And That’s Enough

I want just to dangle
In your web
As a single string
Of a larger strand
Woven into your fiber netting.

When you move,
Where you move,
I tremble on the echo
Of your every step. Me,

A part of you. A part
By chance, you may glance
At while I shudder in the wind,
Aging alone in the cold.

And that’s enough.

My First Week in St. Petersburg

God, where to begin? This is easily the most stunning city I have seen. As a point of contrast, look at New York City.

Some might find this cityscape exciting. I know I did at one point. There’s so much texture. Here and there buildings stab into the sky. It’s a sensory overload as you try to find the start and end of each building.

But once you get past that, what is there? Everything is brown and grey, geometric, rigid, logical, boring. Regardless of which building you look at, you feel like you’re looking at the same thing. It’s no wonder people forget to look up. They could look up anywhere, but they know they’ll see nothing new.

Now look at Saint Petersburg.


Ain’t she beautiful? Aside from the regular tourist sites, you wouldn’t believe the precious spots I’ve found already. There’s a cat cafe called the Cat’s Republic. Sadly, it’s not internationally recognized, but the Cat’s Republic gives you a visa and a coin of their own currency regardless. I believe there is some purpose for it, but I’m going to keep it as a souvenir.

Ah and the other day, I stopped at a cosmonaut-themed Soviet cafe on Nevsky Prospect. It’s called Pyshki Place. The coffee came with condensed milk. Americans aren’t used to hearing that so it might sound scary, but it tasted delightful like an extra special coffee with cream and sugar. Hear that? Extra special. I didn’t say terrible. I had a cup of that coffee and a doughnut as well. The total price: 60 rubles, which is less than a $1. How’s that for a steal?

Yes, and as any young adult would, I have checked out a few bars. But bars are bars. When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Perhaps that’s not true. I’m sure your mind is now constructing the most fanciful bar possible with glimmering lights and crystal chandeliers included. If I find something like that, I’ll let you know. For now, my experience is limited to a few pubs with cheap brews and craft beers.

So, there’s a little taste of Russia’s cultural center. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my adventures. Пока!

I Made it to Russia

Three hours of driving and ten hours of flight later, I have arrived in Saint Petersburg, Russia!

No. I didn’t take that picture. You think I actually went out on my first day? I’m pooped! Jet lag is a mean-spirited woman that I’d love to take to dinner, only to sneak out the bathroom window halfway through the main course. Ugh, why am I so tired?

Even so, I saw a fair amount of the city and streets from inside a car. Despite the layers of snow and ice, Petersburg is gorgeous. Just by looking at the buildings and the people walking by, the city seems like a Russian take on western style. It’s like a European New York built in Venice, only if Venice were significantly colder (it’s really a tolerable temperature. I’m just dramatic).

Actually, that doesn’t quite fit it either. There’s a hint of something else, an unnameable thing, a certain Russian flare. But maybe that’s just the loads of Russian speech going on here. Who knows?

When I’m well-rested and I have my first real adventure, I’ll write more and send you pictures. I can’t wait to spend more time here. I also can’t wait to sleep. Good night, dear readers.

Pre-Departure Nerves

Just a day away from starting my journey to the snowy lands of Russia, and I can’t help but feel nervous…sad even.

I know what a great time I’ll have. I’ll meet new people who are part of a different culture in a different country, half a world away. What an adventure! Don’t worry, I’ll show you pictures and tell you the tales that couldn’t wait until I got home. With luck, you’ll feel like you’re in Saint Petersburg with me.

But, God, I’m terrified. I won’t speak English for 5 MONTHS! To me, an hour of Russian language class is tiring. How will I handle 5 months? Just think of all the words I don’t know: destroy, muster, orangutan. God dammit! I don’t know orangutan. I’m doomed.

Ugh and I have to socialize with people. It’s hard enough in English. Now I have to do it in Russian. Well, actually, that’s not what distresses me most. If I stay shy, maybe I can pull off that mysterious, foreigner look. Let people work for my attention, not the other way around.

No. I’m not worried so much about friends abroad, rather friends here in America. I’ve worked hard to find a great group of friends and maintain a place in their lives. That’s pretty simple when you see your friends every single day and barely spend a second away from them. Now I have to keep a presence while 4,277 miles away with an 8 hour time difference.

