Posts Tagged: writing

Creative Ladies: Jessica Love

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Jessica Love is a busy lady. Not only is she a teacher (a job I cannot even think about without getting exhausted), but she’s a YA author as well. She found time to talk to me about her intense schedule, her Creative Lady role model, and some really solid writing advice. You can find Jessica on her website, on Instagram, on Tumblr, and on Twitter @_JessicaLove.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I’m a middle school English teacher by day and a writer of contemporary young adult novels by night. I spend all day surrounded by angsty teens, then I go home, take all their drama, change their names, and write them into my books.

Just kidding.

My typical working day is a crazy one. In my classroom by 7:15am. Kids in my face at 7:55am. 7 periods, 6 classes, 40+ students per class. Zoom through our curriculum, manage my classroom drama, run to the bathroom when I can, collapse in my chair at 2:43pm, completely and utterly exhausted. Then I wrap up in my classroom before I head home and try to write. (Sometimes there is a nap, conversation with my husband, and/or a workout involved at this point in the day.)

The quality and quantity of my writing depends on the kind of day I’ve had. If it was an easier day at school and my brain isn’t completely fried, I can get in an hour or two of quality writing or revising. If I had a rough day, then I just do whatever I can. On days like that, just one new sentence is a win.

As an introvert, it’s difficult working such a taxing day job and then trying to be on the top of my creative game when I get home at night. But I do what I can when I can, and I make the most of my weekends and holidays.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

Traveling as much as I can afford. Spending snuggle time with my two dogs, Gunner and Patrick. Reading. Listening to music. Going to concerts. Internetting like it’s my job. Going to brunch with friends and drinking too many bottomless mimosas and laughing so loudly I get shushed by the table next to me.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Music inspires me more than anything else. Sometimes I hear a song and it sparks an idea for a novel. Sometimes I listen to an album on repeat because it’s comfortable and familiar and it’s perfect background noise as I finish a tough revision. Sometimes just the way the singer says one line sticks in my head and I create a character around that voice.

Music soaks into my soul and dances around there, so it’s just natural that it partners up with my writing.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Learn From Everything

I try not to say no to things so I can experience as much as I can from life and use it in my writing. I also welcome critique from people who are smarter and better than me. I’m never going to improve as a writer if I don’t let people look at my writing and give me suggestions on how to make it better. Then I thoughtfully consider those suggestions and don’t use critique as an opportunity to beat myself up over the things I did wrong. Everything in life is an opportunity to learn and grow and be the best creative person you can be. I try to take advantage of that as much as possible.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

Sadly, it involves a lot of internetting. It’s something like, write 5 sentences, go on twitter for 15 minutes. Write a paragraph, reblog some stuff on tumblr. Finish revising that page, reward myself with some facebook. It’s pretty much the least efficient creative process ever, but I need to give my brain frequent breaks to keep it working. Or that’s what I tell myself, anyway.

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What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

Finishing my first novel. I have been a writer since I was wee, but my writing was always in the form of letters and blogs…short, real life stuff. I made the decision one day to attempt a novel, having no idea at all what I was getting myself into with not only a work of that length but also writing fiction. I started, and it was hard, and I wanted to give up a hundred times. And I did give up one time. But I un-gave up and went back at it even though it was so hard and I never thought I would be able to do it.

I took a creative writing class taught by a New York Times Bestselling author. He told us that most of us would never get published, not because we weren’t good writers, but because most of us would give up when it got hard. I decided then that I didn’t want to be one of those people he talked about. I didn’t have control over getting published or not, but I did have control over finishing. So even though it felt impossible sometimes, I made myself finish. It took three years, but now writing a novel doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

As a writer, and anyone who is trying to make a career out of a creative pursuit, you face a lot of rejection, at every stage of the game. It’s everywhere!

I’m a delicate flower, and rejection is tough for me because I take everything way too personally. So every single rejection I get is a lesson for me. A lesson in toughening my skin, sharpening my pencil, and getting back to it. A reminder at how subjective this business is, and that a NO doesn’t mean YOU SUCK, it just means NOT THE BEST FIT. And that’s okay.

Not every piece of art is for everyone. Not everyone loves every book. (Lord knows there are some books my friends love that leave me scratching my head.) Not everyone is going to love what I write, but I can’t get all up in my feelings about it. I need to take it as a learning experience, let it make me better, and move on to the next thing.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Maggie Stiefvater. This woman constantly blows me away with her talent. She will write a gorgeous book, then hand-draw the book trailer and write some original music to accompany it that she records herself. Writing, music, art…she’s amazing at all of it.

