Why I ‘Sailed through the Stars’

Kellie Doherty  By Kellie Doherty

Graduate school is busy and stressful. But don’t get me wrong, I love my book publishing program. I’ll be sad to leave next month, but sometimes I just have to do something else. PSU has no shortage of cool events for students, and last Saturday was no exception.

I decided to go to the Pacific Islander’s Club 14th Annual Lu’au called “Sailing through the Stars.” It was held at the Stott Center a block from my apartment and the entrance was free for students, so I thought, “What the heck, a lu’au sounds fun.” I’m so happy I went.

First off, the place was packed—students, kids, elderly folk—it seemed like every age range wanted to participate. The dinner had traditional food, including Kalua pork, a lovely guava juice, and even wide range of desserts. (I chose poi for my dessert, a purple paste made of taro root but tasted a little like pineapple.)

The entertainment was quite fun. They had a show with traditional music and dances all from different islands, like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji, among others. (Plus there were fire dancers, and they’re just plain hot. Pun intended.)

Overall it was a great night. It made me forget my stresses for a while, and we all know that forgetting your stress, even for a moment, is important. If you’re still here next year, make sure to add this event to your ToDo. It’s one you won’t want to miss.

Why I’m Annoyed by the Alumni Countdown

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

There is a sign on the alumni building on campus that went up on March 5 declaring “100 Days Until You Are An Alumni.” It’s been steadily counting down since then. I get it. It’s supposed to portray the happiness and excitement of graduation. It’s supposed to get the students pumped about being alumni of this fabulous university. It’s supposed to be encouraging.

Well, guess what?

For me—a graduate student in Book Publishing planning on graduating this spring—this countdown annoys the heck out of me. And quite frankly, it stresses me out. Why? It’s a constant reminder that I have 100 days, or 85 days, or 52 days to get all my crap in order. To find a job. To (maybe) find a new apartment. To (maybe) move to a new city. It’s a constant reminder that I have less and less time to get my final grad projects in. A constant reminder that May 20—my thesis defense date, the one that decides whether I pass or fail this program—is getting closer.

And that’s freaking stressful! With all the other ToDo lists in my life, all the other deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), all the other stresses, I don’t need this one.

But…maybe I need to look at it differently. Maybe this looming countdown can be…a count-up to my new life instead. My next adventure. That’s a better way of thinking about it. For now, anyway. Don’t ask me on June 12.

What do you think of the countdown?

Why I Went to LA Last Weekend

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

Last February I wrote about Write to Publish 2016 and how it was an awesome networking opportunity. Let me tell you a secret: Write to Publish is a tiny conference. Adorably small, actually. How do I know this? Because last weekend I went to the conference connected to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, widely known as AWP.

AWP is the largest literary conference in North America. Last year, they had over 800 vendors, 12,000 attendees, and 2,000 presenters. This year, they had the same, if not more. Write to Publish (while amazing) was a mere whisper to all this literary noise.

Plus, AWP was in Los Angeles this year, and I’d never been before. A new city, thousands of writers and publishers, and tons of books? Yes, please! Additionally, I was given a Marie Brown Graduate Student Travel Award to help pay for it. And while I was going as an attendee, I was also there to represent my graduate program in book publishing and Ooligan Press.

I went to panels, readings, and chatted with fellow writers; I tabled, gushing about Ooligan and Portland State University; I visited vendors, doing much of the same; and I even tried Korean waffle pizza. It was three long days, but it was also an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was an opportunity PSU helped to pay for, and I wouldn’t have had the same experience without such lovely support.

What kinds of conferences have you been to?

Why I Love PSU’s Weirdness Factor

Kellie Doherty By: Kellie Doherty

A portion of my hair is bright orange. That isn’t terribly big news here in Portland, especially around campus. We have some colorful characters. I’ve seen flame-red, neon green, rainbow, mermaid, galaxy, and even multicolored blocked hair. I’ve seen spiked hair a foot high, hair sheered completely off on just one side, and myriad other things.

I’m originally from Alaska. We have some rustic stylistic charms of our own, but I only saw hairstyles like these during the state fair. In Portland this is their everyday look. And I’m certainly not judging them by any means. It’s simply a different world than mine back at home.

