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A Messy Love Letter to FLEABAG

May 30, 2019 1 comment

YO. SPOILERS. Don’t read if you haven’t seen Season Two. And if you HAVEN’T, GO DO THAT NOW.

 

At the beginning of season two, Fleabag turns to the camera and quips, “This is a love story.” And, as she usually is during those furtive asides, she’s right. It is a love story, but it’s not just about one kind of love. It’s about love in the wake of grief (the loss of their mum). It’s about the love between sisters (Claire and Fleabag always show up for each other, despite their clashes). It’s about loving yourself, even when you make a mistake (too many examples to list, but Claire’s awful haircut comes to mind). It’s about loving yourself enough to walk away from things that don’t make you happy, not really (Martin, because good god, he’s a proper shit, isn’t he?).

And along with all that, it’s about unexpected, unlooked for, tricky love. Love that makes you question things, upends your whole world. Because it’s not a shallow connection. No, it’s a real and deep one, and holy hell, that is scary. Obviously, I’m talking about the relationship that develops between Fleabag and Hot Priest (Andrew Scott can kiss, because I nearly swallowed my own tongue just sitting there).

As the season progresses, the relationship between them deepens and grows. It starts as an attraction, but then careens off a cliff into something more. Why? There are a few reasons. The character of the Priest is so perfectly flawed. He’s awkward (the bit about not knowing how to talk to babies), sweary as hell (fuuuuck), and purposefully open, even when he’s unnerved by it. And that is quite interesting. Scott portrays him as playful, messy, and deeply aware. I mean, on one hand, he’s a dork who reads, likes extravagant robes, and drinks G&T out of a can. On the other hand, he really sees people. Specifically, Fleabag, who people constantly misinterpret, chastise for being herself, or outride deride (again, Martin).

The awareness of the character is incredibly alluring. It’s that recognition that tips the pulse—Fleabag’s and the audience’s—to race. The Priest isn’t simply hot because he’s forbidden. No, his hotness increases exponentially because he sees Fleabag—and tells her when he does. In a way, he intrudes on her peace just as she intrudes on his. As the show progresses, her deadpans to the camera become less and less, because she no longer needs to disassociate. She doesn’t need to escape or collect herself. Because she’s incredibly, painstakingly present.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge taps into something very real: our desire to be seen and understood as we are, hot mess and all. Not the polished version we present to the world. The Priest disrupts Fleabag’s coping mechanism (retreating), which opens the door for her healing (the grief of her mom, her best friend Boo–up until the Priest, she’s been chased around by her pain and guilt). These two characters challenge each other, meeting in a clash of ideological separateness. He calls her out from her hiding place and on her own actions: “Fuck you, calling me ‘father,’ like it doesn’t turn you on just to say it.” I’ll admit, I had to pause the show for a moment, because, like Fleabag, I was also stunned. The almost casual audacity of his honesty was alarmingly attractive, even when he was struggling with it. There’s an electric rawness to their interactions—something that can’t be articulated, but you know it when you see it.

There’s also an element of inevitability to the relationship. It’s clear that the attraction is there, but the question is: give in or not? Do they, as it were, kneel to it? Eventually, we all do. And even though, superficially, the Priest goes to Fleabag’s to assure her they won’t be physical, you have to wonder who he’s really saying that to—her or himself? And it’s truly the latter. It’s a very real moment of someone trying to convince themselves that what they want won’t happen, right up until the moment where it does.

I found it fascinating that he stops by wearing his priest outfit, as if it’s armor. A way to cause a separation between them, perhaps a way to remind himself of his commitment to God. But he was wearing it in the previous confessional scene, so the choice is fascinating. We’ve seen him out in the world wearing regular clothing—in those moments with Fleabag, when he’s simply not a man of God. But again, he puts himself in the exact situation he wanted to avoid, knowing the upheaval it meant. And that is a brilliant kind of bravery. He could’ve run away. He could’ve spoken to her in full daylight, out somewhere that didn’t have perpetual sex lighting and a bed. But he didn’t, which is a reminder that we often know exactly what we’re doing and why, even when we say we don’t (the therapist said as much).

In the end, Fleabag and the Priest walk, literally, in opposite directions. He’s trailed by a fox, which is arguably a manifestation of his faith. They love each other, and that ached in such a beautiful way. The writing is brilliant, but I have to wonder, when he told her “it’ll pass,” was he speaking to her or himself? And did he truly mean it? Because love isn’t a kidney stone, even if it sometimes hurts like one.

