the journalista

i read. i write. i think. i link.

Tag: writing (page 1 of 2)

It’s the Little Things

Latte with art

Latte with art from Javista

It’s the little things, like avocado toast and lattes from Javista.

It’s the big things too, like friends telling you they appreciate the work that you are doing, and they want to see you be successful in your journey.

Out of nowhere yesterday, one of my friends sent me this message on chat:

“My nigga, i just needed to take a quick second out my day to reaffirm that i genuinely appreciate your journalistic endeavors. I’m not talking about any one piece in particular. But the entire body of work, at least from my perspective, is always consistent and speaks for a lot of people I would imagine, who don’t have a voice. Your pen is strong and I sincerely hope you achieve everything it is you set out to achieve , i think the world will be a better place for it.”

First of all, you know it’s a real when they start the message with “my nigga.” I was so humbled by that. Aside from the ones who are very vocal about it, I don’t really know which of my friends are paying attention to the work that I am doing, so when they come to me like this and tell me, it lets me know to keep moving forward, that everything I am doing is worth it, and the best is yet to come.

avocado toast

Avocado toast

I received another compliment in the form of someone asking me to work with them on a pretty big project. I cannot divulge the details yet, but trust me when I tell you that just the fact that they asked me was enough to put a grin on my face that wouldn’t leave for hours.

I’m doing real big things over here.

Writing is a labor of love. I do what comes natural to me, but there is an intense amount of brain power that goes into have consistent, quality output on a daily basis.

With that comes a responsibility to self care, and I find that in the form of my biweekly mani/pedis, my morning walks to clear my head, sipping coffee slowly while I sit at my laptop and laugh at Twitter, getting lattes and avocado toast at Javista, and spending time with my friends, my sister and my nephew. It all adds up.

It’s the little things, and the big things too.

I’m going to be honest and admit that I am still adjusting and getting my life together after the four-day weekend last week; I never fully got it together last week, but it was not for a lack of effort.

Something about spending three days in a row drinking and partying with some of my oldest friends, and then using the last day to soak up Vitamin D by the pool with my sister made it hard to return to real life when it was time, but I promise the motivation is coming back a little bit at a time.

I still have a lot on my plate, and I move through my to-do list like a champ, but as fast as I can check things off, I am tacking more things on, and it becomes a never-ending cycle of “I have so much to do!”

I stay motivated though. The only way you can make it out here in this craft is by continuing to go after the stories that need to be told, putting the words down on paper (or on the screen) and keep rising to the top.

As ever, I am grateful for this life. I rise early each morning not because I have an office job to rush off to, but because I have writing and writing-related tasks and goals that I want to complete.

The good energy gives way to good feelings and good things keep happening, as it should be.

I have so much going on right now.

This is a good thing.

I’ve been on back-to-back phone interviews since early this morning. The original reporting game is picking up for me.

It is amazing having wonderful and valued sources who keep feeding me tips on good stories. My portfolio and profile are growing, and it’s thanks to the many good people who trust me to tell their stories and the stories that are important to them.

This afternoon, I will be doing more phone interviews, writing news buzzes for The Root, finishing up a commentary piece and updating some of the stories I’ve already worked on.

This writer’s life is such a blessing of abundance. I cannot say it enough.

I am forever grateful that I was brave enough to make the choice to leave my day job last summer.

The investment in myself is paying off ten-fold.

 

Today’s focus is on writing and organizing my ongoing writing projects.

I have interview notes to transcribe, research to gather and outline, news buzzes to write, and deadlines to meet.

I remain grateful for the opportunities before me, and I am committed to protecting this life and not taking it for granted.

That means giving it my all even when I am sleepy, or uninspired, or experiencing distractions.

Nobody can do this for me but me; I’m all I got.

If this is what I truly want for myself, then it is up to me to keep making it happen.

My life is by my own design.

I am the protagonist in my life’s story, and I refuse to let anyone else write the book.

The Creative Life is the Life For Me

iStock

My fellow creatives will understand this.

Do you ever have so many ideas and projects to push out that you feel like your brain is going to explode all over the place and you will never get anything done?

This is me right now.

My life as a writer is blowing up. Opportunities are presenting themselves every single day, and I am eternally grateful. I have the time and the space to make them all happen.

