4 Reasons Why You Should Pre-Order “Womanskills”

Books have all kinds of uses: a chunky square to fix a wobbly table, extra kindling for when the zombie apocalypse hits, and sometimes they’re even fun to read. Sometimes.

Which brings me to my book, Womanskills. Some of you may remember that I was “writing” something. Some of my friends may remember that over the last year I went into hiding to get it all done. And finally, FINALLY, it’s here. The book pubs on October 15, but I’m hoping you’ll go ahead and pre-order it for a few reasons. (PS— Cover is below in case you’re thinking, Her? Writing? Not possible. Well, it IS, and I DID.)

WomanskillsCover

REASON ONE: This is a book for strong, feminist women

When you see the title Womanskills, that can mean a lot of things. And some people might immediately think this is a book telling women how to behave, which sounds terrible. It’s not that. What I can tell you as a feminist and as the person who wrote this thing, is that this book addresses situations only women have to face; mansplaining, equal pay, and having certain expectations placed on you because of your gender.

Womanskills lays out these situations and provides ways to kick them to the fucking curb so you can spend more time and energy being the strong, badass woman you are. Don’t get me wrong, this also deals with basic, everyday things, like how to actually find a bra that fits, learning how to make an exceptional cup of coffee, and ways to get all of the pet hair off of your couch. OK, that pet hair one was maybe more for my benefit than anyone else, but I figured out some seriously amazing ways to make your home fuzz-free. (The secret involves cleaning gloves. It’ll change your life. I promise.)

Even if you don’t feel like a badass all the time, by the end of the book I hope you feel more empowered to take on the world and deal with the everyday things we all go through. Womanskills is all about adding to your skill set, helping you become more independent, and giving you confidence in the idea that yes, you can snake your own damn drain and negotiate a higher salary all in the same day.

REASON TWO: I wrote a book I wouldn’t hate reading

I didn’t want to pick this hefty square up in 10 years and feel like I’d made a mistake. The Internet is certainly forever, but so is a book as long as you keep it on your shelf. So, I made this fun to read. There are Oregon Trail jokes, ’90s movie references, and plenty of mentions of pizza as a lifestyle choice.

I also made sure it looked the way I wanted it to. For example, this book has some amazing designs and I worked with our illustrator, Kelsey King, to make sure we were showing diverse women — older, younger, different body shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientations, etc. All women are queens who are too good for this earth, so you’ll definitely see that throughout the book.

Kelsey King, courtesy of Voyageur Press

Kelsey King, courtesy of Voyageur Press

REASON THREE: It’s funny! And people other than me agreed!

Just check out these actual reviews from people who read my book and tell me the lie.

  • “Even though I live with a woman, and even lived inside one for a while, until recently I had no way to help them, because I’m a man. Now, however, I can just hand them a copy of the funny, thoughtful Womanskills.” – Rob Delaney
  • “This wise, irreverent compendium of life hacks finds the sweet spot between Amy Sedaris and Worst Case Survival Guides, filling in a much-needed gap in every woman’s bag of tricks. An instant classic.” – Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black
  • “This is the smartest, funniest, most patient friend you can get in book form without that book actually being haunted.” – Kristin Chirico, senior editor, BuzzFeed
  • “Erin brings her unique brand of charm, cheek, and fierceness to this much-needed how-to guide. Womanskills are human skills, but the voice speaks directly to my powerful generation of ladies. I now know that my bras don’t fit, my salary could be higher, and I totally should have proposed to my husband instead.” – Jessie Rosen, Time Top 25 Blogger, founder of 20-Nothings.com
  • “In Womanskills, La Rosa is that know-it-all friend who you don’t want to punch in the face. Because she’s hilarious and has lots of great advice for navigating that weird period when you’re supposed to be an adult but have absolutely no idea how to be.” – Lilibet Snellings, author of BOX GIRL: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation
  • “I have come to count on Erin for her practical and hilarious wisdom. With Womanskills, you too will have access to her advice-from how to cook like a real adult person to how to survive being single again.” – Lucy Keating, author of Dreamology
REASON FOUR: If none of the above excite you, just remember that books are super easy to throw at people you hate

Just saying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You can pre-order Womanskills on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at IndieBound — and then let me know you did so I can buy you a big thank you drink!

