That Thing I Shouldn’t Talk About

On my mind right now, that thing never to talk about in mixed company, or any company, ever: Money.

Just came back from shocking someone into a stupor with the realities of our situation. I think she felt very sorry for us. Or thought we were very stupid. Or both. Hey, artists: If you’re seeking an MFA and can’t pay for it yourself out-of-pocket, maybe don’t get one. And, on that note, if you want to travel to Paris and can’t pay for it yourself out-of-pocket, maybe don’t go to Paris.

Anyway, we’re moving ahead at long last with trying to get our heads above water, or closer to it anyway. There’s this weird reality we’ve been living in now in which you only buy things you can afford. Real people do this all the time! In our case, it just means we’re not buying much of anything. I won’t be getting new clothes for the summer and I will be gluing my sandals together so I can wear them another season. There’s nothing wrong with that. This week I wore a purple-striped concoction to work with some weird shirt over it because I found both in the suitcase and hadn’t seen them in so long so they felt like new clothes. Of course, once I saw myself in the full-length mirror at work I regretted that I’d gotten dressed in the dark and didn’t notice that my blacks didn’t match. I hate when a warm black clashes with a cool black, don’t you? Then again who cares. Fact is, I just really like stripes.

In other weird news, I’ve lost a little weight lately due to this new medication I’m on, which also happens to be giving me a lot of energy, and I am totally cool with both side effects.

Also, if you’re curious about the writing:

My agent likes my new chapters 🙂 🙂 🙂

He’s awesome. I’m so happy I picked him. Best decision I’ve made in a long time.

All I have to do now is, um, write that plot summary—AND IT’S KILLING ME AND PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME!—oh, I’m so dramatic. Give me a week; it’ll be fine.

I’m in this strange spot where some things are falling apart all around me and yet other things are pretty good. So there are ups and downs and that’s life and I never thought I’d be here eating a bag of raw string beans talking about some agent who likes my chapters, but here I am, eating vegetables, voluntarily, and being responsible, voluntarily, like a grown-up with a literary agent and everything.

Just…

Wow.

All the Things You Can Do When Not Writing

Sleep late
Answer two dozen old emails
Put away papers scattered all over the living room since late April
Recycle old manuscripts
Shred old rejection letters
Watch Hollywood movie
Attempt to find clothes to wear
Give up
Listen to blip.fm playlist on repeat
Organize finances
Freak out
Walk to Chinatown
Eat far too much vegetarian dim sum
Try not to step on dead fish
Head to Wholefoods to shop for diet food
Drop fruit
Wander around aisles saying, “I won’t eat that. I won’t eat that.”
Eat something
Walk home down Houston Street, dodging hipsters
Try not to think about book
Try not to obsess
Try not to worry
Freak out on Bleecker Street
Send angsty emails to angsty writer friends
Tweet about chicken
Eat a nectarine
Watch an indie movie
Stare at the ceiling
Wonder what will happen next?
Fall asleep not knowing
Wake up still not knowing
Repeat

And Then… Sleep (+ Bonus Back Cover!)

I’ve been pushing myself for the past three weeks. May 1 was the day I picked my agent; three weeks later, May 22, was the day I turned in new chapters and revisions to the awesome agent after an hour of nerves over hitting Send.

May 1, I had 25 pages; May 22, I had 59.

For me, the writer obsessed with how every word matters, who can spend a full day carving out one opening paragraph and then throw it away the next morning, that’s a lot of work done in a short amount of time. And it never felt like work: It was a joy, most of the time. (The war with page 1 that some may have witnessed not withstanding.)

But you can’t keep a full-time job and write scads of paragraphs on a new novel without letting something slip.

Let’s just say no one I know is allowed inside my apartment. I have one Very Important Thing needing to be dealt with that I promise to do next week. I have a husband, poor guy, who’s barely seen me. I need to start working on publicity for DANI NOIR! And on top of that I’m pretty stressed out at work.

