Story Time Saturday – Adel

I will go ahead and say that this blog post is more for me than it is for readers.

I don’t remember much about my freshman year of college. It often comes to me in the smallest of ways, no more than a snippet of a memory–an inside joke or a sweet note. I kept a blog on Tumblr of my entire college career. I was a lot more dedicated about updating it the first three years and a little lazier about it towards the end, but I have them nonetheless. They are mine and I am very thankful for the gift of social media. I may not remember it myself, but I can scroll through my Tumblr and see the moments that shaped my experience at Gardner-Webb. I can see when I became friends with people and, sadly, when I stopped being friends with people. But that is a post for another day…

Today I want to talk about one particular memory, taken from my own mind and not the blog. I can quite vividly remember the moment I met Adel.

At Gardner-Webb University they have this torturous program called University 111. It is a requirement for all freshman.  Perhaps it wouldn’t have been quite as terrible if I wasn’t such an anxious introvert. Anyway, it’s more or less a class where you learn how to be a college student. They teach you so much, and also absolutely nothing. They don’t warn you about how much you’ll grow to hate CAF food. They don’t tell you how hard it is to make it to that 8 am and not just stay in bed. They don’t tell you that you’ll definitely spend more time watching Netflix than you will studying for any of your classes. They don’t tell you that most of the people you meet freshman year probably won’t stay your friends. And they make certain to leave out any and all information regarding what to do when you eventually fall in love with college life and have to leave. What University 111 does is put you in a room with ten to fifteen complete strangers and make you pretend to get along and like each other until you actually do. Now, I will go ahead and say that I did not stay friends with anyone that was in my University 111 class, in fact, I can’t remember any of their names. But, it I met one of my best friends through one of the group building events that University 111 forces you to do.

Adel. 

I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor of Marissa’s dorm room watching her paint. Marissa would become my roommate the following year, but at this point, we were just new friends. She is incredibly artistic and was busy preparing for her University groups activity at October Fest (an indoor Halloween festival that Gardner-Webb hosts every year). They had to run a booth and give out candy to the hundreds of kids that would be coming for the festival. Their theme had to do with princesses and they were giving out paper crowns.

There was a knock at the door and in came a girl who I’d never seen before. I don’t remember if she introduced herself or not, all I remember is that she had the thickest accent I’d ever heard in my life. Hungarian–although I didn’t know this at the time.

Adel looked down at Marissa and I and said, “Ayeneegum.”

It was clearly meant to be English but she’d said it with such force that it was almost frightening. Her thick accent made the words blend together until it sounded like one long sound. Naturally, we were confused, Marissa, less so than myself since she seemed to know this girl and I most certainly did not.

She was asked to repeat herself and again she forcefully said, “Ayeneegum.” When this was met with blank stares, she spoke again, “Ayeneegum.” This time she snapped her teeth together for added effect. Marissa and I exchanged an uncomfortable look.

One of us asked, “You mean gum? Like chewing gum?”

Adel rolled her eyes as if we were complete idiots and said, “No, gum.”

“It’s like a candy…”

“No.” Adel grabbed the waistband of her athletic shorts, pulled the fabric taut before letting it snap back against her hip. “Gum.”

I remember putting the dots together and grinning. “Oh! You mean elastic?”

 

Turns out, that is exactly what she meant.

And that is the story of how I met Adel.

 

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Adel getting sharpie tattooed by Marissa our freshman year.

 

I could go on and on about her and how funny, and sweet, our friendship is. Of the people I met freshman year, Marissa and Adel are the only two friends who have remained with me. They are, perhaps, some of the friends I hold most dear to my heart because I have known they the longest. They have known me since I was still learning who me was. It’s crazy how much has changed since that day in Marissa’s room. I don’t know how the heart decides to love someone or why it does, but I most certainly love my friends.

edit 4.jpgOn Tuesday morning Adel will fly back to Hungary and I may never see her again. I don’t want to think about it, but I don’t know how I can avoid it. It is happening whether I want it to or not. For four years I have had a clock on my phone set to Budapest time so I know when I can message her. For four years I have read every text message she sends me in her accent. I have been her teacher, her editor, and her mom. She calls me “mum” and has for as long as I have known her.

