I was thinking recently about how fortunate it is that I don't have a lot of pressure to hurry up and finish my third novel. I didn't quit my job when I got a book deal (a smart move, because, among other things, I like my job and it keeps me grounded), so I didn't have to keep telling myself to rush through more books to pay my rent. But the more important reason to not depend exclusively on my writing for income is that sometimes (and I know I've said this before), I have to think and be involved in other things in order to come up with a really good solution or plot twist or theme that makes the book a lot better. When I'm not writing the book, I'm thinking about it, and also dealing with and listening to other people, and that's important for ideas and angles. The reason so much of television is mediocre is that they're forced to write the stuff EVERY week, so they're not afforded much time to come up with jokes and scenarios that haven't been done before. (A show like The Simpsons is an exception because they have a staff of 20 writers, so they have a little more brain power there. So is a show like Sex in the City that has eight episodes at a time and then takes a long breather.) I hate doing what's been done before, although obviously sometimes it's unavoidable. It's true that 90 percent of plots have been done in some way in the Bible or Shakespeare, but it's what you do with them that matters.
The one thing that does put pressure on me in my writing is the idea that someone out there might do the same thing, so I can't pussyfoot around forever. Eventually, Book 3 will get done. The fact that I spent half of 2003 rewriting the same 15 pages doesn't matter. (I did, of course, work on other parts of it during that time, but beginnings are key.) I have about 350 pages of it, some of which will be lopped out, some of which will be colored in. I don't know if everyone will like it, but if it someday feels the way I wanted it to feel, I'll be happy. And I won't show it to people until I think it does.
I am grateful for new friends I've made this year, as well as the regulars who come to trivia and, in general, anyone who has the patience to deal with me. Happy New Year to you and yours. And happy Football Day for tomorrow.
I had to deal with a lot of loose ends today, got it all done, and now I feel good -- sort of like when you stop hitting yourself with a hammer (not that I've done that). I do still have a pile of mail to go through and calls to return. Still, it's fine.
I hope everyone has a fantabulous new year.
Some people think that's not descriptive enough. OK. Woke up, checked e-mail, drank water, did exercises, called work to say I'd be a little late, took a picture of empty parking spaces (rare occurrence around here), took out used-up film, bought new film at pharmacy, changed clothes, went to work. I'm probably forgetting stuff.
It's completely pouring out today, and now it's starting to get windy, too. I'm soaked from my errands, including backed-up laundry doing. Sounds like I should spend much of the day writing and sipping soy nog.
Lori alerted me to this great article on the 20th anniversary of "A Christmas Story," complete with a current photo of Peter Billingsley.
I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you, having seen your
contact from the Internet. I am Barrister David Johnson, the legal
adviser to late Mr. and Mrs. Andy Brown, an America couple that lived in my
Country Nigeria for 30 years before they both died in the plane crash
late last year. These couples were good Christians, they so dedicated their
live to God. And as matter of fact, after I sold all their properties, I realized more than $3,800,000.00 (Three million hundred thousand US dollars
...I asked God to make his choice and direct me to a honest Christian or the chosen ministry that deserves this fund by his Grace. I then came across your address on the Internet as I was browsing through a Christian site, and as a matter of fact, it is not only you or your ministry that I picked on the Christian site initially, but after my fervent prayer over it, then you were nominated to me through divine revelation from God.
I did some work on the first 15 pages of Book 3 this morning. It's amazing that I'm still wrestling with the first 15 pages after three years. Every time I change something, I know this book will take longer and longer to finish. Frustrating but necessary. There are so many authors who get published and take forever to get their second novel out. They keep pushing back their deadline. I used to think it was laziness or intimidation, but now I know that once you finally get published, you're in less of a rush and you're also more aware of the process, so you want to make sure your next book is as good as it can be. Once you hand it in and it's accepted, you really can't make too many more changes.
There's something funny in the Times this morning that normally I'd comment on, but it will be used as a trivia question on Tuesday so I can't give it away here.
Last night, I took a cab home and the guy who got out before me didn't give the cabbie a tip. Out of the window, the cabbie said to him, "Asshole," as he was walking away. I don't know why people have to constantly pick fights over ridiculous things. It almost seems like a game to some people. There's just too much anger in the world. Yes, the guy didn't give the tip on a $3 ride, but maybe he had his own issues. I think he was drunk.
Then I put on the radio and an American official announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got 'im," followed by cheers. I thought, "Hooray! They got Osama bin Laden!"
But no, it's Saddam Hussein.
Mook the Meteorologist says we're getting another nor'easter!
Mook says: Still on track.
Snow comes in sunday morning, changes to sleet in the afternoon
then rain overnight sunday
back to a little snow monday morning
Some accumulation, not like last time though.
For anyone new who comes here, my main page is www.carenlissner.com. I'll get it better-designed eventually - don't you worry! I'm just mired in novels now.
...BLIZZARD WARNING EARLY SATURDAY THROUGH SATURDAY EVENING...