A Day In The Life Of An Introvert (aka Me)

I was reading about Emily Dickinson and her personal life today, because she was a redhead, and she’ll be making an appearance in the book I’m writing about redheads. And as I was reading about her — specifically about how she was an “extreme introvert” who rarely left her father’s house and only corresponded with people through letters — I kept thinking, YEAH, that sounds awesome.

emilydickinson

Because I spent the last week working from home, only having to interact with my cat and husband and leaving once a day to forage for food, and I feel so good. Recharged. Less tense. Happier. (Though, to be fair, I also didn’t have to wear pants or a bra, which is happiness in and of itself.)

Being an introvert is hard to explain to people who are not introverts. I like people. I don’t hate people at all. I’m not shy either, though people often mistake shyness for introversion. I just get physically drained from crowds, and from being around more than one or two other people at a time. Like, I can last an hour or two in a big group, but then I have to go home and sit quietly so my brain can function again. It sounds kind of insane as I type this, but I’ve noticed it’s a bit like a formula for me.

Me + Husband + Cat = A+

Me + BFF = A+

Me + Handful of Close Friends = A-

Me + Big Group of Close Friends = B-

Me + New Person I Barely Know = C-

Me + Several Random People I Don’t Know = F-, sad face emoticon, Whyyyyy

Like, tonight I was invited to a friend’s birthday party. I got the email invite and  ignored it, as I do with a lot of social invites. I ignore because to think of it actually happening gives me a little anxiety. But then today I got the reminder saying, “THIS IS A REMINDER: PARTY TONIGHT,” and now all my thoughts have looked something like this:

  1. There’s a party tonight.
  2. A birthday party. Marking someone’s life. An important night. And I was invited.
  3. I should go. I’m their friend, and I’m going.
  4. ::: deep, heavy sigh :::
  5. I will know two people there. Maybe three. And if I get there early I’ll have to make small talk with people I don’t know.
  6. This is going to be a problem.
  7. Am I getting sick? I just coughed, so maybe I’m getting sick.
  8. No, I’m not sick. I’m just trying to come up with excuses to not go to this fucking party.
  9. I can psych myself up for this. I’ll stay home all day reading, and knitting, and watching TV, so I’ll be mentally ready.
  10. Just stop thinking about it. You’re going. It would be dickish to not go.
  11. …And I can just go for an hour. Maybe half an hour. They won’t know how long I stayed.
  12. Maybe I’ll just say I was there, and that I didn’t see them. Can I do that? I can’t… can I?

Again, I don’t actually hate people. I just don’t like surprises (very standard introvert quality), and I know there will be more people that I don’t know than I do at this party. Which means I’ll need to make small talk, and think of funny things to say, and try to be “on” the whole time. It just depletes me. And being depleted is OK, just a little exhausting too.

A year ago, I would’ve just tapped out of this party. Used one of my life-lines and said I had an eyelash emergency, or made up some other excuse.

But this year I’m trying to address being an introvert in a more proactive way. Mainly in that I’m trying hard to fight against my introvert impulses when I can, and be better to the people in my life who occasionally want to see me.

Do I secretly want to pull an Emily Dickinson, move into my father’s house, and live out my days in a room? Yes. But I’m not going to do that, because it wouldn’t turn me into a genius poet, and I’m pretty sure my cat and husband wouldn’t be into it either.

So I’m fighting back tonight and I’m going to this party. I know it’ll be fun in the end. I’ll be tired at the end of the night, but I’ll also have fun (even though my introvert anxiety tries to convince me it won’t be fun). But this is pretty much the cycle I go through on a regular basis, and I’m trying to make sure that this year I’m less prone to caving into it. (Bear with me though, and just know that I really do like you. A lot. Keep inviting me to things, and I’ll actually come this time. xo)

9 Steps To Landing A Book Agent

So, recently this amazing thing happened where I sold a book:MyEditor

I wept, openly and freely, because as any writer knows the dream is to sell a book. The crazy thing is that THE BIG REDHEAD BOOK, which is the book I just sold, is now officially going to be my second book. I’m currently finishing up the draft for my first book, Womanskills. 2015 was quite a year.

But onto the important stuff: How does one get an agent so that you can then sell a book? I didn’t have an agent for Womanskills (pre-order the book here), as that was a writer-for-hire situation. So I’ll focus on how I got my agent, the incredible Kristyn Keene at ICM, in the hopes that you can get one too (if you’re so inclined).