 

And she is getting on a plane and leaving. I know that my heart is going to break in a whole new way on Tuesday. Adel has always wanted to know why I haven’t included her in any of my books. I have a tendency to write people in, or their idiosyncrasies, unintentionally. She wants to be in a book and I want to write her in, but I know that I cannot do her justice. I can’t explain who she is on a page–I’m trying right now and failing, I can already tell. I don’t know how to express the kind of person that she is. I can’t perfectly capture her accent or her odd way of speaking. I can’t describe to you just how easy it has become to understand her. The way she talks is natural, normal and I love it. I love her. She is one of my best friends in the entire world. And I always want to tell her that I can’t write her in because no one will believe me. An agent or beta reader would accuse me of being stereotypical or misrepresenting a group of people. But Adel is just that unbelievable. She is not ever Hungarian. She is absolutely insane.

She is often more naked than she is clothed. 

She eats mayonnaise on her pizza.

She always swaps out her middle finger for her pointer finger whenever I do something she doesn’t like. 

She’s never eaten at a Tacobell. 

Her American alter ego is named “Elizabeth Happy” and she calls herself that whenever she wears makeup. 

She can’t say the Hungarian alphabet because it is too long. 

At Christmas, we play Santa Claus and leave candy in her shoes. 

Her laugh is always forced, then turns real. 

American curse words never really sound as harsh when she says them. 

She taught me how to say “hide and go seek” in Hungarian and I would tell you what it is but I actually have no idea how to spell it. 

She loves the One Direction song, “Steal My Girl” because she usually can’t remember the words to American songs and instead sings, “Na Na Na” to the tune. It actually works for this song. 

She once rode around campus hanging out of the passenger side window of Katie Pie’s car. 

She cries whenever she hears the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic. 

She is currently road tripping across American and by the time she leaves on Tuesday she will have seen more of my country than I have. 

Our group of friends often joke about how she is a mythical creature. She isn’t real. She doesn’t exist. But she does–and I am so incredibly blessed to have known her.

 

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One of our senior pictures. From left to right: Shay, Me, Marissa, Adel, Lili, Sydney, Kayleigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I don’t think she ever did find the elastic she was looking for. 🙂

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

 

 

Writerly Wednesday – Writer’s Laziness

Writer’s Block: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.

– Webster

I’m probably going to jinx myself by saying this, but…I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never really struggled to decide what to do next with a plot. Usually, I have a general idea of where I’m going and I’ll either follow my outline (if I have one) or I’ll pants my way through it and hope for the best. I’ve just never had a moment where I had to pause for a long period of time and decide what to do, pausing so long that I physically could not write. Now, this is not to say I don’t struggle, because I am an annual pass holder for the writing struggle bus, but I don’t really find problems in the writer’s block area. .

I do, however, have issues with what I like to call Writer’s Laziness. I’m a college student and I get really tired really often. I got to class, to work, back to class, back to work and by the time I get back to my room it is often really late at night and I have other things to work on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will work through this by writing my novel during any and all breaks, even in the back of some of my less-interesting classes. But sometimes I can’t even manage that. I don’t have the energy to be creative. I’m exhausted. I want to Netflix or nap during my breaks, not write. And this is totally laziness on my part. I know it is. I dread writing, even when I am at an exciting part of my novel- I just don’t care. I’m too drained.

I’ve experienced this (am currently experiencing this) with the creative piece I am writing for my senior thesis. My academic project is on Neo-Victorian and Steampunk literatures. I am doing a genre study and comparing the two types to decide if they are overall compatible with one another- I believe they are. And now I am using the last four years worth of writing knowledge to create a piece that represents my beliefs. I’m writing a novel. This novel has been a ton of work. Fun. But work. I’ve never written anything even slightly historical and for this novel, I am settled snuggly in 1882. Working on this and working on a twenty-page academic paper has been draining. I was writing the creative piece a few thousand words at a time and then I just got overwhelmed with the academic part of the paper and had to switch my attention over to it. I wrote sixteen pages of the academic piece in one day and sent it off to my thesis mentor to be read.

Then I told myself I deserved a break.

