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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Good News Comes in Threes, or, I’m a Big Tease!

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Good News Comes in Threes, or, I’m a Big Tease!

Normally I write two posts a week, but this week is my birthday (on the 3rd), and America’s birthday (on the 4th), plus I have a family of four coming to stay at my apartment, and I need to prepare for that (fun) insanity. So, for this week, you’ll get this teaser today and an official post on Wednesday.

I’m turning 33 on July 3rd, which seems significant. Good things come in threes, and I have a feeling this year is going to be full of good things (knock on wood!) In fact, I have some good news to announce, and I will tell you all about it on Wednesday. See you then!

Here is a picture of me with a birthday pinata I bought for myself at a market in Mexico a few years ago.  For three years in a row, I spent my birthday abroad.

Here is a picture of me with a birthday pinata I bought for myself at a market in Mexico a few years ago. For three years in a row, I spent my birthday abroad.

Babies & Books: A Miracle Every Time

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Babies & Books:  A Miracle Every Time

My boyfriend has baby fever. Our friends recently had a baby (we’ll call them “Seth” and “Brittney” since they may not want the Internet to know their business), and Paul has been cooing about their baby nonstop ever since Brittney went into labor.

The other day, Paul was looking at facebook and getting giddy about the fact that Brittney had posted more baby pictures. “Oh! Their baby is so cute!”

“Don’t write any weird comments,” I told him.

“I was going to write, ‘I want your baby,’” Paul said, and I wasn’t sure whether or not he was kidding.

On Tuesday, we brought a pan of enchiladas over to Seth and Brittney’s house so we could eat dinner with them and meet their six-day-old son.

At first, Paul was too nervous to hold the little guy, but soon enough he was sitting on the couch with the baby in his arms, looking blissful. “He’s so tiny!” Paul marveled.

“Yeah, we do a lot of baby staring around here,” Seth said. “He’s fun to look at.”

“So, um, how was the birth?” Paul asked, laughing awkwardly.

“Long,” Brittney said. She had already told me about the process earlier. I’ve heard other women’s birth stories, but each one is a little different, and I’m always interested to hear the details of how they brought new life into the world.

“I got really into it,” Seth said. “I mean, I know it’s a cliché, but it really was amazing. You know, the miracle of birth and all.”

“My parents gave me a pop-up book about sex when I was four,” Paul said, “And I was enthralled. It was a pretty graphic book. I didn’t know what anything was called, so I went around telling other kids, ‘the baby comes out of the baby-coming-out-place, and you wouldn’t even believe it unless you saw it.’”

We all laughed, but Seth nodded. “Well, yeah. I mean, you can’t really believe it until you see it. I know babies get born every day and women have been doing this for ages, but still, when it happens to you — when it’s your baby — it just seems so incredibly special.”

“Of course it does.” I played with the baby’s tiny fingers, which curled instinctively around mine. This baby’s pretty cute, I thought, but I’ll think mine is the cutest, the most amazing. Four million babies are born each year, but still, when it happens to you, it’s special.

Paul holds a newborn baby.

Paul holds a newborn baby.

I’m not having a baby any time soon, but I might be bringing something else into the world: a book. Exciting things have been happening, and I feel I’m getting closer and closer to a published novel.

Of course people write books all the time. Thousands of novels are published in the U.S. each year, and most of them you haven’t heard of. But still, it must be amazing when the story that grew inside your mind is finally born into the world. It’s a process, and it’s a little different for every author, and it’s always a bit of a miracle when it finally happens.  Even though I know it’s going to happen for me one day, it’s still hard to imagine. Maybe I won’t believe it until I see it.

A baby, a book: it’s special every time.

Why Dim Sum is Like Life, or, Be Glad You Didn’t Pick Tripe

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Why Dim Sum is Like Life, or, Be Glad You Didn’t Pick Tripe

My mom came to visit me here in Seattle for ten days (she left Saturday night), and, as the kids would say, we did all of the things. (Literally –see my list at the end of this post.)

It was cold and rainy most of the time, so we did all of the things in the rain, which was frustrating because the two weeks before my mom arrived, every day was gorgeous and sunny. And, ever since she’s left it has been gorgeous and sunny. Apparently this is the cute trick Seattle plays on visitors, or else the city is simply trying to keep up its reputation.

I kept apologizing to her for the weather, but my mom said not to worry. She was expecting the cold and the rain.

On one of her last days in town, we decided to spend the chilly, overcast morning drinking hot tea and eating steamed dumplings at a popular dim sum restaurant in the International District.

