The hard part

Wow, where the hell have I been? Tumbling, for the most part. You can always catch up with me over there, although what you read might be disproportionately about James McAvoy, but you don’t mind that, do you? Great! The other answer to the above question is: writing. Yes. I am writing. Joyfully. Ecstatically. Quickly. Painfully. Why painfully? Oh, no reason. I’m just at the HARDEST PART of the first draft–the big reveal. Why oh why do I write mysteries? The way that the climax and resolution come about is key, because you want to make sure the reader doesn’t figure out what happened before the characters do (unless, as a reader, you’re into that sort of thing, which I am but I cannot do because I am terrible at solving mysteries), so it can’t be head-bangingly obviously, but then again you don’t want the readers to be like, “Huh. I never in a million years would’ve seen that coming and find no evidence in the preceding chapters to back it up. Great. Fifteen dollars well spent. NOT.” Blurgh. I can’t say much more about it here, obviously, but I just wanted to voice my frustration. It’s been going so smoothly, but now it’s time to pull out all the stops and just write it, which is advice I give to anyone working on a first draft (first drafts are ugly and inconsistent! don’t worry! you can fix it all later, just write it down!), but it’s always a little hard to give yourself permission to write the not-good stuff. Not that I think this is not good, it’s just complicated and will need a lot of smoothing over.

The good thing about writing MB is that I have been able to recognize as I was writing it exactly what big ticket items need to be fixed in post-rough-draft edits. I feel like I can step back from the process and go, “Hm, that character shifts gender between chapters, so gotta resolve that,” or even bigger stuff, like more emotional exploration of main characters. I know that so many people write bloated first drafts and then cull, but I actually write skeletal first drafts and then add. Maybe this is because my books are plot-driven (I hate saying that because then it sounds like there’s a lack of characterization, but it’s true: the mystery carries the story along, and characters grow and change because of and around it)–I just bust my butt trying to get the plot on the page, then I work on getting it right, then I work on character, which is the actual hardest part, the most amorphous when it comes to getting the “It’s done” feeling, but is also the most rewarding so I don’t mind that.

Anyway. The hard work is in front of me, in so many ways, but the first hurdle is just finishing, just throwing my shoulder up against the door and breaking down that wall that’s keeping me away from my ending. Rough drafts are the hardest, as they always, always say, and I’m not quite sure they get easier with experience, although you’d have to ask a far more seasoned writer than myself to get that answer.

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An overabundance of shit to do

For the past several weeks now, I keep looking forward to each weekend and telling myself, “THIS weekend you’ll do laundry and go grocery shopping and maybe buy a new summer skirt and catch up on your sleep and your Netflix and read and WRITE, for God’s sake.” And, each week, foiled! This is actually a very good thing, because it means I have a ton of awesome people in my life who invite me to things and want to hang out with me, and I always end up having a blast, but, on the other hand, getting nothing done. This weekend I was psyched to go see the Pole-rific Piotr Ulanski exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, because today is its last day–I still might go to that actually–and to Book Culture, because I wanted to buy one of their snazzy new totes. And, you know, launder–and I don’t mean money, I am seriously low on clothes. But! Last night I went out to a Tumblr meet-up (yes, they exist, and yes, they are fun) and met a handful of really interesting, funny Tumblrs and it took me FOREVS to get home because the stupid F train was running on the V line and I ended up in Queens and then I had to take the E train back to Seventh Ave/53rd street and then get out of the station and walk to Columbus Circle, at least that was the plan until I COULD NOT GET OUT OF THE SEVENTH AVE STATION, but then I finally did get out of it and then I was so tired and it was SO late that I eventually took a cab. So, in other words, I slept in! And now I’m lazing around in my pajamas and trying to motivate myself to take a shower which probs won’t happen anytime soon and I might not actually get down to Chelsea in time to see the Ulanski exhibit, which closes at six. My life is hard! Also, Cambria is throwing a house party tonight in Brooklyn, so I’m going to have to schlep there, which will take forevs, and then of course I’ll have to stay the night because, well, who the fuck wants to be on a train at three in the morning two nights in a row? Not me!

This is all to say that in the midst of all this bejiggity, I have finished my revisions! I even sent them off to my agent today with my “Hollywood pitch” assignment (I settled on “Speak meets Special Topics in Calamity Physics” because…well, you’ll know when you read it, even though it’s not the ideal comparison, especially since Special Topics isn’t considered YA even though it’s pretty much got all teenagers in it, but they’re not real teenagers, they’re Ph.D. candidates in the guise of teenagers, which is one of that novel’s big flaws but whatevs, she went to Brown, it’s to be expected) because as much as I’ve grown to re-love AUT over the past two weeks (I did go through a period where I was like, “This is shit!”, which I know is natural and normal but it’s still not very good for the ego) I’m sick of looking at it for the moment. I’m just…really looking forward to moving on to the next thing, which is another YA mystery (WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!) that I’m calling “MB” for now.

Anyway, there’s my brain dump. Do with it what you will.