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Hello blog!! *dusts off corners* *straightens pictures*

Well. It has been a while, hasn’t it? This summer has been many things, but conducive to blogging has not been one of that. I sort of knew that, of course, which is why I left you all with a farewell (and a picture of a kitten) back in June. But now it’s September, and I’m back. Ish.

Why am I only back-ish? That is a question that is too long and probably boring to answer, involving a Lernaean Hydra of a to-do list and the whole I-have-two-kids-and-I-work-and-I-write-and-I’m-leaving-for-Nepal-for-a-month thing I have going on these days.

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Me: Oh hai, to-do list! How’s about I make you my monkey! List: Um…how ’bout I grow back TWO HEADS for every one you cut off, mkay???

So yeah, there’s that.

Another thing that’s been keeping me off the blog is that rereading it has made me a little sad. You see, per the title of this post, I have new junk that I’ve added to the writerly trunk. (NOTE: This has nothing to do with my bottom and whether it has gotten larger). No, this refers to the common writer’s practice of “trunking” a book that doesn’t go anywhere. And that’s exactly what I’ve done with SWIM.

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SWIM wasn’t the first thing I ever wrote. Or the second. But it was the first one I sent out in the world. It was read and reread by a team of amazing critique partners, then it went out to agentland. And while this story still kind of sings to me, it didn’t find a home. Turns out there are just too many other mermaid books that were hitting the shelves (or editors’ desks) right at the moment I was sending this around. So while I got a few ‘this is lovely but no thanks’ type of responses, no one wanted it.

So into the trunk it goes.

And that’s okay. This is a business, and no-one – NO-ONE – every said it was easy. So I’ve written another book, and actually another as well, and I’m hoping to keep pushing forward.

ImageBut I guess part of this summer, as I was swimming and diving and rolling in the ocean waves, was about saying goodbye to my first try.

I hope you had a wonderful summer. Here’s to a glorious fall.

I was performing one of my least favorite household chores recently, known as the Seasonal Closet Changeover. (This sounds boring. It is. it is also incredibly awkward and involves a lot of dust and hauling of large boxes. Truly, my life, it is like an opera). Sorry, where was I?

Ah yes. I was in Dante’s fifth ring of hell, surrounded by the enormous bins of summer shoes-hats-purses-gear. And the task is fairly simple: take everything out of said enormous bins, then put all winter boots-shoes-scarves-hats-purses-gear in. Leaving aside the size differential of winter gear to summer, or the fact that my Sorels alone take up the better part of one bin, this job is miserable for one major reason.

We have too. Much. Stuff.

Too much. Just too damn much. As I empty Small Daughter’s winter bin I put in no fewer than six adorable knitted wool hats. There was the strawberry hat, the rainbow hat, the cheetah hat, the flowered hat…I could go on. And then there were the scarves. Many of them knit by her grandmother, and all lovely. But…she doesn’t wear scarves. Pretty much ever. And when she does, she needs ONE. Not nine. But they are all so great, and why would I throw away these wonderful things?

So I shoved all five bazillion scarves-hats-purses-boots into the bins, sitting on them to get them closed, and put the six bazillion pairs of sandals-espadrilles-sunhats-straw-bags in their place. Because I just couldn’t deal. It’s all good stuff, I rationalize. And I hope I can get the closet door shut before it falls back out.

And this brings me to writing. (You knew I was going there, didn’t you?) I have too many words.

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Too much good stuff is a problem, especially at the revision stage. The classic writer advice is to “kill your darlings,” to be able to ruthlessly delete the precious sentences that ring like bells when read but serve no purpose. But this shizz is HARD. I recently went through a round of revision which involved writing high stakes new action scenes that put the main character in serious peril, and had him push to save those he loved. Sounds kind of like the climax, doesn’t it? Well, yeah, except I then had another 20,000 words or so, then ANOTHER climax. My wonderful critique partner Kate wrote me amazing notes and suggestions, then, using the words “crazy” “suggestion” and “maybe” several times in a row, she suggested that maybe possibly kinda-sorta I could cut…ya know…that whole second climax thing.

This is pretty much my reaction.
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Actually, and I’m not proud of this, but I whined pretty hard. “But I love that scene!” I whined. “But that’s some really really good writing!” I sniveled. “But it’s so cool with the fire and the hog farm and medic tent and all that!” I moaned. (No, I’m not making this up, there was a fire, and pigs). Then, (and this is even more embarrassing), I said, “Well, here’s the thing. It’s pretty close to the end. If an agent reads that far she’ll probably keep reading. And if she tells me to cut, I will.”

Thank god Kate does not back down easily. They grow ’em tough in Edmonton. Ultimately, she has convinced me that rank laziness and wishful thinking will not endear me to the publishing industry. I cut the scenes. They were good, but they were just too much.

But I’ll be honest. Those scenes? They’re all saved in another document. Kind of like the scarves I can’t seem to bear to give away. You never know when something so pretty might come in handy.

WordPress and I are really not getting along.  If I type up one more epic blog post (this one on the importance and value of critique partners, plus where to find them), only to have it disappear, I’m taking my mermaids and moving to blogger.  Huh.

Still, maybe you all can find chrismachanukwanza gifts for all your peeps here, where I found the shirt, or here where I found this amazing card:

I’m trying, I’m trying.  Happy Monday, all.

Remember when I used to blog?  Yeah, I do too.  No, I haven’t been trapped under a large piece of furniture, unable to reach the keyboard to share a  snippet from Swim.  It’s just that November has grasped me in it’s saliva-filled mandible and masticated the ever-loving crap out of me.  I am chewed up and spit back out, people, I really am.

So how does my writing fare in these dark times, you ask?  Well, pretty freaking badly, it turns out.  For the past year or so writing has been the fun part of my day (no offense, family, friends, sauvignon blanc), and even when it was hard it was deeply satisfying.  Last week was the first time in twelve months that I went more than two days without writing.  And even worse, without even wanting to write.  I felt like a dear friend  had gone out for coffee then never came back.

But.  But life marches on, and a rolling stone gathers no moss, and time and tide wait for no man.  Um…oh yes, I had a point.  Life very mundanely keeps moving along, leaving me feeling like writing was a pretentious and overly earnest thing that I should have outgrown along with the bad poetry in my Monet notebook in seventh grade.  Then the next thing I know I am in bed at 5:00 a.m. with my brain spinning in mad crazy circles about how I could add more conflict and up the stakes if XXX happens…and suddenly my dear friend is back from Starbucks, a few weeks late but carrying a latte and a molasses cookie and asking for forgiveness.

So I let her in.  I sit down, kind of sheepish, and reopen the document that I haven’t seen in a week.  I reread a few pages, cringe a couple things, but really love a few others.  Fingers back on the keyboard, butt  back in the chair.  I am home.

p.s. I love this song. Like, really love it.  Love love it.  I want to marry it.  And the video is pretty cool too.

…morning.  (With apologies and gratitude to Judith Viorst)

“I went to sleep with wet hair in a ponytail and now my hair looks insane and when I woke up I realized I hadn’t set the alarm properly again and my husband dropped in and interrupted me right at a critical writing scene and making breakfast by mistake I dropped the Greek yogurt on the floor and I knew it was going to be a terrible horrible no good very bad day.”

I think I’ll move to Australia.