Why I Jumped Ship on Traditional Magazines


Slowly crawling out of their caves to find print is in fact not dead, magazine media companies find that the world has changed and only the innovative will survive (more so than ever before). You would think brands like Vogue, Esquire, and People would have the legacy to ride into the future, but I can honestly say that companies I once would have died to work at are no longer quite so mystical as they once were. While I’m sure the world will always desire the unattainable fantasy of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve jumped ship.

In preparation for meeting a lot of magazine professionals in New York, I began following companies like Vogue and Elle on social media. I quickly began to notice the monotonous hum of output they created. Their content mimicked each other, and I began to scroll by. They say it’s difficult to compete with the vast amount of content out there, but maybe the content has grown stale?

Away from the world of Fall lipsticks and what outfit Kendall Jenner wore today is a land that I find myself starting to visit more and more. They call it the indie movement.

Instead of being controlled by advertisers and fighting for crazy circulation numbers, indies embrace the unknown and the belief that consumers value content created thoughtfully over the black hole of immense quantity that traditional companies try to rev out every hour.

As a consumer, I get bored with the same articles season after season, year after year. As a writer, I couldn’t place much value on many. While sometimes it’s nice to mindlessly read about celebrities and fashion trends, the lens gets old. It seemed to me that long-form journalism was just a nostalgic dream.

I had Darling Magazine circling my radar for awhile but didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t think a magazine would ever captivate me enough to actually become a subscriber again.

Ironically, as my time in NYC was nearing an end, my dad gifted me with the latest issue of Darling Magazine, a little motivation as my program wound down. It was the most beautiful magazine I’d held in my hands– I didn’t even want to open it! I could proudly display it on my desk as something fresh and inspiring… substantial.

  
 But when I did open its pages, I was immediately taken aback by the letter from the editor, only a handful of pages in. For once it was like a magazine was reading my mind and knew my life story… my hopes, dreams, insecurities. Had it been a book, you would have found highlights on every page.

It’s been down the rabbit hole from there. I’ve now read the pages of Kinfolk (quite notoriously hipster now), Flow (another favorite focused on mindfulness), Gentlewoman, and many others. Each is refreshingly different from the other, and while not all have appealed to me, the indies I have loved feel like a new sense of belonging. That there are people out there like me– writing and creating and sharing life. All in all, it felt like they were calling me home to content that creates genuine joy rather than making me feel “never quite enough.”

  
Do you have any independent magazines you love? I’m always looking to discover more, even quirky “traditionals”! Also, you can check out Magazine Brighton on Instagram, their magazine shop in the UK is full of indie-possibility 😉

In no way am I shaming anyone who still subscribes to traditional magazines, I still love National Geographic (despite growing controversy), The Knot (I’m engaged, it happens), Britain Magazine, and am known to flip through pages of anything if it’s put in front of me. These are personal preferences only!

Writing Prompts, Not Quite So Elementary


I can remember sitting with my peers in our little desks as we scribbled away in our journals, responding to the teacher’s writing prompt of the day. Compared to learning the multiplication table, journal writing was one of the better parts of the school day. Our thoughts were our own, and teachers couldn’t really put a grade on that. It seemed like an easy A, but I still have some of those journals filled with the elementary me and some of them aren’t too shabby. Most of the time the teachers said they wouldn’t read the entries, but just check them off if they were completed.

So when I sat in a college creative writing course for the first time and found the professor making us essentially do the same thing, I was a little put off. It felt so elementary. And so for a solid year nothing ever came to pass with those prompt-led writings. My critical judgement of them created a brick wall, keeping out all the creativity my brain had to offer.

I don’t know what I thought was the secret to great writing or the secret to tapping into the creativity in my head, but it wasn’t something that my second grade teacher made me do. It couldn’t be.

Thank goodness I eventually learned my lesson. In my final semester of college, sitting at a new university with my heart open to any new opportunities and the judgement monster long gone, I found that it didn’t take any grand ideas to write something meaningful. In fact, the things that came out of these “childish” exercises blew me away. I wrote things I never dreamed I could write, but there they were on a meager scrap of paper while I worked from some sort of prompt. Shoot, I was even writing poetry, and everyone knows how scared I was of poetry. One of my favorite little short stories came from a simple prompt of using the atmosphere of “lonely” and a “dirt road.” I created such a genuine character that a part of me fell in love with him, and I have a feeling I’ll use him somewhere down the road.

