Saturday, October 01, 2005

Great, Now I Have Blog Guilt

Like it wasn't bad enough that I feel like crap when I don't return emails to people in a timely manner. Now every time I get on my computer, I think of my blog sitting there looking withered and neglected, like the plant I've stopped watering because I forgot and because I was busy and because every time I looked outside and noticed it looking dry, it was also really hot and I didn't want to go out there and get sweaty taking care of it. I wish there was a such thing as an automatic drip system for my blog -- like somehow all the times every day that I'm away from the computer but my thoughts start to organize themselves into a blog post, they could send themselves directly here instead of me having to actually sit down and type them. That would alleviate some of this guilt I'm feeling.

There is a lot going on in my world lately. The first month of school has raced by, and a lot of my time and brain power has been occupied with figuring out Enthusio's situation. Things have been much better that last week or so. He has seen his therapist twice, and he really likes her. He has also been managing things better at school, at least in terms of staying out of trouble. I think he is still playing by himself at recess most of the time, though -- he doesn't really answer my questions about friends (so I'm trying not to ask) and one time he told me he spent recess picking up trash. That's something he did a lot of last year and got little awards for it, which is great -- I certainly don't have a problem with him being a good citizen -- but if he's doing that because it's easier than finding kids to play with, that's not good either. So he's staying away from the wrong kids, but he's still not finding the right kids -- it's progress, but there's still some ground to cover.

On the other hand, during non-school daylight hours, Enthusio, and often Mermaid as well, can be found out front playing with the kids on the street. About 6 weeks ago, a family with three kids (9YO girl, 7YO & 5YO boys) moved in directly across the street from us, and suddenly there are boys to play with, and the girls who already lived on our street are out more and there's this whole gang of kids outside playing all the time. It's great, and Enthusio has friends who are boys that he plays with all the time, so that's huge :-)

Complete change of subject: on our street, there is a couple who are in the process of starting a publishing house, and they have already published one book, written by the male half of the couple, Jonathan, and have a few projects by other authors in the works. I've talked to them about writing and the publishing business before, and I'd been vaguely encouraged to show them some of my work, but I hadn't pursued it at all. Last week, I ran into Jonathan at a coffee place and got to talking to him again, and told him a little more about what I have finished, which is two books in what I'm thinking will be a three-book Young Adult Series -- I've written one novel from the perspective of a 17YO boy (Danny), a second from his 15YO sister's point-of-view(Mollie), and there is a second sister (Susan), so logically she would have a novel as well. Since Danny was told in the third-person, and Mollie was in the first person, I was all ready in the process of converting Danny to the first-person because I thought they should all be the same. Jonathan sounded pretty interested and gave me specific instructions to a) write the third novel in November, when I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month for the 4th year anyway, and b) get the two completed novels into the best possible shape, and then I'll take what I've got to show them around the first of the year.

Jonathan said even if they aren't interested in taking on the project (which I think is a distinct possibility, since I doubt they were thinking of moving into the Young Adult market), they have learned a lot about the publishing business in the last few years and made contacts, and they can advise me about what to do next. Naturally, this has given me a huge shot in the arm as far as working on these novels and hopefully moving them toward publication. Particular issues:

I've put in about 20 hours converting Danny to first-person, with all that entails, and I'm very happy with that. One problem with the Danny novel was that he's kind of closed off, and my narrator-voice tends to be a bit on the formal side anyway, so some of the people who read the novel had trouble relating to/sympathizing with the main character, which is obviously a problem. This first time through has mostly been converting all the "Danny"s and "he"s to "I"s and "me"s, but there was a lot of language that very obviously had to be changed just to make it sound like something a 17YO boy would really say. I will have a lot more of that kind of thing to do on the second time around, as well as working a little more detail in a few areas that were neglected the when I originally wrote the novel. The good news is that, just in changing it to first-person, I feel like Danny has become a warmer and more relatable character.

Next I'll be taking on the major issue with Mollie, which is the fact that the first quarter or so of the novel is rushed. Get this: last year, about 4 days into November, I somehow managed to erase the approximately 6,000 words I'd written and had to start all over. This obviously sucked, but I didn't dwell on it -- I just started over. I'd been feeling like those 6,000 words had been dragging anyway. So I wrote a condensed version of what I'd lost, which was good in that I was able to get going again, and get to the meat of the story like I'd been wanting to do in short form. But when I read the novel after it was done, I felt like a lot of what was in my head in terms of establishing the characters and setting up the plot didn't come out, and a couple of people who read it had a questions and concerns along those lines. So my main job with the Mollie novel is to plump up the first several chapters with richness and details that will set up the story in a more satisfying way.

