Many thanks to Elliott Holt for inviting me to participate in the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR, a path linking writers’ blogs in a discussion about approaches to fiction and non-fiction. Holt’s first novel YOU ARE ONE OF THEM was published by The Penguin Press in 2013. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, Guernica, The Millions, and the 2011 Pushcart Prize anthology. You can find her answers to the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR questions here.
Here are my answers:
1. What are you working on?
Another novel and stories. Also, it’s June, so I am working on taking the F train to Coney Island as many times as I can to lay on the beach and work on a tan.
2. How does your work differ from other writers of your genre?
I’m relatively certain I eat more baby carrots while revising than Etgar Keret does (come at me, Keret). Unlike Haruki Murakami, I’ve never owned a jazz club. I don’t have as many silent letters in my name as Aimee Bender. I cannot grow a mustache anywhere near as glorious as Jim Shepard’s. Not one person in any of my short stories grows an extra arm like in Ramona Ausubel’s story “Tributaries,” and my work is undoubtedly the poorer for it.
3. Why do you write what you do?
The world is surreal and terrible and weird and great, and there is loneliness and depravity in it but there is also joy.
4. How does your writing process work?
Like glazing pottery: you don’t know how the colors are going to look until you fire it. No, like my car (works best in the morning). No, like a breeze that has no starting point and no end. No, like the manual pencil sharpener I keep near my desk. Like all of these things.
Next week you’ll hear from the super cool Amelia Kahaney, author of the novel for teens THE BROKENHEARTED, whose sequel THE INVISIBLE, will be out in October. Check out her blog for her answers.
10 GREAT WAYS TO KILL TIME after you’ve entered the OMG ALL THE BOOKS GIVEAWAY to win a signed, first-edition of 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas
- 1. Decide to send someone you love cupcakes.
- 2. Realize YOU are someone you love who loves cupcakes.
- 3. Send cupcakes to yourself. Splurge on the big box because you really love you.
- 4. Take the latest trendy quiz: What kind of shell fish are you? Pray for mantis shrimp. Those crazies can see like a billion colors.
- 6. Eat cupcakes while perusing classes on your gym’s website and laughing at their ridiculous names. BODY MUNCH. DANCE DECIMATION. PULVERIZING AB-SPLOSION. BUN GRINDER. Sign up for something called EXTERMINATION (Butt and legs) TRX you will eventually blow off.
- 7. What even is a crayfish? Google crayfish. Find out that they are also called crawdads, mudbugs and yabbies. Say the word yabbie until you crack yourself up.
- 8. Get ridiculously upset about something some yabbie said on NPR then immediately forget what it was by the time you go to tweet about it.
- 9. Consider, while you finish the last cupcake, that perhaps the mantis shrimp flaunts his considerable talents ostentatiously in front of the other shell fish who are not as visually inclined. Maybe while the crayfish is innocently going about its business feeding on dead animals and plants, the mantis shrimp sends them long emails with links to blog posts they’ve written about being able to see, like, everything, ending with a color wheel with this question like a threat: How many colors can you see? What a puffed up, self-important blowhard! Decide you hate the mantis shrimp. You’re glad you’re a crayfish.
- 10. Yabbie, yabbie, yabbie, yabbie, yabbie. Ha!
A great beacon of light has gone out for writers, for political writers, for magic realistic writers, for writers of enhanced realism, fabulist and speculative fiction, for those of us who write (or don’t mind reading) characters who speak to demons, become butterflies, or regularly pass through the thin scrim between the dead and the living. Garcia Marquez’s work taught me how to write magic (“matter-of-factly,” the way his ancestors took for granted that their dead loved ones dwelt among them). The below paragraph set a personal bar for me on how to write about love.
From LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
Florentino Ariza spied on her in astonishment, he pursued her breathlessly, he tripped several times over the baskets of the maid who responded to his excuses with a smile, and she passed so close to him that he could smell her scent, and if she did not see him then it was not because she could not but because of the haughty manner in which she walked. To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell. Nevertheless, when she entered the riotous noise of the Arcade of the Scribes, he realized that he might lose the moment he had craved for so many years.
Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for all of your magic.
Hiya jambalayas, 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS was featured as a 2014 “Buzz Book” on Publisher’s Lunch today. It includes an excerpt of the first few pages of the book and information about pre-ordering.
Two-sentence holiday stories from a smattering of writers, including yours truly…
This is a Christmas card to the brokenhearted. To the people who are desperately missing someone, who are sick or taking care of someone who is sick, who have been laid off or treated badly or who are suffering in a life they hate and can’t change. To the people who are blessed with happy families and good years, you’re lovely, but this is not for you. The holidays can be a magnifying glass for pain, and I am speaking to those people who know what I mean. I’m with you. I’ve always had what they call “complicated holidays.” But January 1st always feels like a new birth, even if December is terrible. So, wait for it. Eat cookies in the meantime (save some for me), and be as sad as you want. I want you to know I see you there. Pretending to be a good sport. Suffering in silence. Or not even bothering to be a good sport (good for you). There are many people who don’t have anything like what looks like a Christmas card, and I want you to know you’re not alone.
Perfectly Lined Teeth, Choir Boys of the Mouth
I would call this a “review” but it’s more of a poetic response to Safe as Houses that equal parts worried and inspired me, drew me in, scared the bejesus out of me and, in the end, charmed me to no end. I’ve never read a review like this. Would that they were all like this; a little more free-form and daring, a little more joyful.
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Good morning! I’ve been so excited to share this news! My first novel, 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS, will be published by Crown (Random House), August 2014! I am over the moon, the stars, the solar system, back to the … Continue reading
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Dear Brooklyn, please get ahold of yourself.