Thursday Hangovers

Talking It Out

So, yesterday morning, I asked for twitter's help deciding what to blog about, because that's turned out well in the past, and Libba pitched in:

Well, why not?

I learned many things about uvulas yesterday (fun word to say, and it sounds a little…dirty, doesn't it?)–that some people pierce them, that it's possible to get a bee sting there, that a friend knew someone when she was a kid who had two and could make them dance, that someone had a college instructor who mixed up uvula with an entirely different word to unfortunate results. WHO KNEW that the uvula's power to fuel anecdotes was so mighty? Not me. In fact, if Straight Dope is right, we don't even know what uvulas are for. But we do know they help us make some sounds and so that's awfully close to talking and talking is a suitable blog post topic.

All writers get stuck. There are the little stucks, the flummoxed by a scene for a day, or an hour, or a week. There are the bigger stucks, where nothing feels right, and we stall out or stutter-step forward, only to end up deleting a few steps back. Everyone. Gets. Stuck. And so everyone has to get unstuck.

There are various methods to this, as with all things. Some people walk away. Some clean the house. Some bang their head against their desk repeatedly. Some despair. Some move to a new city and assume a different identity. I have done all of these things myself at one time or another. Well, except the last one. That one I've just fantasized about when truly stuck.

But my most usual method for getting unstuck–and even, at times, just for moving forward, pushing ahead, figuring out a story–is talking it through.

Now, I'm lucky in this regard, because I'm married to another writer. He may not always be a captivated audience for these burblings, but he is a captive one. (Mwahaha.) I'm also lucky to have a number of writer friends who are happy to indulge in long talks to clear the fog or overgrowth that's hiding the path forward. Call on your writer friends, if you don't have a captive loved one, or call upon any friend or loved one to indulge your talking it out.

Often, it's just the very act of articulating the problem out loud that provides the solution. I think this is for a couple of different reasons:

1) Forcing yourself to explain a story knot or roadblock to someone else makes you have to explain it to someone else. And often that entails stepping back just enough to be able to see it more clearly. It also engages a different part of the brain, a different kind of thinking. Talking through possible solutions, your reaction to them will often reveal what's important to you about the story, and that is always a good thing to know.

2) You have to set your ego aside. Look, everyone gets stuck. But admitting you're stuck, not caring who knows, not letting that make you feel like a failure (see this fabulous post by Marie Lu on imposter syndrome), and asking for help, even if it's just an ear–that's a useful thing. It reminds you that this is about the story, about making it work, and not about you. It's hard to move forward with the full weight of the ego pressing down on your shoulders.

Another bonus: It's often fun, which being stuck isn't. Kicking around various solutions, talking over story issues, you can sometimes cover a lot more ground than you could cover in six weeks or six months at the desk making words and deleting them. The act of admitting you're stuck can also lead to commisseration, which in turns leads to less misery and feeling of awful aloneness. Ultimately, the solution comes from your fingertips, and yours alone, but there's no reason you have to suffer everything by your lonesome. Make others suffer with you. And suffer with them. This is the beautiful symbiosis of writer friendships.

The uvula wants you to talk it out. And remember:

As you were.

Wednesday Hangovers Of The Coins, Sloth, Etc. Variety

Frenetic Typing

Also known as that thing that happens around a deadline, and so I probably will be MIA this week. We had zippo wireless coverage for a chunk of Bat Cave, and were busy much of the time anyway. I'll try to catch up soon, and if you need something important or more timely, then you should feel free to ping me about it. Still, I'm behind on many things and unlikely to dig out fully before next week.

 

Iconpickford

Serious Work Underway

But lots of work (and play) accomplished at the retreat (revision vanquishment nigh!), and thinking about projects to come, and just generally yay. I miss everyone, but it's also nice to be home with C and dogs et cat in the beautiful bluegrass springtime with the backbrain throwing off story sparks. Hope it's nice where y'all are too.

Five Things Make A Friday Post

1. Heading out this weekend for this year's Bat Cave retreat. It's set up exactly like this:

Batcave-1968
(Image from here.)

