I’ve got another writing idea and have decided not to reveal it just yet because I like to tease for the attention. No, actually for two real reasons. One–it is in the development stage. Two–I don’t want anybody to tell me I don’t have time or to ask if this will take away time from the novels which are supposed to be my main focus. Yes, I don’t have time and yes, it will take away even more time…but on this day, the beginning of my very favorite month and time of year, I don’t care.
Once I wrote this scene involving a girl and her grandmother. I was just about finished when I realized that the grandmother had DIED earlier in the plot–and I wasn’t writing a ghost story.
So tonight, I’m working on these scenes–two characters in two different places blissfully unaware what the other on is doing. Only when I finish do I remember that the two locations are across the street from each other. You see, the characters may not know what the other is up to, but they do know WHERE the person is supposed to be–and it makes no sense that they could be in those two houses and this fact not come up. How could I forget that these people are neighbors?! Where is my brain? (I realized my mistake when I was about to have a character say something like, “Hey, that’s the street so-and-so lives on.” Oh, wait–WE’RE ON THAT STREET!)
All these books that go on and on with plot…appreciate the brilliance. Whatever you think of the Harry Potter books, the fact that JK Rowling could keep all those plot lines, locations, descriptions straight makes her an effing genious. Hell, I can’t remember my character’s hair color or how to spell their last names half the time. Oh, yes, I take notes, but the other half the time I either don’t remember where the note is or that I even have to look at it.
Forgive your writers and directors their continuity sins–they know not what they do.
Don’t Stop Now…I mean it. Really. Don’t.
Here’s a great writer interview to read.
I loved Susanna Clarke’s first novel, and although I have yet to read one of his books, I love Neil Gaiman too (even I’m not sure how that is possible, but there you go). Anyway, the two of them are friends and have given this interview to Salon.
Now, if I could just get my hands on a Neil Gaiman book…
Today in a conversation circle with my students, one of them asked me what I wanted to be doing with my life in two or three years. Typically my students ask me what my favorite food is and what my husband does, so I was surprised and pleased with the question. Usually I don’t say anything at all about my own writing to my students–heaven forbid they might ask what it’s about or something crazy.
But in the spirit of things I told them I wanted to be a published author. They were quite surprised, especially since most of them don’t know anyone who’s ever even thought of writing a book, muchless actually writing one. And I joked and said, “Maybe in a couple years you can go into Barnes & Noble and one of my books will be there.” I laughed and they all said they hoped so and we moved on to the next question.
But as I answered the question, I also thought–well, so what? I mean, I’m not giving up the dream. If we’re only going to strive for thigns that will radically improve our lives, then we might all just as well stop striving for anything right now. Not only does life go on after someone dies, life goes on after the big win too. Somewhere I read a similar idea–if you were a jerk before winning the gold, you’ll still be a jerk after.
So, a former student may very pick up my book, maybe buy it and show it to a few friends and say, “She was my English teacher. She was very tall.” (My students readily admit that my height is the first thing they tell their family back home about their English teacher when asked.) They might even read the book…and that will be that. Obviously, writing a novel has got to be about more than getting someone to buy the book.
How many novels are on your shelf that you’ve forgotten all about? Somebody may very well have poured their soul into that book, and now it’s collecting dust.
With that in mind, I’m off to work on the ending to my latest novel. If my purpose in life is to make dust-collectors–so be it.
What should I say about Momma Zen? I don’t often like to read “mom” books. Just looking at them makes me feel like once I gave birth I stopped being me and started A’s mom. Being my son’s mother is a wonder everyday and I would give up everything if things came down to it, but I haven’t become a whole new person just because I’m a parent. I’ve change for sure. But adding another facet to my personality isn’t the same as a personality transplant.
I liked Karen Maezen Miller’s book. To all parents–actual, potential, and otherwise–I’d recommend it. I love where she talks about the unread parenting books (mine are dusty too) and it made me feel better about not obsessing over my son’s every developmental step. I have no idea if the art my son makes is developmentally appropriate. I only know I am amazed by his imagination and tons of his work decorate our walls.
