Sunday, October 30, 2011

Solving the Problems of the Universe

ME: Why don't we just make water ourselves?
TAD: Like with Hydrogen and Oxygen?
ME: Yeah.
TAD: Well you have to make sure that they fit together correctly.
ME: Yeah, they'd have to look like little Mickey Mouses.
TAD *blink, blink*: Is that what you think of when you think of water molecules? Mickey Mouse?
ME: Yeah. That's like the only thing I remember from chemistry class.

Monday, October 24, 2011

15 Things I Learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

 The band.

So you know when someone young does something that's a little inspiring and hopeful and then they suddenly die a tragic, horrible death and then word of that thing that they did spreads like crazy until the whole world sees them as some iconic image of Love or Peace or Equality or whatever it was that they did that was so inspiring?

Well I realized that I was setting myself up to die one of those tragic, horrific deaths and become the poster child for Following Your Dreams or Quitting Your Job or who knows what.

So let's talk about something else, shall we? Because I have no intention of dying, thank you very much (although the idea of becoming an icon is tempting).

This past weekend, Tad and I drove to Ohio to see our friends, Zach and Stephanie. And for funsies, we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Stephanie is a serious AC/DC fan (which we all find hilarious).
Tad loves Metallica (which I find hilarious).
Zach likes pretty much anything (although he has a huge weakness for ska).
And I...I'm one of those people who likes to think that I know a lot about old bands and artists, when in reality my knowledge doesn't go much past Wikipedia and the backs of my Ladies from the 80s Barbie Doll boxes.

So here are 15 things I learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can be summarized by two performers and one movement: Elvis, The Beatles and punk rock
2. If you're in a punk rock band in the 70s or 80s, it's preferable that you hate God, hate the government, feel misunderstood, and choose a really cliche stage name. If you do all of these things, you will get a massive display at the R&R HoF and a video in which you're promoting anarchy and a limited use of the English language.
3. If I was in a punk rock band, my stage name would be Cat Call.
4. Jimi Hendrix had a lot of stage outfits.
5. Kurt Cobain really did die. I saw his birth certificate. Take that conspiracists! (Whether Courtney Love killed him or not is still up for debate).
6. Mick Jagger is a small, small man.
7. Apparently, rock and roll ceased to exist after the 1980s. At least that's what the Hall of Fame's lack of any bands from the 90s tells me (Nirvana aside).
8. Since when are Simon and Garfunkel considered Rock and Roll? And if they made it, where's Peter, Paul and Mary?
9. Lady Gaga's meat dress really was made out of meat.
10. It's cool to play a right handed guitar backwards when you're left handed. Wished I would have known this. I wouldn't have been so embarrassed while playing my right-handed Yamaha.
11. It's a good thing I had a hair appointment the week BEFORE visiting the R&R HoF. Because if it was scheduled after, I'm pretty sure I'd come out of there with a Debbie Harry hairstyle.
12. Faith Hill does not belong in the Women Who Rock exhibit. (What's she doing there?!)
13. I saw enough sequined tops and outfits that from now on when people give me a hard time about mine, I'll just say "All the rock stars are doing it." (You think I'm joking about having sequined clothing? Think again.)
14. If you die young, you have a better chance of getting a really good display in the R&R HoF.
15. The items from female artists are 99% of the time way more awesome and well-kept than the items of male artists. So, if you're thinking of making a trip to the R&R HoF, go now and catch the Women Who Rock exhibit while you can.

And now it's time to play Rock Band until my arms fall off.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Amanda Luedeke is Back From the Dead - post 2

Note: If you missed post 1, here it is.

Sometime in April, (or was it May?), I scaled back on the hours I put into my day job. I'd reached a point where I'd hit a wall when it came to growing the agenting job. My day job just took too much out of my day. So, after a bit of angst and frustration and worry and tears and fretting, I talked to my day job people.

And the result was Wednesdays off.

Sure, it affected my pay. And later I found out that I would miss out on bonuses and get fewer vacation days (yeah, the vacation days I used to work at conferences), but it was what I needed to do to keep moving forward. Because like with anything in life, the things that mean the most, rarely come easy.

So there I was...with suddenly all kinds of time. Or at least it felt that way. I remember telling my agenting boss, Chip, that it felt as though I could breathe. Like a load was lifted. And for the first time in quite awhile I was able to sleep at night without a zillion things running through my head...things that I'd forgotten to do, conversations I'd failed to follow up on, deadlines that has snuck up on me in the dead of stillness (don't you hate when that happens?).

All of that stopped. My mind cleared. And I felt in control.

So what did I do? I decided to write a novel.

It's funny how when you're comfortably busy and not that over-extended and only a tad behind things that you can't bear the thought of adding something else to your list. But when you're super busy and freaking out and overworked, those are the times that you're most productive. They're the times that the addition of 9 free hours to your day suddenly translates into enough time to crank out a novel.

