Posts Tagged ‘writing a book’

Mindless debauchery update

Friday, October 22nd, 2010


I got nothin’.

I suppose when every day is mindless debauchery, it’s so hard to differentiate.

Sometimes I do think about perpetual mindless debauchery as an option. Minus the occasional periods where you’re forced to sober up and deal with your shit (or so says your parents or loved ones or parole officer), I suggest it might be preferable to what I commonly think of as “the real world.”

Freaky food

I don't know what this is. I'm not sure I want to know. Maybe some kind of messed up cream pie with cherries and, uh, green weeds? At any rate, what matters about this picture is this: it's the least of the evils when you type 'debauchery' into Google Images. ***shudder***

Who needs “the real world” anyway?
Unless you’re rich or famous or otherwise high on the hog, the real world kind of sucks. Regularly.

In other news, I thought I’d attempt to give you some uber-boring but hopefully slightly amusing updates on my latest distraction. Oh yes. It is now official (and I’m even thinking of getting business cards made). I am Vanessa Wolf: international cat sitter,  writer, and raconteur.

Man, I love the word raconteur, and now thanks to Jack White (whom I also love although the live Union Forever album is a bit – well – rough, and Meg’s terrible drumming shines in all the ways you wouldn’t want it to) it’s in somewhat more common vernacular now so I could actually use it without seeming like a snob, but then again, most people probably aren’t super-familiar with the actual definition, just the band, and maybe it’s a bold claim to make about my own self (although I would like to learn it was put on my tombstone or at least mentioned at the funeral) so it’s probably best if I just keep it to myself as I have been doing for some time now already.

Speaking of which (and I swear I’ll eventually loop this around to where you can see the relevance), a girlfriend of mine was in Italy last week and on a trip to make connections in the leather and textile worlds. In her first email to me she related that she’d “met a wonderful Italian man. He is 80-something and owns a fabric shop where I spent $150 on a jersey silk wool blend. He spoke to me of harmony, poetry, and magic.”

So, like you, I wondered if she might actually be having some kind of affair with this elderly dude. Hell, with Viagra and Roman blood, I guess you never  know…

Thankfully, she followed up with some texts where she explained further that he did say something to the effect of, “please don’t wait me wait so long before you kiss me” but no such thing ever happened. However, a few days later she texted that she was “told I was exigent, whatever that means.”  I explained that it means demanding or unreasonable, and whoever said it was clearly a big, fat jerk.

So (as the story goes) she informed that it was the ‘ancient 80 year old guy’ who said it (and was once again rebuffed for a kiss, although I don’t know if that was before or after the highbrow name calling started), and then I suggested maybe he meant to say “exquisite” or “exotic” or “exceptional” and she said, “No. He meant exigent. He even spelled it for me.” Which brings me to two points:

1. Yes, it is impressive to know, let alone use big words, especially when English is (presumably) a second language, but it also makes you look like an arrogant asshole – especially if you call someone a word they don’t understand and even repeat it without providing the (judgmental) definition.

2. Eighty is OLD. I’m sorry, but there are very few 30-something women who are drawn to men old enough to be their grandpa (money, intelligence, charm, and ownership of an Italian fabric store notwithstanding), and my friend is not one of them. Neither am I, for anyone wondering. So don’t be a jerk about it, just age up about 25 or 30 years, and you’ll probably be fine. Or not. Whatever. Jerk.

Actually, seeing as I still feel kind of fired up about this, allow me to add a third point.

3. Unless you’re in a spelling bee or someone has SPECIFICALLY asked you for spelling help, don’t fucking spell words for other people when they don’t understand you. That’s so incredibly arrogant I almost want to buy a ticket to Rome just to hunt this guy down and give him a verbose talking-to and maybe hard slap across the liver-spotted cheek. Jerk.

