First little bit of PR

I don’t have a Google alert set up for myself, and I might never. I’m not the kind of person that relentlessly Googles herself, although I understand the urge. I love writing on the Internet, but I’m not too terribly keen on being reminded that people can actually read this stuff (although by saying this I do not mean to discourage comments on this blog, I love comments), or to hear what people are saying about me (although I can’t imagine too many people are saying too many things at the moment).

For example, I’m not quite sure that I’ll ever get the courage to read reviews unless I know that they are good. When That James McAvoy was asked what actors should never, ever do, he replied, “Read reviews. You just try and do your job and not worry about what people say, because ultimately it can only affect what you do in a negative way. It can only make you a worse actor.” I totally agree with that. Constructive criticism from your agent and editor and even your friends is a good thing, but from disinterested third parties it’s probably in your best interest to avoid it if you can. Basically, I’m a chicken.

I don’t know why I bring this up except to say that for this reason I don’t have a Google alert set up, but Amy Brecount White does and she let all the Tenners know that Kristi over at The Story Siren has listed most of us as New Reads for 2010. That was very sweet of her, considering the books don’t come out for a while. Speaking of the Tenners, you should head over there, we’ve had a grip of new members join since last I mentioned it.

I wonder if Ryan started the fire

So, for a while my revisions have been stressing me out. I don’t know why, it’s probably a combination of exhaustion and time crunch, but whatever the reason I could feel my mind resisting the work. This is not an unusual feeling for me, but usually I’m able to worm my way through it more easily than now.

I almost never work during the week because I have a day job and by the time I get home it’s almost eight and I just want to have dinner and relax. But this week was different. This week, I sat down every night and worked. I’ve been going through the marked up manuscript my editor gave me, making small changes and flagging bigger questions or things I’ll have to fix with more than a tap of the delete key. I’ve been dreading the turn of every page, which I know is melodramatic, but it’s true.

Finally, I decided I needed a change of scenery. Writing in my tiny room in my tiny dark apartment is fine, but revising in a cave is not good for my spirit, so I decided I needed space and sunlight. Lucky for me, there’s a branch of the New York Public Library about fifteen blocks away from my apartment, so this morning I jumped on the bus with my laptop and manuscript in tow and settled down at a table in the adult books section (I wanted to sit in the YA section, thinking for some reason it would be more inspirational, but there’s a big sign that says THESE TABLES ARE FOR TEENS ONLY which, do they police that? I didn’t want to risk it) and got to work.

2798968914_3144b124831Exhibit A: my wee bedroom.

At first, I felt as resistant as always, but after inching along all week I was finally close to the end of the MS and I slipped into a groove eventually. Then I reached the last leg, Part Four of AUT, which my editor had noted needed some reorganization. And for some reason, I suddenly felt very good. It was like all week I’d been climbing up a long staircase to the top of a water slide, and now I had finally sat down on my inner tube, gotten the signal from the lifeguard, pushed off and was now coasting to the bottom. Pardon the weird simile, that’s really how it felt!

And then–THEN. As if the world doesn’t want this book to ever get done, THE FIRE ALARM WENT OFF. Are you kidding me? Ugh. I had to quickly gather up my stuff and leave the library with everybody else. The thing that really bugs me is that I think some confused lady opened a fire door, which is a good thing because that means there wasn’t an actual fire, but also? READ THE DOOR, LADY.

Anyway, they weren’t letting anybody in there until the fire department showed up and checked out the place, so I knew it was fruitless to wait around forever when I lived a few blocks away. But, being me, I was like, “This is the perfect time to buy Wanted on DVD!” So that’s what I did. Because I love That James McAvoy and Wanted was an awesome movie. On the Venn diagram of movies both my brother and I would enjoy, I think Wanted is the only overlap. And the reason for that, of course, is my fake husband TJM. (Not to be confused with my fake boyfriend, RPattz. They know about each other, it’s fine.)

gearcrave-interview_james-mcavoy_wantedYeeeeeeeah, that’s right.

I also bought The Last Unicorn because it was on sale for $5 and it was one of my favorite movies as a kid.