And so that's what I did. I cranked it out. I'd never written a complete novel before. I'd always started and then stopped, moving on to a better idea or convincing myself that the current one was bad. I had no discipline. No internal motivation.

But to be frank, now that I was working with authors, I was feeling to be a bit of a fake. No, writing a novel is not a prerequisite to being an agent. But it helps.

I needed to be able to sympathize with my authors. To be able to understand what they're going through when they're doubting their middles or frustrated at the fact that their protagonists are always crying (this happens). I need to say "hey, I've been there, and here's what you need to do..."

So I started writing. And that writing bug that I'd always wished would bite me, took such a chunk out of my usually-resistant self that I started writing and I never stopped. I'd crank out thousands of words in a night. THOUSANDS OF WORDS. I'd do 10 or 15000 in 7 days. Sometimes in 5 days. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

And I worked and I worked and I worked.
And soon, in order to write, I had to give things up. I started saying no when Tad asked me if I wanted to hang out with him and our neighbor friends. I said no when he asked if I wanted to watch tv. I said no to movies. No to game nights. No, no, no, over and over and over. I could even hear them having fun sometimes...just down the hall and in the other apartment. And still, I said no.

And in five months, I had a book. 75,000 words. 140 pages. Single spaced. Block paragraphs.

I would never have been able to do that if I hadn't already been stretched thin. Already pushing my limits. And I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it if I'd said "yes" to all those offers of fun and good times. Because at some point, you have to determine what's really important and then you go for it. And for a time, it's going to suck.

But in the end, you have the first draft of your first novel, and it feels a whole lot better than watching 100 movies and playing a zillion rounds of Uno.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amanda Luedeke is Back From the Dead - post 1

Note: I'm going to do a series of posts to kind of wrap up the past few years. A new chapter has begun in my life, and I just feel as though I need to take a minute and reflect on everything that has happened...things that I either couldn't or didn't feel comfortable talking about here, I can now share freely. So I apologize in advance if the posts feel a bit preachy or judgy. I just need to be able to take some time and sort through my thoughts. To catalog where I am at this moment in life. And I also need to catch everyone up. Because the good thing with all of this (one of the many good things) is that Swedish Pankakes is back!

It's been awhile.

Of course the obvious reason for my absence would be lack of interest. I mean how many people at any given time start a blog and then lose interest? Probably nearly everyone. But for me, it wasn't a lack of interest or a lack of content.

It was a lack of time.

Ugh, I hate myself for pulling the time card. Aren't we ALL too busy? Don't we ALL make choices each and every day in terms of how our time will be spent? And don't we all make time for what's really important?

So maybe instead of saying I didn't have the time, I should say that some things were going on that made this blog less of a priority. Way less of a priority.

Last summer, I became a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Now this was one of the biggest blessings of my life, because I've seen the business...I know how rare it is that someone gets such an opportunity while they're still in their 20s. And I also know how even more rare it is that this should happen to someone who came from outside the publishing world. Someone who happened to be in the right place (for me, it was a Barnes & Noble) at the right time (during an author signing) and make the right impression (still not entirely sure how this part happened).

And so it started. After a year or so working as an assistant, I became an agent. The only problem, was that publishing money is slow money. You can work on a project for a year before you see so much as a dime in return. So, because Tad was unemployed, I had to keep my day job.

For the past year, my life looked something like this:

Work the day job: 8 - 5:30 pm
Go for a run/workout: 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Make and eat dinner: 7 - 8:00 pm
Work as an agent: 8pm - ???

Weekends involved a good dose of work.
Holidays, too.
Vacation time went to attending conferences.
And as for personal time?

As the summer of 2011 approached, things with agenting got more demanding. I had 5 clients. And then I had 10. 15. 20. I rearranged things with my day job to allow myself Wednesdays off and still that wasn't enough. I quit working out, dropped out of all my church commitments, abandoned this blog, and stopped hanging out with friends.

Was it fun? No.
Was it easy? Nope.
Was it worth it? ...

The world is full of people who say they want to do or be something. Of people who have dreams that they're waiting to realize. Goals that they're sitting on. Hopes and visions that they keep locked up in their head, waiting for someone else to do the dirty work or make that job offer or start up that business or finish that novel for them.

But the world is also full of people who take their dreams and goals and ambitions and do something with them. Self-starters, they're called. Entrepreneurs. Visionaries. And in some cases, workaholics.

This whole process has moved me from the first category, to the second. I was a thinker...a dreamer, and now I'm a doer. An achiever. I have a deeper understanding of what I'm capable of and the role that I play in this life that God has given.

And at this moment, the sky is the limit.

Friday was my last day working the day job. And tomorrow is my first day as a full time agent.

So was it worth it? You tell me.