Friday Five, I’m Still Alive

1. I wish I could blame my bloggy-slackiness on a crashing laptop. But that happened just yesterday, & I’ve gone a month of Fridays with no posts. So I’ll blame something else. Summer! The heat! Too many good books to read! No imagination! Take your pick. It’s a buffet, so have a little of each if you like.

2. Homes surprised me with a car stereo for our anniversary. The CD player had been broken for about three years, so it was a huge surprise to get in the car on Wednesday and have Daft Punk (old stuff, not new stuff) blast from the speakers. A huge & awesome surprise! (A little Daft Punk goes a long ways for me, and it’s been switched out with pouty Lana del Rey, and some oldschool Cake. Next up is Sublime because summer isn’t complete without that. Then some Black Keys, then some Florence + the Machine…the drive to & from Z’s summer session just got SO much more fun!)

3. Plugging away at my surfing novel and trying to ignore the rat novel. It’s frustrating because I want to fix all the things in both stories, like, RIGHT NOW, but am limited by Maverick’s naptimes and my own mother-of-a-habitual-five-a.m.-waker-upper fatigue.

4. I should just do Friday Threes, because I run out of steam before I hit Four. Scrambling for something to say. So.

5. Books! I can always talk about books! Some new favorites: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (protagonist I love to love, antagonists I love to hate, and PERFECT balance of historical detail to story), Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (creepy! Gothic! Just really…fun, & well-written to boot), Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (seriously one of my favorite books of ALL TIME), The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (love the piano, love a main character who is a tad harder to like than your average main character), Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (much creepier than Disney, and no, I’d never read it). And that is all, happy Friday.

La Otra Mano

I came across this billboard beer advertisement a few weeks ago: “Mientras escribes tu destino, tienes la otra mano libre.” Loosely translated (very loosely) it means, “While you’re writing your destiny, you have another hand free.” (Forgetting, I suppose, that many people type these days and use both hands, but whatever.) I don’t think it’s encouraging writers to become alcoholics, but I had to admit I thought of Ernest Hemingway, and I think he would’ve chuckled. (Did Hemingway chuckle? Or did he brood? Or something else entirely? I can’t imagine him sprinting through fields of daisies with his arms thrown out in glee, but I don’t know enough about him to guess about chuckling.)

But the billboard has made me think a little. One’s brain is not always focused on writing. It does other things. And what if you’re waiting for feedback on a manuscript from brilliant writer friends? Do you start a new manuscript? Or do you let your brain revel in those other things? Or do you just drink yourself into a stupor? That last one isn’t such an option while pregnant, so I’m reading, playing with Z, and thinking about what I might write next.

Besides, it’s too cold for beer anyway. I’ll save it for May, after the baby comes.

Writerly Rambles (Obsession Styles of the Poor & Obscure)

Now that I’ve tightened le manuscript (as in, deleted roughly 5,000 words simply from eliminating needless dialogue tags and instances where one character “looks,” “glances,” or “sees” another), and I’ve read it over and don’t know what the heck else to do with it, I’ve got to get another pair of eyes on it…again.

For some reason I’m finding this harder the second time around.

So I’m reading it again. Taking out more words. And worrying about the following things:

  • Will anyone actually like this main character?
  • How’s the pacing? I’m bored in places, but I’ve read them dozens of times, so is it just me, or my lackluster plot?
  • Does my main character have enough interiority? (for some excellent posts on this, go to Katherine Longshore’s post at the YA Muses, and Mary Kole’s on Kidlit)
  • Is the leading dude enough of a heart-throb?
  • Does the “woe is me I’m so hopeless about everything” section drag on too long?
  • Am I ever going to convince certain members of my critique group that dropping the prologue is in the story’s best interest?
  • Will anyone who read it the first time like the changes I made? Or will they grumpily say, “Why didn’t you change X? Why did you change Y? Why did I bother giving you advice last time when you followed it in such a shoddy way?”
  • Is this story anything anyone will ever want to read?
  • Maybe I should go tinker with software to make a book trailer, even though I don’t have a book yet.
  • Is it time for me to just get a job already? Possibly creating book trailers for the successful writers out there?

