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.

Our Last Night Together as Frogs

I just watched THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, which I was totally charmed by--especially how, as a 25 year old weaned on the Disney Princess stories, it definitely progressed from them and moved forward, acknowledging the importance of hard work and the balance of work/love.

But it's not what I want to talk about, just why I titled the post that.  Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about sustainability.  I mean, yes, I care about the environment, recycle my bottles, turn off the water, blah blah blah, but I'm really concerned with sustainability in our everyday lives.  I just started this new job where I'm working overnights, and my first thought when I took the job was:  "This job sounds amazing.  But how long can I work overnights without going crazy?"

And then it kind of resonated with me.  It's something that I've been thinking about in my writing, too:  how long can I keep up this pace?  This drive?  Would getting published change anything about that? This is more of a serious question than aimless conjecture, because other than a few excursions in writing something just to be writing, I really haven't started anything solid since I wrapped Scarlet four months ago.  Four months without a serious project for me is like four months without a meal for me.  And I like me some food.

I'm of two minds about it.  For the first time in my life, I really trust my own creativity enough to know it will come when it wants to come, and when it does, there's not a hell of a lot I can do to stop it.  But at the same time, it makes me wonder.  How long will the off switch last?  How often will this happen in the future?  What would I ever do with myself if I were to stop writing?

And is this a sign that I should somehow be trying harder?  Working harder?  I don't know.  I just can't risk--or face--the idea of my writing being nonsustaining.

And what about jobs?  I guess the question with both things is when you face something that's faltering or not sustaining, do you let it run its natural course or do you fight like hell?

Novels and Hopes

Okay, so I've been thinking more about getting my hopes up--thanks for the support Miss Ming!--and about writing, and how the two play into each other.

I'm in the middle (and trying, trying to draw it out) of CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner.  Now, MWT is an absolute master of twisty plots--Eugenides, one of her main characters, is a master of sleight of hand, and the whole novel becomes something like an elaborate hoax on the reader.  Which I LOVE, of course.

So I'm in the middle of a particularly rough part where I feel like the main character is about to get royally screwed over (literally, actually), and there's this whine that is coming into my head like a devil on my shoulder:  "come on, read faster, you KNOW it all works out in the end."

And THERE's the rub.  I mean, on the one hand, I'm a writer and a total optimist for my characters.  I'm going to put them through utter hell and torture (and that's literally in the case of Scarlet--not the hell, but definitely the torture) but dammit, they are going to get their well deserved happily ever after.

In the young adult world, if you put up with total crap with pluck and a smile, you'll earn yourself a happy ending.  If you cave, you're probably going to end up in an unhappy marriage or as a scullery maid or something.

Not that some scullery maids don't go on to be happily ended heroines.  Because they do.  Check out THE LITTLE PRINCESS for reference.

But then again, the happy ending and triumph of that happy ending only works out because both the reader and the character believe it's never going to happen.

So should I go with authorial instincts and convince myself that it's going to work out in the end, no matter what obstacles I face?

Or should I go with reader and character instincts and get so deeply engrossed in the moment that I can't even fathom how it's going to work out--leaving me shocked or shattered depending on how it all unfolds?

Well, I'll be honest, I'm more of a throes-of-the-moment kind of girl, mostly because it comes with highly saturated emotion, drama, and the occasional bout of total mope-age.  I love a good mope.

So....that resolves nothing.


Getting My Hopes Up

All my life, time and time again, I've gotten the impression that getting my hopes up isn't a good thing.  I mean, on the one hand, I want to say that I'm a bubbly, uberoptimistic kind of girl, and I am.  But I also believe that the universe is bigger than me, and has a crazy plan, and I'm positive there is a plan beneath all the madness.

So, either the universe thinks I'm a complete jackass and that all my plans are meant to be undone, or getting your hopes up is the surest way to see that the complete opposite happens.

But how can that work?  I mean, surely there are things that we want that we can actually achieve, right? Or more specifically, I would really appreciate it if there are things that I want that I can get.  I do get my hopes up!  Hope against hope, wish against wish, I always get my hopes up, and I just can't quit it.

But everytime, I also worry that it's instantly sabotaging myself.

Think of it like the Anti-Secret.  You attract whatever you don't expect and can't possibly see coming.  I mean, the troublesome thing is that part of me LOVES THAT.  It's the stuff you never see coming that feels magical, incredible, enlightening and thrilling.  It's that part that makes me feel like there is this universal plan, and I'm part of it and protected by it, that I make foolish or shortsighted plans for myself and eventually, I'm delighted to be proved wrong.

But somethings you just never want to pass you by.  I want to be published, and I want to be published in a big way.  I'm willing to wait for it, I've BEEN waiting for it, but I want to be a career novelist, and I want stupid things, like a decently working car that has been manufactured sometime less than the past thirteen years, like some steady money, like more things that I don't want to admit I want because, well, that would be getting my hopes up.


Is this crazy?  I feel a little crazy and superstitious sometimes, and a little overly concerned that my tiny little thought might effect my life in an overblown way.  So let's put it this way: this post is missing everything I don't dare to hope for.