Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm a sage

Here's a rough itinerary of the Wilson family's progress as we tried to leave the house yesterday . . .

8:15 -- Mom wakes me up. Parker tells her to let me sleep. I do child's pose in bed for @ ten minutes.

8:25 -- Coffee. Mom tells me a traumatic story from her childhood that she's never shared before.

8:45 -- Dad shows his face at the front of the house for the first time. Breakfast.

9:00 -- Laura arrives promptly, ready to go, because we all said we would go, at 9.

9:20 -- Dad requests suitcases. Begin loading car. At this point, I'm thinking my prediction might have been ungenerous.

10:40 -- Never mind. Dad's in the yard with no shirt on.

Did I mention my parents live in the Garden of Eden?

10:50 -- Laura begins her stoic wait in the car. I enjoy the last of the coffee.

11:00 -- Mom tells me to tell Dad that she's starting the car.

11:10 -- Dad and I find Mom's backed out of the garage and closed the garage door behind her. Just as she's opening it to pull back into the garage and escape the heat, we walk under the door, triumphant.

11:15 -- We pull out of the driveway. My prediction: right on target.

I took this pic in Florala, "the magic town on the state line," as I used to call it in my book.

I think Florala's hit the cutting room floor, but you never know.

Whenever we go through Florala, they seem to be having some sort of Event, and they didn't let us down yesterday. They had every firetruck and policeman in town blocking off the main drag for children to play in the fire hoses. Fourth-of-July-week traffic wasn't happy, but we all made it.

Now I'm sitting in what will serve as my "office" for the next week. Not bad.

What are you searching for?

Someone in Finland found me by searching for "adults oooooooooooooooooooohhhhh," thanks to the comments on this post. Just like the Russian tweens guy, I suspect he was disappointed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Prediction

So I'm with the fam in Birmingham, and tomorrow morning we drop off all three dogs and drive down to Rosemary Beach or thereabouts on the Florida panhandle. Since some of my novel is set there, I'm hoping to get in some writing.

I'll admit, when I'm with my family, I find it hard to do anything other than talk, eat, and watch TV, often all at the same time. Running errands is a bonding activity at the Wilson household too. My top priority when I'm home quickly turns into keeping company. No agenda of my own, little responsibility, and for the most part I love it. I can happily spend a whole day in the passenger seat of my mom's car while she drives I know not where. My sister and I have been known to watch crappy horror movies together 'til four in the morning.

Nothing wrong with that. It's just hard to do anything solitary while living with social creatures. It's hard to take time alone without hurting feelings -- or feeling like you're missing out for that matter. To my classmates who have families, I applaud you.

Even as I write, I'm aware my dad needs to get on the computer. It's nearly midnight, and he's still watering plants and checking reservations. I take after him, in that normally I can't finish preparing for a trip before four in the morning the night before. There's always one more thing to do. This last flight to Birmingham, I did better than I've done maybe ever before. I packed during the daytime, followed lists, didn't lock myself out of my house and my car at 5 am on the morning of my flight (but that's another story).

I can be that bad on my own. Put the whole family together, and you've got four different clocks clicking into each other. (Laura, to give credit where credit is due, will not make us late, so maybe it's three different clocks.)

So here's my prediction, and family, if I'm wrong, I shall never doubt you again. Well, I shall, but I'll keep my mouth shut about it.

We're supposed to leave at 9 am. Dad, as I've mentioned is currently taking care of odds and ends; Mom's setting her alarm for 7:30; Laura's showing up with Ripley at 9; I'm already packed since I just flew. Then it's in the car and to the kennel no later than 10.

I hereby predict we will leave the house no earlier than 11. Prove me wrong, family, prove me wrong.

Security

Waiting to have my I.D. checked at airport security, I chose the line with the security guard who looked the nicest -- a roly-poly young woman joking with her coworkers. Not that I have anything to hide from security. No, I'm just prone to that icky feeling you get when you have to confront authority. When someone treats you with suspicion, like they think you might try to shoplift, you can be the most innocent person in the world, but you start to feel guilty and paranoid. Marisha Pessl described it perfectly in her book (which I'm about to finish), and I felt validated. Either that's a totally normal sensation, or Marisha Pessl is just as neurotic as I am.

