Image: svanes via flickr

Image: svanes via flickr

I’m experiencing something I’ve never before experienced with my novel-in-progress: anxiety.

We’re talking major butterflies. I seriously feel like I want to throw-up. (FYI: It usually takes a lot to make me feel like this.)

My favorite/current writing instructor, plus a couple of my workshop mates, has just posted comments on the novel pages I submitted for workshop this week. And I can’t bring myself to open the files with the comments to see what they had to say. The thought of doing so makes me want to back away from my computer and hide in the closet. (more…)

Image: eflon via flickr

Image: eflon via flickr

I can’t imagine a world without bookstores. Of course, 5 years ago I would have said I couldn’t imagine a world without record stores. Always a record store junkie, I was slow to embrace online music sales, one, because I appreciate the actual CD, & two, just because I love the atmosphere inherent in a good record store. But for the most part, I’ve accepted browsing and shopping for my music online.

There are definitely advantages: I can listen to samples & I can buy only what I want. Admittedly, online music sales have likely increased my music buying given the fact that I can try before I buy. Still, I always make a point to stop by my favorite record store in LA–Amoeba–when I’m in the neighborhood or when I really do want the hard copy of a favorite CD. I’m thankful Amoeba, and all the other independent stalwarts, have held-out. But, I guess if they too disappeared I would survive.

However, I can’t say the same for my favorite bookstores. (more…)

Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Yes, I’ve been a terribly horrible blogger, but if it’s any consolation, know that my words have instead been poured into that infamous novel-in-progress.

Yes, I’ve been making progress & it feels good. Admittedly, most of the progress made has less to do with me being a diligent self-motivated worker & more to do with the looming deadline for my novel class & the overwhelming need to impress my favorite writing instructor with these new pages. Hey, but whatever keeps me on task!

So, the new noveling class is going well. It feels so good to be back with my favorite writing instructor (from here on out referred to as FWI), & already I’m feeling the love. Here’s what I got back last week from him for one of my critiques:

Hurry up and publish your novel so I can recommend you to teach one of these courses [in the] Writer’s Program. Your readings are that good.

Sorry, but my writer/editor ego relishes these kudos. Pathetic I know! Chalk it up to the fragile artist’s ego…ok, so mine’s not really so fragile. It’s just nice to be patted on the back & share it publicly.  (more…)

Well, just got the official enrollment for my fall writing class which will have me working with my favorite instructor again. There was some question as to whether or not I would be able to enroll in the class, but it’s all official now. Which means I have only 7 days to get the first 50-pages of my novel-in-progress ready for the 1st day of class. I’ve known that I would need these pages ready for the first day for weeks, but the fact that my enrollment was up in the air kind of found me procrastinating on all the editing that needs to be done. So, now I have to go through those pages and chop and massage what I’ve already written, and add where needed.

One of the more complicated tasks is that I now need to go back in and weave two separate threads together. Earlier this summer I made the decision to write this draft of my novel in a chronological format even though my plan is to have the final product be a back-and-forth of present & past. So, to ensure that my structure is working, I need to piece it all back together again so that my readers are seeing it in the format I intend. While the structure is a bit complicated at times, I know it works. My instructor who I’ve workshopped this with before has assured me it does and that I shouldn’t take the easy way out and go straight chronological. But, I know I have to ensure an emotional consistency to the two threads which at times is unintentionally easy, and at others, irritatingly frustrating. Essentially I need the emotional tone of the flashback to mirror the present scene it sprung from. This was something my instructor dinged me on in the earlier draft he saw, and I really want to fix it before he sees this new draft.

So, work to be done and 7 days to pull it all together. On the upside, I thrive under a deadline. Seriously, if someone assigned me a deadline for this novel and could come up with a real threat that would cause me some discomfort–either emotional, physical, or financial–I would totally get this novel done in no time. But short of a publication date and a hefty advance riding on it, I’ll have to settle for workshop pressure and the need to impress my instructor. Whatever works I suppose.

jalama

This is where I will be today.

Image: pOOfkAt via flickr

Image: pOOfkAt via flickr

Well, this is just weird.

In the mail today was a card addressed to my mother. Inside, a “Get Well” card signed by a bunch of people saying various things like:

My prayers and thoughts are with you.

Our prayers are with you for your health and healing.

Both my brother & I read the card thinking maybe it was a sympathy card for us, but it’s clear that it is a “Get Well” card. The handwritten notes are about getting well, wishing her good health, and they’re all in the present tense. I even checked the post-mark to make sure the post office hadn’t somehow screwed up and sent this late. But still, that wouldn’t make sense. She wasn’t sick before she died. It was sudden & unexpected. (more…)

Image: nomenombres via flickr

Image: nomenombres via flickr

Today marks 1 week until the first anniversary of my mother’s death.

I’m facing it with a bit of dread, but also openness to wherever my emotions take me. I realize I can’t fight what is coming, or what already is. I’d rather let myself go with the flow. Neither bottling up nor putting off what is to come is going to make it any easier.

The last couple of days have been a bit rough. At first I just thought it was because of other life drama, but then I realized I was reacting more emotionally to situations that at any other time I would have let slide. So, I’ve just given myself permission to overreact right now. Most of the people around me know what is going on and have thankfully forgiven me and my mood. (more…)

This morning I woke up in a foul mood. I’m not entirely sure what set me off. Before I even got out of bed, I told myself today was going to be a good day, even if there was nothing planned, well except work, to necessarily guarantee such. But then, as soon as I was upright on two feet, those good intentions were given a good beat down by whatever part of my mood that just wasn’t having it.

Actually, I think I do know the cause; although it might seem a bit ridiculous. For the last week, the area I live in has been beset by wildfires. In fact, this is considered one of the worst fires in California history. The Station Fire has burned over 140,000 acres (roughly the size of Chicago). The mountain range that I’ve grown up next to is barren and black. I live a mile south of the base of the mountains where this is all taking place. Far enough away that I never need worry about being evacuated. But the massiveness of the fire has produced such intense smoke that I, like most people around here, have had to keep all the windows and doors of the house closed for the better part of the week now. Add to that 100+ degree days and you have all the makings for an air quality designation of “hazardous” and horrendous.   (more…)

I’ve never been one for borrowing books from the library. Admittedly, the major reason could be my complete inability to ever return a book on time. But, that’s not exactly it. I’ve never been one for borrowing books from the library for the same reason I’ve never been one for used bookstores: I like the feel of a brand new book. I like knowing that I am the first one to crack it open. The first one to fold down the pages to mark my place. The one to make those creases in the bind. The one whose handwriting lines the margins where I had to note an exceptionally beautiful line. But as I’ve ventured into the writing world, I’ve become an even bigger proponent of buying my books new because that’s the best way to support the writers I love. (more…)

Even though I’m still wallowing in the middle of my own personal wasteland, AKA draft #2, I’ve started to pay attention to the business side of publishing. Yes, I have a ways to go before I need to face it head on with my own work, but the fact is, I find the publishing industry fascinating, so I don’t mind learning all the intricacies of the process, from writing to publication.

The bleakness of the publishing industry is a constant theme these days. I even touched on it in my post/rant yesterday on the state of journalism. And I’ve heard and read over and over again that literary fiction doesn’t sell. You would think that would make me reconsider my work-in-progress, but the fact is, I’m not writing for publication nor am I catering my writing to what sells. I am writing this story, which falls into the category of literary fiction, because it is the story I want to tell. It is also a story I would like to read. That has always been my foremost priority, writing a book I like. If someone else should ever like it as much as I do, well, great. But as I slog away at draft #2 that’s not my focus and it’s not what keeps me motivated on those days I just want to be done with it and chuck the whole damn thing. (more…)