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Writing is Like Dating October 1, 2011

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities.
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5 comments

One of the most famous myths of singlehood is: Your work won’t love you back.  Meaning: Any passions not of a committed romantic nature are inherently less desirable. Although we at Onely (and most smart people) realize the many logical fallacies in this statement, in the past we sometimes balked when a heteronormahole challenged us to name one of our interests that truly paralleled a romantic relationship. How to answer? Well, I love learning languages and Lisa loves dog training. But if we gave those as examples, even though we think they’re as good or better than having boyfriends, the heteronormahole would have laughed in our faces.

But no more!  Because I’ve realized that we do have a hobby that is more relationshipy than all our previous relationships put together. You see, Lisa and I are both writers. And for writers, a significant other is redundant–because we’re already dating our craft:

There’s a honeymoon period after you first discover Writing. You effortlessly churn out brilliant character names and gripping sex scenes  (Kitty Chuckup’s heart heaved as Cecil Flickmeister slowly unsnapped his bowtie) and Pulitzer-caliber plot twists (Little did Kitty know the bowtie was the only thing holding Cecil’s head onto his neck). Writing flows from your fingers like an extension of your soul. You never tire of those words streaking across the screen. Your Writing is all you can think about. At your day job you stare out the window and daydream about the exciting things you’re going to do to that short story once you get home (What if Cecil isn’t the blind stablemaster’s illegitimate son after all?! And what if–OMG–the stablemaster isn’t blind either?!) You’ve never felt so complete.

After spending so much time with your Writing, you begin to wonder if maybe you should get serious. You know, think about Publication. Get Published, put out some little pieces that can carry on your name and maybe even grow into big books that make a lot of money to support you in your old age.

After all, everyone wants to get Published, right? Plus the alternative is so humiliating.  If you tell people about your Writing, they’ll ask you, “Are you Published? No? Are you talking to any publishers? Editors? Do you you at least have a blog?” and then give a pitying head-shake. “Well, don’t worry, one day the right agent will come along just when you least expect it.”

They just want to help. They know being Published is the only way you’ll be taken seriously. Think of all the privileges you receive automatically upon Publication, even if you really only found the right Publisher by sheer luck (and it’s always luck), and even if the quality of your Writing isn’t all that great (well, not *your* Writing, because *your* Writing is amazing and special–we mean the other 50 percent of Writings which end in dangling participles).

Whereas if you stay Unpublished you will die unread (platonic friends and extended family who may have loved your novel(s) or memoir(s) don’t count).

To avoid this terrible fate, you pick some Writing you guess is good enough (maybe the chapter where Kitty and Cecil find the time portal)  and start preparing to get Published. You’re planning your Submission–researching the best literary magazines, shopping for that perfect agent, figuring who you should put on your acknowledgments list–when you get cold feet.  You look at your Writing and realize that while you love it–you really do–you can’t help but notice that its clauses are so dependent, its verbs so passive, its modifiers so often misplaced, and — to be honest — its narrative can’t follow an arc to save its life. In fact, if Kitty laughs liltingly one more time you swear you’ll just scream.

Suddenly you’re not sure you’re ready for Publication just yet. Would it be so bad to just enjoy Writing without planning to Publish?  Of course it would. You’d be writing in sin. And you’d also be selfish, hoarding your Writing all for yourself. Plus you’d just be in denial anyway–no one’s ever *really* happy only writing for themselves. They can’t find anyone to Publish them so they just pretend to be happy being Unpublished.

Sometimes that’s easiest. After all, Writing for Publication is hard. It’s a numbers game. You need to put yourself out there, over and over again. A top-tier journal won’t just call you up and say “Hey, you have any nice stories sitting around on your computer? Maybe something about a zombie and a stableboy?”  You have to dress up your drafts–a tight intro, a sleek font–then send them out and sit by the phone waiting to find out if anyone liked them.

