Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wishful Thinking

Pretty sure I'd be a better writer if I spent a week or two under a palm tree. My budget is currently $5.49 and rising. Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vanity NOT Fair, Only $5.95 per Slam

I'm sure you're all sick of this topic, but this is MY blog and I'm going to rehash it if I feel so inclined. So peanut gallery, the comment section is all yours.

A while back, Vanity Fair wrote THIS article featuring several powerful and important women, all with an impressive Twitter and Social Media presence which Vanity Fair failed to fully recognize and understand. I wrote THIS letter to the editor in response, trying to form a valid viewpoint outlining some of their oversights in a format that the established media would understand, thinking I'd be lucky if it even got read by anyone other than the spam guard.

About a month later, Vanity Fair contacted me and asked for my permission to publish my letter. Ever the optimist, I immediately agreed. Who could resist the chance to see their name in LIGHTS *cough* print for the first time. In Vanity Fair, no less. Presenting an opposing viewpoint and getting showcased for it!

Boy, was I naive...but we will get to that.

Being the eager (giant inflatable) beaver that I am, I decided to take it a step further. I emailed Vanity Fair back and asked their permission to write a follow up piece about Social Media. While I was waiting for their response I began researching, getting in contact with some Social Media Moguls, who were all very accommodating, and began to make notes about what would clearly be my grand entry into the club of those with their own byline. Even if Vanity Fair didn't want it, I figured I could use the publication of the letter as leverage to get my follow up article published elsewhere - can you see the stars in my eyes getting brighter? Rose coloured glasses FTW!

Yesterday, the April issue of Vanity Fair came out. I was at the post office between shift one and shift two, running some errands on my break. Fridays are my longest days, so I was pleased to see the issue of Vanity Fair on news stands, something exciting to get me through an inevitably busy night. When they contacted me, VF was sure to inform me that my letter could be edited due to space, or cut altogether depending on the size of the rest of the ads *ahem* articles that were promised their due. In newbie writer speak this meant "It might not all be in there, but glory in some way shape or form is inevitable." To be clear, I was prepared for the fact that the whole "letters" section may be cut, which would be disappointing, but manageable.

THIS is what they printed.

Photo Link

Incase that link doesn't work, here's a transcript:

' "It is with stark disappointment that I compose this letter to address an issue on which you've no doubt already received a vast amount-" A hundred thirty-eight, A hundred thirty-nine, A hundred-forty- Sorry, that's all the room we have, Rachel Langer of Vancouver, British Columbia. Talk about burying the lead!'

So, yep. I guess they still don't think too highly of Twitter, me, or my letter. Instead of just not publishing it, they decided to make a joke of my attempt to communicate with them on their level, restricting me to the 140 characters entitled to a normal "tweet". Thanks Vanity Fair, you stay classy.

I would have been OK with not being published at all due to space, or even having my letter summarily dismissed upon its receipt. But the fact that they chose to make a snide joke, after misrepresenting their intentions and then not even explain the joke to their readers just makes it feel so personal. I guess its my turn to learn a little bit about "the biz". Its not personal, its just business...until you speak your mind.

My thoughts for a follow up article died, and I went back to work to serve people prime rib and double vodka waters. Fortunately I received a ton of twitter-love and support, as well as a very special cheesecake with a message about Vanity Fair that is not fit for print. And, of course, Derek was there through the whole thing, maintaining that it's pretty cool to be able to say that a National Magazine took a shot at me IN PRINT when really, they could have just completely ignored me. When I really think about it, he's right, but my ego still smarts a little bit.

**To be fair, they did post one dissenting viewpoint to their Tweetheart's article in the issue from a reader in Munich, Germany**

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Waiter Rant (Not mine this time!)

So I write a blog...about writing.

I try to make it interesting, and honest, but there are times that I have absolutely nothing to say. More often than not, this is because I'm hiding from whatever draft I'm currently working on and to embarrassed to admit that to all y'all. There are other times that I want to wax poetic about the feel of the ocean air as I walk along the seawall, and other times I am ready to let loose about the customer who ordered a "side of Rachel" for dessert. To an extent, I have done this, but most of the time I am worried that I'm digressing from the topic I'm *supposed* to be writing about.

Today I got the chance to speak on the phone with Steve Dublanica, author of one of my favourite books The Waiter Rant, and operator of this popular blog. Steve, like myself, spent a long time waiting tables, whilst on a quest to figure out what he really wanted, and realize his gift as a writer. He succeeded, and is now working on his second book. I contacted Steve because I had a few questions about how serving had affected his writing, and how he dealt with his critics and fans, respectively. He was kind enough to spend some time encouraging me. With a wide range of life experience including time spent in seminary, working in a psychiatric hospital, and making the rounds as a waiter, Steve encouraged me not to discount a wider topical range on the blog, and, if the inspiration hits, to discuss my observations and experiences with the world and people around me.