Zen does not naturally attract me. I like some bits and not others, but I like how she reminds us to let go of rigid thinking and give yourself to your experience. She doesn’t really say anything I don’t on some level know–that doesn’t mean I don’t need to hear somebody else say it too.
Of course, I’m jealous too. As I rack up agent rejections, it is difficult to have someone who is published suggest perhaps I could let that obsession go. Publication won’t solve my problems or be the magic cure for all that ails me, but I can’t find a way to be zen about it. Sometimes with the whole Zen Buddhist philosophy I can’t decide what is acceptance and what is giving up.
To send out work or not to send out work? Is it enough to write and keep it in a box? Why write if the idea of someone reading it is terrifying? How many rejections before either you should just give yourself over to your day job? Maybe my work is too ____________ for ordinary mortals! Ha! Maybe it’s not any good.
Well, sometimes work can’t find its market. The writing is good but it isn’t what’s “in.” Or it’s just plain bad. How do you know the difference? Who would tell you and who would you believe?
When are you admirable for your determination and when are you pathetic for your pipe dream? Biggest fear? That ambition outstrips my ability. How do I know? Maybe I could do this forever and never get it right. Is writing like that–beyond sheer doggedness?
I think I’ve asked this question before, but it’s a question that doesn’t go away.
I’m trying to think of a reason to post another Neil Finn picture…hell, do I need a reason? We’ll see.
Writing is a full-time job–not a hobby. Or I’d like it to be. I could write, research, blog, and connect all day. As my fictional world spreads across the interenet, the realization grows that there isn’t enough time to do it all. Oh, there’s all the time in the world as well. Everyone is busy and everyone is tired, but so much of that is self-imposed. How much of all this stuff really has to be done? The only time I must lose sleep is when my son is up all might sick. The fear of failure or death or something equally foolish keeps me at the keyboard when I should be sleeping.
Many books are out there on the writing life and the writing craft–all promising inspiration and change and a multitude of things that really they can tell you about but only you can deliver. I procrastinate a lot by reading them and telling myself they’ll teach me something. Sometimes they actually do. One book, Page by Page by Heather Sellers, contains excellent insight on being busy and why we say we are.
Most of what makes me so busy is just myself. Write more, create more, nothing I do is enough. I didn’t spend enough time with my son or with my husband or with my friends or with my students or with my dog or with my apartment. But the sun always follows the moon and the blue sky follows the rain and the scab follows the cut on the skin. Hey, times passes whether I write a great book. The world moves if get published and if I don’t. I simply (simply?) have an unending need to be doing something.
And a boundless envy of others. Every other mother has figured it out and every other writer has too. I’ve been given a thousand breaks in this life and yet I can still be foolish enough to feel that it’s one break too few.
I’ve been reading Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller–can’t you tell?
I had the perfect post composed in my head while I walked the dog. Now, I’m at the keyboard and I’m rambling. And I’m rambling because like everybody else I want more time to everything I want to do and time isn’t agreeable.
Life is full of choices. I remind myself to stop complaining and make them.
One should not finish reading a great book and get yet another agent rejection on the same day. Luckily, the Neil Finn high dulled some of the disappointment. How sad can anyone be when they’ve eaten Pad Thai just a few feet away from Mark Hart (plays in the band in case you don’t know)? You’d think I was sixteen, but I’m still giddy when I think about it–I said hi to Mark Hart and he kind of waved (ha!)! Foolish but happy–and that may be the best anyone of us can get.
But rejection sucks. Here’s the thing–this agent’s husband wrote a glowing review of her book on Amazon as if this might persuade readers to buy her book. What I want to know is–if my husband writes my query letter will that help me?
And when I finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell I almost cried. Sigh. She wrote a great book. I didn’t. But there’s still time…and more Neil Finn (and Mark Hart)…