It’s risky. You may never match your Writing with a perfect publication venue and may end up Unread anyway, after exposing yourself to all that judgment and rejection.

You also risk the fifty-page itch.  A third of the way through your novel, the plot seems predictable, the diction stale, the characters too familiar (ho-hum, Cecil’s sitting in the hay writing more haiku while snacking on brains again).  You’re still typing, but sluggishly. You keep sneaking looks at a new document, where you’re thinking of starting a fresh, sexier project (hm, maybe a blog post about the similarities between writing and dating).

Copious Readers, which of your interests have the same dramas, benefits, and challenges as romantic relationships do?

–Christina

Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström

Love Us? Then “Like” Us! August 31, 2011

Posted by Onely in Pop Culture: HOPE for the Onelys, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy, Take action.
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4 comments

To Our Copious Readers:

Well, we’ve finally joined the 21st century: Onely’s on Facebook! If you “like” us, the bonuses are endless: You’ll receive updates about our blog posts, pro-singles events or occasions, as well as links to articles or websites of interest to the singles’ advocacy community. What’s more, you can add content of your own: Feel free to post to our Wall and know that you’re a member of a growing special interest group.

Now all we need is for you to “like” us (for incentive, we’ve posted a special bonus link on our Wall). Luckily for everyone involved, it’s pretty easy: You can just click the “like” button over on the right sidebar of the blog, or you can search for Onely (we’re a page, not a person) from your personal Facebook account.

Also, don’t forget that you can still connect to us via Twitter, email subscription, RSS feed – or you can go the good old-fashioned route of bookmarking Onely as a “Favorite” on your web browser!

Happy “liking”!

— Lisa and Christina

Single Women: Tell Your Stories to the Camera July 22, 2011

Posted by Onely in book review, Great Onely Activities.
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4 comments

Are you a compelling single woman between ages 25 and 60? Want to honor Women’s History Month by sharing some of your life stories and lessons learned?

You may be able to take part in the upcoming documentary series Independent Spirit:  Successful Women in America Speak Out on the Joys and Pains of Modern Day Single Life.

The docuseries is tentatively in the works now, inspired by Nika Beamon’s book  I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married: Successful Single Black Women Speak Out.

The producers hope to hear from single women of *all* enthicities: Black, Asian, Latina, White, whatever! If you want to tell them what it’s like being a single woman [legally single or socially single], please contact Nika Beamon at denali17@optonline.net, and please include a .jpg photo and a bio, which are needed for the treatment package going to the executive producer.

–Christina

Photo Credit: 997 Ourem

If You Actually Read Onely, We Wouldn’t Make Fun. Promise. July 14, 2011

Posted by Onely in Great Onely Activities, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out, STFU, Your Responses Requested!.
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4 comments

Every so often, Christina and I receive emails from folks who obviously haven’t read our blog. Usually, these folks introduce themselves and say kind, generic things–“Love the blog!” “Keep up the great work!” “WOW! You two are such excellent writers, we’d like to offer you a book contract!” (Well, ok, not that last one.)

We’re flattered, of course. But we know they’re liars. How do we know? Because they send us links and encourage us to direct you, Copious Readers, to their websites. And their websites are, more often than not, about dating, intensive coupling, heteronormativity, and matrimania. As our real readers know, this is not what Onely is about.

So normally, we ignore the emails. Occasionally, we’ll send a kind but corrective reply. Although we always cringe, we generally take the high road, avoid the snark. We certainly don’t want to drag ya’ll into it.

But this time, we just can’t help ourselves. Christina forwarded me the following email with the comment “Oh, for god’s sake.” Why? Because at same time the solicitor is sharing links that prove he doesn’t read Onely, he also says that Onely is a sincere pleasure to read.

Hi Lisa,

We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog!20 Best Blogs for College Dating Advice” (http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2011/07/12/20-best-blogs-for-college-dating-advice/) would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog.

Either way, I hope you continue putting out great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.