In case you don’t know what dim sum is (and I didn’t before moving here), it’s a style of Cantonese food that I think of as Chinese tapas. Servers speed through the restaurant with carts of food, and you pick out small plates of various items to share with your table.

And what are those various items? I wasn’t sure, so I looked at online reviews for Jade Garden, the restaurant my Seattle friend Devon had suggested. After reading a few reviews, I learned that dim sum menu staples include shrimp and pork dumplings, beef balls, BBQ pork buns, egg tarts, tripe, chicken feet, and cow stomach.

OK, cool, I thought. As long as I don’t accidentally point to the tripe, chicken feet, or cow stomach, I’ll be happy. And pointing was apparently what we would be doing. The servers don’t speak English, and there are no explanations of the dishes anywhere. “I don’t know what these are called,” one blogger said, posting a picture of an oblong, meat-filled fried thing, “but if you say “football” they’ll know what you’re talking about.”

“This is going to be an adventure,” I told my mom, who is definitely not the world’s most adventurous eater.

Dragon in Seattle’s International District. photo credit.

We drove to the International district, where red dragons cling to the telephone poles, and headed to Jade Garden, which, as the reviews had promised, had a line.

The line moved quickly, however, and soon the hostess was screaming my name. My mom and I sat down, and immediately a cart arrived. No waiting around for your food at this place! But we didn’t know what to pick. We didn’t know how much anything cost, and we didn’t know when another cart would come with different options. As for the options on this cart, I wasn’t sure what to choose. There were some pastry balls covered in a sesame glaze that looked good, but they could have contained most anything. (Cow stomach?!) The only recognizable item was a ridiculously gigantic pile of broccoli, and even though I like broccoli, I figured the point of dim sum was to eat something out of the ordinary, and besides, it was enough broccoli to feed a hungry family of twelve.

“Ummm…” I looked at my mom then back at the cart. The woman lifted up different plates and said the names in Chinese, trying to entice us.

So I pointed at the plate with the glistening sesame pastries. I hoped they tasted as good as they looked.

And they did. Inside the flaky crust was sweet, shredded pork, and I decided that these were probably the BBQ pork buns I’d read about. Yay! We’d made a good choice.

BBQ pork bun at dim sum.  photo credit.

BBQ pork bun at dim sum. photo credit.

When another cart came around, we were feeling a bit more confident. We pointed to a bowl of what looked like shrimp dumplings and at another of what seemed to be mushroom and pork dumplings. The server marked our selections on a sheet of paper that sat on the edge of our table, but still we had no idea how much this was costing us.

We dug into the dumplings, which were warm and chewy and delicious. And quite filling. “I have room to try one more thing,” I said, and my mother agreed. We looked around the dining room, trying to see what other people were eating.

But for a long time, no carts came by, and I wondered if we’d missed our chance at trying anything else. We drank copious amounts of tea and lingered over the last dumpling. Finally, a cart came with more pork buns, broccoli, something that might have been tripe, and egg custard tarts. So we picked the tarts. No sooner had the cart moved away, another cart went by that had tarts with glazed fruit on top. Aw man, we said, those look better!

We ate our plain tarts, which were still pretty tasty, and when we were done, we took our marked sheet to the cashier. We wondered whether or not we were supposed to leave a tip. Our table had already been bussed, and new patrons were being seated there. I asked the cashier if I should leave a tip, and she said to give it to her, so I did. Hopefully that was the right thing to do, because I’ve since read lots of conflicting advice on whether or not to tip at dim sum.

My mother and I walked outside, happy and full. Above us, the sun was struggling to peek its head out from behind the gray clouds. Hey, at least it wasn’t raining!

We  headed to Greenlake to walk around, and I thought about how dim sum is kind of like life. Choices come at you, and without a lot of information about what the outcome might be, you either pick a dish, or let the cart pass you by. Some dishes might seem weird but taste awesome.  And some might look good on the outside but be filled with tripe (although they might also be filled with yummy BBQ pork — it’s hard to know). And then there are the times when you make what you think is your best choice, only to later realize something better would have come along, had you only waited.  It’s hard to know the true cost of any choice until the very end.

*  *  *

“Sorry it’s been kind of crappy weather,” I said to my mom for the millionth time. I kept thinking that if only she’d come two weeks earlier, we could be swimming in Greenlake right now instead of shivering on a bench underneath some ominously dark clouds.

“Oh, it’s fine,” my mom said. “I’m soaking in the cool before I have to go back to hot and humid Virginia.”