And she writes books about weird things, right? Emo werewolves and the girls who love them. Magical killer horses from the sea that want to eat your face. A dude who is obsessed with some dead Welsh king. And every time I’m like, Maggie, no, I will not follow you down this crazy path with this book. But then I always read it and it only takes a page or two for me to fall ridiculously in love with her story and writing. She’s able to make me lose my mind over these books that, when I read the back, I’m all WTF NO.

Plus, in addition to being like Queen Creative Lady, she is also a wife and a mom and replies to all her tweets and answers all her tumblr asks like a boss. AND she has goats. Goats!

So, yeah, I love her.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m not an early bird or a night owl…I’m a straight up middle of the day peacock. I get jealous of those writers who wake up a few hours early to get some peaceful words in, or those who can stay up to the wee hours, burning the midnight oil. My brain doesn’t function properly until I’ve been awake for at least two hours, and the second I yawn my first yawn in the evening I’m completely useless. I think you can actually hear my brain running a shutdown sequence once it gets dark outside. I do all of my best creative work in the early afternoon, which is unfortunate because that’s when I’m still teaching.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I saw Laurie Halse Anderson speak once, and she said it was important for creative people to take themselves on artistic dates to recharge. My artistic dates are to concerts. Music inspires me, but live music makes me come alive. Standing in a room with hundreds of other people who are all there for the same reason, because they have a personal connection to this music like you do, and hearing the singer of band perform it right there in front of you, feeling it in your ears and all through your body…there’s nothing like it in the world. Live music heals me and energizes me.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s such great advice for living a creative life.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Stop making excuses. Everyone is busy, ridiculously busy, but you make time for the things that are important to you. If being a writer is important, then do it. Turn off the TV. Close the door. Carve out some time and focus. It’s so easy to spend time on the internet trying to be a writer – reading writing advice blogs, following publishing people on twitter, researching agents. But before you know it, you’ve spent all of your precious writing time trying to figure out how to be a writer that you haven’t actually written anything.

Like Faulkner said, don’t be a writer, be writing. That other stuff will be there later. Write. Focus. Finish your project. That’s the hardest part. Use the research as a reward, not as a way to put off the actual writing.

Do it if you want to do it.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

I know it sort of takes the shine off of the allure of the Creative Lady, but it’s a quote from Nora Roberts that one of my writing friends uses all the time – “Don’t give me any drivel about your muse not working, or writer’s block. It’s your job. Do your job.”

It’s easy to sit around and wait for the muse to come and inspire you to be creative and all of that, but if you want to live a creative life, you need to live that life with purpose. Being a Creative Lady isn’t all bohemian skirts and burning incense. It’s working your ass off, and plowing through even when it feels impossible because this is how your brain works. I don’t think any of the Creative Ladies here on your blog have talked about how EASY it is to be creative. Because it’s NOT. It’s impossibly hard sometimes. It might be the way we think and operate, but it doesn’t just flow like water from our fingertips. It takes work. It gets hard. You keep going. You do your job. Not because it’s easy, but because you love it, difficulty and all, and you can’t imagine doing anything else.

That Time I Saw Miranda July

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Last week, Miranda July visited Columbus. Honestly, I was surprised that she was in Ohio, but she was speaking at an art school so it sort of made sense. I was a little nervous because it was billed as an artist’s talk that had “interactive elements,” and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s audience participation. I’m old enough to admit that, right? Like, I’m in an audience because I want to sit back and enjoy myself, not because I want to be part of the show. But MJ sort of addressed my concerns in an interview with Columbus Alive, so I felt comfortable in assuming that this wasn’t going to be like Cats and she wasn’t going to crawl into the audience or anything.

My friends Carrie, Mindy and I showed up a little early, and the auditorium was already packed with art school kids. So much faded blue hair! So many pairs of unconventional tights! It was like a different world for me. No one was wearing business casual. I realized later that the girls and I spent our pre-show minutes talking about the most stereotypical adult things ever: home renovations, hosting holiday dinners, and weddings. I’m sure there were some 19 year olds making gagging motions behind us or something. I will never be hip.

