Friday, March 10, 2006

Admiration Society

In a rather delightful turn, two blogs have posted marvelous essays this week that I'd like to note here.

Nick Mamatas, a writer whom I know through Jessica, in his posted this bit of Swift-ian brilliance this week and I nearly pulled a muscle laughing. While the essay in and of itself is completely on-point and hillarious, I am extremely grateful to him for this paragraph, which I'm tempted to turn into a wall-hanging and keep it near my computer:

Recent discussions about writing and being a writer and "success" highlight the widely-held belief that writing itself imparts a level of privilege that the world, in its nasty little way, tries to deny. This is all rather silly, I think. We see very few people stewing about their "bad decisions" to become a Wal-Mart employee or a Mexican coal miner or a conscript in a revolutionary people's army or a whore for German sex-tourists in Bangkok.

Marvelous. He certainly wins my admiration for the week for this post.

I also must highlight this entry from David Cross's blog as one of the best online street fights since Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis got into a comment war some weeks back. In this entry, David meets Larry the Cable Guy at the bleachers (no principals, no student teachers) to prove that he ain't no holla back girl. Or something. It's worth reading, at any rate.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Attention divides, perfection stalls.

I've been trying to write deeply felt pieces of great importance in the notebook again. So I haven't been posting. Which is another ridiculous example of me getting so caught up in perfection that I don't actually do what I need to. It's a bad habit I wish I could break myself of. A really bad habit.

My reading went very well, gracious thanks to Jessica for inviting me to share the stage with such talented people. But I can't lie. I was NERVOUS. Great big gobs of nervous. So nervous that I was paralyzed for days, writing-wise. The closer it got to the reading, the less I could do. I ended up trying to force myself to write a new chapter of Freelancer to read on Saturday, which didn't wind up going to well. I got a good start before I succumbed to more panic and frustration. That, and the Muse just getting pissed off about being put on the spot like that and just leaving.

After a few frantic conversations with my parents, I decided to go with the first chapter of Freelancer for the reading, despite my suspicions that maybe I need to take a friend's advice and switch exactly how it starts around. I'll have to play with that some. Either way, I'm really loving where Ryan (my protagonist) has been taking me, and how he's been talking to me lately. I really and truly believe that if I really work on this, if I really focus, I can finish it this year. Well, the first draft, anyway. I'll probably need to go back and do some research and a whole pile of editing and have some people I trust to be honest to look it over to help me see if I'm missing anything.

Best and Brightest (my other novel) has stalled at the moment, partly because I've been in such a Freelancer place right now and partly because that one requires a lot more architecture than I realized when I started working on it. But that's the bonus of having two things going, you can go back and forth as you see fit. I still haven't typed up the pages I wrote for Best during my unofficial writer's retreat to Wellfleet last October. Which is bad. I know essentially where I need to go with this, I suppose I should finish sketching the rest of it out before I worry about the details. I'll see how that goes with Freelancer , as that one is on a smaller scale.

And as if I didn't have enough to do, lightning struck me this morning. My muse has an annoying habit of bad timing. It used to hit me late at night, causing me to stay up until all hours. Now, I get ideas on the way to work in the morning. Luckily it's just a short story that I'd mentioned to Jess a while back, part of a chain of loosely connected ones I was thinking about writing, which is how Best & Brightest was originally conceived. But I like what I have so far, and I'm going to make sure that this one stays a short story. I think it might be good for me to have a palate cleanser of some kind for when I'm frustrated with everything I'm writing.

But I scribbled a good start on the train on my way in, and was frustrated that I had to go into the office and do what I get pay and benefits for instead of what I love. My lifestyle doesn't allow me to quit and just write. (I'm not independently wealthy.) Plus, having somewhere to go every day gets my ass out of bed and onto the train, which is possibly the best place for creative thought that I have. Still, it would be nice to be able to call into work creative. Or even stumble in an hour or two late, and have your boss accept that it's because you were so immersed in the story you were writing on the train that you found yourself at the end of the subway line. Not likely in this lifetime.

I keep a notebook and pen on me at all times. Sometimes I lug them around for weeks before inspiration strikes. Which is another reason that not working would not work for me - I need something to keep me busy in the interim, and to remind me that I can only do one thing at a time. I have two novels and a short story in progress, and at least 5 more ideas for novels in the works:
1. an odd romantic comedy
2. something that falls in line with whatever genre they're classifying Neil Gaiman these days
3. a very Hitchcock-ian story of obsession that I think will be more of a novella
4. a novel about baseball and murder that I'll be collaborating with my dad on
5. a possible sequel to Freelancer). (never mind that I haven't even finished Freelancer yet!!)

And two blogs. And a poem I'm trying to compose for a friends' wedding. I haven't written a poem since college, but I'm trying (more on that anxiety later.)

Still, life intervenes, as it always does. I have to run to a meeting now.