This was something I shouldn’t have done and now I know it. You see, once I get a taste of what not writing is like (the tv shows, the naps, the video games, the books…) I find it really difficult to go back. I’ve found myself sucked into the void of regular college life and I am loathed to return to my former writerly duties. I don’t want you to think I don’t love writing because I totally do. I am my happiest when I am knee deep in unfinished novel…but I am so tired. And everyone keeps telling me to take a break, breathe, forget about it for a little while- but I can’t. That only makes it worse.

I have writer’s laziness. 

At this point, I think the block might be easier to deal with.

I need to push through this.

But I can’t be alone right? There are others out there. Other people have to suffer from Writer’s Laziness too. Whose with me?!

So here, let me share some of my coping mechanisms for writer’s laziness:

  • Lock yourself in a room and write.
  • Reward yourself for writing. I usually buy myself a bag om peanut M&Ms and I let myself have one M&M per page I write. Or you could use bathroom breaks as an incentive. Don’t act like you’ve never done that! Every writer knows what it’s like to be mid thought and need to pee. Keep trekking on and when you’ve hit your goal go to the bathroom.
  • Challenge yourself. Give yourself a word goal or a page number you have to reach and push until you do. I’d suggest making this a daily thing, versus an overall project number. So something like “1,000 words today” or “5 pages today.” I love a good challenge.
  • Take dance breaks. You heard me. Dance it out. Every five pages get your groove on. I don’t really do this myself, but I have friends in college who do. Get the wiggles out, bounce around. Sometimes you can run yourself dry by just sitting at your desk for too long. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Go somewhere new to write. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if it works for you then it is a really great way to revitalize yourself and your writing. For me, writing in a new space is hit or miss. I either write 10,000 words or I may tap out a lousy sentence. But it can be good for the writerly soul. Go to a coffee shop, sip a latte and try to view your writing in a new light.
  • Give yourself a deadline. This goes hand in hand with the challenge one, but I sort of see them differently. For me, a challenge is a personal thing. It’s just a goal. A deadline means that you have to do it. It’s solid. Something terrible will happen if you don’t. Insert your own terrible deadline missing punishment here_________. Anyway, I usually use deadlines with beta readers. I’ll tell myself that I have to have however many chapters done and in dropbox for my dad to read by midnight this upcoming Saturday. This doesn’t always work, but I tell myself that it has to be done. If you haven’t figured it out already, I thrive under pressure.
  • NaNoWriMo – So this isn’t always running, but when it is you should be doing it. I love NaNo and have written the first draft of at least have of my novels through their camps and other events. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November. In that month you are given the challenge, if you chose to accept it, to write 50,000 words in a month. Now, this isn’t a full novel but it is a great start. And sometimes you need a little nudge to get your crap done. NaNo isn’t just in November, they have what they call Camps that run in April and in July. Overall, it’s a really fun challenge and you can get some pretty nice goodies it you win. Try it.

 

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LOOK IT’S MY CAT.

 

Anyway, those are my tips and tricks for beating Writer’s Laziness. They may also work with Writer’s Block, but I wouldn’t know. I’m just lazy. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I suppose I’ll give my own advice a try and see if I can kick butt on this novel for thesis. Wish me luck.

 

What are your tips for killing Writer’s Block/Writer’s Laziness? 

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be An English Major – With Star Wars

We love what we do. I don’t know that the history or science majors dislike what they do necessarily, but you never really hear them trying to recruit other undecideds to join their group. In the English department, and I can only speak of mine, we are an inclusive bunch. You don’t know what you want to do with your life? Oh, you should be an English major! You aren’t sure about that business degree? Oh, be an English major! You have a cold? Be an ENGLISH MAJOR! We want everyone to get to experience the wonderful classes and literature that we have over the last four years.

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We have the best class discussions. Although the topic may be Science-FictionLiterature we are constantly on the lookout for plot ideas and they come to us in waves. We joke about “what if” and spout plot twists without thought. We can turn any conversation into a genre conversation. We have deep feelings about Hamilton and Harry Potter. We are not afraid to color outside the lines, letting our class discussions go where they will in an effort to figure out exactly how we feel about a text.  Every discussion can and probably will reference something from Star Wars.