Anyway, I chose my line because the roly-poly guard seemed to believe people are innately good instead of evil, and because she looked like she knew how to give a hug, which you sometimes need when going through security, but just as I approached the front of her line, her replacement came -- an older woman with tight grey hair, her shirt buttoned up to her chin, and a severe, flat mouth. She wore blue latex gloves.

The nice lady who was leaving trusted us passengers not to rub diseases on our I.D.'s. The new lady clearly didn't. She had no faith in humanity at all. She had risen above lowly humanity to sit in the seat of power. And I was the first to confront her.

She looked at my I.D. VERY suspiciously, and said, "What's this? What does this say?"

I started to tell her my name, thinking she was testing me. Then I realized she meant the logo on my shirt.

"It's Barrel of Monkeys," I told her.

"Oh!" She showed some recognition but still looked confused, so I tried to help her out.

"It's a theater. We perform kids' stories."

"Oh!" she said, her face turning a little red. "Oh, I thought it was this place in the Bahamas. A really rowdy bar . . . I . . ." she sort of trailed off, turning red, aware that I might be wondering what she'd been doing at a rowdy bar in the Bahamas. "Well," she said, "I didn't . . . oh, if I'd been twenty years younger, but it was a really wild place . . ."

I explained a little more about the Monkeys.

"That's great. Well, it's better than alcohol. Oh, congratulations!" she said, still flustered, but smiling, and a human after all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Camp!

I taught the children on Monday, subbing for a friend at a drama camp in the burbs. Two classes of middle schoolers made my day. They threw themselves into everything they did with complete abandon, didn't judge each other, and quickly grasped the point of exercises that throw off less game high schoolers.

The camp took theater seriously. It reminded me a bit of the summer drama program I did as a kid, which reminds me, let's be honest, of the camp counselor played by Amy Poehler in Wet Hot American Summer. No, this camp had a great atmosphere. Mine did too, although this one was taught by big-city professionals, whereas mine was taught by tiny city professionals who think they're big-city professionals -- think Corky in Waiting for Guffman. In both cases, the camps taught the kids to have respect for their work, which is so important. Too often, kids get told everything they do is great, and they can see right through it. It means more when you're paying attention to where they're getting stuck and where they're actually deserving praise.

I loved taking theater super-seriously as a kid. I was the sycophantic child who stood up straighter when a fellow performer got nailed for not "respecting the stage." When the dance teacher at Summerfest moved me to the back row because I couldn't master the time step, I didn't even resent it that much. I knew I looked clunky. As a high school student, I started studying craft, searching high and low for something that could teach me how to act in Alabama. I attended the Cherub program at Northwestern, where I saw ensemble-created and experimental theater for the first time and learned some actual technique. I learned, for example, the importance of "preparation" before entering a scene, which I unfortunately interpreted to mean you should make yourself hyperventilate backstage before doing something dramatic. I never passed out, but that was just dumb luck.

Anyway, these camp kids made me remember how exciting theater was and still can be.

The best thing I heard at the camp, though, came, not from a kid, but from an elderly custodian. He asked me, "Is that fellow with you?" gesturing to a man down the hall, "Does he belong to the camp?"

"Oh, I don't know. I don't recognize him," I said, "but I'm just a sub. I'm not a regular."

He said, "Not irregular, huh? Well it comes with age," in the driest, most curmudgeonly voice I've ever heard.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My school exists!

No, it existed before, but under the umbrella of the Union Institute & University. Now, it's independent, self-contained, and that's super-exciting!

The program is the same phenomenal, ten-year-old low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, the first of a handful like it in the country, with the same great faculty and students, the same well-published alumni, but now when I graduate, it will be from The Vermont College of Fine Arts, no umbrella, and it will say so on my diploma. Hoorah!



Cynthia Leitich-Smith has a post on her blog with a full article about it.