So, yesterday, it was a half day at the office and I got home early. So much to do and now I had the free time to do it… What did I accomplish? Falling asleep on top of an open library book. Awesome.

I’m excited for upcoming revisions and more work on the plot summary. In the meantime? I slept in this morning and had a dream where I kept climbing up this steep, grassy hill toward a stone city in the distance. I kept saying, “I can’t wait to get back on my island!” But then the dream would shift and I’d be back at the bottom of the hill, climbing up and squealing about being back on my island. Either I’m nervous about what’s about to happen with this book or I’m not yet ready to move to Brooklyn. Who knows.

But check this out. Here’s the back cover for DANI NOIR, with Dani herself revealed!

DANI NOIR by Nova Ren Suma / cover art by Marcos Calo (out in bookstores 9/22/09)
DANI NOIR by Nova Ren Suma / cover art by Marcos Calo (out in bookstores 9/22/09)

Yes, that’s Dani, playing noir detective, spying on the mystery girl in the polka-dot tights. The artist is amazing!

So This Novel I’m Writing?

The one that’s consumed me all month? The one whose pages I covered in red pen this morning, slashing lines and scribbling details and hammering new paragraphs onto the backs of the paper then crossing them out?

It’s going well, thank you.

No, seriously. I got the 50 pages I needed to have a decent-sized partial. (As of this morning we are at 56 pages. By tomorrow that may become 55 because writing backwards is my specialty.) I wrote to the end of the chapters—there’s now a total of four. I can give them to my agent (OMG!) (it may take me months to stop doing that, be warned) whenever I’m ready… he’s patient. Which is good, because I want to play around with them more. The red pen has more ink and I should at least make use of it.

Someone saw me today—hair sticking out crooked, eyes glassy, rambling about the six hours I spent Sunday rewriting page 1—and said maybe I should take a break. You know, for a couple days. You know, like sane people do.

If she is reading: I may not be able to do that tomorrow morning, sorry!

I’m just… in the zone. At this point, I could keep writing and just write the whole first draft by the end of June. I might collapse afterward and lose permanent use of my two main typing fingers, and maybe all my hair would fall out, but I’d feel really, really satisfied with the book, you know?

Don’t worry—I’m chilling out. No stress. All is good; no interventions needed.

Writing the book is waaaaay more fun than emailing people the book to read and then waiting to see if they like it. If I keep writing it, I’ll never know the truth. Maybe that’s why I can’t stop, hmm?

What 50 Pages Look Like

I got to page 50, fyi. Reached it, looked around, spent a few paragraphs there, then looked ahead in hopes of finding page 51.

You see, the chapter’s not done yet, so I can’t just stop mid-sentence on page 50 and curl up under the desk to take a nap.

Still working! Every time I work on this chapter I go back to the first page and move forward from there. Momentum, I tell myself. It’s pretty annoying.

The First 25

Still here, working hard. The goal is to have 50 pages at least to show M (MY AGENT OMG!) as soon as is humanly possible. He’s not giving me any pressure at all; I’m the one giving myself all the pressure. I like pressure when there’s a point to it. I thrive under pressure; you will find that on my résumé.

I started with 25 pages, I just need 25 more. But 25 more good pages, not 25 pages to send M running for the hills. Also a more fleshed-out outline, you know, so people know for sure what happens in the book. Which will involve articulating what happens in the book, like in actual words.

I have been writing a lot this week, so I have 49 pages now. Wait, no. I just cut some pages. Now I have 42.

But every. word. matters. The amount of pages won’t matter if the words on them fall flat.

The first 25 pages I wrote, you know… the ones that caused all the commotion? They’re like your first love who you’ll carry in your heart always and no girlfriend afterward will ever compare. Will I, can I live up to the first 25?

One Week Later

So, guys? A week has passed and I’ve gone from complete shock to lesser shock to stunned silence to insane delirium to shock again to relief to happiness to wanting to sleep for days to writing up a storm of pages to—

Just sitting here. Really, really excited.