SNOW WILL CONTINUE OVERNIGHT AND ADDITIONAL ACCUMULATIONS OF A FEW INCHES ARE EXPECTED. SNOW WILL PERSIST THROUGH SATURDAY AND
NORTHEAST WINDS WILL PICK UP IN SPEED...A BLIZZARD WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS OR FREQUENT
GUSTS OF OVER 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH CONSIDERABLE FALLING AND OR
BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW.
I can honestly say that I believe this to be the first December "blizzard" I've ever been in. Almost all of them I remember have been in February.
Something I just heard outside my window:
MAN: Come on. Keep walking.
GIRL: I've been walking the whole time! And you've been yelling that the whole time! I've been walking and you've been yelling!
Many years ago, when I was going through a rough postcollege transitional period, I had a two-day temp job in Princeton even though I lived in Hoboken. There were reports of snow the next day, but I decided to chance it and drive an hour down to the job anyway. The snow began coming down around 10 and didn't let up. They let me off work around 3, and when I swung back onto the Turnpike, NO ONE was on the road. The painted lane lines had all been covered in snow, so the Turnpike looked like one vast sheet of snow, just for me and my '85 Plymouth Duster. I left the radio off and just listened to the heater the whole way, and when I got it home, I parked on the corner half in a crosswalk, and the battery died. My neighbor helped me push the car in a little more, and then a few days later a local mechanic who ran a shop out of his garage jumped it for me. I ended up with a profit of about $10 on that day's work after the mechanic cost, so I figured at least I'd gotten something out of it.
Dan wants to add to his prior missive:
I had forgotten to ask you something.
You mentioned that you have children with your husband, Jose, Jacqueline and Jude. Do you have three children with those names, or is your husband’s name Jose and the two of you begot Jacqueline and Jude? And when you want your son, do you say, “Hey Jude”?
Anxious for your response.
I just checked out your blog, and read about your donation; you are one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known! So much love and concern in your heart…
I would have written back to Dr. Mrs. Luisa with rewrites in her letter; for example, “may be” should read “maybe”, etc:
I read your letter with great sadness and concern. Surely God will see you through this tough time.
That said, please see my corrections to your letter. Your diction and sentence structure need reworking, and the letter also contains faulty capitalization. Also, consider hyphenating “God fearing”, as that should send the message you apparently wish to convey. I will reconsider your request upon my receipt of a more properly written letter.
God is Love,
ME, TO COWORKER: Maybe someone here will go out and get your pizza for you if your pay them the tip money.
SALESWOMAN: I'll go out and get it if you're a big tipper.
ME: Al Gore is married to a big Tipper.
DIFFERENT SALESWOMAN (walking past, five minutes later, in a monotone): You're real funny, Caren.
I've gotten several interesting responses to Dr. Luisa Pimentel Estrada's letter, which I will post here anon.
Not much traffic on the roads this morning. People listened to the weather and were smart, I guess.
Today's installment from my e-mail:
I am Dr Luisa Pimentel Estrada, the wife of Joseph
Ejercito Estrada,former president of Philippines. I
have children with my husband Jose, Jacqueline and
Jude.Two sons and a daugther.This mail may be coming
to you as a surprise or an article but it is very
real.I gave the mail to my daugther Jude to send the
mail to any contacts she sees and may be a God fearing
person will listen to our plight.I will want you as
the receiver to read through it and think very well if
you can help or render us any assistance. My husband
Joseph Ejercito estrada was elected as the 13th
President of the Philippines in May 1998 by the people
of Philippines due to his popularity in the film
industry...the way things are going with us,my husband decided to let me know that he deposited some money with some
Banks .These funds are presently deposited in his
private Bank accounts, Three in whole, one in
Europe,one in Central America and one in the Bahamas
and all deposited in our name. The Fund in question is
put all together exceed One hundred Million. 45
Million USD deposited with a Bank in CommonWealth of
Dominica,30. Million USD with a Trust Company in
Europe - and the Bahamas- 35. Million USD. ...I would want us to be in partnership in any good business you may suggest in
your country. Please handle this transaction with
maturity and sincerity.
Dr Mrs Luisa P.Ejercito Estrada
Just what kinds of salaries are they paying over at St. Martin's? Or, the better question is, what does her husband do? But I won't ask cuz it's sexist. Also, imagine if the dry cleaners lose the $640 turtleneck. (I'd probably spill something on it and have to take a second job.)
The cover story in Styles is about people getting sick of serial dating, being pushed by all the dating services and sites out there, and being pressured by a culture that says it must be their fault if they haven't found 'the one' yet. The people quoted in the story still want to find love, but not make the pursuit an agonizing round-the-clock, commodified one, or spend loads of someone who just doesn't feel right. "Dating fatigue" is the phrase the Times uses.
"They realize that a good love affair has as the basis a really good friendship," says a single guy in the story. "They're not becoming cynical, but they're getting more savvy about the ebb and flow of relationships."
