Twitter Break November 1-7, 2009


Twitter is a beautiful, dangerous thing. If you use Twitter—really use Twitter—you know what I mean. It’s interactive. It’s fun. It keeps you in constant contact with people all over the world, not like you need to be in constant contact with people all over the world, but you can be, and so why not be! On Twitter, you can learn up-to-the-second news not even on the news sites. Or rumors, which are even better. You can find out what your literary agent had for breakfast. You can spy on friends and enemies, keep tabs on cute boys, stalk celebrities, discuss all the many places in New York City to buy a cupcake, and discover, if you dare to, just exactly what your coworkers are thinking on the other side of that cubicle wall.

Oh, for authors there are professional reasons to be on Twitter, too. Yeah yeah yeah, you can promote your book and stuff. You can connect with editors and agents and librarians and bookstore owners and book reviewers and prospective readers—and especially with other writers. If used properly, and in moderation, Twitter is a wonderful tool many authors make great use of.

Good for them.

Me? I’ve been known to spend an hour discussing cupcakes when I should be writing chapter 8.

Fact is, I love you, Twitter.

I love you so much, I have to quit you. At least for a little while.

See… there’s this little old manuscript I just shook up my whole life to have some more time to focus on. It is—no exaggeration—the most important thing I’ve ever written, ever, and I have a contract that says it’s due in three months. And so I sit down to write and what do I do? TWEET RANDOM NOTHINGNESS AT RANDOM PEOPLE.


I am beginning to think that Twitter kills novels—or let’s say the chances are that Twitter could kill 1 out of 1,000,000 novels, then mine might be the unlucky 1 killed dead, and I will not, I CANNOT let that happen.

So I’m taking a break—the first step toward tweeting like a grown-up.

This is why Suzanne Young—the author of the upcoming deliciously naughty Razorbill novel The Naughty List—and I have decided to face our shared addiction head on. We will be on Twitter Recess from November 1 through November 7 and we’re calling on other writers to join us. We can’t be the only ones with this problem. Hey, did you hear Twitter kills novels? Don’t prove it true!

So if you think you have a problem too, why not do it with us? Stay off Twitter for a week. Have some restraint. Your novel will love you for it.

November 1-7 may well turn out to be the most prolific week of our entire lives. We may just look back on this week and perhaps we’ll miss what everyone had for breakfast, and probably we won’t be able to discuss vampire soap operas with random strangers, and maybe all the editors of the publishing universe will reveal all their secrets they never tell writers and we’ll be missing out… but oh the pages we’ll write!

Stay tuned for updates on being Twitter Free. And check in with Suzanne Young too, help us stay strong! (Cupcake deliveries accepted; email me for my mailing address.)

Oh, and p.s., we’re staying off Facebook too.

Are you with me? Leave a comment with your Twitter name so I know how to find you.

Are you not with me? Tweet away. Just please try not to be too interesting while I’m gone.

Wish me luck,

Stay Tuned for the New, Improved, and Hopefully Way More Prolific Me

Next week I’m starting this whole new routine where I write till my fingers fall off. Or maybe till just seconds before they fall off, so I still have fingers for tomorrow. Basically, I’m going to be writing. Every single day.

What I’m writing is the most favorite thing I’ve ever written. I’ve never loved a manuscript this much. I’ve never *felt* a manuscript this much.

It’s due to my editor Feb. 1.

I want to give my agent time with it, so he’s getting it for a New Year’s present.

That’s about two months from now. Count the days and tell me I can do it.

Plans for next week? Large blocks of writing time, sans internet. Mochas galore to help keep the energy up. A Twitter hiatus, to be announced soon, but you may have heard hints of it, and typing, lots of it, pages, lots of them.

Hey, did I ever show you the “book gift” my mom got me when DANI NOIR came out? She said that every time I publish a book, she’ll get me a special present to commemorate it. She’s wonderful, I love her so much! This is the book gift that spoke to her this time:

book gift
The "book gift" from my mom

It hangs low, resting near my heart. I think I’ll wear it on Monday.

The Dreams You Have When You’re Dreaming

I found this very inspiring yesterday: “Leap and the Net Will Appear.”

