Showing posts from April, 2008

Here's Hoping No Librarians Read This

My sister (let's give her an assumed name, Cordelia, so as not to blow her cover) is determined to go to heaven. To that effect, Cordelia only sins when she's under an umbrella (so God won't see). When she senses God is listening, she makes loud announcements about her plans to bake cookies for priests; and on Sunday mornings she hides under her covers so God won't be able to see that she's in bed instead of at Mass. (God can see through clouds and bedroom ceilings, you see, but not through umbrellas or blankets. You learn these things if you're brought up in a godly manner.) The point is that if the Man Keeping Score doesn't know that Catherine, I mean Cordelia, has sinned, well then, she hasn't sinned. Now, I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the authority of librarians. And I also got a big dose of the "sin" mentality growing up, and I have to say, it shows in my library behavior. I know how to break all the rules in the

Things That Don't Scare Me

I'm afraid of so many silly things. I'm afraid of yellow curry. I'm afraid of my career. I'm afraid that that sharp twinge in my lower right quadrant is my appendix bursting. I was afraid of losing my revision when my house burned down, so I bought a fire-proof safe. Now I'm afraid of robbers, because when the robbers come, what's the first thing they're going to go for? That shiny new safe, of course. Duh. I am tired of feeling like a scared little nobody. And so today's post is going to be a celebration of things that DON'T SCARE ME! Things That Don't Scare Me Thunder, heights, spiders, mice, earthworms, and the vast majority of bugs DO NOT SCARE ME. Hard work does not scare me. Flying in small zippy airplanes does not scare me. Solitude does not scare me, and neither does silence. Spelling bees? Spelling bees do not scare me. I competed in the National Spelling Bee twice, thank you very much. My dad competed in the National Sp

You Can Have Your Faith if I Can Have Mine

Today, I worked on my couch for most of the day and then decided to finish up my work at the beach. I was tooling down Atlantic Boulevard when a lady in a Hummer with a Jesus bumper sticker cut me off. A few minutes later, when a guy in a souped-up pickup truck with a Jesus bumper sticker cut me off and threw his cigarette butt out the window, I found myself wondering. W hat would Jesus do? For example, let's say Jesus lived in a city with no dirt roads and no hills and had $35,000 to spend on a car. Would Jesus buy a 4-ton menace that gets 12 miles per gallon? Would Jesus drive with a sense of entitlement? Would Jesus tailgate and honk at people who took too long at red lights? Would Jesus neglect to use his turn signals? Is Jesus an asshole? By the time I got to the beach I'm sorry to say I had the mean reds . But! The beach! The surf was high and there were pelicans, and I pulled my beach chair out and sat down with my revision and every fifteen minutes pulle

Lars and the Real Girl

You know all the crazy people? What if instead of classifying them as "crazy" or "mentally ill" we just admitted that none of us make a whole lot of sense? What if instead of trying to "normalize" people who have delusions or hallucinations, we went along with it? I saw the movie Lars and the Real Girl last night (warning, spoilers ahead!). Lars is a young man who has a delusion that a life-sized doll named Bianca is a real person--his girlfriend. And his entire community (of Canadians; I've always suspected Canadians were innately superior) understands that he's decompensating for something. They understand that his relationship with Bianca is a thing that needs to play out, so that Lars can work through some deep and tough crap he's got buried inside him. The town rallies around Bianca. They take her on outings. They get her volunteering at the hospital. They elect her to the school board. They pretend Bianca is real and they let

Swans and Boys in Tights and Puffy Shirts

So, I went to a lovely performance of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake by the Russian National Ballet Theatre this weekend. (In case you don't know the story: the Evil Dude Rotbart has turned a bunch of Lovely Girls into swans. One night Prince Siegfried goes hunting with his buddies, sees the swans, falls for the Most Beautiful Swan, and professes his undying love. His promise of eternal love breaks Evil Dude Rotbart's spell and the Most Beautiful Swan and her friends are free to be girls again. But shortly thereafter in a moment of male forgetfulness Prince Siegfried swears his love to Random Girl [who, in his defense, does look an awful lot like the Most Beautiful Swan]. M.B. Swan's heart is broken and Evil Dude Rotbart's spell descends back upon her. Then the Prince realizes what he's done! He fights Evil Dude Rotbart! He wins, killing E.D. Rotbart and freeing M.B. Swan forever! They all live happily ever after!) Anyway, the scene in which Prince Siegfried

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Why I Can't Just Read a Book Anymore

Last summer, when I was struggling quite desperately to complete Fire (a writing lesson learned the hard way: think hard about the lives of your main characters before committing yourself to living inside their heads for two years. If their lives are sad/scary/strange? You're in for a rough two years), I asked a couple friends for mystery recommendations, because I needed to read books that had no relation whatsoever to what I was writing. I desperately needed distraction . A friend recommended the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters-- and I got hooked, fast. What is more comforting than a Benedictine monk in the 1140s who keeps an herb garden, brews medicinal concoctions over a brazier, goes to Compline, Matins and Lauds every day, and solves murder mysteries? I'll tell you what: nothing. Nothing is more comforting! Here's a passage from the one I'm currently reading (tiny bit of background: a married man has just been found murdered in the abbey infirma

"Control, Control, You Must Learn Control!"

Yeah, whatever, Yoda. If you can show me the use of trying to control anything in my life now that I'm getting a book published, I'll knit you a little hat with two ear holes to keep your fuzzy little head warm on cold nights in Dagobah. You know that feeling of being out of control? Your life is spinning around you and battering you back and forth and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do to stop what is happening? The only thing you can do is accept it, give in, let go? Yeah. Well, I'm not very good at letting go. Lately, I've been reacting to the lack of control in my life by trying to control whatever I can. And I've just realized it's part of what's screwing up my revision of Fire . A couple days ago my stupendous editor reminded me to stop looking at the revision so mathematically, and instead feel it emotionally. And yikes, she is so right: I've been approaching my revision mathematically, trying to build it like a brick hous

This Revision is a Monster

I just spent two weeks writing a new first chapter for Fire , the prequel to Graceling . It was an agonizing process, one of the hardest bits of writing I've ever done. Today I gave it to my sister (always my first reader) for feedback. Here's what she said after reading: "It's not bad." Yeah. So, I bawled for about 15 minutes. Now, two hours later, I'm feeling much better, because I see that she's right. It is "not bad." The whole concept of the new first chapter is "not bad." And that's not good enough; it's the first chapter, for crying out loud; it has to be good; it has to be more than good. So what to do? I'm going to scrap it and go back to my old first chapter, which was good to begin with. And start the whole frakking revision over again. And try to wrap my head around what really needs to be done here. You'd think I'd be more upset about all that wasted time. Oddly, I'm not; I'm just r