October 3, 2007

Star Spangled Footnotes

Thank you for the audio book recs. I now have a list of about 5 culled from your ideas – many I had to NOT take because I had already read them in BOOK form, and OH, you mentioned some of my favorites. SHADOW OF THE WIND, for example, a pitch perfect book, and OH how I love that Neil Gaimon. AMERICAN GODS is my fave of his, but ANANSI BOYS is my second fave. From now on I will NOT be buying his books – I am shifting him to Lee Child territory, where I SAVE him for audio because you are right, I bet his stuff is AWESOME on audio.*

And now, it’s time to BYOS (bring your own segue….)

I don’t believe in writer’s block, but this is because I suspect writer’s block of being like hobgoblins. If you BELIEVE in their rubber-lipped green mouths filled with snaggled fangs and slaver, you may give them the power to be. And to eat you alive. From the feet on up. **

So, I don’t believe in writer’s block. OR Hobgoblins, for the record, and for any foot hungry nonexistent one that might be reading this. Even when I was writing THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, which had to be thrown out in its entirely once and thrown out in its halfery*** another time before I hooked into the voice, I wasn’t BLOCKED. I never was NOT WRITING it. I was writing it… I was just writing it BADLY, and I had to pitch out such huge chunks of steaming crap to get to the good meat of it that TGWSS (pronounced “togwiss”) got renamed TBTAKM (pronounced tibby-tak-em) which stands for THE BOOK THAT ALMOST KILLED ME. Or maybe it should have been TBTAAMAFTFOU (Tibby-ta-ah-mafty-foo) which stands for THE BOOK THAT ALMOST ATE ME ALIVE FROM THE FEET ON UP.****

It was worth it.

And worth repeating that I was never BLOCKED. Because there is no block, grasshopper. There is no owl. There is no boy*****…There are no MUSES, although if I DID believe in them, I would tend to think I had one much like Stephen King’s dirty little scruffy bush-hiding beast-dog-monkey thing. But mine is a boy.

I DO believe in my own AMAZING powers of procrastination, OH YES I DO! Never put off til tomorrow what you can get out of doing entirely, was my September motto.

This new book has a hard timeline because it wants to be a swing dancer. I wouldn’t call it a SEQUEL. But in some real and thematic ways it is a companion book to gods in Alabama, and so it cannot be linier in time. gods in Alabama went back and forth, but this one seems to want to do chonoftic ****** loop-de-loops around a central event. Where gods was like a pendulum, this thing is currently structured like a tether-ball game, whipping around in one direction and then getting smacked in the face and swinging back the other. It’s a fast read but a SLOW write. I am getting frustrated with my ability to NOT write it. I am AMAZING at not writing it. Even as it comes together in my head, I am SO busy finding ways to NOT put my sorry butt in this chair and make with the keyboard tippy-taps…


Imma go on retreat. Next week I have a clear schedule and I am borrowing some SPACE from a BEAUTIFUL friend and going to squat in it with no sensory input and no THINGS drooping over me needing to be done like, organize my basement. I cannot organize my basement when I am many hours of driving away from it, is my reasoning. TODAY I have the WHOLE glorious morning clear to draft this next chunk, and I am SO not wanting to draft that organizing my basement seems not only POSSIBLE but DOWNRIGHT ENTICING. That’s SICK! I REFUSE to organize that basement! I am going to go write. RIGHT NOW. SEE. THIS IS ME GOING…

Anybody want to play online scrabble?

*Allow me to scrub my toe in the dust and thank you for the VERY kind words about the audio versions of my books. Ya’ll’re swell.


*** Halfery is so totally a word. It means something like “half of the entirety.”

**** Tibby-ta-ah-mafty-foo is so fun to say that I am now calling the kitten Mafty-foo. He already thinks his name is RIBBON because I have been calling him ribbon kitty all week. He all at once got long and skinny, though, like a ribbon fish, so this is hardly MY fault. I think my animals must all have ongoing identity crises. See also: “Waffles.”

