Month: January 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Verbatim

Here’s a transcription of the conversation between the boy and me, written on notebook paper during church today. He’s nine, remember?

Boy: Mom, For this halloween I want to get a black morph suit and put my Batman shirt over it and make a mask. I could break off plastic spoon tops and put them on my [seriously indecipherable word, possibly waist, possibly mouth, possibly wrist — the spoons are no kind of clue] and paint them black. (Please respond.)

Me: That’s an exciting idea… But I’ve already purchased your Halloween costume. It’s a perfect replica of Papa Smurf. (Please respond.)

Him: I don’t want to be Papa Smurf. (By the way, I’m asking you because Dad wouldn’t want me to have a morph suit. He thinks I will commit a crime.) (Please respond.)

Me: But you look so lovely in light blue.
With a white beard.
Let’s keep talking about this. I’m pretty sure I can bring you around to my way of thinking. Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf! Papa Smurf! (P.S. I know. Morph suits = life of crime.) Love, Mommy.

Him: Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssssse? (Pleeeeease respond.)

Me: Papa Smurf! It’s Smurf-tastic! It’s Smurf-errific! It’s Smurf-tabulous! GOOOOOOO, Papa! (Drawing of signs: We <3 Papa, Papa is Smurfy, Who’s your Papa? Papa is #1!)

Him: I can’t pull off a beard.

Me: Oh, I SO disagree. You’re SMURFY in a beard.

(At this point, he goes back to the above and changes it to this: I can’t WON’T pull off a beard.)

Him: What do I have to do to get you to give in?

Me: Dude. Do you know me at all? I. Do. Not. Bargain. Love, Mommy.

Him: (Last Word Kid) Oh, but you do. OH, BUT YOU WILL.

Back to Work

So after the most lovely and relaxing 4-day weekend, I’m back at it this morning. Off to school in ten minutes. And I managed to get myself out of the bed early enough to have fifteen minutes of writing time. Fifteen minutes in which words tumbled.

They were words, and that’s what matters now.

But also, there were a couple of lovely ones in there. And they took up space in a document that is growing (very slightly) larger daily. Even a couple of hundred words at a time are a couple of hundred more than there were yesterday.

And that’s goodness, don’tchaknow.

Nonspecific Writerly Angst, January Edition

I’ve heard that some writers who win awards have a block afterward. A time in which it’s hard/impossible for them to write something new, possibly for fear that it won’t measure up.

I’ve heard that some writers who have finished a successful series get freaked out (for my lack of a better term) by an assumed reaction they’ll get from their fans and refuse to write something new and different.

That’s crazy, right? Ridiculous. I would NEVER do that.
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Not that I’ve had the awards or the successful series.
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But there’s this: A less-successful round of submissions, followed by a shrug of my shoulders, a “no sweat” response, and an almost complete inability to write anything longer than a page.

WARNING: HACK PSYCHOLOGY AHEAD

I think this is what’s currently wrong with me. I wrote a good book. By virtue of which, I got a great agent. Who totally did her job, and still, somehow, all the editors involved kind of said, “Meh.” So I need to either revise it into something way better or start over and write another book. Which is always the plan, by the way. Writing another book, that is. The plan.

So I start playing with scenes. And I put down a couple hundred words. AND I ASK MYSELF WHY I THINK IT’S GOOD ENOUGH.

What? Wait. Of course it’s not good enough. It’s the first 300 words of a first draft. Please. Good enough for what? Publication?

Sssssslllllllloooooooowwwwwwww ddddddddoooooooowwwwwwwwnnnnnnnn.

(That was annoying and I promise never to do it again.)

I am going to call my reaction (which I haven’t really explained very well, but hang on, I will…) normal. I’m going to say it’s normal for a person like me to be CONCERNED about the following things:

What if I can’t be clever enough to impress someone editorial?

What if my ideas are never more than fine? Never great, awesome, mind-blowing?

What if what I’ve done is all I will ever do?

What if I can’t come up with a truly compelling concept?

What if I’m not funny anymore?

What if people don’t want funny anyway?

What if this thing I’ve started, this scene, this idea, this sentence… doesn’t lead to anything better?

And I am going to explain that these normal concerns lead to a fairly paralyzing inability to write much of anything at all. ¬†Because I worry (sorry, but I do) that I’m wasting my time writing something that will never be something good. Because I tap out a few words and look at them and go, “Meh.” Because I think, This idea, it’s not ___________ enough for an editor.¬†[Fill in that blank: Exciting, Big, Fresh, Steamy, New, Quirky, Concepty.]¬†(Yeah, I know. It’s not a word. But it’s a concept.) And when I look at the writing as a piece of something that really should turn into a book, and I can’t see the magic of the book, I can’t see the use of keeping up the writing.

I need a vacation. Or a massage.

Or a slap to the head.

I know it’s silly/stupid/self-defeating. I’m not saying what’s going on here is RIGHT. I’m just saying it’s going on.
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The first step to getting over it is writing it down.

I haven’t figured out the second step yet.

But I will probably write it down when I do…

 

I’m Reading (Well, not right this very second…)

I bought myself a book. Kindle version. And I’m reading it. On a Kindle.

It’s my first time.

I know. *Sigh.* Welcome to the world of Things I’m Late For. Here is my review (of the process — I’m not through the book yet):

Device Sexiness: It’s not an iPad.