The tricky thing with prompts is you do have to keep them a little elementary. You can’t take them too seriously or expect too much, just like with so many other things. You just have to open yourself up to them and enjoy the process of having something to write, digging for a way to say it.

Perhaps more than anything, they finally helped me realize how right Picasso was.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” ~Picasso

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Now if only this meant I didn’t have to pay bills….

Finding a Little Place


Lately my writing has been taken over by job applications, personal statements, and cover letters. I’ve been aching to find a moment for myself and write freely. I’ve undergone two job interviews now, applications to professional programs, and a multitude of the impersonal monotony that is online applications. Planning for the future and trying to stabilize my finances has been my first true taste of uncertainty of life after college. While I know every college graduate must experience these emotions, this past month has taken a toll on my motivation to write, as well as my overall well-being. But, of course, we all stubbornly keep on keeping on. That is the raw beauty of the human experience.

Perhaps that is why the blogging has gotten few and far between, but writing is still something I wake up wanting to do everyday. It is what drives me in searching for a job within the creative field whilst knowing the competition is fierce. It reminds me even if I don’t get a job I can dive into right away, my passion will be with me for the rest of my life. It isn’t just a career choice, it’s a lifestyle.

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I began to think of ways that I could combat the constant stress levels from focusing too much on making a living and the needs of the future. These are very normal stressors of life, but they have been a new growing pain. Trying to keep my mind centered in the large spaces of free time quickly became a void where my ego would take over and start scrutinizing every aspect of my life. It’s a dangerous black hole my friends.

I started to step away from everything that just fed the anxiety and started embracing the moment again to the best of my ability. I feel like I preach that a lot on here (living in the moment), but if I could give any advice to anyone it would be that. As someone that has struggled with anxiety for the majority of her life, it’s the only thing that has ever helped me truly feel alive and well.

With that comes the importance of a happy place- one that allows you the freedom of just being there. While I know there is an incredible completeness to being able to be happy anywhere, I also know my own limitations right now. I needed to find my happy place.

While that oasis changes with each new town and time, it’s important to recognize those spaces. For me, right now, that is a little cabin by the river not too far from home….but just far enough.

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I hope your happy place finds you soon if, like me, you are having a crazy start to the new year. And thanks to my Dad for letting us usurp the cabin whenever we want.
©livesimplykmm.wordpress.com
*All pictures and edits are my own.

Writing It Out


As hundreds of writers are heaving their way through NaNoWri 2014, I am feeling overwhelmingly at peace with a short(ish) story I just finished. Awhile back, I was trudging through a lot of personal chaos. In many respects, I still am. In 20 days I will be finished with college and embarking on a very new path of adventure, and let me just say, it is an adventure that I definitely didn’t know about 6 months ago.

The only thing I know with certainty is that life is constantly changing and morphing into things that no amount of foresight could imagine.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I had an almost suffocating desire to tell a story about what had happened within the past few months of my life. It was one of those experiences that felt like everything came to a screeching halt. Things felt heavy and haggard. Things felt surreal. I was learning an important life lesson, and I didn’t have anything to turn to for a point of reference. I needed to write. Badly. But, like I mentioned in that post, it wasn’t just my story to tell.

For the past few months I have been pouring my heart into that story. It worked out that I could write the story for my senior thesis to graduate, as well as having it workshopped by classmates and professors. I have never purged in such a creative way before, and it was the most freeing thing I have ever done.

Don’t get me wrong, certain parts were incredibly painful. Beginning was difficult, as always. Certain parts of the story I wrote with tears pouring down my face. It was hard balancing fiction and fact, but I got through it. There came a point when the story didn’t seem important anymore. M and I both had some distance from it, and we were finally starting to move past that chapter in our lives; if it hadn’t been for my thesis, I probably would have dropped the story entirely. It became something I didn’t want to harp on anymore. There were even times when I needed M’s help, but I didn’t want him to think back on such stomach-acid inducing times.

