So, this week’s topic was wind. The smart ass in me (oh, and that’s about 97%) was dying to write something pithy about breaking wind, but then I decided that my definition of “pithy” was more “eight-year-old boy potty humor” than sophisticatedly amusing and I scrapped it.
So, what’s a Southerner left to blog about with a topic like that? Oh, yes, five bucks to you all. It is SO Gone With The Wind (or, GWtW as it’s known to us die-hards) Time. It is, without question, and no offense to Grease or Xanadu (y’all had NO idea I was so sappy, did you?) my all time favorite movie. I adore it for many, many reasons. Not the book. The movie. And it’s not that the movie is better than the book. It’s just that, well, see, I haven’t actually READ the book. So. There ya go.
Anyway, first of all, Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara is perfection. PERFECTION. She’s sour candy, she’s sugar with broken glass in it, she is, surely, hopefully…me (stay with me here). Bitch? No. Young. Brash? No. Determined. Beautiful? Well, yeah, she’s beautiful, but she wasn’t supposed to be. It was her personality. She sparkled, she sparked, she should have been named Sparky for all her flashy gumption, dammit.
And didn’t I (don’t I) want to be all that?
I overheard a conversation about me once in a bathroom stall. No, really, just like a John Hughes movie. I had recently joined a writing group, and I was all enthusiasm. People were perhaps taken aback. I don’t believe I was rude, or overbearing. I hope I wasn’t. But I was determined. And in publishing circles (especially this one) I was young.
They gave me a nickname.
I won’t mention what it was, because God forbid you all decide it’s fitting and call me it behind my back. It was a word that in many contexts is not actually insulting. But it was rather clear that in this context it was rather condescending, sort of a “Well, isn’t she just adorable to think she can do this? And to subject us to all of her unbridled enthusiasm?” kind of way.
I admit, it broke my heart.
Because I was so excited to be around other writers, and I thought it was okay to be excited, and to be ambitious, and fired up and optimistic. I continued with the group, because, hey, I had PAID to be there, and I was going to get every thing I could learn out of it. But I didn’t re-up. It was for more reasons than the catty conversation and nickname, reasons that I thought were actually rather noble and supportive, but then I tend to apply nobleness to all sorts of things that later turn out to not mean much of anything.
Sometimes I take myself too seriously.
So, for me Scarlett wasn’t the spoiled, feisty, beautiful brat who arrogantly exuded that “No regrets!” vibe. She was the tough, resilient woman who had plenty of regrets, but who had learned and was determined to not have them again.
She was, in fact, the first Debutante.
And in that same melodramatic way that Scarlett raised her fist to the red sky of Georgia and declared that she would “never go hungry again,” I too was determined that I would never go hungry again.
I would never hunger to be younger and have the energy or enthusiasm to chase my dream with everything I had. I would just do it. I would never hunger to have conversations about things that were important to me: words, ideas, characters. I would just start them. I would never again hunger to believe that I was doing something meaningful. I just…well, I sort of just CHOOSE to believe that one. I’d never again hunger to be a part of a group of writers who were as enthusiastic and genuine as I was.
I would just start my own.
I love starting projects.
I get all excited planning the project, it’s a chance to buy new office supplies, I have big dreams for how I want it to turn out and every time about ¾ of the way through….pffft.
Pffft is the sound of my enthusiasm running out.
Currently, in my house I have all of the following:
- one sock knit, one sock just started
- the yarn and pattern to make a sweater
- my office closet half cleaned out
- the start of a presentation I’m doing in the fall
- a pile of paperwork on my desk to be sorted
- a stack of cooking magazines where I fully plan to tear just the good recipes out
- a spreadsheet program to organize and track my business receipts plus a shoebox of receipts.
- a list of planned updates for my website
There is something about a new project. It hasn’t become work yet. There is still a real chance that I might not screw it up. This happens when I write too. I become rabidly excited about a new book project. I love the research. I love finding just the right opening sentence. Then a few hundred pages in, it suddenly occurs to me as if a bolt from the blue, “hey this sucks.” Depression follows (full on wallow and dramatic sighs optional)
As a dear friend once told me “writing is not like being licked by kittens.” It is hard work. What typically separates the published from the unpublished is the willingness to see the project through. Even on the days when you want to cash it in. Even on the days you are sure it is the worst thing ever written. Even on the days when you are sure you don’t even know how to finish it.
For now- I’m going to get back to the sock. What is one project you’ve left undone?
Wow, I love balls – well, not that I’ve ever been to a real one before, but I’m sure that if I had, then I would’ve loved it. And besides, tiaras are so totally my color!!!
Anyway, since the Debs have been kind enough to let me loose on this lovely blog I thought I’d talk about my debut novel, You Had Me at Halo, which comes out in August from NAL (note from Deb Mia – it’s also a Featured Pick in the August issue of Romantic Times!). You Had Me at Halo is about a dead girl who gets sent back to earth in the body of her geeky co-worker so that she can sort out her issues before moving up through the higher levels of heaven. Life, death and body sharing. What’s there not to love?
