The Calm Before The Storm

I don’t actually think I believe in the calm before the storm. The storm always breaks well before the rain, you can feel it in your mind, watch the darkness gathering in the distance, pulling you towards it like a wave rolling towards the shore. Feel the dread in your guy, heavy in the air, saturated.

York was lovely, a truly adorable city, but marred by the doom waiting to tip over our heads, the water balloon already in transit to smash into our face.

You’re never just paranoid. You know when something isn’t right. When something has gone unsaid.

I made myself horribly sick on it and have made the long-overdo pact with myself to give up drinking. Not in a black and white way. In a way that’s like… Why have I ever invested so much time and energy to make myself sick in a new friend’s dirty toilet for a day?

How would I need that when there is this?

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Also, we went to a drag show.

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But now we are back in Edinburgh, waiting out the storm. Maybe one of these days the rain will stop.

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Day Forty-Four: Mardi Gras

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Made it to New Orleans in time to catch a parade called Muses (it’s an all women’s Krewe). Had a good time. They throw shoes out to lucky folks and–hooray!–I caught one so… looks like it’s going to be my lucky year.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say now. I’m in recovery. Let’s just say I had to take a little nap in the bathroom this morning. Lucky Year is starting off right?

I have to go to a Ball tonight. Wow, poor me. I HAVE to go to a Ball. My life is so hard. It’s a lot of pomp and circumstance and people throwing money around like it’s candy. It’s hard to watch when you only have $25 in your checking account.

I love this city. I love Mardi Gras, but New Orleans is the city with the strangest priorities. Have a speeding problem in your community? Stop fixing potholes and no one speeds anymore. Have a drug problem? Sell alcohol everywhere and at all times, then you just have legal drug problem.

It’s a very strange place. Wonderful. Interesting. Magical. And insane. If I weren’t writing Fantasy… Every story that takes place in this world that I hereafter write will probably be set in this city.

Day Thirty-Six: Much Better

Soon after blogging yesterday, I clipped my fingernails down to the quick, made myself a coffee and settled by the pool to enjoy, if nothing else, some sun. The glare on my screen effectively obstructed my view of the monitor, which turned out to be nothing short of a miracle. Unable to read what I was writing, I just kind of wrote without thinking about it so much.

I think, though, the fact that my day quickly soured helped. I know it’s strange but whenever my life turns to shit, I turn to my writing. I managed to get about 2,000 words down yesterday. And, although glaring with typos due to… well, the glare… they were an important 2,000 words.

I’d been so hung up on a scene that I couldn’t write for almost a week now. I figured if it was causing me so much trouble, it probably wasn’t meant to happen and scrapped it. I hadn’t wanted to do this because my next scene was probably the most important of the whole book and I found myself intimidated by the task. But that scene happened easier than I’d expected once I stopped thinking about it so much.

So not only did I get my 1,000 words, I got 2,000 really important ones!

I’ve been on a roll all of today, outside of a rather long break in the afternoon, I haven’t run short of things to write down. Damn, I’m not even sure how it got so late. I must have put in six or seven hours today.

I’ve forced myself to stop for the day because I’m in a really solid place and I like to, whenever possible, start my days in a place where there’s no question about what’s happening. That way I just sit down and get rolling.

The best part of all of this? I finished chapter 11 today (and wrote half of 12) which means… I’M MORE THAN HALFWAY DONE WITH MY FIRST DRAFT!

Only 11 (or, rather, ten and a half) more chapters to go in my rough draft.

I’m having a victory beer to celebrate and a hot date with Percy Jackson.

Day Twenty-Nine: From First to Last

Rough writing day today. Managed a few feeble pages before succumbing to the long list of errands I’ve been putting off. (I.E. I went to the grocery store then took a two hour nap.)

Have settled in for day two of my Harry Potter/Painting marathon. I’ve finally reached the deadline for priming my apartment and (like all good procrastinators) I work well under deadlines. The paint job is patchy at best, but I’m a little buzzed and almost done with my third Harry Potter film (Alan Rickman in a dress!) so I’ll consider it a success.

