November 29, 2005

Rate the Crazy

I am on day 4 of NO SCOTTness, and yes, the numbers are fast rising, folks. I have alwasy been a world champ fret-monkey, but I think I am about to go for the fretting Olympics and take the gold. Let's play, HOW CRAZY IS THIS, on a scale of mildy to OH DEAR LORD, HELP HER:

The contract for the new book I am working on now originally came in with a "first 50 pages" kind of clause where I needed to turn in the first 50 pages as soon as they were finished, like, long before the book was done. And I PANICKED because...oh my. That made me want to boil myself and feed me to wolves. I could not imagine showing my editor 50 pages until the whole book was done because EVEN THOUGH I revise about 1,000 times as I go, once I get to the end I usually realize the whole book is wrong, especially the beginning, and I then do several MASSIVE rewrites and so with my process being like that....GAH GAH having her look at 50 pages of an unfinished MS makes me QUAIL IN HORROR. I would feel like I had just thunked a sloshy jar with a fetal pig in it down on her desk.

So my agent went back to Warner and said, "I'm sorry, this clause has my cliet under the bed, sucking the ear of a stuffed rabbit -- what about this instead?" And he handed over a pretty detailed summary I had written for him, all about what this book would be about (ish) and what it would (probably) be called and what the tone and feel would (most likely) be and I also added a section stating very definitively what the book was NOT about, which seemed needed and certainly the thing I could be most absolute about given that I am an organic writer and things change and shift as I go, and they know this SO. Long story truncated: They accepted the detailed-ish proposal in lieu of the first fifty.

I am actually supposed to be NOT WORKING and resting my brain until January, but I can't stop writing this book. I REALLY like this book in a shameless way. I'm not ready to marry it, but I would sure as HECK make out with it at this point. Me and this book, we are getting there.

BUT! I have two new people critting it who are really stinkin' SAVVY and big SMARTIES and they are reading THE WHOLE THING as I go, and I am not used to that. I am used to having my regular writing group spot check troubled areas as I go along, so no one there really has a feel for the WHOLE content. They help me get voice right and individual scenes paced correctly and such. When I have a WHOLE draft, I have a whole book reader who is both a genius and honest about where I have dropped the ball, and then the massive rewrites begin. NOW I have these two new readers, and yesterday, as I got five hours of working time, I re-read my first fifty pages and was shocked to realized they did not smell like the back end of a cat who is too fat to bathe properly. They were...not shameful. They were...well...they were, excuse me, pretty dern NON-fetal-piggish. I would absolutely have been ready to show these pages to my editor, and relatively soon.

SO, then there was much rejoicing, right?

AH HAHAHAHA. No. Of COURSE not, Silly Pants.

Last night I was completely unable to sleep. I lay staring up at the ceiling fretting because the pages were NOT BAD ENOUGH. Every other novel I have written, I fretted to myself, has SUCKED at this point. The pages SHOULD rightfully be much much WORSE. SO maybe, I fretted to myself, by writing BETTER this EARLY I was destroying my PROCESS and would ruin the whole book...maybe I was blocking myself in by being so polished and early, and the book would wither! and Die! And...hey is it 1 am???

Um. Yeah. At that point, I took a big step backwards and got clear of my own navel long enough to realize that I was being completely REPULSIVE. It's like, why not lie there and fret that the heaviness of my fantastic diamond jewelry is going to cause carpal tunnel asince I spend so much time with my bejeweled hands curled around glasses of champagne. I wasn't just looking a gift horse in the mouth, I was freaking French kissing it and then complaining about horse breath.

I need to be spanked.
I need to get over myself.
Or, maybe I just need a hobby; I think the hobby should be "eating Lithium."

Posted by joshilyn at 10:42 AM | Comments (9)

November 27, 2005

10 Ways The World Could Be Improved

1) If my husband wasn't out of town for nine days. Because, let's play a fun game of MENTAL ILLNESS NUMBER. Mine rises with his absence, exponentially, based on BOTH time and distance. By the time the man gets home, I will be prancing about the yard wearing nothing but a plaster made of mud and fruitcake and cheerfully pickling the remains of my neighbors in brine.

2) If the grocery store gossip rags would stop trying to make the first names of celebrity couples into one name. The hideous implications of BENNIFER made me puke, even more so now that the Ben- part has SWITCHED -nifers and the relationship is being treated like a B MOVIE SEQUEL: Return of Bennifer, Bigger, Badder, Pregnanter. And there is no excuse that will keep whoever perpetrated TomKat out of hell. I am waiting for (or perhaps have mercifully missed) the inevitable appearence of the term Bra-Gelina, which sounds like a Mormon church supper dessert made of foundation garments and Kool Whip.

3) If doctors weren't so freakin' prescription happy. I can't go in for a check up and say I feel COLD without walking away with fifteen prescriptions. The closest I come to an MD is an A in high school biology, but I suspect it might be the Paper Gown and the refrigerated stehoscope...

4) If I had a PARROT with a big ruffly topnot so that he looked like an inquisitive Hessian Soldier.

5) If EVERYONE I met for the first time would send a follow-up e-mail like the one I got this morning that says, "I forgot to mention that you are thin! (You write in your blog like you are not, but you are.)" In fact, even if you have not met me, you should probably send me a similar e-mail sometime this week, because... here I simply refer you to number 1.

6) If Independent Bookstores would all STAY, FOREVER. I know of three separate stores that I LOVED that are respectively closed and closing and hurricaned away. That's three in my little circle of known stores, GONE, and that is JUST THIS YEAR and I can hardly bear it. Nothing against the Big Boys---Lordy, BAM has been so good to me I could die of it and I like a huge selection and discounts as much as the next book junky --- but there has to be room in the world for small stock and specialization and handselling TOO. There HAS to be, or debut books like mine can so easily slip off the radar and be gone and lost. Right now, eight months after release, if you aren't LOOKING for gods in B and N, you will never find it. But if you walk into Northside in Vermont or Sundog books in Florida or Davis-Kidd in Nashville or Alabama Booksmith in ...guess, and Chapter 11 right here AND ON AND ON, someone will put it right into your hands.

7) If pets would habitually tattle on cheaters.

8) If EVERYTHING could be organized into lists. And then checked off!

9) If more people would spontaneously mail me delightful presents (and if you are wondering why I think I should just get hosts of delightful presents streaming over me, SEE NUMBER ONE AGAIN). I say this because I met author Frank Turner Hollon (no D) at an event recently, and his book Life is a Strange Place caught my eye. I don't know why....maybe it was the Giant Cow Testicle on the front cover? (WHICH LET ME PRE-EMPTIVELY SAY : Yes. I know COWS do not have testicles, and the majority of BULLS do not have ONE, but the first time I peeped the the cover I said to a friend standing by me, "Holy cats...is that a cow testicle?" and some exacting boogerhead on my other side looked at me like I was a bug and said, "Akshully, that is a BULL's TesticleSSSSS," and there was a silent and parenthetical "You Moron" the size of FRANCE hanging off that long chain of obnoxious testicle-multiplying esses. At which point I smiled and said "Literalist, huh?" <--- Lie. At which point I slunk away feeling like a dork for talking like I talk (i.e. highly innaccurately and hyperbolic-ly) and you know what, it's a cow testicle forever now, in absolute rebellion against drive-by belittlers. SO THERE.)