Last night, feeling worn out in anticipation, I slept. I went to bed at ten o’clock. While I was sleeping, a text message came in from someone who’s been so supportive of me and my writing over the months in surprising, wonderful ways. Her text showed she’d been thinking of my book. It was wonderful to wake up and find it this morning.

But first, I slept.

I slept longer than I should.

I slept, telling myself this is the last Sunday I could ever sleep in.

I slept as if my whole world was about to be shaken up and I’d get tossed around with it. Which I guess it is, and which I guess I will.

While sleeping, I had a dream in which I decided to go swimming in a pool. In daylight, naked. And everyone was watching—my family, and the gang of outlaws we were somehow trying to get away from—and it wasn’t until I’d walked in up to my neck that I realized the water wouldn’t hide anything. That it was broad daylight and the water was crystal clear. I felt so exposed, the perfect target. And I kept my back to them, and I wondered: How will I get out now?

I woke before I did.

I had another dream, the kind of waking dream where you’re in bed but not fully asleep any longer, and so your conscious mind sticks its fangs in you and gets you thinking. In this dream there was this writer I know of in real life, a writer whose success I’ve been aware of. In the dream she didn’t speak to me. I watched her from a distance. I thought: Good things have started to happen to me, but nothing like that. And I thought, So I’ll just have to work harder. Like we were in a race she didn’t even bother running in. She was so sure she’d made it, she didn’t have to run.

And when I woke I wanted to smack myself for the thoughts. For comparing. For even thinking her life has anything at all to do with mine. Because it doesn’t. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to other writers, the things you’ve been given to the things they’ve been given. She is not me, I am not her, my book is mine, and her book is hers. I hate to think I have thoughts like that, that they fill up my mind and enter my dreams.

But there are some things I thought while dreaming and half-dreaming this morning that I want to take with me: I do feel exposed now, the perfect target. But I feel all the more determined to work harder.

Now back in to this chapter I’m writing, where—funny little coincidence—my character is about to dive into a pool. Should I let her keep her clothes on?

“Go Write Your Novel”

“Go write your novel.” That was the first thing E said to me this morning when I woke him by letting the alarm snooze and getting back into bed, and it’s also the last thing he said to me as I walked out the door.

It’s what social networking sites should say to me before I log in. It’s the ticker that should run at the bottom of the TV screen, no matter what channel I’m on: “…go write your novel, Nova, go write your novel…”

I just want E, and anyone else who may have concern, not to worry—I am writing the novel. I promise. I am well aware of the deadline. And you know, soon, writing the novel is pretty much all I’ll be doing. In fact, starting next month, I’ll soon be on a strict Internet diet during prime writing hours—and I’m hoping that being emailless and Twitterless for long chunks of time, and not answering my cell phone because at my writing spot you can’t use your cell phone at your desk or you could get kicked out, won’t make people worry that I got run over by a bus or something.

So, if you can’t reach me: I did not get run over by a bus. I’m just writing the novel. (Or I’m watching TV*.) How about you? Are you writing YOURS?

* Haha! Really, I’m writing the novel, I swear. I hope E doesn’t use this as an excuse to turn off the cable.

Wishful Procrastination

Here are all the things I could be doing instead of writing this chapter of my novel:

eating fudge / dyeing my hair blue / reading Mathilda Savitch / reading Going Bovine / answering that email / writing the pitch for the new novel I’m excited about / eating pizza / putting away the laundry / cleaning the stove / filing papers / sneaking in some dayjob work / walking around the block / standing on my head / tweeting about how I’m not writing / napping / waking up after napping and regretting napping / trying to find my lost glove / rerecording myself reading chapter one out loud because the first time I did it the sound levels were all off and I sound fuzzy / watching TV / dozing off while watching TV / seriously trying to find my lost glove / writing this blog post

I could go on, but instead I’m going to try to go back in to this chapter for a couple more hours. The problem is that I’m in limbo, or my life is. And when I’m in between like this, I feel all out of sorts. In flux. Pantsless or something. (I should add to the list above: “making excuses.” But don’t worry, I am out in public and I am wearing pants.) The next two weeks will be busy, but by the start of November I’ll be completely focused and totally immersed in finishing this first draft by deadline.