And because I’m a big fan of steps, lists, and everything easy to read, I’ll try to make this a step-by-step guide.

Step 1:

Get an idea for a book you want to write. OK, that one’s pretty obvious, but it’s literally the first thing you need to do to even consider an agent. You need a great idea, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, and you need to make sure it’s great.

Step 2:

Get to writing. Most nonfiction doesn’t require you write an entire book before you sell it, and this is also the case for some fiction as well (particularly YA fiction). But you will need a really great query letter, which will be the thing you send to an agent before they even consider reading your work. And at minimum a proposal that you can send to an agent when they ask for more materials. Your proposal should include a fully written sample chapter, information about your “platform,” about you as a writer, and a whole host of other things that I’ll cover in another post.

  •  But query letters are a little simpler, so what’s in a query letter? A query letter is what hooks an agent in. It’s what will get you a foot in the door, and it’s extremely important.
  • Since I had never written a query letter, (or a proposal), I did a ton of research online. I saw a lot of “How to write a query letter” articles, and samples you can look through. In the end, I wound up investing in editing services and used a writer who’s been published and clearly knows a thing or two about selling a book. This was a really important book idea to me, so I wanted to make sure I did everything correctly.
  • What I learned from the query process is this: It should be a page in length max, and it needs to have all of the juiciest information you got (your social media stats, why this book is important, and how the hell you’re going to make it a bestseller).
Step 3:

Research agents and agencies. I spent a lot of time doing this. Crazy amounts. And it was hard. The two biggest tips I can give are 1) Look at books that are similar to yours, 2) Google search who repped those books (something like, “Agent for Zombie Survival Guide” is all you need) and 3) Get a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace so you can look up those agents.

So, for example, when I looked up Kristyn Keene on Publisher’s Marketplace, I saw that she was a noted agent for a lot of the categories my Big Redhead Book fell into. (OK, I don’t know if I’ll be including any diet tips for redheads, but for sure it’ll be chock-full of humor and all the pop culture you can stand.)

kristyn

Step 4:

Email out your query letter and wait. Wait a long time.

Step 5:

Just know you will get rejections. So prepare yourself emotionally for that, and maybe come up with a little ritual to go with each rejection. (My ritual was any time I got a rejection, I went to get an ice cream. I ate loads of ice cream.)

Step 6:

If the universe is good, you’ll get positive responses from an agent and they’ll usually ask to see your material. Send it over! Then you wait. My big advice here is not to pester or poke that agent unless you absolutely need to (aka another agent is interested). If they asked to see your stuff, they’ll read it, and it will all be fine.

Step 7:

They want to talk to you. OMFG, first of all do a happy dance, because THAT’S EXCITING. It’s been my experience, from talking to others and from my own stuff, that if an agent wants to talk to you, they’d like to rep you. So unless you totally blow the whole thing, you’ve got an agent. All it takes is one agent to try and sell your book, so one agent is an amazing thing!

  • Hop on the phone with them and ask a lot of questions! Things like, “Where do you see this book landing?” “What would be your selling strategy?” “What changes would you make to the proposal?”
  • Treat this chat exactly as you would a job interview. You’re interviewing them to be your potential rep, and they’re likewise interviewing you to see if they’d like to work with you.
  • Feel free to ask if you can speak to some of their other clients to get a sense of how they are as an agent. I did this with Kristyn, and it was super helpful to hear her clients gush about her.
  • If you’re talking to multiple agents, it’s customary to not have an answer for them right away. You can say, “I’m talking to multiple agents, and I’ll get back to you within a week with my decision.”
Step 8:

Make your decision. Smaller agencies might ask you to sign an agency agreement, and those agreements can be LONG. So if you get one, look it over carefully and make sure you aren’t signing your entire creative life away. ICM had me sign an agreement for this book which was all of a paragraph.

Step 9:

TREAT YOURSELF to something very nice — a personal large pizza and wine, for example — because while this whole process can be incredibly stressful, getting an agent means you’re on your way to book town.

Also, it’s important to note that while getting an agent is one of the best ways to sell a book, it’s not the only way. If you spoke with one agent, and you didn’t get a great vibe from them, then don’t agree to let them manage your book. This is your baby, and you can peddle your book idea to smaller publishers to get the result you actually want.

