Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Of Collages and Collapses

In honor of finishing my first first draft of a novel ever, I took a vacation from writing for a week.

It was terrible.

I have been anxious, tired, confused, and constantly beset by this nagging feeling that I'm not doing something I should be doing. I've also been remarkably unproductive in all other aspects of my life, including revising my statement of purpose, getting my recommender forms to a professor and studying for the Literature GRE. Clearly, I need to be writing again.

The boyfriend printed out the entire draft of The Wedding Widow on his computer at work (the little desktop one was not going to be able to handle this). It's so thick! And big! I regret sounding like a porn star, but it really is! So exciting.

I have also made my first writing collage and derived far too much pleasure from doing so. I always loved cutting out paper dolls when I was younger, the more complicated the better. I had way too much fun cutting all around the tiny little prongs of a diamond comb in a magazine last night.

Of course, due to the cropping of catalogue photos, most of my characters look like victims of an accident with a land mine. I had to artfully drape the skirt of another woman's dress entirely over Calla's poor absent legs. At least she looks quite fetching in her sea-foam green lace trimmed cashmere sweater from Nordstrom's.

Now comes the tough part...figuring out what any of this means. What message is my subconscious blaring to me through this medium? Damned if I know. I'll upload a picture of the finished product later tonight and see if anyone else can make sense of it...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Movies, Misery, and My Health

With every change of the season, I make a list of goals. I suppose this could be viewed as highly anal-retentive... but the sad fact is that I haven't a prayer of keeping any sort of sweeping New Year's Resolution, and so I look at taking baby steps every season. Autumn Ambitions for this year include a) posting on the blog each week, and b) sending some installment of Jessi and Jude to my estimable critique partner each week. Well, (a) is obviously taken care of here, but (b) is getting a little sticky. My grad school workload just picked up with a vengeance, coinciding quite horribly with the Headcold from Hell. Super bonus: I got to attend my womanly appointment with said cold.

I don't know if you've ever gone to Planned Parenthood for any reason. I will say, I am grateful for them. Without PP, women without health insurance would be utterly screwed. Having said that, however, I am so tired of leaving my annual appointment convinced that I have a fatal disease. This year, I was told that I 1) have borderline high blood pressure 2) may be developing a goiter and 3) might have breast cancer. I'm not kidding. I asked if the fact that I was sick (and high on Day Quil) might make my blood pressure fluctuate. And could my "swollen thyroid" actually be my tortured lymph nodes? No, no, no... being sick wouldn't change my body at all. (Huh?) "Because you are 25, you are probably developing all sorts of conditions that you never had before... conditions which will kill you if you're not careful... so have a nice day and pick up your birth control pills at the window!"


So as you can imagine, it's been a fun week. Gloom, doom, and lesson-plan rewrites because my professors want to give us as much busy-work as possible. Grr. My verbal brain is in stress-management overload, and Jessi and Jude are suffering as a result. Happily, however, my visual brain is unplagued. And so, in honor of the flitgirl's finished first draft, I ask:

When The Wedding Widow is inevitably turned into a top-grossing romantic movie, who should be cast in each part? (Feel free to also post and assure poor Kate D. that she isn't dying.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Convention Wrap up, Part I

I've just returned from the New Jersey Romance Writers' convention. And what a busy, baffling two days it was. First, the bad news:

- Despite all my stressing, I didn't get an agent/editor appointment, after all. So no chance to pitch the Wedding Widow.

Now, the good news:

- Despite all my stressing, I didn't get an agent/editor appointment. So I will now not be forced to finish and revise in two weeks just to send off an inferior ms to a potentially indifferent publisher.

Other good news: I met a bunch more published authors, including another who is willing to read my book, and reconnected with some of the one's I'd met at a previous convention in April. This is clutch for a couple reasons. a) It's fun to talk to authors. b) It's fun to make new friends. c) When I go to the RWA national convention next summer (and, yes, Kate you are coming with me. Trust me on this one) I will have published friends with agents and editors to introduce me to.

I also spoke to one of my writing/life idols, who happens to work at one of the schools I'm applying to for grad programs. That's always good. And I attended a couple of great workshops, one about revising, one about plotting. I've always been resistant to "writing classes" in any context other than workshops, but this practical advice was actually really useful...particularly to our own, beloved Kate D. I believe one of the sub-topics was "How to jump start your plot."

More about the practical advice in a future update.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Practice Swing

In only two days (Friday, to be exact) I'll be attending my first-ever writers' conference, the New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference. It's a two day affair, and while I'll be going to both days, I won't be staying over night. The budget can only accomodate so much, and stays in hotels in Iselin, NJ were not on that list. Besides, there's a Beck concert in the city on Friday night I have to get back for. At least I have my priorities straight.

I'm pretty nervous. Who am I kidding, I'm terrified. My social anxiety does NOT respond well to situations in which I am thrust into the teeming midst of hundreds of strangers. I have a few writer acquaintences through work connections (one of whom is an NYT bestseller!) and some of them will be at the conference. But I don't want to be that lame fan who hangs around too much, doesn't know when to shut up and is generally a nuissance.

I also signed up for an appointment with an agent or editor. Yeah. And I haven't worked on a pitch at all (for God's sake, I haven't even finished the book!). Clearly I am prepared for this.

Another writer, the wonderful Erin McCarthy, advised me that I should treat my first conference as a complete learning experience: sit with a different person at every meal, ask tons of questions, think of my editor/agent meeting as a practice. And hey, that was the attitude I took into my drivers' test, and I wound up passing. Stranger things have happened.

If I make it through the weekend without passing out or having a heart attack, expect updates next week...