All I can say is thank God (not in the religious sense of an almighty, all-powerful God in the heavens God, but the expression God that emerges from ones lips in an utterance of relief, God) that Amylynn’s 400 page manuscript was not in my kitchen near the stove last night.
I had some blatant confirmation last night that my ultra-paranoid, over-planning compulsive disorder might have some redeeming benefits after all.
I was doing my best couch-potato impersonation, wrapped warmly in my Slanket (it’s a blanket with sleeves…pure genius!) with a heating pad on my aching shoulder, a frosty glass of mildly fragrant chardonnay and a scary show to complete my little circle of life. My hubby, who I will hereafter call Bear, was pre-heating the oven for a late night snack of leftover pizza.
And then a disturbing, half-panicked objection emerged from his lips.
“What is it?” I asked while I stretched my blanketed arm towards the frost-laden wine (which is only possible with a Slanket).
He snapped back, more panicked now, “Something’s on fire!”
I vaulted out my slanket (after gently setting down my wine, of course) and ran into the kitchen, where indeed, flames were filling the inside of the oven! They were coming out of the heating element at the bottom of the oven.
Without a second thought, I sprinted to the laundry room where I had mounted a fire extinguisher 6 years ago in a ridiculous fit of self-preservation. I yanked it from the wall and sprinted back to the kitchen. As my mild-mannered, Clark Kent-like exterior shattered, the super-hero emerged and I vaulted selflessly into the smoke. I effortlessly and instinctively pulled the red pin out of the nozzle and aimed at the mutinous flames. With two high powered blasts, the fire was out.
“Damn!” Bear exclaimed.
Sure that he was exalting my quick response in saving our kitchen from the flames, my super-hero, adrenaline-laced ego replied “I know…wow, I was awesome!”
He looked at me with misplaced bewilderment. “No! I mean damn, my pizza is ruined!”
“Oh.” My shoulders dropped and the gluttonous confidence fell away.
I am still cleaning up white powder from the extinguisher. I have found it in every corner of the house. Even in the phone booth where I removed my exciting, red cape in favor of my boring, Clark Kent clothes.
This is My Assistant. If he senses that work is taking place, he will happy help by flinging himself on top of stacks of papers, stretch himself atop the key board, or spread his girth over my books. Here he is today.
Isn’t he handsome? And look how accommodating he is. He’s just happy that Roscoe is outside and he can help me unmolested.
The Bandit is breaking my heart. Sassy started 1st grade last week. There was a lot of energy spent the week before getting her ready. The typical stuff: uniforms, school supplies, new lunch box and back pack, etc. The Bandit expressed the usual amount of frustration that he didn’t get to purchase these things, too.
One thing on the list of items she needed was 2 shoe boxes. Well, I’m here to tell you, I’m not giving up any of my shoe boxes. My shoes are currently living in them. And besides, the Manolo Blahnik shoe box is every bit as important to me as the shoes nestled inside. So I purchased a pack of 5 clear plastic ones at Target. The Bandit has confiscated one of the left over boxes and has been putting together his Kindergarten Box. He has it full of crayons and sharpened pencils, coloring books and note pads; all the things he thinks he will need for kindergarten. He takes it apart, and inspects it, and reassembles it often. He approached me with the box and announced, “I’m ready for kindergarten. Can I go now?”
I’ve tried to explain that he has to be five years old. But he is so frustrated. Being four is really hard. Especially when his sister gets to do some many of the cool things that six year olds get to do.
This morning we were eating breakfast and the kids were picking at each other as usual. When commanded to stop, Sassy, of course, told her father that The Bandit started it. My Honey informed her that usually the older kid gets in more trouble than the younger one. She was outraged as one would expect.
“Why?” she demanded.
“Because the bigger kid should know better.”
The Bandit threw his fork on the table and ran to his room wailing, “Now I can’t even get into trouble!”
Poor little boy. Don’t worry, Sweet Babbaloo, I’m quite certain that won’t be a problem.