How To Write An Amazing Plot Twist

I love a good page turner. There are few things more satisfying to me then starting a book and not physically being able to put it down. So much so that you look up from said book only to realize that you’ve been in your pajamas all day, and now it’s nighttime.

Such was the wonderful case when I read Jessie Rosen’s Dead Ringer — a YA novel that is chock-full of secrets, and has one of the most amazing plot twists I’ve ever read. Seriously, this plot twist will make you scream. I was yelling at this book. I didn’t know I was capable of that.

Which is why I asked Jessie for advice on how to write a great plot twist. Not only because I aspire to be a writer like Jessie someday, but because I wanted a look inside the mind of someone who came up with this plot twist. Jessie, in turn, wrote all about it for today’s guest post. Her advice is, as always, on point and full of unexpected turns! Buy Dead Ringer here so we can discuss this plot twist together, please.DeadRingerCover

How To Write An Amazing Plot Twist, by Jessie Rosen

There is little I love more than a gasp-inducing, throw-the-book-across-the-room, shout a four-letter-word plot twist. BRUCE WILLIS IS ALSO DEAD?! SHE’S HER SISTER AND HER DAUGHTER?! HANS WAS EVIL ALL ALONG??!!

But loving them and writing one are two very different things. And yet, when conceiving of the idea behind my first YA novel, DEAD RINGER, plot twist was the whole point. I (like to) think I pulled it off (Erin thought so!). Here are my tips for twisting a plot so hard it makes your reader’s heads spin.

STEP ONE: Start with a completely insane idea that you’ll never be able to pull off

The twist wasn’t an after thought for DEAD RINGER; it was the entire pitch. I started with, imagine if __________?!?! And then I spent at least a month thinking, nope, too ridiculous. Coming up with a way for it to not be complete and utter insanity was my job. It can be tricky to reverse engineer a twist into an existing world. I recommend twisting first and straightening second. Also good advice when dancing.

STEP TWO: Decide when and how you’re going to do the big reveal

Again, work backwards. If you know when and how you’d like to spill the story’s biggest beans you can figure out how much meat you need before and after that moment. I wanted a very late shock ala GIRL ON A TRAIN, but a book like GONE GIRL features a mid-point reveal which is equally excellent. Pick the “Girl” you prefer, but know before you go.

STEP THREE: Select your red herrings

Herrings, plural. When developing characters to fill out your world you need to consider who we’ll think is involved in the mystery and why. I have one sort of red herring and one real red herring (and as much pickled herring as possible, always). A lot of plot came from that fact and needed to be carefully woven.

STEP FOUR: Never ever lie to your reader

You’re keeping a big, big secret, but every detail still has to make sense when the reader finds out what’s been up all along. It’s so fun to play with dialogue, language and description that dances that like (watch THE SIXTH SENSE for a master class), but do not step over!

STEP FIVE: pour everything you’ve got into your big reveal scene

In DEAD RINGER I reveal the twist to the audience in once scene but to a character in another. Double bang for my buck! Both of those moments were my absolute favorites to write and, shockingly, came the easiest. What does this say about my mental state? Let’s not dwell on that.

And finally STEP SIX: Read as many twisted plot examples as you possibly can

Getting it right is about feeling what works and doesn’t from your own reader’s ear. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat (please forgive the aggressive cat-related saying, Erin), but this is your big Hitchcock moment, so you get to make it your own.

Good luck! God speed! Coffee helps! Can’t wait to read it.

What I’ve Learned From Writing A Book

I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve been working on a book for a long time, because I was so terrified something might go wrong, but I’m ready to talk about it. (Stay with me here.)

Writing a book

So… I’M WRITING A BOOK! I’m sure anyone who gets a book deal will say this, but I’ve always wanted to write a book, and it’s so exciting that when I think about it my throat catches and I feel like I might scream. I’M SO EXCITED.

It’s a humor how-to guide called Womanskills, and it will likely hit bookshelves next October, or so my editor tells me. (My Editor, this is such a nice thing to say.)

I’ve quietly been writing the outline, which was approved. Then I wrote the first chapter, which has now been approved. And I’ll be working on the rest of the book over the next few months. It’ll all be done by January, and because I’ve been happily thrown into this, I feel like I now have some takeaways.

