Grief Writing

I think I have finally figured out how to write about my mom.  Just like the grief, I can’t take it all at once.  I break off little bits and pieces at a time, just enough to nibble on.  If I took a big ol’ bite, I’d choke to death.  Like it was a spoonful of Nutella and I stepped on a Lego.  So, I’ll write little vignettes.  Snap shots of her life, of mine, of her death.

Let me tell you this really quick.  My mom was my best friend, my companion, my son’s third parent.  She was entwined and ingrained in our lives as closely as anyone can be that is not a spouse.  I go home to her house every day.  Park where she parked.  Feed the animals she brought home.  Water the lawn she tended.  I live there, in my childhood home, in the house her and my dad picked out together.  It’s so full of memories, all I can do to change it is move the furniture around.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  And there is nothing you can say to someone who is grieving that is going to change anything.  I have found though that there is one thing, and only one thing, that is actually really nice to hear.  I love you.  So if you know someone who is grieving the loss of someone close, try those words.  Those words say so much more than “I’m sorry”.  They say “I’m here with you” because I didn’t realize how alone I wasn’t until she died.

As hard as it is to write through the grief, it is just as hard to submit those grief writings for publication.  But, I do what I always do.  Just close my eyes and click.

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Tucker Max

I just read the best/worst book.

A few weeks back, I implored my FaceBook friends to recommend books to me, in any genre, to add to my summer reading (which I realized I was missing nearly half way into the summer).  I was given several good recs including Anne Rice, Dr. Seuss and Neal Stephenson.  My buddy Chad had told me about this book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max a few months ago.  Said it was laugh out loud funny.  Mentioned it again when I was cruising for suggestions.

I don’t generally buy books that are sixteen dollars unless they are books about quantum physics.  For some reason, I eat that shit up.  Anyway, I figure, what the hell, it’s the summer, which is the only time I really go crazy for books.  So I buy this book.  A picture of Tucker Max is on the front.  He looks like a douche.  The book even says I’m going to hate it.  The word “reprehensible” is on the cover.  Where do I sign up?

Officially, I blame my older brother for making me into the type of woman who loves this book.  Years of farting and crude jokes have desensitized me to the extent of laughing at the drunken misadventures and random sexcapades of this jerk Tucker Max.  A jerk who happens to be hilariously funny and a damned good writer to boot.  I’ll admit, at one point, I was a little pissed by his attitude towards women, but then when I read about his hotel pooping incident in which he managed to crap in his own hair and receive a lifetime ban from Embassy Suites, I figured karma had worked enough magic that I didn’t have to hold a grudge and I could just laugh at the guy.

Honestly, the book is a great read, highly entertaining, but I wonder how many women have read it… and liked it.

Courage to Click.

I’ve been thinking about this process, the querying process.  I realize that many writers find this task utterly daunting because of the many (and basically guaranteed) opportunities for “rejection”.  Yes, rejection in quotes.

I decided to look at the query as a kind of reverse interview.  Let’s say you are a manager at a restaurant for example.  You post a sign in the window or a link on the website: “Now Hiring”.  People come to you, applications filled out, requesting interviews.  You grant them.  You talk to several people, assessing their qualities, gauging whether or not they can be an asset to your company, your team.  If yes, then you hire, if not, then you don’t.  Rather simple.  Not personal.  You hire the person you think will be the best fit, not because you didn’t like the others, but they weren’t exactly what you are looking for in an employee.

In the query process, the writer with the manuscript is the manager with the opening, not the hopeful person looking for a job.  The query is the author’s “Now Hiring” sign.  Granted, the author has to send out individual queries, which is about the equivalent of the manager going door to door with a job description, asking potential employees one by one if they would like the job.  When the person you query says no, it isn’t a rejection.  It is an employee saying, “I’m not right for this job.”  It is an agent looking at the job description, and telling you they are not the right fit.

The goal is not just to find an agent/publisher/employee, but the right one, the one that fits.  If you’ve done the work as a writer, you’ve got an opening for a job that’s solid, a job that someone out there wants.  And once someone wants it, you still are the one who decides whether or not to hire.

Thinking about the process this way is what gives me the courage to close my eyes and click “send”.  If an agent doesn’t want the job, it is not personal.  It’s not about the job, it’s about the fit.

Turning YA

For two years now, I have been participating in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who do not know, November is National Novel Writing Month, hence the name NaNoWriMo. The goal for the month of November is to write 50,000 words, which is generally accepted to be the length of a novel. However, if you dig a little further, that is just the word count that makes a novella too long to be a novella anymore, so then it becomes a novel. For the purposes of publishing though, 50,000 words is too damn short to be much of anything other than a book for 8th graders, which is great, if that’s what you want to write.

It’s not what I want to write.

After completion of NaNoWriMo 2013, I spent the next 6 months finishing the story, getting it nearly finished at about 75,000 words, which is still about 20,000 words shorter than I’d like. Then I put it away.

Pondering on the successes of authors I’d like to emulate (Roth, Collins, Clare, Rowling), it dawned on me that they all have one thing in common: they were writing for young adults. Then it hit me! I should make my story YA!

I am now in the process of removing all of the adult themes, situations, and words. I’ve changed my main character to a single thirty something mother of one, to a virginal 18 year old fresh out of high school. It’s surprising how well it works! I’ve killed my darlings, as they say, but at least some version of me gets to wear bedazzled jeans with a cell phone in the back pocket.

Hello world!

After being continually told by the authors of numerous articles on being a successful writer to “write a blog” and “have an internet presence”, I have decided to “write a blog”.  I will do my best to do as Veronica Roth admonishes (somewhere on her awesome blog) and not say anything stupid.

I guess if you are going to have an internet presence, it should probably be a positive one.  However, I do not promise not to vent, or to be sadmad (just saw Home today- fantastic movie!), or to word vomit from time to time.  Everyone gets sick sometimes, and apparently, I puke out of my fingers.  Okay, enough of that!

So, welcome to my blog.  I hope that you find it enjoyable and uplifting and like you have just walked through a white fluffy cloud made of kittens.  In absence of that, I hope that you have at least found it entertaining.

Also, after having read a few articles about writing for the web, I have also shortened my text blocks to make this blog easier on your eyes!  Happy reading!