Tag Archives: The Book

Fess Up Friday Finally

It’s been a while. I wrote six posts in the first two weeks of this month, most of them about the same thing, and I think I needed a break from all of that. I’ve rarely felt like that – torn between the debilitating need to discuss something and the longing to be able to think about anything else. But I’m proud to say my book didn’t suffer in the midst of the mess.

I am behind schedule. I’d set myself the deadline of Easter, trying to finish the book during Lent. I knew it was pretty ridiculous, but needed a deadline to motivate myself. And as I learned during the two weeks I was a shut-in for the sake of my thesis deadline (subsisting on Rockstar Energy Drink and hardy vegetables, only leaving the apartment to treadmill and watch the last of the Bob Barker Price Is Right episodes), the more ridiculous the deadline, the braver you’re forced to be.

The book is starting to be something beautiful I never would have imagined at the beginning of this whole process (circa 2004), something that it was always somehow meant to be, something that it knew it would be, all along. The book knows, as Jamey always says, and its will is stronger. No matter how stubbornly I insist on my way, it wins out every time. But, if I didn’t fight it, would it know itself so well?

I haven’t really been counting new words as strenuously as I once was, because most of the new words are essential little sutures tying together fleshier sections that already existed.

However, for those of you numerically-minded folks, I’m looking at about 3,191 new words this week. Probably a few more, maybe closer to 5,000 since I only remembered to count the last 3 days. A more accurate accounting? I am finished with Section I and now Section II. I have reached page 206.

Who knows how long Part III will take, but I’m going to barrel on and see how much I can finish before my arbitrary, crazy deadline of Sunday, April 4th. That’s a little over a week from now. Let’s see how brave I can be.

I wrote those last words before I watched the video I’m going to give you in a sec. And I’m glad I wrote them, glad I watched the video and heard them echoed in the voice of a “girl who’s already half angel.”

Shortly before I started this update, I received Nick’s latest e-mail newsletter. He hasn’t sent one for a long time. We’d talked, so I knew why. His friend Gabrielle Bouliane, a poet, died at the end of January and he knew he needed to talk about her death, but he didn’t know how. He broke my heart when he eulogized a woman I’ve never met and said, “This is what artists can do. They stop time. They hand us a photograph of a moment and it stays there because of what they did, what they said, how they moved, what they gave us. Who knows what connects us then. Call it God, energy, the universe. But something jumps out of time and seizes us and says, Look. Look right here. Record this and put it in your pocket. You’re going to need it later.”

He said a few more incredible, personal things and he gave us a link to Gabrielle’s last performance before she died. I was moved more than words can say, for all of the reasons you might imagine from the quote above. I was honored and grateful that I got to see Gabrielle perform, that technology enables us, who never knew her, to see what she said and how she moved, a miracle that has nothing on her words. Thank you, Nick, for sharing a bit of her with me. I know it was hard. As Nick said, “What I do know is that more of you should have known her. She looked like this. She sounded like this. She still does:”

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Filed under Fess Up Friday, Friends, poetry, writing updates

Fess Up Friday – the Saturday edition

This Fess Up Friday is also my “getting back to business” edition.

It’s been a strange week.

While the new word count on The Book is probably less than 1,000 for the week, I’m up to page 163 on the latest draft. So, it’s chugging along. But despite all this progress, my week has held significant distractions. Some pleasant, some not.

Peauxdunque (my writer’s group) had an informal lunch at Green Goddess to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday. I’ve rarely felt so relaxed and yet inspired as I do with these people, which is probably just what one needs from a writing group. I spent most of that day running errands, so did not get any work done on The Book.

And then there was the offBeat Magazine debacle, which sucked up a large part of my Thursday and Friday, in responding, discussing and just plain shaking. How to describe what about 36 hours of solid anger and frustration feels like in my body? Well, there were more emotions pinging around in there than even I realized. Still are, but I’m lucky and happy to be back in a place where I can work despite them, at least.

So while do not in any way intend to back down from my opposition to the cover and the aftermath reaction displayed by offBeat‘s editor, Jan Ramsey, I’m glad to get back to my work. While I’m gratified to see that people are reading and responding to the three posts I’ve written about offBeat‘s cover and their editor’s behavior, I’m just as gratified to see that the post generating the most traffic on my blog is the same one that’s been generating the most traffic since October. I would like to see a constructive resolution to the entire scenario and hope the magazine endeavors to find one that demonstrates respect for their audience.

