Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo Update:

I won.

I'm also totally exhausted, and can't even comprehend what I just did. Greatest thanks to everyone who encouraged me this month. It made a difference.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Cage of Rib-Bones

Have you ever thought about what
Protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib-bones,
And other various parts.

Lord, I am so tired. My bones hurt. I feel entirely fragile, and I'm wondering if I'm going to make it after all. I will, I always do. I am one big package of desires, barely contained by my skeleton, and muscles, and organs. And each time I'm disappointed, I just place my dreams somewhere new, held up in innocent faith.

So it's fairly simple to cut
Right through the mess,
And stop the muscle
That makes us confess.

I haven't written my novel for two days. This is the time when I shouldn't be able to stop writing, and I am so close it seems a terrible shame to give up now. But I don't feel anything when I write this story. When I started, I thought I wanted fantasy, an escape. I realize now that what I really want to be writing is something that wildly reflects my own reality.

As it is, I'm barely managing to get through my school work. We'll see. I may rally and finish out of sheer force of will. It seems like such a shame not to finish, it truly does.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

-Ingrid Michaelson

This week shall be a week of reckoning.
At least, that's the way it feels.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ingrid Michaelson = my new favorite songstress. She makes me want to pick up a guitar and start plucking. And I don't think I've ever seen anyone make glasses look that sexy before.

That's all for now. (Back to NaNo.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Love and Turkey

Today was perfect. Just perfect.

That's all. I'm not even going to think about what I'm doing with the rest of my weekend. Just know that I am very, very thankful. And that I love my family, those who are here, and those who are miles and miles away. I have good friends as well, and I love them too.
In the face of all that, nothing else seems particularly important.

P.S. I wrote over 3,000 words today! I will finish this thing...

Tipping Point

NaNoWriMo update:

I have finally reached 30,000 words. Getting through the 20's is always a fierce challenge, and I sure felt it this year. Now that I'm over that hurdle, I hope things will be a downhill ride from here... My goal is to write 10,000 words over Thanksgiving weekend. I have the feeling that this is the tipping point, the point where I can feel that I'm going to make it to 50,000.

Whooo. Now that I'm done flexing my writerly muscles, it's time for bed. More later.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Maybe There Is Hope

It really is perfect timing that just at the moment when I was reflecting on how I hate NaNo, and how hard it is to sit down and type these words, and how tired I am, and how sick of my novel I am, and how the feeling that the whole thing is truly awful, and that it's not turning out at all how I imagined, and what really is the point of this anyway? (Because I am never going to let a soul read my novel it's so bad.) And... um where was I? Oh yeah. Well, it is perfect that just at this low point in the novel that I should read this NaNo pep talk from Neil Gaiman:

Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

By now you're probably ready to give up. You're past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You're not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You're in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more---and that even when they do you're preoccupied and no fun. You don't know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you're pretty sure that even if you finish it it won't have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began---a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read---it falls so painfully short that you're pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.

That's how novels get written.

You write. That's the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

(I'll leave out some bits for you. But this part was my favorite)

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I cou ld abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

I'm going to go and try to put that advice to work. Funny how easy it is to forget it. But, Neil, if you say it, it must be true. I love your books. If you go through this same process, then I have hope.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Please Disregard Everything I Have Just Said

Every time I get over some lingering illness and finally feel healthy again, I am astonished at how much energy I have and how much easier everything becomes. I think to myself: Wow, this feels amazing, is this how I was before? Life is so much nicer when you aren't tired all the time.

Today was like that. I am brave and energetic and upbeat once again. I have my car back (oh sweet relief). I also just put another pay-check in the bank. That feels good too.

However, I also did something today that totally invalidated some of my earlier statements. I called someone I was supposedly getting over. And it's funny how happy it made me.

The mind is strong but the heart is weak.
Which will win? I think I know.

Now I am engaging in my usual pre-math homework procrastination. I need to get to it, though, so that I can get to catching up on my wordcount. It seems NaNo is turning into a constant game of catch up. I can't help that ever since the month started I've been in some kind of astrological strike zone where everything goes wrong. But I still hold out a slim determination to finish. Cars, and school, and work, and boys I DON'T CARE. I will write this novel.