It was a good attitude to have. She’d picked her flight dates a long time ago, and there was nothing she could do to change them now, so she was embracing her trip for what it was.

And that’s what you should do at dim sum, too. You make your best guess, you pick a few dishes, and then you decide to be happy eating what you got. Sure, that fruit tart on the other person’s table looks delicious, but you don’t know for sure that it tastes any better than your plain egg tart. And maybe it does, but so what? Does that mean you can’t enjoy your tart, with its buttery crust and slightly-sweet custard filling?

We have so many choices in our lives these days that it can be anxiety-provoking. We are always second-guessing ourselves. We can become paralyzed by the fear of making the “wrong” choice. But in the end, the most important choice is how you choose to feel about your meal, about your trip, about your life. You can choose to embrace it for what it is. Instead of looking around and wishing you had what’s on someone else’s plate, you can be glad you didn’t pick tripe, and you can learn to savor your own meal.

My mom and me at Theo's Chocolate Factory.  (They made us wear hairnets.)  We did ALL OF THE THINGS.  See list below.

My mom and I toured Theo’s Chocolate Factory. (They made us wear hairnets.) We did ALL OF THE THINGS. See list below.

ALL OF THE THINGS My Mom and I Did When She Visited Seattle:  

• Walked to every single overlook in Queen Anne
• Went to Chihuly’s Garden in Glass museum
• Rode the monorail downtown
• Shopped in the public market
• Ate at the Crumpet House
• Saw the Freemont troll, Lenin statue, and topiary dinosaurs
• Toured the awesome downtown library
• Went on a whale-watching tour in the San Juan Islands
• Sailed on Lake Union
• Hiked at Snolquamie Falls
• Did a wine-tasting in Issaquah
• Had happy hour at Citizen with my friend, Layla
• Went to the Queen Anne farmer’s market
• Sat and read on the shores of Greenlake
• Went to the conservatory at Volunteer Park
• Had a massage in Capitol Hill
• Watched movies
• Went to Vancouver
• Saw an improv show
• Went shopping in the boutiques on Queen Anne hill
• Saw a cat circus
• Went to a piano bar
• Took a yoga class
• Had good Seattle coffee
• Played Ticket to Ride
• Went out for pho and thai and ice cream (not on the same day)
• Went to dim sum in the International District
• Walked around Carkeek Park
• Saw the Freemont Solstice Parade (and naked bikers)

The Summer Solstice & Enjoying the Process

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The Summer Solstice & Enjoying the Process

My mom has been in town for the past week, so we have been out and about, seeing all that the Seattle area has to offer.  Which means I haven’t had much time to sit down at my computer.  Which means that today is going to be a re-post.  I apologize, but hey, summer is a time for reruns.

On Saturday it will be the solstice, the longest day of the year, and my mom, my boyfriend and I will be attending the Freemont Solstice Fest, which is, from what I understand, a giant naked hippie free-for-all.  Just google it and see what images pop up.  Here’s one:

Freemont Solstice Parade.  photo credit.

Freemont Solstice Parade. photo credit.

In honor of the approaching summer solstice, I am re-publishing my blog post about last year’s solstice, originally posted on June 6, 2013.  Enjoy!

 

 The Process:  Drawing Skulls and Enjoying the Day-by-Day

“Guess what’s sad,” Paul said to me on the phone last night. “In two weeks it’ll be June twenty-first, and then the days are going to start getting shorter.”

“Yeah,” I said, not really taking his sadness seriously. “But aren’t you excited? June twenty-first is the longest day of the year!”

“I hate the summer solstice. It’s the worst.”

I laughed. We then spent the next ten minutes discussing what this attitude says about his personality. After all, Paul loves the sunlight. Wouldn’t it make sense that his favorite day would be the day when there is the most of what he loves?

But instead, June 21st signals to him the beginning of the end. It’s the day when he starts losing what he loves instead of gaining it. What Paul likes is the anticipation of a bright future. He enjoys the spring, because every day is a little bit longer than the last.

Drawing exercises from Drawing with Children

Drawing exercises from Drawing with Children

This week I’ve been alternating doing exercises in the book Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks and drawing skulls from my set of Mexican Loteria cards. I like the skulls better. In fact, I sent a card to a friend yesterday and drew a skull on her card. I wondered if she would think it was morbid.

Speaking of morbid, the Buddhists say you should meditate on death every day. Some of them go so far as to suggest lying next to decomposing bodies and imagining your own body, bloated and cold, being eaten by maggots. Others simply recommend thinking about the fact that life is temporary and you will die one day. Meditating on death helps you better realize and appreciated the significance of life.

