soda cup. Flurp.

“No, you can’t read it,” I said, annoyed.

She looked confused.

“No one can read it,” I said. “It’s a first draft!”

“Oh,” she said. “That’s okay! I don’t care!”

“No!” I fumed. “It’s not… readable!”

It was the first time I’d even admitted it to myself. I wrote a book, but I couldn’t give it to anyone to read. It was a mess. There were dozens of pages of alternate story lines in there that I wasn’t using anymore. My main character had every job from psychiatrist to product tester when I was still figuring out who she was. There’s stuff I wrote in there three years ago that makes absolutely no sense with the brilliant ending that I wrote in September. If anyone opened up my “book” right now and started reading, they’d be seriously confused, and not in a cool ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ way. I’d rather eat all three-hundred pages of my book one by one than let my closest friend read it, let alone a legitimate editor or publisher. If Oprah and Gayle’s car broke down in front of my house right this second and the ladies asked me for something compelling to read while they waited for a tow truck, I couldn’t give them my moldy old orange binder half-filled with genius and half-filled with miserable junk.

Then I remembered that old adage: “Writing is rewriting.”

Vomit.

So, I guess I didn’t write a book after all–not yet. Once I finish this next draft, though, I’ll definitely have written a book – when I can give it to someone to read.

Back to staring out the window and crying for a couple more months. Times a-wastin’ and Oprah’s ill-fated Chevy Impala could be right around the corner.

Man,…Liz’s neighborhood is kind of sketch. Anyone got a Wally Lamb novel on hand?

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