Writing It In, Writing It Out

It’s been quiet on the blog for a couple days. I’m thick into revisions now, and it’s a whole other place to be. A place not conducive to writing something new, like a blog entry. My brain is in critical mode, cutting, pasting, and rewriting mode, and it has no time for the passion and excitement of creating something fresh. Maybe that’s why there’s so little information from authors and others about the process of revision, how to do it–because when you’re in it, it’s hard to write about. And when you’re done, maybe you’re just glad to be done. There is this, though, and it’s pretty good:

The best bit starts at 5:15 to about 6:20.

It’s funny to me how people who are accomplished in something tend to think that whatever method they use is THE way to do it. Even though a hundred other accomplished people do it differently. There’s a lot of “This is how you must” and “You really have to” in that clip, but whatever. I don’t do it the way those authors do, except that I do cut quite a lot on the first rewrite. Here’s what I’ve done so  far:

  • I dove right into revisions within hours of finishing the final scene of the first draft. No setting it aside for me. I get the point of setting it aside, and I also don’t think it’s necessary for everyone right away. I will probably get some distance from it after the first set of rewrites, or when I send it out for beta, but for now I’m making progress and it’s working, so I’m going with it.
  • I revised five chapters in quick succession, within a few days.
  • I handed them to my sons and my husband to read.
  • They loved them. Carey compared the chapters favorably to several published authors and said “It’s riveting” and “I want more.”
  • Encouraged, I plowed forward on a couple more chapters and handed them off.
  • Carey said, “Hm.” I said, “What.” He said, “Not AS good.” I said, “Crap.”
  • We spent three hours talking through what was wrong and why, and what it needs. I love my husband. We figured out that the main problem is that I didn’t have any idea what one of the main characters was even doing in the book, why she was even there. She was just a place holder with a cardboard personality. Amazing that Carey could already see that, from that one chapter, when I didn’t even realize it. Hm.
  • I spent two days figuring out where the major plot points are, and what that character is doing, who she is and why she belongs in the story (I seriously considered cutting her out, or subsuming her under another character, but in the end she earned her way back in). Fleshed out another supporting but important character.
  • Began a re-write of the chapter that was most “hm”-worthy. Didn’t get far, but at least I know where it’s going.
And that’s where I am now.

It’s not exactly fun. There’s no growing word count. No “Look how much progress I made” chart. No: Look, I wrote 1200 words today go me! Also, I totally don’t identify with Sinead Moriarty. She talks as though her revision process involves a series of minor tweaks and occasionally she has to rewrite something. There is nothing minor, nor tweakish, about my revision process.

You must begin in confidence and revise in persistence.

(I don’t remember where I read that, sorry–ping me if you know the citation.) Today I only wrote 300 words. Yesterday, none at all, unless you count penciled notes on plot points. And I’ve deleted more than I’ve put in. My draft is shrinking.

I have created copious amounts of supporting materials, however. There’s now a pencil-written outline, with a list of scenes. A “character sheet” (HP, Constitution, armor class, etc.–no, not really) for each of four characters (more are coming). And a separate pull-out document containing the first part of a re-write on that really sucky scene.

I guess that’s why Carlo Gebler’s comments on Hemingway, in that clip above, hit me today. It’s comforting to think the reader will just know. 

Are you in revisions on anything right now? How do you approach it? Any words of wisdom to help me through?

A letter to the author who wrote that cringe-worthy thing I read

My first six chapters

Dear Author,

The first few days of revising my novel draft were deeply depressing. I was glad to read from Demian Farnworth that this is not uncommon. He compares revisions to shoveling snow in a snowstorm*:  No matter how much you shovel, you look behind you and everything you just did has to be done again. Add to that a crippling anxiety about how completely awful and probably unsalvageable the sidewalk under all that snow is, and you’ve got it.

It helped somewhat to print it out. There’s something deeply satisfying about words on paper. It’s more real that way. Sorry, Kindle, but a screen will never be the same.