Copious Readers, we wondered: What snarky response would you compose on our behalf? Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

Dear College Dating Advice Guy: Are you sincerely reading now?

– LA

Happy Anniversary…. To Us! July 2, 2011

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Honorary Onely Awards.
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11 comments

Copious Readers,

It’s that time of the year again… When we head to the local Walgreens or CVS, stare desperately at the quarter-mile-long display of Hallmark cards, and wonder why, out of the thousands of anniversary cards to choose from, none of them – not one! – adequately articulates how we feel about beginning Onely three years ago.

Sigh. Guess we’ll just celebrate by enrolling ourselves in another cheese-of-the-month club and hope our little blog project doesn’t call it quits.

But seriously, we are wondering what occasions merit an annual celebration for you, our well-adjusted, single-and-happy friends, in lieu of the traditional couple-centric “anniversary.” Sure, there are work anniversaries, but we figure those are few and far between, given how often the average worker changes jobs or careers in this day and age. People might celebrate the anniversary of buying a house, or graduating from college, or turning in one’s dissertation, or choosing to move to Beirut to begin a career, or the first time one went to Trader Joe’s, or the first white hair…. (apologies for the free association!)

Lisa celebrates the anniversary of adopting her dog, Kitty. Christina celebrates the anniversary of ___.

Ahem. Full disclosure: Lisa told Christina to fill in the blank, but Christina couldn’t think of anything. After Christina cursed out Lisa for not making the test multiple choice, she realized why she couldn’t think of any milestones or memories that she celebrates regularly: she doesn’t know any of their dates. She doesn’t know the date she moved to Germany, or the date she left Germany, or the date of her first Chinese class, or the date she quit her underpaid job, or the date she adopted her beloved cats. She had never been programmed to remember dates of anything, except related to romantic relationships (or birthdays).  So going forward, Christina decided to just randomly assign dates to some of her favorite memories. For example, she will now celebrate the anniversary of her first Chinese class every September 13. And every November 13 she will celebrate the day Alvin and Theo came to their new forever home.  In fact, she may have one anniversary per month, like a picture calendar (or a period).

So, what is it, Copious Readers? What do you (or will you) make a point of celebrating annually, in spite of the fact that Hallmark makes no cards for the occasion? And perhaps a more interesting question: How do you celebrate?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Lisa and Christina

Secret Lives of the Happily Single: Red Meat Edition June 15, 2011

Posted by Onely in Great Onely Activities, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy.
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20 comments

Welcome to the latest installment in our series Secret Lives of the Happily Single (SLOTHS), where we both stereotype and celebrate the delectably gross habits you can enjoy if you live alone and/or don’t have a “partner”. 

Vegetarians might not want to read below the fold.

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Beginnings in Beirut: A (Long-Term) Onely Adventure June 5, 2011

Posted by Onely in Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy, solo travel.
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24 comments

To Our Copious Readers,

I am thrilled to share with you exciting news: I’m moving to Beirut!

That’s right — I hinted at it a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s Onely official: I’ve accepted an Assistant Professor position at the American University of Beirut and will be moving in early September.

Between applying for jobs, interviewing for a number of them, flying to Beirut to make this decision AND finishing my dissertation (!), these last few months have been a whirlwind of intellectual and emotional activity. I could never have predicted that I would begin my career overseas, much less in Lebanon — but after my visit, I knew I had to go. When else, I wondered, would I ever get an opportunity like this — an opportunity that will allow me to cultivate my love of travel, improve my understanding of other cultures, all while actually pursuing the career for which I’ve been trained? To be honest, I had low expectations — the academic job market is rough, especially in the Humanities, and I assumed I would end up living in Farmville USA for most of my career (no offense to actual Farmville residents). And who knows, that might be true in the long run — it’s only a four-year contract and who knows what will happen after that.