  • Procrastination and writer’s block will happen. Like, you think that maybe turning on HGTV for “background noise” will help you get in the zone, and then an hour later you realize your new zone is just watching TV. Personally, I’ve tried to put a time limit on those things, so if I start procrastinating, I give myself an hour, then it’s back to writing and turning off the internet. See evidence of procrastination below:

Decided to take a selfie while working on my book, because I’ve run out of ways to procrastinate. 📖📚💻

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

    • It’s OK to not talk about your book until you’re really ready to do so. I took a full month to tell people. I mean, I immediately told my cat, E, my parents, my closest friends, and sometimes would just mumble it to myself, but I didn’t start conversations with it. It’s totally fine to be nervous, and to keep exciting things close to you. And yes, people will be mad that you didn’t tell them, saying things like, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” but like, pat them on the back and reassure them that your crippling anxiety really needed this secrecy.

 

  • However, at some point you should let yourself be excited and share the great news. (See this blog post, for example.)

 

 

  • Find a spot that really makes you want to write. I used to think that spot was on my couch, until I kept trying to watch TV. Then I tried my bed, and I kept napping. But the library? Yes, I work quite well in a library. Libraries are quiet and there’s no TV, which for me was basically what I needed. #librariesforever

 

 

  • And when you do something, like find your idea for a book, or finish an outline or a chapter or a whole book, celebrate by doing something you had to put off while writing. Like on Sunday I submitted my chapter, so I watched episodes of Hannibal and sat in my pajamas without typing. That was totally lovely.

 

 

On My Life As A Writing Impostor

I recently read this non-fiction book called The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, which I really loved. It’s a book of essays about a lot of things, like the author communicating with a prison penpal and trying to understand what his life is like, Leslie’s one-time job as a medical actor and having to elicit empathy from the med students, dating a poet in New Orleans and dealing with the way he described his feelings…

Leslie also talks at length about being a writer. She says the phrase, “while writing this essay,” frequently in the book, and acknowledges that her job is writing.

This bothered me.

I also realized that in Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, it had bothered me when Amy referenced writing a book, or the act of having to write and how hard it was. That bothered me even more.

But why did it bug me? What is so wrong with someone acknowledging that they are a writer when, in fact, I’m reading their book? It’s not some secret. It’s a book. I’m reading it. They wrote it. So why not mention that they’re a writer? It’s part of their life, and I was reading about their life.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and the problem isn’t Leslie or Amy, it’s me. I’ve always been uncomfortable calling myself a writer. So when I see other people do it so effortlessly, it pains me, because I wish I could do that too.

Having a reading of a musical I’m developing with @lydjaaah and @jhotogo today. (Squeeee!!)

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

I remember when I first moved to LA, I went to lunch with a successful musician friend —successful in that he gets paying gigs regularly and that’s his sole source of income. Anyway, I was asking his advice on what to do with my life: I wanted to be a writer, but how? And was it even possible? I just wanted to be paid to write full-time. That was my dream. ~The dream~

He told me something so important. He said, “Stop saying you want to be a writer, and say that you are a writer. You are a writer.”

He told me that if I wanted to get jobs — and I did — then I shouldn’t tell people I was “an aspiring writer,” because no one wants to hire an aspiring anything. They want to hire the real thing.

I took his advice, and the more I started cover letters with “I’m a writer,” the more I got paid to write. When people asked what I did for a living, I answered, “I’m a writer,” even if I only had one paying job that month, and even when I was in grad school, working to become a writer and felt so far away from success. “I’m a writer” became part of my conversations. But every time I said it, I felt like an impostor. My friend told me, essentially, to fake it till I made it, and that’s exactly how I still feel a lot of the time: like I’m a fake.

I was so bothered by this recently that I actually Googled “writing impostor” LOL. Like, what the hell was I expecting to find, really?! I’m not sure, but what I did find was this article on The Hairpin, quite literally titled, “Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?” I clicked the shit out of that.

Turns out that the author, Jazmine Hughes, was describing exactly how I felt. She had her work published places, she’s an editor and writer, and yet… is that enough?

I’ve written for BuzzFeed, Funny or Die, Ecorazzi, E!, and Storychord, among other places. My dream of being paid to write is actually happening for me. I am paid to write. So… aren’t I a writer now? Yeah… but I just still feel so much phoniness even typing that. It helped to see that “Impostor Syndrome” is actually a thing. It was comforting to read other people’s experiences with it (including some of my BuzzFeed colleagues’), and know that I’m NOT ALONE. But to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what it would take for me to say the words “I’m a writer” and feel confident in that.