Apparently none of this is true, but I intend to believe it anyway.

I’m talking to you about revisions, because yours really needs them, dear.

In an effort to cheer me up  when I was worried about my own draft, Carey found part of your draft online, and showed it to me. It is really pretty rough. I’m being kind. It is awful. He thought it would cheer me up to see that mine is at least better than yours. It didn’t. I felt so sorry for you. And then I thought, “That author has no idea just how bad it is. She thinks it’s great–it’s her baby. Would I know if mine were that bad? Probably not. Maybe it is.”

Still. I handed off the first five chapters of my partially revised book to Carey last night, still rough but readable at least. He said (drum roll please!): He likes it so far. He is, in fact, obligated to say that, of course. It’s part of the contract.

What he is *not* obligated to say is that he is being honest and he still really likes it. And he did and he does. He even laughed out loud at one point. He asked me for more.

It’s funny that what other people think matters so much, isn’t it? If I slave over a blog entry and turn out something that I think is really amazeballs but nobody reads or comments on it, I start to genuinely believe it was kind of crappy. It becomes one of my least favorites, unlikely to ever be resurrected again. But if I toss one off all in a hurry and run about my day and come back and there are five comments and 50 views and somebody shared it on Facebook, I’m like, “Wow, I’m amazing. This is the awesomest blog post EVA.”

So anyway. Carey has really great taste in books. The best. And he likes my book. Honestly. So obviously, my book is the awesomest book ever. Well, it’s good, anyway. He didn’t actually say it’s the awesomest book ever, so it’s really just that it’s the awesomest book I’ve ever written. Which is absolutely, swear to goodness, the truth.

But none of that matters, and I’m sorry for being kind of boasty in a letter about how much your draft sucks. The central point is, I did it. I wrote a draft. And even if it’s as awful as your first draft, it’s okay. Because you know what? I’m so proud of you. You did something most people never do. So what if your first draft sucked. Everyone’s does. Maybe you went on and fixed it already, anyway. Who knows, maybe in some form it’s a published novel somewhere now and you’re laughing at little newbie me worrying about whether my first draft is good. I believe in you. So I’m going to believe in me, too.

My book has a climax and a conclusion and lots of literarily mentionable things like foils and subplots and imaginative environments and stuff, and at least half of that I didn’t even put there. I mean, I wrote the words, but I didn’t mean to put in themes and motifs and fancy plot twists. They just magically appeared after the draft was done. Maybe those elves really do come in the night.

Anyway. Read Demian’s blog post. It’s by far the best thing about this letter. Scratch that. I will have confidence in my work. This is an AWESOME LETTER and you WERE RIGHT TO READ IT. Now go read Demian’s post too, because it’s ALSO awesome.

P.S. I know this is a really crappy letter to address to someone whose first novel draft sucks. Sorry about that. Except, it’s not really crappy, because it’s really a letter to me, for all those cringe-worthy things I’ve ever written. Which is a lot. And that’s cool. Dear me: Keep writing the cringe-worthy stuff, because without some of that, nobody would ever write the good stuff. And without the good stuff, this world would be a poor place indeed. Sincerely me.

My Novel Pitch and My Cat Has Polyps

About 80% of the way through my first draft, I had an opportunity to pitch my novel. It was great exercise, forced me to focus in on the essence of the story I was telling, and helped me bring it in to the conclusion. Here’s the pitch I wrote:

Jed, a boy outcast among his own, discovers he can talk to plants… and soon realizes his gift could end 2,000 years of human enslavement. Will he be the people’s savior, or will the ensuing war destroy everything worth saving?

So, anyway.

I finished the novel yesterday, the first draft. Headed straight into revisions.

Feels like there should be fanfare, and at the same time it feels like there shouldn’t. Had a little mini-party on Facebook yesterday, but mostly it feels unreal. And I don’t think it’s going to feel real until the draft is ready for beta readers.

Perhaps the issue here is that my cat has polyps in her ear. That is not a metaphor.