Maybe drawing skulls will be my daily meditation on death. I’ll imagine myself as nothing but bones, the jelly of my brain melted away, dark hollows in place of my eyes and nose.

Day of the Dead "La Catarina."  Drawn by me!

Day of the Dead “La Catarina.” Drawn by me!

“So what you like is the process,” I said to Paul on the phone. “You don’t like the end product – the longest day of the year – but you like getting there. You’re happiest when you are gaining something each day.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s true,” Paul said.

In a way, this reminded me of what my Ukrainian friend, Sergey, said when I asked him what he’d achieved in life. He said he’d achieved nothing. He said, “I think you only truly achieve something when you die. Until then, there is always more to do, more to learn, more to improve.”

It’s not the end product that’s great,  it’s the process. I always think that when I have my end product – a published book with my name on it – I will be happy. But many authors will tell you that getting a book published is just the beginning of a whole new set of worries. How will the book be received? Will I be able to write another, and will it be as good?

“So really,” I told Paul on the phone, “you shouldn’t be sad because we’re in your favorite time right now. Every day we’re gaining more and more sunlight. You should enjoy the process.”

“Oh, I know. I will.”

I was really saying this to myself. I should enjoy the process of writing. Each day I am gaining:  writing more, reading more, learning more. The summer solstice is coming. Death is coming. My book is coming. Why worry too much about these end products? Let’s try to enjoy what we gain day-by-day. We only achieve when we die.

009

Death. Drawn by me.

Related Reading: 

The Supreme Mediation (meditation on death from the Shambhala Sun)

Reflecting on Death from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Skulls are Just Cool

 

An Interview with YA Fantasy Author, Lish McBride

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An Interview with YA Fantasy Author, Lish McBride

Seattle author Lish McBride has written two fabulously humorous YA urban fantasy novels and has a third coming out this fall.  Her first novel, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, won a Washington State Book Award and was a William C. Morris Debut Award finalist.  Lish tweets funny things about her love of naps (and sometimes kittens) at @TeamDamnation, and she is, in general, a lovely human being.  She made time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me.

Author Lish McBride

Author Lish McBride

 

You have written two awesome YA novels about a teenager named Sam who learns he can commune with the dead.  When you were writing Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, did you have in mind that there would be a second book?  

Since I was writing it as my MFA thesis, I wasn’t sure if the first one would even get published, but I always knew it would be part of a series…I just hoped that someone would let me publish it!

 

You got your MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans (as did I!), so I know that some of the professors tend to frown upon writing fantasy and YA.  How did your thesis go over in this environment?    

A lot of MFA programs feel this way, which I think is weird. The focus should be on becoming a better writer, not what genre you plan to write in. You can find great (and terrible) writing in every section of the bookstore.

Some teachers were more into it than others. One of my professors asked that I try to write what I call “straight fiction” for my first year because he wanted me to focus on the form and the basics, and I tried to do that. In some ways, it was hard, because my brain doesn’t think of regular stories very often. But it was a good exercise for me. Writers should always push themselves to do things that are hard or uncomfortable when it comes to writing.

 

What did you take away from your MFA?

I did learn that not everyone will like what you’re into, and that’s okay. Sometimes I had to argue for the validity of what I was writing, but if you don’t feel passionately enough to argue, you shouldn’t be doing it. So I learned a lot even when things didn’t go my way. Ultimately, I think it helped make me a better writer and gave me a great group of writing friends that I still rely on. I also met my agent through my thesis advisor…so really, it did me a great deal of good. Plus, I got to live in New Orleans.

 

Tell us more about your agent.  

I sort of lucked into my agent. My thesis advisor asked her agent if he knew anyone who handled the kind of stuff I was doing, and he offered up Jason Anthony, another agent in his firm. I sent Jason my thesis, and two days later, he called me to talk over changes he wanted me to make and offer suggestions. I got off the phone and realized he never actually said he wanted to represent me. I had to email and ask! It was funny. So I only queried one agent, and it wasn’t even a real query.

Jason is very hands-on.  We usually do a few rounds of editing before we send something to my editor. Jason is always good about explaining things to me and answering questions, and he’s pretty patient. Plus, we have a similar sense of humor, so we communicate well.

Lish McBride’s first novel, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, is about a teenager who can commune with the dead.

 

You have a new book coming out in September, Firebug, about a girl who can start fires with her mind.  How is this book different from your first two?  