This is what I tell myself. And if you tell yourself something enough times IT COMES TRUE.

The First Signing… Ever

Let’s talk about nerves. I’ve got ’em. The last time I did a reading it was up on a low stage lit by lights, looking out over dark rows of seats in which I couldn’t see a single face. I couldn’t sit on the stool provided because I am short and—worse—clumsy, and felt sure I’d fall. So I stood, and looked out into the dark, and read from a short story. One of my legs was shaking, but I don’t know if anyone noticed. I survived that reading with my heart still beating; evidence can be found here.

I was nervous that night, obviously.

There was another event this summer—an important meeting I had to go to—that got me so nervous I almost paralyzed myself. I remember all the hours leading up to that meeting, how hard my heart was beating in my chest and how it felt like it could give out at any moment. I thought I’d die from how scared I was. (I am far more melodramatic than you know. Oh wait, maybe I just told you.)

So, at that meeting, I was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been—ever in my whole life.

My nerves at my VERY FIRST BOOK SIGNING were somewhere between the two events mentioned above. More nervous than the reading, less nervous than the meeting. Which I guess meant I was a nerve-monster in the days leading up to the event (let’s take a moment here and pity poor E), but I didn’t think I’d die from it, so at least there’s that. And then this funny thing happened.

I walked into the store—this wonderful children’s bookstore in Manhattan called Books of Wonder—and the first thing I saw was a display showing a bunch of my books. And I realized, I am supposed to be here.

Then someone from the store escorted me to the back, and I saw my books on the table and a sign with my name, and some of the other authors were there already (eight authors were signing that day, including me), and I thought, I can do this. And then my mom was there and my friends were there and my baby sister was there and I was hugging her because if you know me you know how much I love my baby sister. And then my agent was there and we talked and it calmed me down, which is just one of the reasons I love this agent so much, there’s something about him I just trust and find very calming, and then my supportive coworkers were there, and the very first blogger who ever reviewed my book was there, and people I didn’t know were there too and I somehow wasn’t freaking out about any of it. Then I was sitting down at the table. And I looked out and there was E, straight in the line of my sight, as I wanted. I saw him there and we met eyes and I felt sure: I really can do this, no problem.

Before we were to sign books, we had to introduce them to the audience. I was sitting on the end of the table, so I was the last author to go. When it was my turn, I stood up, and I held the mic to my mouth, and I have absolutely no idea what I said here, but I clearly said something. Then I was opening my book to a pre-marked page and I was reading a short bit from it. I heard people laughing when they should be laughing, and I heard people not laughing when really they shouldn’t be laughing, and then it was over, and I’d done it, I’d survived!

I got myself into such a state of nervousness for, really, nothing. It went perfectly okay—better than okay. I think it went really well!

Thank you to everyone who made the time to stop by. I so appreciated it! And thank you especially to those who saw me through my nerves—with calm talks and sweet text messages and secret hand signals and chocolate cupcakes. The first time is probably always the hardest… I’ll be far less nervous next time.

Pretend You Had the Time…

Downtown Dallas - Train Stop Clock Explore #382 photo via Flickr by Don3rdSE
"Downtown Dallas - Train Stop Clock Explore #382" photo via Flickr by Don3rdSE

If you had time—the time to write your book, the time to work on a proposal for a new book, the time to promote the book you just published, the time to go to events and the time to sleep enough hours a night, the time to tackle the laundry pile, time to clean and time to focus, time to make sure you don’t ruin your relationship with the one you love, time to be productive, time to work harder than you’ve ever worked to prove you’re worth it… if you had that time, how would you keep yourself organized?

With all the time in the world I’m realizing there are more and more ways to waste it.

I have a lot to do. The most important deadline of my life is looming—and when I have the time to face it I want to be ready.

I could make a list. But I have a way of writing lists in random places, then losing the list and starting a new list somewhere else.

I’ve tried making lists on my computer—then I forget I made them.

I’ve tried reminders in my online calendar—I ignore them.

Should I plan out each day like a school schedule? Should I save certain days for certain things? Should I wing it and hope for the best?

So… pretend you have the gift of time. How do you make the best use of it?