Quitting with a capital Q: an interview with Cordelia of Cordelia Calls it Quits.

Cordelia Calls it Quits

Cordelia, calling it quits, in the panda hat she’s made famous.

Two Novembers ago, I stumbled onto a blog post that spoke to my soul.

Someone called Cordelia was finding National Novel Writing Month to be a challenge; though she had no trouble plugging along at work she hated at the office, she had a difficult time sitting down to write her novel, even though she loves to write.

This was a dilemma I could relate to.  I clicked through and discovered Cordelia Calls it Quits, a blog that turns the old saying “Quitters never win and winners never quit” on its head. Cordelia’s been on my blogroll ever since.

Cordelia’s philosophy is simple: she’s quitting the things she doesn’t want. Things like debt, a job that’s not right for her, letting other people get on her nerves, and her own tendency to want to be the office wunderkind are all on Cordelia’s list of Quits.

Last Friday, I caught up with Cordelia to g-chat with her about her philosophy, freelancing, and how her life has changed since she started her mission to Quit. Below is the interview, which is divided into three parts with page breaks. Click through, and enjoy.

Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted over the internet and has been edited. Typos have been corrected, and for the sake of clarity, some  sections of the interview have been moved around.

Calling it Quits

AJ: So, let’s talk about your blog. Some of my readers know about your blog, Cordelia Calls it Quits, but some don’t.
Can you describe your blog in one sentence for those who haven’t checked it out yet?

Cordelia: Sure. CCIQ is about my attempts to make my life better by getting rid of the things that don’t matter, in order to make more room for the things that do.

AJ: I’ve been following you for, I think, two years now. I think I found you on the front page of WordPress one day, and I was intrigued by the stapler graphic and the title, so I clicked over and was hooked by your posts and your writing style. But CCIQ had been pretty established by then. When did you start the blog?

Cordelia: My first post was in November 2010, so two years ago now.
(How did THAT happen? It feels like yesterday!)

AJ: Wow. So tell me – back in 2010 what specifically did you want to quit? What I mean by that was what made you say, “That’s it. I’m quitting. And I’m going to record it in blog form”?

Cordelia: Well, the blogging idea had kind of been percolating for several months. I first found “the blogosphere” after reading The Happiness Project, then going to Gretchen Rubin’s blog, from which I suddenly found myself exploring this entire new world online of people who were trying to make big changes in their lives–just like I wanted to. My job was obviously the biggest Quit, the underlying Quit driving the whole blog. That was the one thing that most severely needed to be changed, in order for the rest of my life to get in shape. The decision to actually start my own blog, though? It was honestly one of those, “ah, why not try it?” kind of things. I’d been reading so many other people’s blogs, and I’d been longing to get back into writing, so I figured, what did I have to lose?

AJ: The blogging form has turned out to be a very successful format for you. You’ve got a pretty big base of subscribers, don’t you?

Cordelia: To my amazement, yes! I have about 245 email subscribers and 250 through feedburner.

AJ: That’s awesome!

Cordelia: I just broke the 600 mark on Twitter, which still kind of baffles me, lol. No, actually…just checked and it’s nearing 700 now. (Again, how did THAT happen?)

AJ: Probably they’re all drawn to your mission of quitting the things that don’t matter in life.

Cordelia: I was definitely surprised by how many people that message resonated with. There are so many self-improvement blogs out there, but something about the idea of “quitting” things really draws people.

AJ: You frame quitting as being a very positive, subversively cool thing to do.

Cordelia: “Subversively cool”…I like that. I may steal that. 🙂

Next section: The Quits.

“I can’t wait for A.J.’s monthly update on her New Year’s Resolutions,” said no one.

What I hope this blog will be after I finish all my little changes. (Image courtesy of Marc Falardeau.)

Which is why, although this is July 2, there is no resolution update here. Not today, at least.

The fact of the matter is, I am teaching a blogging course for my community college’s extended studies program, and I’ve spent a lot of time on class prep.

Ironically, the frequency of my own blog updates has suffered because of this. Not because I’m too busy to update, but my blogging course has prompted me to make some changes to what I do here. Most of my work on this blog has been more structural lately.

You may notice that some older content is disappearing. You may notice a change in my categories. You may notice a design change on some of the pages as well.

Actually, scratch that. Those are tiny changes.  I don’t think you’ll notice any of them unless you’re bored and spend a lot of time on this site. And by “a lot of time,” I mean “a stalkerish amount of time.”

What else is new?

I’m setting up some Beware the Hawk readings and getting my book into some Connecticut bookstores. Progress there is slow, so I can’t really tell you too much about some of the engagements until I get more details hammered out. I can tell you, however, that I will be reading at alumni day at Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut on Thursday, July 19. I will be introduced by the delightful Kate Gorton. I will also be selling and signing books with the rest of the Fairfield University MFA alumni authors.

What else? I’ve been working hard on some creative endeavors, including a piece set in the Beware the Hawk universe.