In other news, I am sitting in my dad’s living room where I will be for many days to come and hopefully writing copious amounts of the new book (which I am rather happy with so far, happily) and watching the king, er, his indoor cat and his outdoor kitty zoo of feral felines. At this point, like any good ruler fearing an unfavorable coup, the king has been laying low, observing, and plotting his next move. I suspect he’s acting all nervous and coy in an effort to lull me into an unsuspecting state such that I won’t see nor expect it when he leaps from the staircase and claws my eyes out.

Either that, or he’ll decide to roll with the punches and warm up within the next 24-36 hours.

We shall see.

I know the Egyptians revered them as gods, so I don’t plan to underestimate His Royal Highness. For now, I’m just keeping the bowl stocked with Friskies Surfin’ and Turfin’ and watching my back.

Human skin is so soft and vulnerable to angry cat claws and my vision is not what it should be.

Truth be told, I feel a little bit like Ripley near the end of Alien, but as of yet all paranoia is purely the product of my own imagination.

Thus far.

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If this is true, then I’m golden

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone

- Blaise Pascal

Audrey Hepburn lookalike

Channeling my inner Holly Golightly.

In the last week and two days I have proven – in spades and in excess – that I am capable of sitting quietly in a room alone.

Hell, I thrive quietly in a room alone.

I’m like a low-maintenance houseplant.

Or a cat with access to a dripping faucet and an open feedbag.

Go about your business and don’t worry about little old me. Just leave a light on and let a neighbor know I exist, okay?

All the same, I’m kind of appalled at my own absence.

Five days?
How did five days get by me?

Well, for starters, I’m sitting quietly – minus the ticky tacky tapping of Macbook keys – in a room alone all the livelong day (and night).

I could be on Mars for all I (or you) know.

Secondarily, I’m writing a chapter a day.

I should be proud of this, but the thing of it is, my (overly, I now realize) aggressive schedule had me writing two a day.


Who do I think I am?

Joyce Carol Oates?

(I once read that on a real roll she writes 40 pages a day, so she is my Parthenon of big-time page quota writing)

Mexican laundry on the line

Doing my laundry old school. Feeling very salt of the earth and wondering to myself, "Do I own any clothes that aren't gray?"

Anywho, I’ve been writing a chapter a day, which honestly isn’t easy, and due to my own strange (inspired?) idea to have the first ten chapters be parallel and modern-day retellings of the life of Christ ages 30 to 32, they’re tedious as well. In addition to the time spent doing said writing, I spend about two hours a day reading Biblical interpretations.

Which I kind of hate.

Okay, I hate it a lot.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate Jesus…but when you’re dreaming about the man in a scholarly kind of way, you’ve possibly/probably/definitely gone too far.

Anyway, I’m working like a dog and making daily progress. Despite this, I’ve been growing increasingly despairing.

“Why?” you ask.

Well, if you’d been paying attention, you’d know I’m growing increasingly despairing because I thought I could write two chapters a day, and it just ain’t happening.

So self-admonition and “mañana, mañana” kick in until today, when the landlord sneeringly asks me, “So are you getting any writing done? Or do you have writers’ block?”

“No,” I told him, “I’ve written nine chapters.”

The sheer look of shock was enough to make me realize that although I may not be JCO (see above for secret decoder ring), but I am doing pretty darn good.

And then he stammered, “Wow. You’re a disciplined writer.”

Giant box of Special K

I only buy cereal that's at least four times the size of my head. And yes, the house really is as round and pink and freakishly fluorescent light lit as it seems here. I've grown accustomed...

And THEN he went and made my day (sort of) by adding that he’s happy if he writes a chapter a month.

I don’t have any clue what it is that he’s writing, but whatever.

Doing some quick math, I calculated that on his ‘aggressive’ plan, it would take me three years to write this book. So two or three months instead of one ain’t too shabby.

And it certainly isn’t three years.

So yay me.