In the closing moments, despite the heartbreak dampening the air like the rain, the audience knows that Fleabag will be okay. She gives us a last look, before turning her back. In that, she’s walking away not only from the Priest, but of the old habits she used to lean on as a crutch before the Priest. She’s changed; their relationship changed her, quite obviously for the better. And that’s a powerful thing, isn’t it? Love that leaves us better than we were before. That’s what unselfish love does. It sees and restores.

The hopeless romantic in me realizes that the Priest is right when he talks about how difficult love is, how much it sometimes hurts, and how much it feels like hope. Love is absolutely, maddeningly terrifying. But it’s also life-changing and healing, often in hideously unexpected ways.

In the first episode of the season, Fleabag walks into a family dinner and meets a man who sees her—in a room full of people who don’t. When she’s at her worst, he doesn’t run. He pries her open and holds up a mirror. It’s a mess, but it’s real. And in the end, it’s a multilayered love story. Sex features in it, but it’s not the focus—although, it’s the culmination of things we already know to be true. In fact, consider that Fleabag outright sent the Lawyer away—the best sex of her life—in favor of real connection with the Priest. In that scene, it’s real intimacy that she’s after. There’s a hunger, too, when she and the Priest kiss; it somehow manages to illustrate that soul-deep intimacy that’s so rare. (And god, when you find it. Whew.)

Yes, the season was a love story. It was Fleabag learning to love herself, through the love of someone else. The Priest held up a mirror that allowed her to transform her own understanding of who she was. Sometimes, we all need reminding that we are worth loving, even when we are difficult. In fact, I’d argue that’s when we most need love.

And yes, the show made me fall in love with a Hot Priest. As someone who was raised Catholic, that made me quite uncomfortable—but it also resonated wonderfully. No one controls who they love, what their heart wants. And often, the only way to honor that is to surrender to the whole mess. Plus, anyone who bonds over Piglet has a place in my heart.

Fourteen Ways to Piss Off the Entire Publishing Industry

November 17, 2011 9 comments
  1. Act like an entitled douchebag. This includes, but is not limited to, open letters that are, at best, open rants.
  2. Rely on personal perceptions a single part as representative of the whole. For instance, using a possibly skewed (I’m being kind) example to claim that the “industry is fucked” and you’ve been “treated like a bitch.” For one thing, one publisher isn’t the industry. For another, this is not exactly the paragon of professionalism that you want to portray to the world, as businessperson. Speaking of…
  3. Act like you know everything, while demonstrating you know very little. Being a writer is two things: being a writer and being a businessperson. You know what helps? Learning the business side and respecting it as such. You know what doesn’t help? Comparing it to a “life-raft in a sea of obscurity and toil” and then expecting people to want to work with you.
  4. Throw a tantrum, complete with irrelevant wailing last employed by a Veruca Salt when she was lobbying for an Oompa Loompa. That behavior didn’t get her where she wanted to go, did it?
  5. Complain about being paid for writing – when there are about a billion writers out there who would consider selling a kidney for the opportunity. This is not just looking a gift horse in the mouth. It’s kicking the gift horse in the face. With steel-toed cleats.
  6. Drag innocent bystanders into your nuclear meltdown. Your agent, your editor, your doorman – whomever. Do not mention them. Do not assume they are as “frustrated” as you are. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
  7. Use the phrase “slave-era” thinking. SERIOUSLY? Over the past couple of weeks, this has been shown to be a) unwise and b) really careless. It shows a lack of historical understanding and a huge dearth of diction. Pick another phrase. The English language is vast. I’m sure some other example will do.
  8. In seriousness, use the phrase, “THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.” Unless you are Ralph Waldo Emerson, that is probably not the best way to a) make yourself look sane and b) stay on point. If you and God want to hang out, that’s cool. But that isn’t exactly relevant to a discussion about the publishing industry.
  9. Throw the word ‘artist’ around like there is a single definition and temperament inherent in the both the word and occupation. That whole artist-as-delicate-sensitive-flower image? It’s partial truth in some cases, but it’s also not the way to get things done. It is also not an excuse to behave like an indignant wounded victim. (Side-note: as a writer, no one is hired to be artist. They’re hired to WRITE. Artists paint, just FYI.)
  10. Whine. Complain. Wallow. Those things aren’t attractive in any employee. As a writer, you are an employee. You are hired to produce something. Produce it. Go from there. Don’t have a spaz fit when things don’t move as quickly as you’d like, citing THE INDUSTRY as failing. Shit happens in any job. Things get derailed. Projects are delayed. When that happens, you don’t march into your boss’s office and tell her that things are fucked. That’s a one-way ticket to unemployment.
  11. Proselytize about disrespect, while disrespecting others. That is the pot calling the kettle black. It is not particularly endearing, and it does nothing to further the idea of respect.
  12. Demonstrate a lack of understanding for the industry you’re ranting about. For instance, “cancel my ass” is not a phrase commonly found in the publishing lexicon.
  13. Utter the following sentence, “Trust me on this if you can’t understand me.” Whoa. First, you want to be trusted, even though you look like you’re one step away from the starting a cult. Second, you imply that if you aren’t understood, it is somehow the OTHER person’s fault? It is, generally speaking, the burden of the writer to properly communicate. That’s like blaming a math problem for its inability to solve itself.
  14. Be insincere. That is the quickest way to make yourself look like a jackass. No one likes false apologies. It doesn’t make people trust you or want to work with you. If you act like a disgruntled teenager on a pixie stix bender, fine. But that cannot be patched up with an “I’m sorry.” Apologies only work if you mean them.