Maybe the real issue is that once I’ve accomplished something significant, I realize, well, if *I* did it, it must not be that big an achievement. Finishing the second draft of a novel, that would be a big accomplishment. Except, when the manuscript is finished I’ll probably feel the same way, except then I’ll think, if it gets published, THAT will be an accomplishment. And then only if I become famous. But only if I’m as famous as Rowling. And as enduring as Shakespeare. No, God. Being as important and well-known as GOD would be an accomplishment.

I suck.

Because guess what: I adopted an elderly stray cat several years ago, got her doctored up, fell absolutely madly in love with her, and then recently went over a year without updating her shots or medical care and now she has uncomfortable polyps in her ears and she’s probably going to die in pain because I’m a terrible, terrible cat parent. (Reality check: The jury is out on the painful death.)

This was supposed to be a celebratory post, but obviously I’ve got issues.

I took a break from this mess for a minute, planning to come back and probably delete it all and just leave the pitch at the top and nothing else, because really, this is supposed to be a celebration, Heather.

Then I went and read this. And decided that I’m probably not the only novelist ever who has struggled in this particular way, and that maybe there is value in sharing THIS part of the journey too. This messy, depressive, anxious, uncomfortable part. So here I am.

Also.

My cat chose me. This is literally true for me, not just in the way people say their children chose them, or God chose their children for them, or whatever. I mean that I walked up to a yard sale and my cat was there waiting for me, and she came over and said, “Please take me home. I have nowhere else to go, no one to turn to. And I even like your kids.” She said it in cat language, of course, that winding-through-your-legs-purring language cats speak in. And her fleas and her underweight body and her greasy hair and her ear mites also said, “Please, take her home.” (Actually, the ear mites and the fleas would probably rather I hadn’t, come to think of it).

I keep telling myself these stories to pull myself through. And I will pull through. I will learn to love my success. I will. And to forgive myself.

And also: I finished a draft of a novel. I did it.

The End of the World As We Know It

Well, it’s done. Not the whole book, just yet. But the climax. I wrote it. And, it turns out, the climax is about three scenes from the end so… I’ll have a draft in roughly three days. I’ll have a draft in three days.

This would be way more exhilarating if my characters hadn’t just royally screwed every freakin thing up for themselves and the rest of the world. And they were so close–so close–to a happily ever after ending, too. After writing their catastrophe, I left the room for tissues and came back blowing my nose, which is when Carey noticed that I was sobbing. “What’s wrong?” He didn’t know whether to congratulate me or console me. I’m not sure either.

Writing is easy. Just sit down and open a vein.

The writing is pretty crappy, to be honest. But the emotion is there. The idea. Thanks, Jaimie, for encouraging me that that is enough for now. It is salvageable because I believe in it. And I do.

Another trusted writing mentor told me last week to bring it in under 90k max. This piece of feedback stopped several new story lines in their tracks and got me refocused on getting to the climax. Those other started story lines will be removed in revisions and probably end up in Book Two. Letting them go from this book freed me to bring the whole thing in for a landing. A bumpy, horrifying, catastrophic landing.

I feel pretty much exactly like the boy in this video. All of it, all at once.

P.S. The “writing is easy etc.” quote is variously attributed to many different authors in many forms. That’s why there’s no citation, even though the thought is not mine originally.

Where Are the Elves When You Need Them?

I wrote a scene in my climax today.  It sucks.

Have I spent so much time on it I’m sick of it? Or is it really that bad, that much of a let-down? Shall I go on telling it like I have been, or scrap it and start over from a new point of view? Or is the entire concept so completely screwed I might as well start the whole book from scratch?

This latter thought, I suspect, is yet another trick of my brain to convince me not to finish the darn thing.

When I started this novel the whole point was not to get published. It was simply to prove to myself that I could finish something of this scale.

So I will.

