Wednesday, December 24, 2008

merriness (it comes with itches)

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! All our snow is gone, which makes me mournful. The backyard shouldn’t be muddy and twig-cluttered for Christmas.

Christmas Eve brings us within spitting distance of 2009, and I for one am itching for changes.

Redoing my room entirely should help—though I have to confess something. I am not at all troubled by the Blank Page syndrome so many writers talk about. You just slap some words on it and keep trucking. No sweat.

But Blank Room syndrome has me by the throat. Redo my room entirely? From scratch? I feel overwhelmed by my hopes for a lovely space, and dwarfed by the amount of work there is to do.

I’m sure it will be wonderful, and I’ll feel better with paint in hand, with the bedspreads and curtains purchased. It will eventually come together… I’m painting on Friday, whether I feel nervous or not! And I’ll swipe a camera and share some pictures with you, especially if it goes well.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/24 at 03:30 PM
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

miss muffet and i

Within the first half hour of writing work this morning, I’ve killed three spiders in the same place. (As if I needed any help distracting myself…) They aren’t big—they’re teeny-tiny. Five could fit on the fingernail of my pinky (a thought that gives me shivers).

Yesterday, I killed ten.

Now. I liked Charlotte’s Web as much as the next kid, but a tribe of Charlotte’s hatchlings taking over my writing area? Doesn’t exactly fill me with warmth.

The trouble is, they seem to be emerging from behind my overcrowded bookshelf… which is wedged between my desk and a stack of heavy filing crates. How on earth can I be sure where their little nest is?

I’ve tried to investigate, which calls for putting my head in dangerous places: if I did see what I expected to see (a mass of baby spiders—at that point, up close), I’d pull my head out of whatever strange corner I twisted it into, and give myself either a concussion or a spine injury. Not good.

At this point, it’s either 1) dismantle the bookcase entirely (and say goodbye to today’s writing work), or 2) wait for next week’s renovations. And hope that spiders don’t grow too fast.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/20 at 11:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

and everything will be new (except for research. which i guess is as historical as ever)

On gray days, when it’s snowing or raining, I think you should be able to call up a judge and take an oath that you’ll just read a good book all day, and he’d allow you to stay home.—Bill Watterson
(Calvin and Hobbes, There’s Treasure Everywhere... shouldn’t Calvin and Hobbes be required reading? Seriously.)

Okay, it snowed. I’m thrilled, even though it’s a pitiful, tiny, southern Illinois snow, not a massive Grand Rapids blanketing. Still. I’ll take it.

... I’d show you a picture, but my camera has gone mad, so you’ll have to imagine it. Sketch suburbia in shades of grey and brown, top it with white, and you’re there. I especially love our weathered wooden fence, glazed in snow…

It’s a scene from a Robert Frost poem, a view that invites you to fill your teacup and then read about moors and fog, or anything Bronte or Poe or cozy mystery-ish. (Or even Jane Austen, considering that yesterday was her birthday… it’s too dreary for P&P or Emma, but maybe Sense and Sensibility? Northanger? Persuasion? I’m sure I could find something…)

But I spent yesterday afternoon with Lucrezia Borgia and pizza.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/17 at 09:51 AM
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Friday, December 12, 2008

but set down / this set down / this

This is one of my favorite things to read each Christmastime—enjoy! (Do read it yourself first—goodness knows I adore T.S. Eliot, but I can’t quite stand his speaking voice… it’s not how I imagine one of the Magi sounding, that’s certain. But then if you want the full Eliot flavor, have him read it to you afterward.)

There’s just something about this poem that I adore. And, when it’s forty degrees and sunny, with no snow in sight, I like a poem that talks of “summer palaces on slopes” instead of the usual holly and gingerbread. (It makes me slightly less bitter about our lack of wintriness. Darn Illinois!!)

Oh. It’s enough to fall in love with T.S. all over again…—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/12 at 03:30 PM
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

out playing on the mood swings

Drafthappy last week becomes somewhat panicked today. I made the mistake of thinking about the changes that need to come at the first part of the book… brainstorming changes for the whole book (what’s up with my protagonist’s family? do I understand my backstory? and where does all this take place, anyway?)... wondering what early 2009 will look like.

And then I realized: 2009. 2009???

This weekend I saw a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while—one asked when I thought the book might be done. I said, quite confidently, “A year from now it should be ready for readers again.” (To his credit, he was encouraging. But I think I probably turned pale just saying that. December 2009? Really? I’ll be old then!)

This is the sort of feeling that makes me want to clean my room, repaint everything I see, cook, drown myself in coffee, and then update my résumé. Yikes.

Better to keep my head down and dive back into the pile of research books I’ve collected around my desk. (I decided it was high time I added some realistic detail to this beast.) So there you have it. One day it’s glee, the next it’s slog. Any of you have tips on fending off discouragement? (Besides caffeine poisoning.) Do share.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/09 at 06:06 PM
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Friday, December 05, 2008

drafthappy

I find that a change of nuisances is as good as a vacation.—David Lloyd George

Well, I must have done something right this time around with Nanowrimo. In 2006, I remember feeling brain-dead for at least a month, and I didn’t want to get near my draft. (For good reason, too! That was the very first manifestation of this novel… it needed plenty of help.)

This time, though, I took this past Monday-Wednesday officially “off,” and buried myself in two excellent novels: So Brave, Young, and Handsome, and Some Danger Involved.

Both were fabulous, and I loved being a reader again. Let someone else make the mind-numbing decisions! I’m just along for the ride.

And then, yesterday, I reread November’s work from start to finish, taking plenty of notes and trying to decide what to do next. And you know what? I love the draft! Love it. So many moments that felt too obvious or too subtle when I wrote them came out almost as I wanted. I’ll take “almost,” at least for this draft. And my protagonist is growing up nicely—I like the way her voice has developed, I like the way she thinks.

So I’m in this writerly glow, feeling very pleased about the Nanowrimo decision and result. Hooray! The confetti was well-deserved. This weekend, then, I’m going to try and decide what next to tweak with Part Three before tucking it away for a few months. And with 2009, I’ll address the last part of the book—the dreaded and cobwebby Part Four… and off we’ll go again!—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 12/05 at 04:48 PM
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