Except replace the underground stream with a hot tub. There's really nothing more energizing, wonderful, and magical than spending a chunk of time holed up in a scenic locale with a gaggle of writers talking fiction and being silly and sharing war stories and in-jokes and, yeah, I can't wait. Especially because I am still being attacked by rogue deadline and have to rewrite some more words to escape its clutches. But! Nearly finished.

2. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to teach a day-long workshop to this year's class of the Young Women Writers Project at the Carnegie Center. I can tell you that these are some amazing writers, who you'll be hearing lots from in the future. And I'm so sad to miss their big reading. If you're in the Lexington area, however, you should go: it's next Friday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. (during Gallery Hop) at the Carnegie Center. Go support them.

3. I can't remember where I saw this regional dialect map first, but it is fascinating.

4. A typically wise post from the fabulous Robin LaFevers on the ups and downs of life in publishing. The creative life is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights or lows.

5. Speaking of which, this week has obviously been a high point for me. When you sell your first book(s), it's impossible to know if you'll publish more of them after that. It feels, often, that this must be an accident or a mistake, and to expect it to happen again, well, that's some nerve. That's tempting fate. But you keep writing anyway, of course, because you can't stop and there are stories to tell and what's fate for, but to tempt? (See also: Chuck Wendig's post on imposter syndrome.) Girl on a Wire was a book I started not thinking at all of the market, before I sold Blackwood, just because I wanted to tell this story, and it would be worth it even if it never saw the light of day. And then I finished it and revised it because I still felt that way, despite the shadow voice whispering that my first sale was a fluke. To have that book find such a great home is just as surreal and marvelous as selling Blackwood and The Woken Gods (eep! hope you like it too) was. In some ways more, because of all of the above. I can't wait to get back to work on it. But I just wanted to say again THANK YOU, sincerely, for the overwhelming flood of congratulations on twitter, tumblr, facebook, email–wherever congratulations are possible–this week. It means more than you can know.

So, love to y'all, and happy weekend.

New Book Deal! The Circus Book Finds A Home!

So, I'm delighted to share this news, from today's PW Children's Bookshelf:

Announcement

 

This is the book I finished the first draft (well, the first draft of the second draft, natch) on New Year's day–fitting, because while there will be plenty of time to detail the combination of swirling things that became Girl on a Wire, I know precisely when the first inkling of it arrived…over New Year's 2011. (When I'm asked where I got this idea, I can say from The Flu and it will be somewhat true.)

Anyway, I'm really proud of this book, and I hope you'll all love it. It comes from many of my obsessions–the circus, high wire walking, girl daredevils, classic screwball comedies, multi-generational family mysteries: if any of those are things you like, well, you're in luck. (It's set in the here and now, by the way. Though I hope it's infused with lots of history.)

I must give many, many thanks to the 2012 Bat Cave workshoppers, who gave me such great advice on the first draft–especially to Laurel Snyder and Beth Revis, who read the whole messy thing and helped me figure out what was working and what wasn't. And, of course, massive thanks to my fabulous, best agent on earth Jennifer Laughran, and to Larry Kirshbaum, Tim Ditlow and their team at Amazon Children's for truly getting the book and being so very enthusiastic about it. You left me with no doubt that this is, simply, the book's best possible home. I'm excited to work with you on it.

(On a different note: I just want to make clear that I will always support independent bookstores. I hope some of you–my dear friends at fabulous indies–will consider stocking the book when it comes out next year. But if not, then we will work together on other things and I will tell people to come in and order it from you anyway. There is room for everyone in this literary future, that I believe.)

And now! A photo of Jules'–the main character's–hero, Bird Millman, over New York City:

 

Bird new york

I truly can't wait for you all to be able to read this one. Yay!

Upcoming Event: Ladies With Flaming Pens

Pens-on-Fire-YA-Author-Panel-WEBOr something like that! Just a quick post about an event coming up this weekend.

On Saturday, I'll be at the Woodford County Public Library for a panel discussion with fab YA authors Kelly Creagh, Bethany Griffin, Katie McGarry, and Heather Sunseri. Check out the nice graphic the library made for us (click to embiggen) and come out if you can.

I can't wait.

Now back to pretending a vast ocean of Things To Do does not stand between me and the weekend…

Thursday Hangovers

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Thursday Hangovers