Meanwhile, Maurice told me I had to read The Time Traveler’s Wife and I’m enjoying it far more than I expected. Especially since I didn’t think I had time to enjoy a 500+ page book right now. I look forward to celebrating the success of my friends, so look for a bragging on post very soon.

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My book? Oh, that!

So, the book is finished. This makes me think of that quote (that is attributed to everybody even remotely witty, though I think Oscar Wilde actually did say it): “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.” So, I’ve done my best to get the book into a shape where it can function on its own before I abandoned it and that’s pretty much the best that I think any of us can do. I think it has a fairly good chance of surviving without my running back to rescue it. Maybe someone will help it out along the way if it breaks down on the side of the road or gets sick or something else traumatic. It may never be prettier or smarter than it is now, but it will have to make its own way in the world soon, taking its own chances, as we all do.

Erlack. You’d think I was sending my firstborn down the river in a basket or off on an ice floe or something.

I like Jamey’s word for it – graduation. My novel is not being abandoned. It’s graduating and going off on its way in the world, to discover alcohol, philosophy, Ramen noodles and experimental drugs and sex at college. Oh man. Um, novel? Would you like to come home? Great, it’s already left and it won’t come back now. Well, I just have to trust that I wrote it right.

While I was looking up the Oscar Wilde quote, I found some others (here and here) that consoled me, made me laugh or just nod in utter agreement. For your entertainment:

There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book. – Cicero

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. – Dorothy Parker

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.  ~Anaïs Nin

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads. – Erica Jong

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.  ~E.L. Doctorow

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. – G.K. Chesterton

A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.  ~Charles Peguy

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. – Groucho Marx

Oh, I have to stop now. Somebody wants to take me out to eat to celebrate abandoning my novel. Yay!


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Some updates

The Book: One reader has gotten back to me – finishing the book in a day and a half! Which is good news itself. She had some really good feedback and I did break down after 9 days and begin a bit (very little) work on the book. The things that need to be fixed are relatively minor and just a matter of layering in a bit more, fleshing some things out. Which is what I was hoping for. Now, it’s been two and a half weeks and except for that bit of work, I’ve been focusing on other things. But the cool thing is that my brain is still processing the book, coming up with the things that I need right before I lay down to sleep or in my sleep, etc.

The Next Major Project: I already have what I believe will be my next book in mind. It will be drastically different from TCB/TWC, very genre. Me said that it sounded like the kind of thing I used to write when I was younger, before grad school, more like the books we read growing up (Dean Koontz). I won’t divulge here, but it will have a kick-ass female protagonist who will literally kick ass. For now, I may do some plotting and research occasionally, but probably won’t get to working on this in a major way till NaNoWriMo in November.

SYTYCD: Very upset that Paris and Tony got booted last week. I really liked them both and enjoyed their hop-hop. Honestly, I think Tony experienced some reverse-favoritism because of his looks, his lack of experience and his height. I suspect Paris got sent home primarily because none of the other boys in danger were tall enough to partner her. She clearly danced better than the other two girls in the “dance for your life” aspect. I really hope Asuka leaves soon cause she annoys me and she seems really one-dimensional as a dancer. Of course I’m watching tonight.

[6.18.09: I claimed that no one was tall enough to partner Paris and watching last night, I realized that Ade probably is (of the guys in the bottom three last week). But I tend to forget about him. He’s a great dancer when he’s right in front of my face, but I never remember him. After watching last night, I’m agreeing more and more with this post by Lyndsey Parker where she discussed the potential for the judges to be giving opposite feedback. Something is off with the judges this season – they claim to be wowed by routines that leave me cold and needlessly pick on routines that I love. For instance: they loved Asuka and Vitolio’s waltz (Mary cried, which I don’t buy) and I was so bored and disinterested. I can’t connect to either of those performers and luckily, it seems like people (other than the judges) agree with me. Whereas I love Randi and Evan, adored their performance last night and the judges seemed to be looking for negatives to pick at. I tend to agree with this break down of the couples and last nights’ performances. We’ll see how it goes tonight. What I really love is that Mamma Mia! and I text each other throughout the show.]

Last night: I experienced a phenomenal show last night, The Devil Makes Three at Hi-Ho Lounge. I hesitate to say much about it here, for the moment, because I’m hoping to review the concert. We’ll see. However, it was perhaps the best live show I’ve seen in a good long while. I’ve already listened to the new c.d., Do Wrong Right, twice since I bought it at 1:30 this morning. The show was opened by a (local? it’s hard to tell, I can’t find them online) band called Death By Arrow that was pretty interesting, especially once they hit the mid-point of their set.

Some quick links:

An SLS teacher of mine, Tom Swick is in the latest issue of Oxford American.