Still, I want it to be the best I can do right now. So, outside of my designated butt-to-chair hour, I’ve been reading some pretty good stuff on how to construct a climax. Harry Potter and Ender’s Game, for instance. Deconstructing and reconstructing. And these:

Improving Plot Climax

Mistakes Not to Make

That latter site contains several really helpful articles, including one on writing a novel pitch. Not that I’m writing a pitch yet, except I did. But that’s another story for another day. If you’re struggling with your novel, try writing the pitch. It was quite a useful–and fun–exercise.

Hasn’t helped much with my climax, though. Where are those darn elves?

This one will do just fine. Thank you.

It’s Not Magic. Well, Maybe.

Carey snorts when I say it: “My story is crap.” Then he rolls his eyes.

It’s good to have somebody on your side. Someone who understands you. A partner who can roll their eyes convincingly when you’re being ridiculous.

I love my story!” “Wow, this is really bad.” “This is awesome!” “I can’t do this, what was I thinking?” It is ridiculous. Remember yesterday? Yeah. Today my book is crap.

It’s a game my brain plays, I think, to keep me from finishing the book.

When I was a girl, long before the days of the animated Disney version, we watched a live action movie about Aladdin, made for adults. The hero was given an opportunity to obtain the genie’s lamp. He would gain wealth, glory, and the hand of the beautiful princess. All he had to do was get to it… without ever leaving the path and don’t touch anything. How hard could that be?

I remember wishing I were in his place. I’m an expert at following instructions, especially easy ones: Stay on the path, stupid.

Of course he couldn’t do it. He was fine when he passed all those riches by the wayside. I mean, he kind of wanted to touch things, you see, but he was a good boy. Then there was a beautiful woman beckoning to him. That one was tough. But he stayed the course. It was when he heard cries of terror and saw someone in desperate need of help that he did what was forbidden, with dramatic and terrible results.

That is exactly what writing is like.

All the experts say, “Sit down, butt to chair. Just write. Write. Write. Butt to chair.”

And you think, “I can do that. Just follow the instructions. Butt to chair.”

Then you sit down and it’s not very comfortable. But that’s okay, you can brave discomfort for the sake of your art. You are a writer!

You’re staring at a blank page, and for fifteen minutes you can think of nothing to say. That’s okay. Butt in chair. It will come. You are a writer!

Then you write a few things and they’re crap and you think, “That’s okay. Just write. Everybody writes crap sometimes.” And you keep going. You are a writer.

So then your brain has to get creative. It decides that it would much rather be blogging. Wouldn’t you rather be blogging? That’s a form of writing, right? Just blog for a bit. You can come back to the novel tomorrow. Blogging will help you clear your brain.

So maybe you click over to the blog, but then you remember: “Nope. One hour. Butt to chair. Working on your novel.”

Check. But that’s not the end of it, of course. Like Aladdin, you’re going down this path and it’s lined with temptation and distraction. But you’re good. You’re good.

Open an email? Nope. Read a forum post? No. Watch a video on how to get published! NOOO!

Somebody has said something WRONG on the Internet and you MUST SAVE THEM from their idiocy before it is too late. But you don’t. You are a writer.

Write. Okay.

And maybe you make it through several days like this. Every day, one hour, butt to chair. Maybe weeks or months.

One morning you wake up and you’re sick. That’s okay. You got this. It’s just one hour and you can pause the timer if you have to leave your chair to throw up.

But the next morning, your brain starts playing deceptive little tricks on you. It tells you maybe you’re not really a novelist anyway, and you’re wasting your time. If you were a novelist, wouldn’t you just want to write in your novel, the way you always want to write in your blog? You wouldn’t have to fight so hard. Besides. Maybe your blog could save someone, like Glennon‘s does.

And it’s this that gets you in the end. You miss your hour, because you think, for the briefest span of time, that you were never really cut out for this after all. And there is something more important you should be doing. So you leave the path. You. Suck.

Might as well quit now.

Except the ceiling doesn’t cave in and the walls don’t crumble. You’re not dodging molten rock or sudden chasms. The nice thing about writing is you get forever chances.