A woman who wrote a book called "Quirkyalone" says, "If you're in a relationship to feel normal, get out....it's about trusting yourself despite the onslaught of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that there's something wrong with you if you're not dating [someone], that you must have some sort of fear-of-commitment pathology, or you're overly picky..."
Before you criticize me for shallow blog content, I did read the other sections, silly. Tune into trivia to find out about actual current events -- or the five million blogs that are political.
Like a Violent Drunken Cowboy
I Hear Deaf People
Paris and Jacko's Special Thanksgiving Gravy
We've All Slept with Someone at This Table
Billie Jean is Not My Rubba
Dead Man Moonwalking
Paris Hilton Louves When They Put Their Eiffel Tower in Her Arc de Triumphe
By the Time I Get to Phoenix I'll Be 2.0
I reprint these at the risk of getting found on all kinds of weird Google searches now. Just to combat that, I'll add: Literature. Writing. Great Books. Shakespeare.
modest to ask her if she'd like it autographed, but is there a temptation to
say something to her like "You want to hear a funny coincidence?" or "How do
you like Carrie?"
Speaking of which, I got a chance to read more of The Mailman yesterday, and it's brilliant.
Parking spaces a' plenty in Hoboken today.
It's raining hard. The last of the fall leaves are face down in the street, sucking at it like plungers.
I think after work I will get the first three episodes of the fourth season of the Sopranos and start watching. Don't none of y'all go get it before me. I hate to watch it out of order.
I was remembering how, a few years ago, my mom and I cooked turkey in my apartment and we decided to feed the family dog first so that she wouldn't bother us while we were eating. We filled her bowl with large pieces of turkey and then went to feed ourselves. When we sat down to eat, my mom said, "Look!" I looked at the end of the kitchen, and the bowl was empty and the dog was on her side on the floor, snoring.
The dog lived to be nearly 14 years old. I am thankful for that.
Any day where one can make a pig of herself is a good day.
I wanted to post the lyrics of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's campy "Turkey Lurkey Time" here, but apparently the song is so well-regarded that even websites featuring about 60 Bacharach songs don't have it.
I watched some of the parade on TV this morning - it was actually funny. Donald Trump was in a helicopter talking about some of the buildings in New York and about how beautiful Central Park was, and he said, "Too bad it's not for sale." It made me laugh.
Someone e-mailed me at 7 a.m. to tell me how much she liked my book. She said she was sad when it ended. Isn't that sweet?
By the way, Mook was right -- it looks like a very sunny day so far. He's talented.
Anyway...I am thankful that I am healthy, that there are good, kind people in my life like you, that there are good, kind people in the world in general, that someone discovered it's yummy to mix sweet potatoes and marshmallows, and that I am in America. Have a great turkey day.
People ask me a lot how I met her or became friends with her. She worked at the same newspaper as me many years ago, but I didn't see her around for a while after that. Then a few years ago, I saw her at a party and happened to tell her that my friend Jon and I go to team trivia nights in Brooklyn a lot, and that they're a big trend in Philly but for some reason, not too many people were doing them in New York. So she said she knew of a bar that would be perfect to try it out. So we set it up. It's still going strong, attracting 40-60 people per week. It's a fun and low-stress way to get to know people in a bar, and have a lot of laughs.
Last night, by the way, the team names were very clever and funny. I have to put a list of them here later. One of them was, "Paris Hilton and Jacko's special Thanksgiving gravy."
Lori writes that Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was already on, and that she doesn't see Rudolph coming up in the TV listings at all. It better be coming on...do not mess with tradition.
In light of the upcoming holiday, today will be busy at work, so I wish you all a happy Toosday!
One thing that could happen is, people could put more effort into trying to be kind and making an effort to make whoever they're dating happy, even if it doesn't work out.
I saw a white dove among some pigeons on the way to work this morning. I said, "Pretty dove. Aren't you a pretty dove?" It flew up onto a window sill.
I came in early and filed some photos I should have filed months ago. That's progress.
IT'S A GOOD THING TO WRITE YOU.I HAVE A PROPOSAL FOR
YOU.THIS HOWEVER IS NOT MANDATORY NOR WILL I IN ANY
MANNER COMPEL TO HONOUR AGAINST YOUR WILL
I AM FRED BALAK ANI, THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL OF
AFRICAN CONTINENTAL BANK PLC. I REQUEST YOUR
CO-OPERATION IN THE TRANSFER OF MONEY AMOUNTING TO
U.S.D. 18MILLION.ON SEPT. 1996, AN OIL
CONSULTANT/CONTRACTOR WITH THE KUWAIT OIL MINISTRY,MR.
AHMED YOUSUF MUSTAPHA, AN IRAQI NATIONAL MADE A FIXED
DEPOSIT OF U.S $18M IN AFRICAN CONTINENTAL BANK.
(A.C.B.). ON MATURITY WE SENT A ROUTINE NOTIFICATION TO HIS FORWARDING ADDRESS BUT GOT NO REPLY.AFTER A MONTH, WE SENT A
REMINDER AND FINALLY HIS EMPLOYERS WROTE TO INFORM US
THAT MR. MUSTAPHA DIED IN A AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT, THAT
HE DIED WITHOUT MAKING A WILL.
