Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY 2010, all!

2010 is the Year of the Tiger....

...and I was born in a Tiger watch out world!

(if you go by the skewed version of the Chinese calendar that the Japanese use. Our New Year starts Jan 1. The Chinese New Year starts later. So I'm not sure the Chinese would say I'm a tiger.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

So here's the problem with a prolonged writing project: it can take a while.

I'm not quite up to the two-year process I've heard from authors like Ian McEwan and Phillippa Gregory, but over the course of a few months, life happens. And when life happens and brings changes, it affects the writing. Not just the quality of it, but the sense of inspiration and the pattern of work that carries a writer through the process of writing an entire book. The longer the book goes, the longer it takes to write, the more chances that that kind of thing happens.

And I'm afraid that I'm losing it. I've lost it before--many, many times--and usually, in the past, I just stopped. I quit the story, making it unable to work or unable to get totally enamored and obsessed with it again, and moved on.

I don't want to do that with this one. I think this one is special and when the draft is done, the revision could really polish it up. The concept still excites me, but I can no longer remember every single detail (thank God for outlines) or certain story threads.

When I was a teenager, it used to be because I'd move on from the flavor of the month and inevitably, Flavor of the Month was the male character. It's not the cause of the loss of it this time. It's just time away from writing--which happened because in the run-up to Christmas, my work hours ballooned and I'm just fucking tired and out of sorts.

So I'm writing through it, trying to thread my way back into my own novel. Trying to get my head back in it, trying to get back to an established "I have to write something everyday" schedule.

Has anyone ever lost "it"? Why? How? What did you do about it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventures in Retail: Working Overnight

1) It's boring. There are no customers in the store after about 1 am. Maybe today there will be. Procrastinating shoppers.

2) Thank God for that $5 Starbucks card.

3) The lights on the display under the mannequins make this weird mooing noise. And it's really, really funny at 4 in the morning.

4) I put the clothes on the rod from the fitting room away all night and made new tickets for the items that didn't have tickets. Oh, yeah, I did all the stuff that associates want to do during shifts, but don't 'cause they have actual customers.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This is Queens Boulevard at Union Turnpike, right by the Q46 stop. Lots of snow--there's a good 6 inches on the ground in Queens.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Music Tuesday

First of all, David Cook sang this on the Carrie Underwood Holiday Special Monday night:

Umm, RCA--I don't know whose in charge of releasing his singles and all, but y'all are out of touch. Release "Lie"!

On another note, there was a blog recently at Word Wenches about music

that I thought I'd play off of. The majority of comments there suggested that when writing, professional authors tend to listen to songs with no lyrics while writing to keep them in the mood but to not distract them.

Sometimes I listen to music when I write, sometimes I don't, but I listen to music off of my iTunes list, which all contain lyrics. I played classical and instrumental music when I played (read:was forced to) the violin as a preteen and while melodies and harmonies are intricate and beautiful in their own right, it just doesn't do it for me. I'm a word girl, so I like lyrics.

I had a song that kept me going while writing the Regency romance novel--it's a post-grunge song by a band called MWK and it is "One True Thing." I had a playlist while writing Book the First as well. And I have one for the story I'm writing now.

Warning: Here be spoilers. Whatever. It's not like a) anyone reads this and b) none of you know what happens in this story anyway.'s great blogging to yourself.

1. Circles' Anthem, MWK describes the first scene: Eva Fontaine is running away from her brother's wedding rehearsal dinner, away from her estranged father. The first verse in particular ("What I say is not what you mean/How I love is not how you feel, right?/How I am is nothing to you/How you leave is nothing to me, right?), plus the sort of dark and sinister-ish instrumentation gave me the kind of vibe I was looking for.

2. Losing Grip, Avril Lavigne takes off from where "Circles' Anthem" leaves off. I think it's got Eva's anger toward her father in it ("Why should I care? 'Cuz you weren't there when I was scared/I was so alone") and the disorientation she feels when she wakes up in Jade Preston's body ("I'm starting to trip/ I'm losing my grip/ And I'm in this thing alone").

3. Mother, John Lennon encapsulates Eva's past. "Mother, you had me/ But I never had you" was John Lennon's reference to his mom giving him up to his auntie to raise, but for Eva, it's about her mother dying before Eva can even remember. "Father, you left me/ But I never left you" is Eva's dilemma with her dad. He leaves the kids to be raised by his parents, visiting every once in a while, making promises he doesn't keep.