In other news:

  • The first day I got a funky tan from my ever-present necklaces, but I have hence removed now-not-so-much-ever-present necklaces and evened that mess out.
  • Last night, in a fit of “I’m sick of corn tortillas and beans” I made cabbage rolls (any of you with any kind of Eastern European or Russian heritage know what I”m talking about), and they were wonderful. And I ate more for breakfast. And more again tonight for dinner. And there are still five left. Happiness…
  • I was trying to trim an errant hair with oversized scissors and cut a chunk out of my eyebrow. Oh well. It’s hair. It’ll grow back.
  • I have a girl crush on Ellie, the fast-talking Mexican maid. Not my maid, mind you. I do my own laundry and dishes and sweeping and cleaning. Not that I mind. It’s kind of a simplified, hand-hewn Little House on the Prairie-type existence. Anyway, back to Ellie, she’s so sweet and doesn’t seem to care a lick that I only understand about 30% of what she says. And she’s willing to try all kinds of words until she stumbles into some vocabulary I recognize. The same cannot be said for everyone…  Enough said.
  • I miss TV. A lot.
  • I am really damn tired (it’s a little after midnight here) due in large part to the aggressive ray of sun that shines directly on my face every morning at 7:00am and my persistent very late night bedtimes. In other words, I couldn’t let another day go by without posting something, but in just a few more words that’s all there is to say. Be good. More soon.

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How not to write a book

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Although in the last year I have written two books (one a memoir about my solo backpack trips through Europe in 1993 and 2008, and one a sci-fi novel about the world 100 years in the future after we’ve destroyed our own food chain and decimated the environment), I can’t necessarily claim to know what I’m doing.

Paper and pen are a good place to 1888. Can you even imagine writing a whole book in script? Holy hand cramps, Batman!

At the same time, I have become pretty clear on what I did wrong, so perhaps my stupidity can be your gain?

Thus, without further rambling introduction, let me tell you how I approached the novel-writing process…which is your cue to pull a George Costanza and do everything the opposite of my instincts.

1. You’ve got a vague idea…so get writing!

Who needs a story arc, character studies, or even a clear sense of where you’re going? You’ve got a big idea and dream…so start putting words onto paper willy nilly. It’ll all work out.

Or something.

2. Have absolutely no sense of how long a chapter should be or how many of them there are.

Anarchy is the name of the game, baby. Look at Charles Bukowski: If you’re not totally out of control, you have no business calling yourself a ‘writer.’

3. Plot? What’s that?

See #2.

4. Take absolutely no notes on the names, ages, or other details of your characters.

It’s more fun to make up new names and vary the dates in which the whole book takes place. Change things as you go, because it’s soooooo much fun when you get to the end and everything is a giant clusterf*ck. Yay! Chaos!

I have been cultivating passive clarity for the last week, and I feel pretty darn good today.

5. Never, ever, ever edit along the way. Just write and write and write and write and plan to worry about it later.

One cannot appreciate how much it takes to create a clean novel until you’re knee-deep in hundreds of pages of your own free-association drivel.

6. Avoid ‘later’ like the plague.

Need I say more?

7. When taking large breaks for varying reasonable and irrational reasons, don’t re-read whatever was written previously, just carry on to the best of your recollection.

You will never fully grasp what a simple creature you are until you’re doing your first read-through and find that one character says or does the same thing six different times.

8. Go on endless tangents about characters you later decide to cut or intricately detailed, off-topic back stories no one in their right mind would ever want to read.

It makes things a little bit better when you get to number nine and…

9. Realize you are well on your way to a 1000-page novel

And no one wants to read a 1000-page novel, let along a 1000-page first novel. At least you have the rubbish referenced in #8 and can swiftly cut back to a nice, savory 750-page tome.

10. Have no idea how it ends

That way, every waking minute of your life can be consumed with the potential fates and prospective destinies of a bunch of imaginary people that only exist in your brain. Added bonus: Makes engaging cocktail party chatter!

As you  might imagine, things will be handled differently during attempt #2 (commencing next week). As it stands, I’m already working and re-working the chapter outlines and character studies, and I haven’t even written a single page yet.