I bought it and had him sign it, and my big regret of the day was that I was already WAY over book budget and he had this other book out I REALLY wanted called The God File, which looked SO up my alley. But Mr. Strained Book Budget said I could only have one, and my feeling is, if you are getting it SIGNED, you go for the hardback first edition (especially if it has a cow testicle on it.) THEN I was standing by him in the car line all on accident and he saw that I was already about 25% of the way into the book of his I HAD bought and it was VERY funny and black and obscene (in a good way) and I told him so and told him I would be reading more of him, starting with The God File because I had wanted that one but budget and signed first ed and BLAH BLAH then his car came, and then Friday, all UNPROVOKED, he SENT me a copy. SIGNED. Which. Yish. How lovely. I set the book I was reading aside because I had to immediately read it. Couldn't help it. Finished it last night. And yeah. It's good. It's beyond good. It's not a "pretty" book, but it has got grace notes that brought me to my knees.

10) If I had On Star.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:41 AM | Comments (13)

November 25, 2005

I am Thankful For...

...The backhanded blessing of a virus that put me down HARD yesterday, so that all I ate was two tablespoons of dressing, some chicken broth, and later, the southerner's version of X-treme comfort food, a great big old bowl of grits. ( I am SO thankful for GRITS!) This is the first Thanksgiving in years when I did not perpetrate my favorite of the seven deadlies.

...The popsicle stick picture frame my son made for me. It has writing on each of the four sides and they say
1) Happy Thanksgiving!
2) I love you!
3) Treasur (sic) your moments
and (this is my favorite)
4) Free Love!
He doesn't get why that cracks me up, or why I now call him Kerouac, or why his father keeps saying, "Get a haricut, Pinko." AND hey! I am thankful for THAT, too. Plenty of time for him to read On The Road and feel persecuted and write terrible poetry and agitate to pierce something. TODAY I am thankful he is 8, and scabby-kneed, and as big-hearted and innocent as a herd of puppies.

...PARROTS. Did I mention I want one?

...Better Living Through Pharmeceuticals. Due to the intervention of over-the-counter miracles, I feel 1,000 times better, and I plan to make up for yesterday while there is still leftover giblet gravy in the fridge.

And you, O my best beloveds? Let's go around the table...no cranberry sauce 'til you say what YOU are thankful for.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:13 AM | Comments (17)

November 23, 2005

Avian-tor

No one is going to let me have a baby, so now I want a parrot. A GREY Parrot who looks like THIS:

myparrot.jpeg

The best parrots are babies that you get and hand wean yourself and raise up, but I think you have to really know your parrot-y stuff or you do it wrong and maladjust them. WHO KNOWS ABOUT PARROTS? I think if I tried to hand wean I would make the parrot wrong-headed and crazy. Can you get a hand fed nicely pre-weaned parrot and make friends with him? Or will he never love you anymore if you do not personally raise him? How can you be sure the people selling you the parrot are good parrot loving darlings that have kissed all over the parrot from egg on up and made him not depressed but rather nice and well adjusted and people friendly? Are there the parrot version of a PUPPY MILL where you get crapulent ruined sad mentally ill parrots? HOW DO YOU KNOW if the parrot is a good parrot?

My lord, google is trying to distract me with Glamorous Macaw Parrots. And the HYACINTH ones ARE breathtaking, LOOK AT HIM! LOOK AT HIS FRIEND!

myhyacinth.jpeg

But Congo Greys seem more personality-ish and shirty and funny. "It's about beauty on the inside," she said maturely, and then ruined it by adding, "And Greys have NICE butts in a color I woukld absolutely wear if it was a lipstick." So.


RIGHT NOW my babies are too little and parrots are bitey. It will be a few years, plus the cat needs to be older; A 6.5 year old cat is still in his parrot slaughtering prime. A nine or ten year old cat, however, especially one as fat as mine, is a different animal. Assuming my poor overfed one-eyed butt-plucker lives nine or ten years, which he BETTER.

NEVER THE LESS. I AM GETTING A PARROT IN THREE YEARS.

Scott seems amenable to the whole parrot thing because EITHER he suspects that in three years I will be haring off about soemthign completely different and will have FORGOTTEN that I need a parrot to be happy, OR it is just that I am shutting up about how I want a BABY, and he knows you do not have to pay to send a parrot to COLLEGE. PLUS SIDE: A Parrot seems nearly as troublesome and loud and messy as a toddler, and NEVER GROWS UP! This is what I need -- a PERMA toddler bothering me all the time. ALSO they are LOUD! I am a NOISE person. I like a loud house, btu don;t care much for music. I keep the TV on in another room all the time just to have SOUND going, and I TALK to the TV and I talk to the cat, and these things, they don't ANSWER. Parrots WILL.

I NEED A PARROT. A NAUGHTY loud parrot named Forsythe. Or Jeeves. Not sure, but definately soemthing BUTLER-Y.

Countdown to Parrot, T minus 3 years.

If you are wondering where this came from, I went over to my new friend Karen's house for the first time last night. SHE HAS PARROTS. You should see how much these parrots LIKE her. You should see how ALIVE these parrots are behind their eyes. They THINK things, you can see them thinking, and they are curious and dear---I didn't realize a bird could be so....himself. So person-y and exact. And their feathers are practically individually prehensile and they puff and fluff themselves into shapes based on what they are feeling. When she buries her nose in Dexter's back and shrieks, WHO IS A CHICKEN? WHO IS A BIG CHICKEN? he cranes his head up and press-press-presses his face adoringly into her neck. I admit, I found it rather touching.

HEY. Did I mention I am getting a PARROT? I will wait though, until the cat is old and slow and my children are old enough to know not to torment the parrot until he takes a chunk out of them. Three or four years -- OH! I just decided! I am getting a parrot when I turn 40. AS A PRESENT TO MYSELF for not dying of turning 40. I must begin saving up to buy a parrot and parrot accoutrements NOW because my LORD a good bird is a zillion quadrillion dollars plus he will need a big HOME cage in my bedroom and a play area in my office so he can hang out with me while I work and maybe another play area in the living room and toys and all manner fo nuts and mushfeeds and bells and chew sticks.

I am all about parrots now. All parrots, all the time.

PARROT!

Posted by joshilyn at 10:22 AM | Comments (24)

November 21, 2005

This Year, Give the Gift of a Tequila Bottle Upside the Head!

I thought I would take a moment and answer some questions I have recently received from friends and colleagues via the miracle of e-mail. Questions you might have been wondering about yourself...

From the inimitable Shawn Box: How is the International Celebrity thing going?

Answer: Oh well, you know. Sven is peeling me a grape as I try to suffer through the ennui the pappazazzi make me feel...Honestly, there are times when I have to clear my schedule and pencil in a whole day for "Empathizing with Paris Hilton."

From Karen, also writing to deadline, about my endless five pounds war: Eh, worry about it after the holidays, I say. I tend to eat less when I'm REALLY stressed, so, by that rationale, at some point during this book-writing process I should be thoroughly emaciated. Does it work like that for you?