I can’t say much about that piece because a.) it’s not done b.) no one has even remotely agreed to publish it and c.) it’s bad policy to do any egg-counting while your eggs are still inside the chicken. Also, that’s just messy.

Which reminds me, I still need some suggestions for my protagonist’s name. That contest ends on July 19.  I have a few suggestions, ranging from Sarah (as in Sarah Connor) to Rufus T. Firefly. For real. So I would love to have some more. Please comment or email or Facebook me with the name you think my protagonist should have.

I’m also working on two other projects, including a Snow White reboot. Because that’s what we need in 2012. More Snow White. You’re welcome, world.

I’m back!

In case you were wondering where I’ve been* and why I left you with only Legolas the faithless elf for company, we’ve been on vacation. Instead of blogging here, I was writing a traveblog, which you can see here.

While I was away, I shared the blog with a restricted group of Facebook friends, my mom, and some aunts. But now that I’m back, I’m comfortable sharing it with the world.

I didn’t travelblog here because although you all seem very nice, and I know most of you, there are people who end up on this blog because they searched for phrases like “accidents that could have been prevented…”, “evil nun,” and “lady macbeth hugh heffner.” I really don’t want these people knowing where I am.

Anyhow, as I stated previously, I’m back and ready to blog for reals.


*You probably haven’t been, but like most bloggers I feel the need to mention that I wasn’t here and now I am.

Bloggers’ block.

I have bloggers’ block.

Lately, all I’ve been able to do is blog about the various guest posts and interviews and reviews that I’ve been doing for my book’s blog tour.  Don’t get me wrong – those posts are absolutely fabulous, but this blog is about so much more. It’s about paranoia, synesthesia, the zodiac, theoretical monkeys, Facebook, natural disasters and bad grammar, all the things the universe is made of.  This blog has it all.

Or rather, this blog it had it all. Because recently I have been completely unable to blog about anything unrelated to the book.

It’s a good problem to have, but there are several other things I want to post about. The problem? I sit down and my mind goes slack. I’ve been able to complete work projects. I’ve been able to write fiction. But blog posts? Nope.

Gloria Swanson in 'Sunset Boulevard' or me with my backlog of unfinished blog posts? You decide.

So, in a last ditch-effort to prime the pump, I’m doing what mediocre writers have done since the beginning of time to get rid of writers’ block: I’m writing about it. Right now. It’s like making a movie about Hollywood or singing about rock and roll, but lamer.

It’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve been starting blog posts all week; I just haven’t been able to get anywhere with them. This week, according to my WordPress drafts folder, I started four posts. They are titled, according to the folder:”Playing in the dirt,” “Wit and sarcasm are related, but they’re not twins,” “Starting a new habit,” and “Betrayed by an author.”

My plan is to finish one of those four in the next few days.

I could, actually, dig much further into my Drafts folder, because all told, there are 39 unfinished posts hanging out in there. Some are two years old. Most are untitled. Some went to the Drafts folder to die because I felt they were unfit for public consumption; either they were too boring (“You’re getting very sleepy”), too confusing (“Story-telling and the shovel”), too niche (“Lovecraft!”) or too angry (“Natural selection: a child-rearing philosophy.”)  But some of them look kind of intriguing: “Email from the 20th century” might be decent, as could “Why I hate Fight Club,” a beloved rant of mine. And then there’s “British education scandal,” which, if I recall correctly, has nothing to do with the U.K., education or scandals. I may decide to resurrect one of them instead.

One thing I know –  in the next week I have to write something, and it’s probably going to be something from the Drafts folder. Have a preference? Want to hear about my betrayal by authors? More interested in sarcasm vs. wit? Do you also hate Fight Club? Leave a comment.


Day three of the blog tour and my first review ever.

Day three of the blog tour takes us back to Wordvagabond, where I got my very first book review from the proprietess, Ally. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve been nervous about this aspect of the blog tour – knowing that your work is going to be reviewed is an exciting and scary feeling. It’s a little like having stage fright, except you’re home, on your couch, not on a stage you can flee, and the audience isn’t in front of you, it’s scattered all over the place. This review, however, gives me courage to face future reviews. Check it out.

Sure looks different in here.

Why yes. Yes it does.

I’m writing this post in the spirit of sites like Facebook and YouTube, which accompany every site change with an idiotic series of messages and pop-up windows: “We’re making some changes ’round here!” or “We’re sure you’ll love our updates!”

I’m not sure you’ll love my updates. I’m not sure I love my updates. I’m updating the site in anticipation of Tuesday’s book launch. I added some necessary book information, and then I added some completely unnecessary stuff, like a store, so that I could show off all the insane crap from this blog that I’ve slapped on tee shirts while insomnia had me in its grip.

I’ve also cleaned up the design, but already the background image is grating on my nerves and I’m self-conscious about the sidebar and I think I screwed up the HTML, so yeah, I’m thinking I’m not done.

What I’m saying is, there might be some glitches and further changes here this weekend. Links might not go anywhere. Photos might not load. The streets may run red with blood.

I figured you’d need to be warned.  You know, ’cause we’re making some changes ’round here.