Month: July 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

Scenes from three simultaneous worlds

1.

The boys pass by my window like a slow-moving film reel. One boy sits inside a blue shopping cart, followed by the second boy pushing a second cart. The little parade rolls down the street, moving in the direction of traffic. There are few cars at this time of day, but I still worry. Their parents are nowhere to be found.

Later the boys come back, against traffic but on the sidewalk this time. They take their carts through our parking lot and down the side street. They disappear from view.

When I leave for the day, I see the two carts sticking up out of a construction dumpster. Bright blue plastic amidst the plaster and bricks. I wonder how the two boys managed to heave the carts up that high, above their heads. And I wonder where they have gone.

2.

There is no music today. The air conditioning starts up with a loud rumble. The water fountain whines and whirs. Birds chirp and the wind whips sticks and leaves against the building. These are the instruments that make up my symphony.

Goose bumps rise up on my arms. I cross my legs at the ankle. Then the knee. Then the ankle. I sip from my water, which is no longer cold, but I am too lazy to go get more ice.

My screen flashes. I click, read, answer. I open a new window. I type. I move from place to place without ever getting up from my chair. I avoid the work that I know needs to be done.

3.

Today the little girl’s father will leave. She doesn’t know it, but this has been coming for years. The girl remembers a party, and the brightness of her mother’s smile. But that was a long time ago. When did her mother’s mouth start to curve in the other direction? When did her father start eating dinner alone at his desk?

Tomorrow she will cry at school, and the counselor will give her permission to go someplace quiet whenever she feels sad. The girl will choose the Time Out corner, where no one can see her tears. A couple weeks later, another little girl will get in trouble. When she goes to the corner, she will be startled to find someone already there. But then, the greatest friendships are always a surprise.

When the little girl grows up, she will barely remember her father. His warm brown eyes, his bristly mustache, the faded flannel shirts he always wore. These things will become black and white photographs stored in a dusty box in the attic of her mind. But she will never forget the day her friend sat next to her in the Time Out corner, shoulder to shoulder, and held her hand. Together they made up a story about singing elephants and a monkey who wanted to fly. Together they wrote their own happily ever after.

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Writerly Wednesday (YA writer edition)

Rachele Alpine (whose book is out on submission right now, cross your fingers for her!!) compiled some great writing advice via a contest at her blog. My favorites:

*In the time you just spent whining about how you don’t want to revise, you could have revised two pages.

*Love your writing like you love your dog; unconditionally. It might not always be perfect, but at the end of the day, you can’t live without it and it makes your soul smile.

Natalie Whipple talked about the “crit partner arsenal.” Basically she outlines all the different types of crit partners you could have, and why you would want them. This is a really valuable guide for writers looking to connect with people for feedback that will take their writing to the next level.

And last but not least, Kiersten White, whose forthcoming book Paranormalcy is being heralded as the second coming of Edward-and-Bella-and-Jacob-only-better-and-with-less-vampires-and-adverbs-and-a-funnier-voice-and… okay, you get the point. Anyway, Kiersten had some great things to say about setting goals

That’s important in setting goals–make sure they are things YOU control. You can’t control sales. You can’t control being nominated for or winning awards. You can control what you do and what you write to make those things more likely to happen, though. So focus on what you can control, decide what your goals as an author (aspiring author/pastry chef/world’s foremost expert on rare evolution type Pokemon/professional beach Taser operator) are, and then figure out what you can do to make them happen.

… and distinguishing between a writer and their characters/stories.

What it comes down to is this: I am not my characters. I’m not even my writing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve been answering interviews (and interviews…and interviews…), and questions about Evie’s obsession with the color pink have popped up a couple of times. You know what? I don’t really like pink. I never have. Evie, however, can’t get enough of the color. Why?

Because she’s not me and I’m not her.

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How fiction breaks us out of walls

I had never heard of Turkish author Elif Shafak, but after hearing her beautiful and intelligent TED talk, I will definitely be checking out her books.

“He wanted to see the manifestation of my identity. He was looking for a Turkish woman in the book, because I happen to be one. We often talk about how stories change the world, but we should also see how the world of identity politics affects the way stories are being circulated, read, and reviewed.”

“When the interviewer tried to pigeonhole him as a gay writer, Baldwin stopped and said, ‘But don’t you see? There is nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me.’ When identity politics tries to put labels on us, it is our freedom of imagination that is danger.”

“It was just a story. And when I say ‘just a story,’ I’m not trying to belittle my work. I want to love and celebrate fiction for what it is, not as a means to an ends.”

“Identity politics divides us; fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations, the other in nuances. One draws boundaries, the other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks; fiction is flowing water.”

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Good tidings

The good GREAT news to which I referred yesterday.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I could not be more excited, proud, encouraged, inspired, and not-surprised. Because having read it, I knew Erin’s book was spectacular, and that she has a long and lively career ahead of her, and really, what agent wouldn’t want to share in that?

Erin and I have been in the trenches together for a couple years now, and this truly couldn’t have happened to a more deserving writer.

clubbing at Crimson 003
Me with the up-and-coming YA fantasy writer Erin Danehy

She’s smart, talented, beautiful, funny, nerdy, and fortunately for me, a great friend. Congrats, Erin! I know this is not the last time I’ll be spreading wonderful news about you.

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Follow through

Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. Oh, Monday.

This past Monday was a lot of things. A rollercoaster, most of all. The ride went up, down, down, up, and sort of up, in that order. But never mind all the details, it’s confession time.

Monday was my self-imposed deadline to finish my proposal. The proposal requested by The Major Publisher. The proposal to turn Twenty-Somewhere from an episodic book into a more traditional novel.

On Monday, Sonja asked if I had finished. I hadn’t.

But then I heard some news that kicked me into gear. The news was good — great, in fact! — but it belongs to someone else, so I have to wait a little bit before sharing. Regardless, with the excitement coursing through my veins, I skipped out on a meeting that night and stayed home to write my butt off. Or proposal my butt off. Whatever.

I worked until 3 a.m., and yes Sonja, I finished.

Now the proposal will make its way to The Major Publisher, and to the agents who expressed interest in seeing it. I am also writing a sample chapter, even though it wasn’t requested. And after that, I will either be asked to write the book(s) outlined in the proposal, or I will write the other book(s) that have been stewing in my brain.

On Monday I blogged about dreams. And true to my word, on Monday I went after them.

On Tuesday, I slept.

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