I hesitate to use the word overwhelmed, because there can be a negative connotation attached to it, but I feel overwhelmed in the sense that there is so much out there for me to touch and take, and sometimes I don’t know which one to tackle first.

I was talking to my friend, editor, and mentor Kirsten West Savali last night, and I was going over my list of ideas with her, trying to formulate a gameplan for how best to attack them. Everyone needs a Kirsten in their life. She pushes me to do more and makes me remember that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I love her for it.

Last night’s discussion involved the tossing around of ideas and her reaffirming that the track I am on is the right one. I’ve created a lane for myself, and it’s mine for the taking, and I need to maximize the platform I’ve been given to my advantage, because it only gets greater from here.

Between the creative ideas that I come up with myself and the story ideas people keep emailing me (thank you all!!!), the rest of 2017 is going to be very productive and very busy, and I’m here for it.

I get 86,400 seconds each day to be the best that I can be. My plan is to not waste a single one of them.

things said in conversations

I want to remember this.

We were talking about writing and how important our voices are in this movement.

“And we need YOU, too,” he said. “We need the erotic and the profane and the bad and the boujee.”

My soul seeped out a little bit.

Some mornings I just don’t feel like it.

Fuck writing. Fuck this homework. Fuck going to the day job. Fuck that deadline. Fuck everything.

And then I remember that I have a greater goal, so I keep pushing.

I’ve recently discovered that I am unable to have any music playing when I’m attempting to read something for understanding.

I was trying to read something for MCO 435, and my concentration kept being broken by the music playing in my background.

I can have all kinds of music playing when I’m writing. In fact, I have to have music playing when I’m writing.

Attempting to have music playing while reading something has me going back over what I just read several times.

Is it just me, or do other people suffer from this affliction as well?

Let me know in the comments. I need someone to cosign this so that I don’t think I’m crazy.

In the interest of raising my own intellectualism

I read an article on Medium today that really spoke to me. Written by The Daily Zen, 8 Ways to Combat Anti-Intellectualism is an argument for getting back to being smart, at least to me.

America has turned into the bully on the playground who can’t read. It’s the kid with daddy issues who shakes down the little kids for their lunch money and has all the muscle it needs to get the job done with gusto. What’s lacks, unsurprisingly, is cerebral power.

There was a time when I could not get enough of reading and writing. I found time for these two activities no matter what. Lately, most of my reading and writing has been for academic purposes and not much else. At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to change that, but that ambition has fallen by the wayside, and I have to admit that I have not put much effort into making it happen for myself. I would like to change that.

The Wolf of Wall Street is languishing on my iPad. I started it, and occasionally read small portions while riding the train, but more than a month after purchasing the iBook version of it, I still have not made a dent in that back, and I find myself wondering why. Has my brain become lazy and untrained?

The internet allows us to stay placated by mindless entertainment for hours. Television unconsciously programs us into blind consumers desperately wanting products we don’t need. The average American reads a measly 16 books annually, with 28% having not read a single book in the past year. And for those who actually do pick up a book, it doesn’t take a private investigator to deduce that they’re probably not reading Camus and Kierkegaard.

I am not a huge fan of the public proclamation of intent, but in this instance, I feel a public proclamation is the best way to keep me accountable, so here goes.

I am making a firm commitment and putting a plan in place to follow the 8 suggestions in this article in an effort to boost my own personal intellectualism. Below are the 8 suggestions along with my plan for enacting them.

Watch less television. Celebrities do not matter. Your friends, family and ideas do matter.

I actually don’t have cable or an antenna for broadcast television, but that does not stop me from catching up with mindless tv on the Internet. Just this morning, I queued up an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta to play in the background as I did things on my computer, but I found it to be more distracting than anything. I often queue up shows to watch while I’m doing homework etc, but for the next 30 days, I am going to put myself on a television fast. From now until March 6, 2014, I will not watch any television shows either in real time or on the Internet. Instead, I will opt for books, newspapers or plain old conversation to stimulate my mind. I don’t think this one will be so hard to stick to.

Read more books, preferably quality fiction and nonfiction rather than pop paperbacks or books with overt political biases. In addition to novels, I enjoy sites like Arts and Letters Daily and Bookforum, which link to dozens of thought-provoking articles every day. If you don’t make a conscious effort to improve your intellectual capacity, it’s easy to fall into a rut and ignore it entirely.

