Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm writing a book

So I'm writing a novel. I'm forcing myself to say it that way, rather than the thing that would come easier: So I'm doing this nanowrimo thing. Every day since November 1st, save for one, I’ve written at least a few words of fiction. The first few days were easy. After day three, when my banished inner editor somehow managed to escape from his or her (I think maybe it’s a he, though maybe not. Actually no, definitely a thin faced woman.) cell (the first thing I did was lock her there, as per instructions), it got hard. If that sentence is any indication, I probably should not have, but that is exactly why she got locked up in the first place. There is no space, in noveling, for second guessing, because second becomes third and fourth and seventeenth, and then there’s no more writing happening. So, back to the start. For the first few days, she stayed where she was supposed to be. I may have heard some murmuring coming from way down below, but I was fairly well able to ignore her and just keep writing things down. Then, on day three, the thought:

This looks nothing like a novel.

How one is meant to recognize a novel with only about 5000 words written, I have no idea, but the thought was still there. To be fair, I had no real plot, no real end goal in mind, only vague meanderings towards a theme, and a character who was nothing more than a sense I had. Each time I sat down to write I just picked a point, whatever came to mind, and started. The first day’s writing had nothing to do with the second’s, and so on. So, I might have had a point, wondering where the novel was, but all it did was stop me. I found the next couple of days to be enormously difficult, feeling like I should be able to step lightly across mountain ranges, and instead moving slowly, at odd angles, stumbling here and there. I was able, quite quickly, to realize that this fear was doing nothing more than making this harder than it needed to be, so I decided to let go. It more or less worked. I can admit that it’s still there, a little, a thin layer of fear and shoulds (this should make more sense, I should figure out exactly what’s happening here, and so on), but I’ve done my best to muffle it with a blanket of bravado and the actual belief that not knowing what I’m doing is entirely okay. Maybe even magnificent. And that the point is not to write a perfect novel; the point isn’t even to write a novel – it’s to write a draft of a novel, in whatever form it’s managed to take. It feels sort of like there is this thing that is struggling to create itself, as if from scavenged materials, arms made of twigs and marbles for eyes, slowly taking form, and however monstrous it might be when it’s finished, it will still be something of a miracle.

In 15 days (ack, today is the halfway point, how terrifying) I will have written 50,000 words of fiction, a work that won't exist until I pull it out of wherever it is coming from and put it down on the page. That seems pretty magical, to me. I still don’t have a real plot, I don’t know my character as well as I’d like to, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to her or why, but I just keep writing things down, whatever comes to mind, and accepting that as all I need to do.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What's making me happy this week: Friday, June 29, 2012

What's making me sad this week is Nora Ephron's death. What's making me happy is all of the remembering going on, about this fantastic writer and movie maker and woman. Specifically Lena Dunham's piece in the New Yorker.

For why I love this woman (aside from When Harry Met Sally, as if you need an aside): things she wouldn't miss and things she would.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's making me happy this week: first week of May

Aside from the fact that it's the first week of May, a realization that has blasted a smile across my face and right into my soul, there are a couple of things making me happy this week.

Firstly: I discovered today that Drew Barrymore is, at least probably, pregnant. This made me giddy. Drew Barrymore is the only celebrity whose personal life has the power to affect me like this. I'm not sure why; I just adore her. I found out she was engaged to a handsome, nice-looking non-celebrity a few months ago, and it just made me glad for her. This, too. I really, really want Drew to be happy.

Secondly: when other people prove to be hippies. I am a total hippie, but usually try to hide it, at least a little, because I feel like smart, rational people disapprove. But I am smart and rational, or at least smart, and I love astrology. And crystals. Hooray for paying attention to energy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What's making me happy this week

I love stealing ideas, especially good ones. Something that makes me happy every week is Pop Culture Happy Hour, NPR's weekly pop culture podcast. At the end of each episode the PCHH gang discuss what's making them happy this week. As I listen I'm constantly imagination-responding, thinking, "Oooh, ooh, yeah - that made me happy, too."

Rather than just chiming in silently, I'm going to steal Pop Culture Happy Hour's idea, so that I can share the glory of whatever thing is making me happy. I intended to have this posted on Friday, because that seems like a good day for things that are making one happy, but I was at work. And also, I didn't encounter the thing that is making me happy this week till about four o'clock on Friday afternoon.

Bon Iver Erotic Stories.

This is all you need to know.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Draft draft draft draft

I suppose that title could refer to the wind you can feel moving through this space. It is almost empty, but still there is that feeling, like you've walked into what might be a scary movie. Somewhere, someone (or something) is hiding.

I guess that something is me.

Really it refers to the fact that when I go to my dashboard I see a line down the middle of the screen: draft draft draft draft. I have been thinking a lot about writing, I have even been doing some of it, but somehow the publish button stays unpushed, just unrealized potential at the bottom of the page. I've realized a lot of it is fear. I am terrified of writing. I was about to stop myself and say, "No wait - I'm terrified of people reading what I write and hating me (or worse, not loving me)," but that's not true. I am a little bit terrified of that, but I think I am just as much afraid of writing and hating myself.