Despite the disruption, during which I appear to have made lemonade out of lemons anyway, I’m still feeling pretty good about these revisions now. What seemed insurmountable a couple of days ago I’m now looking forward to tackling, which is excellent. This is turning out to be a great weekend all around. I spent last night with my closest NY friends because Katie, who moved to Chicago a few months ago, was back in town for  a visit. Tonight one of my other friends is having a fondue party, so we’re going to that, and then tomorrow is brunch at Essex House (I’d better make sure someone made reservations…) and then back to writing for me.

Okay, I must go now–Mary’s foolishly promised to let me DJ tonight, so I have to update the Party playlist on my iPod. Gotta remember to include all the newest Hanson tunes!*

*Just kidding.

State of Play

As I may have mentioned before, I am wildly obsessed with actor James McAvoy (or TJM–That James McAvoy–as my roommate and I fondly refer to him), and have gone to great lengths to see anything and everything he’s ever been in. I’m basically down to the dregs now, old random British movies he did a while back and other things of that sort. Recently, I got my hands on the first disc of a BBC serial (why don’t we have more awesome serials/miniseries in this country? Just a question) called State of Play, and it is kick ass, even though TJM didn’t show his pretty little smirking face until the second hour. It’s a six-hour mini that tracks a newspaper team’s investigation of two unexplained deaths–the assassination of a fifteen-year-old black kid from the estate (housing project) and a female researcher for an MP who supposedly fell under a train–that are connected and entangled in a larger conspiracy. Like I said, completely kick ass.

Before you ask, I am totally watching it as a way to avoid doing my edits, but I swear that as soon as I finish with this last hour (I’m going to have to wait on the second disc to come from Netflix) I’m going to turn off the Internet and the DVD player and concentrate completely on my work. Well, maybe I’ll also have a crossword puzzle out for mini breaks. Oh, and also possibly Twilight, which I bought at Target yesterday (seriously, going to Target was one of the highlights of my weekend–I literally yearn, at times, for glimpses of suburbia, although the one I went to is in the Bronx and right over the bridge in Manhattan, so…not quite as suburban as one might prefer), and am now getting into despite the fact that I have put it aside once before for being slightly boring.

And because everybody gives a damn about my social life, I had an absolutely fantastic night in Brooklyn. It started off rather, hm, shall we say suspect? because I went to Bri’s new apartment, which you have to walk under the BQE to get to, so…But! Then we hopped on the G and headed down to the Fort Green/Boerum Hill-ish area to meet our friends Nikki and Katie. The first bar we went to had free popcorn and blackberry flavored beer, which was awesome, and then we went down the street to a bar that had board games (made me sort of miss Guthrie’s, sniff) and we played Phase 10! Which is, like, the all-time favorite 4S occupation of all time. It was really nice because I was winning for a while, but in the end it all evened out, we all were on Phase 10 at the same time, and of course Bri eventually won like she tends to do. Afterwards, we played darts and read poetry aloud to each other until closing time. Also, Bri made a new friend–the bar’s resident cat, whose had a really ridic name that I can’t remember. I’ll post pictures when I get them.

Seriously: Best. Night. Ever.

Background

I’m about to get to work on AUT but I just thought I’d put this up. The image below is my desktop on my computer, not just because I love Atonement, which of course I do, but because I think it’s an incredible shot, one that doesn’t get nearly enough play in the movie.

briony and robbie

I think this photograph is incredible. If you haven’t read or seen Atonement you might want to navigate away while I talk about this, so that I don’t spoil it for you. First, there is the double frame, Robbie beneath the outer stone arch (representative of his outsider status, despite his posh education and good looks he’s still the charwoman’s son), Briony stretched out in the inner doorway, blocking Robbie’s entrance into the house. Their props are so significant–he’s pulling on gardener’s gloves, to show where he came from and where he is going (manual labor, hardship, prison, the war, etc.), she gripping her newly finished play, The Trials of Arabella, a play that “told a tale of the heart whose message, conveyed in a rhyming prologue, was that love which did not build a foundation on good sense was doomed.” These are the stays of Briony’s life–a very conservative sort of childlike morality has her in its grips, completely discounting the sweeping passion of the sort of love Robbie and Cecilia experience (see how close he is to nature, how far away she is from it?)–but the play also admits for a sort of love in disguise, the love that sneaks up on you in the form of a person you have known for a long time but never really recognized. The play itself is an enormously revealing thing–Robbie and Cecilia’s relationship first appears to Briony as the correlating to the relationship between Arabella and the devious count who whisks her away only to abandon her, but eventually, after many years, Briony comes to see that the truth of their love is much more that of Arabella and the doctor prince who saves her life after she falls ill. With her here, holding the play tightly, not looking at Robbie, looming over him and keeping him out, the photo is such a harbinger of things to come.