I spent approximately 14,000 mornings NOT writing a novel before I finally sat my butt down to do it. So why would I let one missed morning get to me?

You get back on the path and you keep going.

Will I prevail? I don’t know. The experts all say I will, if I just stick to the path and don’t touch anything except my novel for that one hour a day. And at the end of it: Riches, glory, and the hand of the princess. Actually, let’s leave the hand out. Sounds gory.

And maybe there won’t be riches & glory, either. Fortunately, that’s not what I’m after (not that I would turn my nose up at it). But there will be a book. By gum, when I’m done, there will be a book. And when you rub it just right, it will open and reveal the magic within.

I’d rather have that than riches and glory and a disembodied hand any day. Well, not ANY day. But most days, at least.

P.S. Truth in advertising announcement: My book won’t really open just by rubbing it. OR maybe it will. I think I’ll demand that feature in negotiations with my publisher. I’m sure that will make me very popular with them.

P.P.S. What are the games your brain plays to keep you from your art? What are you doing to defeat the temptations?

How Parenting Makes me a Better Writer (Part Three)

About a month ago, my novel hit 35,000 words, and a mental roadblock. I had a minor climax approaching quickly, and I was terrified. The novel had gone rambly and boring, and I had no clue how I would possibly bring all those random threads together into a convincing and interesting little scene. Besides, I knew nothing about homemade weapons. It was time to bring in the experts.

Meet Monty, age 12; Eli, age 9; and Everett, age 5.

The Weapons Team

We spent about two hours around the kitchen table, drawing diagrams, maps, and illustrations, discussing available materials. They may not remember to put the trash in the can or know the difference between a clean dish towel and a filthy rag, but if you need an injection of wildly creative genius on weapons building… find a pre-teen boy.

The upshot of that session was that the next time I sat down to write, the scene flowed beautifully. I did it. And it was awesome. I know when something is awesome because it triggers my tear-meter. You know the tear-meter, right? When something touches you so that tears spring to your eyes without falling, that’s a level 1 on the tear meter. When you’re bawling uncontrollably with your hands over your eyes and you can’t stop, that’s a 10. I was going for about a three or a four in this scene and BINGO. The tear meter is also sometimes how I know an idea for the novel is going to work–because it triggers a level 1 or 2 response just thinking about it. That’s how I knew one of my characters had to stay in–she triggered a five.*

I also knew the mini-climax scene had worked when, later, I read it back to the kids and they were cheering and gasping and “Hey, that was my idea! You put it in there! And it was awesome!”ing.

So that’s why, when I hit 82,000 words yesterday and realized I was in the same spot again, I took Monty with me down to the lake. By “the same spot,” I mean that I’m nearing another climax–the chief climax of the book–and I’ve gone long and rambly. I’ve added characters and tangents and events that are really cool and fun… but aren’t doing much to get me toward the climax. It’s a form of procrastination.

So I grabbed the dog, and the 12-year-old, and a pair of sandals that I would later regret having worn, and went for a brisk walk. We circled our 2-acre lake about three times, and Monty and I, we sorted it out.

Let me backtrack. I didn’t actually know what the heck I was doing. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression and think I was planning this, that I’m so organized as to know just exactly what I need to do all the time. No no.

I just knew I needed to think. We had most of the day off for the 4th, and I was frustrated with the elusiveness of the darn climax and needed some air. Dogs like walks. So do 12-year-olds when it means alone time with Mom. And he agreed to be quiet and leave me alone, so I let him come.

Only, I didn’t need him to be quiet after all.

We got down there, me muttering things to myself, and then talking out loud, and then asking questions. And, once I admitted that I wanted him to talk to me after all, Monty had ideas. Lots of ideas. Really, really good ideas. In fact, I’m really not sure how much of this novel I can take credit for any more.

