5 Years of Blogging My Writing Life

Five years ago today I started this blog, called “distraction no. 99″ because I decided, oh so wisely, that I could use one more distraction in my life and that should be blogging.

The day was July 31, 2005. Where was I in 2005? I was a few months back from my first-ever visit to a writers colony, feeling idealistic about revisions I’d just made to a manuscript. I was querying agents in adult fiction—again, after getting rejected with a first draft. I was working full-time, toiling away as a copy editor at a big publishing house. I was not happy. I needed an outlet. So I started this blog.

A lot has changed since July 31, 2005. That novel I was working on then? Dead. The agents I queried back then? None ended up saying the ultimate yes. Adult fiction? I write YA now and am thrilled I made the switch (I think, without knowing, I’d been trying to write YA all along). That publishing house where I toiled? I left that job for another job. But you’ll love this: that very publishing house is—no joke, the beauty of this makes me smile now—the house publishing my next novel. It’s a whole different imprint than the one I worked for, but it’s on the same floor as my old office! I’m not a copy editor at that publisher anymore; now I’m their author! That’s, quite literally, a dream come true.

I’m a lot happier since 2005. But, even so, I do still need an outlet. So I haven’t given up on this blog.

Now, if I had it more together, I would have done a whole thing about this five-year anniversary. I was going to do a giveaway, I swear. I was going to do something special. But I guess there’s at least a little irony in the fact that I started out this blog as a struggling writer wanting to have a book published and now here I am, working on a book that is going to be published… and I’m so busy with it I can’t even celebrate the blog that got me there!

I do think this blog had a lot to do with all this. It was therapeutic. It was cathartic. It connected me with some wonderful people I now know in real life. It helped me reach out and overcome my shyness and be a part of the world. It got me through.

For some of my favorite posts, see the favorites page.

And, coincidentally, when I look back in my archives I saw that five years ago today, I was working at my writing space—just like I am right now. I guess not so much has changed after all, huh? Here’s my first-ever post. I was afraid to talk too much about myself when I started this. Hmm. Well, that sure changed. ;)

Hey, blog. Happy 5 years.

(Featured “5” photo by Leo Reynolds, via Flickr)

A More Honest Author Bio

I happened to see this post called “The Big Fat Lie of the Author Bio”—hysterical.

Even though I have no golden retrievers, my own author bio might make me sound at least somewhat professional, and hopefully productive, but it really says nothing about me, does it?

So let’s be honest here. Here’s a new bio:

Nova can often be found obsessively rereading her sentences, distracting herself with the shiny internet, and trying not to go out for ice cream. She enjoys sitting in front of the television, on the floor, eating baby tomatoes, and currently owes the library $5.35  in fines. She lives in a shoebox apartment surrounded by clutter circa 1997 with her husband, who wishes she’d decide what she wants for dinner. She has no kids or pets but one plant, which she will likely kill within the month. She spends an inordinate amount of time writing novels and should probably find a hobby or go outside and get some sun or something.

What’s your honest author bio?

Special Break from Revising to Say: I SAW A COVER!

The world of publishing works in mysterious ways. Books need time to be marketed and sold well and one of the first steps toward this is finding the book’s perfect cover! (Exclamation point accidentally inserted due to excitement. Please excuse me.) Often the cover! is designed before the manuscript is even completed. (I can’t stop with the exclamation point, I’m excited, sorry.) The cover! could be in progress months and months—and months and months and months—before the book comes out. So there you could be, scruffy little writer thumping away at your laptop, working on your revision that is so imminently due you can’t even believe how the deadline crept up on you and then there… suddenly… an email from your editor containing

YOUR COVER!

I’ve talked about this moment of first cover! sight once before.

This time, I was home and had a witness to my reaction. E was here with me.

I opened the image. I stared. Blinked. Stared again. This cover is… the most beautiful, illuminating, stunning thing I could have imagined for my book. I was completely and totally floored by it. My publisher—my brilliant editor, the brilliant designer, anyone who had anything to do with this—went above and beyond what I could have hoped for. I may have maybe cried a little. Dutton: You made this author very, very happy.

I can’t wait until it’s time to show you the Imaginary Girls cover! As soon as I can, I’ll post it here!