Well, it’s set on a different coast (rural Maine versus Seattle), and it is entirely first person. The book follows Ava, the firebug character, and her friends. That being said, it’s set in the same world as my other books, and I think the humor is similar. It has a lot of strange creatures (like were-hares) and it was fun writing from a character who’s…well, not as nice as Sam. Ava is snarky and a little socially awkward. It’s hard to make friends when you’re a seventeen year old assassin, you know? We’re doing two books with Ava, and then I’m hoping to bring the two groups together for a book or two.

 

You work full-time at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, and you have a rambunctious son. (Actually, I don’t know if he’s rambunctious…I just assume so.)  How do you find time to write?  

He is quite rambunctious. I also volunteer one day a week at 826 Seattle. I have to consciously make time to write. I dislike the term “finding time” because it makes it seem like time is just sitting around for you to bump into it. It’s sort of like waiting for the muse to strike. I don’t find either to be a particularly good system for getting work done. I schedule in time for writing. There’s always laundry and dishes and that book you want to read…so I leave my house. I meet up with other writers once a week for a writing date.

 

What advice do you have for people trying to find… I mean make… the time to write? 

Treat it like a job (which it is) or an appointment. If you can only manage 15 minutes, then do your best to write what you can in that time. Not everything will be gold, but that’s what editing is for. Set goals for yourself. Some writers do page count, some do word count–anything should be considered a victory against the blank page. Chuck Wendig has a great post about this. A lot of writers blog about this stuff, so see what they suggest. Sometimes it helps to know that the “professionals” you admire struggle with the same stuff you do.

It helps if your family or friends are supportive, too. I have friends that will take my son to the park if they know I have deadlines. My partner, Adam, is great about picking up the slack around the house (we split chores), or running errands for me if I’m getting overloaded. It’s hard and it makes for long days.  Sometimes I work before I go to my bookstore job and then work more when I get home. Other days I recognize I need a break and take a day off to recharge. But in general I work seven days a week. It’s just what I have to do right now. It’s not forever (I hope), and as my mom likes to remind me, you can do anything for a little while.

 

I always see you tweeting about going to fantasy conferences.  What’s that like?   What are your fans like?

Each event is different, whether it’s a con or a library event or whatever. Conventions are fun because you get to meet other writers and see friends (and sometimes there are costumes!) but in general the fan base is the same.

My fans are great! They tend to be weird and awkward and enthusiastic and I love them. It’s strange to go to high schools and see teens that act or look like you or your friends did, and you want to hug them and let them know that they’ll turn out alright, but you can’t because they’d think you are strange.

I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fan thing. It’s weird to go to events and realize I’m considered an authority on something. I’m probably biased, but I think my readers are the coolest. Sometimes they send me kitten stickers, and one nice person drew a picture of me riding a pony and wearing a cape. Which is how I picture myself ALL THE TIME.

This is how Lish sees herself.  (Apparently it's how her fans see her, too.)

This is how Lish sees herself. (Apparently it’s how her fans see her, too.)

Is there any chance that there will be a Hold Me Closer, Necromancer movie?  Because I think there should be.  

Who knows? We’ve sold the TV rights before, but then we got them back. Hollywood is a strange beast. There’s nothing in the works right now, but that might change. I tend to focus on the books and deal with the rest when it comes.

 

Any other words of advice for budding writers and/or the world at large?  

Read as much as you can–whatever you want. It all goes into the pot, you know? Build your brain. Go outside. Observe. It’s hard to write about the world if you don’t get out into it. Even if you only get to know your own hometown better, that’s great. Stories are built on experiences and observation.

Write as much as you can; allow yourself to fail. Failing is how you learn. Don’t beat yourself up if it sucks at first. Allow the suck to happen. Anything can be fixed in editing, and I see no reason to abuse yourself during the drafting process. There are people in this world who will line up to criticize you and your work, and I see no particular reason why you should help them. Even people who win awards write crappy pages. Keep that in mind.

Don’t be afraid to show your work to people. Start out with people you trust and go outward. That’s the only way people will read you. It’s okay if people don’t like your writing. There are lots of different books for lots of different readers. So what I’m saying is, don’t take someone putting your book down as a personal blow. Not everyone loves the books that you love, right? It’s just about preference. That being said, learn to listen to criticism objectively. If a reader says the book isn’t working, maybe it isn’t. Ask follow up questions to find out how you can fix things. Editing is just as important as the actual writing.

 

Good advice!  Anything else?   