Today he ate part of a brand new bar of lavender soap I bought for Mexico. Psycho.

Live and learn, people!

He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom.  -James Gibbons Huneker

Tomorrow: How not to raise a dog.

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Are we having fun yet?

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
I already knew things would be too messy to edit a hard copy, so I'm not even going there.

I already knew things would be too messy to edit a hard copy, so I'm not even going there.

‘Cause I’m not.

I am on day one of editing, and it’s pretty much as dismal as I feared.

As you may or may not recall, I actually started this book in May. And then my computer died, and took the hard drive with it. And then another one died.  And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust.

Basically, the early process of this latest tome was one of tremendous fits and starts. And it freaking shows.

Add to that the reality that when I started it, I kind of didn’t know where I was going or who the characters were or how they might change or end up or where or when or how. Truthfully, at times it’s all been as much of a shock to me as the next guy. And, perhaps not surprisingly, that freaking shows too.

As a result, and seeing as I’ve known this was the case for some time, there’s a sizable part of me that felt like it would be a good idea to postpone this editing…forever. And another part thought it would make more sense to spend the day playing Scrabble on the computer and get started on this some other time. Like in 2012. And another would really like to take a nap right now.

However, I have to imagine (pray/hope/wish/intend) that first draft editing of something this large and sweeping and relatively unplanned is always painful, and that it’ll get better as I go. And maybe next time I’ll be a little less willy nilly when I start.

Meanwhile, I have this new yellow legal pad next to me, and I’m sitting here writing out lengthy character sketches and background info and stuff about family so that all the names/dates/ages/stories are consistent.

And then I’ve got to do that with the technology, and the political movements, and the wars, and….ugh. So close, and yet so far! A journey of a thousand miles apparently starts the day after you just finished a journey of thousand miles. Didn’t mention that, did you, Lao Tzu?

So that’s the story: After working so hard to get it written, I now have to fix it. It’s sort of like blasting a cave and hacking and pick-axing at the walls and finally digging out a diamond…and now I’ve got to facet the damn thing.

However, I turned to my trusty ‘Ask and It Is Given’ cards for guidance and pulled ‘I Now Hold the Key to Creating my Every Desire’ which reads: “It is not possible to consistently feel positive emotion about something and have it turn out badly.”

So be it.

I will cling to that concept like a drowning man to a buoy, and with any luck, this process will be easier than it seems. Here goes the single step…

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Generic stream of consciousness

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Five to seven pages from being done with my second book. Did I tell you I ended up adding two chapters (so about 30 pages)?

I did. And I wasn’t planning on that. And I’m kind of not in the mood to write the stuff, even though it’s all planned out and bullet-pointed, and just needs to be filled in. Simply put, I’m not in the mood, but I’m still chugging away, because I am – if nothing else – a trooper. And a masochist.

Current mantra: Done (at least pre-edit done) tomorrow. DONE TOMORROW!

No excuses.

And then the day after tomorrow I kick off the editing, because I’ve got to get this thing baked and get me an agent. Is anyone out there a literary agent? A literary agent who would like to represent my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book about the world 100 years from now when we’ve screwed up the food chain and live in domes and eat mush and fear nature? Other things happen too, but that’s the high-level recap.

In other news, in my search for blogs no one is reading, I’ve been reading some real crap. Like this thing about how to tame wild animals (???), although it wasn’t really useful or informative despite being called HOW TO tame wild animals. Here are a few select quotes:

“At the beginning, taming performers often feed them food and water so as to free them from vigilance. Gradually, the animals apt to get close to people and then the performers can touch heads of these animals in cages from outside, swab down their bodies with warm towels and comb their hair.”

This makes me think of combing my Barbies’ hair when I was a little girl. Except they were plastic. And dead. And didn’t have claws or the power to kill me.

Swabbing their bodies makes me think of Q-Tips. Really big, lion-sized Q-Tips.