I read. A lot. I am not afraid of reading. I think I'm an amazing reader. I see nuances and imagine settings  and feel characters and laugh at all the right spots (and some I'm probably not supposed to). I appreciate and recognize great writing. And it paralyzes me. Because it makes me want to do that, too. It makes me want to find just the right words and capture feelings and truths and tell stories that take you up and down and around and around. But what if (and this will happen, undoubtedly) what I write isn't as good? What if it's just terrible? Somehow my body must be convinced that if this happens I might die. That's the only thing I can think of. That is the only good excuse for not doing what I know in the depth of my being (note: find a better line than depth of my being, ugh) is something I need to be doing to survive. The world doesn't make sense until I write it down.

I'm taking a course on writing for a living. In the first class we talked about that - the idea that one writes because (and I almost quote) something something spider weaving web of words from the soul something something. Which is a perfectly good reason to write, but not really to write for a living. So now I'm trying to find that spot, where I can write for me, for my soul and so on, but also write stuff that people want to read. And that people want to pay me for.

I suppose it's also partly a war that's happening within me between earnestness and snark. I like funny, snarky writing. I really do. I also find myself in that age of aquarius place where I just want the world to be full of love. But I still want to be funny. And it's kind of hard to be funny without being mean. (Thing I just googled: how to be funny without being mean. Judd Apatow comes to mind.)

And now I have written all this and am feeling slightly anxious about putting it into the world because it is just a bunch of ideas and I feel like it should be a perfected essay in order to go out and be read, and if I try to wait for that right now it's just going to stay a draft and so I'm just going to push publish.

Most of this is inspired by reading I've been doing lately. Other blogs. Especially ones where people are dealing with desire and doubt. Like Christina Kelly's. That name feels so good to read again; those Sassy ladies felt like... what and who I wanted to be. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dreams by Mary Oliver

by Mary Oliver

All night
the dark buds of dreams

In the center
of every petal
is a letter,
and you imagine

if you could only remember
and string them all together
they would spell the answer.
It is a long night,

and not an easy one—
you have so many branches,
and there are diversions—
birds that come and go,

the black fox that lies down
to sleep beneath you,
the moon staring
with her bone-white eye.

Finally you have spent
all the energy you can
and you drag from the ground
the muddy skirt of your roots

and leap awake
with two or three syllables
like water in your mouth
and a sense

of loss—a memory
not yet of a word,
certainly not yet the answer—
only how it feels

when deep in the tree
all the locks click open,
and the fire surges through the wood,
and the blossoms blossom.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

but vs. and

This is going to be a hippie post.

I was walking down the street just now, thinking about how I'd like to win a billion dollars (or something in that vicinity). I was thinking about the fact that if I did win this large sum of money, I'd like to have someone to help me figure out how to manage it ethically, meaning help as many people as possible, and in a way that felt meaningful and important to me. I started explaining it in an imaginary conversation, saying, 'So I want to have a comfortable life, and have things I enjoy, and make sure that my wealth grows and my family is taken care of and my life feels good, but I also want to-.' And I stopped. I was going to continue with, 'help as many people with my money as I can, and make sure that the world is benefiting from my riches.' I stopped because I suddenly recognized that that word - but - meant that something in me saw those two ideas as opposed, and how likely was it to believe that I could do both things if I also thought that they worked against one another. And I realized that a very easy transition, replacing the word 'but' with the word 'and' meant that I could (subconsciously) accept that the two ideas could work together. This seems to me like it will help everything to flow a little easier.

So: I want to have a good life, enriched by wealth and access to material goods and experiences I might not otherwise afford, and I want to contribute to the betterment of the world by sharing that wealth and using it in ways that fulfill my own vision of wonderful.

Now I'm really noticing my internal monologue (or dialogue) and where there are conflicts between things I want. Example: I want a career I enjoy and I want time to write creatively. Further: I want a career that supports me well financially and I want to write. I want to enjoy Toronto and I want to maintain strong connections with the people I love around the country (/world). I want to feel healthy and I want to eat things that I enjoy. Before this afternoon I likely would have used the word 'but' where you see all of those pretty slanted ands (so open and nice, and). No longer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Instead of New Year's resolutions, Sally and I spent the solstice making lists of things we were releasing and things we were inviting into our lives. Top of my list for things I'm inviting into my life: a focus on creative projects, and sharing them with other people. Because as much as I write, and make, and experiment, it's usually just for me. I know that that can have its place, but where I'm stuck is putting those things out into the world, and out in the world is where I think they should be.

Then I came across literary resolutions, and decided to make one of those, a fair bit after the fact. I posted mine in this week's edition of bookishness, but here it is again:

I resolve to write something that's not an email every day (and read some classic literature). This is today.


Email me at thenewisthetrue (at) gmail .com
My photo
Toronto, Canada
I think I might be addicted to books. And noodles. I need the ocean. I want to know everything. Almost. I love love. And loving things. Like love. And like.