Style Schmyle

So, I'm officially addicted to Craigslist. In the last twenty-four hours, I purchased a sweet chair for $15, and picked up an AC window unit in Glencoe for FREE! I've been trolling Craigslist and Freecycle, and just happened to be online when the post for the AC popped up. I nearly threw out my back getting it into my car, but assuming I can get it into my window without killing anyone, my August is looking at lot more tolerable.


The chair is super-comfy, and Parker thinks it's her new bed.

I also hit up a C&B sale and bought some accessories for my kitchen.


They coordinate well with my dishes, which are one of the few items I own that give me a sense of direction style-wise.




Another being my bedding . . .

I'm only recently coming to the idea of basing design choices around a few items you know you love. It's common sense, but I live so much inside my head, I hardly notice my surroundings. Working on improving them has been a stretch for me, but I'm getting into it.

If anyone can give me a name for my style based on what I've posted here, I would love it. I love having names for things.

Weekend Update

Funny hats . . .

. . . rickety ladders and rooftops . . .

. . . dancing in the wee hours

This weekend's adventures also included, but were not limited to:

Lizard races
A haunting
The dorkiest game ever played (note the hand-painted figurines)

And oh, the lovely . . .

Bad cameraphone. Beautiful sky.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Words, words, words

I'm not writing enough of them this weekend. Not quickly anyway. If you count "chair time," I put in a lot, but I failed to focus well. I got a bit of work done on a section, largely new, for a decent if meager 716. Not that I didn't have a great weekend -- oh, I did.

All sorts of people are posting these fun word clouds from Wordle.

Here's what my novel looks like in its current state:


My advisor's been working with me on point of view, for one thing cutting out reportorial phrases like, "I know," and "I think." Look at that giant word, "know." While I'd like to believe it's there because my book contains so much revelation and self-discovery, "I know" that's not the case. I have plenty of work to do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

When exactly did this blog become all about how nerdy I am?

When I got a break from school and time to let my true impulses reign.

Miller sent this to the Bomlist this morning. Lacy already has it on her blog, but it merits lots of sharing. I was a high school thespian in Alabama -- served as secretary and president in consecutive years. Except for the fact that my school was too small to produce musicals, this ain't so far off the mark . . .


High School Tony Awards Honor Nation's Biggest Drama Club Nerds

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flowers and vinegar

Things I'm learning by doing apartment therapy:

1) Vinegar is all-purpose: it cleans glass, it attracts gnats, repels ants, and tastes great on french fries
2) Gnats like sweet vinegar, but they freaking love Sierra Mist
3) Getting rid of things, especially bad artwork you made when you were in college, is hard
4) Matching fan blades make me happy
5) Flowers are inspiring -- cheesy but true


6) My apartment's not as terrible as I thought

And something I learned, not from apartment therapy, but from talking with my brilliant friend Kevin who visited this week -- laziness is basically a form of masochism.

It rang true with me when he said it, and since that talk I can't stop looking at things from that point of view. Old friends, they are wise.

In case you still had doubts about my nerdiness . . .

I didn't even try to make it come out this way, but I'm so happy it did!

Your result for The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test...

Elf

You scored 0% Size & Strength, 53% Morality, 53% Aggression, and 82% Intelligence.


You're an Elf! You scored low in size, high in morality, high in aggression and high in intelligence to get here. The first and favorite race created by the Valar, the Elves have been in Middle Earth for many ages, and are currently the only race allowed to join their creators in Valinor. Blessed with eternal life, enhanced senses, great beauty, wisdom and skill, the race of Elves still has several black marks on it. (Kinslaying, anyone?) But hey, no one is perfect, right? Of course not, but the Elves are damn close to it.

FYI, your polar opposite is the Troll.

Take The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test at HelloQuizzy


Thanks to Patrick the Wizard for the link.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Numbers, schmumbers

A lazy day all around, but I got some writing done. Whenever I take a break, it's murder on my momentum. My brain's looking at the chapters I've revised and the ones I haven't and sees zero connection between the two. So I read the revised part again, with my advisor's feedback.

My feelings about my own work swing wildly between overconfidence and despair. Both serve a purpose, I think, at this point, but today, I was proud of what I've done. Things are coming together. When I finish this draft, I have a feeling I'll need to cut a lot for purposes of focus and figure out exactly what I'm achieving in each scene. I might be foolishly optimistic, but that work strikes me as puzzle-like, maybe even fun.

