Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

Whatever you celebrate, I hope you celebrate big. Hope you get everything you want and deserve and I hope you spend lots of time with the ones you love.

See you in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lazy and Confused

A week ago my husband did what he's often done for me in the last year. He took the kids completely off my hands so I could write. It was Sunday, so he took the girls to church. Took them to feed the ducks on the Delaware. Split up crying jags and fisticuffs. He even handled it when my older daughter's play date threatened to end in ex-bff tears.

I sat in various locales (Panera, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks) and revised and revised and revised, just like I have for the last three months. But this Sunday was different. I was so close to being finished. Usually I feel guilty about spending the entire day writing that I come home after a few hours. But not this time. I emailed my husband and told him I wouldn't be home for dinner, I'd stay out until I finished.

I did finish after about 12 hours out (disclaimer, this wasn't 12 hours of revising - I wandered, I walked, I flipped through magazines, I surfed, I stared into space.) I was in a Friendly's eating a garden burger with bacon (I know, Why? Don't ask. I eat weird things when revising) and I was thinking about the last page of my book. I read it over and over and each time I got a sense of completeness. I did (yet another) spell check, and googled 'manuscript formatting.' Finally, over chocolate chip ice cream, I realized that I was well and truly done. Every issue that I had with it, every issue that my three beta readers had with it had been addressed. There was literally nothing left to do.

I went home. My husband gave me a gin and tonic with a little paper umbrella in it, since he didn't have any champagne. I gave him an ice cream sundae. Then I went to bed.

Since then I've been at a loss. Whenever the kids are at school or at a play date I have that same pavlovian impulse - Quick! Write, you have a little time! But I don't know what to do. I'm not sending out queries until January, and I've already polished up my query letter. To tell the truth, I'm feeling both lazy and confused. Tapped out and, even if I were to force myself to write, not sure where to go.

So, here are my questions for you. What do you do when you're completely finished with one work? Do you automatically jump into something else, or do you take a little time 'off'?

And, bonus question - how do you decide what do write next? Maybe you can help me decide by voting in my poll -  I couldn't figure out how to put the poll in this blogpost, but it's over yonder in the sidebar - please chime in, the poll is up for a few days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ideas and the New Baby Smell

All babies are awesome. I'm not talking about cuteness or that new baby smell or how they seem to be lit up from the inside. Even if you don't like babies and would rather chew off your own arm than change a diaper, you'll concede that babies are awesome. Because babies are possibilities. They aren't the seven year old that slams the door on your face when you ask to have a play date with their sister. They aren't the double crossing ex-friend who told everyone about your embarrassing rash. They aren't the sociopath budding into a serial killer. They're just babies, the beginning of everything.

Ideas are like babies. There are no bad ideas (ok, yes there are, or seem to be, but even bad ideas, in the right context and execution can be good ideas, like prisoners reenacting the Thriller video - which, for me, never gets old.) In fact, ideas are so awesome that it's hard to know what idea is going to blossom into a good thing.

When I went to my first conference I was freaked out. Everyone I talked to had a good idea. I definitely gravitated more towards some than others, but they all sounded good, plausible, real. All of them would make, at the very least, decent books. How could I compete when everyone drinking at the hotel bar was sitting on an awesome idea? People told me my idea was awesome too, but I was like "So what? That's like saying the earth is round!"

I have no trouble coming up with ideas. Do you? All my trouble is centered around getting the idea out and making sense. Then revising the ever living sunshine out of it. Another problem I have is falling in love with an idea that is beautiful and has a nice singing voice but is wrong for me. I usually find out we aren't meant to be after I've written three or four chapters. I think what's most addictive about ideas is their limitless potential. It can make me giddy and, sometimes, unwilling to put the work in on the other thing, the ms. that is no longer an idea but a lumbering, sometimes misbehaving, reality.

So, to celebrate the IDEA in all it's glory, here's a link to the Black List, "An annual list of Hollywood's most liked unproduced screenplays." There are some great ones here. It's nice to see that there's a screenplay for Kody Keplinger's DUFF floating around out there - hope that gets made. But my favorite idea is Maggie. Here's the blurb from the Black List:

As a “walking dead” virus spreads across the country, 
a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to 
terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a 
flesh-eating zombie. 

