Another Day

I woke up feeling especially melancholy—for no real reason. I feel like I’m waiting for something. Like I’m counting on lightning to strike, and the chances of that are one in a million. Yet I’m still looking up, hoping to see a flash, wondering why it hasn’t yet come.

(Note: Actually the chances of being struck by lightning in the US, according to Wikipedia, which isn’t always wrong, are 1:280,000. Should that make me feel better?)

Outlined

I finished the outline for the YA assignment and emailed it to the editors an hour ago. “Finished” is a funny word. I could have worked on that outline all weekend. For weeks, really. It’s establishing a whole new cast of characters and although I know them better than I did some days ago I could still know more…

Stop. It’s out of my hands now. Sort of freeing, really. (Also I have another freelance assignment to dive into this weekend.)

A coworker came by yesterday and asked how I liked having all these freelance assignments. I said I liked it a lot. But how about your “real” writing, she asked, how’s that going? And you and I know the truth: it’s not. I have no time. It’s so sad to say I have no time for my own stuff. I wonder if I made the right decision to do all this and then I think: it happened and it’s happening and there’s no going back now.

I hope to get back to my “real” writing soon. Maybe this weekend, in between things. Maybe the inspiration will take me by force and I won’t be able to stop myself. I’m going to hope for that.

Burned Again?

Maybe I should say singed again.

About a month ago I had sent a query to an agent who had encouraged me—only she wanted to see a revised, and I wasn’t sure exactly how revised and how interested she’d be upon receiving it, if, theoretically, she ever did. I never heard back. So I did what any level-headed (at heart insecure) writer would do and wrote her off.

Now, today, I get an email from the agency. The agent had left the agency—that’s why I never heard back from her, I assume. Also, I can’t find any news about her whereabouts online. I don’t tihink she moved to another agency; there are usually postings about such things. So… I should be relieved that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time revising to (what I thought were) her specifications only to find she vanished into thin air, I guess. But it’s disappointing either way. You always like to think that at least one door is still open, even if you have no plans whatsoever to step through it.

This has happened to me before, once with an editor and another time with a junior agent. I can’t really file it under “rejection” but it’s a no more than a yes, I would think.

I’m feeling all contemplative and moody lately. I came home in the middle of the day to drop off my heavy computer, since I’ll be going out after work. On the way home an ambulance screamed through the traffic on Houston Street and all the yellow cabs pulled aside to let it go. The ambulance had to stop and start every few cars, its siren blazing. My ears almost punctured when it got held up beside me. But as I watched it go off, running a red light, I got all misty hoping whoever was counting on that ambulance would be okay. I had a lump in my throat for blocks afterward. I tell you, I’m not thinking clearly today.

How to Know When You’re Going Overboard

  • Your outline is nearing 30 pages (single-spaced!) and you still feel no closer to knowing the heart of your story than you did before.
  • That instead of making a nice orderly list with bullet points as you have here, you have almost entire scenes sketched out, bits of dialogue, asides into outer space, name-dropping like a banshee. This is an outline, not a draft of the novel. There is a difference.
  • You have 50 ideas for new plot events and if you wrote all of them, you’d be writing the YA version of War and Peace.
  • You realize you could do this forever—plan out novels in ever-widening circles but never write the novels, that planning is not writing and the longer you take to plan the less time you have to write.
  • That it’s Wednesday and you were supposed to turn this in on Monday—simple as that.

Body vs. Mind

Why is it that whenever I am working seriously toward a deadline (and in this case, multiple deadlines) my health falters? I don’t see what I’m doing differently except less TV and less sleep, but in reality not really that much less sleep. And then when I don’t feel good I am less inclined to push extra hard to make that deadline. So I get behind, which makes the whole process worse, and I just want to lie down on the couch to boot.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday morning and I am about to leave to take over a table in Starbucks with my laptop. I’ve got permission to get in to work at 10am on writing days. I’m making great progress on the outline (yes, I am still working on that outline!), but there is much yet to do. I used my own advice and polished up the end and now I have to make sure the plot elements build up to that outcome. My body is asking me to please go back to bed; it’s not feeling too well this week. But my mind is all raring to go. So all I need to do is drag myself a few blocks west, get caffeine, stow myself at table, and start typing. I may crash at work, but who cares. I think this is why many of the other people who write these books don’t have full-time jobs.

Oh, Oh, Oh

You’ll be disappointed in me. I am. I wasn’t able to finish the outline by this morning—my super-ambitious self-imposed deadline that I told the editors I’d meet because I always think I am capable of finishing things before I can… it left me in a ditch. It wasn’t even a matter of the “done” versus “good” debate—there were huge glaring holes of white space and patchy gnarled paragraphs of senseless nothingness. I couldn’t turn it in as is. I’m still working on it, as we speak, in another window. I’m really not sure why it’s giving me so much trouble. It’s funny—it deflates in the middle, just like always. I am plagued by middles! I’ll get through this one this week. I have to. I’m on assignment, so I can’t just shove this one in a box in the closet and pretend I don’t know it’s there.

The Novel in My Dreams

I keep dreaming about my adult novel, the one I’ve decided to send out to indie publishers but wanted to make a few character tweaks to before doing so. In the daytime I don’t have even a moment to think about that novel—with all these freelance writing assignments I said yes to, I’ve booked myself solid for two months.

But at night, under cover of sleep, the novel peeks its little head out. Last night I dreamed that I was talking about the end of the novel to a group of three redheaded girls. I knew two of them from work and the third, I’ve never seen her before. They asked is the end sad or happy? I said I truly believe that it’s happy, and hopeful, at the end. Maybe I’m the only one who sees the hopefulness, I said. E found it sad—and I turned to him (E was suddenly beside me) and he started saying all these wonderful things about the book (even in my waking life E is very supportive) and the three redheaded girls said they wanted to read it and E said they would soon, because it was going to be published. E seemed to know something I didn’t. Then I was pulled out of the conversation, suddenly aware that it was in the room with us, the novel. It was like a person, like when you’re talking about someone behind their back and you feel so sure they’re hovering just out of sight, listening in.