“Animals don’t have thinking ability and even the cleverest animals cannot understand human languages.”

Say it isn’t so, animal taming expert! And I disagree. They just proved that dogs  know as many words as a human 2-year old, and a few exceptional breeds (like the German Shepherd. Pixie’s breed) know as many as a 2 1/2 year old. Like 250 human words.. Suck on THAT, stupid animal taming know-it-all but know-nothing dumbass.

“Animal taming is a very tough task. While highly praising the splendid circuses, we should not forget the hard work of animal tamers.”

#1 – The reason no one is reading this is beacause it’s awful.

#2 - The only way I’m willing to forgive this horrible article is if I find out it’s been written by an untamed wild animal. With dyslexia.

Yahoo mail is acting lame, and it’s really starting to piss me off. I have to hit send over and over and over to get things to send, and sometimes they still won’t send, and I have to open a whole new window and then copy/paste my message over. Grrrrr…

I am so fighting off the desire to veg out and play The Sims3. I created a new set of roommates, and I gave this one woman nothing but horrible traits (like messy and party animal and afraid of technology and insane), and all her outfits are some kind of animal print, I’m looking forward to letting her loose on the people of Pleasantview or whatever the neighborhood is called and watching her be crazy.

But I can’t.

No Sims.

Must write.

Must write book.

Must finish book.

Ten pages or even less and book done.

(Apparently I start talking like a cave man – or Arnold Schwarzenegger – when I’m throwing down the gauntlet with myself.)

It’s cheap to rent movies from those ‘Red Box’ things ($1.00 a day plus tax, which is a whole extortionary $.09 here in Washington) UNLESS you get that vampire movie and don’t watch it for an entire week. Now Twilight has cost me $7.63, and I’m f-ing watching the thing tonight if it kills me. I’m watching the thing tonight even if it results in vampires showing up at my house and converting me into a vampire. Not that that would happen. Or be that bad.

Minus my love of sunbathing, I think it would be pretty cool.

I could go with no longer aging and having eternity to do everything I want. Imagine how many books I could write over the span of eternity. Wow!

What else?

Bruise is healing nicely, and I’m going to resume running again tomorrow. I have been able to keep up my abs, arm, and (ahem) butt exercise routines despite my impairment, so I’ve got that going for me.

The vampire girl is flying Southwest airlines somewhere. I really hate Southwest. I don’t care about the cattle call/musical chairs bit, what I hate is the cutesy wannabe funny loud singing and joking and super irritating stuff the flight attendants do. The flight attendants make me want to punch them out.

Ha! The girl in the vampire movie is being moved to Forks, Washington. The bank I used to work for had a branch there. It doesn’t ALWAYS rain…it just seems like it.

No wonder the vampires like that girl. She’s as pale as a vampire. Especially next to the Native American kid. She is spooky pale. Albino pale. She kind of glows she’s so pale.

I haven’t seen this, and I don’t know what’s coming, but it’s my prediction that they probably mistook her for one, and that’s how she got mixed up in the whole thing in the first place. They thought she was one of their pale, bloodless kind. Innocent mistake, really.

Having started at many, many schools as the “new kid” let me take issue with the ‘You’re news, baby. Front page” approach. No one gives a rat’s ass when you come to their school.

They aren’t excited.

They certainly aren’t friendly.

And they sure as hell aren’t falling all over themselves to be your BFF.

Unless they’re a total loser with no friends of their own.

They certainly don’t photograph you to put you on the front page of the school paper. I mean, really. DOES NOT HAPPEN.

Just sayin’.

But since you no doubt do not need a blow-by-blow report of my thoughts on ‘Twilight,’ I will stop blogging now.

Except to add:

God, that girl is pale…

She’s beyond pale. She’s ghostly white.

The vampires have more color than she does.

Seriously, someone needs to get this child a blood transfusion or a tanning bed or at least some blush or something.

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