Answer: No. I frickin' eat MORE when stressed. So. By that rationale, at some point during this book-writing process I will smash myself into the earth and wipe out all the dinosaurs.

And this final question, from three different people in the last three days. Yes. Really. The universe wants me to answer this question: How are you so productive with two kids?

Answer: Oh well, I just, you know, lock them in the old refrigerator I keep down in the basement. Then they have to be still and quiet to preserve oxygen.

If you are dangerously mentally ill and reading this, allow me to say: THAT WAS A JOKE. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. I ACTUALLY lock them into a wooden box with many air holes and a Jumbo Hamster-Water delivery system.

*rimshot*

SPEAKING OF E-MAIL...I got a note from Sheila Curran, author of the rawwwwwther fantastic Diana Lively is Falling Down a comedy of manners I found to be JUST so charming and entertaining and the writing blew me away. It was one of those books that made me want to kidnap the author and tie them to a chair and make them read MY book, but really, The Author's Guild frowns on that sort of thing. But then in this weird coincidence, she JOINED THE GCC (my little group of fellow scribes that cross blogs and cross pollinates) and I managed to mention to her in casual passing (without throwing up on myself or slavering) that I had truly enjoyed her book. And SHE, that darling, read mine and wrote me the most lovely and gracious letter back, which is ---

BEEP!BEEP!BEEP! We interrupt this blog for a cheery little dollop of prostitution:

On December 4th, I am heading to one of my very most favorite INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES, the Alabama Booksmith, to sign pre-ordered copies of GODS IN ALABAMA and inscribe them for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa gifts. And BY THE WAY, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution just listed gods in Alabama as one of the best books of the year in their big best books round-up (which I STILL have not seen because I accidentally recycled the paper before reading it, HEH) So Yay, and if you are giving a book as a present, shouldn't it be one that a major newspaper has just ASSURED you is one of the best books of the year? (hint: Yes.)

gods in Alabama retails for $19.95 and can be shipped by Priority Mail for $8.00 but there is PLENTY of time to get it shipped Media Mail rate which usually runs about $2.00 per copy. Signed first editions are a fantastic gift for the readers and/or book collectors in your life, and you'll ALSO be supporting, well, me. (We have to keep Maisy in 100 dollar Dance costumes, and uh-oh, here comes a digression: CAN YOU FREAKING BELIEVE??? 100 bucks for a THREE YEAR OLD'S BALLET COSTUME, due the same month as, gee, CHRISTMAS? Are you KIDDING ME???...As I was saying,...) You'll get a great gift for someone, and you'll literally be supporting me and a fantastic independent bookstore, AND Book Sense because gods was a Number One Book Sense pick! Which means it isn't JUST win-win, it's win-win-win-WIN. Heck, it's win-win--win-WIN in a 100 dollar Tutu that dern well BETTER come with a hat or some gold bullion.

Call the Alabama Booksmith BEFORE December 4th to get your order in:

(205) 870-4242

GO on, do it today, before you forget. They open in about FIFTEEN MINUTES! If you call NOW, I bet they will throw in some GINSU KNIVES or a fridge magnet. HECK, get two. They are small.

OH and when you call, be sure to tell them how you want it inscribed! ("Merry Christmas, Genny," for example, or perhaps something more personal, like, "For Peter, who was a complete testicle to his sister when they were children, but has grown up to be almost decent." Hey, whatever best says HOLIDAY CHEER to YOU, you know?)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled mindless prattle-slash-shennanigans:

---psychologically very important to me. I have this weird thing where, when I like someone's book, I so want them to like my book BACK. And Sheila Curran's book read to me like the book that would happen if Rachel Cusk's books had a baby with The Three Junes, so she was high on my "please read me back" list. I am sure this fits under some sort of pre-established and labelled co-dependent frippery mental illness umbrella, but I feel the phenomenon needs its own psycho-babble buzzword that catches the MEAT of the syndrome: how the anxiety and desire increases exponentially. In other words, the more I like a book, the more I want the writer to read mine, and the more important it is to me that they like it. It's the literary equivelent of passing that dork-note from eighth grade. You know the one:

DO YOU LIKE MY BOOK? PLEASE CHECK ONE: ___YES ___MAYBE ___WELL, IT'S NOT KING LEAR.

*sigh* Anyway. She liked it. SO THERE.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:23 AM | Comments (12)

November 20, 2005

Megan Crane Hath Spoken: B4B Winnahzzzz

Thus Sagt the fantabulous guest author Megan Crane:

"Wow! Great reading!

Here are my picks:

First place: THE WRITE START by Karen McQuestion

2nd: HOMECOMING. TWICE. at MAKE ME

3rd: TRILINGUAL at TALKING TO MYSELF: POEMS FROM NOW AND THEN

This was so much fun, Joshilyn! Thank you!

Megan"

Oh no, thank YOU, Megan.
Ms. McQuestion wins a copy of Megan Crane's latest book, Everyone Else's Girl

mcrani.jpeg

And a heads up for you out there in B4B land. December is our last B4B here at FTK...It is movign back to THE ZERO BOSS. SO.

I think we need a new, fun, once a month kinda contest where you can win books and get all INTERACTIVE and stuff. Any ideas? I think random drawings are boring and I don't know how to code quizzes. SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

Although perhaps I should not be ALLOWED to run contests---A woman named Aimee won TRUE OR FALSE and i just found her PRIZE in the BACK OF MY CAR under 5 bags of of Target and Dollar Store stuff I got for Operation Christmas Child. OOPS! It is packaged and addressed and everything, but never QUITE got to the mailbox. I am a BAD HUMAN. It will go out Monday, I PINKY SWEAR.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:59 AM | Comments (6)

November 17, 2005

Role Reversal

See, I am usually the crazy one. He is the sane one. I break things. He understands how to mix up epoxy. I zoom through space, and he provides the gravity that keeps me in an orbit so I don't go plummeting into the sun. I yell my way to resolution, he prefers to use reason. I spaz, he logics. It's how we work, and it works well for us, thanks, in 99 out of 100 cases.

