Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Fantasy of Being Published

A while back I read a memorable piece by Kate Harding on the fantasy of being thin. Harding is a fat acceptance blogger who writes movingly, in this post, about how much time she spent believing that being thin would mean "becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has".

This is how I was feeling about being a professional writer. Where one draws that line is actually kind of unimportant--does it start with your first sale? First pro sale? SFWA membership? Agent? Novel contract? Not all of those things have happened for me yet, but I'm very aware today that some of them have, and that I have not yet magically become an entirely different person.

I am still a person who talks too much and then feels dumb about it. I still don't have great boundaries. I'm secretive about some things and I overshare others. I read blogs instead of working; I work instead of calling my family; I call my family instead of cleaning the catbox. I am vain. I spend a lot of money on clothes and not as much as I'd like on charity. I want to be eco-friendly and then I forget my reusable coffee cup when I go to Starbucks. I want to be admired and then I swear like a pirate in front of my superiors. I want to be healthy and then I eat potato chips and Irish coffee for lunch.

And I want, more than anything, every day, to receive another letter telling me that I have been found worthy. And each time this happens, I am overjoyed for an hour or an evening, but I am still myself, and I still have to wash my socks and attend that marketing meeting and buy butter and tampons.

What does this all have to do with the cute cat picture, you may ask. That is Arnold, who had to be put down a few days ago due to advanced kidney disease.

I was not there. I was on a business trip. My husband was with him, and called me from the vet, and after he hung up I sat there in tears in a brewpub in Manhattan, knowing that he had the harder task, and still wishing I could be there, instead of coming home days later to an emptier house.

Today's that day, in my house, without my cat for the first time in sixteen years. And I think what would make it better would be selling a story today. And I know this is a fantasy, and that when I sell my next story, I will still be a person with only one cat.

What will really make the difference is nothing anyone else can do. What will really make it better, the only thing that will really make it better, is the conversion of this, my memory, my emotion, into story. I am still, only, and always, a person who does that thing.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Auto Show, clairification style

One of my fellow writers (Nicole, that was you, right?) says my novel is like a low-budget film: the settings are few, small and usually indoor, and the characters keep returning to the same places.

In true low-budget film style, one of these settings is a car. When the protagonist is in his car, the scenery going by could be pure stock footage.

The car itself, on the other hand, is a vitally important set-piece and I need to be able to describe it accurately and richly. Thus: the Auto Show.

At the Auto Show, people let writers in to look at cars that are worth more than houses. The car in the picture is a Bentley Mulsanne. Two nice women let me inside the ropes to take pictures of it!

I now know the colour, sheen, specs and even the smell of this car. I cannot share the smell with you here, but as for the rest:

I was not, unfortunately, allowed to sit in it. Or touch it.

I did discover, incidentally, that the Auto Show staff were uniformly polite and considerate toward those of their patrons who walk with a cane.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In which I have structure

This, my friends, is Hour of the Hag. Each sticky is a scene. Notes in black are what currently happens in the scene; notes in pink are things I have to change or add. Pink stickies are scenes to add. Blue for Maksim's POV, green for Lissa, white for Nick, and yellow for poor orphaned Jonathan who really shouldn't have his own POV scene, since there's only one of it.

I'm surprised by how even the scene distribution is. I am unsurprised by how much more I have to do before I can call this thing done. This sticky-map is for the transition from draft 2 to draft 3 and final. I don't have much sense of how long it will actually take--weeks rather than months, but other than that, it depends on how much I wallow. I have three vac days to kick it off. Hard burn to April--I'd like to get it in the post to agents by May.

Oh, and behind the sticky-map, that thing is a pillow with a carrot on it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March issue of Ideomancer! here for you to enjoy.

Other awesome things in the pillow book of March:

One has unused vacation days and a plan to spend them writing in coffee shops.

One has tickets to an all-girl fight card.

One's arms are bruised by kettlebells.

One's neighbour, who is a cat, leaves the house after the long winter shut in, and greets one from the doorstep.