It is also (and here I come to my point) a brilliant little comment on authorship. Briony, here, is so much THE WRITER. She has her finished manuscript in her hand, but her most devastating, her finest work, starts right here, with this little tableau. She is not only Robbie’s friend (in a loose sense) here, she is his creator–she turns him into the person he becomes, she creates Robbie the Rapist, Robbie the Prisoner, Robbie the Soldier, Robbie the Epic Lover, with her lies. Here the frames take on a double-meaning; not only are they putting people in their place, separating, defining Robbie and Briony, but they are also the frames of Briony’s story, some of which necessarily fall away in the film adaptation but are preserved symbollicly here–the first frame, the farthest out, the farthest from “reality”, is Robbie’s frame, where he and Cecilia live, their lives altered forever by Briony’s fabrication and their destinies changed to assuage her guilt; then there is Briony’s frame, the authorial frame, the one we don’t recognize until it is too late; and, finally, there is the “true” perspective, that of the filmmaker (in case of the book, of Ian McEwan), the hidden frame. And then, of course, there’s us.

God, if only someday we could all create a piece of work that has a fraction of the complexity, depth, and beauty as Ian McEwan’s Atonement, I think we should all be very happy with ourselves.

Items of import

  • Item A: Last night, something sort of weird happened. After a couple episodes of Shameless, Series 2*, I went to bed because, frankly, I was tired (did get a few pages of AUT revised, though). I woke up to the doorbell ringing in what I thought was the morning, but clearly wasn’t because it was pitch dark outside (or as dark as it gets when your view overlooks a McDonald’s…it’s a swank little New York bistro, perhaps you’ve heard of it?). I glanced at my cell phone–1:02 AM. I had just fallen asleep at about 12:30 AM. WTF is with the doorbell at that hour? Possibilities ran through my head: either it’s an emergency, a mistake, or somebody is testing to see if we’re home because they’re planning to rob us. To reiterate: doorbell. Not buzzer; people do that all the time, buzz every apartment in order to get access to a building, but this was the doorbell. On our DOOR. Which meant that someone unknown to us had to stand outside our door to ring it. Which is, in and of itself, pretty creepy at that time of night, but also not good because our lock? She is flimsy. I know, I know, we should have a deadbolt. I want to see if I can get my management office to pay for it, because safety in New York is expensive. Consequently, I stayed up half the night afraid that whoever rang the doorbell would come back and murder/rob us. We put this ladder that we nicked from the building basement a while back in order to replace a light bulb in front of the door so that at least we’d hear it crash when the murderer/robber came in, but of course nothing happened. But I am very tired today.
  • Item B: My roommate and I finally got a couch–after nearly five months of living in our apartment! Now all we need is cable television, but one step at a time.
  • Item C: Revisions on AUT have slowed now that it’s no longer the weekend, and because the section I’m revising now needs some voice alteration to differentiate it better from the voice of Protag #1’s PoV sections (Protag #1 is an eighteen-year-old male and Protag #2 is an eighteen-year-old female). My agent said she didn’t really have a problem with this, but some of her other readers (interns, I’d imagine) did, and since just a few short months ago I was one of those interns, writing those reader reports, I respect that. But it’s much hard to fix that than, say, a clunky sentence on page 211 (or whatever). I’m sure I’ll finish next weekend, which gives me plenty of time to let it all sit and percolate before going over it once more and sending it off to Joanna to read on her way to the London Book Fair.

S’up with you?

*Did you know that you can actually CHANGE the Region settings on your DVD player if you have a Mac (iBook G4)? Except that you can only do it five times total, so when I put my Shameless, Series 2, first disc in just to test and see what Iphigenia Doubtfire would do (I expected her to spin it then spit it out, but no! She’s full of surprises), it prompted me to change the region (I tried to change it to Region 0, which would nullify this whole problem in the future, but it would only let me change it to Region 2). I figure I’ll watch the series on my Mac, then change it back to Region 1 and from then on only watch the DVDs on my region-free DVD player in the living room.