Me: But WHY don't you like spiders?
Him: Too many eyes.
Me: They are pretty, and webs are pretty, and they eat the other bugs that are gross, like roaches.
Him: Too many eyes.
Me: So it's not spiders per se, it's things with too many eyes?
Him: Yes. It's very wrong to have too many eyes.
Me: Well, how many eyes is too many eyes?
Him: More than two eyes is too many eyes.
Me: So you hate anything with more than two eyes?
Him; Yes.
Me: YOU, Mr. Husband, bastion of of reason in an unreasonable world, YOU fully admit that you violently and unthinkingly from the gut viscerally HATE things with more than two eyes.
Him: *Thinks* It is an unnatural prejudice. But. Yes.
Me: So you hate flies?
Him: Flies are fine.
Me: But flies have about a million eyes!
Him: Can you even FIND the Discovery channel?
Me: Is it near the WB?
Him: Never mind. Flies have two eyes.
Me: I thought they had about a million?
Him: No they have two COMPOUND eyes, so they see many pictures, but the number of eyes is two. Compound eyes are fine.
Me: COMPOUND eyes? Is that like an EYE CLUSTERS? Big gooey CLUSTERS of eye???
Him: Yes.
Me: That's disgusting.
Him: No, it isn't, as long as there are only two. I don't know anything but spiders that has too many eyes.
Me: Can you have too FEW eyes?
Him: No. I am fine with squids, and squids only have one eye.
Me: So does our cat, for that matter.
Him: Right. But you can't walk around with more than two or you are creepy. That is all. And nothing else on earth has too many eyes. Name one thing other than spiders that lurks around being horrifying with a whole bunch of eyes stuck on all over. You can't.
Me: Even when the spider is so SMALL it is like an adorable little SPECK with LEGS and you can't SEE that it has eight or eleven or five eyes?
Him: It doesn't matter. I know the eyes are there. *shudders*

Posted by joshilyn at 10:28 AM | Comments (22)

Blogging 4 Books, the 7 Finalists

Here they are, and many thanks to Heather of Madame Rubies who narrowed what i thought was a particularly unnarrowable field this time..

Dating the Toothfairy

Karen McQuestion

Edgy Mama

Tiny Kingdom

Talking to Myself: Poems From Now and Then

Make Me

Pattie's Place

Guest author Megan Crane will be along in a little bit to pick the three winners, and gift first place with a signed copy of her latest,Everyone Else's Girl.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:26 AM | Comments (5)

November 16, 2005

3 Questions with Gayle Brandeis

I promised you Gayle Brandeis, winner of the 2002 Bellweather Prize, and by GUM, I finally got enough of my crap together to actually give her to you. Read this interview for the dead bird story (I got the shivers), then read the The Book of Dead Birds for the rich language and compelling characters. If you liked Snow Falling on Cedars or Prodigal Summer, then trust me, this story of a young woman trying to come to terms with her mother's dark past while searching for her own identity is your book.

JJ: You linked on your blog to "everyone has a dead bird story." What's yours, though? Not Ava Sing Lo's. Yours.

GB: My dead bird story (and I have a few, but this is the defining dead bird story for me; *the* dead bird story) is actually what led me to write The Book of Dead Birds. When I was walking home from school one day with my friend Sonja, we came upon a dead baby bird. I had never seen anything dead before—I was six years old—and it stopped me in my tracks. The bird was newly hatched; it had no feathers yet. Its skin was translucent. Its eyes had never opened. I felt like I had to do something to honor its short life. I was too squeamish to consider touching it, burying it, but I dragged Sonja to my house, and we created a little ritual around the bird. I had a diorama from Chinatown in Chicago that I had begged my parents to buy for me—two yellow birds under glass. I dragged it out of my cabinet, and put it on my desk. Sonja and I stared at the fake birds with real feathers and talked about all the things the bird didn't get to do—it didn't get to fly; it didn't get to build a nest, didn't get to lay an egg. It didn't get to see the world. I remember saying "Now is the time when we cry", and we wailed and sobbed for the poor little bird. It was very cathartic.

That moment stayed with me over the years. I started to write a poem about it in 1996, but the poem kept getting longer and stranger, and eventually it turned into a novel that had nothing to do with me. When the book was about to come out, a reporter and photographer from the local paper came to my house to do a story about me. The photographer, who had been scouting out places to take a picture, asked if I had a broom. She said she wanted to take a picture of me on the bench on my front porch, but there was a dead bird on it. I ran outside--there, on the bench, was a dead baby bird, just like the one I found when I was six years old, the one that launched the poem that launched the novel. Talk about your full circles. It still gives me chills, thinking about it.

JJ: I think, quite frankly, that you are amazing. How do you balance writing and teaching and motherhood/marriage and still have time to process oxygen into carbon dioxide for the plants?

GB: You are so sweet, Joshilyn (not to mention amazing, yourself!)

*... here the interview stopped briefly so Gayle and I could hug and shriek "You're pretty," and "No, YOU!" Back and forth at each other...eventually I started listening again. I do that sometimes.*

I don't feel amazing at all—I just do what I do. And sometimes I don't feel like I'm balancing things very well—I've added a lot to my plate (especially this year, when I've become more busy as an activist) and it can get a little overwhelming. But it's all stuff I love, and I'm very grateful to be writing, to be teaching, to be sharing my life with the people I love, and using my voice to try to make the world a better place. I let a lot of insignificant things go—I let the laundry pile up, let the cobwebs accumulate in the corners. We get take out burritos more often than I'd like to admit (the rice, bean and cheese ones at Tina's, with extra onions and cilantro, are the best.) I get a little self-conscious about the clutter sometimes, but I know where my priorities are, and housework is nowhere near the top of the list.

JJ: You wrote a book of writing advice and exercises called Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write, and you teach writing, as I said, AND quite a few writers hang out at this blog. So. What's one bit of advice you want to offer them as they pursue this maddening and delightful craft?

GB: My favorite bit of advice is this: stay open. Keep your senses open—as writers, we so often live in our heads, but when we drop down into our senses and remember to take in the sights and smells and sounds and tastes and textures of the world, it gives us so much more juicy stuff to write about. It makes our writing really come to life. Keep your mind open—you never know where the next story will come from, and you should be ready for it. Inspiration often strikes from unexpected places. Be open to change—don't get too attached to any of your words; be prepared to slash them all, to start from scratch if need be (but at the same time, of course, be sure to stay true to your own personal vision and voice.) Read widely, live deeply, and dive into your work unafraid.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2005

As God is my Witness...

...TODAY I will finish reading my proofs for Between, Georgia and sign off on them and get them over to Brown so I can pay 45 dollars to 2 day them instead of having to sell a kidney to get Brown to overnight them with an AM delivery.

...TOMORROW I will post this GREAT interview with Gayle Brandeis that I keep forgetting to post.

...I will BECOME A BETTER PERSON. And by this, I OBVIOUSLY mean lose five pounds. OR I could become, you know, kinder and gentler and less impatient and judgemental and not indulge my mental illness as if it were a yappy little pink purse dog and stop practicing my especial pet favorite sins with such unbridled relish and...nah. I will just lose five pounds.

...I will pick a final author for my TOP FIVE list I am doing for Mark Farley's charity project in the UK....SO far, when listing the Five Authors You Meet in Southern Heaven, I have:

Haven Kimmel -- The Solace of Leaving Early. I recently read in an interview that Kimmel considers herself a southern author, and I consider her to be the best writer alive, so she tops the list.

Cassandra King --- Making Waves. King's least known first novel may very well be my favorite of hers.

Flannery O'Conner --- Everything That Rises Must Converge. She's the best writer who isn't living.

Fred Willard -- Down on Ponce. Moody, funny, black, irreverent debut novel that is bound to offend MANY readers, but LORDY! That man can write an unreliable narrator like no one else.

My fifth would be Mindy Friddle, natch, but The Garden Angel is not out in the UK. Which, allow me to say here:

Dear UK,
BUY IT. The Garden Angel is SO awesome.
Love,
Joshilyn

SO barring Friddle, WHO AM I MISSING? WHy can;t I pick a FIFTH, and why does that question make me want to answer, "Sure I can pick a fifth. I pick...TEQUILA!"

