HEY! HOW’S THAT NOVEL COMING ALONG? YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED? (Really: my dry cleaner is STILL asking me, 4 years after I told her I was writing a novel. I regret having told her. I should have just said I work in HR–that tends to shut people right up): The quiet hell of 10 years of novel writing
You know about my love affair with VONA. Sharline Chiang is guest contributor at The Basin Blog, and is generously sharing her notes from various workshops, beginning with Gail Tsukiyama and David Mura
Mel Gibson’s f*cking rants, visualized (yet another great use case for Wordle–the best use case being that you should plug your writing in and see which words you use most for editing purposes)
Writers eat. Writers like to reward themselves with treats for chapters, revisions, word counts, submissions completed and reached. Or in my case, for no reason at all, as my novel languishes and gathers dust, awaiting my return for its revision. (Have I told you? I am REALLY SCARED and FREAKED OUT by revision. I have extended my vacation from novel revision). My apple cider doughnut craving squished, I now have a new food craving, Coconut & Lime’s dark and stormy cupcakes.
One of my Famous Writer professors told me in a flat and unimpressed voice (with what I remember as a fleck of pity), “That’s still a rejection” after I waved one of the famous AGNI literary rejections that say, “Please submit again. This is not our usual rejection.” Oh. That was true. Bubble popped but truth shone on me. Here’s more of the same blunt advice, as told by Betsy Lerner, literary agent. A rejection is a rejection is a rejection.
When I’m feeling blue about my novel–and yes, currently, I’m feeling VERY blue about my novel revision (downright suicidal at times), I remember Cormac McCarthy’s interview with the WSJ, in which he says, “I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.”
tshirts for writers. I especially like, “I’m writing you into my next novel. Your character will meet a painful, violent death. Have a nice day.”
Andrew Whitacre told me about these apple cider donuts, lauded as amazing. I want. I could feed an entire novel off of these and reward myself a donut for everytime I finish, or finish revising, a chapter.
Facing the novel is difficult. It’s so difficult that I will often do a million other difficult and heartbreaking things before I’ll face my novel. Like teach. Being a teacher is teaching me that not everyone is cut out for academics, and not everyone will even have an ounce of love for the thing I love (reading and writing), and not everyone can be saved, but it’s my job to inspire anyway. Sometimes no one is following me because they don’t want to go where I’m going, so I have to go back and fetch them and usher them forward. Sometimes someone will say “I quit” and that’s possibly the worst feeling for both them and for me, and I will want to quit, too. But I have to continue to inspire.
Facing the novel is difficult. But I love it anyway. Making headway on my revision–very very slow headway. But making headway.
It’s writing colony season and thus the following is a perfectly timed and comprehensive blog post by Nova, on Writers Colonies. And ahem, yours truly contributed to the post about my time at Hedgebrook.
Since it’s writing colony season, might as well dredge up a guest post I wrote over at Writerland about various writing residencies and conferences.
When I get discouraged about how hard it is to write a novel, I read my notes from workshop with Junot. When that’s not enough, I also read what he said on Oprah.com.
The widely read Ten Rules for Writing Fiction Part 1 and Part 2. (but be careful, instead of inspiring me, the lists put me in a writing death spiral). Sample with a small bite. If you find yourself wanting to tear your novel into bits and find yourself mentally constipated, STOP reading. Follow with Milk of Magnesia or Castor Oil…(a friend of mine pointed out that “rules for writing” is kind of ridiculous).
I like to read my friend Scott’s blog. He is a doctor who refuses to call himself a writer, but I think he’s a fantastic writer. His post about his “Bavarian Adventure” is funny as hell, and touching as hell.
In related news, my favorite videoclip of all time is the following from “Family Guy” (it used to be my cellphone ringer). Writers and friends of writers the world over will wince and chuckle at Brian’s novel (“How’s uh…how’s that novel coming along…nice little narrative, beginning and end, yah? Some enemies become friends, friends become enemies… yah?You know, that novel you’ve been working on for..uh…3 years?”)
Meghan asks if an MFA is really necessary over at Writerland