I spent 20 minutes staring at the DIY day planner display at the craft store yesterday.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of papercraft. So you would think the DIY Day Planner trend would be right up my alley…but instead, like most things, it just gave me an anxiety attack and a sad feeling.
I like Day Planners. My dad, ever adorably practical, gets each of us girls one every year and I, with my millions of appointments, deadlines and other nonsense, find it very useful…(for the first three months, before I leave it on the counter and forget about its existence). So I, still in this post-book cloud of alternating relief and stress, floated towards the aisle, like a moth towards a bug zapper.
When I was a teenager, I LOVED buying thrift-store clothes and altering them. (Like everything I did, I did this before it was cool. What can I say? I’m a trend-setter). I was a teen in the age on JNCOs and pointy-toe stiletto boots, and a goth girl, to boot. I had to make due with what I had, but as a result, I had some amazingly cool clothes.
And although my days of wearing cigarette-cut pants trimmed with neon purple boas are over, the ability to tear something down and salvage the good pieces again is really coming in handy on my Work in Progress.
I’ve written almost two full first drafts of a new novel, and both of them are going to be scrapped. The first draft was like a pair of fancy cut-offs: Cut out the pieces with the holes worn through, but embellish what’s left. The second draft, it seems, is going to be more like an old concert shirt, stretched and faded beyond use. Cut out the best part and see if there’s something else you can sew it onto–a tank top, a tote bag, a throw pillow. Make something useful out of scraps.
I carried two bags to school every day. One was my backpack, which was adorned with keychains and patches because it was 2000 and that’s what we did back then, and the other was this awesome white leather messenger bag, the coolness factor of which can never be replicated.
In this messenger bag was everything I needed to write my novel–notebooks, printed pages, pens. I wrote in math class, during study hall, lunch. My whole world was consumed with my writing.
So when I was accepted to the Pen in Hand writer’s conference in Little Falls, I couldn’t believe how fucking lucky I was. Finally, my writing was being taken seriously! For 24 hours, I would be surrounded by other writers. I would get to meet authors and they would talk to me! It was everything I’d hoped for and more. I made friends there that I still have today. It’s where I first drank coffee. It was better than my prom.
Pretty sure this is the only blog where you’ll find writing tips via ROADHOUSE references
If you really want to piss me off, you can say the following phrase. “Oh, I’m a real writer.” At the very least, I’ll text everyone I know about what a goon you are, or I might sub-tweet you. Maybe I’ll laugh in your face, or maybe I’ll go completely Patrick Swayze and rip your throat out, leaving your corpse on the floor of the coffee shop as a warning to others.
“Real” writers. I heard that phrase a LOT in grad school. I went to a grad program with a commercial fiction as well as a literary fiction program, and there was occasional contention between the two. “Oh, I would never write for the pulps” (Yes, she actually said “pulps.” What is this, 1932? Dial down the gaudy patter, ya loopy dame.) “Oh, I write real fiction, but maybe I’ll write a sci-fi novel sometime!” (like it’s so easy, anyone can just slum it). And it’s not just lit fic people. I heard the “real writer” bullshit from people in my own workshops, who thought they were better that everyone else there because of some arbitrary metric, a goal post only they could kick the ball through.
I love writer swag. Notebooks, fancy pens, tote bags, stickers with book quotes on them. I drool over The Writer‘s monthly Take Note column, listing all the things I could buy to make myself a better writer. If I sling my typewriter tote bag over my shoulder, people will know that I labor over the craft each perfect sentence in my masterpiece. If I wear my NaNoWriMo t-shirt, people will see that I am capable of writing a novel in 30 days. They will see me with my expensive pen and my leather-bound notebook at the coffee shop and murmur, “Yes, there is a real writer, you can tell she is very serious because she has a a scarf with books on it.”
2 a.m. last night found me on my couch, eating fun-sized boxes of Milk Duds and playing Lunar: Silver Star Story on the PS2 Heather left for me after we filmed the book trailer for Amber Benson’s Witches of Echo Park. I couldn’t sleep, partially because I come from a long line of insomniacs and partially because my husband has a cold, so he was snoring and carrying on. I was strangely happy in this moment, wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, having taken control of my insomnia rather than freaking out, like I normally do.
About a week ago, I decided, in my ongoing quest to become a super-productive human with an awesome house who writes a novel every single morning, I started doing Buzzfeed’s “Morning Person Challenge.” Now I’m generally a pretty decent morning person; by 7 a.m. I have my coffee and am writing at my desk/kitchen table, but I occasionally get in these fits where I decide that my life could somehow be more awesome/pretty/productive and then throw everything into disarray and then break down crying. There’s a Basic Bitch inside me trying to fight her way out, like a demon.