Language is one thing. I’ve got a ticket to Petersburg and a home for 5 months. Out of necessity, I’ll learn Russian to its fullest. Or at the very least, I’ll survive. As for friendship, distance can be deadly. Without contact, friends get used to your absence. They learn to live and enjoy themselves

I’m overreacting. Of course. Just send some messages now and then. Easy peasy. Even so, I’m worried that I’ll come home and realize I have no friends to come home to.

Eh. It’ll be fun.

How to Make a Killing as a Writer

You’re all here, I assume, for the secret. You’re looking for the trick no one told you, the trick no one knows, no one but me, and now you. You want to know what made the greatest and most successful authors? Well, I’ll tell you.

Drum roll!!!

The truth is only dedication to the craft of writing can get you success. I know. How anticlimactic! But, honestly, it’s the truth.

Okay. Okay. I’ll prove it. You send out 15 query letters for your latest book. You think it’s a killer book. Nothing can touch this novel. Four agents reject you. Only one agent asks for a few sample chapters, and after he reads them, he rejects you. The others? They didn’t even bother to respond.

What gives? After all that hard work, they dare to reject or ignore you? I know. Makes me feel like:

Well, as a result of this tragedy, you will come to think of the agents as idiots, or yourself as an idiot. Normally, I’d say you shouldn’t make such quick, illogical judgments, but… one of those thoughts is correct.

Option 1: They’re All Crazy

There’s no such thing as perfection in writing, but you’re pretty damn close. Your writing is worthy of publication. The agents can’t see it, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was accepted. She was even told to stick to her day job.

You know what that means? Apply to more agents. If you’re as good as you think you are, one of them will say yes. Show your respect for writing and dedicate some time to polishing up that query letter and reaching out to every agent still alive. Hey, write to some dead ones too. It couldn’t hurt.

Option 2: You’ve Got Room for Improvement

Look. I know sometimes the industry pumps out garbage. Garbage sells sometimes. Don’t take it personally. Be better than all that. Every one of us could benefit from more practice. Read and write. Then read and write some more. If the agents don’t think you’re worth it now, they will. It’s only a matter of time. You can’t control time, so it’s what you do with time that matters.

Top 3 Excursions, You Tell Me

Years from now, I’ll tell you about all the fantastic trips I’ve taken. Some good. Some bad. Hopefully, more of the former. I’ll tell you how I found the perfect getaways for tourists and travel fanatics both, how I had the most wonderful experience in the most remote, hidden away spot. Maybe you’ve gone around the world and back again, but you’ll come to me for your Top 5 Places to See Before You Die and your Best Trips to Take in ____(insert year).

For now, though, I’m a novice. You guys are the experts. Heck, I’m sure some of you are tour guides and travel agents. I’ve told you about my plans for Postgrad Travel, so you know I’ve done some research. Even so, I want your stories. Tell me your top 3 excursions. Don’t have 3? Give me 1. I’ll take it.

Write a comment or send me email (Contact Me). If I get enough responses, I’ll give you a Top 3 Excursions You Told Me. Maybe I’ll even feature your story (with your permission of course). Or maybe I’ll just make up a story. Either way, keep checking in.

J.J. Abrams’ Mystery Box

In a riveting Ted-Talk, J.J. Abrams discusses the usage of mystery to maintain interest throughout a story. Regardless of genre, he suggests that you can string together a whole line of mystery, leaving the audience in constant confusion. As soon as you open one mystery box, you find another box. Inside that one…another box.

John Doe collapses suddenly and dies. Why did he die? Autopsy shows it was poison. He was murdered. Why would someone want to murder? Oh, he was a kingpin in the drug industry and his competitor wanted him dead? Who was his competitor? Mr. Meth. Where is Mr. Meth? His real name is Mr. Moth. Okay, so, where is my Mr. Moth? He lives on Mothball Drive. Let’s get him. GASP! He’s dead.

See? You just keep going and going. So how do you do this in your own story?

I’ll be honest. I’m leaving most of the work to you. Write a rough outline. Know your beginning and your ending. They are the most important parts. Try to fill in the middle, but think of that section of the outline as a set of guidelines. Why? Because you need a little breathing room for all those boxes.

You know where you start. You know where you end. It doesn’t matter what happens in between as long as you arrive at your ending eventually. Here’s what I ask myself: does this section bore me? Yes? Well, then I’ll have to spice it up with a little mystery.

Want to know what else I think about mystery? You do? Splendid. Here you go: Why Writers Torture Characters