While it’s good to know what the trends are, don’t follow them. By the time you’re hearing about it, the publishing houses have already moved on to the next big thing. Better to write what you love and what you want to read than chase something so ephemeral. And you better love it — you’re going to be writing and rewriting that book for a while!

firebug

Lish’s new book, Firebug, will be released this September from Henry Holt & Co.

 

 

My 300th Post & Some Old Favorites, Chosen by Paul

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My 300th Post & Some Old Favorites, Chosen by Paul

*Check out my short anti-poem on Burlesque Press*

*Find out what Carve Magazine  is looking for in story submissions with my staff spotlight interview with Rita Juster.*

This is my 300th post on this blog, which I started nearly two years ago, in the summer of 2012. It took a while, but I finally feel like I’ve found my style: writing about writing in a very personal way. In two years I’ve obtained 450 followers and been “freshly pressed” by WordPress. I’ve made some friends and fans, as well as some enemies (mostly because of my post on Cormac McCarthy). Blogging has been great, and I have no plan of stopping any time soon!

I started dating Paul (if you consider emails and Skype conversations to be dates) in the autumn of 2012, and one of the ways he got to know me was by reading my blog. He still reads every single post of his own volition, which is really sweet of him.  He’s been bugging me for a while to post a list of his favorite blog entries, and so, in honor of hitting 300, I present to you…

My Boyfriend’s Favorite In The Garden of Eva Posts:

1. Robotic Penis and What I Really Want in a Man. In which I first introduce the world to Paul, before I even really knew him.

2. I used to work as a bar trivia host in Cape Cod, and Paul loves all the posts about my adventures doing that, like Silver Weasel and Baby Keanu Play Trivia, Uncle Sam and Old Gray Beard Play Trivia, and Why I’ll Never Give Up Trivia, or, Livin’, L.I.V.I.N.

3. For some reason, Paul really likes it when I complain about my hair: 9 Ways Your Hair is Like Your Life and How to Avoid Flat Drawings, Flat Characters, & Flat Hair

4. Dirty Talk, or, Controlling the Sponge Soup. In which I make fun of Paul’s housekeeping habits.

5. A Fight at Frontier Village. In which Paul and I drive cross-country and get in a fight.

6. Writing a Novel is Like a Relationship.  He usually likes the funny ones best, but this post is short, sweet, and metaphorical.

7.  And pretty much any other post that mentions him, which I’d say is at least 35% of them.

Happy Reading! I’ll post again on Monday!

Eva Langston

Eva Langston

Writing a Novel is Like a Relationship

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Writing a Novel is Like a Relationship

*I am looking for a reader of Carve to interview for the Carve blog.  If you enjoy reading well-crafted short stories, head over to Carve, read a few issues, then let me know you’d like to be interviewed about your favorite ones!*

When you start to write a novel, it’s like the beginning of a relationship. You’re excited about your idea and filled with giddy feelings every time you think about it. You could spend hours with your novel, just rewriting those first few pages over and over. You don’t want to say you love your novel because it’s too soon…but you’re sure it’s going to be “the one.”

As you keep going, though, things start getting harder. Around page 50 or 75, you notice problems with the plot and inconsistencies with the characters. You start questioning things. What happens next seems murky, and spending time with your novel can seem annoying, or tedious. There are good days and bad days, but instead of the excitement of when it first began, writing your novel now feels like work.

You’re frustrated. Shouldn’t writing be fun? If this is the novel you’re meant to write, shouldn’t it come easy?

So what do you do?

What do you do when writing your novel starts to feel like this?

What do you do when writing your novel starts to feel like this?

For a long time, what I did was abandon my novel. From the ages of 24 to 30, I started and abandoned at least four novels, giving up after 50 or 75 pages. The giddy honeymoon period ended, and I didn’t have the gumption to continue. I thought it would be easier to start over.

Maybe it’s not a surprise that in those years I never had a real relationship either. I never got past the dating stage to where the real work (and real connection) begins.

But I’ve changed. Or, at least, I’m changing. In the past two years, I’ve completed three novels by sticking with them, through difficult and doubt-ridden times. And the same can be said of my relationship with Paul. Instead of being quick to give up and start over, we’re trying to work through problems as they arise. It isn’t easy, but I think, in the end, it’s worth it.

Because what’s better: a bunch of unfinished novels and short-lived flings? Or completed novels that might one day be published and a relationship that lasts?

Paul and Eva at the Burlesque Press masquerade ball this New Years.

Paul and Eva at the Burlesque Press masquerade ball this New Years.