Next, I’d like to just say, EEEK! How can it almost be August? I had plans, people. Lots of plans. For a start, I was going to be slimmer, funnier and a lot braver before my book was released. In fact my plan was to become an Incredibly Fantastic person who would woo all sorts of people into buying and reading my book. Unfortunately, between revisions, moving country and general laziness, I haven’t achieved any of these things and therefore my darling book is going to have to go out into the world with me waving from the sidelines.
However, apart from my failure to be fabulous, the last year has been a pretty exciting time for me. I think the highlights so far have been my cover which I love and adore. I was also completely thrilled to get listed on Amazon. As to why the Amazon thing is so exciting, I’m not quite sure, but none the less I pretty much go on everyday just to say hi to my book (and if Amazon have some sort of tracking system them I’m so busted!!). Oh, and getting to write my acknowledgements was lots of fun, not least because I’ve been writing them in my head long before I ever sold my book. Now, if I only I can find some use for that wildly funny Oscar speech I’ve got lying around somewhere…
Of course there have been some bad bits as well. The waiting has been tough at times – especially since by the time my book comes out it would’ve been almost twenty-two months since I first sold it (and I’m an Aries – a sign not exactly known for patience). But overall the pluses have definitely outnumbered the cons and as August rumbles closer I’m determined to take Mia King’s advice and just enjoy it as much as I can!
Are the Debs rich with great friends to guest blog, or what? This Wednesday, Lisa Daily is cutting in to dance in place of Deb Jennifer. Lisa is the author of the bestselling dating book Stop Getting Dumped! (Penguin Putnam) and does a weekly dating guest spot on Lifetime Radio. She is also a syndicated dating columnist whose hilarious advice column appears on approximately 150 dating websites, and in college newspapers across the country.
As if that weren’t enough, Lisa’s debut novel FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME will be published by Plume/Penguin Putnam in 2008!
Dance on, Lisa!
Last night I was relaxing in my bathtub in the first time in what seems like forever, reading Deb Mia’s book, Good Things
. I was just getting into chapter three when panic hit me.
I jumped out of the tub, mistakenly thinking I had forgotten to turn in this blog post: I have a column due tomorrow (today, actually), I had an essay for an anthology due yesterday, my in-laws are in town, I spent all of last week interviewing new agents, I’m smack in the middle of a line-edit of my new book, and I have a TV interview on Friday.
Did I mention my in-laws were in town, and they’re sleeping in my office?
I’m not complaining. Really.
(Okay, fine, maybe I am complaining.)
And yesterday, instead of tackling the giant pile of work on my desk, I decided to clean out my closet.
I hopped out of the tub, slip-sliding in the puddle in the bathroom floor. Half-naked and dripping all over the bedroom carpet, I poked my sleeping husband and begged him to go get my laptop (in my office, where my in-laws were sleeping) so I could check my email. My in-laws are elderly –well, older than me — and I didn’t want to accidentally flash my mother-in-law and send her to the ER.
I frantically scrolled through my inbox, certain I had already missed the Deb deadline. (Deb-line? Is that too stupid? Yes, it is.) (Insert by Deb Kristy: No it’s not, I love it!) I was relieved to learn I had one more day to finish (okay, start) this post, and dripped my way back into the bathroom, where I promptly refilled the tub and sunk in with my book.
I. Am. Winded.
I have a lot on my plate right now. Mostly good things. But I have so many things going on right now, and everything is moving so fast, that I don’t have the time to catch my breath or enjoy it all. Which is a shame.
I know people who say smugly, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
But I think that good things, like bad things, often happen in clusters. That your life can be so jam-packed with joy and chocolate (or conversely, misery and distant relatives) that you can miss the really important moments just because you’re so caught up in the whirlwind.
Lots of good things are happening right now. And it’s easier to both appreciate them, and not feel crushed by them, when I think about each event as its own uniquely fabulous occurrence, and not just a collection of crazy that is going to keep me insanely busy for the next four months.
Whenever you get winded, the best thing to do is take a step back and breathe.
Otherwise, you’ll probably pass out.
I have a theory. There are air conditioning people and there are open window people. I’m into open windows. To me, there’s nothing more irritating than waiting for the warmth of summer, only to return to shivery temperatures in overly air conditioned stores, banks, movie theaters.
Thankfully, my husband is an open window guy. We open up the house as soon as it’s warm enough in May and keep it open until September. In every room, we’ve got wind blowing, birds chirping–good solid summer action. The only time we turn on the air is during the very worst of heat waves.
Yesterday was the start of a mini heat wave in Toronto. Temperatures in the high nineties, humidity, water bans. Sunday night had been a hot one for sleeping, so Monday morning we decided to shut the windows, turn on the AC and cool the house down.