As Amylynn has shared, we are revising It’s Clearly Love, again. It’s excruciatingly painful for all of us. We made Ed print all 450+ pages at my house and then we took it to Kinkos so that “evil mean copy girl” could give us a hard time about asking her to do her job – copy something. After we ate lunch, we went back to pick up the two copies and she looked fine, I don’t believe she’ll suffer any lasting ill effects from copying 900 pages but, we will, she charged us $75.00 dollars!!!
After I got my copy home, I started reading/editing. I haven’t read ICL for months. The three of us really thought it was done and we thought the first three chapters were so good that they would cause an agent or editor to want to buy the book. Well, not so much. I’ve mentioned before my true admiration for Amylynn for finishing not just this one book but several more short stories and the continued work on yet another novel size manuscript. I re-mention this because Amylynn is right, I’ve ruthlessly attacked it. We were true novices all around when she wrote it, she writes one thousand times better now and we edit one thousand times better as well. It needs to be done and we are going to do it. In fact, it is the only writing project I will be working on until it is complete.
Here’s where the TRUE agony comes in, I started a new job last week. For various reasons, I have had to drive about one and half hours away for training. Oviously, I don’t know any of the people who work in this office. Amylynn is not joking about her feelings towards this rewrite. So, I’m sitting in a conference room, on my cell phone, trying to talk Amylynn off the ledge and back into her cube when I notice that several people are avidly listening to my conversation. They all listened to me discuss some woman’s sprained ankle, her damaged engagement ring and her losing her virginity to her childhood crush. I decided to step outside. If you’re reading this anywhere but where we live, you won’t really understand why that is significant – I went outside in the midday sun, the temperature was 113. My new co-workers decided it was time for a cigarette break and most of them don’t smoke . . .
Amylynn is worried that this revision won’t be her work alone. As writers, you all know how important it is that our work reflects us, our voice, our style. Some editors are too intrusive, they don’t just fix bad sentence structure and punctuation, they change the “you” in the writing. The three of us are always super careful to never do this. But, talking through the plot, the hook, the conflicts, that is sometimes a group effort and, in my opinion, doesn’t take the “you” out of the story at all.
So hang in there Amylynn – I’m with you ’til the end, even if it means my new co-workers think I hang around with loose, clumsy women and my make-up melts off from the sun at high noon in a parking lot hours from my home.
For my funeral, I want the classic New Orlean’s Jazz package please. I want my coffin in a horse drawn carriage led by jazz musicians. Following behind, I want weeping mourners all dressed in black with veils and everything. At the grave site, I expect there to be old women wailing and moaning, and I really like at least one of them to fling themselves on my casket. If you have to pay for this effect, please do so. It’s important to me. One last request, please tuck a couple of good books in the casket with me. Make it at least two – there might be a long wait and I’m a fast reader.
Why am I mentioning this now? No, I haven’t had any disturbing news from a doctor or anything like that. It has become the Sister’s goal to whip my first novel into shape – AGAIN. It’s been a year and 1/2 since I finished it – the first time – and we’ve learned so much since then that we can see big flaws and plot holes, etc that need to be fixed. I have a plan for obtaining an agent/editor so while we wait impatiently for the mechinations to fall into place, now is the time for the It’s Clearly Love overhaul. We’ve given ourselves 2 months tops.
Here’s the thing. It’s killing me. Ava is brutal. I know she’s taken a chain saw to the book with love and its best interest at heart, but still, it’s excruciating and I want to throwup. I once read that your book is like a child: you feed it and nourish it and take good care of it, watch it grow and when it’s all done you have to kill it. Not that I’m advocating killing children, but you see the point right? She’s killing my baby! I know I’m over reacting but, regardless, I’m freaking out.
I need a shot of something stiff and a deep cleansing breath…….if you need me, I’ll be sucking my thumb in the fetal position over there.
Yesterday evening, Sassy and I were working on her homework.
“Have you ever heard of an éclair?”
Have I ever heard of an éclair? Seriously? I’ve been to 12 step programs over eclairs.