A reader writes: "Thanks to you, I'm now seeing news about Turkey in a Thanksgiving light. '[About a dozen detained in Turkey blasts.]' Who could be blowing up those poor turkeys? What kind of twisted Thanksgiving prank is that?"
Must be a WKRP thing.
And now, the weather...
Mook the guest meteorologist says:
Got a blizzard coming to the midwest
by late sunday and monday
could get a foot of snow at least out there
snow's going to miss us though
we'll just get some rain/some wind monday/tuesday period
And we're not...
I also mentioned at the time how, in fourth grade, a girl wore a Molly Hatchet t-shirt to school and I was stupid enough to say, "What's Molly Hatchet?" Another girl said, "You don't know what Molly Hatchet is???" But the girl who was wearing the shirt was nice, and said, "That's okay. It's a rock group."
Book 3, which is in progress, is still causing me pain. It's just easier to write humor, and this book isn't a comedy, although there's some humor in it. I'm going to spend more quality time with it tonight, after taking a co-worker for drinks (it's his last day).
Weight Watchers has been sending around anti-Atkins releases, but their profits are threatened, so I have to look at that in its proper context, too.
The Anonymous Blogger gets more and more interesting. He's seeking advice on how to be less bitter toward women.
Hey, how about realizing that women also deal with nonsense in the dating world -- and they're not ALLOWED to get bitter about it? After all, women who complain are 'bitchy' or 'crazy,' and no one wants to date them. Unless they're hot.
I think Mr. Anonymous should read women's and men's magazines and see the silliness we ALL have to put up with. Also, consider -- as men often don't -- how much effort we spend trying to make ourselves palatable to them. Men and women both have it tough, so thinking you're the only one who's been hurt is narrow. All women are not the same. For every girl who emulates Carrie on Sex in the City, there's one who reads comic books. The trick is finding the right one, who also feels comfortable with you -- and yes, it means jumping through hoops sometimes. It's rough all around.
I got one of my favorite reader e-mails ever overnight:
This is great,
I just wanted to thank you for a graet book! I bought it when I was in D.C.
Now I´m back in Sweden... I hope your new book will be published here and I
really hope so, I think you re a graet writer!
Yesterday, I violated my decision to stay in all day, and I went to look at the coat again. It didn't fit me just right, so I didn't get it. I went into a different coat store in my hometown and a woman said to me, "I know you! You're famous. Or infamous, as the case may be." Hmmm.
For those coming here for the first time, my homepage and e-mail information is at www.carenlissner.com, as well as book stuff. People doing web searches on me are coming here these days rather than there.
I was looking at home for my favorite pants, which I had picked up at the dry cleaners last week. They weren't at home. I figured I had brought them to work and left them. Not at work either. Eventually I decided to go back to the dry cleaners to see if I'd paid for the pants and then left them there.
It's not really THAT expensive.
I said yesterday that I would write more about Glass. What I want to write about a little is something that isn't chronicled in "Shattered Glass" -- the culture of the college newspaper where he (and I) sharpened journalism skills, the Daily Pennsylvanian.
The DP is an extremely intense daily paper. It comes out Monday through Friday, and journalists sometimes get there as early as 3 p.m. (after class) each weekday and stay until 11 or 12 every night. Obviously, it's not easy to do that and maintain good grades, although some have done both. The highlight of the evening used to be ordering at 9 p.m. from Powelton Pizza, which we got in exchange for advertising.
I entered U. Penn as a very gung-ho journalist. I loved writing, I loved finding things out, I loved photography, and I loved going to news events. But having to be there so late almost every night wore me out. After three semesters beat reporting, I veered toward humor columns. I didn't think I could pass classes and spend 40 hours a week at the DP.
Only the strong survive, and the people who went on to become editors were very talented. The windowless DP offices, on a not-very-nice corner of West Philly, are called the "Pink Palace" because of the painted pink trim inside. It's an intense environment. For someone who loves journalism, it's a place to have one's writing sharpened better than in any class.
This was the place where Steve Glass rose to the highest position, executive editor. Obviously, he loved what he was doing, worked hard, and had a strong set of beliefs.
He graduated in '94, during the recession, when most of us who were looking for writing jobs couldn't get bit. His byline eventually started appearing in Harper's, P.O.V. (short-lived mag founded by Penn grads) and of course, the New Republic. He also enrolled in law school. All of that stuff was tough to juggle, and these were coveted slots. Maybe he just couldn't do all of it. I don't think he was used to failure.
I learned a lot of great things by watching General Hospital, like what rape was and what the word "aphrodesiac" meant. I don't quite remember the context of the latter. But only weeks after learning it, I was in seventh grade English class (or Language Arts, as it was called), and we were studying Greek mythology. Our teacher asked, "Does anyone know what an aphrodesiac is?"