Maybe I’ll never feel truth in those words, because being a writer has been the thing I’ve wanted my entire life. I’ve built it up so much, that maybe nothing will ever be quite good enough. Regardless, I will always remember my friend’s advice: say you’re a writer. You are a writer. Fake it.

So, hello, my name is Erin La Rosa. I’m a writer. (We’re in this together if you also have these feels.)

Me Versus The Merlot

sawyerwine

The above is a photo of the 2002 Merlot I bought while drunkenly wine tasting with my BFF in Napa two years ago. It was a lot of money for me at the time, a little over $60, but I decided to splurge because A) again, drunk, and B) I wanted to use it as creative incentive. (In other words, once I accomplished something REALLY amazing, I’d drink it.)

In 2013, I got a book deal. It was exciting and arguably a time when I could’ve opened the Merlot, but I didn’t. I decided to drink it when the book sold to a publisher, because getting a deal wasn’t QUITE amazing enough. But then months went by, and my book deal was dropped. (It happens, but it also broke my heart in a lot of ways.)

It took me about a month to get past the dropped book deal and find a new project to focus on. That project was and still is a musical I’m currently working on with two wonderful friends of mine. It’s been such a creative and interesting process for me, and I’m so excited to keep seeing it through.

But musicals take time, especially since our producer and musician are both on the east coast. And as the months have ticked by and the musical is still being workshopped and re-written, this Merlot has sat, like some plum-faced ogre on our bar cart brought into this world to mock me. Fucking smug wine.

As some of you may have noticed, I stopped blogging on this page altogether in May. Because the wine was staring at me, and because I hadn’t made ENOUGH progress, I decided to take a blogging break and focus on the musical. But I missed blogging. I really missed having that other creative outlet where I could write about my life and share what’s going on.

And so, the Merlot began to feel less and less celebratory to me, and more like that toxic friend who makes you feel bad about ordering fries. It was a reminder that I’d failed; that I’d lost my book deal. It reminded me that I hadn’t hit a milestone that was important enough. It made me feel like shit, essentially.

I feel like a fucking asshole to even say that a WINE BOTTLE, an inanimate object, has been making me feel bad — I do realize that I’m projecting a lot of things into this poor Merlot. But to be honest, it just does. I’ve had this bottle for two years now, and I’m a rather impatient person. Shouldn’t I have accomplished something by now? Shouldn’t I have published something that is just mine? That’s what the Merlot makes me ask myself every time I see it.

Yes, a book deal fell through, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I’m going to keep reminding myself of these things:

  • I’ve written a full draft of a musical, and we’re about 70% of the way to having a finished product with that.
  • I’ve joined a writer’s group and we meet every other week to discuss each other’s work. I’ve workshopped short stories there and found a group of women who support each other and are so insanely talented.
  • I started this blog, and I don’t want to feel bad about taking time to write on it.
  • I’m working at a job I love and get to go to everyday. And this past week, I got a promotion from Senior Editor to Deputy Editorial Director. (My Mom asked me, “Who’s the Sheriff?” when I told her.)

I decided this week that I’m no longer going to let this fucking bottle of wine make me feel bad about myself. Yes, it’s good to have goals, and I will keep those, but I won’t allow this wine to be a reminder of my failures. I will no longer be paralyzed by the memory of the book deal, and I won’t continue to dwell on it. I’m ready to move on.

So tonight, E is cooking steak. And we’re going to open that fucking bottle of 2002 Merlot that I have been saving to celebrate with, and I’m going to celebrate my promotion, and I’m not going to let anyone (or anything, rather) make me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

I’ve let go of toxic friends in the past when I realized they were dragging me down and making me feel useless, and I’m happy to say that I will be drinking this Merlot until it is gone and throwing out the bottle in the morning so I never have to feel like a failure again.

If any of you have something (or someone) in your life that’s preventing you from moving forward, I hope you know that I can now provide words of encouragement to get rid of it sooner rather than later! I just can’t believe I’ve kept this bottle for so long, and I wish I’d drank it down sooner. Here’s to feeling happy again, and to more blogging. xo

Belated Resolution: Make More Time For Writing, And Less For Bullshit

It’s April, and yet here I am just now making a New Year’s resolution. The only really great thing to come out of E being gone on set for a month (other than the fact that, ya know, he filmed a pilot) was that I had a lot more time to myself and a lot more time to write.