“Yes, I’ve heard of eclairs. Why?”
“They’re really good,” Sassy tells me in all seriousness. Her face was solemn, as if she was imparting something as serious and life altering as the Rosetta Stone.
“Yes, they are,” I agree. “Where did you eat one?”
“Clarissa had one in her lunch. She shared some with me.”
Clarissa is obviously a nice girl. I knew she wouldn’t have tasted such a thing at home. There is no way I’d be sharing something like an éclair. I buy those when I’m alone and eat them in the car in shame and by myself, as it should be.
When I got up this morning, in bed with me was My Honey, Sassy and The Bandit, and Roscoe (aka The Idiot Dog). No wonder my back hurts. I unwedged my arm to reach over to shut off the alarm and heard a distinctive crackling noise. I found an unopened granola bar in my bed. I knew where it came from. The Bandit does this a lot; he gets out of bed in the middle of the night and brings snacks back to bed. Usually, my bed. I snorted with annoyance and took the granola bar with me when I left the room.
I was in the shower when My Honey woke up the kids. With his eyes still closed, The Bandit felt around the sheets near where he was sleeping, and asked in a groggy voice, “Where’s my granola bar?”
Of course, My Honey had no idea what he was talking about.
The Bandit insisted that he had a granola bar.
My Honey asked him, “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming about granola bars?”
The Bandit replied, “I don’t think so.” I just love how he wasn’t 100% sure.
It’s the strangest habit. When he’s going to spend an overnight at either grandma’s house, I always have to check his backpack. It’s usually loaded with food instead of toys. He is insistent that he might need a snack while he’s there. I assure you that neither of his grandmothers starve the children when they visit. In fact, they always get blueberry pancakes from the grandmas. My Honey and I find that suspicious since we never got those from our mothers. Anyway, the boy always acts like we’re taking him off to prison camp or a survival trek in the rain forest the way he sneaks food.
Yesterday I was in a really foul mood. It was one of those days when you think all is fine and peachy with the world, and then you have to start interacting with other people and it turns out, not so much. I was beginning to worry that I might actually bite someone. I considered calling my veterinarian to see if my vaccinations were current. I was snipey, and mean, and at one point, I loudly announced that it might be best for people to just stay the hell away from my cubicle.
For the sake of the innocent, and not so innocent, for crying out loud, get me a book deal so I don’t have to go out among the masses. Let me stay safely ensconced in the quietness of my own home where the only people I feel violent towards would be the local newscasters. Does anyone else have this problem? I can’t even watch the local news anymore. Seriously, those people make me crazy.
It was a very peaceful weekend at the Bright Compound. Sassy and The Bandit and Roscoe, the Idiot Dog mostly behaved themselves. They spent Saturday night with their Grandmother so My Honey and I could refuel our batteries. Let’s send a big shout out to the universe for helpful Grandmas everywhere.
I finished a friend’s newly released book. She is Sherrill Quinn, go check her out. She is a good story teller, and a very generous mentor.
The Sisters also attended our writers group this weekend. There, we were given a great heads up from another successful writer about a really brilliant way that she has found to conduct rewrites and edits on her work. At this point, I’m looking for anyway at all to make this process less excruciating. It’s one thing when you’re only rewriting a short story, but a full length novel of 90,000+ words is a huge convoluted, confusing mess that makes me want to scream and cry. We’re going to give it a try this week and see how we can mold the procedure into something that works for us.
If it’s successful, and I have no idea why it wouldn’t be, then we’ll give you a full rundown on the procedure. After all, we’re here to help and encourage.
Last night when I was getting Sassy and The Bandit out of their bath, they were squabbling. The Bandit looked at his sister and said, “Sissy, you’re a rotten ass!” I turned to him, “What did you say?”. He repeated it, but I still wasn’t sure I heard correctly. I asked again, and he repeated it again. I asked a third time, just to be really sure and he said it again, emphasising every syllable, “Rooootteeeen AAAAAssssssss.”
So I asked him where he heard that. His response, “Oh, it just came from my heart.”