...TODAY get a decent working Chapter 3 out of this salad of images and ideas and sentences and radishes. Okay there are no radishes. But if you begin with AS GOD IS MY WITNESS you have to get a radish in there somewhere because that's the dirty vegetable Scarlet yacks up onto the hillside at 12 Oaks right before she raises her fist to heaven and makes the vow. So.

Posted by joshilyn at 8:31 AM | Comments (16)

November 13, 2005

By Turns Enraged and Darlinated

Enraged because I am TRYING TO DRAFT A NOVEL HERE (I may have mentioned that, oh, 500 million times or so??) And MS Word keeps putting up a miniature CLIPBOARD in the middle of my text, a clipboard that appears between the lines, and if my mouse inadvertantly touches the clipboard, the wretched creature asks me if I want to "keep source formatting" or "match destination formatting" or "keep text only." My problems with this are several...

1) I do not know what ANY of those options mean.
2) No matter which option I pick, the clipboard nods smugly and REMAINS SQUATTING IN THE MIDDLE OF MY TEXT, I suppose in case I change my mind later and decide I realy DO want to "keep source formatting," NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
3) THERE IS NOT AN OPTION called "Send the clipboard and all who support it directly to hell to be prodded by the pitchforks of smelly deamons until it is heartily sorry it EVER showed its smug nose." What kind of a menu doesn't include THAT, I ask you?
4) In fact, the only other choice"Apply style or formatting" which opens up a WHOLE ANOTHER MENU of options that a) I do not understand and B) still does not include "send clipboard to hell."

You may not think this is a big deal, BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG. IT IS. IT IS. That clipboard is making me unable to work because when I am reading through the pages trying to catch the VOICE so I can draft the next section, I have all these CLIPBOARDS LOOKING AT ME. They are distracting, for one, and for two, I highly suspect the clipboards of being judgemental.

It's like when I used to be enraged by that horrid, relentlessly perky MS WORD HELPY PAPERCLIP who used to pop up every time I started a new chapter to say something like, "You seem to be writing a letter! May I assist you?"

I just want my SOFTWARE TO LEAVE ME ALONE and let me work. I do not want my software to have a personality or little pompous, yappy icons. I do not want my software to THINK IT IS SMARTER THAN ME. And if it IS smarter than me, I don't want to know.

On the other hand, I am darlinated. Yes. That's a word.

I recently read the galleys for a VERY funny and big-hearted memoir about a skeptical American who falls in love with a French man and marries him. It was a charming look into another culture, and the best part of the book, to me anyway, was when she brings him home, and the tables turn, and suddenly I am looking at my beloved Georgia through foreign eyes. (It's called Blame it on Paris by Laura Florand, and I will alert you when it gets close to release) SO after half a book of laughing my butt off at how VERY weird the French are, I end up laughing even harder as I saw exactly how weird WE are here, all while being hugely entertained by the story. Anyway, long story short, I sent in a blurb, and the author was apparently pleased with the blurb because she sent me a box of chocolates.

RIGHT AFTER she put the order in, she came over to read my blog and saw that I am OFF wine and chocolate, and so I get this letter apologizing, and then a day after that, this gorgeous box of the kind of chocolate that is 70% and and rich and bittery-thick with goodness arrives, and the chocolate is enveloping things like fig ganache and blood orange truffle and crystalized ginger and whipped French honey. This is the exact kind of chocolate you should NEVER apologize for. I am shamelessly eating it and pretending it doesn't count, because, trust me, this chocolate is NOT even in the same GENUS as a Halloween Mini-Twix. So far the WINNERS of taste with a CUTENESS BONUS, are the Chocolate Mice who are nestled in the box with their noses pointed charmingly up, as if asking to be dandled over my gaping maw by their satin tails and then devoured. I am SO happy to oblige them.

ANYWAY, the box came with a little BOOKLET with pictures and a key that explains in sumptuous language what sort of filling is inside the various shapes. So the other day, Maisy found the key, and she got in her "choir" position, feet together, eyes cast upwards toward heaven, and she held the chocolate booklet like it was sheet music, and began singing. Scott, that fast thinker, IMMEDIATELY hit record on the computer.

If you have a good con and a nice processor, you can hear Maisy's Song

To which I can only say....Amen.


Posted by joshilyn at 1:54 PM | Comments (19)

November 12, 2005

Mr. Jackson

I write under my maiden name. I always have. But I LIVE under my married name. I KNOW what my name is, okay? I don't know how this fact escaped me. As rams said in comments, you would think I was drafting a book or something, braindead as I have been for every other pursuit. And generally speaking, I have a pretty good idea what SCOTT's name is as well. So. I know my name, I know his name, and yet somehow these facts escaped me when I was telling the co-ordinators of the Mercer Author Dinner that yes, my husband would be attending with me.

SO, when we got there, I saw his nametag and place card said, Scott Jackson. I was so charmed! I stole the place card. And I spent the whole of this elegant evening waiting for conversationally busy moments where I could lean over to him and, all undetected, trill "I'M THE BOSS OF YOU!" in his ear. Then he would wait stealthily for an equally busy moment so he could lean in with one of three stellar comebacks. 1) NUH-UH, 2) NO, I am the boss of YOU, or 3) I'm rubber, you're glue... We would nod and say a pithy something about whatever the topic of more general conversation was, and then we would poke each other under the table.

I swear to the LORD: I am twelve.

It was a lovely dinner though, very charming and chatty bunch at our table, and I got to meet some writers I wanted to meet, and hope I will meet more today at the Author Luncheon and Signing. Scott is not going, and I am not drinking, so therefore The Magic 8-Ball indicates I MIGHT behave. I do my best work with a glass of Shiraz and a co-hort.

In other news, I am making a new friend. It's nice. It's rare, you know, to meet someone and have that odd, immediate, and practicaly audible *click* as the conversation turns into a tennis match, zinging back and forth in a long, unending volley and no one loses and no one wins because no one misses any balls. AND SHE IS A WRITER. And a dern good one. Which makes me happy because we can talk SHOP. AND SHE IS A YANKEE! A dern good one of those, apparently. Which makes me happy because I can make fun of her Yankiness and she quibbles about what a Yankee is and whether or not Philadelphia QUALIFIES as a Yankee town, and um, Karen? Yes. It does. If you aren't southern or western, you are a Yankee, and I say this while squatting in a patch of cotton and shamelessly picking my teeth with a weed. OH YES, I DO.

REMEMBER Blogging for Books is Live and ENDS at midnight your time on MONDAY, so post your entry in the COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS PAGE.

First place gets a signed first edition of Megan Crane's new book, Everyone Else's Girl which Kirkus calls
"Amusing, heartfelt and emotionally sophisticated chick-lit."

Posted by joshilyn at 6:56 AM | Comments (10)

November 9, 2005

Query

I drove from my house to Selma, AL today, then from Selma to my mom's house in B-ham. I am blind with tired, so will have to tell you about that tomorrow. I stopped in because I had to ask you something:

As you know, I go to Alabama at LEAST once a month, often more. My parents live there, and my brother, and an AWESOME BOOKSTORE. SO, I go over a lot, and therefore I know GOOD AND WELL that it is an hour earlier in Alabama. In fact, I call my mother almost every morning, and I look at the clock and calculate the hours difference so I don't call TOO EARLY her time and wake her up.

