This is the view from my newish office. You can't really tell from this photo, but right now it's Snowmaggedon out there, so I'm pretty happy to be inside listening to The Smashing Pumpkins and working on book # 2. I'm also keeping an eye on a squirrel who seems to be having a right conniption fit.
Another reason I'm happy to be inside today? This is what my hair currently looks like:
It must be a virus or something. It's really going around.
I've been in a slump lately. Haven't written much of anything in two weeks or so. Instead I've been obsessively applying for jobs over the Internet (which is a terrible way to apply for jobs), reading loads of books (Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine was my easy favourite) and watching bits of TV shows and movies on Netflix (The Future was good. Everything else? Not).
Sigh. Life without cable or professional direction is rather cruel.
I have, however, been doing some research for what I think my next book will be. Maybe. Probably. Crap, I don't know. Whatever it is, I do think I've stumbled upon something really unique and interesting -- the ideal seedy underbelly to my next novel it just may be.
See, I've discovered that I what I love to base my stories around is something real out there in the world. Or, as in the case of my first novel, real to someone, even if that someone isn't me. And then with that real frame holding up my house, I make up the characters that have to react inside of it, have to show their true selves... Blah blah blah. Ugh. I just don't have the energy...
Anyways, with my next project, what I'd like to use as the backdrop for the dark, funny tale I'll be telling is something out of the history books. Yeah, that's annoyingly vague, I know. Nebulous even. (I love that word.) But before I say more, I have to take this idea -- this history -- into the workshop in my brain and bash it around for a while. Here's hoping my ears don't bleed from all the thinking. Here's hoping that I can actually turn this into something.
Here's ________ (<< dramatic pause) to the future!!!
Okay, so I only had so much video available to me -- my pre-husband making the bed via his unique method (patent pending), some random monkeys from a vacation to Indonesia, me in an iPhone video about a hot sauce cookbook -- but still... I think the trailer is quite powerful. I'll leave it up until common sense gets the better of me.
My agent gave me the assignment of coming up with a book that I can compare mine to. It's for pitching purposes, so although it's a tough task, it's important that I get it right.
After much hemming, hawing and bookshelf staring, I think I know what book I'm going to use. Someone smarter and better-read than I once told me that my book reminded her of The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood. I've just read it, and I have to say that I agree. So I've decided to work with that title and see how it goes.
Here's what's guiding me in my comp assignment:
"The Weather Inside is like (fill in the blank with an author's name or a title of a book) only (fill in the blank with what sets you apart)."
And here's what I've come up with so far:
1) "The Weather Inside is like Atwood’s The Edible Woman only without the feminist agenda and with lots more sex."
- Not true. I'm too chicken to write about sex, at least explicitly. And I always have a feminist agenda. I mean, I went to York.
2) "The Weather Inside is like Atwood’s The Edible Woman, only without all those big words and ideas."
- Ok, that’s just me and my inferiority complex. But come on. Atwood? Who’s kidding who here?
3) "The Weather Inside is like Atwood’s The Edible Woman, only set in the 2000's and written by someone else."
- All true. (Sort of like this clip from Cheers.) And yet I get the feeling it won't exactly inspire a bidding war between publishers.
As you can see, I'm kind of stuck. And as you may not have seen, I sort of have a thing for Margaret Atwood.
Have you ever had this problem, writers? You step away from your computer and your novel-in-progress, only to return to witness all of your words being erased -- word by word, line by line -- because your "delete" key is stuck?
This happened to me a couple years ago and ever since, I've been jotting down the word count when I start a new chapter or after I've added a particularly hard-fought paragraph to my manuscript. See that photo above? Those are my numbers from last week. Looks kind of crazy, doesn't it? Sort of like this?:
Anyways, since I've been manually keeping track of my numbers, I've been able to notice a weird quirk in Microsoft Word: the software is actually pretty shitty at calculating word counts, or at least remaining consistent in how it performs the calculation.
Here's what I mean. Almost every time I return to my manuscript (after I've rebooted my computer) I find that the word count -- which I compulsively recorded on my notepad -- has changed, in either the plus or the minus, depending.
When I first noticed the problem, I would get very paranoid. "Did I hit a few keys by mistake?" "Did I delete something without noticing?" "Oh $#!%, oh $#!%, oh $#!%!!" and I'd re-read entire sections looking for my error. But I never found one.
What I did find, however, was this very valuable lesson: While you should always trust your words, dear writers, never ever completely trust your Word.