I wrote when I woke up, and then a bit when I got home, and got into the habit of writing or reading rather than what I’d usually do. (Watch TV, troll Facebook, check Instagram, stare into the fridge until some food spoke to me.)

I forgot how much can be accomplished in a day, even a weekday when you’re working and come home slightly exhausted. Still being able to continue writing and get something of your own done feels… pretty great, really. And on the weekends, there were often entire days where I did nothing but write. I’m currently working on two side projects that I’m really excited about, and most important is that they just make me plain happy to work on.

E is oddly enough also in a place where he has to spend his downtime working on writing and reading. (For him it’s reading other writers scripts and working on his series document.) It’s actually been nice. He can read a script, and I can read Infinite Jest. (I never read this book before, because I was intimidated by the length, but I have to say that I’m loving it. It’s weird and funny and very inspiring.) On the weekends, he can work on his pilot material, and I can work on my own projects.

I don’t know what will come of these projects. Hopefully one will be published, and the other will be seen. Worst case scenario is that I’ve spent a lot of time on something I really enjoy, so it’s not a bad situation to be in at all. It also, of course, means slightly less blogging on my end. Not that blogging is part of the bullshit I’m spending less time on, god knows I love blogging, and I’m determined to do at least two posts a week.

So there you have it: my belated new year’s resolution is now in full swing. Plus, I’ve written it on this blog, so other people can now hold me accountable and potentially shame me if I start slacking. (Feel free to shame me, btw. Shame is an oddly motivating force that is entirely underrated.)

Blogging Is 20 Years Old, And Here’s A Vintage Post Of Mine To Celebrate

Did you know that blogging turned 20? It had a birthday. Which is kind of strange to think about. When I was 9, blogging started. And there are people younger than me who don’t even know what it’s like to live in a world without blogging. (Blasphemy!)

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that blogging changed my life. I started blogging in grad school, just on the side to build up a portfolio so that I could get freelance jobs and make extra money. And now I work at BuzzFeed, in large part thanks to my blogging jobs.

My first blog was called La Rosa Knows. I don’t know why I named it that, it just seemed appropriate, and it became a bit of an identity for me. People who knew me and my blog would say, LA ROSA KNOWS!, if I said something funny. It made me feel so proud of that blog, which started in 2009. I blogged about stuff I found funny, traveling through Utah to chase polygamists, and cats, of course.

Erin Circa 2010

This is a photo of me that I put on my blog in 2010. I was a big fan of selfies and the photobooth app.

Side of Ginger came about because I felt that I’d moved into a different phase of my life, and wanted to be able to reflect that through my blog. But in honor of blogging’s 20th birthday, I wanted to share an old post of mine from 2010. (I would’ve done one from 2009, but a lot of my old posts were eaten when I switched from blogger to Tumblr, sadly.)

So, without further ado: Here’s a post I wrote in 2010, when I briefly flirted with the idea of taking Spanish classes…

Beginner Level 1

I decided that since I have the summer off, and I “love to learn” that I would take some language classes to brush up on my skillz. First I called my mom to tell her about my idea, and she asked me what language I’d be focusing on. I threw out some ideas, “Well, I was thinking French or Italian because those are really hip…” to which my mother replied “Who do you know that you’ll be able to speak those with? People speak Spanish here. Take Spanish.” Obviously this was not the response I was looking for. I wanted her to say, “French, why, they speak that in France! You should move there for a year and eat baguettes and ride a bike and write novels while drinking wine!”

But the thing is, she had a point. I took Spanish all throughout middle and high school. When we went on a family trip to Barcelona I was the one who ended up ordering tapas at dinner and asking directions from the locals in their native tongue. That trip was three years ago. I now live in Los Angeles and plenty of people speak Spanish here. I’m from Florida, where most of the billboards and store clerks are purely conversing in Spanish at this point. I should know Spanish, and a brush up course would be helpful.

So, I put a call into the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute. A nice woman named Eva with a slight accent answered, and once I informed her that I had taken Spanish and was essentially not a beginner she proceeded to ask me some questions.

“How do you say ‘I have a dog’?”

