Posts Tagged ‘Writing a Novel’

(Just Like) Starting Over

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I have recently realized that I am a George Person.

The Beatles iTunes

This is the picture - the one used by iTunes last year - that caused the epiphany.

For a long time – during my own extended (and yes, hairy legs and armpits and partial dreadlocks and all of it. Don’t judge. I was young and foolish then.) dirty hippie phase –  I thought I was a John person, but I now realize the error of my ways. Granted, I could write about two hundred blog posts on the errors of my ways alone, but regret is a useless emotion.

I think I’ve mentioned that I rather hate Paul. I do. It’s nothing personal (or is it???) but just a few bars of “Listen to What the Man Says” can send me screaming from the room. Even the Musak version is intolerable. And “Someone’s Knocking At the Door?” Well, I just hope that someone is a hired assassin with orders to shoot to kill.

I don’t give a shit about Ringo either way, and let’s face facts here: although obviously superior at the art of survival and avoiding embarrassing marriages to one-legged gold diggers, Ringo is no holds barred the ugly one (or, in Jersey Shore parlance, the grenade.) If he wrote any songs, I don’t know about it, so luckily he’s at least relatively blameless in my mind.

So anyway, if a gun is held to my head and I’m forced to choose – or if I happen to name a blog after a latter-day John (and probably Yoko in some form. Seems she had her paws on everything.) song – I will state George as my favorite. And as it so happens, he was rather a hottie (at least in profile). And I do very much like the song “Here Comes the Sun” although the rest of the Beatles catalog is what I expect to have to listen to should I be unfortunate enough to one day find myself  in Hell.

I am the Walrus

My god, is this real? I get the sense this is real. I hope at least Paul and Ringo have the good sense to be embarrassed.

I hate it all; even the ‘classics.’

Blackbird: take those broken wings and hobble yourself outside…quietly.

Yesterday: Whine, whine, whine, whine, whiney baby whiner whine.

Yellow Submarine: Anthrax to my ears.

Can’t Buy Me Love: I’m sure the boys now realize the error of that sentiment. Poverty can nuke love, but money can certainly get you back in the door.

Eleanor Rigby: Ghastly

Sexy Sadie: Weren’t you listening? I hate it all. I don’t care that they’re a treasured and iconic band and people around the world love and worship them. You can have them. Give me The Stones or Jimi Hendrix or Muddy Waters or Leonard Cohen any day and keep that LSD I am the eggman sitting on a cornflake crap to yourself.


In other news, I think I mentioned that I had planned to be done with the rough draft of my new book on Friday (as in three days from now.) Not so much. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Well, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under, but what they say is the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Why do they say that?

Here Comes the Sun lyrics

This is a very sweet song.

Well, enter the internet with the following enlightenment: “The saying is adapted from a line in ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns: ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men /Gang aft a-gley.’”

Anybody got a translation on Gang aft agley? Apparently that was how we English-speaking types once said “often go awry.” Something tells me my  plan to build a time machine and return to the days of the American Revolution could melt down in simple language barrier/semantics problems.


Wouldn’t that be a funny short story? You return to some romanticized, celebrated time not THAT long ago (250 years doesn’t seem THA T long, really) only to find you can’t understand a goddamned word anyone’s saying.

It’s the little things really…

So where was I? Book not done in three days.

Why not?

Woman rethink entire plot and find self re-writing 21 chapters in one week. Woman no happy, yet realize this good thing in big picture.

Be glad I picked this and not a picture of ovaries.

Why I’ve started talking like a caveman I have no idea, but the bottom line is that I ended up going over the story with someone last week (Thursday, I think?), realized a character I wanted to add and one I wanted to delete and a general inconsistency with my main character and some plot twists and overall storyline strengthening that would be beneficial…and then I couldn’t bring myself to write the final chapters. It made no sense without first fixing everything else.


So there you go.
And there I go: back to extended editing/rewriting so as to keep to my schedule (sort of) and be done with the rough draft NEXT Friday.

Then I’m going to work on a romantic comedy screenplay where there is absolutely no time travel, but extensive use of the word “ovaries.”

Just kidding.


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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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The Spell is Broken

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The curse lifted.

The drought over.

<<<insert euphemism of choice here.>>>

In other, joyous, news: I am working on the new book!

Yes! It’s true!

After about three bad (or simply not appealing enough to get me to knuckle down for reals) ideas and false starts and carts before horses and gimmicky contrivances and so on and so forth, I have settled in on a story I’m excited to tell. Yay! As much as it’s hard work, there’s nothing quite so rewarding as building a whole world that didn’t exist before you made it up. And in that spirit, I am headlong into finding the voices of the varied narrators and key characters and the world in which they live and getting it all down on my trusty (but acting a bit flaky and crashing here and there and generally scaring the crap out of me) MacBook.

The first 100 pages are the hardest (at least for me) because you don’t really know the people and personas yet, and you’re still finding your way in that regard. It’s probably why I’m bad at short stories: I really like to understand someone (their back story and hopes and dreams and fears and screw ups and motivations and procrastinations and mental glitches) before I write them, and short stories just don’t allow for that. Nor is it necessary. And yet the process of creating all that – and for a dozen or more characters  is a lot a work. However, if the first 25 of the first 100 toughest pages are any indicator, I’m off to a good start. And that makes me happy.

And will probably make my sub-par blogging even worse, although I’ll try hard to make sure that’s not the case.

