Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading and Writing

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
--Stephen King

Thank you twitter. And thank you @adviceforwriters.
So right (write!).

I am editing. And planning a birthday party. Doing laundry. Washing the kitchen floor. Making lamb chops for dinner when my dad came to visit. Whipping up gobs of Flubber with borax and glue. Writing. But reading?

No effin way.

A woman of magnificence I know recommended a book to read called Lonely Werewolf Girl about a skinny, Scottish, runaway, werewolf princess named Kalix. I am loving it. It is so not what I usually read but I am making time in my ridiculous schedule to read it.

I abandoned Marie Antoinette. I have foresworn mindless television watching save for Sunday marathons of HBO and Madmen and the occasional netflixed pic on Thursday and Saturday nights.

This is what it takes, people. I have a stack on my nightstand of books to be read and here is a list:

A Visit from the Goon Squad
The Artist's Wife
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Marlene Dietrich, a biography
If I Loved You, I Would Tell you This
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Bonjour Tristesse

I better get crack a lakin'

And 30th follower and winner of mysterious prize? I have not forgotten about you!

Yes, there is a winner. No, I don't know what the prize is...

We have a winner for the 30th follower! She seems grand and when I decide what it is she has won... I shall send it and then make it public here.

I'm editing like mad and am preoccupied with the work at hand. It's like work, this editing. The writing writing is like playing. It's like playing badminton on hallucinogens with ovulating angels.

Editing is like work. Temping on Wall Street type work and I don't like it. What's so demoralizing about it is that your editor, if she's any good-- and mine is very very good-- finds your weakest spots as a writer and irons them out dele mark by dele mark.

You thought that no one would notice that weird thing about the grandma and just keep reading. Wrong. You thought your quirky use of punctuation and the word "and" was groundbreaking? Nope. You thought that your MFA from Columbia University gave you a complete understanding of correct comma placement and how to conjugate lay, lie, lain. Ha. Were you deluded!

That's were this is at. And ending a sentence with a preposition is bad English. It just happens to be how people from Chicago talk. Unfortunately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm trying to rack up my numbers here, people.

No, I do not know what the prize will be.

It will be a good one- maybe a book? Food? A decade of the rosary said on your behalf one Wednesday morning mass?

Become the 30th follower... And find out!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sylvia Plath Inc.

There was a time, long ago, when I was obsessed with tattoos. I was so into them, I subscribed to Tattoo magazine and felt that permanent ink was the only way to identify myself as an individual. Or something.

So I have one, and I love it but that is only because I can't see it. It's on my lower back and as good as invisible to me. Sometimes, I'll pass tattooed people and sigh like my mother, "Oh, why would they do that to themselves," before remembering that I, er, HAVE ONE. And kind of a big one at that.

Getting it was one of the best days of my life. Right up there with getting married and having babies. That night, I had my first martini (with a slice of Polish sausage in it instead of an olive). I was high on adrenaline all night and went and saw a band called the Cocktails, flashing my tattoo/ass to anyone who wanted to mess with me. Like those other milestone days, it was momentous. It was painful. It would be remembered forever.

So there is this whole literary tattoo trend underfoot and I'm intrigued. I wanted to showcase a few Sylvia Plath tattoos because they are relevant and something I think, that my main character Keek, might go off and do one day.

Most of these are of the I am I am I am variety and
this one is rather nice and MFA subtle...

These are a little Angelina Jolie (in a good way).

This one is an ode to "Tulips" and it is huge and dark and
Sylvia had no idea this is where here words would end up!

This one is cool too. It has all got me considering another one,
tattoo that is. Not baby. Or even book... Well, maybe book.

I'm thinking I want to write the kind of books that inspire people to tattoo themselves. This is the answer I will give the next time some interviewer asks me, "Why YA?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Other Car is a Bicycle

That is a bumper sticker I never quite understood. Another bumper sticker I never particularly enjoyed was of the "I'd Rather be Fishing/Hunting/Sailing" variety and yet, since getting my long awaited edits, believe me: I get it.