I haven’t read a Harry Potter in almost four years. I haven’t watched a movie since the last one was out in theaters. I know the books are better than the movies and that a bottle of wine sometimes has this affect on people, but Harry Potter is so good! It has always been so good! It will always be so good!

I was a Harry Potter fan girl at age seven, carrying around the books that were bigger than me at the time. I’ll probably always be a Harry Potter fan girl. I look at my own writing and I can’t help but think “You’re still writing Potter FanFiction…” Even after all this time and devoting myself thoroughly to my own work, I think I owe so much of who I am to J.K. Rowling.

She taught me how to love to read. She taught me the power of learning to write. She’s irrevocably changed me as a person.

I once wrote in a photography course that Harry Potter was my favorite book only to get mocked openly for it all year. I never answered that way again (Count of Monte Cristo, for the record, has been my answer since… and it’s just as exciting as any Harry novel, but old enough to be taken more “seriously”). Literature and academia don’t always look fondly on those sorts of things. It disobeys all sorts of pretentious concepts (I swear the literature community was into the obscure way before it was popular… the original hipsters. The term was even first popularized by Mailer) of being a “serious writer”, but Harry will always be my first literary love. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

I think that’s why I’m so into this children’s literature thing. These are the books that will teach a whole new generation of children how to love to read. Let’s make them good!

Day Twenty-Five: A Dance With Johnny Walker

Have holed myself up on my father’s couch with a bag of throat lozenges and an insanely fluffy comforter (feeling ill). The weekend’s wedding was wonderful. I’m not a huge wedding person, though. I think they’re great parties but I can’t, for the life of me, think of a good reason why I’d personally choose to get married so that cynicism has a tendency to spill over at times like these. They’re wonderful people though, and I wish them the most wonderful future together.

Love confounds me in a way. No, not love. Love is the act of confounding a person so that’s pretty straightforward. Maybe it’s just marriage that leaves me grasping at pins. What’s the reason for it? I think it’s a well-meaning reassurance, perhaps. But I don’t think I’ll ever be optimistic or determined enough to slap a guarantee on another person. Nothing in life comes with a life-long assurance. But that’s just my personal experience. People are the hardest to love–we’re very unpredictable. That’s what I enjoy so much about being a human. You never know what we’re going to do next.

That being said, the wedding was a riot. Had to have cost an ample fortune. The beer was great. The damn bartender refused to give me a double. Also, I forgot to bring a bra so I had to borrow one from my stepmother (and I can assure you, nothing makes you reconsider all of your life-choices like borrowing a bra from an older relative. The granny-bra is a real thing… do they not know about the great strides we have made in hosiery?). I am a whole new shade of shit-show. (And writing for children, too! What a sham.)

Anyway, I don’t have much to update. I drank enough Johnny Walker at the wedding to think myself some strange combination of Ginger Rogers (I owned that dance floor) and Hemingway. Tried to do a bit of inebriated editing while watching ice skating at 2 am last night… It didn’t go too well, but I don’t think I made it too far before I could do any real damage. Thank god, the whisky didn’t make me that ambitious. I swear no one should edit in that state.

I’m planning a massive read of chapters 5-8 and an angry letter to the Creative Factory about still not having read 1-4. You know it’s bad when even your best friend can’t make it through 4 chapters of your writing… I’m desperate for criticism. Like even something scathing would be great. Anything. I’d kill for someone to just read it. Right now, there’s no one (at least not anyone with the time and/or relationship hanging in the balance). I’m like a day away from sending this stuff to my mom, that’s how desperate I am. I’m going crazy because no one is telling me anything.

The worst news is no news. Someone please help me!

