the real life Liz Lemon

"I did not fall down"
simple, positive statement
sad state of affairs

Yesterday, I was able to take several hours and go to a cafe to work on some edits. It was nice to get out of the house and it was nice to feel like an actual writer instead of a person who just talks about writing.

But y’all? I am out of practice as far as being in public is concerned. Let me give you a rundown of what a ridiculous Liz Lemon-y mess I was:

1. Tiny jelly jars, though adorable, are hard to manage. I had a piece of toast in one hand, a knife in the other, and the tiny jelly jar in the same hand as the toast. So I was doing this acrobatic elbow dance as I tried to dig out jelly and then spread it on the toast without having jelly drip off my knife and onto my pants.

Why not set the toast down and put jelly on it, you may ask? Well, there was a lot of crap on the table – two giant stacks of paper, a laptop, a notepad, food, etc. My toast plate was behind my laptop. Very complicated.

2. As I was winding down, I stacked my manuscript into one big pile and attempted to stuff it into my laptop bag. I had had no trouble doing this to GET to the cafe, so I’m not sure why all the trouble trying to do it a second time. Anyway, I try to cram it into the bag and it seems like only half the pile is going to fit. Well, that’s not right. I peer into the bag and realize the power cord is all snakey and twisted at the bottom, and is the source of my trouble. I yank it out and toss it on the table – and it lands in a pile of honey that has leaked from packet I used in my tea. "CRAP!" I yell into the quiet cafe (because I still have on my earbuds and am listening to Ruthie Foster loudly. She is fucking fantastic, by the way). Everyone turns to stare. This is when, as I’m attempting for a third time to cram the ream of paper into my bag, half of it falls out sideways, going everywhere.

Probably this happened because I reached out to grab the power cord from its tar pit of honey and I relinquished my grip on the top half of the wily paper pile. Or not. At this point there was no rhyme or reason to any of the shenanigans.

OK. So. Honey all over my power cord. Half a manuscript all over my lap and the booth. And did I forget to mention that I was sitting right by the exit door? On a windy day?

At this point I was my own Saturday Night Live skit.

Eventually, I got the manuscript back into my bag and most of the honey sucked off the power cord (I didn’t have any napkins; they had blown away). I gathered everything up, stood to leave, walked to the door and yanked my keys out of my pocket (always have your keys out before you get to your car, right ladies?).

Well, this is when

3. the contents of said pocket flew into the air, slow-motion-like. A handful of hair barrettes, a couple of pony tail holders, some trash, a receipt.

I could actually hear the 30Rock music bouncing around in my head.

"NERDS!" I yelled, thinking I was being funny and meta. But then I realized you’re not really being meta if no one else knows about your life. I often forget my life is not a TV show.

So I squat down by the door, grab the detritus that is leaking from me as if I am one of those hoses that sprays packing peanuts, avoid eye contact with everyone, and flee to my car.

I feel like maybe I should have at least curtsied before I left. Or asked for people to throw their change at me.

Today I’m staying home. I’m locked in my bedroom, determined to finish my edits, and equally determined to not make an ass out of myself. I think privately making an ass out of myself on a regular basis is what causes me such problems in public. I am desensitized to self-ass-i-tizing. Something needs to be done about that.

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And they’re off!

hope brain is not mush
expectations are scary
edits to book: done!

I just emailed my first major round of edits to my editor at Random House (yes, yes, I will always name drop. Wouldn’t you?)! Of course I’m in mortal fear of disappointing him and of ruining my book and of getting a phone call that goes something like, "Hello? Right. You totally jacked this up." But overall, I feel confidant. No, really! I’m excited and tingly at the thought of hearing his comments and I CAN’T WAIT until I’m able to get feedback from some kids.

Also, I just found out McSweeney’s has accepted another piece for the website. Yay! I’ll keep you posted on when it’s going to appear.

