storytelling

last night, i took kateri to back fence PDX. it was actually one of the best ones i've been to. there was a story that i'm pretty sure is going to haunt me for a bit. at intermission, i once again put my name in the pitcher for the audience lightning round. i was feeling pretty good about it - unlike last time. the theme was "breaking the rules" and i have a number of good stories i could tell. this is the one i would have told if i'd been picked:

"i cut a lot of class in high school. i mean a lot. i had a grown-up sounding voice and could easily call the attendance office and pretend to be my mom. then i'd call back and pretend to be my friends' moms. yeah. thank god caller id wasn't a thing. i once arrived at school, realized that no, that wasn't how i wanted to spend my day, and called myself out from the pay phone in front of the principal's office. my last report card came and i had straight A's and i had ended up graduating toward the top of my class. she was pleased but then looked at the attendance record. i had missed 33 days. 33. that's almost seven weeks. the school year is about 36 weeks long. so, yeah. how about that, mom? must have been a typo. yeah, yeah! a typo! a few years later she asked about it again. yeah, mom, no. not a typo."

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wednesday words

things i'm reading both on and off the internet:

LOVED IT. next up: all the days and nights by william maxwell and what there Is to say we have said: the correspondence of eudora welty and william maxwell

the equals record - this was the first post i read from this site. i put it in my reader and have enjoyed the writing a lot.

stories about prince - its exactly what it sounds like and if you like prince at all, you'll love it!

the reconstructionists - all sorts of awesome.

valentine's day for under achievers

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the fault in our stars

in 2002, we went to the anne frank house in amsterdam. it was heavy, as you'd expect. i climbed tiny staircase after tiny staircase and i felt like i'd be crushed by the weight of what i was feeling, or maybe i was just hopelessly out of shape. either way, i was having feelings and they were pouring out of my eyes, like feelings are sometimes prone to do. i cried silently as we moved from room to room and each time shawn looked at me, he held my hand just a bit tighter. at the end of the museum, there is a room with hundred of copies of anne frank on display, in every imaginable language and there was a quote on the wall that pushed me right over the edge. it was something about diary of a young girl being the most optimistic story of all humanity. i think it was octavio paz. i was too shaken to have the presence of mind to write it down. also, people were staring. i was sobbing, audibly and uncontrollably.  so many feelings - and not all of them bad. i believe those hours spent at the anne frank house changed me, the same way reading it did when i was much younger. i wanted to be better, to do better. 

on sunday, i started to read the fault in our stars by john green. i knew when i picked it up from the library that it was going to be a heartbreaker. i mean, come on, a young adult novel about teenagers with cancer. "cancer books suck." - it says so on page 48 of this cancer book. for a good time read ANYTHING ELSE, right? but no, that wasn't the case at all. this book was a fantastic time. i laughed, a lot. but i'm not going to lie - i also cried a lot.

there were so many great sentences in this book, like this one (which describes pretty much everyone i know): "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecented you are."  or this one: "Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together again unless and until all living humans read the book."

its gotten under my skin in the best possible way. it reminded me i want to be better; DO BETTER.

i keep thinking about the book, about our trip to the anne frank house and about the Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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farewell, november

you kicked my ass. i'm not saying that i didn't deserve it but really, you kicked my ass. 3 shows. lots of etsy sales. and oh yeah, i wrote a book.

i set out to do a thing and i got it done. i looked my 15% crippling self doubt in the eye and told it to go to hell. and it was fun. sort of.

here's what i learned (or was reminded of) this month:

writing is exhausting. i actually fell asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of typing a sentence more than once. every day when i finished writing, i wanted to nap. and that was without being to precious about word choice. nanowrimo is about getting the words out, not really using your back space key and just writing the thing. that's what i did. 

writing while i'm tipsy is unwise. it might work for some people but not for me. i only did it twice and i regretted it both times. those chapters are going to need some extra editing TLC. 

no matter how prepared i thought i was, how well i thought i had the story plotted out in my head, there were some stumbling block. the "men plan, god laughs" rule applies to writing too, i guess. 

writing violence is well, violent. it invaded my dreams; it caused me grief. writing violence is not to be taken lightly. so obvious yet it sucker punched me. 

i couldn't have done it without running. stupid running. 

writing every single day is important. i had to break for our trip to seattle and when we returned i had trouble finding my groove again.

writer's block can suck it.

i can be a time management wizard. those balls all stayed up in the air. i managed to cook, clean, make lots of things and do three shows without sending anyone the wrong order. or crying. 

i have awesome friends. i knew that already but the number of supportive texts, tweets, emails and postcards i received was incredible. thank you all.

my husband rocks. hard. 

50,000 words in a month? totally doable. 

the next couple weeks will be all about holiday shows and our etsy shops. i'll sit down and read the book in the next couple of weeks and begin the editing process. for now, i need some breathing room. i need to sleep without dreaming about my characters and the peril i've placed them in. i need to not worry about word counts and timing my day perfectly in order to meet them. i need to make things and ship orders and READ. i've barely read in the last month and i miss it. i miss writing here, too. i hope to return to my regularly scheduled blog this week. 

so, how was your november?