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We have the best people. My peers, even my teachers, are going places. Sometimes I sit in class and listen to my fellow English majors talk about their projects and I just know I’m in the presence of a future best-selling author. That’s so cool. Looking at your classmates for not just who they are now, but who they will be in ten years. I’m not sure any other major, aside from perhaps theater, really puts you in a situation where you feel that way. As an Engish major, you are constantly on the brink, or perhaps sitting next to, greatness.

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We aren’t competitive. Okay, so again, I can only speak of GWU, but I know our department is this way. We are always in support of each other’s writing career. We want our friends to do well, there is enough space on the world’s bookshelf for all of us. We follow each other on social media, talk easily and freely about our writing projects, get equally uncomfortable when we have to workshop with one another and celebrate each other’s successes. The only thing we compete over is who can make the wittiest comment.

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We are all weird together. We can laugh about dragons and witches and faeries. Plots and ideas are always taken seriously. Harry Potter is everyone’s favorite book series and if it isn’t it soon will be. We all have our own favorite author and we fangirl/boy over them constantly. We get overly excited when we find out that other people have read and love the same series as we do. We all equally love and hate workshop. We watch the same TV shows, play the same video games, critique the same movies and over analyze absolutely everything in between. We all have the same dream, we will just accomplish it in creatively different ways.

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Instagram Captions

This is about to be motivational so buckle up kids!

 

If it isn’t fiction, it isn’t for me – that has been my writing mantra for so very long. I can sit at my laptop and type type type away for hours on a piece of prose, but ask me to caption something for Instagram and I’m finished.

I can’t.

I freeze up.

I don’t know if any of you have seen my Instagram account…it’s sad. The pictures aren’t really sad. They’re nice and pretty, but I’m terrible at coming up with things to say about what I’ve taken a picture of. I mean, let’s be real, sometimes we have a pretty fiiinnnne selfie or we have a damn good picture of leaf and we just want to post it…but what do you say? I’ve never been one of those people who can post a selfie and caption it with a Bible verse. It just seems odd to me. It’s not that I don’t love the Bible, it’s just that it’s always appeared a tad bit odd to me that we would slap a verse on something that is more or less vain. We are literally just posting a picture say, “Hey, look how cute I am. Also, Jesus.” I’m sure I’m guilty of this somewhere along the line. It’s easy to do, but as a writer shouldn’t I be better at this? Shouldn’t I have something witty, poetic, or overall profound to say about my average looking, nice lighting, interesting angle photo of a leaf?

Yes. I suppose I should.

This is the moment where this blog post can head one of two ways, I can either bash myself and fall into a spiraling pit of writerly dispair or I can fix my makeup, stand a bit straighter and get over it. And, as fun as the first choice sounds, I should be mature about this. I shall pout another day. Today is about me, and others like me (insert your name here), realizing that our worth as a writer does not exist on social media.

Okay, I get that I am telling you this on a blog so I somewhat just canceled myself out, but I need you to use your fantastic imagination and pretend that I am sitting across from you, sipping coffee and giving you a pep talk. Help me, help you. Let me, help me.

I’m preaching to the writer choir when I say:

YOU WILL NOT BE THE BEST WRITER AT EVERYTHING. I know, shocker! I’m just gonna pause for a second and let you think about that.

Done? Any tears?

I hope not. I hope that isn’t a surprise to you. It isn’t to me, but I sometimes appreciate the reminder. And boy, do I get reminded of it! Every single day in poetry class I am reminded that I am most certainly not the best poet. I don’t get it. It seems like work to me and I hate that. I like when words come naturally. When they flow. Poetry does not do that for me- but it does it for other people. There are people in my poetry class who are really good at what they do and I low key envy them. And that’s good. It’s a warm and tingly sort of envy, the sort of envy that tells you that your peers are off to big places.

Just because they are headed to big places doesn’t mean you aren’t too. Just means you’re going different big places. Or you’ve missed the big places bus and you have to wait to catch another one. Either way, as writers we will not be the best at every single thing. There are some people who are great at writing captions for Instagram photos. They just say everything they want to say and make it seem so flawless and lovely. I AM NOT THAT PERSON. I will probably caption my Instagram photo, “Me with my dog” before I will ever come up with something sparkling and well versed.

img_4033Also, sidenote, look at how cute my dog is!