Yet, with each discussion for the story, I felt like he was able to get a part of himself out, and I was able to create characters that not only helped readers understand, but helped me understand too. Writing that story, no matter how fictionalized it became, helped me find the happy ending we were looking for.

I feel giddy and light as I reflect on the feedback I got from classmates and professors, from unbiased readers. This story was a weird culmination of me growing as a writer and me growing as a person. I found my voice, and I found an ending to our story I think we can be happy with. We can put this chapter on a shelf fondly, without so much bitterness that it would have brought had we never found the words to express it.

“Becoming Bravo” may always sit in a corner of my university’s library archives. It may always be 34 pages stuffed in a box with other keepsakes. Or maybe I’ll publish it in some different form someday. But I think it will always be a piece of us that we didn’t let rot inside us. We let it flower into something that had a purpose outside of ourselves…. and that felt really really good.

So to you writers trudging through your NaNo deadlines, don’t give up. It can turn into something unimaginable, or if nothing else, into something that stretches you beyond yourself.

Happy writing!

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Images and text ©LiveSimplyKMM

Braving the story


Over Labor Day weekend I found myself happily holed up at my family’s cabin and it made me think how wonderful it is to have a place to just be. I think we all search for places like this, and most people try their best to make their home that safe place where they can breathe and take everything in.

Yet, there is just something about being isolated from the world, watching hummingbirds daintily land on your favorite flowers sipping your morning cup of coffee. That’s the good stuff.

 

It was exactly what I needed to open up my heart and soul and pour it out onto the white pages of my notebook. My story is starting to seep out of my veins, once I finally let myself turn the faucet on.

 

 

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Louis Lamour Quote

It is silly how hard it was just to let the words start flowing and it made me realize that sometimes telling a story, especially one that is close to you and that means a lot, those stories are the really scary ones. Not so much because you are afraid of them, but you are afraid that others won’t understand. That people just won’t get it. But that is the thing about creativity.

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So I hope all of you out there continue to express yourselves and tell your stories however you see fit. They do matter, even if it is just to one person- you. Happy weekend!

©livesimplykmm.wordpress.com

When to stop and when to keep going


So, I recently was working hard on a new post, only to find out all my subscribers got e-mailed out a drafted version of it.

Needless to say, I am feeling unhappy this occurred. I was really excited about my post and getting to share it with everyone. It has been a few days in the works, but now half of it has been shared with my lovely followers. I could not even imagine how an author would feel if a drafted section of their book was stolen and published to the public. You work so hard on something, and sending it out before it is ready is traumatic. I am feeling horrified, and it was just a blog post.

To be honest, it took a lot of energy just to start writing a post recently. I have always sided with honesty on my blog, because it is one thing I have always respected above anything else from other people, and especially other writers.

In honesty, I have been going down a pretty bumpy path recently. Or at least, I’ve been learning A LOT and I have not been able to take in what it all means yet. I have wanted to share all the details on here, but they have not been just my difficulties. Therefore, I found it was not right of me to divulge. Generalized statements do not do it justice and so I have held off saying anything. It is a strange feeling having something to say and a means to say it, and yet staying silent.

My favorite stories are the ones that pull you in and wrap you up in their presence. The ones laden with details…. because the details make it REAL. TANGIBLE. LIFE.

I hope at some point in my life I can tell this chapter, but right now everything else feels superficial. The only thing I can liken it to in an author’s perspective is writing a story you are told to write, while holding one in that constantly whispers in your ear “I’m here, tell ME.” Until I move on or unleash this particular story in some medium, aching silence will have to do.

Finally, I am so sorry if you were inconvenienced with a half-finished post from me in your inbox. It was definitely unintentional, and I feel as though I have learned my lesson when using the WordPress app on my iPad.

Don’t worry, I’m still writing, but I think it is just going to be for me for awhile. Until then here is my life in pictures….

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Have a beautiful week!!

Writer Stereotypes: True or False?


The other day I was thinking about some common stereotypical conceptions about writers.

1. Writers are loners.
2. You have to be a tortured soul to make good art.
3. You have to have something good to write about.