I have a feeling that I will continue to struggle with the decisions I make about what I post, how often, and whether this is a niche blog about writing and the chance to break in, or whether its OK to talk about my shoes and how to make a meatloaf from scratch (yes, I DO know.) I guess that's OK, because it is the struggle that teaches me what I want the outcome to be. Either way, I was happy to leech off the experience and life lessons of someone I respect.

It was refreshing to hear some down to earth advice from someone who knows both sides of the fence and isn't afraid to write it all. For some reason, it doesn't matter how often I hear it, I am encouraged when someone tells me how their journey to literary success involved hard work and dedication, and was littered with difficult moments as well as rewarding ones.

Thanks for the encouragement, Steve!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I am buffing up my writing playlist. I have gotten some great suggestions via Facebook and Twitter so far. Please feel free to add to the list. Here is what I've received so far (don't be afraid to be song specific):

Basia Bulat
Kathleen Edwards
Hawksley Workman
The Weepies
Mimicking Birds
Mumford and Sons
Rogue Wave
The Morning Benders
Dan Black
Jeff Buckley
The Great Lake Swimmers
A Fine Frenzy
Racheal Yamagata
Fleet Foxes
The Faunts
Passion Pit
One Eskimo
Emm Gryner
Justin Nozuka
Dahmnait Doyle
Alexi Murdoch
Soul Coughing
Future Sound of London's Lifeforms

That's a long list, but I need MORE! Music domination must be achieved. Also, we can avoid any artists with $ in their names. Thanks in advance!

Monday, March 1, 2010

How the Olympics Won Me Over

Anyone who spent time with me in January was aware that I was not the biggest supporter of the Olympics coming to Vancouver. I did not support the city's decision to place the bid, and I was a vocal dissenter right up to the night of the ceremonies. Let's just be clear, I didn't don any masks or smash any windows mostly because I am not one for the active protesting, but I did my fair share of grumbling. I grumbled about the disruption to my transit schedules. I grumbled about the money that was being spent. I grumbled about the temporary solutions for the downtown east side. I grumbled about the lack of tipping prowess that would be sure to reign in at work. Yet despite all my grumbling, the games began. I missed the opening ceremonies because I was working. I missed the first few events because I was sick. I was adamant that I wouldn't be caught anywhere NEAR downtown Vancouver for two weeks.

Then, Jenn Heil won silver, and I watched her stand on the podium.

When I finally had a few days off (Valentine's weekend is a complete time suck for severs) Derek suggested we go downtown and take a look at the cauldron. I was skeptical but he convinced me that it would be wasteful to pass up the chance to experience Vancouver like we would never see it again. "How will it feel to tell people you didn't even go look?" was the sentiment. He was right, and I convinced myself that as a writer I couldn't pass up the chance to see it all. So we made a quick stop at Zellers to grab some "I Believe" mittens (I couldn't run the risk of being evicted from the downtown core for my lack of patriotism) and I ended up with a toque as well (couldn't have my ears getting cold as I was recovering from being under the weather). We hopped on the skytrain and got off at Waterfront. Immediately I realized the magnitude of this event, for good or for bad. We asked a volunteer in bright blue where we could find the cauldron and proceeded to walk.

Then, I saw the flame.

Something inside me that had been SO resistant to the whole idea of the Olympics lifted off my shoulders, and I was immediately caught up in it all. It is difficult to stay off the bandwagon when everyone who has hopped on is sharing free hot chocolate and warming each other under their giant Canada flags. I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but as soon as we reached the cauldron, I couldn't shake the fact that I was SO glad they had come to our city, and I was now standing in the middle of the West Coast's biggest party. Everything was different. Derek and I were crowded around a 2010 sign, trying to take pictures when a woman walked up and offered to take one for us. We handed her our expensive iPhones wihtout even the idea of mistrust entering our minds. She took our pictures, and we took hers. We reveled in the privilege of hosting the world with her. In those moments, I was reborn, like a Phoenix out of the ashes of the malfunctioning Olympic flame.

Then, hockey began.

My excitement was threefold. Not only was great hockey going on, but my team was being broadcast on a local channel AND they were the favourite to win! (Can you tell I'm an Oiler's fan in Real Life?) I served through several games, and watched all the others, but no matter where I was, I was involved. I could feel the weight of that gold medal, hanging in the balance. It was magic. I watched Tessa and Scott skate their medal winning skates! I watched Joannie Rochette triumph in honour of her mother. I watched both the men and the women sweep for Gold in hockey.

I walked the streets of Robson square, witnessed the protesters, the zipline, the line ups, the love, and through it all I was converted. I spent way more money than I should have on experiencing the city, and I barely wrote a word for three weeks, but I am not sorry. I've been called a band wagon jumper, a hypocrite, and a few other choice phrases, but I can say with confidence that I am SO glad the Olympics came to Vancouver and I'm even happier that I lived here to see it. I'm ready for my "I survived Vancouver 2010" badge now. I DO believe.