After reading, I wrote 388 words of mostly unusable mumblings, just to prove that's allowed. Then I revised a section that grew to be 1,156.

Warrior Maiden

Last night, when I should have been going to bed, I noticed that a band of ants have invaded my apartment, specifically the baseboard between the bathroom and the den. An entirely separate, if smaller, division has besieged my front door.

I'm normally a pacifist. I'm normally the kind of girl who uses a cup and an index card to "rescue" bugs that have bumbled into my apartment and release them outside. But that's when I can afford to be benevolent. The balance of power here is far too wobbly. I am strong, but they are many. And they are hard to kill.

I started squishing them in bits of paper, only to find they don't squish easily. I had to either squish really hard (Crunch. Gross.) or hold on tight until I could drown them in the toilet. I did in dozens this way. Then I rubbed down the baseboard with vinegar and sprinkled a line of cinnamon. It's possible I didn't use enough -- vinegar and cinnamon are precious resources after all -- but they don't seem to care.

And did I mention they have allies? Fruit flies. I couldn't spread myself too thin and fight both fronts, so I set a trap for them: a crushed strawberry floating in vinegar, Sierra Mist (no, I don't buy it on a regular basis), sweet vermouth, and a couple of drops of dish soap. So far, so good.

Frustrated by the ants' persistence, I found myself taunting them as I squished them, "What did you think was going to happen? Hm? Didn't you notice your friends who came out here never came back?" I often apologized, "I'm sorry, guys. It's terrible, but you can't just invade and expect to be welcomed," but I showed no mercy.

Around this time, oh, maybe forty-five minutes into my defense, and well past my bedtime, I imagined myself as a warrior maiden -- Celtic, of course -- with blue painted whorls on my face, and maybe, a staff that shoots lightning . . .

I'm both pleased and embarrassed by this image, as I am by so many things that pop into my head. I've called a temporary truce with the ants so I can get some writing done, but they will not win this day.

Bootsy McGee

A while back, I wore a pair of fabulous, sleek, brown high-heeled boots out to That's Weird, Grandma. My fellow monkeys started calling me Bootsy McGee. Curtis said Bootsy McGee was a powerful lady with important things to do. Bootsy McGee, he said, would never blog about her dog -- if she kept a blog at all.

Can I not wear fabulous, sleek, brown high-heeled boots and blog about my dog?

Honestly, no, not at the same time. But I'm not wearing boots right now . . .

video

This is how Parker likes to spend her time at the dog park. She can be highly obsessive when it comes to pointless tasks, kind of like me, more than one person has noted. I think she just knows how to make a good time out of a little. Also like me.

It's probably become clear to anyone who follows this blog that I haven't worked on my novel since turning my packet in last Tuesday night. That's right, and I'm good with that. I don't know that I "decided" to take a break, but I think I deserved one. Today, I filed all my paperwork for the past semester, which means I'm officially done with it. Huge release.

I'm going to get back to writing now, not because I have to, but because I want to. I won't be setting strict goals to meet in the coming days -- I'm curious to see what gets done out of love.

Also, I'm pretty jealous of Marisha Pessl and liking her book a lot.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Maintain

What a lovely word: maintain
   It hums    It longs
                It rhymes with itself   Doubles

           Something of stay       without the stutter

The 'm' and 'n's wrap it up, but softly, let it breathe

                      Contain, but not so tightly


A dish in the sink that doesn't turn into a pile,      a crack      
that doesn't hurry to split all the way          and flood
           These are things I'm working on

Friday, June 13, 2008

Monkeys on Fake TV

If you missed Barrel of Monkeys Celebration of Authors, I pity you. But there are fun videos on Youtube. It's never as satisfying to watch live theater on a video, but I can't resist posting "I am a Ninja," adapted to music by Alan Schmuckler and performed by Geoff Rice, Jason Sperling, Schmuckler, and Mike Mahler from left to right (don't worry, it only stays dark for the intro). It kind of makes my life.



