...and then i found twenty bucks. 

i'm tearing through this novel, mostly thanks to my current work schedule, at breakneck speed, and i'm pretty sure it actually blows.

like it's terrible.  it's totally dry, it's got a lot going on, a lot of weird names, and while i'm refraining from allowing more authorial voice than is truly necessary (which would, all around, make it a wreck of epic proportions), it's reading like a montage, without emotional depth and without personal passion.

and yet, it keeps going.  it's like swallowing a quarter on a string and slowly dragging it back up.

see that?  that was an IMAGE.  another thing my story seems to be without.  visual punch? pass.  artistic flair?  who needs it.  so why the hell do i keep writing this?

some would say i'm delirious or just desperate to write something, and while both may be correct, it's literally been months since something was flowing like this for me.  only, last time it flowed, i was pretty sure it was genius and not utter drivel.

that's the other thing.  there really is a story here, a story about three sisters that's pretty good, but it's not being told correctly.  yet.  so maybe i need to write it all badly and then write it all better?  maybe it's better than i think it is (DOUBT IT.)?

{{brief pause while i reread the first chapter}}

and actually, the first chapter isn't sucktastic at all.  it's rich and vibrant without being over the top.  hm.

maybe i need to get down the whowherewhatwhywhen of the story and then make it pretty?

i'll be honest, when it comes to inspiration, despite the fact that i do ask many questions, i almost never require an answer.  i'll keep writing until my inspiration stops abruptly and i'll observe the carnage and try to make some sense of it all.  this is kind of my philosophy on life as well, i guess: as long as you're on a ride, keep going. stopping to make sense of it all can sometimes be beneficial, but most often just takes you away from whatever was worth being engrossed in.

i think losing yourself daily is an aim in itself.

i guess i'll let you know what happens.  lead on, capricious monkey, lead on.

start of something new

so for a while now, it's been a dream of mine to kind of combine reading and writing and empowering young women to find their own personal voices, and i haven't known how to go about it.  i dreamed of starting a center with the thousands i would get from my writing career, etc, but lately i've been really agitated about it.

it really sucks to be a girl right now!  ever!  now maybe less than ever, but the things that girls have to think about and consider that they should never ever have to really suck.  like can i walk home alone?  can i walk to the T alone?  does this skirt pose a safety issue?  is having my hair down salacious?  if i acknowledge that i have a sex drive, does that make me a slut?

and then all this doubles over into literature, and my concerns bubble and magnify.

so basically, the long and short is that i started a new blog.  it's called speakeasygirls.  it's gonna be fun.

you make me feel so mean

can't get that line of this song they play at work out of my head.  anyway, are you loving my totally unrelated titles?  ME TOO!

today a friend asked for book recommendations, and I went to town, so I thought i'd post it here as well.

…nourish your mind…

literary classics

wuthering heights Emily bronte

densely written, but still remains one of the most dramatic love stories in literature.

the inferno dante alighieri

alighieri’s interpretation of hell and how man moves through the circles of hell is a touch point for many common verbal references that we use in everyday speech.

the odyssey homer

Super dense, this is one of the greatest adventures ever told as we follow Odysseus on his journey from the battlefield back home

siddartha herman hesse

this philosophical, short novel about man’s journey through life helped fuel the revolution-filled days of the early seventies.  must be read with an open, curious mind.

northanger abbey jane austen

her first novel, this gives jane austen more of a sense of context amongst her peers than her later work.  obviously influenced by reigning gothic novels like ann radcliffe’s the italian, this more whimsical, melodramatic novel is a great primer to austen.

the count of monte cristo alexandre dumas

more relatable than his series on the musketeers, the count of monte cristo deals with powerful struggles through punishment and forgiveness, revenge and fate without losing sight of adventure, action and romance.  one of my favorites of all time.

tale of two cities charles dickens

designed to taunt the reader in weekly installments (dickens’ novels were published chapter by chapter in london newspapers), this book reflects on this tumultuous time caught between war and strife and has one of the most memorable endings ever in a novel.

i know why the caged bird sings maya angelou

it is no coincidence that this woman went on to become a poet laureate; her unflinching examination of her own incredibly difficult childhood is related with honesty and a lyrical sense of prose.  really sad and slightly triumphant, but an amazing narrative.