I knew I had heard the word. Then I suddenly remembered what it was and said, before I could stop myself, "Oh, I know what it means!" Then I started giggling because I didn't know how to politely explain it. "What?" my nosy friend Missy asked. "What is it?" Our teacher said, "If you're giggling, then you know what it means."
Missy leaned over my desk and told me to whisper it to her, so I did.
Then she lifted her head up and shouted, "IT'S A DRUG THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX!!!"
I had actually said "something" rather than "drug." That Missy. What a mouth.
But first I had to go to P.S. 5 in Jersey City to read a book called FLAT STANLEY to the kids as part of "National Young Readers Day."
Shortly thereafter, school closed early because of a water main break.
It wasn't me -- I swear!
I got your contact from the Cote d' Ivoire directory. I am miss Loveth Tureh from Abidjan in Republique of Cote d Ivoire. my late Parents Chief Dr and Lolo Ahmed tureh, who was into cocoa/Cotton export, died last year after a brief accident. before the death of my father he deposited two big trunk boxes containing us$ 22.4 million with other family valuables with security company here in Cote d'Ivoire.
I will start working on novel 3 again the weekend after next, if it kills me. I have a good idea of all the stuff I need to cut out of it now. Yes, it's a lot, and I had to step back to see that. But then I can beef up the rest. I have no time to write this weekend or the next week, but I gotta get back to it before someone else does something similar.
Next week is the second anniversary of my publishing company, Red Dress Ink. When they formed to publish books about women in their twenties and thirties, an agent commented in a Newsweek article, "I think they're getting there a little late." It was hard not to agree -- Bridget Jones was a couple of years old by then. But RDI was good at predicting the market, and they took on some more unusual books in addition to the standard ones, and they're growing and growing. My book in March 2004 is coming out through them, and Novel 3 probably will not be, as it's a completely different genre, but I'm pleased about how well they're doing. Happy anniversary!
I'm still enjoying The Mailman, when I have time to read...it's reminding me how good writing can be.
I've noticed that blogs with the word blog in them get found on Google a lot, so here I'm putting the word blog in my blog.
There was one time when I became convinced I had to rewrite an entire screenplay because I thought of a better plot twist, and I got index cards and mapped it all out a different way, then realized the first way was better. But all of those exercises are useful, somehow. (Not that the thing ever proved worthy in the end, but I'm glad I wrote it.)
Usually, I've let a story gel for a long time before I start writing it, so that's probably why I don't get blocked so much. I don't just start with one idea and see where it takes me. One of the things I learned early on was to know how a story will end before you begin it. Although that might change.
On another note, I just added the back cover copy of Square Two here.
Readers: Caren Lissner, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Danyel Smith
Note that the order has changed...
Barnes & Noble
267 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Barnes & Noble
Upper West Side
NY, NY 10024
Barnes & Noble
396 Avenue of the Americas (cor. of 8th Street)
NY, NY 10011
At my college reunion, I assumed that my former Daily Pennsylvanian journalism colleagues would be keeping mum on it, out of respect for Steve, who'd been the top editor. Instead, I saw another former editor and the first thing he said to me was, "Did you hear about Steve Glass!?!?" So it was apparently something to be talked about.
I didn't know him too well, and I don't have much to offer to the discussion about him, but I did just read an interesting interview about how he sees the new movie about him. The interviewer keeps trying to find out if he's somewhat gay at one point, but doesn't come out and ask. She might as well have. You have to watch a Salon ad to read the full piece.
He also asked how I'm enjoying The Mailman by J. Robert Lennon. It's a great book. I'm finding that even though it's "literary," I'm reading every word, and often I tend to skim in other books. It usually takes a lot to hold my attention. So if you want a good read, pick it up.
I know that dealing with the same person for years can be hard, but I guess I'm confused by the people who seem utterly uninterested and who don't respect their spouses at all. I'm from a generation who fears divorce because of our parents, and often holds out for someone we think is really, really great, and we're criticized for it. But you need that level of affection to get through the hard times. When I see an old couple sitting at dinner and one of them puts his/her hand on the other's shoulder, that shows me he/she cares enough about the other person to still want to touch them affectionately as a matter of course. I can't think of a worse fate than committing to someone you only sorta like.
It's amazing how I can spend so much time on a certain scene in my novel, and then, after writing a lot more of the story and knowing the big picture, I realize the best thing for the book would be to completely lop it out. Even if the scene itself is well-written, it doesn't move the story along and it slows things down. Hack, hack hack. Gotta know when to let go.
There should be a national day for writing thank-you letters. I thought of that because there's a longtime screenwriter whose work I admire that I figured I should write a fan letter to. It doesn't matter if he gets a lot of them; it still doesn't hurt to send one more.
I do try to write thank-you letters when someone gives me really good service. I wrote one about a Sears employee who took a lot of time to change my watch battery a few years ago. I figured, for the $6 an hour she makes, it wouldn't hurt for her bosses to see something nice.
Writing that kind of letter is something I think a lot of us consider doing at some point, but it takes time. Yet, it's precisely because they're rare that it's nice to write one.