By the time we got back, I was clear. This morning I wrote a scene. Tomorrow I’ll write the one after that. And in about a week I will have a climax. And it’s going to be helluva good. I can say that because it wasn’t my idea, so it’s not bragging to say it out loud, right?

Can I also just get a heck yeah for a twelve-year-old who uses the words “protag” and “fan fic” correctly, and can point out when one of my characters is a foil for another? Want interesting kids? Involve them in your life. And be interesting. (Whatever that means to you.)

Conducting field research

P.S. BONUS FEATURE of parenting while writing: You have a built-in fan base. My older two are already plotting fan fiction based on my story. Whoa. Tear meter just registered a 3. Excuse me a minute.

P.P.S. This isn’t actually part three in a series. I know it says “Part Three” up there. I’m not sure why it says that. I seem to periodically write these pieces that touch on parenting, and numbering them gives me an excuse to link to the others, I guess. Anyway. Part One. Part Two.

*The tear meter is probably a really crappy way of making decisions about a novel. I promise the whole thing isn’t a cry-fest. If I pull it off, there will be laughing and cheering too. And plenty of good-old-fashioned fun.

The True Meaning of Freedom (Isn’t Something You’ll Find in A 500-Word Blog Post)

Nobody is ever free. If my 39 years of life have taught me anything, it’s that. When you’re  a kid, you think you’ll be free when you grow up. But really you just trade one kind of authority for another: Instead of parents, you have laundry.

Happy Frickin Independence Day.

Look, I don’t know where this blog post is going. I wanted to say something profound about stealing your freedom one hour at a time, about getting up an hour before everyone and doing that one thing that makes you go… or doing something to figure out what that one thing is, your own personal thing.

But it feels like beating a dead horse. What else can I say? I get up two hours early in the morning now. One hour of freedom made me hungry for another. I do the things that make me go. I write in my novel (I hit 80,000 words this week). Then I blog. It’s incredibly freeing. And incredibly draining. Turns out, freedom isn’t something you get for free, wrapped up in a pretty package. I know, not fair, right? But it’s all been said before.

If you want to go deeper, here’s how you can wrest freedom out of the rest of your day too, from Justin Dye:

http://wearemakersblog.com/the-employee-artist-vs-the-creative-entrepreneur/

But you’re not going to truly find freedom in a 500-word blog post, not even one as scintillating as mine or Justin’s. You have to look deeper than that. Maybe into your heart or something. Why are you asking me, anyway? You have to do this bit yourself. That’s what freedom IS.

There are some things that help though. It helps me to read my uncle’s memoir of his time as a WWII POW. And oral slave narratives. Suddenly the alarm clock going off at 5am doesn’t feel like such a hardship.

(Start the video at 3 minutes if you want to skip to the good stuff, unless you have more patience for Ted Koppel’s rhapsodic monologues than I do.)

Did you hear that? Whippings, curfews, sunup to sundown work, mandatory church. Now THAT’s hardship. But something that former slaves mention over and over again, is this: No books. No reading. No writing. It was against the law for anyone to teach a slave to read. Even the ignorant plantation owners and the Thomas Jeffersons of the world understood that giving a book to a slave would be disastrous. Because learning destroys slavery. It’s true. You know this already.

So, if you like, maybe take a few minutes and read something today. Or do what makes you go, or figure out what makes you go. Because you deserve to be free. Happy Fourth.

P.S. This morning I opened a browser window and typed, “Do they have batteries in Nolin City” into Google. The results were underwhelming. That’s because Nolin City doesn’t exist, except in my novel. Freedom doesn’t make you sane. In fact, I’m pretty sure true freedom is the opposite of sanity. What harebrained things are you doing in the interest of your art or your freedom?

Writing Off Coffee.

In the thick of it. The story is coming thick and fast or not at all, and either way it is consuming. And then there’s work. So. Instead of a proper post, here is a list of cool links and videos worth watching:

You can never go wrong with Anne Lamott. Here she talks about being the peoples’s author. She’s not sure it’s true, but it seems that way to me. Head over to her FB page if you’re not already following her, and tell her she’s *your* author. You know, if she is.

