Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I just got back from the Big City - I went to see my sister before she heads to the sandbox. That's military speak for the Middle East (she's going to Afghanistan). It was a lovely visit and she let me install 3 light fixtures. I actually enjoy doing that sort of thing, so it was lots of fun if you pretend that I didn't spend a good 6 hours troubleshooting a new ceiling fan that turned out to be broken. Stupid thing. The second new one went up in no time...but I digress.

The real reason for posting today, is that I made a special connection while in the Big City, and spent about 4 hours in the presence of greatness personified. I fell in love immediately with the funky accent, but it was the generosity that really got me. It's all good though. I've already confessed my torrid affair to my husband, and he's okay with the new union so long as he's the one I come home to.

In case it's not perfectly clear, I'm talking about my trip to IKEA. Holy cow, I had forgotten how totally awesome that place is! I haven't been there in years, and now I know why*. It makes my entire existence seem completely boring and cluttered. It also makes me slightly depressed to know that I could be spending way less on cool, useful stuff for my house. How have I lived without IKEA in my life??? I really have no idea.

If you've never been to IKEA, it's like going to a different country. You know you're in for something special when you pull into the parking lot. There's even a weird flag flapping in the breeze. Upon entering the huge double doors, there's a place to ditch let your kids play. Then you go up the escalator to enter a brand new world.

Angel choruses greet you** as you rise to a land of fun kids' bedrooms, cool living/dining/bed rooms, space saving ideas, and must-have ornamentation. When you've had your fill of touring around the glorious displays, and picked up a couple of toys to assuage your guilt over deserting letting the kids play for so long, you grab some much-needed nourishment at discounted prices from the café and head to the lower portion of the store where the dreaming ends and the real shopping begins, filling your cart with anything your heart desires.

Just when you think you're homefree, you must clear one last hurdle of reasonably priced Christmas items (which would've been nice to look at, but my mom was already in the checkout line because she was dying for some "fresh air"). Our feet were sore, but it was sooo worth it (recovered yet mom?).

I never thought I'd say this, but this trip may have caused me to reconsider my position on us moving to a Big City. If it has an IKEA, it just may be worth it for my husband to spend hours in traffic whilst commuting to and from work (as opposed to the huge 6 minute drive he's got now). This will be the new criteria for job hunting. I refuse to move anywhere that doesn't have an IKEA.

*I mean, other than the fact that I don't live anywhere near IKEA...
**That part may have been in my head.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow progress is better than no progress

This is me trying to remind myself that writing a novel is a marathon, and not a hundred yard dash. I get impatient with myself, thinking that I should be able to do more, write more, edit more.

The truth is, I've got a pretty full life with a lot of responsibilities, and it just doesn't do me any good to dwell on the things that I can't do (or can't do fast enough). Sadly, that knowledge still doesn't stop me from trying.

I annoy myself sometimes.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In which I dislike a classic (don't be mad)

I'm very aware that ninety percent of my blog readers are from the U.S., so it almost pains me to write this post. The fact that this book had the words "Modern American Classic" emblazoned on the jacket in bold black letters gives me pause - especially after finishing and hating it so. However, with reading enjoyment being the subjective art that it is, I'm hoping that my offering of the phrase "it's not you, it's me" conveys as much heartfelt sincerity as can come through a blog.

Before I start rambling on like a destitute aristocrat reminiscing about the glory days (what - too late?), I should tell you that I'm talking about Gone With The Wind here. I can't even believe it's taken me this many years to get to it; somehow it kept getting pushed to the back of my list. I haven't seen the movie in years, so I'd pretty much forgotten it, but this summer one of my husband's sisters mentioned it as a favourite, so it claimed a place at the top of my To Be Read pile.

I will say that it was beautifully written (though overly descriptive, but what classics aren't?), in fact I'd go as far as saying it's some of the best writing I've seen for some time, but that wasn't enough to make me enjoy it.

Oh, I wanted so badly to love it! I'm such a sucker for historical fiction, and I love American history. My crush on the deep south goes back as far as I can remember. But here's the thing - I hated the characters. HATED them. How can I like a book when I can't stand who it's about?

Okay, so I shouldn't say I hated all the characters, because I did like Mammy, Pork and Dilcey, and Sam, but as for the white players - ugh! I found Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie and the whole bunch completely unsympathetic, with very few redeeming qualities (if any - that's right Scarlett, I'm talking to you, Miss I-do-what-I-want-when-I-want-to-get-what-I-want-no-matter-who-gets hurt).

How can this be a classic love story when the characters aren't just flawed, they're idiotic! Stupid characters drive me nuts.*

Bah! I can't even write about it without getting annoyed - that's how much I wanted to like it and just couldn't! Have you ever had that experience with a beloved classic?


*It's all the stupid people that kept me from enjoying War and Peace too. I read it last summer, and wish I could get that week back...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I want a new drug

It's been about 4 months since I've started querying agents in a serious kind of way, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that being a writer is actually a form of addiction. Not in the usual "I must write in order to express myself or I'm going to die" kind of way.

That's not how I roll.*

I enjoy writing; it's a fun challenge that's helped me learn and grow, and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of weaving the silken threads of plots and sub-plots, and bending words to my will (uh, mostly) but the whole "If I don't write I shall explode, leaving a mom-shaped splat of slimy goo on the wall", meh, not so much.

We've all heard of those kinds of people (right?). The ones who weep, wail and gnash their teeth at having to live in the real world. The world on paper, with characters they wish existed in real life, is more appealing than whatever they've got going on. They reserve domain names for the book they're querying, create blogs with their characters, role play with their name it, they've done it!

Don't be offended if you're one of those spirited, imaginative people. There are as many roads to publication as there are writers, and I bring that stuff up only because I can't relate to that kind of passionate dedication. Not for the work itself, anyway. Obviously, I'm driven enough by my characters to write about their experiences, and I love to get that story pulled together in the hopes of providing a few hours of escapist entertainment for future fans (um, just go with it okay?) , but my feet are firmly planted in reality.

The real passion for me, I've discovered, is when it's time to send the characters into the Agentverse. There is a high that comes from fully completing a manuscript, followed by an extra surge when you come up with the perfect query letter. There's an even bigger high when you open that email from an agent and you read PLEASE SEND ME MORE. And I look forward with anticipation to opening the penultimate*** agent email that precedes a phone call and offer of representation.

This is what gets me through the little slumps between responses. I know I'm going to get that next fix. I have very few vices - no coffee, alcohol, smoking. Nor am I a thrillseeker. I'm a small town kind of gal living a peaceable life with my husband, five kids, and a black cat named Susie-Q. BUT...

I get the shakes when I go to open my email, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm addicted to the rush****. I'm on the verge of an influx of replies on several full submissions as well as to a new batch of queries I sent out a while ago, and Oh! the anticipation!

In conclusion, if you're looking for something that might give you a buzz, may I suggest writing a book and trying to get it published? Hurry though, it's only a matter of time before the FDA finds out and tries to regulate the publishing industry.


*Sorry, I've been watching too much Kim Possible again.
**Which begs the question: what is a non-melodramatic, pragmatic person like me doing writing fiction?? Ah, another post for another time, perhaps...
***I love that word.
****Unless you think I ought to be. Then I'm very, very ashamed. Bad writer. Baaaaad adrenaline junkie writer.