Anyway, when MJ came out, after a crying 1.5 year old was escorted out of the auditorium (sidenote: Who brings a 1.5 year old to an artist’s talk? It’s cool that you want to expose your kid to culture or whatever, but 1.5 year olds are KNOWN for their disinterest in performance art and experimental videos), I was immediately entranced. Her work is so earnest and out there that it’s easy to forget how funny she is, but she very easily made the entire crowd laugh all the time. It’s so strange to me that she has a reputation for being “twee” (ugh, I’m sorry) or precious when, in my opinion, she’s anything but. She has an extremely strong presence on stage and everything she said felt extremely confident.

She showed some of her early short films and talked about the origins of her career. It was so interesting to hear about how her smaller works informed and transformed into her larger works. Short films and her real life became Me and You and Everyone We Know, and a play became The Future. One of the most fascinating things she showed us was the audition she made her moving guy do for what became Hamish Linklater’s role in The Future. Coming from some people, showing a random dude’s audition would’ve seemed mean or like she was poking fun at him (and, judging by the loud groans of the girl behind me, some people took it that way anyway). But I didn’t see it that way, and that’s what I love about her work so much. She’s not passing judgment on the people she shows us; she just presenting them. And you know what? People are weird. Like, 95% of the time people are really, really strange and funny and creepy, and she never shies away from that.

She read an excerpt from her not-yet-out novel, which I loved. It was extraordinarily sexually explicit and extraordinarily funny. And that’s another thing I love about her! Her writing is extremely sexual, but it’s never used for shock value. She’s so good at highlighting the most vulnerable, tender parts of people, and showcasing their weird or unusual fantasies is one of the ways she often does it. This is another reason why I think that anyone who’s actually watched her films or read her writing would never dismiss her as precious. Some people really do dislike her, and I think it all comes down to the lack of irony in her work. She’s always unflinchingly, uncomfortably direct about the pure needy emotions of her characters. There’s no escaping that earnestness when you experience her work. She doesn’t hide behind sarcasm.

Are you guys tired of hearing me go on and on about how much I love her? Well, I can’t help it. She’s a huge inspiration and influence for me (even though I don’t write at all like her). Unsurprisingly, there are lots of other people who love her just as much as I do, and many of them asked her weird, uncomfortable questions during the Q&A period.

Have you ever attended a Q&A that wasn’t incredibly awkward? I haven’t. Why are they so universally awful? Shouldn’t someone normal stumble onto an appropriate question once in awhile? It never seems to happen. Someone traded her a box of something for a high five, someone made her wear novelty glasses while she answered their question, someone told her about how they postponed a surgery so they could be there, someone told her that her work wasn’t “normal,” and someone informed her that people in the IMDB comments thought the characters in The Future were unlikable. Oh, you precious, marvelous question askers. Why are you so reliably strange?

MJ was great, and if you ever get the chance to see her (which you probably do reasonably often if you live in a larger city!) you should definitely go. She was funny and smart and even nice to the people who asked her rude questions. She’s a class act.

Creative Ladies: Erin Mallory Long

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Erin Mallory Long is the woman behind the hilarious HelloGiggles column Five Ways Something Ruined My Life, where she writes about things we all know and love, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Groundhog Day, and Friends Thanksgiving episodes. She was nice enough to answer my nosy questions about her work process, her inspirations, and her Creative Lady role model. You can find Erin at her website and on Twitter @erinmallorylong.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I usually work in TV but am between jobs right now which is the fancy way of saying unemployed but spending my days writing. I don’t get paid for ALL the writing I do but I’m focusing on changing that and being grateful that I can get by without going to an office every day for the time being. A normal day for me right now is getting up, having tea and cereal with my husband before he goes to work, then staying in the apartment all day with my To Do list or going to Starbucks to try to bang some stuff out. My weekly column on Hello Giggles – since it’s just about my obsessions with TV or movies – is something that I can get done while sitting at Starbucks and is pretty easy to focus on there. Sometimes if I’m working on a script I’d rather be surrounded by my stuff in my own space.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I like going on hikes now that I live in Los Angeles. If I’m stuck on something it usually helps to go on a hike and kind of just be with your thoughts. Also, Runyon in particular offers some pretty great sound bites to overhear (think typical L.A. stuff so everyone’s talking about their manager or money or something they’re producing).

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

I think everything inspires me? Is that a cop out? Sort of. But I think it’s true. I’m taking a sketch writing class right now so I have all these different kinds of writing I’m working on every week and I think it helps to pull from everywhere.

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In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

“Adult Childlike Tendencies” is the best way to describe me and how I think. Also could be a cool emo band name, or something. Or maybe just the name of a hip new disorder which they’ll hopefully first diagnose in me.