Anyway…

I may not be the best poet or the best Insta captioner or the best blogger, but I can write a book. And an okay short story. And I can bake some pretty sassy chocolate chip cookies if I do say so myself…and I do.

You see, we all have our own talents. If you struggle with something as a writer and you don’t want to ride the struggle bus anymore- GET OFF. Work on it. Practice makes perfect, or at least it makes practiced. If something bothers us enough, we will work on it.

We are worth more than a caption on a semi-artsy picture of a leaf. We are writers. We write. Plain and simple. That doesn’t alway mean having the right words or the exact phrase or the sweetest rhyme. Sometimes being a writer is stumbling around until you hit gold. Sometimes, being a writer is just filling a blank page with words.

And that’s just fine. In fact, it’s better than fine. It’s how things are meant to be.

Here’s to all my poetic picture captioners. 

Here’s to all my “me and my dog” people. 

Here’s to all my selfie and Jesus humans. 

You do you.

We all have different words inside of us. Be a writer. Write. 

And now some words from Yoda, because he always says it best:

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Dear Prospective Student,

I spent eighteen years looking forward to high school graduation. My entire academic career was a timeline leading up until that moment. That diploma. So I had eighteen years to decide what I would do after high school.

Where I would go.

What kind of job I wanted.

College?

Where?

I had 18 years.

And by the time I reached the end of those eighteen years I was really ready to head out. I didn’t cry at my high school graduation. I didn’t care. Didn’t even bat an eye at it because, by the end of those eighteen years, I knew what I wanted. I even knew what college I wanted to attend and everything—In fact, I decided that when I was in the 8th grade. I had enough time. Eighteen years was more than enough time.

So I graduated.

I went to Gardner-Webb University. I’ve spent four years here.

Let me begin this by saying that four years is not enough time.

I’ve spent four years learning and making friends and stressing myself out. And now they expect me to have all of my shit together. Leave and get a job. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not ready to go yet. I just haven’t had enough time. I’m not sure anywhere else can compare to what this place means to me. This crap heap of a place that GWU calls “Decker Girls Dorm” has been my sanctuary for four looooonnnngggg years. It smells and the water is usually either too hot or too cold, there is never a washer open and the dryers are always broken, BUT it’s my crap heap. It’s home. I love it. I even love the fact that there is carpet on the walls. It’s weird, I know, but I’m used to it now. I like the comfort of the “Decker funk”—if my clothes didn’t smell like Decker then what would they smell like? As much as I didn’t want it as a freshman, I want it now. I was just a kid then, I didn’t know any better. I wanted shiny and new. I wanted it to smell fresh and have bright lighting. I was stupid. I don’t want those things. I want cozy and quirky and smelly and dark and haunted and creaky and cold and lived in. I want Decker.

And here’s another thing: I love my friends. I love yelling down the hall to see if someone is home, I love impromptu Cookout runs and being peer pressured to skip classes. Singing in the car is one of my favorite things and I don’t know what I’ll do when I don’t have a car full of friends to do it with anymore. I enjoy having adopted sisters and knowing that they just “GET IT.” I love making funny videos and playing board games. I love snow days and decorating our hallway for the holidays.

This has, without a doubt, been the best four years of my entire life. And I’m supposed to just put everything in a box and leave. They want me to just release this white knuckled love that I have for my school and for the beautiful community that creates it. I had to wade through eighteen years of crap just to stumble into happiness and it only lasts four years. I don’t want it to have an expiration date.

That sucks.

Today is my last first day of classes at GWU.

In 120 days I am going to have to leave this place.

I will leave professors and classes, some of which have altered my entire world. The English Department is absolutely fantastic. You won’t find kinder, sweeter, lovelier people anywhere. I belong with them. They are my team, my kindred spirits, my humans. We can laugh and joke and be weird together because we all have the same fantastic and almost (but not quite) unattainable dream of being teachers and writers. We want to go on to do great things. I want them to go on to do great things—and I know that they will. I know the people in my English classes will go one to do and write things that will change lives.

And perhaps this is all because we are in a place that has changed ours.

Which is why in 120 days I—we—will have to leave. Turns out, for many of us, greatness is located outside of Boiling Springs, North Carolina. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all when I stepped onto this campus four years ago I knew that I’d eventually have to let it all go. But I didn’t love it then like I do now. I didn’t understand how a place could turn into a home. I’ve never experienced that before, not without my biological family playing a role. This was, after all, completely mine. And that cycle doesn’t end when I leave.