This editing is way harder than I thought.

I would rather be:

  1. At Ikea
  2. Cleaning out the hall closet
  3. Doing effing laundry
  4. Reading my Marie Antoinette book (Almost done! How will it end?)
  5. Playing around with lipstick and eye shadow so my lips look like the above

Anything anything ANYTHING other than making artistic choices strongly encouraged by my editor...

No news on the title either.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's in a Name?

I'm having some title trouble and I don't really want to go into it except to say there is this new book out, by fellow MFA holder Lish McBride, with the best title ever.

Are you sitting down?

It is called HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER and I am so green with raging envy at the amazingness of it that it only makes my own title search all the more difficult because, well, it is hard to see through the green haze.

The cover's Lou Reed cool too.

And it's on my to-read list and I hear, from smart people, that it is a great novel too.

As for this title business let me be clear. This is an issue for me in all areas of my life, putting a clear label on a thing. If you do a little digging, you will see that my short story title prowess is also rather lacking (although I rather liked "Cannibals"). I had trouble calling my husband "my Husband" till about a year ago and don't get me started on how we named the kids. The words I would use are... slowly, passionately, randomly. Which describes the way I do most things in my life.

My soon to be named novel is about a lot of complex things and I don't want to scare people by some freak show title. But then I want it to be a name for my book- not just any book out there. I want it to be:

  • catchy
  • enigmatic
  • specific
  • funny
  • weighty
  • start with the letter A
  • wink to Sylvia Plath
  • avoid being too Plathian

How hard could it effin be?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh, Johnny.

My one time writing teacher, mentor, and fellow-midwesterner Jonathan Franzen is on the cover of effing Time Magazine.


Long ago he was in there for a little "writers to watch" thing so they have been onto him for years. Now he is the most famous Great American Novelist ever and he seems so far far far away from me when I once thought we were the same people in different bodies.

Well. Maybe he'll blurb BELL JAR SUMMER for me... The teens are way into the Franz.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ponderosa Stomp!

Hey cats. Summer weekends when I am not writing on deadline, shopping at Trader Joe's or lying on a couch drinking gins and tonics and watching the Wonder Pets with my children I do other things. Like Rock the eff out. OK well here's what we did this weekend.

  1. We woke up and ate frozen waffles, watched Nick Jr. till we were seasick, took out the garbage, and left the house at noon.
  2. We dragged our beautiful gadabout children to the zoo. We became members and got a t-shirt! Saw the elusive snow leopard. Ate a pre-packed picnic lunch and drank iced coffee.
  3. Went to the Victorian Gardens at Central park where we spent thousands of dollars. We went on the froggy ride, airplane ride twice, and played whack-a-mole and a clown mouth water shooting game. We won nothing but had a freaking ball.
  4. Dragged kids to free outdoor Lincoln center show celebrating Detroit's hot music with Death, The Gories, Question Mark and the Mysterians, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels!!

Death was amazing and the drummer was tight.
The Gories, my new favorite, sang a song called "You Think You're Something but You're Nothing to Me." Which might be the title of the next one.

The kids loved it! We loved it. We looked cool and made out a lot and drank beer. Outside. With The Gories on stage and the kids in the double stroller! OK, we couldn't stay for Mitch Ryder but we ALMOST did.

AND THEN we went to Whole Foods and picked up sushi and went home. Fed the kids cold pasta and milk at 10:30. Got them to sleep by 11:15. We passed out with them and woke up at midnight and ate the sushi and drank sake and watched Michael Clayton. The movie.

I am not trying to brag about our amazing weekend but it was the first time in a long time we felt like the cool hip parents we are. We ALL had fun and the weather was perfect and it was right up there with a big date I had with my then boyfriend, now husband where we went to Coney Island all day, went back to my place to change and then got all gussied up for a swing show at Don Hills. Yes. It was a LONG time ago.

Rrrrreal Rock and Roll bebeh!