Living overseas is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never saw fitting into my life plan… I didn’t study abroad (even though my undergrad school offered a semester in Spain); I never pursued the Peace Corps (though I studied the application occasionally in my early 20s); hell, I hadn’t even ever left the country until a few years after college. Yet every time I’ve traveled overseas, I’ve longed for a more sustained (and sustainable) experience. Instead, time and money always got in the way.

So, needless to say, I feel incredibly lucky right now. And terrified at the same time. But more than anything, I’m certain that whatever the future brings, my Onely attitude will keep me on the right track (and will surely produce some interesting adventures, which I’ll share along the way!).

So I’m curious, Copious Readers, what are the big life decisions you’ve made for which a Onely attitude has been necessary? And what kind of advice do you have for me as I move forward?

— Lisa

Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It May 22, 2011

Posted by Onely in Academic Alert!, Great Onely Activities, Pop Culture: HOPE for the Onelys, single and happy, Singles Resource.
2 comments

Alert! Alert!

We are pleased to point all our Copious Readers to an important new PRO-SINGLES book, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It, edited by Bella DePaulo. The title says it all – the book demonstrates how singlism seeps into every aspect of our lives (politics, religion, law, pop culture) but remains generally unchallenged in the public sphere. 28 contributors (including DePaulo herself) articulate how readers can define, detect, and ultimately stand up to singlism in everyday life.

We are thrilled about this new collection, and we imagine you will be too. The book is available for immediate purchase via Amazon or this website, and it will be available on Kindle next month. Full press release after the jump: (more…)

If I Die Young and Freakishly December 23, 2010

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy.
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8 comments

My dad’s coworker died at 36 of a heart attack in his car after work. Security guards found him after noticing the car sitting, engine on, in a nearly-empty parking lot. People–me included–told the story in sad whispers: “In the car. With the engine on.”

If I die under odd circumstances (“odd” defined as “not passing away in a bed while asleep with a spouse holding my hand”), I don’t want people to harp on the details in a shocked or pitying way. If I go, I go with no regrets. (Except maybe that I never visited Dick Proenneke‘s house, and that my computer is full of revolting first drafts.)

As a Oneler who currently lives alone (“alone” defined as “with two cats”), any of my potential death scenarios–tripping on a cat on the stairs, choking on roast beef, cracking my skull on the bathtub–takes on an extra dollop of “Oh, geez, that’s terrible”: my body would inevitably have to lie there alone for a while before my office sends the dogs after me, or my mom calls the cops to find out why I haven’t phoned her in the last 24 hours to ask whether she thinks the two-week-old stroganoff is still good. Then someone would have to come and discover me, and the grapevine would vibrate with murmurs like, “And they had to break open the door! And there she was!”

Well, so what?

(more…)

@Onelydotorg’s Gone Twitter! December 17, 2010

Posted by Onely in Great Onely Activities, single and happy, We like. . ..
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3 comments

If you’ve visited Onely anytime over the last day or two, you may have noticed the Twitter feed that’s now over on the right side-bar.

That’s right, we’ve been Twitterfied. Or Tweepled. Or, well, I don’t know what those young’uns call it — I just know that I finally got around to figuring out how the whole Twitter thing works after, oh, about a YEAR since Christina first suggested I look into setting us up with an account. (Welcome to the 21st century, right?)

I was none too sure I would like it, but now that I’ve tested the waters, I am thrilled at how easy it is to link to other people’s blog posts and provocative Web pages through a quick Tweet or ReTweet.

So, if you’re already on Twitter, please follow us — @Onelydotorg. We’ll follow you right back!

If you’re not already on Twitter, feel free to follow the links that appear over at the top of the right sidebar (they’ll update automatically).

And if you want to contribute to our feed, feel free to send us an email with links, questions, or anything else that you think our Twitter followers will appreciate: Our email address is onely [at] onely [dot] org, and your subject heading should read TWITTER.

Onward and Upward, with new (tweeting) technologies!

— Lisa (and Christina)

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