Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Research!! (AKA: I've got nothing)

If any of you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this photo....


... accompanied by this painfully true caption:
"This note on my office 'idea wall' pretty much sums up my writing life these days."
I've been working away on my second novel, and it's been going well. Ideas, character profiles, timelines, it's all been coming together. Until recently. I blogged about this casually and skirted around the problem, but it's time to come clean: I haven't written, not really, in weeks.

Granted, before this current slump, I'd already gotten some good work done on the new MS. The last few weeks, though? I've felt like a dried up lime -- completely useless for prose, guacamole, invisible ink, you name it. I think I'm a bit burnt out, to tell you the truth. Lately, when I get home from work, my brain has been rebelling against any thoughts that go beyond the existential depth of "fork or spoon." All I want to do is eat cereal (Chex), read other people's books (so far in this rut I've read Runaway, Beautiful Ruins, On the Road and a ton of shorts) and maybe, if the mood strikes me, watch an episode of 16 and Pregnant.

Even my body is struggling. When I do sit down to write, my shoulders tense up and my carpal tunnel screams, all of which results in 1.5 hour-long massage treatments that leave me feeling like a piece of steak hammered flat by a Gordon Ramsey-type and my poor RMT exhausted, probably turning to booze for the comfort that her magic hands cannot provide to her own body. Oh the tragic irony of the life of a masseur!

So instead of writing, I've been doing what every writer does when they cannot write but are desperate to appear as though they are still "working": research. On the weekend, for example, I went to Toronto's CNE -- likely the smelliest, stickiest seasonal fair in the world. After giving disapproving looks to the connoisseurs of deep fried butter, wandering by endless lines of carney games and rides that were likely bolted together by that guy who picks through your garbage at night, I managed to find some stuff to climb into and on top of that could be counted as inspiration, creative lubricant, whatever, for novel #2:

 


As much as I love writing, not being able to write is a pretty low feeling that makes me wonder about writing altogether.

That's why "research" for literary types was invented. It gives us permission to wander our cities, our world, our Internet and take a break from WORDS. Without research, the weight of the blank page would crush us to death.

Oh, and hilarious GIFs help too: http://bit.ly/QxsE8N

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ouch. Even I felt that.


This is the kind of book review that serves as a reminder to writers everywhere that we better have our $hit together or some guy like William Giraldi will hand our asses to us. (And we'd deserve it.):
Teeth are described as “white,” as if we needed telling. About a porn magazine: “The girls were young, with enormous fake breasts.” William Gass once called this breed of abysmal writing “the uselessly precise fact” — it’s what you doodle when you need to fill a page but have nothing important to say. What then passes for wisdom in this novel? Nonsense clichés: “Nice guys finish last."
If you can take it, here's where to go to read the whole thing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/books/review/inside-and-signs-and-wonders-by-alix-ohlin.html?smid=pl-share


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pirates are never a good sign




I'm having one of those days where I want to photoshop eyepatches on everyone. Which, for me, means that I have some serious creative energy that needs letting out.

I've been plotting out the next phase of book two in my brain for a couple weeks now, and it's high time I sat down and got some serious writing done. I've let laziness and wedding stuff get in the way. (And also some mourning for "Lost," the finale of which left me traumatized.) But no more!

Book #2? Tonight I'm a comin' for you. Yaar!

What about you? Do you ever get the itch to write?

By the way, if you're having an eyepatch kind of day, too... Try the hilarious app for iPhone called "iPatch." It's making my life right now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Treats for manuscripts

Aside from the Olympics, my brain is focused on book two at the moment. While my Post-It note outline has been whispering in my right ear for months now, I haven't opened the actual manuscript since the spring. In fact, it's been so long since we've seen each other that I'm afraid it won't recognize me. It'll hide behind some other Word document all shy and bashful, and I'll have to lure it my way with a pork rind or some peanut butter toast. Because I'm pretty sure that's what manuscripts eat.