Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NewCity Lit 50 and other sources of distraction

IWBYJR hits bookstore shelves in a little over a month and tidbits of excitement keep coming my way. First, the very same weekend I got the news that MTV Books is going to publish my second novel, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA (and as of right now, I’m allowed to keep that title and release is scheduled for Summer 09, but both those things could change in the blink of an eye), my friend Jenny called and read me the good review of IWBYJR in the June/July issue of Bust magazine. You can find it on newsstands now. I don’t think there is an online version, sorry, but my publicist says the part from it I should cite is “… a rich, muscular story…”

Then I got a sneak peek at the Booklist review that should appear sometime this month. Again no linkage at this point, but I was thrilled (and largely relieved!) that it was also good. Pull quotes according to Erica = “...irresistible...” and “...acidly incisive and full-out entertaining...”

At this point the tour is all pulled together except for Rock and Read. *Sigh* But hopefully that will be figured out very soon. And I kinda want to find some musicians (preferably girls but that might just be my current grrrl power kick) and a chill venue in Seattle where I can read and they can play, kinda more along the lines of what I did in Denver than the larger scale Rock and Read. (And BTW the video of the Denver performance is being converted to DVD and I should have a youtube vid to share with you in a week or two.) But I’m not sure I have the energy or focus, so I may just stick with my fab book store event in Seattle (July 22nd, 7 pm, Bailey Coy) and then just enjoy my time in my favorite city with my boy and my good friend from high school and her partner and their baby.

I’d thought that after I returned from Denver it would be the calm before the storm, but I guess it’s already raining. Some local media requests for interviews are coming in, which is pretty exciting. There’s Melissa Marr’s contest (it ends Friday!), which has been distracting me greatly in a good way as I check out new music. Then I’ve got my own contest going and yesterday I discover this Elle Girl contest for the book! That was pretty exciting because it means the Elle Girl online book club will be reading and reviewing the book I think!

It seems like somebody sends me a link that has to do with the book every day. First there was this one recommending the event I’m doing in a few weeks at the fabulous Old School Records. But the most exciting piece of news came once again from my amazing friend Jenny. She discovered that I’ve been named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit 50! Yep if you go here and scroll down to number 50, there I am! I have to say I am utterly blown away to be in such company (and to have my book called this year’s Hairstyles of the Damned. Uh yeah, if I pulled that off I’ll be over the moon. Joe Meno is one of the authors I admire most and that book is one of my all-time faves.) As I’ve said before and will say until I’m blue in the face, Chicago has one of the best lit scenes out there, IMHO. I think it’s the literary equivalent to Austin, Texas’ music scene. Strong, smart, DIY, a *real* community. It’s just amazing and there is so much going on. I always looked forward to the Lit 50 every year because it inspired me and gave me new books to buy. I never thought I’d be on it. Whoa.

So needless to say I’ve been extremely distracted today. I’ve been extremely distracted for a couple weeks. Like I’ve got so much going on I can’t figure out where to start. I stare at my email box instead of figuring out who to answer (so if you haven’t heard from me that’s why) and I go absorb myself in all the good music from Melissa’s contest and I get nothing done.

Nothing when it comes to writing, especially, which is not cool. Even if my distractions are good things, they are coming at a bad time. I need to collect myself and get disciplined with the text again. I’m in an awkward place because I’m starting fresh, completely 100% fresh for the first time in about 5 years. BALLADS was drawn from my “practice novel” material, so even though it changed drastically, I had a story arc. Now I have a beginning, I have an end and I don’t have a middle. Figuring it out is making me anxious. The time crunch between a full time job and all the IWBYJR stuff is making it worse. But *deep breath*, Jenny and Aaron will save me. They are my writer’s group. Aaron is just joining this week and I’m so happy because he’s a great writer and well, he’s also male and I’m working with a male protagonist now so that benefits me greatly. At least one evening a week, I focus on nothing but new stuff. It may not come easily or sound perfect at first, which always upsets me, but I’m writing, scrawling, getting around 1000 words down in 20 to 30 min because we just sit there and write.

Time to get into that mindset. Time to breathe. Time to let nothing but the words and the images dancing in my head matter.

ETA: I hope I didn't come off as boastful and/or whiny in this. I realized it could sound that way maybe. So I just want to say that I share these things because I am so thrilled and shocked by it all. You're reading the blog of girl who spent most of her adolescence feeling totally insecure and sometimes full-on hateful of herself, so to be recognized for something I love to do, it's a dream come true and I'm surprised every time. And I don't mean to whine about being distracted. I'm just in a huge balancing act right now with everything and those old insecurities come up and failure seems inevitable. But the next story will get on the page. I'm off to see Jenny and Aaron who will help that happen big time!

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