I Love You, and You, and You, and…

Here are a few things I love:

You know I love chocolate, that’s old news. I love stripes, though my passion for them can get me into dangerous territory when I have a striped shirt on and the only pants that are clean are the ones with the pinstripes and then I grab my worn but still beloved Marimekko bag with the stripes and rush outside without looking in a mirror first.

I love New York City, especially downtown Manhattan and all its ghosts. I love photos in black-and-white. I love tofu—yes, really. I love rainstorms. I love libraries. I love voicey first-person fiction and unreliable narrators. I love tomatoes, especially the grape ones. I love quirky indie movies. I love Elliott Smith songs, and I love when someone I know whips out the guitar and plays them for me. I love graffiti, especially in subway tunnels. I love magicians and I love not ever finding out how the card tricks are done. I love people who are odd and don’t care and are just totally themselves. I love brown eyes.

But there’s one thing I love that sits near the top of the list. It’s something that holds me together, makes me feel worthwhile. It gets me up in the morning. Sets my heart beating. I am so very excited to have it again:

A deadline.

I’m on deadline now with the novel! For me, writing a novel on deadline is like knowing someone cares. The pressure is exhilarating. You feel like the prettiest, smartest, most fascinating girl in the whole room. At first, anyway. So remind me of this later, when I’m getting up while it’s still dark out to write before a long stretch at the day job and I just want more hours in the day and I wish they’d let me come in at noon. Promise?

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The Day You Thought Would Never Come

Something truly AMAZING has happened. Not revealing details here just yet, but I’ll give hints: It has to do with that incredible literary agent I signed with on May 1 and that new novel I’m in the midst of writing.

Here’s another hint: It deserves CAKE.

Technically, it deserves TWO CAKES.

Something happens when your dream starts to come true: You realize there’s more to the dream you’ve been carrying, the one you thought was yours and yours alone—it’s not only your dream anymore. There are all the people who helped you get there—and you hope they know you will never forget. The people who encouraged, and stuck their necks out to speak up for you. The people who wanted to give you a chance. The people who were there with you from Day 1, who remember you at age 18, so naive, sneaking down under the porch of the abandoned house on campus to talk about what you wanted from life, playing with your nose ring nervously and confessing you wanted to be a writer though you had no idea what that even meant. The people who read your very first short stories and encouraged you to keep writing. The people who said yes. The people who said no but took the time to tell you why. The people who said try again.

The dream would be flimsy if it was made up only of the good. There’s the bad too—you can’t forget the bad. That’s what made this all worthwhile. Ten + years of trying and failing and trying and failing makes me appreciate this so much more than if it had happened straight out of the gate, the way I used to wish it would.

I didn’t get the big break when I was 22. Or 24. Or 28. Or… let’s stop counting. I thought that meant I’d failed.

But you know what? I kept trying; I’m so glad I kept trying. And now I will be working immensely hard to prove I’m worth it.

I’m still reeling.

Enough talking in circles. Details soon! But more importantly? Some HARD WORK.

One of Those Moments

I keep having these moments where I’m in the midst of talking to someone about writing and then it’ll hit me suddenly: I’m doing this now. I’m a writer now. After all this time, it’s really, really happening.

It’s easy to not believe it, to just walk through the day doing normal things or forgetting to do normal things—another day in which I forgot my peanut butter sandwich—and hours slip past and it seems less real then, it seems fantastical, like that dream I had this morning that was so vivid and bright and— Sorry, lost it, can’t remember a thing now.

Fact is, I’ve wanted this for so long I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want it. Certainly since junior high. Did I ever want to be anything else? Well, sure, when I was little I wanted to be a ballerina, but then I learned how to read and there went that.

I think this might be happening. To me.

A few more moments like these and I might just start to believe it.

Not-Writing

I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing. The me who is not-writing is exceptionally boring. She loafs around, stares for long periods of time at the wall, and has zero aspirations to do anything substantial. Her goals include: getting through the day; remembering to take her vitamins; finding underwear for tomorrow. On Sunday she cleaned and organized the living room. Not one of you wants to hear how I cleaned and organized the living room. It’s barely even entertaining, except for the moment when I found a hidden stash of dark chocolate with raspberry filling, which had been there for who knows how long, but I didn’t even eat it. Apparently the non-writing me doesn’t care for good chocolate. I feel sorry for her. She also made a shopping list, or started a shopping list for the grocery store, and then got bored and left it half-finished, and never went shopping for the things on it either. At least she made herself useful and found her passport.

