Monday, September 26, 2011

Dancing Men in Bodysuits

I love the way the dance keeps becoming something unexpected. You think you know what is going to happen and then whoosh it changes direction. What is the novelesque equivalent?

 Thanks to OK-Go for wearing slightly risque outfits and being willing:




I am deeply into a revision of my first manuscript. I picked it up again after an 8 month break. The distance was necessary. I think it is a good revision. But the book started from big ideas and aspirations. It is a first book. I have worked at it for too long. I learned much about writing novels and characters and sustaining plots and subplots within its 50k words. I have axed characters, chapters, flashbacks, and bus scenes - at least its weight in words. After all the book's sacrifice, all its willingness to bend to my whims and the whims of each crit partner, can I salvage its inner beauty, can I find an essence of truth that needs to be read?

I'm not sure.

I have to be willing to fail at this. I have to be willing to make a fool of myself. Be willing to be a laughingstock. Be willing to be dumb. Be willing to go slow. I may also have to be willing to give it all up.

Willingness is hard for me. I'm giving it a try.

(thanks to J for the video link many long months ago - finally ready to use it :))

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

apple scene, lit scene, music scene, also announcing class



It's apple season and I am in love with these chestnut crab apples. They are the perfect size for my kids lunches and you know how I am always fretting about the making of lunches. They are crunchy and sweet. That is just the description is at the appleman's booth at my farmer's market. I can eat about a million of them a day (that may make an argument for a larger apple but they are not as much fun).

 It's local kidlit season too. I went to two readings this past weekend. 

Kurtis Scaletta's The Tanglewood Terror. I dragged my son and his friend--it wasn't a hard sell. I loved the scenes he read, found them hugely touching. I think I would have, even if he hadn't. And the boys loved the props. The book is about a mushroom crisis and the boys took notice.

The second reading was Kelly Barnhill's The Mostly True Story of Jack. I brought same son and same friend and daughter. I loved that she set her mostly child audience to thinking about questions before she even began reading. The Wild Rumpus Bookstore birds were squawking and the toddlers were partying and she read perfectly despite the ruckus (the bookstore totally lives up to its name, Kurtis' reading at The Red Balloon was much mellower, like I imagine a balloon ride might be!).

Do you remember what music scene was like in Minneapolis circa 1987 (probably I am the only one old enough to for that)?  Well our kidlit community is just as rockin' now. I'm so not kidding. Steve Brezenoff's novel Brooklyn, Burning just came out. Anne Ursu's new book Breadcrumbs is coming out end of this month. And this is just the really recent books. (Please tell me if I'm missing anyone, but I so don't want to leave anyone out.) And there seem to be kidlit writers and illustrators all over the place. There is a ton of energy around here.

Back in '87 I had pledged to see all my favorite bands by the time I graduated: Husker Du, The Replacements, The Cure, David Bowie, I can't think of those guys from Wisconsin (darn it, my brain is like that) and prob more. I missed out on The Replacements because I was behind in social studies. Or was it math? It was a hard choice, graduation or Let It Be (More likely it was Tim, but for the purposes of my story, Let It Be serves better. For the record, my favorite Replacement's was Hootenanny). I may have made the right decision.

Well, I missed Steve's reading due to family engagements out of state, but that fact has a beautiful synchronicity because his epigram is from "Androgynous." I began reading Steve's book last night. Reminds me of Cannery Row by Steinbeck. Is that weird? It is one of my favorite books of all time. So I mean it as a complement. The relationships in both are so sweet and that sweetness contrasts so well with the cultural starkness of poverty. Maybe also the drinking is similar in both. But it's probably been since 1987 that I read Cannery Row, so my memory may be rusty. So yeah, I haven't finished but I am loving it.

All three books are getting loved by various readers in my weekend entourage right now. Kurtis' book went home with friend Jesse, who was terribly interested in the fungal terror (and the pig was sweet too). My son cannot put down The Mostly True Story of Jack and keeps exclaiming, "Kelly Barnhill is such a good writer!" He also told me that the story started as magical realism, but it quickly became very fantastic. I will admit I am intrigued. And I picked up Brooklyn, Burning last night against my better judgement (no time to read, I have a revision to finish, people) and I am so glad that I did.

 Also announcing: Class begins tomorrow in my studio! Check it out! You can subscribe to email announcements (which always happen in timelier fashion) in the sidebar.