Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back in the Day...

I just arrived in Maine for my sister's graduation this Saturday, and I already noticed something pretty awesome about our rooms: Each one has BOOKS!!!

Most of them don't seem familiar. This one, for example, is older than my parents: THE HEADLAND, by Carol Brink (MacMillan, 1955).

The flap copy cracks me up:

"The small village on the coast of France was the home of the five children each summer. Their lives were bound together, though, on the nearby headland--a wild, romantic place with its ruined castle and strange well shaft leading down through dark rock to the sea. For it was on the headland that John and Hilda Marsh, Raoul and Catalina Jiminez, and lonely Vicky Chalmers became friends.

"From the first, John, a gentle, sensitive boy, found himself drawn to the quiet, devout Catalina. For the passionate Hilda and Raoul, love was a more intense, dangerous bond, yet one which even the bitterness and savageness of war could not break. Vicky followed the others patiently, keeping her own love silent.

"Each of them except Raoul--the inscrutable, willful, dominant personality--helps tell the story. Through their words we share deeply the magic of their childhood on the headland, the meaning of their love, and the tragedy brought to their lives by the Second World War.

"The story of the linked destinies of the five vivid people is a tale of mounting excitement, written in scenes with sharp, authentic realism--a story which casts a spell of strange beauty and romance."


It reminds me of the description blurbs we used to write for titlesheets (ie. the book report that editorial wrote before presenting new titles to the rest of the company).

The author bio is the same way:

"With her two previous novels, BUFFALO COAT and STOPOVER; her many books for children; and her biography, HARPS IN THE WIND, Carol Brink has firmly established her appeal for readers of all ages.

"Mrs. Brink began her writing career with stories for boys and girls, and in 1935 she was awarded the Newbery Medal for 'Caddie Woodlawn.'

"Each of her adult novels reveals her extraordinary talent for recapturing in fiction the atmosphere of places she knows well. Mrs. Brink was born and raised in Idaho, near the rugged country she describes in BUFFALO COAT. The setting of STOPOVER is a small town in Minnesota, the state in which she has spent most of her married life. Her present novel brilliantly reflects her intimate knowledge of--and love for--France."

Did you catch the shocker in there?

Carol Brinks won the friggin' Newbery!!!!

Strangely though, I get the feeling like whoever wrote the bio is a little apologetic about her success as a children's author, don't you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Be kind to yourself.

(I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and writing about it has become a necessity. If you're not into rants about life, this is a post you should skip. You have been warned.)

It seems elementary, and some readers may not need to read/hear it. Personally though, I do. I'm my own worst critic (so far, anyway), and I know I'm not alone. I'm talking to the people who beat themselves up over their mistakes - whether in their manuscripts/art/workplace or in life.

Don't beat yourself up. Be kind. Plenty of people won't be, and you have no choice but to meet them. The critics will always arrive on cue, shoulder-to-shoulder with the naysayers. Whether they're internal or part of the great beyond outside your own head, deal with them in the best way you can - the spectrum of appropriate response ranges from ignoring them to telling them to shut the **** up - but don't add to them. Give yourself a break.

You will make mistakes. That's a given. The only difference from individual to individual is the kind of mistakes you make.

Maybe you sometimes create a best friend character for your MC one-dimensional. Your lovely betas/agent/editor point this out, and it's so spot-on that you cringe. How could you have missed that? Of course that character doesn't have a personality - she just echoes everything your much cleverer MC says, and she never expresses any emotion other than supportive concern. You can't believe you didn't see it before. You can't believe you've sent off your ms to your beta/agent/editor when it was in such awful shape, et cetera.

Or for those of you who might not have manuscripts in your life, maybe a boy breaks your heart, and after the weeks/months/years pass, you realize how wrong he was for you and the life you needed. All those annoying quirks of his come to mind, all those little hurts he inflicted, especially the ones he never noticed. You realize that your friends were right about him - he's exactly like so-and-so you dated in high school, who was also all wrong for you. How could you have not recognized that? How could you have failed to see the pattern??

If you think along those lines, STOP thinking like that. Be kind to yourself - and be gentle.** Don't blast or ridicule your own manuscript/actions. You did the best you could at that particular time.

You can't be anyone other than who you right now.

It is impossible for you to be a more accomplished writer or a more perceptive person than you are at this moment, and maybe you're not meant to be. Life is a journey. Every mistake is a learning process; everything is a growing experience. Every day, you can develop into a better writer/person than you were yesterday.

You are still GROWING. You won't be the same writer/person at 25 that you are at 50, or the same at 62 that you will be at 92. You can't decide who you are at this moment, but you can definitely pick the direction you're headed in.

The past is behind us. You cannot change it, but the future is in your hands, waiting for you to shape it.

**Notice, though, that I don't say baby yourself. Babying yourself is not fully acknowledging the mistake, ie. failing to grow from the experience. Doing that helps no one, but least of all yourself, because it keeps you from improving and deprives you from finding out the kind of better writer/person you can become.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And as an added bonus...

...Shelby R. Bach's first oil painting:

Untitled (2004)

Acrylic is really more my medium.

I painted this at the end of my senior year of high school. Since I actually finished it a few days of everyone else, I spent several classes adding more paint and making it even uglier. It took MONTHS to dry properly.

I would've thrown it away, but my mom likes it.

It is definitely a painting only a mother could love. I am stunned by its ugliness every time I see it. (What's with all the green innards?)

Adventures in Homecoming

DISCLAIMER: Skip this entry if you're a neat freak, or if you're going to judge me forever for being incredibly messy.

After being back in Charlotte for a week, I've realized one important thing: Dude, home doesn't change.

My room is exactly how I left it, and that isn't a good thing.

Exhibit A:

(The ones under the desk are full of books, btw.)

These are all the boxes I failed to unpack, because I was sure that my move to California would be incredibly, incredibly soon. It wasn't until I walked into my room that I remembered that I had originally planned to head out late January or early February. (Hmm. How plans change.) No wonder my mom asked me about moving whenever I called home - she was tired of looking at the boxes.

The random nature of my closet also astounded me.

Exhibit B:

The second clear drawer is where I keep all my journals.
That pink one in the front I started in third grade. There are four entries.

This is where I keep all my early writing memorabilia. Back in college, I got in an organizing mood and filed all the writerly stuff dating back 10+ years - in rough chronological order. (Not every notebook is completely filled.) It was a good idea at the time, but then I started just pulling stuff out and shoving stuff back in.

I suppose, it could use some organizing again. Maybe next week.

Exhibit C:

In my shoe bin, I found this unfamiliar bouquet and stared at it for ten minutes, wondering where it had come from. (Did I take flowers to prom? Had I got married and forgotten about it?)

Answer: Debutante bouquet - it looks suspiciously like my sister's.

So, I have some cleaning up to do around here.

But it is going to have to wait until Monday. I am off this evening for a mother-daughter, long weekend trip to the BEACH!!!! This is part a late Mother's Day excursion and part a reward for finally getting back down to one project on my to-do list (until I get notes from people, I mean). I'm bringing four books and no work.

It will be AWESOME. :-D!