Also from the show, our opening extravaganza, "The Day I Went to the Zoo," and "My Trip to Wisconsin."

And "Gotta Stop the Fighting."

Have I mentioned how much I love being part of this company?

Monkeys on TV

Yesterday at the WTTW studio was really fun and surreal. We arrived to rehearse onstage at 2:30. They hooked us up with lavalier mics, spiked our instruments onstage, and gave us a few run-throughs. Since some people were stepping into parts they'd only learned in one afternoon, that was a bit nerve-wracking, but after the first clompy run-through, we got it together.

Then they sent us up to make-up, which was funny. The girls fussed over who got more glitter on their eyes, and after it was done, we all thought we looked really good, so that was novel for a while.


We spent about four hours in a tiny room with only a monitor and each other for entertainment. Luckily, we're entertaining. We played MASH, and hearts, and warmed up in a tiny circle. The whole day had the quality of taking a roadtrip -- you're a bit "out of time" because there's nothing else you can be doing and nowhere else you're supposed to be.


And we enjoyed the craft services table, which was fully stocked with candy and chips and soda and Costco Asian Mix, which is my favorite snack food on the planet, partly because it's elusive when you don't belong to Costco. You know how some blogs have "wishlists" where bloggers ask people to send them things, "if they're so inclined?" If I had a wishlist, Costco Asian Mix would be on it.

As Govier reported on the Monkey Blog, people kept asking us, "So, is that what you're wearing?" and "Is that your costume?" just to make sure, because we were all in jeans and Monkey shirts. The other performers had costumes, flowy white ballet skirts, or elaborate African robes. The Dixieland band wore black and red, and the lead lady had a fancy red garter and suspenders. We looked relatively low-key, but it amused us a lot to play up the idea that we were out of place.

I noticed that at dinner too. They provided us an amazing spread, and we made a big deal out of sneaking extra cookies back up to our green room. The food was there for us. No one cared if we took cookies, but a lot of our comedy comes from preserving a childlike point of view. I've heard acting teachers compare actors to children more than once -- you get to pretend, you make yourself vulnerable, it's important to the work to have fun. Our company members are good at that, onstage and in real life too. I think we all enjoyed having that sense heightened by being ushered around, given a schedule, being made-up and fed at cafeteria-style tables.

And in reality, we weren't out of place, The tech crew really liked us, and we added some variety to a show that was largely based around music. Even before we performed, kids in the audience sat up in their chairs and had looks on their faces like, "This part of the show might just be for me."

Being theater types, the cameras made us nervous, and a couple of monkeys reported "blanking out" for the ten minutes we were onstage, but reports from the audience were positive, and we didn't screw up. It airs next Thursday, June 19th at 8pm and again Sunday June 29th at 4pm on WTTW.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yipes

Wow! This link from John Green's blog. Fox News calls Michelle Obama Barack's "Baby Mama."



Whoa.

Also, tonight I'm on TV. ADDENDUM: It's not live tonight -- it airs next week, so I was wrong about that.

And because for once I have time to read something not written for children and adolescents, I'm currently reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

Done and done

Last night, Barrel of Monkeys Celebration of Authors ran me through most every emotion I'm capable of having, mostly the positive ones.


That's me and Geoff Rice sharing a romantic moment in the Bollywood extravaganza.

COA can be an overwhelming event -- audience over 400 people in a beautiful, classic theater with a balcony as high as the space is deep. Then you have kids who you've taught. One girl recognized me as her teacher in our after-school program THREE YEARS AGO -- and she's still in it. We performed her radio play "Red Riding Rag" last night.

Then there's the company -- the stress of rehearsing with so many people in such a short time, the desire not to let anyone down, the knowledge that you don't get to be together in the same way again for a while . . . and there's the joy that we get to do what we do, that we get to share it with such amazing people.

I'm going to stop myself because this could go on and on, but I wrote more about it on the Monkey blog.

Older Monkeys came from far and near to attend the show, some of whom I hadn't seen in months. I also had friends in from out of town -- my dear friend and former roommate Kevin with his wife and new baby. That alone would have made me cry for joy.