I think sometimes because of how I dress myself or what things I like people think that I’m immature but aside from ridiculous things I laugh at like signs for “Bonerville” I’m still a 29-year-old adult woman. Also I’m a Virgo so I’m very organized which helps in being an “adult.”

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

It involves a lot of staring into space and singing along to music and posting pictures to Instagram and tweeting and then some writing. When I was writing the first TV pilot I took a shot at I would stare at the computer for hours, tweeting and taking selfies and then something would happen and I’d write for an hour. And then I’d go back to staring into space. It helps that I love To Do lists and think the greatest feeling in the world is checking something off. So if I write down “finish Act 1” I will make sure to do it. It just might take a lot of staring into space and watching episodes of “Wings” on Netflix.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

That’s a great question! I think I’m most proud that I finished a TV pilot alone. Like, I came up with a thought (somehow) and sat down and just from within myself made it happen. Like no one was telling me, “gee Erin you should write this” I had to come up with the motivation myself and it’s something I struggled with and why I didn’t start writing publicly for a long time. But I also really like this article I wrote for Cracked called “7 Saved By the Bell Plots That Prove Zack is a Sociopath.” It was really fun to be that – pardon the phrase – snarky. While also proving that Zack Morris is a sociopath.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Lake Bell. I saw In A World and just was like, god, she’s amazing. There was a Q&A after the screening with her and she just seemed so genuine and so smart. And aside from Children’s Hospital I only knew her from It’s Complicated before that so I didn’t know much of anything about her. And to be able to write and star in and direct this movie that I thought was so great, I just was so in awe of her. And she talked about how you know, she was acting, so it wasn’t like she NEEDED to write this or anyone was like GIVE ME THIS SCRIPT. It was just a story she wanted to tell and something she wanted to create and like, she’s my number 1 Person I Am in Awe of and Want to Be Friends With right now.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am more a morning person than anything else but I usually get most done from like, 5pm-8pm, if that makes sense (spoiler alert, it makes no sense). I drag my feet sometimes on things I know I could finish quickly so if it gets to that time of day I just tell myself, “write this, then you can have dinner.” And that usually does the trick.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Mostly watch TV, go to the movies. I notice I start getting a little antsy if I don’t go to the movies frequently enough. I need that time where you silence your phone and just sit back and go to another place. It’s great as a stress-reducer because even if the movie is stressful, it’s not about you. It’s not your life. It’s the best escape I have. I also just like doing goofball things with my friends like Country & Western night roller skating or sitting at a bar talking. Also, if there were costume parties I could go to all the time I would be ecstatic. But broke. Also I like to cross-stitch. It’s organized and pretty and I find it disgustingly soothing.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

I’m reading “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran right now and am obsessing over it. I love it so much. I know everyone read “Gone Girl” a couple summers ago but you should also read Gillian Flynn’s other books “Dark Places” and “Sharp Objects.” So amazing. I also just read two Jonathan Ames books “I Love You More Than You Know” and “What’s Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer.” Reading about his inner thoughts is fascinating and disturbing. Oh and also “Trinkets” by Kirsten Smith is really great.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

I feel like my biggest problem was feeling somewhere inside me that I wanted to write but not doing it. Everything kind of snowballs so if you can make yourself try something you think you want to try you’ll get into the thing you want to do. If you want to write. Write. I mean, I know that’s so cliché but just recently I told someone to just start with journal entries and see how those go. I’m the idiot who knew I wanted to write but was too nervous about trying it to do anything about it until I just had to. So don’t be that idiot.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

I’m going to take something Susie Essman said to my brother’s college graduating class at SUNY Purchase in 2011 for this, “Be bold and be kind and you’ll be okay.”

Creative Ladies: Kelly Williams Brown

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If you’re a twenty-something looking for advice, Adulting is your jam. It’s smart, funny, and actually helpful without ever being condescending. Kelly Williams Brown, the woman behind the site, is just as wonderful. She talked to me about her very cool copywriting job, glitter, calligraphy, and her tendency to procrastinate (I think we can all relate to that last one). I so enjoyed this interview, and I know you guys will too. You can find Kelly on Adulting and on her website. Oh, and buy her book!