ethan frome edith wharton

sometimes I think I’m the only person who genuinely likes this novel, but its portrayal of choice and consequence and unfulfilled desire against a stark new England novel is so beautiful.

the crucible arthur miller

meant as an allegorical warning about huac (house un-american activities committee) during the sixties, the crucible triumphs as a novel about the power of mass hysteria and the awful vengeance of a woman scorned in 1600s salem, ma.

the great gatsby f. scott fitzgerald

celebrating the iconic American struggle between “old money” and “new money”, laced with unfulfilled desires and haunted with frustrated dreams, this is a stunning novel and a beloved American classic.

the fountainhead ayn rand

This is a dense book, but well worth the effort.  howard, the architect who is young, idealistic, and violently uncompromising, is heroic in his efforts to achieve his dreams, but not at any cost.

a separate peace john knowles

this is a great book set at a new england boarding school and told through flashbacks; at the onset of the novel you know something terrible happened a long time ago, but not what it is. a coming of age story with male protagonists.

lord of the flies william golding

this psychological experiment of a novel explores what life would be like if a bunch of boys got dumped on an island together and had to fend for themselves.  it’s a little crazy, but it’s a great book.

in cold blood truman capote

This book is incredible because of what it isn’t.  it’s never what you want it to be, expect it to be, or need it to be.  it’s not fiction, but its not journalism.  it’s not easy to digest, because it’s the story of the author’s developing friendship and resulting sympathy for a man who, with his partner, slaughtered a family without much reason.  it’s chilling but it’s a feat of literature because it toys with your sympathy and who you think is truly to blame.

the name of the rose umberto eco

this is one of the most complicated, confusing novels I’ve ever read, but going along for the ride is a complete mystery and the ultimate homage to books and reading.

the red tent anita diamant

this tale of biblical womanhood puts into context the feminine mystery and our current stature as free, capable women.  the women who have come before us are strong, motherly, and powerful and this book shows them beautifully.

…imagine freely…

notable young adult novels

ella enchanted gail carson levine

this feisty reimagining of cinderella remains today one of my favorite stories. ella is no wilting maiden in this one, but she misses her mother and isn’t sure of her place in the world.

the book thief markus zusak

this book will haunt you for the rest of your life.  one of the most impressive literary feats I’ve ever read, this chronicles world war two from the point of view of death as he brushes past the book thief on several occasions.

the disreputable history of frankie landau banks e. lockhart

this novel felt extraordinary to me because it was so funny and incisive and yet so familiar—how do teenage girls empower themselves as women and still have boyfriends and social lives?  and, oh yeah, how does one girl topple a secret society?

The catcher in the rye jd salinger

this was an almost genre-less novel at the time, and helped start america thinking about the difference between ya and adult fiction.  it’s about a disillusioned youth searching for his place.

a great and terrible beauty libba bray

This book is about four girls at a finishing school that discover a magical world outside their own, but what makes the book truly magical is that their contemporaneous issues feel so real, from struggling with family to trying to determine a way to assess your self worth.  and the magic part is way fun too.

inkheart cornelia funke

this is a gorgeous book about a father who can—but refuses to—talk storybook characters to life by reading them aloud.  It’s been translated from german, so I don’t know if its due to the translator or if there is a natural richness to the language, but its incredibly well written.

city of bones cassandra clare

jace, the main male protagonist/love interest, is uber hot.  The story about demon-fighting angels is pretty cool too, but mainly jace is hot.

the golden compass philip pullman

the first installment in an incredible, mind blowing trilogy, the golden compass follows lyra through an alternate oxford, england, where everyone’s soul is attached to them in the form of a animal and there are incredibly dark forces at work.

howl’s moving castle diana wynne jones

a fairytale with a tongue in cheek attitude where nothing is ever as it seems.  howl is a wizard that eats young girl’s hearts and sophie is a forgotten older sister that gets cursed into an old woman.  fun, magical romp.

all american girl meg cabot

meg cabot is one of my favorite authors, and this book clearly shows why—she’s unapologetically fun, incredibly endearing, and insanely relatable.  when you read the book it sounds like a conversation you’ve had inside your head—just infinitely cooler and more interesting.