I hated it.
Even with the thermostat set to 77, the house felt too cold. I wandered from room to room, looking for a warm spot to park my laptop and wandered right out into the backyard. Into the searing heat. Set up my computer, brought out a cup of coffee, and sat down.
But something wasn’t right. Writing outside during a heat wave demanded more than a dirty wooden table and an umbrella crawling with bugs. I went inside and found a cotton tablecloth, set it up under my laptop. Now we were getting somewhere. Working outside in the smog and humidity was becoming an occasion. I clipped a few roses from a wild rose bush out front, plopped them into a vintage milk bottle and placed them on my tablecloth. I could almost imagine I was in a Hemingway scene, though I highly doubt he’d have written in the faded pink tablecloth. Austen, maybe?
By the time I sat down I was the envy of, well, the backyard.
I was also hotter than hell. For the tinest speck of a moment, I thought the heat might have beaten me and contemplated hauling my little scene into the kitchen. But I didn’t. And as the day grew hotter, I grew more and more acclimatized. I worked outside for about nine hours, through lunch, through the five boys swimming in the pool, through dinner. Until dusk, really. But even then I stayed outside to swim with my youngest son, Lucas.
Lucas and I finally went inside around 9:30 to watch a movie of his choice. It was nice in the house, cool. As much as I adored my day in the heat, the air conditioning felt great. Just as I sank into the couch, back in my sweatpants, sleepy with the perfect temperature of the house, the phone rang. My other son needed a ride home.
Back out into the heat for me.
Today will be even hotter, but I’m up for it. My scene outside is still set. As soon as I finish this post, find the right pajama bottoms, pour my coffee, I’m out of this closed-up house.
What about you guys–are you a/c or open window?
P.S. Stop by GalleyCat and vote for the Town House trailer…
mediabistro.com: GalleyCat – http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/?c=rss
Well, I haven’t gone off topic for a while and given that I’m leaving for New York in just a few hours and my usual pre-flight did-I-pack-right-will-my-cats-go-on-hunger-strikes-with-me-gone-and-what-if-I-get-strip-searched-at-the-airport level of anxiety making me draw a complete blank on the topic of wind, I figured I’d write a bit about the way my life has changed since my book came out.
In short, it hasn’t.
I don’t mean this to sound remotely embittered. I just mean that we’re all sort of conditioned to think that when something we’ve worked toward for a long time happens, our lives will suddenly be unrecognizable from the way they were.
For many years I was the person who thought THIS thing or THAT accomplishment would be the experience that would catapult me into some fourth dimension of wonderfulness, only to always learn that that never ever happens. I mean, maybe it does if you’re The Devil Wears Prada girl, but none of my evil bosses have ever been famous. Nevertheless, in my experience, even thoroughly fantastic things don’t bring about sudden, spontaneous change. It’s only when I’m looking back that I can see the subtle shifts that were a result of whatever the thing was that I once thought would bring me everlasting glee. Oh and also true happiness doesn’t come from anything external since it’s not about what happens to us but how we handle it.
Or maybe it’s just book two where everything changes?
Hip Hip Hurra! GOOD THINGS just sold foreign rights to Germany!
Guest Blogger! Debut author Amanda Ashby (YOU HAD ME AT HALO – NAL August 2007) will be guest blogging this Thursday. Stop by and say “kia ora” (hi in Maori) – Amanda hails from New Zealand, Deb Mia’s favorite islands next to her own!
More PARTY People! Bookfinds.com called Deb Anna’s protagonist in PARTY GIRL “quite possibly the most honest, authentic and endearing character you will ever come across in the pages of a novel” and ran this Q&A with her. The Huffington Post also ran a Deb Anna Q&A and excerpted PARTY GIRL here.
PARTYing in New York! You can catch Deb Anna talking about her book on TV this week Monday on The Live Desk and Hannity and Colmes and Tuesday on Red Eye (all on Fox). And she will be “in conversation with” Rachel Kramer Bussel at the Borders at Columbus Circle on Thursday, June 28th from 7-9 pm.
Debs Cross the Pond! Orion Books is buying the United Kingdom rights to PROMISE NOT TO TELL! Orion’s the UK publisher of many excellent writers, including Gillian Flynn, Ian Rankin and Laura Lippman. Naturally, Deb Jennifer will celebrate with fish & chips, washed down with a pint of lager.
Grogs Gone Guest Wild! Join Lisa Daily on The Ball this Wednesday when she’ll be gracing us with her fine writing and sparkling wit!
Deb Friends! The fabulous Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All The Numbers and blogger at Not Afraid of the F Word, and Therese Fowler, author of Souvenir and blogger at Making It Up, will be posting on their blogs about the experience of writing Book #2. Holy moly, I think that’s something all us Debs will certainly be interested in!