I’m writing about the latest One Book One Community read, Poor Man’s Provence, for 225.

Dave Eggers writes non-fiction about Katrina.

AP Style gets with it re: Twitter.

Toad and Frog, some of my favorite characters, have new adventures.

This piece about race in a community magazine has a bit of a Rorschach test in its title.

Christian group wants to burn Francesca Lia Block books as part of an effort toward “Safe Libraries” and I’m thinking they’ve never read Fahrenheit 451. Which would make sense. This makes me very angry and there’s a lot more flip and funny and mean things I could say, but I won’t. Read the piece, read all the press and I’m sure those flip, funny and mean things will come to you naturally.

Ending on a good note, Flashlight Worthy Books is on Twitter. And everywhere else, too. 🙂

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One week later

So I finished my “quick edit” on the book a week ago, after finishing it and not looking at it for 24 hours. I’m making myself not read it for a least two weeks so that I can do another read-through and edit relatively fresh-minded. And you know what? It’s actually pretty hard. I haven’t so much wanted to tinker with it as read it. I want to read my own book! I hope that’s not another indication of delusion. 🙂

In the vein of not thinking about it, I have been reading a lot, watching SYTYCD, having dinner with my Papa Bear and friends and spending way too much time on Facebook. I haven’t worked any on the essay that I wanted to go back to, not yet. So basically, I’ve been giving my creative juices a big ol’ break.

Speaking of SYTYCD, I’ve been enjoying it immensely (and will even more next week, when the Top 20 are paired up), but I’m very, very angry about one thing. Why did Natalie get cut without even a chance to dance for her life? She’d done everything right up till that point, had even been asked to demonstrate (with Brandon) the dance she got cut on. What’s with that? I smell some sort of conspiracy or cover up, but haven’t been able to find anything online, just other people really upset and angry over it. Did she get offered a contract at the last minute and rather than explain that she had, they cut her? I don’t understand. Were they being accused of favoritism because she’s Katee’s former roommate? They’ve been really hard on favorites who tried out and almost made it in other seasons, but why cut her? She didn’t dance the routine that badly, and even if she had, it was her first mistake (televised anyway). I guess that’s enough rumination there.

Some great stuff:

Video of Toni Morrison talking about post-Obama writing.

Awesome journal, One Story.

I’m like the last person to discover Texts from Last Night. Kinda painful. And glorious.

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Filed under family, funny, literature, musing, pop culture, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v., writing updates

Post-graduate studies

Someone commented recently in a private response to my blog that, “You don’t talk about your writing as much as you used to…is this because you’re not writing?”

Yes and no. Yeah, that’s the answer.

I’m making HUGE strides and progress and then standing still. Trying to motivate myself without beating myself up. Having issues with authority (writing about about an elderly, gay, multiracial man can be a real bitch, you know, when you are none of these things yourself, and this is on top of wanting to represent the circus and New Orleans aspects of my book respectfully and accurately as well).

So here’s the answer to what’s going on with my writing at the moment: I’m doing rigorous post-graduate studies with Professors Hatley and Causey (both of whom have cool news on their sites – go read!) with numerous visiting lecturers that range from the baristas at Cheers to my new roommate to whatever music happens to catch my fancy.

I’m continuing with a bit of freelance work, as always, which I realize I’m extremely fortunate to do. For instance, recently met Louie Maistros at a local signing and had a lot of fun hanging out with him, his wife and friends before, during and after the show. Check out his book The Sound of Building Coffins. He’s got a Baton Rouge event this coming Sunday, as well as more New Orleans ones. I’m going to interview him soon for 225, so be on the lookout for that. Speaking of, the 225 feature on Clarence Nero will be out next month.

Always, the book is foremost. Even if I’m not talking about it. There are just gonna be times when it’s a lot more fun to talk about yummy media or President Obama being a die-hard Twitter tweeter. I may actually join now, just so I can follow his tweets.

While I don’t condone thievery, of course, this short piece was heart-warming because it reminded me that at least books are still considered valuable…

And maybe it doesn’t seem so relevant, but I promise this is: I looooove the NY Times’ Paper Cuts Blog and here’s a great quote from Karan Mahajan, the latest author to blog a soundtrack. “I was post-colonial and didn’t even know it….Before globalization, the English-speaking middle class [in India] trusted things that were “imported” more wholeheartedly anyway — a sort of colonial hangover. So we embraced [Freddie] Mercury like he was our own because we thought he wasn’t our own, even though he was our own.”

Care to speculate why it’s relevant?

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