And people don’t just experiment with hair. I’ve seen fellow students walking around in cloaks that look straight out of The Lord of the Rings, neon blue pants that look like they’re from the ’80s, and, I swear, a girl in a full-blown Pikachu outfit from Pokémon.

Again, not judging.

This is what’s great about being at PSU. You can be anyone you want to be. (Within reason. You can’t aspire to be a murderer or something.) You can transform yourself here, and the students will accept you, and may even have some serious mad respect for you. (I know I do.) It’s a great campus in that regard.

And sometimes, when I’m walking around PSU, even I get a smile from a fellow student. Yes, even I’m keeping Portland State University weird, and I’m proud of it.

How are you keeping PSU weird?

My Major Networking Opportunity

Kellie Doherty  By Kellie Doherty

The Write to Publish 2016 conference is over. Write to Publish is an annual writing conference, and it’s a great place to find some interesting contacts and meet some influential people. (I also organized it this year, so I may be a tad biased.)

One of the great things about my graduate program (MS in Book Publishing) is the hands-on learning we have and the networking opportunities that arise from that dynamic environment. To say I made a few contacts working on Write to Publish would be an understatement, and last Saturday, I finally got to meet the people I’ve been communicating with for the last six months. I got to shake their hands, introduce myself, and put faces to all those emails.

One of the great things about this year’s conference, though, is half of our attendees were college students! I was pleasantly surprised by this, because it means they got to meet all those speakers and vendors, too! It was the perfect networking opportunity for students interested in going into publishing, one that showcased many publishing professionals and gave the students a chance to connect with them. I know it will help me, and hopefully many others, find a job in the future. So, if you didn’t get the chance to make it to this year, mark it on your calendar for 2017! It’ll be a great place to sharpen your networking skills.

And if you were there, how did it go?

Avoiding My Public Speaking Freak Out

Kellie Doherty By: Kellie Doherty

The Write to Publish 2016 conference is two weeks away, and I’m starting to freak out for many reasons. One reason is, as a co-manager, I get to give the closing remarks. Yes, public speaking makes me tense. I’m in good company; public speaking is feared even more than death. It’s also something nearly every class has made me do, so you’d think I’d be used to it.

Nope.

Whenever I get up in front of a group of people, I tend to get nervous. And not the cute, blushing kind of way (though my ears do turn bright pink). I get freakishly nervous, the dry mouth, trembling, can’t-see-straight kind of nervous, where the room pitches and everything blurs.

To combat this freak out, I’ll prepare. Actually, I’ll memorize. I’ll recite my speech many times, in front of the mirror, in front of my friends, in front of my cats. To anyone who will listen.

It might be a catch from my drama days when I actually had to memorize my lines. It might be something from my toastmasters group that had a “no notes” policy. Or it could just be a weird little quirk of mine.

Regardless, it helps. I know I’ll be nervous that day for myriad reasons. I know I’ll have that freak-out moment right before I have to speak. But I also know my process works, and, after a few deep breaths, I’ll do a great job.

What’s your public speaking process like?

 

Give Thanks for Thanksgiving

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

This week is Thanksgiving. A time for laughter and cheer, for friends and family, for great food and even better company. A lovely little holiday leading up to The Big One.

But honestly? It’s some pretty terrible timing. Next week is Dead Week here on campus and finals are literally just around the corner. (T-minus 14 days, in fact.) And I know I’m not the only one freaking out about the projects due. It’s stressful. Just thinking about it makes my shoulders tighten, and my stomach curl into a knot.

So, is this the best time to stop working on (or thinking about) those hugely important final projects? Probably not. My suggestion, though? Make the most of the holiday as you possibly can anyway.

Try to parcel the homework assignments out so you can spend time with the family (or friends or whomever you’re spending the holiday with). Take Thanksgiving dinnertime off, or better yet, take all of Thanksgiving Day off. If you’re traveling—like me!—try to do some assignments on the journey. (I know I’ll be writing a paper on my plane ride to the East Coast.)

Make some time for your loved ones. Heck, make some time for yourself.

You deserve the time off before the final push to finals week. Treat yourself, and your friends and family, to some quality time together this Thanksgiving. Trust me, your spirit will thank you later.