Today's reader update: "You Said: But someone also said this blog is starting to read like a romance novel, so enough about dating. If we do any more on male/female relations here, we'll never recover.
Are you suggesting Female/female relations? Wow Caren, now I am really starting to dig this blog! -- Mickey"
I got all kinds of interesting updates yesterday and today, including a lurker coming out of the darkness to suggest that I get together with Mr. Anonymous. Also, a friend complained that Anonymous probably only goes for younger women, avoiding women in their 30s because they don't want to just "fool around." I'd have to point out that Anonymous did say he tried to date a divorcee. But someone also said this blog is starting to read like a romance novel, so enough about dating. If we do any more on male/female relations here, we'll never recover.
Lots to do today, so have a great weekend.
The anonymous blogger finally responded. Isn't this fun? I will have to respond (hopefully concisely) to his response later on. But I appreciate the plug for the next book. And I'm glad he found things in the first one to like even though he's more into sci-fi and the like. So thanks, guy.
That's about enough for today.
I just wrote a passage of self-analysis, but I deleted it because I keep most of that out of this blog. I know, I know, it'd be fun to read, but plumbing the core of my personality would let everyone know which parts of my books come from me and which don't, and that would ruin all the fun, wouldn't it?
There's a new subset of people who are angry at Bush right now, for semi-selfish reasons.
When the economy was good, some of these folks didn't understand at all how anyone could be poor or need to depend on big government. Now that THEY are poor because they lost their jobs and couldn't get another one, and unemployment ran out, all of a sudden they want more benefits and government regulation. I'm hearing it more and more.
Recently, my newspaper got a letter from a woman who was earning $40,000 a few years ago (a very good salary well above the poverty line, although some would scoff at it), and after losing her job and being unable to find another one, she says she'll soon be on the street. She said she tried to get benefits, but was unable to because she's not a "crack mother with 12 kids." Ironically, the point of her article was that you shouldn't judge why someone is on the street.
Now, first off, the crack mother with 12 kids is a myth -- unless she lives in the same neighborhood as the woman with two Cadillacs on Welfare and the "lazy" people who are homeless because it's just so much easier to sleep on the sidewalk and ask for money than go into an air conditioned office and sit in front of a computer every day. Even if there has been some case like that in the course of history, it's certainly not the norm, and to act like it is is very lazy in itself.
Now, then. This woman all of a sudden decides she wants government benefits -- and she can't get them. And another guy, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, wrote a USA TODAY story three weeks ago about how he can't get benefits because he makes $960 a month freelance writing (he lives in campgrounds). An acquaintance of mine recently told me he is no longer a Libertarian because he sees how corporations can squeeze the little guy, and there needs to be more control. He recently lost his job.
My question is, why do people have to lose their jobs to suddenly realize that you can become poor or need to depend on the govt. without it being your fault? Can't people ever look beyond their own experience? When folks were doing fine, couldn't they have imagined that there were OTHER people who involuntarily lost jobs, became mentally ill, or had some other problem that made them depend on benefits?
So the nouveau poor are mad at the gov't. But you know, I'd have more sympathy for someone who's homeless and mentally ill than someone who was making a decent salary at a dot-com and didn't have the foresight to put money in a savings account. Yet, what I just said isn't fair, either -- it makes an assumption that people who are unemployed or poor right now were lazy or stupid about their money. And probably, most of them weren't.
Here's my point. Don't decide your political views based on your own narrow experience. Don't make assumptions about the world unless you really look at it. Don't do what's easiest.
Conservatives got angry recently when they saw that the University of North Carolina was requiring incoming freshmen to read and discuss Barbara Ehrenreich's book "Nickel and Dimed," about trying to get by on minimum wage. The book is non-fiction. It probably does have a liberal bent, but it's about the way the world really works. It's not fantasy stories about crack mothers with twelve kids. What were they afraid of - people finding out that poverty sucks?
Wanted to say hi. I'm an actor currently running in Labyrinth's
production of DUTH HEART OF MAN. Last seen in OUR LADY OF 121st STREET.
Check out our site at labtheater.org or an old site ourlady121.com.
Hope you got your print.
News report: Britney Spears had better watch her back. Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich joked to a crowd at a domestic violence seminar at Hood College in Frederick on Friday that she has it in for the pop star.
"Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would," said Ehrlich, laughing.
She says Spears gives young girls the false message that finding and having sex with a man is more important that anything else.
Kendel Ehrlich is the wife of Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.
Finally finished my fourth and last round of edits on book 2 and sent it back to my editor. This is the downside of publishing - spending entire weekends making sure that something you wrote two years ago is perfect. Only then can you move on to new stuff. Well, except that I will get galleys around December...and have to check THOSE....
Got this e-mail:
I find the "Redbird in Air" poster quite disturbing each time I see it.
Every single time, I think something along the lines of "Gosh, that subway car weighs so much more than that basket full of children...and any moment
now, it'll drop like a rock and pull the basket plummeting along after it."
Just thought you should know.
It's only one child, fool. He's clutching a stuffed rabbit.