I also want to mention that I love Fall. It is stunning outside right now. I love the leaves changing color, and I love the sharp chill in the air after that long, muggy summer. I love drinking hot tea early in the morning, and I love baking in the cool weather and having the oven heat up the whole kitchen with good smells... You know Thanksgiving is coming? I can't wait. I am going to make so many pies. It's going to be wonderful.

What are you doing for the holiday?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Insightful Conversation

This morning, something was admitted to me by a young man of my acquaintance...

Josh: "Hey, Ivy, you know how I always flirt with Steva and never with you? Well, here's why: It's just that I know your intelligence level is, like, this much higher than mine-"
(He measures out a tall difference with his hands.)
"So, I know that if I try and hit on you, you'll just make some joke that will go right over my head and I'll be lost. Plus, you're a black belt and all..."

Me: "Are you saying that you're intimidated by me, Josh?"

Josh: "Yes, I am. You scare me."

I suppose all that reading/debate/Tae Kwon Do had some unintended consequences.
I wonder if he's not the only one...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Every day is a challenge this week. That's okay. There are days when you just scrape by. Not every day can be a party. Today was a stay-at-home day, so I has lots of time for thinking. I've been thinking, and listening to this song:

I don't want to wonder
If this is a blunder

I don't want to worry whether

We're GOING TO stay together

'Till we die

I don't want to jump in

Unless this music's thumping

All the dishes rattle in the cupboards

When the elephants arrive

I want to love you madly
I want to love you now

I want to love you madly, way

I want to love you, love you

Love you madly


I wanted to love you madly. Why didn't you let me? I wonder.
But it's too late for that now. I think you may have missed your chance with me, boy. Now I am waiting for some other mad love.

People are funny. Some of them leave me feeling let down. Others leave me in wonder and joy for the care they show me. I have lots of love already, it's true.

I am tired. BUT today I managed to reach 10,000 words of my novel. 10,000 words of sweet fiction, born of my sheer stubbornness not to lose NaNoWriMo. I've tried it twice, and won it twice. I will not fail now. Not even if I am sick, and tired, stressed, and car-less. (The last one, actually, might help with getting a novel written. Anyway.) Now I'm only about 1500 words behind. That's nothing. I think the endeavor has turned out therapeutic in many ways.

What is coming tomorrow? I don't want to know. I suppose that's just as well, because nobody knows really.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wake Me Up When Things Are Happy Again

I feel utterly defeated. And sick. Sick, sick, sick. In more ways than one.

I want my car back. But my car's engine is, well, done for. Caput. Ruined.

I drove it for less than six months.

(Insert appropriate expletive here.)

This is hard. (Don't get too upset. Ha.) I know it'll pass, but man, these past few days have really sucked. Two steps forward, three steps back. Time for some Weezer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stuff Happens

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."
-- John Lennon

Cars break down, a test doesn't go as well as you wanted, you oversleep, miss a meeting and your boss gets mad, you-know-who still doesn't call. Then you meltdown. Then you get over it, get back up, and decide to write a novel. You notice that it was really lucky you had someone nice to help you when your car broke down, and that everything else isn't that big of a deal. Then you remind yourself to stick to your big plans, but don't get too upset when stuff happens.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finish Each Day...

I am weary of all this. All this bustle, all this doing, all this responsibility, all these emotions, all these people. I am too tired to handle anything, everything seems enormously overwhelming. I am weary, and sick, and the phrase "word debt" has already started chasing itself around my head. (How on earth did I ever write a novel in thirty days before?)
Please, can I just lie on the couch? Don't ask me anything, don't tell me what I should do. I am tired of you, and really tired of myself. I can't shake a sense of guilt, of doubt. Am I doing this right? Should I even be worried about right and wrong at all?

I am trying to focus on these words:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This is all my nonsense. I am trying to make it my old nonsense. Why does it keep recurring? I will say that I am more than ready to be done with this day.