Having it now—while writing—has really ramped up my inspiration and motivation with the manuscript. It’s a cover I want to be worthy of having. I’m now working even harder than I was before… if that’s possible!

It’s a very exciting week for Imaginary Girls. The revision is really coming along, the cover is beyond amazing, and the book suddenly popped up on Amazon today.

I even discovered it on Goodreads, so you can add it to your reading list there.

The cover! will stay secret for now, but even so, as I continue working, I have the image open beside my Word doc so I can see it. When I falter, I peek and there it is, my cover!

My cover!

I might start maybe-crying again.

Sorry for the Radio Silence…

…I’m revising. Getting closer!

If I don’t say anything for the rest of the month, be assured I am alive, I’m just still revising. I’ll tell you all about it after. (Or I’ll keep my secrets secret and just hope you like the book next summer.)

p.s. I may not have words for a blog post for the next couple weeks, but little bursts of Twitter seem harmless enough. Anyway, you might just find me there.

Getting Ahead of Myself and Other Novel Fantasies

I wrote up something about Imaginary Girls this weekend… and reading over the final version yesterday got me so intensely excited about this book! Just beyond thrilled! I’m just so— CATCH YOUR BREATH AND FINISH YOUR REVISION.

Sometimes I can’t help but leap ahead to Summer ’11. Sorry.

I’ve never been this excited about a novel before. I can see it, in its future finished state. I haven’t seen a cover yet of course, so I’m keeping a blank open-minded spot to insert that in later, but I can see out there, this book… just within reach.

BUT YOU NEED TO FINISH THE REVISION FIRST.

Ever get so far ahead of yourself you have to run and catch up?

I was searching through my inbox this morning looking for the name of a literary agency that I wanted to recommend to a friend. I found the old email, from the fall of 2007, with the subject heading REPRESENTATION. After meeting in person, that didn’t end up being a good match, for various reasons (one of which being my adult novel was too “bizarre”—it really was!), but I look back at that fall, and can just imagine what would have happened if I’d taken that path. Revised my adult novel to be less bizarre and, well, loads better than it was. Completed my story collection—so far from completion I’ve given up on the idea of ever publishing it. Just embraced writing adult fiction and tried to make myself fit that mold. It very well never could have gone anywhere… but that was the fall I decided to stop trying for it. Something was keeping me from it in the fall of 2007. Something was itching at me… And I know now what it was. It was this novel, then only a short story. It was this novel, meant to be YA. It was this present moment—this revision. Out of all the books I’ve written and tried to write, I am so happy that this is the one and not the other one(s) it could have been.

Some things are worth the wait.

The Dream and the Hard Work

Revising. Making my plot race, my words sing.

No matter how hard this is, there isn’t anything I’d rather be in life. A writer, I mean. I’ve become very one-note when it comes to my aspirations. It’s all I want. It’s all I want to do.

I want things for other people, too. I want their dreams to come true. Those close to me, they know who they are. Especially the one I love: He helped me get to this moment. I want to help him get to his.

This dream is hard work. But I love a deadline. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The images featured with this post are of a piano left out in the street. Have you walked by it this weekend, too? It’s battered and broken, but I connect to it. Someone played it. Someone played it to death and beyond.

Banned!

I tried to go dark for the whole summer. I failed. So I came back to Twitter and Facebook for the past week with a vengeance. But I have a month to finish my book, and this book is the most important thing I’ve ever written in my entire life and… here we are.

I’m back to drastic measures.

No Twitter. No Facebook. No BlueBoards. No obsessively reading Jezebel. No stalker sightings on Gawker. I may even have to ban blog-reading on my Google Reader. I may even have to keep my words for my novel and avoid blogging here. I may have to put up a tent under my desk at the Writers Room and camp out for the month, who knows!

It’s not that I don’t think I can make this deadline. I know I can. It’s that I want this to be the best writing I could do, my absolute best. I want to put my all into this book… and distractions ruin my all.

Could I finish the book while tweeting and Facebooking and blogging and putting up dancing smileys on the BlueBoards? Of course. But what happens if I focus all that energy? Some magic… maybe. I hope.

So I’m banned! See you in August, or when my book’s done, whichever comes first.

(I hope I follow my own rules this time. If you see me doing anything bad, please tell me to stop.)

How’s your writing going? I hope you’re having a great and productive summer!