Day Twenty-Three: Shelter from the Storm

Took off after my impromptu shower yesterday and spent two hours driving through bass-akwards nowhere in pitch black, fog and rain. Mostly sure I am dead and this is but my ghost determined to continue blogging (unfinished business now equates to an unfinished novel). Anyway, I’m now hiding out at my father’s place trying not to roll my eyes at the delightful (re:awkward) banter between him and my stepmother.

Luckily. There is beer. Strong beer. This beer.

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(Delicious. French.)

Any minute now we’re to head to a wedding outside Orlando. Should have more beer (they brewed all their own stuff for this shin-dig). Lots more beer, so that’s something to look forward to.

However, the weather remains dreary at best. Dad up-sold with the new wife and now lives in what they’ve dubbed “a cottage on the beach” (nevermind that their living room is the size of my New Orleans apartment). Normally I wake up to a ridiculous sunrise over the ocean. Today’s view, albeit still gorgeous, was a bit more bleak…

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(Not sure what that weird pot thing is…)

Life in this house is like some interesting informercial for retirement. I sat around all morning writing (completely re-did all the crap I was previously calling chapter 8 and now it’s much better) while the two of them argued about such inanities as: why my stepmother wasn’t breathing a word to my father about the plot of my book; why my stepmother ordered plastic pineapple plants when she hates pineapples; why their neighbor talks so much; why we have to listen to the Steve Harvey show at full volume; and why my stepmother is so nervous about “rescuing” (i.e. buying off a breeder) a new cat.

It made for some great writing actually. I had to really enter an alternate universe to ignore their constant bickering (weirdly… most functional marriage I have ever witnessed). I’m thinking my next project is going to be a non-fiction, personal study of happiness… Whatever this dysfunctional life these two have built for themselves, it is… counterintuitively, very… functional. (There’s a beautiful irony in that.)

Chapter 8 was really giving me hell. My main character, Bean, was making a new best friend. I apparently have no idea how people make best friends. Not surprising because (outside of the boyfriend… and we still have no idea how we suckered him into this relationship, but Creative Factory and I were pretty determined to gain access to his pool) I haven’t made a best friend in about 5 years. After a certain point with people, you fall so easily into a certain kind of conversation that you stop thinking about what to say to each other. I barely remember meeting the Creative Factory (namely, there was alcohol), yet alone how we ended up getting to the point where we… not finishing each other’s sentences, we’re past that now.

How do you make a best friend when you’re 11 and terminally awkward? (Clearly, I didn’t have much companionship at that age.)

Does this mean…. I have to go out into the world and be nice to people? I’m not very good at that.

Day Thirteen: A Character Struggle

Have spent almost the entire day trapped in a coffee shop waiting out a storm. However, I’ve managed to make some feeble success of it and written a good 20 pages or so. I wouldn’t say it was an easy 20 pages, but I’ve tried to persevere.

The troubling thing about trying to write about remarkable events is trying to think of remarkable events. I have a great outline. Every time I read it I think to myself, “Now who came up with this? This all seems much more extraordinary and thought-out than I could have written.” My outline keeps me going, but when it comes to the extraordinary details that this world seems to demand to make it move, I am struggling.

I literally had to google “Interesting Earth facts” today. Everything has to be new and remarkable and sometimes its very hard to keep up with that and keep the story progressing. Could I make something wildly strange happen? Yes of course, why not drop a giant jellyfish down into the middle of the dinner table (it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for my story), but then where do I go from there?

Fantasy is hard in that how is it fantastical and logical at the same time?

What I’m struggling with even more is writing very interesting/non-cliche characters. It’s like I see them clearly in my head, but how do I make the principal give a new an opening speech that isn’t too Dumbledore but still strange enough to be interesting? How do I write someone saying something wise that isn’t too stuck in something cliche about wisdom? It’s so frustrating when I know someone has already done it better. I just want to steal their characters and run away with them!

Every word someone utters is a bit of a struggle today. I know what they need to say, but the space isn’t solid enough in my mind to know how they would say it.

I think I need a drink? Something a bit stronger than coffee.