2.24.2012

An Excuse for Neuroses and other stories

It's Lent, it's raining, the cat is sleeping on my arm, and life—at the moment—is mellow and peaceful. I'll take that.

Inside Jenna's head, it has not been a mellow week. I'd like to come up with a good metaphor for the experience of completely restructuring the first three chapters of a book you've already written a sequel for, but my brain is a bit sluggish at the moment. Maybe jacking up a tall building and redoing the foundation, knowing that a single mathematical mistake could bring the architectural equivalent of a hundred and forty-five thousand words tumbling down around your head.

Emotional interactions are the hardest part. With every sentence at the introduction of a new character, I risk sending reverberations through every other scene involving said character in both books. Now, I hardly need an excuse to get all neurotic, so I have been crazy. But yesterday an important part of it seemed to come together, so I feel good even though my wrist is falling asleep thanks to the cat.

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Speaking of Maia, her favored obsession this week is hopping up on the edge of the bathtub and knocking my nail brush onto the floor. This is comparatively harmless, so I just leave her to enjoy it.

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Readers' link of the week: Katherine Sas on apologizing for your favorite works. Which reminds me of a conversation I had recently with Arabella on the widespread bashing of the Twilight series. Can I say it without a disclaimer for once? I loved the Twilight books. I read all four of them five times. As for "engaged and passionate defense of an artwork’s varied meanings, values, and merits", my conscience is clear, thanks to help from Maria and Masha and Arabella in the single most enjoyable combox debate I've ever had. :)

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Writers' link of the week: Katherine Coble has an interesting take on writing rules like "Show, don't tell" and "Lay off the adverbs and adjectives." She questions whether this is the result of YA fiction's current ruling popularity. The comments are also helpful for clarification and further discussion.

I try to go easy on adverbs—most of the time—but you can take my beloved adjectives when you pry the retractable black pen out of my dead inky fingers.

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Music of the week: Local band Cumulus, which has an appealing sound. Alexandra Niedzialkowski's voice is just lovely.



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Random amusement of the week: I did laugh quite a bit over Jon Acuff's post about whether pets go to heaven. Frankly, I think some dogs have a better grip on faith-hope-and-charity than most people. I don't see a lot of cats working out their salvation with fear and trembling, though.

Which reminds me of that completely made up but completely hilarious church sign war on the subject. Linked on Snopes for your reading pleasure. I don't care that it never happened. It made me laugh a lot. Apologies to any Presbyterian readers—I suspect the choice of church was arbitrary. :)

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And now I'm off to do some more messing with the foundations of my story. Very, very carefully.

Happy weekend!

6 comments:

  1. (laughing)..I'm glad you don't feel the need to apologize for liking the wretched books! ;) And I'm super-glad to have been a part of the enjoyable combox debate that helped clear your conscience - everyone has that book or series they always feel the need to apologize for and never should! (full disclosure, mine is Anne Rice's Vampire books - but only the first 4. Are they bad - yup. Are they mine - definitely. Judge away.) :)

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    1. HAHAHAHA! No, no judgment here. I have way too many guilty pleasures (ahem... teenybopper music...) to be judging other people's. :P

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  2. Thanks for the hat tip, Jenna! The great debate between you and the others is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind. For me, much preferable to judging each other or hiding out of insecurity. Debate and discussion - that's what it's about! I've been keeping an eye on your blog for a while now (via The Hog's Head) and it's great to find like minds in the blogosphere.

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    1. Yes, a good-natured debate is definitely better than the usual alternatives! I really appreciated your post.

      Thanks for the kind words. It's been fun to check out your blog, too, and discover another like mind, as you say. :)

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  3. I know what it is to feel secretive and defensive about beloved books. We don't want to be judged whole-cloth, i.e., everything about us, but that's what happens. People like to feel superior, and we are completely judged as inadequate in ways we couldn't begin to defend ourselves.

    Color preference is a good example of this. We either love a color and want it around us, or we don't; some colors are absolutely abhorrent to us (raising my hand on maroon and gold together) and some are too beautiful for words. It's not a moral or a taste issue, or even choice. It just is. I love certain colors because I can't help it; they choose me, overwhelm me with feeling, regardless of trends or other peoples' taste.

    So it is with stories. They possess me, whether I may like it (or as others may like it) or not. While literary taste can be educated to a certain point, and certainly changes over time, I think the stories that draw us do so like color does.

    We shouldn't be judged or ridiculed for what has meaning to us. Alas, we are. And often with astounding bile and deirision.

    --Arabella

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    1. That "astounding bile and derision" really gets on my nerves.

      Yes, color. How quickly is a girl judged if, say, she likes a lot of pink? Or black? The innate tendency to superiority is one of humanity's more horrible--and more ridiculous--traits.

      I also think color works as a metaphor for what appeals to me/us in a story. We could say it's certain emotional tints and shades that make often very different stories appeal to the same person. My particular combination of loving Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina and Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember and the Wheel of Time books isn't going to work for everyone, maybe not anyone besides me, but somehow they all contain my favorite hues.

      OK, that made sense in my head. I'm not sure it will to everyone else, but ah well. :)

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