writing

Why I love writing for Rochester Magazine 

Rochester Magazine CoversI love writing for Rochester Magazine. I don’t get to write for the magazine very often, but when I do (pick me! pick me!) it’s exciting. I know I’m part of an award winning, accomplished team of artists who are doing something they love. I get to be in the “creative” circle. Heck, I even got to be on the cover of Rochester Magazine!

The circle of story (or how I write)

Freelance writing for any publication is mostly a solitary affair. I don’t punch a time card in an office building. I show up at my desk – my cup of fresh pressed coffee from Joe Bean next to me – with many ideas swimming in my head. I tap these tidbits out on my keyboard, while talking to myself. (My interns are usually sleeping in a sunbeam.) I come up with the ideal story and bravely pitch it to a magazine. Sometimes the pitch falls flat, but when it flies the circle of story begins. 

I research, interview people, transcribe quotes, gather wool, write my shitty first draft and edit. I can’t tell you how many drafts I write – I start off by numbering my drafts and then lose interest. I usually don’t outline, but I do mind map my “internal” dialogue to get out of my head and put some structure around my story. 

I relentlessly tweak my story over and over again until it feels good to me. I obsess over the details. As soon as I think the story is ready to submit, I put it away for a day or two – if I have the luxury. Upon visiting my story again, I search for typos, grammar goofs, factual errors, wordiness, or the myriad of things that just don’t feel right. I pull out my tattered Elements of Style, correct my gaffes, kill a few more “darlings” and get closer to my assigned word count. I read the story aloud, and then silently a few more times until I’m ready once again to send it to an editor. 

Sometimes I get zero feedback and no changes to the story, which leaves me worried. Other times I get zero feedback, but upon reading the published story, the editor has made some changes, which irk me. And then there are times I receive feedback from a caring, nurturing and knowledgeable editor who is in my corner and wants to see me succeed. 

Rochester Magazine editor Mark Liu is one of those extraordinary editors who gets the best out of writers. He lovingly changes a word, phrase, or headline and immediately the story transforms from good to great. And that makes me happy! 

Editor and writer connection.

With help from a talented editor, the pieces of story a writer struggles with will come together in an enlightening way. I submitted my first story for Rochester Magazine with the headline “Looking for Vegetopia.” Mark changed the headline to “Searching for Vegetopia.” One word change made a big difference in capturing the reader’s attention. Mark also helped me focus and shape the entire story. He encouraged me to stay true to my voice and pushed me to explore my feelings and show how I felt on paper. He helped me craft a better story than I could have ever imagined. I continue to channel what I learned from that period (2007), and apply it to all my stories. My work has been published four times in Rochester Magazine’s ten years of publication:

+ “Searching for Vegetopia” 

+ “A Lawn Affair” 

+ “Don’t Scarf the Chocolate” 

+ “Learn Something New”

Just keep writing (and reading).

I also wrote a story that was cut from Rochester Magazine due to low ad sales – “How to do 40 better”– and have pitched countless others that just failed to resonate. But I never stopped writing. 

While I won’t make a living by freelance writing for Rochester Magazine, I am richer because of writing for the magazine. I’ve become a better writer and improved my editing skills. With every issue of I read, I learn something new about the people, places and things that make Rochester a great cultural and family-friendly city to live in. The magazine – whether or not I write for it – makes me proud. 

Rochester Magazine’s 10th anniversary issue is out in print and online. The tablet app edition is gone, but has given way to a full website at rochmagazine.com  The new online experience will feature additional stories, photo galleries and daily news, plus expanded lifestyle coverage of the Rochester and Finger Lakes region. Alas, the “We Dare You”– February 2014 cover of me wielding a blow torch did not make the staff’s favorite cover list.

Regardless, you can look through all Rochester Magazine covers online and make your own list of favorites. 

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog, or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau. Wherever you are online, I’m probably there, too – so look me up!