So, please, SOMEONE explain to me why I did math that assumed I LOSE an hour by going to Alabama instead of gaining one, and got up at five AM and jazzed my blood with an UNGODLY amount of coffee so I could drive to the lovely library in historic Selma, arriving not at the scheduled 10:45, but BEFORE 9 AM. Before the library EVEN OPENED.

I am clearly not capable of doing even SIMPLE tasks that I do so often they are habitual. In light of this, I wonder why you people CONTINUE to allow me to eat with forks? Seriously. I'll end up putting an eye out.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:41 PM | Comments (12)

November 8, 2005

The Counting of More Blessing. Yes. Just the One.

3) It is Operation Christmas Child week at my church, and we are doing our boxes today. You better BELIEVE I have no problem finding enough shoe boxes. We'll fill them up and take them to the drop off point. . Sam and Maisy do shoeboxes for a kid their own age and sex, and then Scott and I do boxes for teenagers (because they never get enough boxes for teenagers. Even in third world countries, teenagers are hard to shop for) and then we donate five bucks per box so they can ship them. Operation Christmas Child is nutritious for the souls of my overpriviliged little American monsters---they buy things THEY would like and put them in a box for a kid who didn't win the "where to be born" lotto and ended up in some tiny village where TB killed both parents before the kid was old enough to say his own name. As a bonus, it makes me think, "WOW, WHAT A WHINER I AM, letting the fact that I have TOO MUCH TO EAT upset me, and you know, here is some kid who is going to be happy to get a little box full of toothpaste and Lifesavers and art supplies from the dollar store." It's a big fat dose of perspective in my navel-gazing little corner of the Universe.

I have 100 ZILLION more things to be happy about, but the list is going to have to stay MENTAL. Maisy is awake and climbing me like I was a tree, and YOU KNOW WHAT, she usually sleeps until 7:30. HEH. Also, appropos of nothing, I think Maisy needs to launch her own brand of EMOTICONS (E-Maisy-cons??? Nahhhhh...) She has the most expressive little face. Like here is her SURPRISED! Emoticon, and may I say, TAKE THAT McCauley Culkin, you got NUTHIN' on Miss Maisy:

surprised!.jpeg

And here is her ANNOYED Emoticon:

annoyed!.jpeg

And here is her BEYOND annoyed emoticon, which I like to call X-TREME RAGE BABY:

veryannoyed.jpeg

And this is the VERY FACE I am seeing right now, which can also be called her VIPEROUS "QUIT BLOGGING AND ME BREAKFAST" emoticon. So I better go!

Posted by joshilyn at 6:37 AM | Comments (8)

November 7, 2005

Blogging 4 Book is LIVE! And then A SHORT list of Happinesses

Welcome to Blogging 4 Books. The Original Rules and the FAQ are hosted on The Zero Boss, because he made it up.

The short version: You blog on a chosen topic. You post a link to your blog entry in the comments below this entry. B4B closes at MIDNIGHT your time next Monday.

If you have no blog, you write the essay and cut and paste it (no attachments please) into an email to Ann Fitten (the Bloggess behind Edgy Mama) and ask her sweetly to host it for you.

Your special guest blogger this month is Heather Truett, a young minister's wife and mother who who charmingly blogs about her family, her faith and her lipgloss addiction at Madame Rubies. She will narrow the entries down to seven.

If you are one of the seven finalists, your entry will be read by author and former three question guest Megan Crane. You remember MEGAN, right? From Three Questions? She will pick first, second and third place. First place gets a signed first edition of her new book, Everyone Else's Girl in which a quintessential "good girl" discovers she may not be so good...

mcrani.jpeg

And now, THE TOPIC!

Since Everyone Else's Girl is all about choices (in the same way that I am all about Darkside M&Ms OH and those LIMITED EDITITION Hershey Kisses with the cherry filling which I am absolutely not eating even though SOON you will never be able to get them anymore and WHY do I keep falling in love with weird, temporary candies that will all LEAVE ME heartbroken and betrayed with nothing between me and utter madness but stupid Halloween Mini-Twixes which I am heartily sick of but in this chocolate deprived state would probably still, yes, kill for....DEEP BREATH, and someone please pass me the Viactive Chews. THANKS.) Megan wanted you to have at LEAST two topics to choose from. SO. This month....

1) In the book, Meredith has to go back home and live with her parents again. Um, allow me to say, Yikes! So this month. spit in the face of Thomas Wolfe and write a blog entry about "going home." You can be as literal or figurative about that as you need to be.

OR

2) Meredith thinks she has to be the good girl, the good daughter, because she thinks that's how others see her-- only to learn that maybe she's the only one who sees herself that way. Write about the gap between the way people see themselves versus the way they actually are.

GO!

And now, Since I am not drinking or eating anything worth putting in a mouth (yesterday I had a LONG car trip and I like to eat in the car, so I brought and consumed and ENTIRE BAG of organic baby spinach leaves. THE WHOLE BAG. You can't really do salad dressign and DRIVE, so I made the snack more lively by adding a handful of CRAISINS. I sat in the car listening to a book on tape ate the whole ten ounce bag. That's just....insane. BUT OKAY. ANYWAY, since I am bitter about my current diet, I decided to make a short list of beautiful things have happened recently, that are making me happy!

1) I was buying wine...LOOK, just because I am not DRINKING wine doesn't mean I am not BUYING it. I am buying tons of it in a pathetic I MISS WINE retail therapy splurge. When the ban is lifted I will have so much wine in the house I will probably die of alcohol poisoning as I tear through all the bottles of Italian and Californian Pinot Grigio and Australian Shiraz blends I am amassing...ANYWAY. so I was buying some wine at this liquor store, and the guy ringing me up (Digression: His name, as GOD IS MY WITNESS, was Saint Louis -- I read his tag. And then to be SURE I asked him how he pronounced it. Just like the city. HOW COOL IS THAT? I wish MY name was Saint Louis. But it is kind of a boy name, so instead I could be named Seattle. Or Boston. SO cool. I want to be Seattle Jackson. But not Gross Pointe.) Anyway, he asked for my ID for the wine which was not notable as this place has a CHECK EVERYONE policy and ask people my MOTHER'S age for an ID. SO he asked for my ID, and then.... HE REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT WAS ME!!! He acted like I was TWENTY and trying to PULL A FAST ONE (although SHOW me a twenty year old who spends 26 bucks on a single small bottle of a RATHER decent Shiraz when they could get SO MUCH BEERS(!!!!) for the same money, and I will show you a twenty year old who has a trust fund AND is in love AND the object of affection is present at the wine buying) BUT ANYWAY. He did not believe it was me!

NOW, one of two things was going on.
1) He really thought it was a fake ID, in which case, I must have looked NICE and DEWEY that day, and I will say here a somewhat incredulous YAY because I don't think that even on my VERY BEST DAYS OF ALL I look 20. Which leaves...
2) He was PRETENDING to not believe it was me because he was MACKING on me, in which case, I STILL must have looked NICE and DEWEY (if not 20) that day, and YAY!