I’m not saying I don’t have things to do, I just don’t have much will to do them.

I’m taking a break on the Unmentionable Novel for real reasons, but I know what you’re going to say: Why not work on something else for the duration? I wish I could, but I have this thing with voices. Once I’m in that magic place with a voice I absolutely cannot, should not, stop writing in that voice and switch to another. Such is the danger with first-person, but I love first-person and I won’t mess with the magic, you know?

Non-writing me just replied to three emails. She’s so courteous. Non-writing me updated her website. Actually, she messed it up very early one morning and had to wait for her web designer / adorable husband to wake up so he could fix it. Non-writing me has lots of things to read, but she also has concentration problems. She’s having trouble sitting still. I suspect she may have ADHD.

I can’t wait to start writing again.

Maybe I should start writing again.

Maybe this is proof that, without writing, my life is meaningless.

Maybe, if I don’t have a deadline, I don’t even exist.

Whoa. Scary!

Hours from the Information Blackout

For those of you keeping score, I finished revising the plot synopsis! There were a few days when the synopsis was winning and I was down on the ground eating dirt, but I picked myself up and went back in. And, now, you know what? The book is so much better for it. It was worth all the hard work.

Which brings me to what I am going to say next.

Starting tomorrow, this blog will stop talking about the above-mentioned novel. We are entering an information blackout period in which that particular novel will be stricken from our vocabulary, censored, and scrambled from view. What novel, whose novel, where?

It’s another behind-the-scenes moment, and I have no idea how long it will last.

In the meantime, it has been suggested that I need a hobby. I need to be distracted; I’m not just saying that to avoid the guilt over watching TV. Possibilities: I wish I’d learned how to skateboard, but if I tried now I would surely break my face. Baking? I could blow up the apartment. Knitting is not for me. Napping is depressing, and not really a hobby. Should I rent a Wii?

The Easy Part

Write some chapters of a novel, hey, write the whole entire novel; that’s the easy part. Much harder is writing about the novel.

Ever know a writer who couldn’t write a synopsis? Say she could write hundreds of pages, and has before, that she could write the words but not talk about the words she’s written. If asked the dreaded, “So what is your novel about?” she might distract you by saying you spilled food on your shirt, or demand, “What’s your novel about?” And then turn tail and run.

It’s not that her novel is about nothing. She’s not that meta. It’s not that her novel is so ethereal and philosophical it needs hours to get to the core of it and even then you might need to know Heidegger to grasp it. Not even close. Her novel is about things; there are people in it, they do stuff. She just cannot tell you what that is or who they are or why. Not even under threat of force-fed chicken.*

Hi. I’m Nova. I’m a fiction writer, but I can’t write a synopsis to save my life. I’m trying it again, going back for more. I will do it this time. I will.

This may sound like no big deal, but authors have to talk about the books they’ve written, you know. I am not making this up. People expect you to tell them about your novel and then they’ll decide if they want to read it! Horrors! Have you heard of elevator pitches? Can you imagine me, in an elevator, trying to talk actual words out loud about any of my manuscripts?

If you ever step onto an elevator and find me collapsed in the corner hyperventilating, you’ll know why.

Surely I’m exaggerating. Then again, I just spent all this time writing about why I can’t write about what I’m writing. It’s my great talent. Wish me luck at revising that synopsis. Or better yet, come by and write it for me. I’ll buy you dinner.

———
* I’m a vegetarian, obvs. But you know you lead a charmed life when the most horrific thing you can imagine is being force-fed chicken.

The Last of the Rejections

I’m nearing the end of my adult literary fiction rejections. One biggie came today—I expected it—and there are some story responses still trickling in, plus I think one more fellowship, and then I’m done. These things have been out for a while—since before all the good things started happening for me in April—and I just wish they would hurry up and get here already.

I feel done.

I feel unconflicted for the first time in a long time and that helps me know it’s okay to be done. Better than okay.

I’m ready for the next thing. Well, maybe. My plot summary is out of my hands and I will dive in with revisions when the time comes. Emailing with a writing friend who understands how I’m happily complacent in this “gray area” as she called it certainly helps. (Thanks, J!)

And books help to distract me. To those of you who don’t read YA novels, they are not all Gossip Girl. I just finished Living Dead Girl and I’m speechless. In awe. Struck by it. It’s a painful, searing novel to read—intense. I love intense. Not sure what to do with myself now, after devouring that last page.