The New York Transit Museum Store says it's sold out of "Redbird in Air," a popular John Blackford poster on the NYC subway system featuring a train. The reason I keep mentioning it here is that there's very little on the Internet about it and I people keep Googling it and getting to my site. Anyway, they are going to print up more, so if you got here looking for info, check their site and get on the wait list. The poster is the perfect depiction of childhood dreams.
I did a top 10 list of states with the most tornado deaths. I also asked the following question: Who appeared in the movie "Something About Mary," which was shown on network TV this past Sunday, and then appeared the next day in Monday Night Football?
I got an e-mail from a blog reader and its subject head was: "Evil, Painful, Convoluted First Chapter."
The CIA believes a White House operative may have revealed one of their covert agents' names as revenge for her husband's undermining one of Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq. I know this isn't a political blog, but this seems important so click if interested.
You know, literature (all writing of any type, in fact) has been gradually going to hell in a handbasket since the days of Tacitus. Just ask any critic. I'm not sure if I would want to denigrate JK Rowling or discourage children from reading her books, though. I grew up reading Readers' Digest (my mother-in-law still cringes at that). It is the first material I can
ever remember reading, and I did it because I liked the stories. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I realized the stories are abridged from other sources.
I don't think it has affected my taste in Literature for the worse. My favorite book, after all, is The Sound and the Fury, closely followed by All The King's Men, not The Green Mile or Hollywood Wives.
Harold Bloom, I don't know who you are, but you are a stuffy, pompous ass. *Nothing* is going to lead today's kids to pick up Kipling. Got that? Nothing. Is he living in the same era as I am? Does he actually know people with children, and I'm not talking about children of academics and politicians who live in Westfield, NJ. Kids do not want to read Kipling -- they want to watch their DVD of Disney's "Jungle Book." Ditto for "Alice" and any other book that has had a cartoon rendering. And to think otherwise is only an example of how completely out of touch you are.
"Literature" as a 73-year old knows it went the way of women making sure their husband's slippers were waiting at the front door and his dinner was ready for him when he got from a hard day at the office. No one wants to read anything anymore. Everyone wants to watch reality shows, blow up stuff in video games, and then look for porn on the Internet -- even kids! (And people who don't believe that THEIR kids are looking for nudie pics -- or worse -- on the Web, I pose the question: why then is there such a market for parental controls? I have very rarely stumbled upon porn I wasn't intently seeking out in the first place.)
My feeing is that if kids want to read a book where all the characters "stretch their legs" too often, yet it stretches their imaginations and gets them interested and excited about something (even if it's the occult) isn't that still better than playing Grand Theft Auto, where you get extra points for beating up and robbing the hooker you just hired and climbed with into the backseat of a car?
My teacher friends were all so thrilled when the Harry Potter phenom started. Kids were reading something, anything, *and* now, maybe they could slowly nudge them into reading something else. How can you suggest that it's not a good thing?
You have to work within the confines of the reality you've been given -- it's a more productive use of your energy than whining about "the old days" and being horrified by the popularity of Stephen King -- that's *so* 1985.
Kids are not going to pick up "Moby Dick" and start reading it unless it's assigned to them in a class -- and even then some of them won't read it. (It was boring! I couldn't get through it myself. Apparently I was too busy reading "The Stand.")
Pop culture is King in the 21st century. Get used to it.
Queen Bitch is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Queen Bitch.
Be proud of your unique name!
Scum Bag of the Week is a very rare male name.
Very few men in the US are named Scum Bag of the Week.
Be proud of your unique name!
Busty Babe with Great Ass is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Busty Babe with Great Ass.
Be proud of your unique name!
Carie Pilby is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Carie Pilby.
Be proud of your unique name!
Most of it was written on a computer, but still, there were some parts that were scrawled extensively in a notebook first, particularly if I was on the road or at a temp job at the time. I don't have a laptop.
I was thinking this novel is the only one I struggled with, but I guess it's always this way, especially in the beginning. (The scribbling you see if you click the link is part of Carrie Pilby.) Which is a good reason to record my thoughts on it here -- so I'll remember next time.
6:30 a.m. When I am reading this in 1995, where will I be? NY? NJ? PA? DC? Calif -- no, never mind. Ugh! The sour taste of indecision.
By writing in this journal, do I really help get myself a job and published? No. I just write incredibly boring passages.
Okay, by Wednesday I will have something interesting to put in here. If not, I'll just have to hang myself.
7:11 p.m. -- Bill's got some real young-uns working for him. Geo Stephanopolous & Dee Dee Myers are only 31!
[Note: for you sensitive types, I meant the hanging thing as a joke. Thank you.]
Besides talking about writing and publishing with folks, I was happy just to get to the suburbs in general, particularly a main street of one of New Jersey's many old colonial towns. I just don't frolic in suburbia enough. In fall, it's nice to see the windows of colonial homes shining through the darkness, the brown leaves skipping across streaming grass and people leaving their porch lights on.