The Lazies

I knew it would happen sooner or later. It always does. I’m working away, feeling fantastic and productive, feeling glorious, and then. BOOM. Attack of the Lazies.

It manifests slowly, sneakily. One night I might rebelliously leave all the dirty dishes in the sink, without even rinsing them off. Then instead of doing something “good,” like critiquing a friend’s manuscript, or getting a blog post ready, I’ll play a game (or fifty) of solitaire on the computer. It’s just one evening of laziness – we’ve all been there, right?

But then the next day, I don’t exercise after dropping Z off from school. I rationalize this, telling myself that having a second breakfast is more important than fainting on the elliptical machine. I further rationalize this by imagining the fainting scenario, complete with knocking myself out on the garage floor, then being unable to pick Z up at noon. And how she’ll be waiting there with her teacher, watching as all the other little kids get to go home with their parents, and “Where’s my mommy?” and how this abandonment will manifest itself in thousand-dollar therapy bills when she’s a tween.

While I eat instead of exercising, I need something to do. Reading while eating is a luxury I don’t get quite as often as I used to (i.e. every meal), so I relish a good book with a good bagel. An hour later, the bagel is long gone, but I’m at a really interesting point in this Margaret Atwood essay, so I better keep going.

Next thing I know, I have half an hour to work on my manuscript before picking up Z. So I stare at my revision to-do list for fifteen minutes. Then it’s too late to actually do anything. So I play a few games of solitaire before turning off the computer.

And so the week progresses. The dishes in the sink pile up. The mountain of monster zucchini piles up. The laundry on the designated Laundry Chair piles up. The kitchen floor is sticky, the refrigerator’s full of expired leftovers, and I don’t even make Z clean up her toys because I feel like such a hypocrite.

Nothing happens. Nothing gets done. It’s a miracle I took the time from my busy life to write this blog post.

Finish that Manuscript! (A Board Game)

All you need is a die, and some colored bits of cardboard you can pretend are laptops or notebooks. Click on it to enlarge the view.

That’s all I have to say; I spent too long making this thing as it is.

ETA: I’ll be off to the mountains this weekend with family, so radio silence until Tuesday night. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Short Update on le Manuscript

Because I’m obsessing about it in my diary so often, I may as well share some of that obsession here. What’s a little obsession between friends? (Update format adapted from Maggie’s blog.)

What’s going well:

  1. Writing new scenes. It’s a breeze at this point because I know the characters so well, I don’t have to think about what they’d say or do in any given situation.
  2. Um, that’s all.

Three Things I’m having trouble with:

  1. Word count. Perplexing, because I’ve never had trouble with lengthy books before.
  2. Once I write those new scenes, I have to insert them into the story in a way that a) makes sense and b) flows.
  3. Making time for writing. I could handle 1 & 2 if I had more time. It’ll happen. I just have to be patient for 24 more days.

The Importance of a Day Off

I love my kid with all my heart AND I also truly believe the adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Because I’m really struggling.

Like, a lot.

It helps to make fun of it, find the humor in the situation, but the truth of it all is that this Summer of the No Naps is completely maddening. It’s hard to restructure my routine, especially my writing routine, around this no-napping thing.

So yesterday Husband took Z to his parents’ house for the day. I went out to lunch with a fellow English-nerd friend (she wore these AWESOME earrings decorated with colons and semi-colons). Then I bought six diary books at Borders (a little excessive, even for me, but this IS my favorite brand of blank book, and I don’t know where else to get them, and I don’t know how much longer Borders will be there). Then I had iced tea at a nifty little cafe downtown, and stopped for a nice chat with another friend and critique partner before heading home to write.

I wasted time when I got home. Too much time. It’s what happens when I’m not in the habit of putting my booty in the chair and working on the manuscript. But my friend Seven and I made a pact to write for at least one hour every evening, and that pact should give me the forward momentum I need to get through the remaining 33 days until preschool starts.

So let’s do this. I have some blank books to fill with new manuscripts as soon as I finish revising this one!