For the first one, I have always known I like solidarity. I think everyone who grew up with me through elementary school all the way to college knows me for being the quiet girl. The ironic thing is the fact that I’m actually not quiet AT ALL. I can remember countless friends recounting their first sleepovers with me and being blown away by how much I actually do say (and my extreme goofiness which is now labelled “crashing Kassie”). It always amuses me when people’s perceptions of me drastically change once they have one-on-one time with me, or if I just happen to be in an uninhibited mood. Therefore, I can understand how my own personality can easily fall into that stereotypical loner author persona. What I think really proliferates this is that writers tend to be so inside their own heads, they just forget to actually talk to other people. I do not mean to speak for everyone, but it is just a trait I’ve noticed. I know I find myself talking things out in my head instead of verbally. Not to mention, I know a lot of writers that talk A LOT and are social butterflies which I definitely would not define myself as. Sometimes I really do just like the company of a good book!

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I used to be an avid believer that the only way to write well was if you had experienced a lot of hurt, and a lot of writers I love espouse this philosophy. Nowadays it is my least favorite concept about creativity. There is an obvious tendency for people to only know how to deal with intense emotions by writing through them (or painting, sculpting, etc.), but that certainly does not mean you have to be in a severe mental state to produce anything good. In fact, I often find that type of writing method never works for me. I sound whiny and I feel as though characters tend to be superficial. Again, this is just me. I know some people create beautiful art in heightened emotional states… but I find it taxing. I prefer to wade out the storm and maybe come back to it later. I’ve also discovered I write best when I’m not trying ridiculously hard to convey an idea. However, my writing process is a continuous journey of learning. Instead of writing only when I’m super sad or super happy (I’m oversimplifying here), I now write every day fairly randomly. My best work has come from those spaces in between when I just enjoy the process and am not trying to portray a complex idea or mood.

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I used to be one of those people that would go searching for things to write about. I think it is an easy rut for me to fall into. Starting is always the hardest part. Yet, I’ve quickly discovered that the craziest things can fall onto the page when you are hardly thinking about anything at all. I had a poetry assignment recently where we had to translate a poem that was in a foreign language- the catch was we could not look up the words. How in the world are you supposed to translate a poem without knowing what it says? Honestly, this method was incredibly ingenious. It made me have to start from nothing, not even an idea, just a bunch of weird looking words on a page. I eventually decided to decipher it like a code- replacing words that were repetitive with specific words and filling in the spaces to make it somewhat coherent and musical (in its own way). It ended up being well-loved from everyone who read it. I was extremely perturbed by the overwhelming positive feedback it received compared to other poems that I was far more emotionally invested in. I thought a good poem should come from some state of understanding from the poet– I was definitely clueless as to where I was headed in this assignment— yet that is what ended up making it successful with my readers.

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Here are the poems:

Original:
BY: Miroslav Kirin

“KROZ ZRAK ŠIŠTE svjetlucava
bića: plova riba, jato ptica, roj mušica –

otkidaju me od težine hodanja,
otkidaju me od prisile disanja.

Jesi li ih vidio?
Znaš, otvoriš li prozor i, ako si sretan,
ugledat ćeš ih. Ne,
ništa nisam vidio.
Jesi li otvorio prozor? Jesam.
Znači, prozor imaš. Da.

Pa kako ih onda nisi
vidio. Jesi

li slijep? Nisam. Jesi
li sretan? Ne

mogu odgovoriti. Ne
možeš odgovoriti? Da.”

My Translation:

Smile

The small sister gently
being: rose red, just replica of music-

Loving me in soft morning,
Loving me in quiet evening,

Does she so smile?
Some, only she laughs, also with tears,

like raining so. No,
never disappear smile.

Does she only laugh? Perhaps.
Again, laugh more. Always.

A child so merry creates
smiles. Does

she sleep? Disappear. Does
she die? No

more fear. No
more fear? Always.

Needless to say, I feel like everything I have learned about writing prose, poetry, fiction, and art in general, has finally been seeping in these past few weeks. I admit that I was one of those wanna-be writers who thought those three stereotypes were true, but my own experience has shown me that they over-simplify the creative process and the diversity of the people that create.

*Disclaimer- I do not understand Croatian at all, so if you know the translation, I’d be interested in what it really says… but at the same time, knowing the translation is inconsequential to the exercise and I’m happy with the results!
**Images from Pinterest
©livesimplyKMM.wordpress.com