Saturday, February 28, 2009

recruit me. no, really: recruit me.

Dear Department of Literature Appreciation,

You must have received my application for your police/enforcement division, and I am begging you to process it quickly, as I have an arrest I need to make.

On Thursday, I went to the library to retrieve a stack of books I had ordered. (You see! I love inter-library loan, I love it. I would be so perfect for your department—you just have no idea what you’re missing.) Amidst them was Joanne Harris‘s book Chocolat. (Perfect reading for Lent, yes? I thought so.)

The girl at the library—they pay her, for goodness’ sake!!—looks at the book and looks at me. “Have you seen this movie?” she asks, pushing up her glasses.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/28 at 01:51 PM
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the gifts of february

Come see the things that February has done for me…

1) finished the Part One rewrites, yes I did, last night. (It did not kill me. Though it tried.) Amazing!! I feel like a balloon cut loose. I ended up writing over 9000 words yesterday to make it to the finish line, but no regrets after all. And now I’m on break! I’ll be sidling over to that stack of novels now…

2) I finally (finally) discovered the Coldplay album Viva la Vida, which I adore. Where have I been, while everyone else has been enjoying such awesome music? Oh yeah. Buried in my novel. (My poor family. Guess what they’ve been listening to. A lot.) But oh, it’s music that actually makes me want summer to come.

3) blonde-ness. A bit of gold is in my hair. It’s lovely.

4) made Brussels sprouts for the first time: this recipe. I am not exaggerating: it has changed my life. (Make it. Go. Sprouts are cheap, and you’ll have the ingredients at hand already. You just might be a different person after eating these.)

5) a week with my younger sister! Yes! Adrienne will be moving away, most likely, at the end of summer. (And: I haven’t leaked this yet: she is pregnant. I will be an aunt by the end of August. Hooray!!) She’s spending the week here while her husband is out of town, and while we all miss him, it’s fun to pamper her a bit and have late (late) night chats.

6) caramel apple pecan pie. I made it Wednesday night. Oh… my. There is caramel between the bottom crust and the apples. A lot of apples. Then a pecan-brown sugar crumb topping. And over it all, thirty melted caramels with a ton of pecans chopped fine. It’s sweet enough to make your heart stop, but you couldn’t end on a better note.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/28 at 01:29 PM
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

ashes, ashes (we all fall down.)

She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! alas! She must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.—Jane Austen

Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name.—Cornelia Funke

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.—Annie Dillard

And now it is Lent, a name I always thought was funny as a kid. It was like having a season called “Borrowed.”

There must be some intriguing and brilliant metaphor about what is lent to us during this time before Easter, but I don’t have the mental stamina to puzzle it out. Fill in the blanks as you choose.

Lent always surprises me by coming earlier than I expect. When I can catch it in time, I try to give up something.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/26 at 07:16 PM
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

regretting the mission impossible

The truth is this: It was a tragically boring escape. Our apologies.—Peter David, Tigerheart

Okay. I knew this “three-weeks’-work-in-one!” was a stupid idea. I knew it was crazy. I knew it was going to hurt, a lot.

That’s all proving to be true. My mind is numb after logging 8759 words this week so far.

And all my teams are failing me: the characters have showed up on Stage One, but none of them know their lines. My reliably funny characters are out of quips, the scary ones just look abashed, and the heroine has a headache. My set design crew is woefully behind. (“Could we just use cardboard cutouts and stand-ins?” they ask, wanting a smoking break. No, I tell them. No, we can’t.) And my plot think tank—well. They’ve scattered, driven to Mexico the moment I told them we were cramming this week full.

The only team with me heart and soul is the catering crew. I have a date with some fine pie crust in one hour.

So what keeps me clinging to Monday’s decision (despite common sense and plain exhaustion)? I still can’t bear the thought of taking three weeks for the rest of Part One. So there’s no going back, is there?

I stacked my reward books in a pile on my desk, the Guernsey Potato book, and Billy Collins’ latest, as well as five travelogues. (And my ears are straining for the library’s phone call, to say that the ten ordered books are in…)

Between promised books and coffee and sheer bullheadedness, I should get this thing written. It won’t be pretty. But hey—that’s what revision is for.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/25 at 03:48 PM
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

what if my insanity ISN’T temporary?

