About Rebecca Chmiel

I am an aspiring writer, an American who has just finished both my Masters and undergraduate degrees in the UK and unsure of where my life will go from here. But plans don't lead you to happiness, right?

Rejection

Okay, let’s be honest here. Rejection is quite possibly the worst part of wanting to be a writer. Living in our heads, living in our hearts and souls, our stories seem so wonderful. Our characters lively and honest. They are a small piece of our souls living in the written word. Hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears go into this. To write is to make the choice to give up the chance to live for the hours it takes to write. To choose to imagine rather than experience.

That’s all fine. Until all the rejections build up and slam you in the head. Thus, my often sullen, sudden disappearance from the blogosphere (feeling sorry for myself is something I cannot seem to escape after 12 rejections in a row…)

But, once in a while, a rejection confirms something for you, almost by accident.

I had been thinking: maybe the issue with Bryn’s story is the way it starts, completely unrelated to the real meat of the book. Maybe, just maybe, its still good but needs that first chapter removed from existence. Maybe this is the answer to my problem. I don’t care about being published. I just want someone to read it and say, that’s good. I like that.

Well, the point it, today I received yet another rejection. In this one it was mentioned that the agent loved the idea of the book, but found the first few pages less interesting. And that has given me hope. Bryn is special to me. I think her story is as honest as any urban fantasy book can be. It is about love and friendship and sisterhood, and goodness. Bryn is special. To me. And here someone else at least said, the idea is good.

So let’s get scissoring away. That first chapter goes, and the submissions package will go out again, and we’ll see what happens.

If we’re lucky, maybe just once it won’t end in rejection.

If not, expect sullenness again. Unfortunately.

First Published Review

So although it is on another person’s blog, I’ve just had my first review published by another person! YAY! It might be a small, tiny thing given the gargantuan nature of publications but it means a lot to me.

The review is on Facets of the Fabulous and at this link:

http://www.facetsofthefabulous.com/2012/03/precious-are-the-words-miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-reviewed-by-rebecca-chmiel/

Life Imitating Art

I do not know much in the world. I’ll admit it first hand. I’m young and have had very few ‘real’ experiences, aside from moving to another country at the age of 18. Everyone always says, write what you know. But what do I know? Not much.I know what it feels like to feel like you don’t belong somewhere, and to feel like an outsider. I know what it feels like to pick up my entire life and give everything up on the unknown. I know what it feels like to be scared to death in a ‘I’m going to vomit if I let myself think’ kind of way and keep moving anyway because there’s nothing else you can do.

Other than that I’ve got nothing. Except one thing: I know about love. I know what it feels like to love a friend so much that you would do anything, give anything to protect them. I know what it feels like to love your partner so much you feel like your heart swells a little bit to think of it. Love that makes you know that no matter what happens, you’re always going to be there for that person. No matter how bad things get.

And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Bryn, the main character in my attempt at a novel, and thinking about how she represents that in me. Without meaning to, I’ve written these characteristics into her. The feeling of being an outsider, and the feeling of loving another person so much that you would literally risk death to be there with them, even if it gets you nowhere.

Then I started thinking about the way I have to listen to music to write, and how it has to, has to, has to represent the emotions in the scene for it to be effective for me. And I find myself coming back, over and over, to Florence and the Machine. Particularly, Cosmic Love. Now, I know this was written about a standard boy and girl sort of affair, but I find it particularly fitting for Bryn and her best friend, Nadi, and the difficulties they find themselves facing.

Strange? Yes. Interesting to think about? For me, yes.

And goodness knows, I do love thinking! 😉

Anyway, it is a lovely song. Click below to listen!

A wee bit of a rant…

So I found myself the unexpected recipient of a 2 week paid holiday. Silly me, I completely forgot about paid holidays and was told by my bosses that it had to be taken before the end of March. I’ve got another week and a half to take sometime during March (if, if, if). See, the big if is related to whether or not I stay at my current job, a thought which has been a bit of a nag during this time off work.

I’m not generally an unhappy person, to be honest. I am often pessimistic but I like to define it further as being happily pessimistic. It is often much easier for me to set my expectations low and have them surpassed than dare to believe in something magnificent happening only to have my soul crushed. This is because I’ve still not developed thick ‘writer’s skin’. So even though I am cheerful about my future as a whole despite knowing that I may never achieve greatness or even any considerable financial success (these are not very important to me on the whole, though I understand our culture rates them above other things, because for now I just want to be happy), I find myself more and more downtrodden at my current job.

It is because within that position I am a waitress/ Manager on Duty, and to be perfectly frank, waitressing is one of the few jobs in which the people you deal with daily don’t particularly care about revealing the qualities they might otherwise hide from the rest of the human race (snobbishness, rudeness, the tendency to believe that other humans are the scum under your shoe, etc, etc). It’s true that while being a waitress I have seen customers be genuinely more caring than people would generally show as well. But there are a lot more jerks out there than nice guys. True examples:

  • “Ah, you’ve done a masters? I didn’t know that waitresses needed such qualifications!”- said with a snicker and glace over to the other suit-types sitting around the table.
  • During a trial of an inane beeper system where the customers can press a button to get their waitresses attention: “Yeah, so, like, you’re kind of our dog.”
  • “Well, your parents must be very disappointed that you’ve come all this way, completed not just an undergraduate degree but also a masters and can only find work in hospitality. Did you fail?”

My grandmother raised me to believe that one can say anything if it is said with a smile. These people and countless others like them are proof that, in fact, this is not always true.

Anyway, the point is, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been looking for work that won’t make me feel a piece of my soul blacken up and fall off every time I walk in the doors. Sorry for that.

Music

I’m not sure what it is about the girl, but for some reason entirely unknown (but often speculated upon) to me, Regina Spektor’s songs creep into my head and become a kind of breeding ground for new stories. Now, she may not be everyone’s kind of singer but there is something about her that is just magic.

I kid you not, the idea for my Masters’ dissertation was bred upon one of her songs called Machine. It made me think about the relationship between people and technology, the ways in which technology has changed relationships between people and what it means to an identity that we have access to all these technologically enabled media in which we are whatever we want to be- what this means for truthfulness and honesty as well as how our perceptions of our online personas relate to our physical personalities. Anyways, long story short, she hits me hard right in the thinker.

At the moment, my obsession is ‘Just like the Movies’ (just as a warning, it is not loved by everyone), which has crawled into my head and made a home, as well as calling up a woman’s voice who wants her story put down on paper but is being surprisingly uncommunicative. She continues to pop up at the most inopportune moments and then disappear whenever she likes. Pff. Annoying and intriguing at the same time. Her reluctance to tell me the entire story only makes me wonder about her all the more. I sense a very twisted ending…

A Very Testosterone Filled Day

Yesterday was a very, very testosterone filled day. It started out with several games of paintball (see above photo), roughly 6 hours worth if we’re counting time. From there we all went for showers before watching rugby (possibly the most testosterone filled sport- think American football without pads). The rugby game was Scotland vs. England, meaning that it was a pretty big game. The men I was hanging around with were all still pretty full of post-paintball adrenaline and weren’t pleased with Scotland’s loss. In fact one guy got so mad he stormed out of the room for five minutes to cool down. When he returned, drinks began flowing quicker. All the better to ease the pain of losing, my dear. Simply enough, it was a poorly mixed night: tequila, Sambucca, whiskey beer, wine, Bacardi, etc, etc. So it got pretty damn messy pretty damn quickly.

Today has not gone well for me because of this. Sorry for the pitiful post. This is all I’ve got at the moment.