“That would be ‘Yo tengo un perro.’”

“Very good, and how about ‘I left the book on the table.’”

“Oh, huh, well, okay now let’s see… I know the words for book ‘libro’ and table ‘la mesa’ but I cant really…”

“Okay, not a problem! How about we conjugate a bit, how do you say ‘I am.’”

“Yo soy.”

“Good, and now ‘They are.’”

“Eeee, yikes, um… not totally remembering now…”

(Eva laughing slightly) “We’ll move on, let’s try ‘We are.’”

“Yup, not gonna happen.”

(Eva really laughing) “I think let’s start at beginner’s level for now, and if you get bored we’ll move you up. Okay?”

And so it seems my eight plus years of Spanish have completely failed me. If I had any knowledge of how to conjugate verbs, that apparently scrammed out the door immediately after our trip to Spain. I can tell you I have a dog, but ask me to say ‘They have a dog’ and you’ve lost me.

I start my beginner Spanish class when I get back from my vacation in Florida. It will meet once a week and I have to buy a textbook for it. My hopes are that I will be the brightest in the class… We’ll see how that goes.

New Year, New Bucket List Updates

I decided to write a bucket list for myself a few years ago, because of this MTV show that inspired me, as silly as that might sound. (Did anyone else watch The Buried Life?)Shark Dive

And ever since making that list, I’ve been crossing things off of it, slowly but surely. It hasn’t been a quick process, but I’m still amazed by the number of things I’ve been able to accomplish ever since making this. Maybe it’s like that book I never read, The Secret, and this list somehow acts as my dream board.

Either way, I thought it would be a good idea to remind myself of what I still need to accomplish. And the great news is that one of these things is already in the works! (See #46)

1- Swim with sharks

2- Hike in Alaska

3- Host Saturday Night Live

4- Walk across the Great Wall of China

5- Perform standup

6-  Write a book

7- Write a play

8- Visit Cinque Terre

9- Learn Italian

10- Learn how to make sushi

11- Go to a restaurant and buy dinner for a random family (anonymously)

12- Start a foundation

13- Volunteer in India

14- See the Taj Mahal

15- Meet  Josh Groban

16- Feed a village in Africa

17- Sing a song with a live band in front of an audience

18- Party at the Playboy mansion

19- Write an article for The New Yorker

20- Be on NPR

21- Walk in a protest

22- Win an award for teaching

23- Go to Paris for a weekend. Tell no one.

24- Go to the Oscars

25- Be a guest on the Tonight Show

26- Get a PhD

27- Ring the bell at the NYSE

28- Help build a house

29- Go camping

30- Skinny dip

31- Sky dive

32- Travel through wine country

33- Go to the X Games

34- Go to the Olympics

35- Go to the Superbowl

36- Go to the World Series

37- Have a sketch on Funny or Die

38- Teach my mom how to swim (She refuses to learn. I am determined.)

39- Go apple picking

40- Have a sandwich named after me

41- Learn the thriller dance

42- Be on a float in a parade (I rode in a cop car during a parade as a prize for winning a slogan contest. Doesn’t count.)

43- Mardi Gras in New Orleans

44- Carnival in Brazil

45- Zip line in Costa Rica (I’m crossing this one out, as I recently zip lined in California!)

46- Go to Sundance — UPDATE! I will be attending Sundance as a reporter for BuzzFeed this year. So, this will be crossed off starting Jan. 16!

47- Build a successful website (this one!)

48- Go on a yoga retreat

49- Have/be on a billboard in Times Square

50- Interview a polygamist

51- Ride in a car with a storm chaser

52- Visit and bet on the Kentucky Derby

53- Get a tattoo

54- Complete the Sunday New York Time’s crossword puzzle

55- Learn how to play chess

56- Take a photography class

57- Visit Forks with Gabby and Kristen, go on Twilight tour

58- Bike across America

59- See a moose in the wild

60- Go to a speakeasy in NYC

61- Make dinner for friends once a month (STARTED)

62- Make Thanksgiving dinner

63- Be backstage at the Hollywood Bowl

New additions:

64- Have a play produced and put up

65- Publish a book

66- Have a non-fiction story published

Sensing a theme on those new goals? I’ll be upping my writing game in 2014!

Do you have a bucket list? If so, do any of them line up with mine? Because I could use a partner in crime for some of these!