Whew. I’m off to play on Facebook now. I should never have signed up for that thing. Not only does it waste incredible amounts of time, but there’s a group that you can join specifically for the purpose of talking like you live in Deadwood. I speak the honest God-fearin’ fuckin’ truth, you foul-mouthed scoundrel cocksuckah. Facebook and Deadwood are going to cause me to go to hell.

shock collar

invisible fence
might not be very humane
but will save money

No, I don’t want to get an invisible fence for the puppy. Or even for the kids. What I need is one that surrounds every local bookstore. Then, if I had some kind of receiver that’s connected to my wallet, I’d get one helluva jolt every time I tried to randomly show up at a bookstore and spend $150 on books I don’t have time to read.

Oh, but there are so many I want. And if I check them out from the library I just have to return them before I’m finished (or even before I start!). Whereas, when I BUY these books, I can gaze lovingly at them while they gaze lovingly back at me from my bookshelves. And their many-colored covers will be decorative! And the children will see how wonderful it is to grow up amongst stacks and stacks of books, even as the Internet tries to take over the world. (I know, I know, I’ve spent way too much time trying to justify going out and spending an assload on some new books.)

Last weekend, I went out to the bookstore, and much like all the other kids there, I was accompanied by my mother so that we could catch Rick Riordan giving a reading from his new middle grade book – The Titan’s Curse. Ostensibly, I said it was research, so that, you know, I could see how animated he was, and how clever and funny his stories were, and then I’d be able to store that somewhere in my brain and maybe use it one day if I ever get lucky enough to give a reading of my new book when it comes out many, many moons from now (Summer ’09 – doesn’t that seem like FOREVER?).

Really, though, I was just there to be another one of the kids – mesmerized by a fantastic writer. Before Mr. Riordan came out, I chatted with a girl about his books and how much she loves them. And she told me a little non-sequitor story about how lucky she is to never get hit in the head with balls during PE, and we had a grand time. It made me wish I had some kind of secret business card I could hand out that would give kids a website to go to to read and "test out" a couple of chapters from my book. These kids are such great readers, and they aren’t going to gloss over what they think. Plus, it could generate really cool underground buzz amongst my core audience.

It’s not something I could do now – there are just too many months until the release. Plus, I don’t know what my editor and publisher would think about something like that. As a former kid who was a ravenous reader, though, I can’t think of anything more exciting than being approached by a writer and asked to take a sneak peek at a new book coming out.

Anyway, just something to think about, I guess, while I’m sitting on my hands and hiding my keys so that I don’t run out and buy a million more new books.

Of course, if I actually spent more time writing books and less time farting around on the Internet I might actually sell another book or two and have a couple of more dollars to spend on books.

This is an interesting theory I’m going to look into. A soon as I’m finished blogging. And reading TWoP. And hiding my eyes while I scan Perez Hilton’s site. And listening to the Woot podcast. And checking my email.

writin’ writin’ and more writin’

rusty wheels creaking
slowly steam pours out of ears
edits continue

I’ve been writing like crazy this week, trying to finish up a handful edits before the second draft of my manuscript is due in early July. I keep distracting myself, though, by still getting excited that Random House wants my book. I know it’s old news now and I should be over the thrill of it, but I can’t help it. Every time I sit down and spread out my manuscript in front of me, with the editorial letter on one side, my notebook just next to it, my laptop open and whirring contentedly… I have to take a moment to think, "Is this real? Like for REAL real? Am I really a writer? Am I really writing, not just because I want to and because I love it, but because someone else likes it, too?" And then I feel this overwhelming flood of gratitude and luckiness and ineptitude and guilt and I have to literally shake my head to make it all go away so that I can write.

It’s wild.

And as frustrating and solitary as writing can be, it’s also incredibly fun and even sort of miraculous. I’m constantly surprised by some of the things that appear in the book. Some days it’s like a perfect storm of seemingly inconsequential influences. And yet as I type, it’s like the characters take over and they write the book themselves. Things I would have never thought about or even imagined  suddenly appear. This happens despite all of my research, all of my notes, all of the outlining I’ve done – things just happen organically. I guess I shouldn’t be amazed by it, because that’s just how writing is. But I AM still amazed.

I have to go figure out how to disable an electric forcefield now.

Any suggestions?