Her only asset was her momentum—but that she had in abundance, and she let it determine her career.—K.P. Bath, The Secret of Castle Cant

I was restless yesterday. Verrry restless. Is it because the weather is considering warmth again? And our maple tree is about to explode with buds? (I dearly love the little helicopter seeds it will eventually shed…) Is it because I haven’t been on a road trip in who-knows-how-long and need to see New Places again?

Whatever’s happening, it brews a deep-down itch in me that is difficult to reach. Slightly assuaged by getting blonde highlights (hooray!), ordering ten books from the library (I don’t have time to read any of them), and running around in 30 degree weather with short sleeves (reminding me of college day madness).

But I finally got a grip and escorted myself to my writing desk and took a hard look at everything. All my plans for the draftwork, all the scenes I’ve listed, the progress I’ve made since February 1 (24,500 words).

And then I quietly lost my mind, and made a very ridiculous decision.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/24 at 02:24 PM
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Friday, February 20, 2009

in which: i am alive, well, and killing my characters.

I’m not a mass murderer, I’m a writer!—Cornelia Funke, Inkheart, of course!

Well, then. Here I am at last—more technical difficulties yesterday… actually, if you knew me, you’d realize it’s a small miracle that I don’t have more technical difficulties than I already do. (I get lost dealing with my sister’s iPod. Yes. Really.)

So after my brief skirmish with stomach flu, and a rotten writing week (last week, no energy, very few words), I rounded the corner into Monday. Cleared my schedule, just to focus on writing, to get back on track… and it was terrible. Not a good thought in my head.

(Note to self: when you make all your characters smile and laugh and turn slowly and you bloat their speech with adverbs? You’re stalling. And you don’t know what the scene is about.)

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/20 at 01:09 PM
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

miss langefeld regrets

Dear Blog,

I wrote something for you today. I was witty and funny and exuberant, and everything a blogger is supposed to be. (Maybe. It seemed that way. But was it just the coffee singing? Probable. Likely. ... Yes.)

And then the Internet connection failed, just after I clicked the “Submit” button. My lovely post swallowed up by the ether… and I lacked the heart and the genius to try again. (My coffee cup was low.)

Courage, Blog. I will try again tomorrow. But this is just to say: I haven’t forgotten you. (And the stomach flu did not kill me after all.)—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/18 at 11:45 PM
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

on not exactly seizing the day

I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.—Daniel Boone

There’s a little bell going off in my brain, saying “Time to post again, Langefeld,” but I’m afraid I have nothing very interesting to say. (Or, if I do, no energy with which to say it.) After a whirlwind weekend, I landed stomach flu on Monday. I can argue with a lot of things, but I can’t really argue with stomach flu. It wins, every time.

So, when I’m a little less rocky, and when there are less cobwebs on my brain, I’ll be back, reporting.

In the meantime, enjoy eating. I kind of miss it.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/11 at 09:02 PM
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

by the way

I know most of you didn’t listen to me and read Inkheart. Go do that. Right now. It’s a perfect way to spend a weekend.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/05 at 01:50 PM
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five things

Five things to be grateful for, at this exact moment:

1. French press coffee, and the smell of it wafting through the house.
2. My Christmas slippers. Still fuzzy. Still cozy.
3. I still love waking up surrounded by mosquito netting.
4. ... Annnnd I didn’t wake up for a long time today. Sleeping in? One of life’s best guilty pleasures.
5. As is finishing a good book late last night. Yum.

Happy everything!—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/05 at 01:46 PM
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Monday, February 02, 2009

so, what happens when i see my shadow?

Some mornings, when you get up, the day is so narrow you can hardly squeeze in. —Charles Schulz

I sometimes feel that I have nothing to say and I want to communicate this. —Damien Hirst

Well, I’m feeling restless. Perhaps because our glorious snow is wasting away after several days of fifty degrees. Or because my combined sugar + caffeine rush has long since gone.

Or because the scene I was working on today just fails to impress. And it’s so full of potential! Tension, humor, conflict, unusual setting. Strong characters, plot already rolling. But everything feels flat. I’ve been staring at my sentences, wanting them sharper, stronger. Don’t we read to be carried away? But these sentences have no lift.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 02/02 at 06:14 PM
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