***** Lines from T.H. White’s completely perfect book, The Once and Future King

****** Yes. Absolutely. This is a true word.

Posted by joshilyn at October 3, 2007 10:28 AM

You can waste some time on jacksonpollock.org . . . just drag your mouse around the blank page and click occasionally. Feel relaxed and artistic!

Posted by: Brigitte at October 3, 2007 11:55 AM

You can kick my butt on Literati any time, you know.

Posted by: Mir at October 3, 2007 12:29 PM

The thought of throwing a book away, not once, but twice, is what keeps me from putting words on a page. Yet somehow I can blog with abandon. Procrastination? Sublimation? Not sure. Anyhoo, I so admire your ability to put pen to page (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be) even if it takes you a while to get to that point.

Posted by: Madame Queen at October 3, 2007 1:54 PM

Well, I am really relieved to know that I was at least pronouncing TGWSS correctly all along. If I DON'T believe in something long enough, I'm wondering if will also cease to exist/lose power. For instance, there is no mountanous load of laundry, there are no sugar ants setting up house in my pantry, there is no toppling stack of papers to grade. . .it's working already.

Posted by: Roxanne at October 3, 2007 2:55 PM

did someone say online scrabble? :-D

Posted by: janet at October 3, 2007 4:19 PM

That whistling sound we're hearing? That would be Joshilyn's mental illness number rising ;-)

Go retreat and make with the crazy book-making, Lady! We'll wait for you.

Posted by: Beth at October 3, 2007 4:55 PM

"...said the owl hopefully." The only perfect adverb in all of literature. One does adore you.

Posted by: rams at October 3, 2007 5:45 PM

Oh geesh I thought the asterisks towards the end of the post were replacing "bad" words and I spent a good five minutes trying to fit the right word in the sentence...

Posted by: Holly at October 3, 2007 6:09 PM

It's sooooo helpful to read about your struggles writing these days, Joshilyn... not that I'm happy that you're struggling, but it encourages me to keep on keeping on! Enjoy your break!

Posted by: Susan Cushman at October 3, 2007 11:42 PM

Halfery most absurdily is a word.

The Once and Future King is one of my favorite books. Thank you I need to sit down with it for a while.

Posted by: Cele at October 4, 2007 1:53 AM

Yeah, we all pronounce TGWSS as "Buckleberry Ferry." Sorry. Can't change at this point.

And you now owe $3.87 for the footnote tax. Hope it was worth it. NOW who wants to get out and demonstrate? NOW WHO?

Posted by: Lydia at October 4, 2007 3:56 PM

I'm addicted to online scrabble! Internet Scrabble Club at www.isc.ro. Are there other good online scrabble sites?

Posted by: Kim at October 4, 2007 4:47 PM

You ought to try Chicktionary. Your only competition is yourself. The graphics and sound effects are hilarious.

Excuse my ignorance, but I'm still trying to decode all that post.

Posted by: Rhonda at October 4, 2007 11:24 PM

Joshilyn, I so love you that I am coming out of the "blog-stalking" closet long enough to tell you that I laughed at "tibby-tak-em" and "Tibby-ta-ah-mafty-foo" until I peed a little.

Also, I wanted to tell you that Janet is a sore winner at online scrabble. And, she's a disappointment as my first Jewish friend EVER, because she won't even TRY to sound like Maude.

Also, I'm glad I came here today, because I had never even HEARD of Chicktionary. And so I can write in my diary that I learned something today.

Posted by: melodyann at October 5, 2007 7:30 AM

I am SO glad I started reading your blog. I read the Tibby-tah-ah-mafty-foo part to cheer me up. That makes me laugh SO HARD!

Yes, I do believe in writers block. It happens ALL THE TIME!!!! However, I do not believe in Hobgoblins, but thanks *note sarcasm* for the idea. Now I'm scared of Writer's Block.

Posted by: Lila at October 9, 2007 8:32 PM