And then there’s this from Lev Grossman. How he got published. It’s inspiring and depressing and inspiring. Gotta love Lev.

http://levgrossman.com/2010/06/how-i-got-published-by-lev-grossman-or-a-series-of-unfortunate-events/

And this from Neil Gaiman. Looks like maybe I will start going to conventions soon. Maybe the Wild Goose Festival, and meet Glennon Melton.

http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/19124047329/dear-neil-it-seems-every-time-i-read-a-story-about-how

And finally, here’s Farnam Street Blog on why everything I’m doing in my novel is important to my business. Whew.

http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/06/4-must-read-books-on-storytelling/

Headed to a client meeting… and then to a coffee shop to write in my novel. Because I can write that darn coffee off as a business expense, by gum.

Art by SuperLadySarah. Check her out by clicking on the art.

On the Importance of Being a Writer, Having Gay Friends, and Other Non Sequiturs

I’m sitting at my desk eating soft-fried eggs and an apple. There’s a pile of little pills beside my glass of water. And a pen. And an empty cup. And a random cord of some sort, a fair amount of cat hair, some spent popcorn husks, and an old photograph. Some bits of paper. Watch batteries. Two half-crumpled one-dollar bills, and another cup with dried tea leaves in the bottom. A broken cell phone. And a pocket knife. My house is a wreck.

A few minutes ago, as I fished a clean pot from the back of the cupboard and pushed aside three dirty pots from the one stove eye that doesn’t have something currently spilled across it, and started to fry my eggs, I thought how nice it would be to be rich. We would pay someone to come into our house and clean it up, and I would twirl around the house grinning all the time because everything would be so very nice.

I would throw away those old egg flats under the sink, and haul away the recycling bin that is always full with exactly the same bottles and cans as the last time I looked at it six months ago (stop judging me, I raise chickens in my backyard). I would be so happy.

For some reason, Dale Carnegie popped into my head right about as the edges of my egg started to turn white. What he said (in my head) was this:

Having what you want is success. Wanting what you have is happiness. 

I know this is true and still. Look at my house. Who would want that?

And I did look at it. And what I saw was dishes stacked in the sink. And a dirty rag hanging where a clean tea towel ought to be. Sticky scum covering the few visible portions of the counter. Stacks of puzzles we picked up at a yard sale on a shelf, and more junk piled on top of that. There was a bird calling for attention from the other room, and a dog gulping down his breakfast, his collar jangling against the metal dish. And actually, it all did seem sort of glamorous. Do you see?

In my case, it’s glamorous because I’m a writer. It’s kinda cool to be so creative you don’t have time to think about your house, right? Besides. Everything is glamorous when you’re a writer.

Did your boyfriend break up with you? Great, now you can really empathize with your character when that happens to her.

Lose your wallet and somebody’s using your credit card? Terrific. It’s research for a suspense-detective story.

Somebody sending weird emails with your name in them to your spouse? Awesome. Start of a creepy thriller.

House a wreck? Perfect. Blog entry!!!

OH and, I’m adding this to my eccentric lab character, the gay guy with the bug eyes who is crushing on one of my main characters right now. He’s going to have a crazy messy house too. Of course. Because he’s so creative! (Okay, look, Carey roomed with a gay guy for a while in grad school, and he was messy. Hi Robert. Every bit as messy as we were. It IS possible to be gay AND messy. Stop stereotyping.)

Speaking of being gay, non sequitur:

Conclusion: I need to spend more time with my gay friends. It’s research. And it’s glamorous. And maybe one of them will organize my house.

The End

kitchen

P.S. Also my house is messy because I’m interested in so many things. Would I really want to give up all that chaos?

P.P.S. Is your house a mess? Why not? Don’t you think you’d be more creative if it were?

P.P.P.S. What are you learning to embrace in your life that you haven’t always loved? How? Tell me. I need all the help I can get.