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

Right now, my main gig is working as creative and copywriter at Leopold Ketel, a wonderful Portland boutique ad agency. So it could be anything from writing a jingle for the Oregon Coast Aquarium to shooting a video valentine for First Dog Bo Obama from the Oregon Humane Society. Sometimes, it’s writing a 4-word billboard and sometimes it’s crafting a 20-page business document.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I am so deeply into crafting, specifically, Copperplate calligraphy and covering things with glitter (paper maché skulls, boxes, etc. As far as I’m concerned, glitter improves everything). Interestingly enough, a lot of my hobbies focus on the appearance of words — I do a lot of calligraphy, a lot of cards and a lot of heat embossing — and try to mail at least one beautiful letter a week.

Some of Kelly's calligraphy.

Some of Kelly’s calligraphy.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Deadlines. And the expectations of others. I wish I were kidding, but it’s true. I am someone who can accomplish a great deal, but am not a self-starter. I got to a place in my career where I could write a book because I had put in the 60 hours a week of writing SO MUCH for a newspaper. And I think no matter what your pursuit is, practice and learning the craft of it is key. So if you aren’t lucky enough to have an angry editor demanding her piece … well, pretend you do. Or pay a friend to do an elaborate editor role-play?

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Funny, useful, beautiful. I need everything I make to be at least two of the three.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

Are you watching me? Yes, all those things. Like a lot of creative people, I have ADHD. Not in the flippant, ‘I’m soooooo ADD you guyz!’ way. As in the ‘diagnosed in early childhood, causes serious frustrations in my life, requires a lot of work and effort every day’ way.

I always, always have that voice in the back of my head that has better ideas than actually doing my work. “Hey,” it starts. “Why don’t you just check Jezebel.com really quick first? Ooooh, that’s an interesting article. Maybe read more about that on Wikipedia? HEY I HAVE AN IDEA, let’s cover this mason jar in glitter! And seriously, as soon as you do that, you’ll get your work done!” etc., all day, every day.

But I also (usually) meet my deadlines. My usual process is procrastination procrastination procrastination sleep procrastination procrastination frustration procrastination procrastination PANIC PANIC PANIC GET IT ALL DONE RIGHT NOW IN THE NEXT TWO HOURS. Somehow, it works for me. But it’s not very fun.

Kelly's desk

Kelly’s desk


What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

My book. I’d never thought of myself as someone who had the ability to focus on one project for that long, to flesh something like that out.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

My grandmother, Barbara Dowdell (aka Grannybarb). Grannybarb is someone who creates constantly — if it’s not stained glass, it’s watercolors. If it’s not writing, it’s sculpture. If it’s not composing music, it’s jewelry making.

She’s much older now and can’t do much of her art anymore, but in every room of my home, I have her little watercolors. Lots of them are tiny, the equivalent of little doodles, and some are on the back of business cards she got over the years. I love that she even sees unwanted business cards as canvases.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl. I feel like I’ll always get these amazing essay ideas right before I fall asleep and am never able to remember them in the morning.

But more important than the time is the people I’m around. Among the many wonderful qualities of my boyfriend is the fact that when I’m around him, I feel funnier and smarter than I do alone. Ditto my best friend Allyson. Being around people that I love and whose talents I admire is tremendously inspiring.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Glitter. Calligraphy. White wine. Farting around on the internet. Repeat!

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

You know. it’s tough because there are a lot of incredible books on creativity. But more than that, I think it’s important to spend a lot of time with work that you admire. For me, whenever I read something by Tina Fey, or David Sedaris, or David Rakoff, or Cheryl Strayed, it reminds me how far I have to go if I want to make something great.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

KEEP GOING. This is so critically important that I’m going to turn it over to a bit of advice from Ira Glass that is just about the best thing I’ve ever heard:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Oooh. I’m not sure I have one! Let me think … OK, I think since mottos should be in Latin, I’ll just translate my three words above. Hilares, utile, pulchra.

Creative Ladies: Stephanie Georgopulos

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If you use the internet at all, you’ve probably come across something Stephanie Georgopulos has written, whether it was on Thought Catalog, Medium, or her Tumblr. But even though she’s an awesomely busy person, she was still nice enough to talk to me about her jobs, being impatient, and the importance of doing the work. You can find Stephanie on Tumblr and on Twitter @omgstephlol. And if you’re a creative lady and you’d like to be interviewed for this column, please send me an email at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I’m the Entertainment Content Producer at Gawker Media. Essentially, I copywrite (and copyedit) posts on behalf of our advertising clients. I don’t watch Mad Men, but I’m pretty sure there’s no pop culture reference I could inject here to explain what I do without launching into a long-winded monologue.

I also curate a collection of writing at Medium called Human Parts, and I’m in the process of launching Inklings, a Kinja blog focusing on lit culture.