There will be a new group of scared freshman; maybe you will be one of them. These freshmen, with their bright faces and lanyards slung securely around their necks, will never know that I was even here. Even though this is my home. Even though I have eaten at those tables, read those books, tripped over that loose paver, gone sledding on that hill, stressed over those finals and eventually walked across that stage—it won’t remain mine. Gardner-Webb University is home and I don’t want to be abandoned by her, but she also belongs to thousands of other people. I guess all I’m saying is: I wish I had the same eighteen years now that I did then. From birth, all the way through elementary school, middle school, and high school, all I wanted was a place to really belong. And I found it here. At Gardner-Webb University.

Dearest Prospective Student, as you visit different schools think about what you want out of the next four years. For you, just graduating high school, four years is a very very veeerrrrrrrrry long time. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Don’t breathe! Don’t blink! Careful or you’ll miss it. Before you know it you will have four years worth of academic knowledge and a lifetime worth of memories. Find where your heart belongs and then bury it there. Live in the messiest dorm, make the oddest friends, laugh until you cry and grow to new heights. Wherever home becomes, make it yours—because you only get it to keep it for so long.

Best of Luck,

Brianna Joy Crump

 

P.S. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck. 😉

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Why I Chose Not To Self-Publish

Let me preface this by saying: I loved working with my editor, my cover designer, and Reedsy. The experience was flawless. This is just about me as a writer… 

This past June I received a random email about a website called Reedsy. It was completely out of the blue. I still have no idea how they got my email-I sort of like the idea of it being fate. Anyway, I received an email from Reedsy explaining that they knew I was a writer and wanted to offer their editing, publishing, overall wonderful services to me. I was skeptical. I visited the website, it was colorful and organized looking. They offer editing services of all kinds as well as graphic design and layout offers. Turns out Reedsy is a network of freelance, supposedly qualified, resume flashing professionals offering to help indie writers become the best they can be. Still skeptical, I did my traditional “Is ______ a scam” Google search and came back with really nice reviews.

Okay, so it wasn’t a scam. Even so, I’m a broke girl living in a lonely world, so I brushed it off. But I kept thinking back to it.

Told myself to forget about it and move on with my life. A few days went by, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d been writing on and off for a while, but I mostly felt stuck. I’d written novel after novel, continuously beating my own time frame and exceeding my word count goals, but it wasn’t really enough. Being just a writer wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy just writing, but I knew that I eventually needed to stop and try to push something into the publishing world. I couldn’t just keep writing novels because with every new one I became further from Astridia- which was/is the novel I want to try to publish first. The more I thought about my writing career, the more I knew that I needed to take a leap of faith and do something to benefit myself.

I told my dad about Reedsy.

He is my writing soundboard and I knew that if I approached him with Reedsy he would either talk me down or encourage me to pursue it. I also knew that if he encouraged me to pursue it, that I would. His faith in my work and in me is a magical thing. If he told me I could do it, I might actually be able to move mountains. He was excited about it and thought it was a great idea and so I seriously began looking into using their services.

Because Reedsy is made up of freelancers, all the prices are individual and tapered to your specific project. I had to submit a brief, which is pretty much a summary of your novel, a list of your characters, your genre, your budget, your time frame and your desired services. One you have a brief, you can send it out, five freelancers at a time, and receive price quotes. I knew that I didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this (again, broke girl in a lonely world), but I wasn’t really taking it too seriously at that point. I sent out my brief and waited. a few days later I received an email from one of the editors that I’d chosen, a fantastic editor named Nicole Ayers. She let me know right away that she was going to be busy over the weekend but that she’d get right back to me with a quote as soon as she was able. I knew as soon as she sent me that message that I wanted to work with her. She was friendly and her message took all the tension and uncertainty right out of the experience. I told my dad that I really liked Nicole and that I wouldn’t make any decisions until she got back to me. A few more quotes and messages came in, but I was already pretty sure what I wanted. When Nicole offered to do both sets of edits for me, both copyediting and proofreading, I knew I wanted to work with her. The experience was really new and I wasn’t interested in having to brief another editor, I was satisfied with her doing both rounds. Since I am, as we’ve clarified, very broke, I couldn’t afford her price on my own. BUT, I have the best grandparents in the world and they offered to help me since they know writing is what I want for my future. With my grandparent’s help, I was able to schedule my editing sessions in advance with Nicole for October.