Anyway, to put in a plug, I had a delicious seafood sandwich at the Cafe - very fresh and filling. Womrath's Bookstore, I found out, was moved from another town where it had been for more than fifty years. I can't wait to stop in. Thanks to all who came and participated.
I'm not sure there's a correlation. But it's an interesting question.
Those 15 pages were tough this weekend. There was a point at which I was so tired I got into bed, but I knew the pages weren't good enough so I got up and worked on them some more. They're definitely in better shape now, although far from perfect. Introducing characters in third person is hard. Now I know why writers take seven or ten years on a novel. Sometimes there's a little elusive detail that would make the story much more interesting and suspenseful, but we're not destined to come up with it until we've thought about it for months.
This story has been in my head for so long, though, that it doesn't necessarily need ten more years. I'm not rushing it, but it's not going to wait until 2010 either.
GIRL ON CELL PHONE: We've got a real jumper up there. Look on the news.
GIRL: Oh, get down from there. Or jump. One or the other.
GIRL: Just jump already.
GUY: He's not gonna juuuuump.
Apparently no one was taking it too seriously. If he had jumped, you would have bet there would have been blood-curdling screams. I decided to leave in a hurry. Hearing one massive group-scream (two years ago) is enough to last a lifetime.
However, I didn't say I wouldn't talk about nor'easters...
The only problem is that with each revision, I lose perspective on whether what's left is fun to read or not. It's hard to get pleasure out of writing I've changed 40 times. I don't think I've ever read the published, final version of Carrie Pilby all the way through, because I read the advanced reader's copy and the revised copies so many times. The passages that are still enjoyable to me are the ones that I added later in the process -- probably just because they seem fresher.
Got some work done on novel 3 last night. It will still take so long to finish it. That's what happens when you're doing research and learning about and shaping characters who are very different from you. I feel so frustrated when a writing project isn't at the juncture at which it's flowing smoothly, but there are always painful periods in writing. They just have to be worked through, and in the end, when the final project is done, no one should be able to detect where the ripples of torment were.
-"Publish my book"
-"Getting an agent"
-"Getting a book published"
-"Get an agent"
-"Get my book published"
Let's see what happens.
Second novel has officially appeared on Amazon.
For those who've asked me if it's a sequel to Carrie Pilby --- nope. Quick synopsis (sorry for the self-indulgence): It centers on a 29-year-old woman whose husband died in a car crash 1.5 years ago, and her friends try to drag her out to start dating again. She was with her hubby since college, so she's never really had to date. As her bitter friends get her out in NYC, she's appalled by the scene, but since she's always been easy to get along with, she meets a good guy pretty quickly. She, of course, isn't really over her husband, so she doesn't know how to date this new guy. And her friends' past resentment of her comes out again. So it's about issues of love, loss, jealousy, friendship, etc...it doesn't get depressing despite the subject matter.
Well, enough about me. Have a good Monday. And batten down those hatches.
There were a few things I wanted to put on the blog this weekend, but as usual, I've forgotten them. I did just hear this conversation on the PATH train:
GUY: Where do you live?
GUY: I was just in Queens on Tuesday. I was at the [Such-and-such] Church.
GIRL is shaking her head.
GUY: You don't go to church?
GIRL shakes her head.
GUY: Do you know the story of Jesus?
GIRL: I've seen the movies.
On another note, Hurricane Isabel is quite powerful and could slam into anywhere on the East Coast -- too early to tell. Here's the five-day forecast graphic. I will put descriptions here or on the Blog of My Barometer if it hits.
Last Monday, Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, died. Tuesday night, at trivia, two very clever teams had the following names: "Triumph of the Won't," and "Triumph of My Willy." There was also a team called "Racism is Gay." My co-host for the night, Valerie, is normally on the team that used the "Racism" name and said she kept telling them not to use that name, so the instant she became co-host rather than player, they defied her and used it.
What else? Read a really good book called "Riding with the Queen" by Jennie Shortridge, which she sent me after hearing about my book - it comes out next month and I'll change that to a link to it on Amazon later. J. Robert Lennon's "The Mailman" got an "A" in the new Entertainment Weekly.
Yesterday evening, I walked past a church in New York and there was a huge, beautiful wooden table with a "free" sign outside of it. It was too big to fit into a regular car. There was a guy next to it frantically talking to someone on his cell phone, and other people were looking at it intently, trying to figure out how they could get it home in a city with no cars. It's a good practical joke: Put something great but too big in New York for free and see if anyone can get it home.
I will be taking a rest from blogging for a few days in observance of Sept. 11...there are so many people who have important things to say around this time, so I don't want to take away from that. Nothing I could say would be as important as some of what others will say, particularly those who lost someone. There are a million stories of the people close to it. Hope everyone has a good rest of the week.
Today's Times "Vows" column has not only a same-sex female couple, but 1/2 of the couple is a celebrity! (Janis Ian). For some reason, the Times notes that she sang "Society's Child" in 1967, but doesn't mention "At Seventeen," a much bigger hit in 1975. Maybe the writer is a Baby Boomer.