For the record, I don’t believe that “bright authors [need to] try crazy things.” I think bright authors need to a) write and b) try smart things. Crazy only works in the movies, honey.

But, forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

The Dark Enquiry, Deanna Raybourn, and What An Author Needs

July 5, 2011 6 comments

 

I’m currently reading Deanna Raybourn‘s The Dark Enquiry, the latest book in her Julia Grey series (I still maintain that Silent in the Grave has one of the best opening lines, ever. Don’t believe me? CHECK IT OUT.). I’m attempting to read through the novel slowly, which is like giving me coffee one drop at a time. Sure, I’m enjoying it, but I have a tendency to want to gulp it down.

The book, of course, is divine. Raybourn writes with such wit and beauty. Even if you’ve never picked up a mystery novel, or a work of historical fiction, you’ll love her writing. It’s poetry and intrigue blended together with deft skill. (I’ve even got my mother hooked on her novels. We exchange books quite often, and she’s just going to have to wait to get her hands on TDE. My precioussssss. *ahem*)

On a serious note, though — first, congratulations to Deanna for becoming a NYT Bestseller. At the risk of sounding madly conceited, I knew it would happen. Because she’s just that good at writing. And no, that’s not me blowing sunshine up anyone’s existence. It’s fact.

Second, I was reading this interview a little while ago, and it is a good (fun) one. However, as a writer myself, I might’ve cheered out lout a bit (embarrassing? Yes. True? Also yes.) at this:

And my husband has been my biggest champion—whenever I moaned about the lack of money and said I needed to go and get a job his response was always, “You have a job. You’re a writer. You’re just not published yet.”

That made me happy. It also reminded me of Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own, but the Woolf bit is ancillary. Having that kind of support is priceless. It can be damned tough to toil for years (with, I’m sure, people asking, “Why haven’t you published anything yet?” or “Why don’t you publish something?” as if things like that grow on trees or can be found at Wal-Mart) without being able to point to a bookshelf. Having folks around you (family, friends etc) to champion your art and hard work? It is invaluable. It is nice to see that kind of support, too (if you read the entire interview, you’ll see that it DOES take a village to raise a writer, which is great phrasing). I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess to wondering if Deanna’s husband has a single brother. What? You were thinking the same thing, admit it.

This is a lesson, folks. It takes TIME and hard work to learn a craft. It also takes a certain level of tenacity — of not giving up. Because, hell, if you give up writing — you are standing in your own way. Deanna Raybourn has mentioned, before, that it took her 14 years to get a publishing contract. That is dedication, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I admire that greatly.

So, again, Deanna — congrats! And to the rest of you, read her novels. You won’t be disappointed.

Battling Your Dragons: Your Insecurities Think You are Tasty and Good with Ketchup

(A repost you all haven’t seen. Written a few years back. Enjoy!)

Something I’ve noticed about writers is that we can be our own harshest critic. We get frustrated when the words don’t come. Perhaps it’s because we’re all striving for perfection, because we have something to say. And damn it, we’d like to be appreciated for it. (Great Caesar’s Ghost! When did I start talking like I’m the Representative of Writers Everywhere?)

In my more difficult moments, I’ve threatened to make a bonfire out of everything I’ve ever written. Or shouted something like, “This is why Hemingway DRANK!” I’ve looked at lines I once thought were brilliant (or, at the very least, good) and felt a sickening dread, convinced that they’re actually crap. Crap, spread heavily on Shit Toast. (That image won’t leave your mind for a while. Trust me.)

But the question is this: how does someone combat fear and insecurity? The short answer is ‘any way that you can.’ You know, as long as it doesn’t involve cocaine, reenacting a scene from Rebel without a Cause, or clowns. Clowns are horrible minions of Satan. Or did you miss that memo? The Bobs are always forgetting to circulate the memos. (Suddenly, I’m wondering if enough people have seen Office Space. You must.) All joking aside, there isn’t an artist out there who doesn’t wonder if something he/she has made is crap masquerading as brilliance. There are going to be days where you wonder why you bother, and if what you’ve done will be appreciated. (Remember: Momma said there’ll be days like this.)

So, when your ego cracks wide open, and you’re twitching on the floor (or rocking in a corner), there are a few things you can do.

  • Reach out and touch someone. Call someone. A friend. A family member. It doesn’t matter. We all need an ego boost that originates from someone who believes in us. Don’t be afraid to need that.
  • This too shall pass. Whatever happened to make you internally cringey will pass. That feeling isn’t permanent. It’s like having a Confidence Flu. Sure, you might be all shaky and feel like crap. But once things run their course, you’ll be fine. And you will be.
  • Compare yourself. Now, like inconceivable, this doesn’t mean what you think it does. I had an epiphany once, and it might not be entirely advisable (the specific epiphany, not epiphanies in general). It is, however, worth mentioning. I bought a book (surprise!), because the blurb on the back sounded interesting. I didn’t know anything about the author. I had a couple of days to relax, so I plowed through it. And honestly? Worst book I ever read. Not only were the characters flat, uninspired, and un-compelling (not a word, I know. As an English major, I reserve the right to make things up. Shush), but I spent the entire book waiting for something to happen. It was almost as bad as reading Dickens. (One day, I’m going to rewrite Oliver Twist just to piss off that man’s ghost. He made a semester of Grad. school a living Hell. *shakes fist*) Not only was the plot awful, but the entire manuscript was riddled with horrible grammar and a plethora of typos. (Every writer’s worst nightmare. Or close to it.) So, it occurred to me: if that book was published, then there is no reason on this earth that mine won’t be. Maybe that’s a buggy way of looking at things, but it helped me.
  • Put one foot in front of the other. The important thing is to keep at it. Even if you’re unsure. Keep going. Do not underestimate the act of simply pushing on. If you give up, or scrap everything, the only person you’ve given up on is yourself. If you do that, I will hurt you. Well, maybe I won’t. But I’d like to. Because you’re the only one who can write what you’ve written or are writing. No one anywhere can produce what you are creating. And if you take that uniqueness from the world, how are the rest of us supposed to benefit from it? What if Shakespeare decided to pack it in? What if Barry Eisler got halfway through Rain Fall and decided that it was too difficult? Or Deanna Raybourn simply forgot her manuscript of Silent in the Sanctuary in a drawer, for some reason? Hell, what if e.e. cummings gave up on himself, because was too quirky and too left of the middle? One of my favorite poems would not exist (“somewhere,I have never travelled gladly beyond”). What if someone out there is waiting for inspiration, and your novel, short story, poem, mixed media collage, or song is IT? Where would I be, today, without Sarah McLachlan? Or coffee? (Oh, god. Please let us NEVER find out.) You see, the hard truth is this: no one ever wins by quitting. And other people might lose out. Think of all the people who have inspired you. What if they never happened? Bad picture, isn’t it? “As a writer, you can’t allow yourself the luxury of being discouraged and giving up when you are rejected, either by agents or publishers. You absolutely must plow forward.” ~Augusten Burroughs
  • Boost your own ego. Is there something you’ve made that you’re really proud of? Do you have a note of praise from a teacher, professor, friend, colleague, or critique partner? When you’re feeling crappy, go read it. Read it and realize that people see value in you, even if you currently don’t. Hang on to that truth.
  • Objectivity isn’t a stable creature. When I’m feeling insecure, I am the most appalling judge of my own abilities. I will look at a poem I absolutely loved and loathe it with all my heart. I will find so many faults with it, so many ways it falls short. I will wonder whatever possessed me to write the damn thing in the first place. And why I wasted my ink, pencil lead, or time typing. But the truth is that I am not my audience. Yes, I write what I like and what pleases me. (I’m not about to sit down and plunk out a history book.) But it’s not about whether or not I love the work I’ve made; honestly, I am fickle and a very harsh critic. I realize that I can’t always be my own cheerleader. But then I think about why I’ve written what I have. If I’ve created something that says something, leaves an impression, evokes an emotion, or proves a point—then I’ve done it right. So, I shrug off the feelings of insecurity, grab a cup of coffee, and move on. Find out what works for you. I guarantee you, there is a way.

Well, there you have it. Just a few tricks that might help you. Truthfully, I can’t force you to believe in yourself. But I can help you try. And, at the very least, I can remind you to fake it, if necessary. Every published author has rejections lurking in a corner. Every artist was looked at quizzically and without appreciation. Gone with the Wind was rejected 25 times. Perseverance is essential. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it is. But in a way, we are all responsible for our success. Push on. Otherwise, you’ll be the one to get in your own way.

There are so many quotes out there about why writers write. The simple truth is that we can’t help it. There are stories in our heads and characters speaking in our dreams. Sometimes, it is an act of will. We want you to see something a certain way. But most of the time, we’re just out to tell a story. Or at least that’s how I see it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got miles to go before I sleep and lots of coffee I need to drink.

Beware the Lightning Sand of Bad Marketing and Bad Manners

March 22, 2011 7 comments

 

I have a background in marketing. I also have my MA in English Literature. And I’m a writer. As such, let me explain. No, too much. Let me sum up.

I’ve been mostly dead all day. Er, no. Sorry. I merely need more coffee. Let’s try this again. Ready?

I know words. Not all of them. Never all of them. But I know that placing them in a certain order achieves certain things. If you’re selling a product, you want to grab your audience in an intriguing, non-annoying way. (I feel like that’s an important bit, mostly directed at the makers of Head-on – apply directly to the forehead. Head-on, apply directly to the forehead.)

Time and again, I see people employing marketing tactics that don’t work. Not only that, they ANNOY. Why would you want to annoy anyone who a) is your friend or acquaintance and b) who could possibly help you? It bothers me, because it’s rude – and it doesn’t make any sense.

These are three things you just shouldn’t do in regard to your writing. EVER.

1)      Send a passing acquaintance anything that resembles the following message, which is a slightly fictionalized account of something I actually received:

Dear Everyone I’ve Ever Met:

I promise that I will not annoy you by sending out these emails. (Too late. I’m already annoyed. Moving on. Let’s see what wares you are attempting to hawk.) My new website is listed below, along with three billion other links about ME. (New website for what? You’ve already lost me.) I would like you all to subscribe to my newsletter and tell everyone you’ve ever met about ME. Thank you. (Wait, why are you thanking me? Just because you ask, doesn’t me I’m going to do it. And what am I supposed to tell everyone, exactly? That you once wrote me a mass email?) This email is the beginning of my writing “platform.” (Why is platform in quotations? Is it really something else? Are you doing your Nixon impersonation? What’s going on here?!?) You see, in order to succeed in this business, I need minions followers. When I finish my book, in approximately 14 months, I will need readers. That is why I hope to make friends with everyone on the Internet. (You know, Pinky and the Brain had similar plans to take over the world; look how that worked out. Also, your book isn’t DONE yet. You cannot promote something that isn’t completed. Promote your blog, promote your half-baked poetry. Promote YOURSELF. Not a project that doesn’t have The End written on it.) In the Publishing World, no one helps you do anything anymore. Basically, everything is up to the Author, and promotion is really difficult. That’s why I’m starting this “platform.” Writers who are “in the know” are beginning to promote their own books, so I’m going to do it too. (How lovely for you. Clearly, you have excellent people skills. This should go well.)

If you are a writer, and you have already published a book, I will most certainly be happy to help you promote it, as long as you aren’t a tool or a jackass. You know, someday, I’ll help you do that. (Well, thank you–I think–for not not considering me to be a tool or a jackass – and for the offer of helping ME someday. Presumably, you’d like me to help YOU now, I suppose? Wimpy, is that you? Would you like a hamburger today, and you can pay me on some mythical Tuesday?)

That tactic will fail every time. First of all, you’ve annoyed and insulted me. You are presumptuous. And you’ve just thrown vinegar where there should be honey. Also, as most agents will lament, you’ve told me NOTHING about your book or your writing. You did some strange things with your grammar, too – like adding quotations where there really shouldn’t be any. You “feel” me, man?

2)      The second example of poor behavior/marketing comes from a blog entry written by the wonderful Deanna Raybourn. In one of her entries, she talks about some bad self-promoting moves, including one super-creepy tactic: tracking down her home address when she isn’t listed. Please don’t stalk the writers. It’s disturbing. Another offense is self-promoting your work on an author’s facebook page. That’s just bad form. You don’t walk into a Hollywood actor’s home bellowing, “I am an actress! Want to hear my monologue?” And if you do, you get arrested. So, it’s a bad idea all around. The address-snatching thing, though – that goes beyond all decent behavior and it’s very squicky. People remain unlisted for a reason. In the words of Aretha, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Mmmkay?

3)      Lastly, there is the Ninja Promoter. The slightly sneaky, let me act like I’m talking about your issue, but I’m really lulling you into a false sense of security. (I am aware that should be populated with hyphens, but my coffee fuel is waning.) A Ninja Promoter will visit your blog or your Facebook page. He/she will read your entry or status, carefully. Then, the Comment appears. It starts off totally banal and innocuous. “I completely get this. It’s really an awesome thing that you’re doing.” Then, NINJA – “By the way, would you review my book? I think if anyone can help me, it’s YOU.” *blinks* What now? First, you don’t ambush publically. That’s just silly. Second, unless you have enough of a relationship with that person (ie you correspond somehow), you NEVER ask that kind of question. In fact, personally speaking, I’m pretty sure I’d feel dirty asking like that. Third, that compliment in there? That’s low. That’s appealing to the ego that every writer has, or at least occasionally has. It also won’t get you anywhere short of ignored. I saw a comment much like that one on a friend’s blog yesterday, which made me Tweet something slightly out-of-context. Whoops. I just found it very inappropriate to read that type of comment on a blog entry of importance.

So, there you have it – my (unsolicited) marketing and manners advice. Until next time, chickadees, remember that Adam West IS Batman, that you shouldn’t eat the yellow snow, and that there is no reasonable explanation for why the RUM is GONE. (Except it is a vile drink.)

Learning How to Be a Writer (Or Dealing with Awkward Silences)

November 11, 2010 2 comments

 

There are conversations I don’t like having. These conversations usually begin with an innocuous seeming question. This is merely a clever disguise for a lightning sand conversation, which then brings the burst of fireswamp fire, and if luck is not with me, the ROUSs.

Things like, “Are you seeing anyone special?” or “What do you do?” or “Why aren’t you married yet?”

These things are the Gateway to Awkward. But the “What do you do?” is a flaming hoop that bounces, and I usually try and jump through it as quickly as possible – the conversational equivalent of, “Chug it! Chug it!” Hold your nose, and swallow the medicine. As fast as you can. There is no sugar for it.

“I’m a writer.” [blank, or possibly curious look] Then I’m usually asked, “What have you published?”

 At this point, I try and hide. Or I pretend to choke. Or I mutter. Or I just talk very fast in the (vain) hope no one will understand me – and no follow up questions will be asked. (This rarely works.)

 I’ve had a few poems published. A couple of articles. I’ve written two books. None of my short stories have seen the light of day, yet. I’m shopping the second book around, and I’m still vaguely hopeful about it. Because I like the story. I had fun writing it. And I think the characters are interesting.

 But will it sell? I don’t know. That is not, however, the current point.

 As a writer, I often walk around feeling vaguely fraudulent. Like I have adopted a clever disguise, and I’m playacting. When I tell someone that I haven’t published a novel (yet), I usually get asked, “Why not?” as if agents and publishing contracts are something you order from a catalogue or off of the television.

 “I’m in the process of looking for an agent” is often met with, “Weren’t you doing that last year?”

 Er, um. Yes? But here’s the thing: I haven’t found one, yet. It can be about as difficult as finding a job in this bloody effin’ mess of an economy – which, by the way, affects everything, from agents to book-buyers.

Being a writer takes time and talent – and I have at least one of those things. (Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be here all week.) It has never once occurred to me to give up, which either means I have tenacity, faith in myself, or I am incredibly stubborn. (Possibly a mixture of all three, but I won’t tell you the proportions for that particular cocktail.)

I am, however, lucky in a lot of respects. I have family and friends who believe in me, even when they suspect I might be crazy. There are people in my corner, so I’m less likely to pull a Hemingway every time I get a rejection notice. (If I can find it, I NEED to share with you the worst rejection I ever received, with the name redacted of course. It was traumatic and childish all at once.)

I’m also lucky that I have people in the writing world that I consider friends. People who have been through the trials, tribulations, and trenches – and have emerged victorious. (No name dropping, but you all know who you are. One of you has purple streaks in her hair. Another has fabulous taste in clothing and shoes. And I owe another a long-deserved drink.) This means if I start to panic, or I’m worried about something, I can ask a question. And I do.

There is a sense of camaraderie. (This is the very first time I’ve been able to spell that word correctly, EVER.) There is a sense of, “I’ve been there. I know what you mean.” I’ve also been at this a while that I know a few things, so I can advise others (minimally, in my opinion, but still).

So, I’ll deal with the awkward silences. They’re par for the course. A right of passage, I suppose. Until I can point to my novel, and go – Look, Ma! Top of the world!

Well, that might not be exactly the words I’d use, but still. Without the awkward silences, how could one appreciate the (future) thunderous applause? Or, in more realistic terms, without the error, I can’t learn. Without the difficulties, I would not appreciate the eventual wins. Let’s face it – if everything came easy, and everyone got exactly what he/she wanted without having to work for it, what fun would that be? It would be boring. And we’d all be very bored.

Plus, every writer I know does not write because it is his/her job. He/she does it because of love. Because it’s like breathing. It’s necessary for life. The same goes for every other artist. A painter paints. A sculptor sculpts. A photographer photographs.

We see what we see. And we want you to see it too.

A Classic Blunder, Strange Habits, and the Quirks of Inspiration

November 9, 2010 8 comments

 

My to-do list is getting out of hand. So is my to-be-read list (should that be hyphenated? Oh, well. It is). I have a mountain of things I should be doing. I am not doing them. I am blogging, which will turn into writing. I’d really like to watch Castle, instead, but that is not the mark of a genius.

Yesterday, I had a great idea for a blog – and I forgot to write it down. I committed one of the classic blunders: I swore I’d remember. That never works. Ever. If it was an idea for a short story, novel, or poem, I would’ve written it down. Even if I had to use a permanent marker and write it on my own arm.

Because I’m that hardcore crazy. I suppose that reflects my own personal hierarchy of writing importance, but I’m kind of ticked that I lost that idea to the shores of the Lethe.

My desk looks vaguely like it’s been attacked my a tornado of assorted things. The dishes are waiting for me, and I think they are beginning to grow cognizant. (Stephen King – you hear that? It’s the sound of the shrieking dishes. That could make a great horror story. I promise.)

Last night, I was in the shower trying to remember what it’s like to feel warm. I used to laugh at winter. I used to run around without my coat on in the SNOW. Now, Winter (the bitch) is getting her revenge, and even on the semi-warm days, I’m wearing gloves indoors and whining that I cannot keep my toes warm. Mother Nature, this round goes to you.

So, anyway. In the shower, I had an idea for a book. It’s an idea I’ve been trying to write for years, but I haven’t been able to get it right. In fact, my whole first book (which has been relegated to the Isle of Misfit Novels aka The Attic, where the dolls live) was an exercise in me trying to tell this tale. But I got it wrong, and I wrote the whole thing anyway. Why? Well, that’s complicated. I needed to write it. I needed to write it wrong, too. Because it taught me a lot.

As I was trying, desperately, to wash the shampoo out of my hair (who has time for conditioner? I have begun using the leave-in stuff)…I started plotting. I need to do more of it, and I will. But I had the situation. And the beginnings of a Voice for this book. This was not something I was looking to write now. (I’ve begun a fairy novel, which may or may not be the death of me.) And I might NOT write it anytime in the near future. But this is an idea I wrote down, because I didn’t want to lose it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t be the only one who hops out of the shower, with shampoo still in her hair, in order to scribble down something that won’t make any sense to anyone else. “Moments. Life. Misha? Russian? Some kind of foreign. Change you life. Mistakes.” But it makes sense to me.

I also can’t be the only person who has run out of places to store her books, but won’t part with them, so they are 1) under the bed 2) on various book shelves 3) on top of the dresser 4) in the attic 5) in the closet (next to the shoes).

What are some of your more quirky habits? Do you write longhand? Do you carry around mini-post its? Jot down notes in Pig Latin?