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clear eyes

nanowrimo is still happening around these parts. i'm almost halfway to the 50,000 word mark. i'm feeling good but my brain is tired. every single day i write, i spend a lot of time thinking about the character i'm writing and the responibilty that comes with that. it feels really self important to say that but its true. i do have a responsibility. my main character is based loosely on a friend, one of my very favorite people in the world. i don't want to make her look bad. so, there's that. but then also, i'm writing a young adult novel. i want to write a girl that i would have wanted to read. i want to write a girl character i'm proud of even if its only my friends and family that read this book when i'm done.

here's a few things i've been thinking about:

this speech that joss whedon gave. i've watched it many times over the years but i've watched it four times since i started writing on november 1. i just watched it again before i wrote this. i've realized that if having strong women, actual women, is secondary to the story someone wants to tell then its easier to fall back on cliches and tired tropes. writing strong girls and woman is hard work. sometimes hearing joss whedon say, "why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they aren't writing strong women characters?" is the kick in the pants i need to do the work.

a friend and i just finished watching the series ringer together. we had fun but the women, oy the women. they are all sort of horrible. today, that friend said she missed buffy. there have been kick ass girls and women on tv since but there's nothing quite like buffy, with its many strong women and the men who respect them. now, don't get me wrong. i don't think i'm writing buffy, veronica mars or even katniss but god, do i wish there had been more of them when i was growing up. 

this piece from the new york times. after reading it, i realized something. i have never described my main character beyond her height and the fact that she has hair that she sometimes wears in braids. is that actually important if she's a fully formed (and kind of awesome) character in every other way? 

so, what do you think? who are your favorite kick ass girls on tv, in books and movies? and does a character's physical description really matter? i'm serious. i want to know.

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wednesday word count

13,996 words. 20 chapters. that's where i'm at with NaNoWriMo as of a few minutes ago. things are moving right along. also, i may now be writing a trilogy, not just one book. yeah. 

also, i got the best letter from donovan today. it won't make sense to everyone but it will make perfect sense to some. i'm going to look at this and that excellent picture of her each and every time i sit down to write. 

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day one conversation

shawn: how is that going to work?

me: i have a plan.

shawn: OH MY GOD. IS THERE GOING TO BE TIME TRAVEL?

me: no.

shawn: <long pause. heavy sigh>  fine. even if there isn't going to be time travel, i still really want to know what happens next.

1,729 words. two whole chapters. i am pleased.

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everyday i write the book

here's something that most everyone who knows me now does not know: i used to want to be a writer when i grew up. there was a period, post-forensic anthropology classes and pre-synagogue where that was all i ever thought about doing.

an even lesser known fact: i've already written a novel. its ok. it definitely needs a lot of work. i was actually working with an editor on it, about a million years ago, and decided it sucked and the work was too hard and i was done. yep. that's right. that crippling self doubt that occasionally consumes me consumed me and i squashed that dream of mine like a freakin' bug. not my shining moment. now you understand why you're just hearing about this now, right?

and another shana fact: i've been working half heartedly on a graphic novel for the last year and a half. half heartedly because i cannot draw and that seemed like a major road block. yeah, i could collaborate but dammit, there's that crippling self doubt. again. 

a few months ago, it occurred to me that maybe i should shift gears and write the story as a young adult novel. the hero of my story is a pretty kick ass girl, after all. i thought maybe i was onto something. 

determined to not let my brain get the best of me, i talked it out with some friends. most were incredibly enthusiastic. my friend syndy said, "don't you think you owe the world a young adult novel?" 

so, i made the decision. i was going to write a young adult novel. in january. 

why in january, you ask? well, because its october and we're coming up on the holiday season. i am going to be BUSY. so, january. that's what i told myself.

but my brain was already working; making the necessary adjustments to my already existing plot outline, thinking about how to handle my main characters parents since they weren't a big part of the graphic novel but will need to play a larger role now, developing characters in my head in slightly different ways than i had previously imagined them. this is what my brain is doing pretty much constantly. i wake up and make notes to myself. i talk to the dog about it. i talk to shawn about it.  i talk to myself about it while i run. THIS is why i started running again.

it is always on my mind and i don't think waiting for january is a good idea.

over the weekend, neil gaiman posted this National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) pep talk. I read it and felt really inspired. i suddenly realized what i need to do.

just write. no waiting until january. i need to strike while the iron is hot. i need to do NaNoWriMo. 

i asked shawn if he thought this was my craziest and/or worst idea ever? no, not even a little. would he intervene if i did this and went off the rails because of the (self imposed) pressure? of course he would. did he think i should do this? fuck YES.

i sent donovan an email. she is my main character's namesake and the character is loosely based on her. i think donovan sort of thought i was kidding all this time when i told her i was going to write a book as a result of a crazy conversation a bunch of us had over dinner and a great deal of wine. i wasn't then and now i'm really not. she used the word awesome in her response. awesome.

last night i told two more friends. i recieved high fives from both. 

so here i am, telling you all. crippling self doubt be damned. i've got this.

(except for the part where if the holiday prep and show schedule becomes untenable and i've gone feral or i'm constantly weeping. if i can't finish it in november because i'm losing my mind, its ok. i will have gotten a good start and will totally be able to pick up the ball and run with it once things chill. but that's only if i lose my mind. otherwise, i've totally got this.)

wish me luck and don't be surprised if you don't see me much around these parts before december. 

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wednesday words

“the thoughts that occur to me while i’m running are like clouds in the sky. clouds of all different sizes. they come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. the clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
- haruki murakami 

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wednesday words

"there are some things, after all, that sally owens knows for certain: always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. keep rosemary by your garden gate. add pepper to your mashed potatoes. plant roses and lavender, for luck. fall in love whenever you can."

- alice hoffman (practical magic) 

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