4. Breathe Tonight, David Cook "Can you breathe tonight/ As the air is leaving you/Scream tonight/Like the words are new to you/Can we go back to the last time my arms could carry you?/Breathe tonight/ You're alive" is the chorus--I keep hearing it as the accident and then Jade coming to in a dark space, not able to move. Especially this line: "Lost, don't leave me in the dark alone."

5. You're My Best Friend, Queen High school age Eva, making close friends that play parts in her adulthood. It's especially relevant to Eva and Brixton, since Freddy Mercury was singing it about his female best friend.

6. Anodyne, MWK I adore this song, so....really all of it fits in with the larger themes of the story.

7. Because of You, Kelly Clarkson Eva in her teen years, resentful of her father, angry over her mother's death, fearful that her dark moods will lead her over the edge like her mother.

8. Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson There's one scene where Eva is standing at the Esplanade on the Charles River in Boston and looking out at the view. A chapter later, she and Brix have moved away to New Orleans for college and stand by the Mississippi. I kind of imagine this song playing over those parts.

9. A Place in This World, Taylor Swift "I'm alone/On my own/ And that's all I know/I'll be strong/I'll be wrong/ Oh, but life goes on/Oh, I'm just a girl/ Trying to find a place in this world." Eva finding her way through college.

10. Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton Brix receives tragic news: his father has died in a car accident--though the accident turns out to be intentional. The only person who knows what it's like to lose a parent in that way is Eva, though she can't remember it and is grieving with Brix.

11. Don't Let Me Stop You, Kelly Clarkson plays double duty. On the one hand, Jade is saying the lines to Brix, "If you wanna leave, baby, you can leave." On the other, in college, Eva is saying that to her college boyfriend after he insinuates that Brixton, who is, um, sewing his oats as it were, has the ideal male lifestyle.

12. Bar-ba-Sol, David Cook is a song about getting drunk. Which Brix does a lot of after his father's death.

13. I Do Not Hook Up, Kelly Clarkson is Eva, post-break up with her boyfriend Daniel. She's had it with men and puts a lot of work into her two majors.That's not to say she's not tempted.

14. Womanizer, Britney Spears is what Brix is. Imagine a montage of a lot of different women, lots of making out, lots of beer, and lots of sex-- sex against a wall in a bar, which Eva happens to witness. Yup.

15. All In Your Head, Rooney is a time jump from college to 2006. Brix is fresh out of culinary school, has a job, has lost many of the darker impulses he had in college and reconnects with a high school friend named Lana. They begin dating, but Brix doubts that he's the right one for her ("You need somebody nice/ Someone with patience") and Lana isn't in love with Brix, but an idea of him ("Well I'm not what you think or dreamed of/ It's all in your head")

16. Lie, David Cook is a time jump. In the past (2006), it is Brix not wanting to face that he's due back to the States and he has to leave Eva in Paris, where she lives. ("So lie to me and tell me that it's gonna be all right/ So lie to me and tell me that we'll make it through the night"). In 2009, the entire song fits Eva-as-Jade, who feels increasingly desperate to find a way out of this body, and Brixton, who has to readjust his perception of what's real and what's possible.

17. Hotel Paper, Michelle Branch is Lana's thoughts on Eva and Jade's thoughts on Brix: "And I wanted to be/ giving you everything/ She's not giving."

18. Incarcerate, Axium "I'll swim in you/ If you'll drown in me/ Search everywhere for a happy ending/Incarcerate, rest peacefully/ Where you are." Love? Death? Spiritual? An overall kind of song, then.

19. Yesterday, The Beatles You know I had to get one in here! "Yesterday/ All my troubles seemed to so far away/ Now it looks as though they're here to stay/ Oh, I believe in yesterday." Regret over lost love. Check.

20. Forever Fall, MWK This is Brix's thoughts on Eva and their daughter, Aimee, born in 2007. "I love you more than the sands and the rains and the winds could ever say" is about Aimee. "My jaded love, all I have for you is pain" is about Eva.

21. What Can I Say, Carrie Underwood feat. Sons of Sylvia is Eva and Brix in the past and Brix and Jade in the present, if that makes any sense. "And I'm not sorry that it's over/ But for the way we let it end." "How did it come to this? I think about you all the time/It's no excuse, but I wish/ I'd never made you cry."

22. Better Day, To Have Heroes Brix and Jade. "All apologies, my dear/ I know you feel like I'm not here/And part of me is missing all the time/ I only give you half of me/ 'Cause I'm afraid the rest of me/Will scare you into leaving me behind."

23. Fall To Pieces, Avril Lavigne"I don't want to fall to pieces/ I just want to sit and stare at you/ I don't want to talk about it/ And I don't want a conversation/ I just want to cry in front of you" illustrates Eva and Brix's friendship.