Lessons from women dumped by women

If you’ve ever been dumped, ditched or unfriended by a woman friend, or girlfriend, then you know how devastating that loss feels. Friendships give us meaning and purpose. When we have our best gal pals around, we feel wanted, trusted and good about ourselves. The relationship with our women friends reduce stress and lift us up. Our friendships are so powerful that if you find yourself suddenly cut loose, the result can be traumatic.

Nina Gaby, editor of Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women says that her own experiences with being dumped (several times) served as the inspiration for writing this book. Her hand-picked stories from emerging and established writers give voice to one of the most painful betrayals in life. 

Gaby, a writer, visual artist and psychiatric nurse practitioner (formerly of Rochester) says that women experience trauma when their BFFs ditch them because often there is no closure. Women are left grieving from their loss and can experience confusion, anger, depression, fear and isolation. We are left wrestling with questions such as – Why didn’t I see this coming? What is wrong with me? What do I do now?

So how does a woman of any age move on after being dumped? 

“Resillience is key,” said Gaby during an afternoon salon of women one Sunday. Look inward. Only through honesty and self-appraisal can we ask ourselves these difficult questions and eventually accept that there is no answer. 

We can also take solace from knowing we are not alone. There is hope. 

My advice? Read this book. Share these poignant and meaningful essays about friendship and the consequences of broken friendships with the most important women in your life. Maybe – just maybe – you will hold your current friends a bit more closer to your heart.

Essays of Note in Dumped

+ Julie VanDeKreke was dumped from her group in high school simply because she wasn’t cool. In “Off the Line” she reveals her pain and her revenge. 

+ Alexis Paige thought she knew everything about being a women from reading her mother’s Cosmopolitan magazines when she was ten years old. Her essay “Bridezilla or Chill Bride? Which One Are You? Take This Quiz to Find Out” poionts out her own culpability in being dumped by her bestie.

+ Nina Gaby reflects on the loss of her first best-friendship and a falling out among friends later in life in “Simple Geometry: The Art of War for Girls.”

+ “In Since I Don’t Have You” Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean examines her grief over the loss of an epic friendship, which is no less crushing in middle age than in middle school.

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau.

The inconvenience of life

mummy – Kristine BruneauI want to have a full and joyful life.

I want to have a life overflowing with laughter, movement, grace and love – and inconvenience.

I chose marriage. I chose motherhood. I chose writing. I chose to share my motherhood journey in front of strangers. I chose to work from home. My choices have brought me tremendous joy, but the joy that comes within these roles isn’t easy. It’s hard work, fraught with inconvenience.

As I feverishly type away (to meet a deadline) the ringing doorbell startles me. The dogs, roused from their midday nap, bark and slip-slide along the tile floor slamming into the door. I shush the dogs, who emit low growls, but I do not move from my chair.

My son yells: “Mom! I need you!” It’s after five and I’m searching the internet for something that may or may not be essential to a story. When I don’t stop and immediately answer his call, he shouts again. Later, my son tells me I need a computer time limit after he’s home from school so I know when to stop.

My husband pops his head into my “office” (formerly the dining room) to say hello. I’m sitting at my desk talking aloud, trying to edit a story. I’m not ready to take a break. 

I receive a summons for jury duty. My billable time is now at the mercy of my good citizenship requirement. 

One afternoon, my retina detaches. I have emergency surgery (with a needle). I have to lay on my right side to hold the gas bubble in place for three days. I get behind on editing an article.

When you start to want to live your life fully instead of opting for death, you discover that life itself is inconvenient.” – Pema Chödrön

Like a tiny pebble lodged in your shoe as you are walking along the path of life at a nice clip – you don’t want to slow down or stop. But you have to stop and remove the pebble, which is  really irritating your foot and ruining a perfectly good walk with your dog.

The good news is that your dog will wait for you to remove whatever it is that’s bothering you. For a few more minutes, the sun will continue to shine. The air will remain still and sweet with the scent of early spring. Once you stop for a moment to reorganize and redirect yourself, you can keep moving forward in life and take on whatever else comes with it. 

The pebble is an inconvenience that reminds you to stay humble and open your heart. 

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau.