May 14, 2006

THE LAUME INTERIEW! now with very few digressions, she says, digressing in the title....

To digress again, immediately, even before I start in on the actual interview, Oh My Best Beloveds, if you will please to CRANE your eyes THISAWAY
and then down a inch or two,
You will see the BIG! YELLOW! BUTTON! is back, now under a shiny small picture of BETWEEN, GEORGIA. Ah prepare for DEJA JA VU VU as I say.....
That button will take you to an ORDER FORM. This link will take you to my TOUR DATES and LOCATIONS. If you can't make it to an actual tour event ---and I hope you can, I promise you will have a good time, and I hate it when it is just me and the bookstore cat, blinking at each other---BUT if you cannot because you WILFULLY chose to prance off and live in MONTANA, even though YOUR MOTHER TOLD YOU NOT TO, never fear. It doesn't mean you are destined to die alone on a rickety Montanian cot, weeping as you slip this mortal coil because you never got a signed, inscribed first edition hardback of BETWEEN, GEORGIA. You can thank The Alabama Booksmith, a fantastical indy, who has set up a VIRTUAL SIGNING that will take place on FRIDAY, JULY 14th.

Just order before that date (now is good, lest you FORGET!), and the form will let you order a copy that says practically anything. Just THINK of who has a birthday this year....why, everyone you know! May I humbly suggest you pre-get your favorite person's present? Think how HAPPY you will be on October 15 or whatever day they decided to appear into the world, when you HAVE their present all ready to go and signed and filled with charming felicitations I have penned per your instructions using the UNIBALL VISION ELITE pen I tote with me for just such an occasion. And get your mom one! And get you one! The books beg you to take one home with you as if they were the blinking bookstore cat's foundling kittens, except the book won't stromp great gaping holes into your sofa and mewl for you to clean out its litterbox.

NOW AT LAST, the LAUME Interview:

Laume: How much time do you spend actually writing? - that is, sitting at the computer or notepad writing the first draft or revising. Not answering e-mail or writing your blog or sending notes to your editor. The actual story.

Me: Not a lot. I write the way 9 year old boys pick at scabs---as if it's fascinating in a yicky, painful way. I feel compelled to do it. I write maybe 3 hours a week? Tops? I spend a good 10 - 15 concentrated hours a week REVISING the hideous crap I pumped out during the miserable hours I spent writing. I also spend an uncalculatable amount of minutes here and half hours there toying with sentences and paragraphs and pages and scenes. If I get fifteen minutes of quiet, I run to my computer and niggle and nudge some horrid sentences until they line up and do right. That's sheer pleasure, making the mess become pleasing language that furthers my story.

Laume: How much time do you spend working out your story that is not actual writing? For instance, working out plot issues while driving in the car, doing research on places or technical points, discussing your work with your writer's group.....

Me: I can't calclate that either. I think about it all the time. I write novels because I have SUCH a horror of being bored. That, to me, seems like the worst part of being buried alive. Yes, the terror and the oxygen slowly fading and the darkness and the aloneness and the possible bugs touching you is ALL VERY BAD. But when I think of being buried alive, it's the sensory deprivation that REALLY gets to me. If I ever DO get buried alive I hope my serial killer puts a penlight and some Flannery O'Connor in the box with me. Or buries me with a good conversationalist.

When Scott and I did our living wills a couple of years ago, I couldn't sign off until I had mapped out with him very carefully the sort of entertainment that would need to be provided continuously for my inert form. My lawyer was like, "You get that I am paid by the HOUR, right?" as I went over this witrh him in excrutiating detail. But we got it done, to whit: If I am ever in a coma, there MUST be TV or a book on tape on for me at all times. And I was terrified there would be some sort of letter-of-the-law MEAN nurse who likes to sit SOUR and BAKE in the quiet, and in my imagination she would PUT ON the TV as requested, but turn the sound down to ZERO. This fictional nurse really BUGGED me, a I HATED her, untilScott implemented a headphone clause and minimum volume requirements. I also specified that the TV could not be on CNN or, Lord help me, the DISCOVERY freakin' channel, and I didn't want to listen to books about WHO STOLE MY CHEESE or financial planning. My unresponsive braindead body would prefer to have PLOT with its iron lung. Crazy, huh?

SO. Yeah. All the time I am thinking about the book I am writing, or the book I want to write next...It probably pops into my brain with the same frequency that Psychology Today says adolescent boys think of sex.

Laume: Do you set daily goals or weekly goals?
Me: Not really. I have to turn in AT LEAST one or two new drafted chapter to my writing group every two weeks, but that could men 10 pages or 35. If it was always 35 pages, I woudl finish a book in 5.7 months, so CLEARLY there are many times when it is more like 12 or 15.

Laume: Despite your best intentions, do you end up having to do one or more marathon sittings away from the family to make things happen?
Me: Yes. And it's not IN SPITE of my best intentions. My intentions are to have these times scheduled from the get go. Scott takes my kids to some grandmother infested paradise in Alabama or Florida, and I grunt pump out 10 - 30K TERRIBLE words in a weekend. Then I spend the 1 - 3 months revising those words, and Then I kick Scott and the kids out again.

And I would like to point out to you, OH JADED SPOUSE OF A WRITER, yes, you, in the back, SNEERING at your spouse's "hobby"....that I always kicked my family out for weekends, even before I was publishing or making any money at all from my writing. Scott took my writing time as seriously as he took the time he spent on HIS job, and did his best to protect it and create it and be respecctful of it, and I wouldn't have finished my FIRST novel yet if he had not. SO. What do you say to THAT, OH Mr. or Mrs. WRITERSPOUSE?

Laume: And is shutting the office door really enough to allow you to work without wondering who's sitting on the cat or making that horrible screeching sound elsewhere in the house?
Me: No.

Of course not. Unless I have a sitter there, then yes, and I assume she will come get me if anyone is spurting arterial blood or is actually on fire If it's me and the kids, I can't draft. Especially since my cat is so huge that if he decided to sit on them back they would smother. I revise in spurts and dribbles during days when I have a kid or two in the house.

Posted by joshilyn at May 14, 2006 3:19 PM

Thank you for the note to Mr. WRITERSPOUSE. I'm lucky for the most part, but sometimes it seems... Well, just thank you.

Also, you'll be in CHARLOTTE!!! YAY!

Posted by: Autumn at May 14, 2006 9:47 PM

Since I do so love reading your stories, May I just say this: All hail the grand and noble Scott, writerspouse extraordiaire. Huzzah!

Posted by: David at May 14, 2006 11:00 PM

How embarrassing. That's "may" and "extraordinaire." And jeez, I hope I put the period on the proper side of the quote. Ugh!

Posted by: David at May 14, 2006 11:04 PM

I demand you come further NORTH. You are being very anti-NORTH, I must say... Do you have something against CANADA?? I'm trying to move down there as quickly as I can... but hellooooo... there's this whole IMMIGRATION CRISIS that your country is going through and who knows when I'll get there. I'm already pregnant with #2 incase I have to give up the first born for a US Passport.

Posted by: Heather Cook at May 15, 2006 12:12 AM

And you know, of course, that you'll receive a warm - if perhaps damp - welcome in the Pacific Northwest, so go to your publicist and pound on something and insist on an expanded tour!

Scott sounds like the perfect writerspouse, and I'm so glad he's protective of your time and space and mental health while you create the wonders that you create.

Posted by: Fran at May 15, 2006 12:19 AM

Yeah. What about us in the North, or even Pacific Northwest? But specifically in Michigan? Tell Mr. Michael they need to fete you across the top of the country again. If you bring it we will come.

Posted by: debra at May 15, 2006 3:16 PM

Whoa, Jos! You're not ACTUALLY going to be at Capitol Book & News in Mtgy from 4AM to 6PM, are you? I mean, Mtgy's nice and all, but JEEZ! Take a break, will ya!
I will definately be there again with my daughter Bonilyn to buy a brand spankin' new signed first edition of your book, although don't look for me THAT early. You and the cat will just have to wait.

Posted by: Stephanie Chance at May 15, 2006 3:32 PM

Tulip, I hate to be critical of you AT ALL, and of course there is no reason why you should know this, but on your list of tour dates you have spelled Pawleys Island with an apostrophe s. Which it does not have. And I know this because I go there, as you know, and I will be there, as you know, ONE WEEK BEFORE your appearance and so I will miss you AGAIN, which means that CLEARLY there is no love for me. BAH.

Posted by: Amy-GO at May 15, 2006 4:55 PM

You'll be in Jackson AGAIN! YAY!!!! We must do dinner and drinks with Tiff.

Posted by: Heather at May 15, 2006 8:43 PM