Friday, February 16, 2007

The Magazine Life

First, a bit of housekeeping. Did anyone other than Jana, Miriam, tarysande, elizawrites, Penny, parek_matru or unycorne (going with screen names or first names) give me your writing month results? I've sifted through my e-mail and comments and want to make sure I didn't miss anyone. No cheating and saying you sent me something when you didn't because I can go back and find it if I know what to look for. :-)

I got a really late start on the day, probably because I woke up from a nasty nightmare that was the worst kind of nightmare because in ways it was utterly realistic (though it had some dream-like qualities). Being chased by fire-breathing dragon monkeys in a nightmare is scary, but you can wake up and know for sure it didn't happen and won't happen, but a nightmare that could happen leaves you unsettled. This one made me just pull the covers up over my head and hunker down for another hour or so until I could face the world.

I may have material for another nightmare brewing in my living room, one in which I'm buried under a huge pile of magazines. I like magazines. They're great for having something to read when a book would be too much. I like them for travel or when I'm working on a book and don't want to get involved in reading a book. I can pick up a magazine to read for a few minutes here and there while I eat dinner, before I go to bed or during commercial breaks when I'm watching TV, and there's no danger of getting so sucked in that I lose hours. Even if I read the whole thing, it can't eat up too much time. I get the magazines that go with my memberships in Romance Writers of America and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, my dad usually gives me a subscription to Southern Living for Christmas (I like their recipes), and I subscribe to Glamour and Lucky because I'm fashion-impaired and need help staying somewhere within this decade of style.

But I recently did something that may turn out to be a mistake. I had a bunch of frequent flier miles on some airlines I fly only occasionally, so the odds of me ever earning enough for a free ticket were slim. Every so often, they offer you the chance to get free magazine subscriptions with your miles. I may have gone a wee bit nuts this time around. Now all those magazines are starting to come in, and I'm getting buried. I already had a bit of (make that a major) clutter problem. Now I could probably build furniture with my magazines.

I like the TV Guide enough that I may actually renew the subscription. The new version, where it's more like a regular magazine and less about the TV listings, is nice, and my local newspaper has cut its TV coverage down to almost nothing. I'm a bit iffy on Entertainment Weekly, though they do cover books, which is nice. I got a couple of the fitness/health type magazines, Shape and Self, and you'd think they'd motivate me to exercise, but who has time when there are all these magazines to read? I got a few of the fashion/lifestyle magazines aimed at a slightly younger demographic, like Jane, mostly so I could sort of stay hip to the age group I write about, but those are getting rather depressing to read. I hope they don't really reflect the way women in their twenties look at life, because that's awfully cynical and, dare I say, shallow.

Then there are all the home decor and decorating magazines. Yikes! Even if I did learn something, which I don't think I will because it's all so non-practical unless you have an ultramodern mansion and a few million for decorating it, I wouldn't be able to start decorating until I got rid of all the home decor magazines that clutter the place up. I didn't remember signing up for that many, but now I seem to be getting one a day.

I have come to a few conclusions about myself, about magazines and about life from reading all these:
1) I am not hip, edgy or modern, and I'm not sure I really want to be. I'm an old-fashioned girl and I like it that way. The lifestyles portrayed in a lot of those magazines seem very empty and sad to me.

2) I will probably never be truly fashionable. I'm more the classic style type. There are some things about current fashion that I totally don't get, which I'm sure makes my look boring, but whatever. I have fabulous red shoes, so there. Like, what's with this apparent "rule" that you don't want to put things together with other things that actually go with them? For instance, I recall seeing one of those "how to put together an outfit" articles where they showed a very feminine, floaty dress. In my boring, classic way, I'd wear a dress like that with either strappy sandals or ballet flats and delicate jewelry. But apparently I'd be wrong because it seems you're supposed to balance out the sweetness of the dress by wearing it with motorcycle boots and a denim jacket. I guess that goes back to issue number one, because I don't see a problem with looking sweet and pretty.

3) People who are non-snobby about everything else will be snobby about books. Entertainment Weekly does occasionally review genre books, but its book section still tilts toward the highbrow. The rest of the issue may have been about American Idol and Survivor, but then you get to the books and suddenly it's all pretentious. Ditto with the fashion magazines, which are the worst. The Elle book pages are hilarious (unintentionally so). They seem to go for the authors who declare Oprah book club picks to be boringly middlebrow and too mainstream. This in a magazine that ran an eight-page feature on how to dress like a celebrity, illustrated with paparazzi photos of people like the Olsen twins at Starbucks. Seems to me that people who care about whether or not they look like a celebrity when they do their grocery shopping are probably not reading the Pulitzer candidates. Just sayin'. And by making it look like it's not worth bothering to read if you're not reading Pulitzer candidates, they might be discouraging these people from even considering reading anything other than a magazine. I can't think of a better place to go all chick lit, all the time.

4) Even if I got my dream house, was able to decorate it just the way I wanted and had a maid to keep it clean, my home will probably never be featured in a home decorating magazine because there's nothing too edgy or unexpected about my decorating style (and I don't think the suit of armor on the ledge over the entryway counts). I also happen to like having white walls.

And now to dive back under the blanket for some writing time.

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