My biggest challenge will be writing the Susan novel in November. Danny and Mollie are characters who have large chunks of me in them. Susan has always been more of larger-than-life supporting character who is a lot of fun to write, but I've never tried to get inside her head very much. Truthfully -- I created these characters back when I was a teenager myself, and they started out very much as types: Danny was the brain, Mollie was the athlete, and Susan was the blonde, pretty, popular Mean Girl. Danny and Mollie were easy to flesh out over the years because they were characters I could relate to. Danny became less of a geek and more of a regular guy -- he's still skinny and wears glasses, but he's developed a harder edge and can be more of a real guy than when I first envisioned him. Mollie is still an athlete as well as an excellent student, but her motivation to be so driven and such an over-achiever is rooted as much in her insecurity as they are in her confidence in herself. I always felt like there were pieces of my teen-age self I could put into these characters. At this point, I'm not sure how to do that with Susan. Her story will take place the year after she graduates from high school, when she's kind of stumbling along, trying to figure out where her life is going, and I certainly went through a certain amount of that when I was that age, but the difference is that I was a freshman in college, living in a dorm, and my lack of direction was mostly going on in my head while I followed a prescribed path that I'd been working toward all through high school. Susan isn't a student and won't be going away to college, and so far I haven't really made up my mind if her story will be rooted in a job, junior college, technical school, or what, much less how things will play out. The Danny and Mollie stories focused on romantic plotlines (that's probably the wrong word -- not much about the teenager years is very romantic) and Susan's will as well, but the story won't be authentic unless it also addresses the direction her life is taking, moving away from being the high school queen bee and into the real world, so what she's doing every day is important. And one month from today, I'm going to need to have a pretty good idea how this is going to play out.

(Just a quick note: normally, I hate talking about what I'm writing about. I'm happy to talk about the fact that I'm writing, how much I'm writing, why I'm writing, the genre in which I'm writing -- but details like plot and character names and so on and so forth -- it seems as soon as I start saying it all out loud, it usually sounds so stupid! Spelling out what I have in the previous few paragraphs is huge for me -- I've basically forced myself to do it, because normally, I'd honestly rather hand someone my novels to read than to summerise them. But part of moving toward the business end of things is going to be talking about what and who I'm writing about, so there you go. I've just got to do it.)

Very-long-story-short, the writing is taking up lots of my time, and it's not even my day gig. Yes, the kids are in school 8:30-3 everyday, and that leaves me lots of time to write as well as work out, keep the house and finances more or less in order, go shopping and other things I do to keep myself sane, but once they get home, forget it. Mondays, the kids get home about 3:15, Mermaid has swim practice 3:45-4:45, and then there's around 90 minutes of homework plus saxophone practice for her and 20 minutes of homework for Enthusio and dinner to get ready, and basically it's a sprint to get it all done by 8 pm so we can all have some time to relax before bed. Wednesday they get out at 1:30, but Enthusio has play practice 2-2:45 and then we spend an hour at the library doing homework -- that's if I've remembered Mermaid's swim gear so we can go straight from the library to swim practice. Tuesdays there's no swim practice but I often have something to go to that night so it's extra important to get Mermaid's homework done by 6 so Reasonable Man doesn't have to deal with it after dinner, since he often has work of his own to do then, and Thursdays there's no swim practice but right now Enthusio's therapy appointment is right after school so I pick him up, get him over there and then come home to get Mermaid, who arrives home from in the meantime. The only thing I can tell you about how much I hate Mermaid's homework is that it's more than I hated actually doing my own when I was in school, and she's only in 5th grade! And I swore I was never going to be one of these moms who was racing around getting multiple children to multiple activities each day, but the fact is that this is only two kids with one activity a piece (I refuse to count psychotherapy as an activity). And Enthusio still wants to try Taekwondo and Mermaid hasn't even started Girl Scouts for the year, if you can believe that.

On top of all that, my school-related duties this year seem to have tripled. In addition to the administrative duties I took on last year for the parents' night out fundraiser, I am also one of 5 people chairpeople running the two Scholastic Book Fairs we'll be having this year, and I'll be running my own event, the used book sale, at our end-of-the-year carnival. Can I just say, I vowed to never be one of those moms either? I swear I haven't set one toe inside a PTA meeting after the first and only one I attende when our school opened 4 years ago, but I keep getting recruited for this stuff anyway, and I don't mean to complain because I really do enjoy it (no one could be more surprised than I am about that), but, you know, it's a lot of stuff.

So that's my life, people. And it's all good stuff, but there's a shitload of it, that's why, you know, the old Green House is not updated too often these days. Writing here in this space is a pleasure and I'll get to it as often as I can, but I can't make any promises about the next few months, especially during November. I hope you all will hang in there and keep reading though, because I really do appreciate it! And now I'll bid you adieu, because there are Halloween decorations to get up, bills to be paid, showers to be taken, and so on and so forth. Here's wishing you all a relaxing weekend!


tweedledeetweedledum said...
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Enlargement said...
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