Rachael Biggs

Started from the Bottom

By November 20, 2020 Uncategorized

Where do ideas come from? 

This is something most writers get asked, as if we are wizards pulling fully actualized stories out of thin air. It’s something I’ve been pondering lately while seeking my next project and since I like to ponder on paper, I’ll ruminate here. 

The beginnings of ideas have come to me in different ways; sometimes walking through an airport, or in the shower, and on more than one occasion in dreams. They can be a soundbite from a conversation I overhear, or a glimpse of something that strikes me as unusual. Sometimes they originate as a theme, like loneliness vs. freedom or something that I would like to learn about such as turtle racing or how Christmas lights are made. 

The spark of curiosity can come from a number of sources, but for the fleeting thought to become an actual story idea, one must think. Surprise! that’s largely what brains are made for, so the mind loves a task. Piecing together a story is my mind’s dream job. When left unemployed for too long, self-destructive boredom, worry, intense relationship analysis, and myriad other neurosis will commandeer rendering me quite unhappy. 

So I begrudgingly stop scrolling and texting, turn off the TV, convince myself I’ve had enough snacks, which is always debatable, and devote time to stoking what is not yet a fully engulfed idea—just a teeny glimmer. Sometimes they extinguish quickly and sometimes not, but regardless, I have to devote time to fan the flame. A thought becomes an idea, becomes a scene, becomes an act, becomes a screenplay, becomes an Academy Award. Started from the bottom now we’re here. 

Possibilities are everywhere, summoning anyone with the patience to listen and spending time with this invitation to ignite is where ideas come from. 

I don’t know why this became a fire analogy. Maybe I need to turn the heat up. 

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Wince and Repeat

By January 18, 2020 Uncategorized

I’ve been writing stories from the time I learned how to put letters together to make words. I don’t know when that was exactly but when I was seven I won a short fiction contest, so sometime before that. As a result, I have a pretty good body of work. Some I’ve shared and some not, but it’s available for me to reread and judge at my leisure.

My first book came out in 2012 and when I occasionally flip through it now, I am aghast at how amateurish the writing is given that I spent two years on it and worked closely with a big shot editor in New York. I totally glaze over important events and their emotional impact and I add unnecessary statements such as ‘in my opinion’ and ‘as far as I’m concerned’ when it’s obvious that since it’s a goddamned autobiography that the whole thing is in my opinion and is as far as I’m concerned. It’s verbose, liberally uses the word just and contains countless clichés, which is such a dead giveaway that an author is lazy. To say something that has been said exactly the same way before is pointless. If you don’t want to express yourself in a unique way, don’t be an artist, take up law or factory work or some such thing.

But make all those mistakes, I did and I’m here to tell the tale. Don’t be precious! You risk never getting anything done or being a closet artist, which I guess is fine but not for me since my closet is not a lot bigger than my thumb.

In spite of the cringe factor, I’m glad I unleashed my first memoir because I find it amusing and love an excuse to roll my eyes, as if my younger self was a separate entity. The silver lining to my rookie writing and actually the reason for this blog post (What? There’s point to this? Why are you just getting to it now?) is that reading past work is an excellent measure of how much progress one has made. To not evolve is supremely dull and to have evidence that you have by way of contrast is badass.

Always choose badassery.

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I Got 99 Nos but a Yes Ain’t One

By September 10, 2019 Uncategorized

Rejection. As a person exerting effort to achieve anything and certainly as an artist, we have all experienced it and I think it’s safe to say that it never feels cozy. Instead of making it mean what I used to though, I now welcome it and here’s why: it means I’m trying and that people are acknowledging as much and it feels more like validation than a sharp stick in the eye.

Lately I’ve been sending out submissions to literary magazines and although I’ve gotten some glorious yeses, at least 3 times a week I get a form letter telling me that though they enjoyed reading my piece it isn’t for them and all that means is is that I’m in the club. The ‘write, submit, get rejected or accepted and repeat club’ and I love it here! It’s better than the ‘trying to get by doing something I don’t give a rat’s ass about club’ or the ‘dreaming of doing something but too scared to try club’.

I feel confident about my work and its not resonating with someone or even them thinking it’s absolute garbage, only means we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

I’ve been told no in every form. Dumped, fired, ghosted—you name it and I’ve gotten to the honest-to-God point of, “Oh, well, their loss”, and I never would have gotten here without all the rejection.

If it takes 100 nos to get a yes then blaze through those first 99 as fast as you can. Not only do you get your yes, the contrast of all those rejections heightens the joy.

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“A genius is the one most like himself.” -Thelonius Monk

By August 18, 2018 Uncategorized

So here I am, building my website with the help of a designer because to do it myself would take more patience than I will ever have and is not worth the elevated agitation it would yield.

As a result of this website building and my second and third books underway, I’m forced to think about what is now called “branding” in reference to how I want to appear to the world. This is a relatively new term, and one that I’m not crazy about. For starters, it requires a level of self-scrutiny that can’t be possibly be impartial. I might think I’m hilarious, but I assure you there are people that don’t find my humor amusing and if my brand is funny then I’ve mislead them. Oh, the horror for someone that also likes to think of herself as honest.

What if I evolve? What if the cliched term “irreverence” in reference to my brand dissipates and I’m suddenly respectful of authority and play by the rules? Am I then offbrand and unmarketable as such? Do I have to re-do all my damned branding? Go around telling people to change their minds about me? Um, no thanks. I’m busy writing.

I get that advertising is an image and that some people want to buy into that image because it’s simple and our teensy human minds want to compartmentalize, so we feel like we know things, but guess what? We don’t. We don’t know much about much and least of all who a person is, based on what they want us to believe.

Maybe ye ol’ Ten Commandments were onto something. I seem to recall from my brief stint in Sunday school something about having no false idols and not coveting your neighbors shit. There were some others about not killing, stealing or cheating on your spouse, but let’s stay on topic. Social media and branding are all about idolizing and coveting, right? #GodHatesFacebook

Let’s not diminish anyone to a series of overused adjectives in order to sell them or compare ourselves to images that invoke inferiority. Let’s not present ourselves as something we’re not because dishonesty is painful and holy smokes, wouldn’t it be cool if we could all just be fallible humans instead of brands?

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