I will finish The Wolf of Wall Street, and I will read a book a week for the rest of this year. I will also go through the articles I have saved in Pocket a lot more frequently. This morning I realized I had tons of articles saved in there that I hadn’t looked at since I bookmarked them; I would like that to change. There were some valuable links that could have been shared, but the timeliness of them has run out. There were also good response writing ideas there that I let slip away as well. I won’t do that anymore.

Exercise more and avoid processed food. Mind and body are inextricably linked. Exercise improves your ability to focus and subsequently think critically. Eating a simple, high-protein and vegetable-rich natural diet will empower your brain.

It’s funny because last week I had a conversation with the nurse in my doctor’s office who reminded me that I need to keep my diet balanced and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, four times per week. I will willingly admit that I’ve been doing none of that, but today I got back on my game and started back up with my daily green smoothies.

I will take a more active approach to life and get those four thirty minute sessions in each week even if it kills me, but more likely so that it (or poor health) doesn’t.

Keep a journal or a blog. Write often. Reflect on your world and what it means to you. Respond to whatever you’re reading leisurely.

My original plan for this site was for it to be updated daily with my general musings, but I haven’t managed to do that. Here is my renewed commitment to getting that done. Writing is something that comes naturally to me, and it is a waste of my talents if I don’t do it more. Enough said.

Initiate intelligent conversation. Stop talking about the goddamned weather. Avoid frightening your friends with intense political debate, but philosophize and be open to their point of view. Listen intently.

It is my intent to follow through with this commitment both in my daily writing on this site as well as in my daily personal interactions with people both known and unknown. The easiest place to enact this is on Twitter. Less ratchet, more intelligence is the order of the (coming) day(s).

Meditate. Devote mindfulness to the present moment. Understand the intricacies of time and your relationship to it. Take full advantage of every second.

I told my mom that I wanted to renew my yoga practice, and part of that practice is meditation. I won’t bore you with the benefits of a regular meditation practice because a) you probably already know them and b) this is really about me getting my act together and not dispensing advice to anyone else.

So there you have it. My public accountability initiative to being more intellectual. I hope that you will follow me on this journey and keep me accountable for it.

How To Pitch Stories To Code Switch : Code Switch : NPR

Pitch stories, not essays. We do publish essays and criticism on Code Switch. But it is hard to create an essay that fits the voice, mission and ethos of any particular blog, even for the folks who work at it regularly. (We occasionally spike — i.e., don’t publish — our own essays. That’s how hard it is to pull it off.) As such, they are a very heavy lift, especially if you’re working with us for the first time.

Only very rarely do we greenlight an essay we didn’t commission, and we don’t publish polemics. Until we’ve established a working relationship, try to hook us with a riveting narrative. When the ethnic slur “cracker” made its way into the news earlier this year, for example, Gene Demby looked into the word’s history and discovered that it had been appropriated by an unlikely group.

via How To Pitch Stories To Code Switch : Code Switch : NPR.

This is an evolutionary piece of performance art

photo taken at the Natural History Museum

photo taken at the Natural History Museum

In my idea book, this project is called “The 5 W’s of Monique.”

I see it as a sort of who, what, when, where, why and how of my life.

For those who don’t already know me, my Internet days go all the way back to the 90s when I had a page on GeoCities. I maintained it using templates I created in Microsoft Word. Each page was like an entry in a diary, but it was more Carrie Bradshaw than Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; even back then I had a vision of maintaining some sort of web journal detailing my (mis)adventures through life. I got my first diary when I was six years old, and I have always been fascinated with telling my story to whomever will listen.

My friend ann is always preaching the importance of telling and owning our stories, and I understand what she means. We should always be creating, and sharing our stories in creative ways is a large part of that.

So, what is this exactly?

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What’s in a name?

My name is Monique Judge.

My mother said she was going to name me Tiffany Janine. I don’t think Tiffany is a bad name; my best friend is a Tiffanny, and she is one of the most awesome people I know, so if we ended up having homophonic names, that probably would have made us cooler as friends. People could refer to us as the Tiffannies, and we’d be these awesome superheroes with fabulous wardrobes and lots and lots of purses.

Alas, my mother instead played ghetto bingo and picked my name out of a bag that her coworkers had put suggestions in. All throughout elementary school, I was one of two girls named Monique in my class. Annoying.

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