What's your favorite unrealized idea, be it one of your own, one on this list, or one you heard of?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Too Much of a Good Thing?

It's the bane of unpublished writers attending holiday cocktail parties. Not what to wear or if you should take your life into your own hands and try the egg nog - I wouldn't if I were you - no, it's the innocent sounding question, "So, what do you do?"

Lots of blog posts deal with the topic of whether or not to cop to the W label, and there was an interesting take on the subject on Nathan Bransford's forums a while back. My own take is that I don't use the 'w' word when I'm in non-writer company. It takes too long to explain properly, and causes misunderstandings (wait, so I can't go to Barnes & Nobel and pick up your book?)

It's even taken me a long time to say 'writer' to my own friends and family. But the hardest part isn't that they are not supportive or don't take me seriously. The hardest part is how completely and utterly they believe I will succeed.

It's irrational. They have NO REASON to believe that I'll do more than futz around with manuscript after manuscript until I either give up or am dropped off at the nearest Center for Delusional Old Ladies. Their unconditional support can feel - at times - like an albatross. Another cart load of people to disappoint if I fail.

I know this is a purposefully negative view of what should be a source of comfort, but does anyone else ever feel like unconditional support can seem like insincere support? Or am I being a total freak?

When I give crits or talk to other writers about their work I get really specific about why what they are doing is worthwhile. I don't want them to feel warm and fuzzy, I want them to believe.

That's what I want from my (sometimes) blindly supportive friends and family (Mom, talking to you here.) I want to believe.

What about you? Is unconditional support what you want? Or are you a freaky bag of contradictory needs like moi?

This is a (totally awesome) blog hop started by the incomparable Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can find the list of participants after the jump.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back in the Land of the Writing

Happy December. I'm back and (mostly) recovered. Have still not finished my revisions.

Before I got serious about writing I used to wish for a broken leg. I thought it would be the perfect way to write a book. I figured it was the kind of incident that, while painful, would usually not be fatal or even crippling. It would require one to be still and bored. A captive to the muse. I envisioned myself kind of like the Sigourney Weaver character in Working Girl, but not a total see you next tuesday.

In short, I thought it would force me to write a book. I do know, honestly, how stupid this sounds. And I managed to start writing without so much as an ingrown toenail, but I couldn't quite shake the idea that convalescing will lead to getting things done.

This is a fallacy. Duh, when you are recovering you are on crack, or some other medicine. I was on percocet for a week (third hernia operation in three years. I make big babies, what can I say?). When I wasn't slipping in and out of weird dreams I was cranky. Not in unbearable pain, just uncomfy and itchy and annoyed and tired. None of these things is what you want in your writing. I couldn't get my wits together enough to even try to revise until the second week. I even tried to hit one of the two beta reader projects I'm doing but finally gave up thinking that I might accidentally say something enormously stupid or hurtful.

So, here's the short list of things I wanted to do during my recuperation time but didn't:
1) Finish revising BookEnd

Here's a longer list of things I did do:
1) Re-read the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. So awesome.
2) Watched Let's Make a Deal - think that was the percocet talking.
3) Watched Room With a View (Julian Sands *sigh*) and Sense and Sensibility
4) Watched new version of Jane Eyre
5) Started to read and then abandoned 5 different books
6) Did not wear makeup.
7) Trawled the internet A LOT.

Which brings us to three links to things I found and liked. They're kinda related, but not really at all. I can't blame that on the percocet. So happy to be back in the land of the writing.

Watching Julian Sands in Room With a View made me look him up on IMBD. Doing so lead to finding that he'd done a movie in 2006 with Robert Pattinson based on a book by one of my husband's favorite author, Dennis Wheatley. We got this movie out of the library and watched it during my recovery. It is so gob-smackingly bad that both husband and I were at a loss for words. Luckily we found a review of it on this neat UK site, The Medium is Not Enough TV Blog, that says it all. I especially like the bit about a jar of stunt spiders.

Review: The Haunted Airman

The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, as always, has a great take on young adult fantasy and what makes it compelling. It may not be what you think. Read The Dragon's Egg.

Finally, I've been playing Aragorn's Quest. A LOT. Slashing orcs is just soothing when you're laid up. That got me in a Viggo Mortensen frame of mind (it doesn't take much) and I love this article in the New York Times T Magazine about him.
Photo: Cass Bird

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