distractions / new york city / other writers / writing

Friday Five (randomly I have 5 things to say on a Friday)

1. The NYC Teen Author Reading Night was awesome.

This Wednesday was my first time being involved in the NYC Teen Author Reading series at the New York Public Library as an actual author. I wore blue. I read a piece from Imaginary Girls, adapted from the middle of chapter one. We were told by the event organizer David Levithan to only read four minutes or less. Like for real. And how could we not listen to David Levithan?! I’d timed mine to be just under four minutes, which meant I had to get quick through some transitions to reach the parts about Olive that I wanted to read, so sometimes my reading page looked like this:

I went well though. I felt good about it.

I was up on the little stage among some great talent. The other authors were all incredible: (this is in reading order) Gae Polisner, Alissa Grosso, Sarah Darer Littman, Tara Altebrando, Melissa Walker, (I was here), Matt Blackstone, Blake Nelson, Christopher Grant. In turns, they made me laugh, made me scared, made me laugh some more, made me dying to keep turning the page. Everyone was fantastic!

In the Q&A, a girl named Piper told me she started reading Imaginary Girls while in a bookstore, loves it, told everyone in the room they should read it, and then asked me a question about the dynamic between my sister characters Ruby and Chloe, as she is a sister herself. (Thanks to Piper’s mom for reaching out to me after—and telling me her name; I’ll be sending a pretty Imaginary Girls card and a signed bookplate! She made my night!)

These readings are great. You get a taste of so many books—and I can’t wait for the next event in September. Thank you to David Levithan for inviting me to take part.

And I also want it known: I made sure to pay my library fines BEFORE I did the reading. I love you, NYPL.

2. Speaking of readings… I’ll be reading at a Hudson Valley Barnes & Noble on Monday.

I know not all of you reading my blog are in the Hudson Valley. But perhaps a few of you are. And if you are, please come to my reading at the Kingston Barnes & Noble on Monday, July 11, at 6:30 pm

I’ll be reading a longer section of Imaginary Girls, plus signing books, plus answering any questions you have.

I may not wear blue, but I will be there.

Kingston is very close to the town where I went to high school, the very town I distorted, reimagined, and immortalized to serve Ruby’s purposes in Imaginary Girls. The reservoir is not too far a drive away.

(Psst. If you can’t make this event on July 11, I’ll be doing one more event in the Hudson Valley this summer: I’ll be at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck on Sunday, August 14 with my author friend Micol Ostow who will be there with me reading and signing her book family, a book I LOVE.)

3. What else? Check this out: I’m the Featured Author for July on the Penguin School & Library Appearances page.

If you’re an event coordinator for a school, library, or conference and find yourself reading my blog, please go check out the Author Appearances page on the Penguin Young Readers Group School & Library site. I’m the featured author for July!

I’d love to do some school and library visits and attend conferences this year, so fingers crossed.

4. But in the meantime, I have a book deadline and MUST FINISH THIS NOVEL. So what have I resorted to, you ask?

All this stuff in public, which I am getting more and more used to, but still… It’s not so easy to balance the public stuff—including online, like writing this post, like trying to respond to all my @ replies on Twitter—and the writing stuff, the part where I’m creative and cocoon into myself and create people and worlds of my own and forget everything and everyone exists until I reach the end. It’s tough, so I’ve had to be drastic to make it through this schizophrenic time.

I’ll admit to you that I had a harder time than I expected in the weeks leading up to Imaginary Girls coming out, and the weeks following the pub date. Nerves maybe. Anticipation and being unsure of what to expect? All the usual feelings of being exposed? Anyway, I had a tough time of it and my novel-in-progress suffered.

But I’m back.

I’m doing this new thing where I try—try with all my might—to stay entirely offline during the day while I’m writing the book. No Twitter. No Facebook. No blogs, no news, no gossip sites, no writing advice, no dictionary to look up random words I can’t remember how to spell, no Wikipedia to look up mountain names, no Google Maps, no email, NO EMAIL!, no nothing. No internet of any kind. (Note, VIPs reading this post: If there’s an email from an important someone I can see on my phone and I’ll read it. Otherwise, to everyone else, I’m sorry but I’ll read and reply later.)

I’ve found that with the internet off entirely—it has to be entirely—my mind clears and becomes less foggy. I can see more than a few feet ahead of me. I can see the hand before my eyes.

I also don’t get that twinge of anxiety or insecurity upon seeing something online I shouldn’t be looking at when I’m writing. I’m not comparing myself to you and you and you. I’m not mucking up my head when I should be getting words down on the page.

Why am I telling you this? You probably don’t even notice I’m gone from the internet when I’m gone. (Sometimes I schedule blog posts to go up and announce themselves behind my back, like this one.)

I’m telling you this because…

5. My novel finally feels like it could be a REAL NOVEL.

It’s clicked. Finally. I may just finish this thing sooner than you think.

And for that, on this Friday, I’m happy to say I’m myself again. The writer me, not the author me. The reason I’m in this in the first place.

What a relief. I thought I’d lost her.