Next on my “let me see if I can self-publish journey” I began looking for graphic designers. I searched and searched, finding that a lot of the artists specialized in drawings or paintings. Since I adore pictures, I wanted something photography based. Finally, I found someone I really liked, Rachel Lawston. I recognized quite a few of the people she’d worked on covers for and I thought her art was fantastic. As is the custom with Reedsy, I briefed and waited. She got back to me and offered me a really great price- I was sold. I accepted right away. I’ll never forget riding in the car with my mom on the way to work and receiving the email with her price, I was already so interested in working with her that I was on cloud nine when I found out I really could.

Fast forward to October 1, 2016 – I send my novel Astridia to Nicole for first round editing. She kept it and worked on those edits until the 20th. She was FANTASTIC. She was willing to work around me, understanding that I would have a week of free time in late October for my fall break and arranging her editing schedule so that I could make first round revisions during my off time. She was great. Serious, go hire her.

October 1st was also my start date for the cover with Rachel- Also the best. She sent me a form and I filled it out, telling her my preferences for cover, size, publishing company and other small details like color and feel. Then the waiting began.

About a week and a half later I received a few different cover choices. Although they were beautiful, I wasn’t in love. Another few days passed and Rachel struck gold. She sent the cover I chose and a few other choices. I automatically knew which one I liked, but I wanted input from other people so I sent some text messages asking for votes. I’ll include those pictures here:

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Almost everyone chose the one I did, so I let Rachel know. She went to work, changing a few small details. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the fingernail polish so she was awesome enough to remove it. Once it was gone, I missed it- so it stayed. This is our finished product.

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My name has never been so big on anything. Ahhhh! I love it. I can’t say it enough. So pretty. So cool. PERFECT!

Rachel was fantastic and has remained really involved even after the cover was finished. Couldn’t have asked for a better cover designer, I was blessed!

Nicole continued to work on editing the novel. I revised what she sent me and then returned it to her for second round proofreading. I received the clean manuscript on the 21st of November, just two days before my 22nd birthday.

I’m pretty sure I was working with the best two ladies in the business, just saying.

Anyway, while all this was happening, I was shooting for a December 15, 2016 launch date. I was planning to put the book on amazon and see what happened. Try to promote and sell it myself. I figured that if it were to get enough traction then I could use those sale numbers when querying agents. I WAS WRONG. What I didn’t know was that if your book has been published, even self-published, it is really hard to get representation. Literary agents don’t want it. They want pure, unseen content. I found this out a little late in the game and I was seriously sad to have to call off my self-publishing venture. I wanted to self-publish, I wanted to give Astridia a shot. BUT, I needed to give her a fair shot. I needed to query agents first, everyone seemed to agree. Even Google, whom I trust. 🙂

So I didn’t self-publish and I don’t plan to. It isn’t that I think I’m too good for it because I’m not. It’s just that I think I’m too early in the game to self-publish without first trying to do traditional publishing. My dream is to be a published author, Barnes & Noble-style. Much to my own dismay, self-publishing won’t really get me there. Plus, I’m not sure Astridia is ready– but that is a separate post in and of itself.

I say (write) all of this to say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved my experience with everyone on Reedsy, it was fantastic. They were fantastic. Truely, ten out of ten, would recommend. I learned so much about myself and about my book through this experience. It wasn’t wasted time or money, it was such a fantastic learning experience. I wish all of the creative writing emphasis people at GWU could have the opportunity to have a graphic designer bring their book to life. Or have a talented editor shape their book into a better product. We should seriously consider teaming up with the graphic design people in communications and see if they would work with the novel writing people. It would be great. It was an adventure I wouldn’t trade, or do differently, for anything in the world.

 

Just thought I’d share about my own experience and tell other writers about Reedsy. I am not paid or sponsored by them or by either of the two lovely ladies that I mentioned, I just really enjoyed my experience working with them and wanted to talk about it. 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.