I Can't Go On; I'll Go On

So yeah, I watched BandSlam.  One of my friends told me it was stupid good, and aside from dubious female casting (really, Vanessa Hudgens?  The Aly and AJ chick was way better, but I thought she was Ashley Tisdale until I looked at IMDB), I'd even leave off the stupid and just call it good.  To the point that I did a little "NO WAY!" when David Bowie shows up at the end.

And it was immediately followed by a sharp inhale.  Not in a gaspy sort of way, but in that way that I'm kind of getting used to--the "what if all MY dreams don't work out as perfectly as this?  And to wit, why hasn't it happened yet?  Does that mean it's never GOING to happen?" way.  (I know, that's kind of a loaded inhalation).

I'm going on a month-ish since the novel was sent out to publishers, and there hasn't been much response.  My agent tells me this is progressing perfectly, and I fully believe her; what can I say, I'm given to outlandish fantasies, from imagining all my dreams coming true to imagining them all going up in flames--and yes, I treat both imposters just the same.

Part of me feels like this is the competition, the make or break situation of epic proportions, and then part of me goes, "Well what will it change?  If I don't get published right now, who cares?" I know I'm not giving up soon.

But lately this third little voice has crept in: what if I get the contract, get published, and it's lame?  Maybe I'm like every author out there, but I believe that I'm a good writer and people will buy the book if I can just get it to them.  I even go so far as to think a publisher, once they give it an honest chance, will want to pay a decent amount of money for it.  Not enough for me to be supported solely as a writer for a while, but enough so that (let's be honest) my family will be impressed and acknowledge this is actually a career.

Not that they DONT, it's just that I don't think they think there is money in it, and I do.  I think I care about the quality of what I'm producing and that will be represented in dollar signs.

But what if it doesn't?  I mean, what if I get published, and it's not the way I anticipated?  What if  I get bought for a small advance and relatively limited distribution--ie, I get my dream, but not the way I pictured it/planned?

Does that matter?

I Think I'm Missing Something

No, I know I am.  Or rather, I'm on the verge of a massive novel breakthrough.  Something that's a progression of Scarlet and a natural product of the environment I'm working in, and also yet a continuation of one of my greatest intellectual curiosities.

So I'm going to talk it out, bitches.

One of the things that I was testing out with Scarlet was the idea of creating character through language.  Essentially, the way we speak defines us because it instantly expresses our culture, typically our socio-economic background, the references we find important and our touch points for "good" and "bad".  Writers have long been fascinated with defining cultural reference points through the character's use of swear words-- "By the Goddess!" instead of "Oh my God!", or like Scarlet is wont to proclaim, "Christ's bones!" instead of "Jesus Christ!".  In the first example, we instantly know that we're not in Kansas anymore.  If it's a modern religion, it would have to be possibly Greek or India, most likely from a polytheistic culture because (I believe), with the exception of Wicca recognizing "Mother Earth", there are no sole goddess figures in the contemporary understanding of religion.

Which, on a side note, sucks.

In the second example, I was striving to show that Scarlet was definitely Christian, but Christian through a very plebeian experience.  Peasants often flocked to churches that had saintly reliquaries, like their bones, and considered them personal talismans or sources of religious connection.

Anyway, language defines character.  But working where I work, there's a huuuge emphasis placed on atmosphere defining culture, especially the sensory experience dictating a cultural experience.  It's about total immersion, and defining the world around you not in a visual way, but in a sensory way.

Which, frankly, is damn literary.  You can see why I love my job.

But I think that these two should be combining, coming together somehow, in my writing.  It just lacks a concept.  And of the two stories that I'm loosely working on, one is about the sensory experience of the water, but it's not coming off right.  Everything is hackneyed somehow.  Something is just not gutsy or original.  Something's not working.

The other story is about this weird mystery involving jewelry, and I just don't know how I could commit fully to it.  Especially because it's a contemporary story; I'm thinking maybe it shouldn't be contemporary?  Basically part of the story references WW2 Europe, but I am woefully unqualified/pretty uninterested in writing about that time.  I don't think I have anything to offer it.

Maybe not though.  I mean, it certainly wouldn't be like on the beaches at Normandy type stuff (that is WW2 right?  I'm terrible with the WWs) but maybe it would be in some place that I haven't considered yet.  Some place the war skirted but didn't fully lance through.

HMMMMMMM.......actually that might be kind of inspiring.