I should mention that Saint Louis was MAYBE 25, and a cutie. So. EITHER WAY, I will TAKE it.

2) Yesterday I drove over to Hawkinsville to do a literay even called The Write Stuff. Jackie Cooper invited me, so I went, and after a HIDEOUS beginning in which there was construction on Hwy 20 that slowed me to a crawl for fifteen miles and then some sort of accident on 75, and I ended up going 9.5 miles in an hour and fifteen minutes, NO REALLY, I had the mile counter on and I TIMED IT, I went 9.5 miles from 11 - 12:15, nervously consuming great cud-like mouthfuls of raw spinach and craisins, and that bad accident upped my drive from 2 hours and change to FOUR hours and change, (still I had a better time then whoever was in the accident. It looked very bad indeed...) but then I knew I would be LATE, and being late makes me hyperventilate and panic AND I had wanted to leave early so I rushed out and I realized in the car I had forgotten to put on deoderant and I was worried I was going to SWEAT because of the LATENESS PANIC so I was driving with the AC set so high it was 15 degrees below zero on the car etc etc etc, but, and here is the part where it all turns beautiful, thanks to a merciful God and the kindly inattention of several State Troopers that I blew by at 200 million miles an hour, I got there 4 minutes before the TALKING PART of the event started, and went out in spite of being in a state on nervous prostration and had what I felt was a good presentation, and then the bookstore that was at the event SOLD OUT OF GODS IN ALABAMA! ANd that makes two events in a row where every copy sold and the booksellers said to me OH I WISH WE HAD MORE! WE WILL GO RIGHT HOME AND ORDER MORE FOR THE STORE ANYWAY!

BAH There are at least three more HAPPY things, but I am out of time. More Joy tomorrow.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:21 AM | Comments (24)

November 5, 2005

High Math

The following blog entry is based on an algebraic formula where A) = Things I Am Giving Up / Losing, and B) = What I Am Replacing The Thing With, with an optional section C) where C) = an explanation of why or how and possibly a report on how it's working so far, and an even more optional section D, where D = any vital digressions.

A) Wine
B) La Croix Sparkling Orange Water
C) Calories. Wine has, in industry terms, "a buttload." And La Croix water has NONE and also no artificial sweeteners. See, I have a SECRET WEIGHT---no I won't tell you the number. I doubt I would tell it under torture. In math terms, the number can be symbolized by X, where X = "the most I can weigh and not die." I have been ONE to FOUR pounds OVER X ever since the CRUISE. I am currently 3 pounds OVER X, and therefore clinically dead, if not of distress, then of "being unable to breath once my jeans are zipped." AND SO. Even though I have publicly on this blog set out to be virtuous ONE HUNDRED MILLION TIMES since the cruise was over, and have succeeded only in losing and gaining the same 3 pounds over and over so that I NEVER get under X and have to pretend to forget I already BLOGGED how I was instituting VIRTUE and institute it all OVER again like you have just FORGOTTEN I already did that a week ago and have since eaten my secret body weight in candy corns. NO MORE entries called "____ Days of Virtue." NOW, I am going to try making a few KEY replacements in what I ingest, and otherwise eating what I like. So, G'bye wine. How is it working so far, you ask? Well. I LOVE La Croix Sparkling Orange Water, and so FAR I am sticking to it, but I have to say, as a replacement for wine, La Croix kinda SUCKS. Would it ruin the whole POINT if I mixed the LaCroix with a great big bunch of vodka?

A) Chocolate
B) Viactive Chocolate Calcium Chews and Viactive Milk Chocolate Chewable Vitamins.
C) See above. Viactive Chocolate calcium chews taste just like chocolate caramels. BIG THUMBS UP. Viative Chocolate Vitamin chews taste JUST LIKE chocolate caramels if you hid a ball of candle tallow and a Flinstones Children's Chewable in the middle. Still, any chocolate port in a storm. What's a little tallow between me and getting some sugar?
D) Viactive also makes TROPICAL FRUIT CHEW vitamins which taste JUST LIKE a starburst with ball of candle tallow and a Flinstone's Children Chewable hidden in the middle. It is a BAD idea. I will ignore tallow for chocolate. Nothing else.

A) Candy
B) Tums (Tropical Fruit Flavor, especially coconut and banana!)
C) See Above.
D) I like the whole idea of replacing CANDY with SWEET medicines I don't actually need. If I get desperate, I can walk around sniffling theatrically until someone says it sounds like I am getting a cold, and then I can go suck on a frozen Dimatapp spoon.

A) Poetry Refrigerator Magnets
B) Diagnostic Refrigerator Magnets
D) I don't like much poetry (rest assured, Dearest Emily, there ARE exceptions. O! How there are exceptions, my lovely yet hideously disturbing Sheep Child!) magnetic or otherwise, and people who (unlike me) DRINK CALORIE LADEN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES keep coming over and making my fridge say dirty things, no matter HOW MANY suspect words I remove from the set.

A) Normal Human Relationships
B) Playing Online Games Until 2 AM
C) I am not fit to be around people now that I am mentally ill AND sober AND off chocolate and candy. I think it is entirely possible that if I saw someone with a Halloween Mini-Twix, I would kill them and take it. ALSO, an old friend is step-by-step ruthlessly and obliviously sabotaging every facet of her life while blaming God and every other person around her and pets and aliens and the twitchy, infected mucus membranes of the three fates and ill winds and coincidence. It's like watching someone STAMP on a posy and then they look mildly surprised and hurt and say, "Oh, why did that posy get under my shoe?" And when you say, "Um, Posies can't GET UNDER things. Posies have NO FEET," they say, "Oh hrm you are right. It was MY SHOE! OH my shoe is terrible! As soon as I get home I am burning up this shoe!" Only it isn't a posy, it's her whole life. HEY. I HAVE BEEN THERE. I spent half my twenties deliberately stamping my own posy into JAM, and no one could stop me. And I hate feeling powerless, so my best solution is to take a stuffed bear and some diet soda under the sofa and not come out to answer the phone for six months. If I also ignore the doorbnell and order my groceries in, I can avoid all my local friends, and indeed, my family can't even fit under the sofa with me, not while I am 3 pounds over the most I can weigh and not die, anyway. The total lack of human interaction will be phase two in getting my fridge to not have dirty poems on it, and with the help of the magnet substitution above, this will allow my fridge to evolve into a tool that could lead to a clean bill of mental health. Or help me develop a working vocabulary for my impending Munchausens!

