Les Semaines

June 5, 2005

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

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The Anxious Writer

I've been reading Jane Yolen's writing journals. Reading about her dedication to her craft and to her fans has been humbling. Reading how many rejections she gets for her picture books has been alarming, too. The publishing scene is a dark bottom-line who-will-be-the-next-star world out there. The space in it for simply well-crafted stories isn't as large as one would hope.

This might have not been the best time for me to read this. It's already daunting enough to spend a couple hundred dollars on photocopying my novel for people to read. I wish I could feel more certain that I'm not wasting my time. Sure, I believe in this novel, but I also know it's not enough for me to believe in it. Lots of other people have to, too. And not only that, lots of other people have to believe in it enough to put their energy (and money and time) into it. Do I believe it deserves that? I want to. It scares me to ask even for crits, especially considering how many I have promised and not come through with. Several of my critiquers aren't writers, but I'm pleased about that -- having people coming at it simply as readers helps. Especially if they're willing to be honest as Neal has been. Saying the first version he saw just didn't work for him. Happily the second caught him a lot more, and just as I was finishing up the third section he finished the second and emailed to say how anxious he was to know what happened next. It's in the mail to you, Neal.

I've also be worrying about starting the new novel. I know the vague shadow of it. I thought I'd probably need downtime before starting, but a couple of weeks ago I got a shadow of a first scene, and wrote it down. I looked at that on my writing session with Karen on Saturday, and while I immediately saw how badly written and sketchy it was, I also saw that it was the right first scene.

I worry a little that this novel is related to the one I just finished. It's about her best friend in high school, who actually ends up by fading from the first novel. There's a brief conversation with her right at the end, but it's only the way to something else. I worry a little that her name is Kate, which is such a common name for a heroine. Well, so is Maddy, I think. But those are my character's names. The third novel is, I think, about Tig (another friend of the main character of the first novel), which at least isn't a common name.

And so the novel is taking its first steps out into the world. Emailed her, mailed there, handed over there.

And I have 1,300 words on the next one. Not going back to the other novel I need to revise. Not carrying forward with the prequel for that one. Not revising short stories or writing new ones. Into the new novel. Am I nuts? Probably. It feel scarily serious for me to keep going like this. I'm also afraid of writing new material as it has been a while since I wrote more than a couple of scenes from absolute scratch. I have to remind myself that I'll have plenty of time to revise this later.

I wonder how many years it will be before I even know if it's possible that this first novel will be published. (And of course this isn't really my first novel, which I abandoned years ago in the midst of a revision). There's the whole writing of synopsis and the sending out and sending out and sending out. I'm scared of that, big time. Big, big time scared. Because there are going to be lots of "no"s. Dammit.

I'm also having a terrible time with a poem I've been working on for a while. It just is words and not a poem at all.

It was an exhausting week. Struggled to keep awake and working at my job. Things were slowing down because it was the last week of classes for the quarter. Now things will be very quiet, exam week is next, then break week then Summer Quarter starts, along with Clarion West 2005. I'm not ready at all. Need to get myself ready.

That ready-making got a little derailed this week, as Wednesday night at 1:30 am a friend arrived (actually, literally Thursday night) with his wife and four-year-old daughter to stay with us. Which means to stay in my study. It's hard to have a couple staying there, as I have to move a bunch of furniture out into Jim's study (actually, literally Jim did it) to make room to put the beds together. I had to stow away all the projects in process into boxes stacked high in the closet and couldn't get at them or my main computer. And my little computer is acting up. I messed with settings that I shouldn't have, but that's not everything -- the stupid CD-ROM drive drawer won't stay closed and the power cord keeps sliding out at the slightest (sometimes the less than slightest) move. I'm getting really annoyed with it and trying to decide if I'm just going to tape the damn things or if I'm going to get a new machine or if I'm going to pay almost as much as I paid for the machine to get a new drive put in. I really just want it to work, as this is not my main computer. I mostly only use it for writing and when I can't get at my desktop.

In any case, it was a lot of fun having the friends. I enjoyed getting to know my friend's wife better -- she's delightful -- as is their daughter. Great having them around. I wish we hadn't been so stressed from worrying about family stuff and lack of sleep and worry about things to do. I also think I have a touch of post-partum depression from finishing the novel. Oh, yes I do. And add to that how scared I am of starting a new one. But I'm proud of those 1,300 words. Oh, yes I am.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Got a slew of discs this week. So far the only one I've had time to listen to is Jaggery, which is all over the place (sometimes in the space of one song) and I love it. Jim thinks it's okay. Sigh.

Also intrigued by singer-songwriter Andi Starr's me beautiful. Low-key, well-constructed songs.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Finished Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders Trilogy with Ship of Destiny. I found this just as compelling as the previous ones but actually got a little impatient with it. I think this was just mean, reading too many pages too quickly, though. I just got tired of being so focused on reading it. I also found myself afterwards missing it, so there you go.

Clare Dunkel's The Hollow Kingdom is the story of a young Victorian girl who finds herself threatened by goblins -- the king wants to kidnap her for his wife. Unfortunately, no one except her sister believes her, and her sister thinks it would be a lark. An interesting, twisty book for young adults.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

See above.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

On hiatus this week. Sorry!

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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