And on top of all that, I got my packet in, a day early as planned. I'm both relieved and sad the semester's over.

And I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good to work

One last reminder that Barrel of Monkeys Celebration of Authors is tonight! For people in Chicago, free entertainment does not get any freer, or any awesome-er. Come!


Tutaj took this beautiful pic at rehearsal. I'll post some from the actual show at some point. We put this show together in all of five rehearsals, and it's been really hot, and there are lots of us, and we are noisy, and the musicians among us are scoring the show with a pit orchestra while the rest of us are trying to remember our lines, but the fact that we made it through last night's tech rehearsal without drama is a testament to how amazing the people in this company are.

I've been extra tetchy because along with that my work for the end of the semester is due tomorrow. Today. Is what I'm telling myself. So over the next four hours, I will be compiling and proofreading that. The paper turned out well, but was more of a monster than I anticipated, so I'll have to be satisfied with how far I got in creative revision. I'm still turning in a ton of stuff.

Wish me luck.

Monday, June 9, 2008

All shall be well

The rain sounds the same as the hiss of the pot where I stir
pasta,

         and after it's done,

I'll watch the Canadian series about the girl who longs
                          
                           to sleep              
                                in a cherry tree                                       
                                                               under silvery moonlight


That's Anne of Green Gables, original storybook girl

In case you didn't know,
. . . all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well

T.S. Eliot told me so

And you know who told him? Julian of Norwich, the mystic. First woman to write a book in the English language. Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love, 1393.

Fifteen more where that one line came from
Divine Love's summer reading 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Something in my eye

I'm looking at a photo of my family that's one of my favorites because everyone looks genuinely happy. We have others of individual members or pairs looking happy, but ones where everyone's smiles look real aren't as easy to find. That doesn't even mean we weren't all happy in the other pictures -- maybe one of us caught something in an eye -- but there's something magic about a picture that captures everyone as you hope they are.

If I took a picture of all my friends tonight, I wonder how many of them would have real smiles. A lot, I think, but surely one or two of them are unhappy about something big or small. Then again, a lot of my friends are actors. Their pictures might fool me. Lacy got married today. I'm hoping she and Brandon are genuinely and abundantly happy, and not just in the pictures.

My people have been tossing the term "first world problems" around lately. A little reminder of perspective. An annoying CTA ride, a broken Xbox, mismatched cutlery . . . all first world problems. Most of my problems, and those of my friends, are first world problems for sure.

Having something caught in your eye, doesn't even count as a first world problem. That's just an annoyance, but it can mar a picture.

I wanted to talk tonight, but it's probably best we didn't.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday, you've changed

I'm midway through a paper on books in which the child protagonist has a dubious relationship with reality. The books I'm looking at aren't quite magic realism, because here the author comes down firmly on one side or the other of the reality line -- in magic realism the ambiguity is never resolved -- but the experience of doubt by both the main character and the reader can give them a similar feeling.

Woo, woo, Friday night!

Last night, I had a lovely dinner and saw Avenue Q to celebrate a friend's birthday, so I can't say I haven't done anything fun lately, but I do miss the weekend meaning something. So many of my friends work freelance or theater schedules that I can never depend on people acknowledging the weekend. I'm truly on the fence about whether to go out for another friend's birthday tonight or whether to keep working on this paper. I need to work steadily so that I get my packet in before Celebration of Authors on Tuesday night, and I've got a lot of rehearsal between now and then, but I also respect that my brain's a bit fried right now.

Lots of my friends have birthdays this time of year, and even more in April and May, which says something to me about creative people who like to work with children being born in the spring, and something about the end of summer being a really fun time to make out.

Currently reading: The Fantastic in Literature by Eric S. Rabkin

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Purgatory

My new date for "official summer" will be Wednesday when I turn my packet in.

Weirdly, Chicago hasn't been looking like summer. It's looking like purgatory. I kind of like it. It suits revision, but I hope the fog is lifting.


Revised somewhere around 2,500 yesterday, combining two big sections and made what I'm going to generously call a break-through on a shorter one. A friend recently gave me some feedback on my manuscript and repeatedly advised me to simplify where possible, suggesting that two good ideas too close together can cancel each other out. Yes, yes. I had one of those "duh" moments while revising yesterday where I realized I'd needlessly complicated a major plot point for no good reason. Very satisfying to make it simpler.