A normal work day involves all three of these things in some capacity, but because my hobbies and my career are essentially the same thing, it’s not hard to balance.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

Um, they’re not very creative. I like to read and drink and walk around, when it’s nice out. I like spending money on things I can’t keep, and I hate spending money on things that I can. In other words, food, travel, and other experiences: good. Clothes and… what are other things people keep?: bad. I’m incredibly stingy when I shop, but when I eat out I’m like, “GIVE ME ALL THE WINE/OYSTERS/DESSERTS ON FIRE.” (Kidding, I actually hate dessert. [Insert joke about not being able to trust people who don’t eat dessert here.]) That said, I enjoy cooking new things when I’m in the right mood. It keeps my hands busy and it gives me the opportunity to learn something.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

I’ve asked people this question during interviews, and it’s actually pretty difficult to answer. Places, I think. Familiar, foreign, emotional, etc.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Open, careless, probing. That’s hard to answer, by the way. I feel like I don’t have a clear aesthetic, it changes moment-to-moment. That’s three words, too.

Stephanie on this book cover: " I chose "I'll Get Mine" because I felt a certain way the first time I saw it. Interested, understood, humored, endeared. That's how I think good writing should make a reader feel."

Stephanie on this book cover: ” I chose “I’ll Get Mine” because I felt a certain way the first time I saw it. Interested, understood, humored, endeared. That’s how I think good writing should make a reader feel.”

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

No… I think for me, it involves collecting. I collect passion and sentences in my head until it’s time to let it out (that sounds so lame, but it’s more or less accurate). I try not to write things until I’m ready. Then I edit A LOT. I’m trying to give myself more time to sit on pieces and revisit them with fresh eyes, so I can find the problematic things and fix them — rather than vomiting them out into the world before they’re ready. But I’m super impatient. I have ideas months before I execute them, so I get desperate to release things once they’re written. But I don’t want to do that anymore, I know it’s hurting me. Oh! And I almost always send things to a friend for feedback, unless what I’ve done is like, so intuitive that it doesn’t seem necessary.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

It’s not one thing in particular… I think I’m most proud of having a creative professional life. Meaning, I’m proud that I make a living being creative. I’ve always wanted to write, but I’ve also always wanted to make money. I didn’t grow up with the luxury of not thinking about money. When I was younger, I thought most writers were poor and that it was supposed to be romantic, and I’m sorry but… I don’t think there’s anything romantic about being broke. I hate the romanticized writer in general, it’s not a persona that appeals to me. I think it’s disingenuous at best and destructive at worst. So I’m proud to do what I do without sacrificing who I am or what I need.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

LOL. Hm… I have many regrets. All of my biggest fuck ups come back to me being impatient. Wanting to send out a submission before I’ve really thought it over. Signing contracts without digesting them completely. Slapping the wrong title on something because titles feel inconsequential to me (they’re not, especially not on the internet, but personally I’d leave everything untitled if I could). I put my blinders on when I want something, and it has worked out in my favor, to always be producing and putting myself out there. But other times, it royally fucks me over. I’m not reformed yet, but I’m aware that this is an issue of mine and that I need to chill the fuck out sometimes.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

I love Lorrie Moore, and I also love Laurie Notaro. Very different styles, but they each represent a certain honesty that I appreciate. Lorrie Moore is all, “Here are these beautiful, sad sentences that make you feel like a human until it’s painful,” and Notaro’s like, “I’m fat and once, my arm got stuck in a shirt.” I need both kinds of honesty.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning, for sure. I’m loosest at 6 AM. In the afternoon, I’m pretty worthless. Occasionally I have spurts of creativity at night, but nothing I can count on.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I like to walk around wearing my big ass headphones, running errands. I feel sort of invisible that way.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti was written with this question in mind, I think. That one is great for creative ladies. I was really inspired after reading No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I feel like people needlessly hate on her for being twee, but I’m a fan (I’ve never seen her movies, but I love her books and projects). Anagrams and Self Help by Lorrie Moore, they’re just so real. And Jennifer Egan rocks — I aspire to write my own Black Box.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Do the work. If you want writing to be your profession, be a professional. Stop romanticizing shit. Help other people with their hustle whenever you can, even if you think there’s nothing in it for you. There’s enough success to go around, don’t be greedy. And TAKE YOUR TIME (that one’s for me).

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Bleed now, clean up later. (I just made that up. I don’t have a motto.)