Tear Down To The Bones

scissors_PNG1When 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.

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New Notebook: Arche/SuperCola

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Time for a new notebook!

I can’t believe how fast I went through Lucca.  This new WIP (working title: The Lords of Yesterday) has me scrawling scenes even more than I did in the early days of The Big Rewind.  It’s a much different book for me, so I’m letting myself play with POV and scene variation, as well as a TON of beautiful collage work.  I’ve really gone kinda crazy, and I regret nothing.

Lucca was experimental in paper usage and texture.  The map pages were pretty, but writing on them proved useless, so they ended up being collage pages.  The parchment was a nice surface and added color, but tended to smudge with the big fat gooey ink pen I use because my hands are basically claws now.  I don’t think I’d do the origami paper on the spine again.  It looked pretty, but took up valuable page space.

My original intent was to make a double-sided journal, like an old pulp novel–on one side, Crime Writing, flip it over, General Work.  But I’ve still got about half of Mona left, so the pages would end up being wasted.  I needed a new notebook, and I needed one fast, so I put what I had on hand to good use.

Arche/SuperCola is very basic in design, but represents the finest of all my techniques combined — multiple paper types, end pages, French stitch and metal accouterments.  I had bought the hinges for another project, but they proved to be merely decorative and basically non-functioning.

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NEW NOTEBOOK: Lucca

LuccaChrono Trigger’s Lucca was the first video game character I could really connect with.  She had big glasses, for starters, and she was smart and bookish, plus she wore sweeeeeeet boots.  And Crono’s ignoring of all of these great qualities in favor of busty blonde bimbo princess Marle was a good lesson for my late teens/early 20s: some basic bitch with a high ponytail and a tube top will always get the man you want*. (Eponine was a great tutor for this lesson as well).  My happiest snow days were spent playing that game on the TV in my mom’s bedroom, where I could surround myself with pillows and play in (relative) solitude.

I got on a Chrono Trigger kick awhile back; buying up old issues of Nintendo Power and reading the Boss Fight Books entry on the game.  I even played the unofficial sequel, Crimson Echoes, which was good until the stupid ending left Lucca behind to clean up idiot Marle’s mess because she’s a shit-for-brains queen. (and also I had a weird Marle glitch; serves the hussy right). Time travel is my favorite sci-fi concept, as evidenced by my great affection for Back to the Futureand I have always loved the look of skeleton keys and old clocks, of maps and worn paper.

It was time for a new notebook.

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Book Swag and Temptation

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.”

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Steely Dan, New Notebooks, and Other Dark Sarcasm

Let me start by saying that I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan as I write this, so if it comes off as rambling, dark and sarcastic, I apologize.  Every time I put on a Steely Dan record, I find myself thinking why am I not spending every minute of every day listening to Steely Dan?  Becker/Fagen are to my 30s as Morrissey/Marr were to my 20s, a constant, reassuring soundtrack.  Every time I listen to an album, I discover something new to love about a song I’ve heard a thousand times before. (How could I forget about “Caves of Altamira?”  Was “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” always this brilliant?).

Matthew & I saw our third Dan show at the Beacon on Wednesday; last time we saw them play Gaucho in full and when they played “Josie” I thought my heart would explode.  The first time we saw them, they busted out “The Second Arrangement.”  And I’ve seen Donald Fagen play with the Dukes of September Rhythm Review, as well as seeing fellow Dukes Boz Scaggs & Michael McDonald on their own tours.  (Also, I am kind of in love with Donald Fagen and wish he would write a charmingly sleazy song about me, more “Slinky Thing” than “Cousin Dupree.”)

But Wednesday night, they opened with “Black Cow” (one of my favorites) and played “FM,” which made me so insanely happy that I screamed.  They played “Josie” too, and “Peg,” and “Black Friday.”  If they had played “What a Shame About Me,” I might have died of happiness.

In addition to the show, Matthew and I took a few days to work on some writing.  The way I’ve been barreling through notebook pages, I’m on Dutch’s last signature, and he’ll only last another week, at most.  And Gail, hale and hearty as she is, is nearing the end of her line, with only a signature left before she’s retired to the bookshelf.

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Keeping a Notebook Pt. 2

Let me introduce you to my papercraft creations:

The Book of Crows: My first!  The spine is a mess, but it’s still got a cool look to it.  I went a little crazy in the papercraft section of Michaels, hence the knob on the front cover.  HOWEVER, the knob makes it impossible to lay the book flat, which is a mistake I won’t make again.  I use this notebook for writing weird fantasy stories, and thus it is filled with skeleton stickers and cut-out panels from The Goon.  This one also has a built-in bookmark, which is its own lovely little piece of artwork.

The Book of Crows

The Book of Crows

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The Book of Crows — Interior

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On Keeping a Notebook

I got back into using notebooks a few years ago, when I cracked open a beautiful, untouched leather journal Jason brought me back from Italy as a present for my 23rd birthday.  It took a lot to write in that journal because I, like most writers who are gifted with beautiful journals, panic “It has to be perfect if it’s going in such a beautiful journal!”

But I got thinking about the notebooks I kept when I was living in New York City, these wild things filled with magazine clippings and pictures and fold-out pages of articles I wanted to save.  I thought about how good it felt to physically write, pen on paper, how much I enjoyed going back through old story notebooks from high school and after college, reading false starts, pithy observations and scenes that didn’t make the final draft.  I could trace the what was going on in my life through those notebooks even better than I could my own diary.  Fragments like What is a poem to a creme brulee? told me what I was thinking and feeling at an even greater depth than scrawling I love a man who will not tell me he loves me in my journal.

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