Month: May 2010 Page 2 of 3

Loosely connected

This past weekend I drove to Pittsburgh to see my former residents graduate. It’s been 3 years since I was a Resident Assistant, and I still miss it constantly. There’s nothing like helping teens discover/create the right college experience for them. Especially when the teens are as awesome as mine were.

PGH wknd Fri 003
Me and some of my Class of 2010 kiddos enjoying Late Night at Fuel & Fuddle

I also got to spend some time with my aunt and uncle and their grandkids. We went to a school carnival; ate hot dogs, ice cream, and donuts; and competed in swimming noodle Jedi wars. I think Ben won (mostly due to sheer stamina).

PGH wknd Sat New Castle 060

Sometime during the roadtrip, my car’s air conditioning died. Fortunately it was cool enough to roll down the windows. I didn’t really speed — and haven’t since I got my first and only ticket last year — but I did snap a few photos while driving… I know, I know, it’s bad and dangerous! And the photos I got weren’t even that great. But I’ve been wanting pictures of these Ohio Bicentennial barns for a while. Next time I’ll try to get a better shot while Andy is behind the wheel.

PGH wknd Sun drive home 005

It’s hard to explain how I feel about not having any real ties to Carnegie Mellon anymore. I only know a handful of professors and administrators there now, and I’m sure I’m fading in their memories with every passing day.

That part of it doesn’t bother me — in fact, it’s nice to go to campus and not have awkward run-ins with people I barely know. (Don’t get me wrong: the few that I do keep in touch with, I love. Seeing them wouldn’t be awkward at all.) But at the same time, little things keep changing every time I go back, and I guess part of me is afraid that one day I won’t recognize it at all…

That’s probably an irrational fear. But when you love something, it’s hard to let it go.

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2 is better than 1, but what about 3?

In an earlier post, I talked about how you don’t have to settle for less with your writing (or your anything, really). You can always put in the work to make it better, if you want.

Related to that: YOU can put in the work to make it better. And you’ll have to, because no one else will do it for you.

That’s definitely one lesson that’s been reinforced for me lately. While I craft my proposals for The Major Publisher That’s Interested in Twenty-Somewhere (there’s got to be a shorter way to say that…) I’ve been querying agents again. And the response I’m getting from many of them is that my story sounds great and they’d love to see the manuscript. When I’m done revising it for TheMajPub.

Oh. Okay.

I was kind of hoping to get an agent to help me work on those revisions. (By “help” I mean giving me feedback and corresponding with TheMajPub, not the actual writing of course.) Now, I can do it on my own — and apparently I will — but I’m one of those authors who is really looking forward to having an agent, someone with industry experience to guide me, a second opinion on my story and my writing. I view agents as little publishing angels, not grubby middlemen I wish I could do without.

(Sadly and strangely, yes, some authors hold the latter opinion.)

Alas, agents view me as an unproven writer with a good idea but no concrete manuscript or offer. And I can’t fault them for that. I guess technically that’s what I am.

Until I can go back to them with good news from TheMajPub and/or a fabulous ms, I am depending on family and friends (like y’all!) to cheer me on and give me counsel. There are also a lot of great resources for aspiring writers online. Right now I’m using Kathy Carmichael’s workshop on writing a synopsis to help turn my notes into something solid for TheMajPub. (Found via Diana Peterfreund.)

For me, one of the big debates has been whether to write 1 book featuring 3 girls at the same time, or 3 books featuring 1 girl at a time. Ultimately I’ll be offering TheMajPub both options, and I think either one could work really well. But Twenty-Somewhere started as a story about 3 girlfriends going through these life experiences “together,” even though they were far apart. And part of me thinks that’s how it should stay…

Then again, in working on the proposals, I’ve been able to flesh out more of each girl’s conflicts when they get a whole book to themselves…

So it’s sort of a toss-up.

What do you guys think? 1 book with 3 girls, a la Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Or a trilogy tackling 1 girl at a time, much like Nora Roberts does? Of course, TheMajPub might want Book 1 of the trilogy but not commit to the other 2… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

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C'est la vie

Things that do not contribute to my productivity:

  • Accidentally falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m.
  • INCREDIBLY. LOUD. DRILLING! (We’re having an intercom installed at work.)
  • Cookie dough in the fridge.
  • A friend visiting from out of town.
  • Plans/trips for the next 5 weekends straight.

Yeah, I have no idea how/when I’m going to get 2 (or really 4) synopses written to submit to The Major Publisher That’s Interested in Twenty-Somewhere.

But you know, that’s life. And life is good.

(And of course I WILL get those synopses done.)

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Scenes from a weekend

Thinking ahead, I tell my girlfriends The Rule: I don’t dance with strangers. If you see one approach, rescue me. Thanks.

Fortunately — and unfortunately — for most of the night, The Rule doesn’t come into play. My ego takes a bit of a hit. But then, it’s too dark and crowded for me to see anyone, much less for them to see me. I tell myself this is a good thing. The night’s not about me anyway.

Later it’s a different club, a different crowd. Brighter and more spacious, but now I’m tired. Too tired to care about the dance floor. I park it at the bar and ask for water. I watch my girlfriends have a good time.

One or two guys give me the eye. I do not engage. I’m not in the mood for a conversation, or anything else they might be looking for.

A bachelor party comes up to get more beer. The guy closest to me smiles to acknowledge that he’s encroaching on my space. I smile back to acknowledge that he doesn’t have much choice. No worries.

Then somehow, he gets the timing right. Or maybe it’s the wording. Or maybe it’s just that he looks cute and friendly but not too pushy. I don’t know, but somehow, he finds an opening.

He asks me questions and seems genuinely interested in my answers. He tells me a funny story. At some point I mention my boyfriend. At some point he mentions his wife. That’s when I realize I never looked for a ring. For some reason I haven’t trained myself to do that. I guess I still don’t think of myself as old enough to be married, even though everyone around me already is.

We talk for half an hour before he asks me to dance. I decide, Why not? He’s earned it. We walk over to the dance floor, and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is playing. I laugh because I can’t dance to that.

It’s still awkward, as these things always are, but for once I don’t feel dread, panic, or the instinct to flee. When my friend comes over to check on me, to follow my Rule, I tell her I’m okay. And I think, Why can’t all guys go about it this way? Wouldn’t that be nicer for everyone?

Over his shoulder, I see his friend elbow their other buddy and point. I can read lips. The guy says, “No way!” and they chuckle. I tell my new friend that his buddies are talking about us. He says, “Well, then we better give them something to talk about.” He turns around and jokingly booty-bumps me. I laugh again.

Soon the night ends and we say goodbye. That’s all there is, and that’s all there needs to be. For every rule there is an exception. This weekend I met mine.

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It doesn't have to be what it is

LOVED today’s post from Moon Rat, the editorial assistant extraordinaire:

The point I want to make today is about vigilance of craft. Creativity is exhausting. When you’re working on a novel, there comes a point during writing, or rewriting, or editing, or re-editing, or hearing back the nitpicky bits from your crit group or agent or editor for the eight millionth time, when you just say “Ug, can I be done with this? I’ll fix it later, or someone else can, if they really have a problem with it.”

But the thing is, you can’t count on anyone to fix anything later.

No, you sure can’t. And really, that applies to anything and everything, not just books.

The best professionals in any sector of the industry are the ones who fight it out a couple more rounds before throwing up their hands.

So the moral of this story is, fight the good fight, at every stage of the game.

Right on!

I’ll do my best to keep that in mind this weekend as I tackle the 3 synopses I’m preparing for The Major Publisher Who’s Interested in Twenty-Somewhere. o_O

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