24 & 25 Let Go, David Cook & Why Don't We Do It in the Road,Dana Fuchs. Sex. Okay?

26.My Last Request, David Cook is my working title.

27. Fall Back Into Me, David Cook Everyone is back in their correct bodies, but everything has changed. "We've been here before/ We'll be here again/ So go on and rest your head/ Before you lose it again" are the first lines. Angst, people, angst.

28. Peace of Mind, Axium"With life on hold/ Say goodbye to old habits of circumstance" is my overarching theme. Plus it's the ultimate love song. "You are love/ You are life/ You are peace of mind."

And that concludes my playlist.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I don't think it's a well-kept secret that I am a naturally anxious person. I worry--about nearly everything--and get nervous easily. It's not really anything I understood about myself until I was 14 or 15 and in therapy, that yes, what I thought was shyness and a general disdain for other people was actually anxiety.

I can't ever remember being anxious about writing something down. Which is quite funny because I've read quotes in the past of people who say things like," writing is audacious". It's a little bit egotistical (totally true). It's "brave" (I think of that as one of those general artsy-fartsy terms). I think writing is egotistical ( I mean, seriously, who do you think is going to read your shit? And who's going to care about it?) and I personally believe that the pen can be mightier than the sword and expressing yourself in any clear, sharp way that may make people squirm can be considered "audacious." But I've never feared a blinking cursor.

I started writing outside of school when I was 9. That I remember very clearly because my best friend was a good storywriter in school and I wanted to do everything that she did. Plus, I'd always been told that my little one-paragraph descriptions of whatever were good and I was a voracious reader, so why not?

I rewrote Interview with the Vampire (with girls in the lead, obviously). After I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I tried my hand at something far too similar to that. That only lasted a few pages, then I tried writing my Civil War epic (I think I'd just read Gone With the Wind), which had great chapter titles, but no actual chapters that lasted more than a single, wide-ruled page.

Then came Titanic, this juggernaut of a movie, with attractive leads and an epic love story and tragedy. I hated the ending, so I rewrote it. Then I tried to write a short story sequel. Then I wrote a "mutli-generations" later version of Titanic--Rose's great-grandkids or something. I did manage to write a 5-page short story about a steerage family on the Titanic. My first actual completed work, lol!

Then came a WWII story--I'd just seen Saving Private Ryan--then another Depression era-through the war story of an Irish immigrant family living in Kentucky. That ended up being about 50 pages and remains the only piece of fiction that I have ever allowed my parents to read. The only thing of note there was that the characters had twisted Queens-Jewish grammar though they lived in Kentucky. Yeah.

There was Lucky, which came out of a Britney Spears song and The Outsiders. It was about a town run by gangs and this girl who witnessed one of her brothers kill the other one and then ran off, only to become the most famous rising actress in Hollywood within a few years. I never finished it. It's 54 pages long and I still have it on a thumb drive, but I can't end it for some reason.

I've had a lot of page-long beginnings and germs of ideas.

Then there are the fanfics. Orlando Bloom fanfics *winces* and one Pirates of the Caribbean and one of Lord of the Rings one, which I still add to from time to time. Those things were endless. Epilogues on top of epilogues. But that was my first tentative step into writing for other people--used to email those off to friends, much as this blog does. Those things might add up to 2 million words on their own.

College stuff--nothing significant, really. Well, there was the Ongoing Saga, but it's best not to mention that, considering how bloody autobiographical that one was.

And now.

I started this off thinking of anxiety because a friend, who hasn't written in a while, wants to start up again and doesn't know how. She has an idea and characters, but she keeps mentioning how she's nervous about it and I was trying to remember if I'd ever been nervous about probing myself for amusement or ideas. Maybe for workshop, but not on my own. Granted, I couldn't stop writing even if I tried and even if I never get published, I will always write. So I have trouble figuring how people drop things like writing or whatever their pursuits are anyway--I forget that sometimes things are hobbies for people, though writing is so ingrained in my own life that it's fucking compulsive.

I've gotten past the writing-as-therapy deal, I think, and have begun to actually craft it and more importantly, finally understood how to shape it. And maybe that's why, when I used to keep a journal in my teens, I was more nervous about writing that than about any piece of poetry or fiction. I didn't want to face my own emotions or my flaws. I didn't want to be faced by my perceived failures.

But if you go around worrying about failing all the time, even as the cursor blinks, then you're not getting anything done. And the beauty (and yes, frustration) of writing is that it can be anything you want it to be.

So get crackin', buddy. I expect an outline by the end of January. ;)