A) My Sanity
B) Algebraic Formulas

Posted by joshilyn at 9:31 AM | Comments (10)

November 4, 2005

In Which I Fool Myself Into Thinking My Life Is Organized By Making Everything Into A List

Things I need to do TODAY

1) Find all the lost keys. I suspect a CITY of of lost keys is forming itself somewhere in my house, maybe under the sofa, no doubt setting up a shiny key-centric form of evil government that oppresses the dust camels for not being metal and toothy, and this must be STOPPED. Also, my keys are on a kilt pen that my friend Angie gave me sophomore year of high school, and I want my kilt pen back. I am not terribly sentimental about items, but I have had that thing for YEARS and I miss it, in the same way you might miss somethign vestigial, but still a piece of you. Like an appendix. EVEN THOUGH the kilt pen is LONG and so when I drive my car, sometimes my dangling keys BRUSH my thigh in a syncophantic and repulsive way that doesn't bother me AT ALL when my mental illness number is under 70, but, my mental illness number hasn;t seen the underside of 70 in SO long, I doubt it would recognize 70 if 70 came up and BIT my mental illness number, which, actually, it's more likely to be my mental illness number doing the biting because it is highhighhighhighhigh, so anyway, it is INSANE to want the keys back on that kilt pen when the kilt pen thigh brushing is probably enough to send me marching into the sea like a whole herd of mentally ill lemmings who have gone off their meds.

2) Get a working Chapter 2.
What I have: 8,500 words. Some in first person. Some in third. Some in present tense. Some in past. Some that presuppose one chapter end. Some that presuppose an entirely different end for the chapter, and indeed for a huge portion of the whole book.
What I need: 3500 words all in the same tense, person, and gee, VOICE, that all is workiing toward the SAME end because--and this is just a GUESS HERE--- I don't think my editor is looking for a grown-up Choose Your Own Adventure Book. ALSO? It would be a BIG BONUS if the Chapter was actually, you know, GOOD, but, hey it's early. I don't require that TODAY. But moving TOWARD good, that's what we want.

3) All the usual. Lose five pounds. Be a better person. (which is almost the same thing, REALLY) Get mentally healthy. Make good choices. Save the rain forests. Clean the kitchen.

Things I Said Yesterday that I Wish I Could Take Back

1) What's that little metal piece sticking off there? It looks dangerous jutting out like that. I don't think it's supposed to do that. I'm going to pull that off... *crash*

Conversations About What We Will All Die Of That I have Had in The Last Three Days.

1) Me: Are we all going to die of bird flu?
Him: No.
Me: They said on the TV that there is going to be a bird flu pandemic and we will all die. 89% of healthy children die when they get bird flu. Are my children going to get bird flu and die?
Him: No.
Me: BUT THEY SAID ON TV.
Him: Scientists can posit that there will a pandemic, but there is no telling if it will be bird flu or some other flu.
Me: SO...basically you are saying that we ARE all going to die, just of maybe cow flu or some another flu we don't yet or MAYBE bird flu, but probably not bird flu. Just some flu down the line in a few years BOOM, and we all die.
Him: Right. But there's no way that they can predict it will be BIRD flu.
Me: I feel SO much better.

2) Me: OMG LOOK RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK---IN THIS NEWS STORY THIS WHOLE FAMILY GOT BIRD FLUE AND DIED! ALL OF THEM! 100% FATAL!
Her: You are not going to get bird flu.
Me: Yes I am. And you are too. We are going to die of freaking bird flu and I will never get this book done to deadline if I am DEAD OF BIRD FLU.
Her: How did the family get it?
Me: Let me look...Oh. Says from eating Raw Duck Blood Pudding.
Her: And how much Raw Duck Blood Pudding are YOU serving this evening?
Me: Just a little. As a SIDE dish, you understand. We're all just going to have a TASTE.
Her: Well, see, you will probably be fine then.
Me: I feel SO much better.
Her: Which means you have to go get the book done.
Me: Shut. Up.


3) Me: Is a catcgory 7 hurricane going to come kill us all?
Him: No. And there is no such thing as a cat 7.
Me: I SAW IT ON TV.
Him: That is made up. A Movie of the week.
Me: BUT IT COULD HAPPEN, I mean, if storms got so big they were BEYOND 5, like TWO beyond 5, then it would be a cat 7.
Him: Oooooooookay.
Me: And look at this storm season! We are into the GREEK ALPHABET because we had TOO MANY HURRICANES for the regular letters to HANDLE! We are all going to die of a catagory 7 AREN'T WE!!!!
Him: We will have been dead of bird flu for YEARS before THAT happens.
Me: I feel SO much better.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:54 AM | Comments (15)

November 1, 2005

Go, Go, NaNoWriMo!

WELCOME TO NOVEMBER FIRST!

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU, the few, the proud, the nutzifandangoed, you who are embarking today on this brave Novel-Venture. I salute you, and I hope you kick the turgid buttocks of November with your mighty quills.

Look how well it all turned out for Lani Diane Rich. Her NaNo book got picked up by Warner and IT FREAKING WON THE RITA and now she writes novels full time.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, but all you have planned so far for this month is 1) make a HUGE turkey dinner, 2) eat until you are so impacted with food that even your THROAT feels full and 3) invite a barrel full of relatives with drinking problems over to help you finish off the pies, and you want to add something more CHALLENGING to your month, like, say, 4) Write an entire novel, then you should go HERE.

As for my already started and therefore non-NaNo-qualified novel, David in comments asked how many times I rewrite...

AH HAHAHHA. Let's just say, A LOT. REALLY, really, REALLY, A LOT. I am on Chapter 4 and have just gotten Chapter 1 up to Make-Out Point, and what't THAT. Hardly a COMMITMENT. I don't want to MARRY it yet. Just, you know, give it a back seat lip-locked test mack. Chapters 2 - 4 will be rewritten a good three times before I will let ANYONE ---even my husband and my writing group ---see them. I rewrite MANY times based on what the group says and what I see as I reread and ideas that come to me later and connectiosn that I realize were there all along, lurking in my reptile brain. Then once I have a whole draft, I send it to my whole book reaaders, and begin rewriting it as a whole book three or four times. THEN! Each Chapter than gets another going over as a separate entity, and then a final whole book gloss before my agent looks at it. After he sees it, depending on his feelings and reactions, there may be another quick rewrite before it goes to my editor. So. Yeah. A LOT.

David felt monstrous despair, I think, hearing this. BUT.

Do not listen to me. All I can tell you is how *I* write a book, which may be very similar or the absolute opposite of how *you* write a book. And remember, my way has patches of poor mental health where you weep so hard things come "snotting out your nose" (as Jill says) Based on my recent mental illness numbers, I suspect there must be a better way.

And remember I LIKE thre revising part. That's a PLEASURE to me. It's the DRAFTING that makes me puke and pule and be impossible. I am now happy with Chapter 1 because the BONES are all there and I can forget about making bones out of air which is BORING and HATEFUL and BOTHERSOME. Instead, in this one chapter at least, I can paddle about in the meat and bones of the thing, happy as a psycho-sociopath with two cleavers AND a full set of cranial saws...

MENTALLY ILL ADDENDUM: OMG I LOST MY KEYS! I AM SERIOUS! Yes, I DO mean the keys Scott came home from work yesterday to bring me, yes, the NEW ones, fresh minted off his set. Gone. I swan, I shouldn't be trusted with ANYTHING right now. I should go live in a monastary that outlaws earthly possessions until I get my act, if not ACTUALLY together, at least in the same room with ONE of my three sets of keys...

Posted by joshilyn at 10:48 AM | Comments (11)