Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Deal

I've given into the suck today. All day, I've been doing other things to avoid working on my novel. About half an hour ago, I finally made myself open the file and write a few sentences. They were necessary, helpful sentences that I didn't know I needed until I wrote them.

But there are just a few of them.

Here's the deal. I'm figuring some things out -- I'm making my character's need stronger and streamlining a bit, and I'm about a third of the way into the book where the flaws in my structure are starting to show. It's not that I have no idea how to proceed, but it is true that proceeding may mean working more slowly than 2,000 words a day.

The tunnel's getting darker. It's asking me to watch my step. I want to be brave and charge ahead, but sometimes slow is smarter.

Yesterday, I worked on about 1,400 words, writing some material that helped me understand something that had been eluding me. It was a good day. It was not a 2,000 word day, nor did it help my percentage towards completing my goal since a lot of it was new.

I like goals, but man, sometimes they can get in the way if they make you rush things. I'm not changing the system -- yet -- but I am going to try thinking of it as a marker of progress more than a daily grind. My brain won't concentrate on big changes today. I know it will be able to do it on another day.

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

I love playing exquisite corpse. Now a bunch of children's authors and illustrators (we're talking M.T. Anderson, Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, no messing around) are playing it together for the Center for the Book and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance. . . .

That means you can read The Exquisite Corpse Adventure at the Library of Congress. FANCY!

Monday, September 28, 2009


There's a great review of Fear in Gapers Block.

We also got some cool pre-show press in Metromix and the Red Eye with a whole gallery of creepy pictures . . . including images of a couple of the spaces I worked on.

I had a blast at this weekend's previews and opening. Thursday and Friday I spent a lot of time on the loose around the theater and got a couple of good screeches out of people. Performers in the wild!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clear cut

Revision made me feel smart today. Hence the happy guy in the sidebar.

I cut about 300 words that I like a lot, but which clearly don't need to be in this novel. My character's freaked out by change, but not so much by growing up, and these words were all to do with that. The scariness of growing up is something I like to write about -- psychoanalyze me all you like -- but it muddies the waters of this story.

I also took a mini-scene and enfolded it into a larger one because it clearly wanted to be there.

I love when things are clear.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fear Art

I've been making some art -- art that has more to do with space than words. Here's a little sliver of it.

You'll have to come to Fear at the Neo-Futurist Theater to see the rest.

I'm on the "Ambiance Committee" aka The Madelines. I can't tell you what I've done for the show so far because it's secret. I can't tell you what I'll be doing during the show, A) because it is secret, B) because it will change often, C) because I don't know yet, and D) all of the above.

I can tell you that based on the stumble-through I attended last night with about 40 people who are working on the show, I am super-excited for people to come and see what this massive and diverse group of people has made!

After the stumble-through of Fear I started the new season of ANTM. Both were disturbing in their own ways. Together, they gave me one wacky nightmare. As a daughter of privilege, I was going to be forced to walk in a runway show while terrorists threw plague-juice on me. To make me catch plague. It was terrifying.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hey, look what happened. I lost 500 words from my total, but I gained a whole percentage point!

How did I do that? By changing my target to the actual word count of the manuscript as I'm revising. I decided I should get some credit for cutting. This is the first day of this system where I haven't met the target I set for myself, but man, I put in the time. I cut some, read a lot, added some, and made a big change that required a lot of thought but a very few words.

I feel all right about having a day like this as long as I can keep moving tomorrow.

So, I'm a little less than 13% through with my time, and a little more than 13% through with the draft. Did I also mention I'm a big nerd?

Babysitter Moment of the Week

Two-year-old child and I are outside blowing bubbles.

Me: Do you think President Obama blows bubbles with his daughters?*

Child: I think he does not.

Me: Oh no? Why?

Child: I think he gets people presents.

Me: Yeah? You think he gets people presents? What kind of presents?

Child: Because his name is Presents Obama.

Me: Fair enough.

* Yes, that was my best shot at getting a two-year-old to talk politics with me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Envision Revision

I need a hard deadline for my revision. Otherwise I'll obsess over little changes and never take the plunge of entering the marketplace. So I found a neat little visual at Writertopia which will be taking up residence on my blog.

This shows that I'm 4,183 words into a 90,000 word revision. 90,000 is a little arbitrary. My previous draft is 85,397. I expect my new draft to be about the same because I want to add some scenes and cut down others but I wanted to leave some room for exploring directions that might not pan out. Given my current obsession with numbers, my little guy's mood is "logical and calm."

My goal is to "deal with" 2,000 words a day for 50 days. When I say "deal with" I think I want to count the words at the end of the day -- revised version, not the old version. I'm curious how other people track progress though and would love to hear about it in comments!

Counting the couple of days I've already logged and leaving one day a week for breaks and catch-up plus a few extras that makes my deadline November 9th.

Do you think I can do it?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just what I needed

Thanks, Gwenda for linking to Dawn Metcalf's post "The Generous Nothing," in which she talks about the angst of revision as ILLUMINATED by The Neverending Story. Falkor can always make me feel better -- even if he wants me to cut a lot of words.

I'm revising. I'm just starting from the beginning because after muddling around with notes and trying to write new scenes, I've realized I really just need to re-enter the story and see what that lets me see.

I delayed and delayed getting to work tonight, but now that the bandaid's been ripped off, I feel less antsy.

Happy first day of school!

Signs like this are strewn all over Chicago.

Just go! Just go, already.

To school. We meant to school, in case that wasn't clear. Okay? Please? Just go?

And become . . .

Something . . . All right? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Just go.

I do hope everybody went and had a happy first day. I had a happy first day of meeting and lesson planning for the Monkey after-school program. Very nice.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stuff I did on a Sunday

Today I . . .

Clawed at a wall with my hands and nails, a wall I'd just finished painting, even though the wall was half chalk and came away with the brush. That made the clawing more fun.

Also I . . .

Went mattress hunting in the alleys and found one that didn't smell bad.

I . . .

Used the word "abject" to describe Chia Pets. Found a free TV on Craigslist. Found a DVD player in a hole in the ceiling. Played a hot action figure with blast power. Led a mean sun salutation. Watched more Season 4 of The Wire. Listened to the Best of the Left podcast, which I so love, even when it makes me angry. Prepared for tomorrow's fantasy draft -- for a friend's team.

Yes, I'm a proxy for a hobby.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I don't hate myself

Sometimes it feels good to hate yourself, as shown in this sweet play my friend Kurt made for the Neo-Futurists. (Via the Neo blog.)

I was ready to hate myself after reading my novel.

The "nap" turned into a good hour and a half of snoozing. I cleaned a couple of things that didn't need cleaning. I lit incense, made tea, walked the dog who already had sore tootsies from a looong morning walk with Larissa. Took my car by a garage, paid some library fines, thought about getting back into World of Warcraft. I basically did everything I could think of to avoid sitting down with my manuscript.

BUT I sat down for a good three hours and read half my novel. So far I don't hate myself.

If I did, it would be okay. I would get over it. It's okay to hate yourself every now and again. Right now I don't.

Back to work

I gave myself today as a deadline to get back to work on Touch. Which means I have to read it. I got a late start today because one of my favorite people on this planet came through town late last night and played with me most of the day.

No worries, I still have plenty of time for reading. As long as I just read. A couple of days ago I started reading, and I got through 24 pages and wrote 6 dense pages of notes.

This time I'm going to try to just read.

Right after I take a nap.