I also attended another fantastic rehearsal for Celebration of Authors. This is what it looks like when the entire Barrel of Monkeys company gets together to rehearse for COA:


Rehearsals for this show are saving me from myself in a week when the only other thing on my mind is wrapping up my second semester at Vermont. My advisor offered to let me send my whole novel in my last packet, which is lovely, but overwhelming. I've been trucking along with revision, but I've also got to write a big paper by next Wednesday. Well, really by Tuesday because I don't plan to do any work the day after Celebration of Authors.

Today, I finished the main book I'll be referencing in the aforementioned big paper, Christina Meldrum's Madapple, a deliciously weird book that I'm pleased to see classified as YA. It's literary, original, and encompasses some pretty daring views on religion. Now for some work on that paper, and shopping for groceries and cleaning supplies . . . Apartment, I haven't forgotten you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I heart you, Jon

Pardon the political departure, but, Jon Stewart to Clinton campaign manager Terry McAuliffe, "Your strategy right now appears to be: if we act deranged enough, maybe they'll just give us the country?"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Help

Do any blogger users out there understand why the spacing in my posts is getting weird? It's not that big a deal -- just big enough to make me CRAZY!

Abandon

Today, I spent hours moving parts of my novel around, making tiny changes, contemplating big ones. I got so sick of myself, that I put it aside until 6 tonight, when I actually got some writing done. 1,039, part revised, a lot of it new. And still, I don't feel like I've done anything. 

I need an attitude adjustment. Those hours of moving things around count -- even though they aren't as satisfying as typing out a new scene that I love, they count. They're necessary -- annoying but necessary. 

I've never been at this stage with a novel before, where I'm revising and filling in gaps, and have a more or less complete story. I have a feel for the piece as a whole, but some parts are still very fuzzy, and looking at the novel as a whole is still unwieldy and awkward. I have to trust that if I keep working on small sections day by day, it will grow into shape. That's happened for the first 60 pages or so. Today, I just happened to hit a part that I hadn't looked at in months, and it felt like starting over. 

Persistence is key. I still have energy for this project. I still believe that I'll complete it. What terrifies me is the idea that my energy will run out. I've heard some quotation that novels are never completed, they're abandoned. I don't mind the idea of abandoning my novel without it being perfect. But I'm terrified of abandoning it before it's something I can share. And, yes, when I say share, I do mean publish. That's what I want. 

There's some stigma around saying that, as if writing should be an end unto itself, and it is, to a certain extent. But I've been a writer for years and years. I want to be an author. It's a good thing to want, a good thing to try to be ready for. 

Monday, June 2, 2008

Signs of summer

Sunglasses . . .


. . . hours of sitting on the grass . . .

. . . and pink drinks. 

Summer's here, y'all. Tutaj took these lovely pics of Tai, my feet, and Lacy at Heidi's welcome summer BBQ. 

Lots of reading and a little revision today. Got some feedback on my manuscript today from a colleague and am reminded how blessed I am to be surrounded by smart, talented, and supportive people. I hope I give at least a little of that back. Thanks, people.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oil slicks

Don't slip. Things have been going so well. Get one of those sticky non-slip mats for the shower, and take the banana peels directly to the trash. 

Old habits die hard. I can't be late to rehearsal tomorrow. I won't.

And no unwashed dishes in the sink this time tomorrow. 

And don't lose revision momentum. 

And DON'T, I repeat, do not lie to yourself. 

Wait. How am I supposed to know if I'm lying to myself. Isn't the whole point of lying to be deceptive? 

And don't obsess. About any of those things.

But you just said to . . .

Well, obsess a little, but only just the right amount.

What's the right am --

Go to sleep, Rachel. Sleep. And be a better person in the morning.  

Define better.

Well, better in the sense that . . . you know, that you would . . . just, you know, not be so caught up in . . . I'm tired. Would you just go to bed? 

Bed. Bed is nice. True fact.