Admittedly, I have no travel planned and nothing much to report, but I suppose I could always start drinking heavily or hanging with the wrong crowd.

Or just make shit up.

You be the judge.

I suppose we’ll just have to see where the next day or two takes me…

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Not dead. Just editing.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Which in some cultures is the same thing as being dead.

Or at least it should be.

If I had my own culture, my little euphemism for time spent editing would be, “a series of small deaths.”

As in “Vanessa has not been blogging as she has been undergoing a series of small deaths with Zion.”

However, as we’ve all been told, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Or, in my own greatly preferred version (courtesy of Marilyn Manson): Whatever doesn’t kill you is gonna leave a scar.

Mexican Taco Stand Menu

Me when things were warm and sunny, which was not - by any stretch of the imagination - in the last few weeks.

Either way.

Presuming I survive and come up for air soon, I’ll be back before you know it.

As always.

Pinky swear.

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Chivalry is not yet dead

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

This is the only country I’ve ever been in where men will drop babies and old women and test tubes of volatile, nuclear substances to run and help me put my grocery bags in the back of the car.

Sitting by the little (very cold!) pool at the house.

And they’re not even store employees or anything.

Just helpful dudes who think I look weak or needy or blonde.


I’ll take it.

It makes me feel kind of like Grace Kelly or something.

In other news, I may resemble a dainty starlet of the 1950s (at least south of border. Give me that.), but I stink like a caveman.

Did you know charcoal does not necessarily come in pre-formed, palm-sized briquettes? But that it can actually be half of a tree trunk and fourteen tiny scraps creating the substantial weight in that large, dirty bag? And when that sh*t gets under your nails, it’s like the anti-French manicure.

It’s the Brittany Grease Monkey.

The Parisian Welder.

The Provencal Blacksmith.

The I’ve Been Working on the French Railroad All The Live-Long Day

Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco de Baja

Driving to the Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco only to discover they're closed on Sundays. Boo hoo.

But there’s no time to dwell on that dainty, girly, To Catch a Thief crap now. Somehow you have to get a fire going and get the tree trunk itself going and eventually – say fourteen hours later – you’re ready to grill your chicken.

I know, it’s a lot of work.

And a lot of time.

I did not know that either.

All of this was what we Grace Kelly-types like to call “quel surprise”.

But now that I smell all camp fire-y and manly and “Me. Fire. Cook. Meat.” I’m also a bit proud of my new knowledge. Like anything hard-won, it feels like a victory. And smells like one too.

Or is that Napalm?
Or is that redundant?

In other news, I have been unwell.

Not so unwell as to render a visit to a Mexican clinic or a life flight out of here, but unwell enough to disturb my precious and deeply beloved sleep.

And that ain’t right.

I think they served yogurt like this at Auschwitz. Pineapple, celery, and cactus. And the other one is prune. Yummy.

As I’m pretty sure you all know by now, I have a minor condition called Interstitial Cystitis.
Admittedly, being a pain condition, in some cases it is anything but ‘minor’, but luckily my version is relatively minor.

Until it flares up, and then I’m always like, “How the hell did I not remember how horrible this was!?!? Get me a morphine drip and get it NOW!!!”

My IC has a few known foes: spicy peppers, excess red wine, and stress.

Checking off the latter two, the issue a couple nights ago was brought on by some excessively hot pico de gallo made with serranos heaped upon some already  spicy pulpo tacos.
Damn, they were good though.

Not quite good enough to account for my suffering, but still good.

And in the spirit of full disclosure and entertainment at any cost, step right up and gawk at the true and very pathetic story of how desperate I was the other night (FAIR WARNING: This is not for the squeamish or vomit story sensitive): Upon waking up in the wee hours and realizing my bladder was on goddamned FIRE, I mixed up and drank a huge glass of baking soda and water in order to alkalize the situation. You’ve heard of baking soda on a grease fire? For better or worse, it’s the same thing with my super sensitive ulcer-esque urine tank.

A pretty horsey spotted near Bahia Coyote.

For those of you that are visual and/or literal: It was at least 16 oz of water and a three honking tablespoons of baking soda.

And murder going down.

Out of sheer horror, I chased that with a plain – swimming pool sized – glass of water.

Then I went and laid down.

And pulled the blankets up around me.

And thought happy, alkaline thoughts.

And felt overwhelmingly like barfing.

So after a while, the barfiness gained strength and I got up and sat in the tub (thank god for the tub!!!)

There, I threw up projectile baking soda water vomit four different times into said bath (Big time Exorcist projectile vomit, yet pretty clean vomit, as things go).

And worst of all, I had to fight to keep the remainder of the hideous, nauseating beverage down because I knew I needed it to deal with problem #1, the original problem that in turn led to the new nausea problem, my angry bladder.

Eventually I went back to bed.

Many have tried, but few have mastered the in-pool-novel-writing technique. It's a matter of opportunity as much as skill and determination.

And I’m better today.

And taking it easy on the serranos.

And no red wine in sight.

Sorry about the gross story.
But you asked.

You didn’t ask?
Oh apologies. It must be all this hanging out by myself in the Mexican desert making me imagine conversations with you that aren’t actually happening.

On the upside, I will be in a middle seat on USAirways Flight 330 to Phoenix in less than 48 hours. I will miss the sun and the cacti and the tranquillity, but I seriously cannot wait to go home and hug my dog and watch some cable TV.

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