Oh, you want more? Okay. It’s a bare-bones, non-internet enabled device[1], and that’s good. It belongs to my 9-year-old son, who for NO REASON needs to hold the internet in his hand. I wish this had the backlight feature so I could read it in the dark, but apparently if I were the kind of person who goes outside to read in the sun when it’s 12 degrees, I could go out right now and have zero glare issues. But I’d be really cold[2].

Holding: I miss the pages, but not the heft of a paper book. The Kindle feels good in my hands — light, and the right size. The “page-turning” button is in a perfectly accessible place.

Visually: The book I’m reading has some graphics, and they look good. I can choose how big I want the font. I didn’t change anything from where Kid 4 had it set, and it’s great. I am fairly blind, and I didn’t have any trouble seeing words. The shift to dark gray pages at each page turn is only minimally annoying, and I hardly notice it anymore.

Convenience-wise: It slides into a bag. The battery stays charged nearly forever. It marks my page[3].

Nutshell: I love books, and paper. I will buy more Kindle books and read them, but they won’t take the place (in my heart) (or on my shelves) of the real thing just yet.

(Confession: I have purchased several e-books over the past year. I have not read any of them all the way through. My Kids have. Many. And it’s lovely to know they’re there (the books, I mean) when I’ve converted to the Digital Side.)

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[1] I can access Amazon from it (with my password, which none of my kids knows, because they don’t even know who Ju$tinTimb3rlak3 is) so I can buy more books and stuff, but it’s not a Fire or anything fancy like that.

[2] If you wonder if I’m serious, I must wonder if you know me at all. Of course I’m inside. Always. Until May.

[3] Bonus! No pesky seeking for post-it notes to use as bookmarks.

Good News

My bookshelves got dusted! Before Spring! They did! Because of the Great Chore List Caper of Lucky 13.

I had to get some cleaning done. Had to. Because. Ugh. So I wrote the necessary jobs on sticky notes. Then I stuck those notes to the kitchen sliding-glass door. Then I told the kids everyone had to choose 2. And if they chose 2 that were too easy, they would lose. Because winning = for the jobs you do that aren’t too easy, you get to fold up the note listing the completed job and put it in the pot. The pot from which I would later choose one folded paper. And the person whose name is on that paper representing a finished job GETS AN ICE CREAM DATE WITH ME. So now, the bookshelves are dusted. The manky carpet on the stairs is vacuumed. The kitchen is swept and Cinderella-scrubbed. The bathroom floors are swept and mopped. (Also the little jobs, like bathroom jobs and plant-watering and stuff are done.)

I haven’t yet drawn out the winner. Because the anticipation is probably more yummy than the ice cream. I’m not being cynical, I just love me some anticipation.

(How are your bookshelves?)

 

I’m SO over the panic. Kind of.

So I’m rounding out my 6th week of “long-term” subbing, and it looks like I’m not through yet.

Kid 1 said, “I’m kind of tired of you, Mom.” She said it with a whole lot of love. That’s kind of hard to translate to blogtalk. Trust me. It was a lot of love.

[Tangent: A few of “my” students received “my” books for Christmas. This is joyous.]

More weeks. But what this means is that my bookshelves are not getting dusted before spring. Just thought I’d warn you, if you show up here. No white gloves on the bookshelves, okay? And that the writing is pretty slim. 300 words a day makes me go WOO. And hey. The dinner is happening. All the time. But veggies are more for breakfast… because veggies for dinner might be too much work.

And I’m doing my best to get these awesome school kids taught. And very few of them are failing. And if they are, it’s despite all my best efforts to FORCE them to live up to their potential(s).

SO… what I’m saying is that I’m still a little Not In The Internets. But I will be again, here and there, and now and then, and I will keep spouting nonsense at irregular intervals, and soonish, someday when I have my LAZY on once again, I’ll be at my leisure to check in on every clever website and blog that I’ve been missing.

Schmutz

You know when your laundry goes in with a tissue in a pocket and everything comes out with a scrim of fuzz in every crease and fold? Or when you shovel your snow carefully to the sides of your driveway and it looks so pretty until it finally warms up, and then there’s the graying, icy, pocked snow all along the edges of your little world? Or when your little cut on your finger finally stops hurting and you take off the bandaid and find that black sticky residue along the edges of where it stuck?

Schmutz. All.

Some days I feel like I have emotional schmutz all over me. The leftovers of my mistakes, my everyday actions, my attempts to make things better. And I feel like it’s all I see. All anyone sees — the remnants of the yucky parts.

(That’s not really the case, is it?)

Today’s things…

We went back to school today. Does that seem a little… sudden to anyone else? Yeah. Me, too.

The Boy had a basketball game — 3rd grade league, coached by Husband. No keeping score. Except that our row (me, and his 3 older sisters) saw both of his awesome shots go in. And we cheered, and so did he. He’s adorable.

Writing about things. It’s good to do. Writing about real things that happened before I was alive? Good, too, but slightly harder.

Poll: What do you consider historical fiction? Like, I’m thinking, I want you to tell me how old the history has to be. If I’m writing about something that happened a couple of years before I was born, is that historical? (Is anyone else thinking about THE PRINCESS BRIDE’s line, “Only compared to some”?)

I like school visits. I get to do one in a couple of weeks. And I grow giddy at the prospect. (What’s the verb form of giddy? Do I Gid? I must know.)

Don’t you love my hair in this picture? I have never been able to duplicate it. Such is life. Also, I don’t mind that I have wrinkles. Getting older is way better than the alternative.

So… what’s going on with you today?