Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Project Book Babe + Sacrificing the Unbook

A quick reminder: Project Book Babe is this coming Saturday in Tempe, Arizona. There are still tickets available if you might be able to attend. There will be music, authors, books, hijinx! When I say "hijinx" I mean to imply there will be some sort of embarrassment -- fun embarrassment -- endured by the authors. Embarrassment that requires . . . practicing. You don't want to miss this!

And, I'm pleased to announce that the online portion of the auction has begun! You can find the first listings HERE, including a signed copy of The Hunger Games and: having a character named after you in a future Lisa McMann novel! How cool is that? More items will be posted in a rotating fashion, so keep on checking. Some of the more fabulous items, such as Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse Prom dress, will be available for bidding only at the live event.

Remember: all proceeds go to the medical fund of Faith Hochhalter, bookseller, book promoter, book lover, all around "book babe."

* * *

Now, I have a confession to make: I haven't been getting very much work done lately. I plan to blame this entirely on "pregnancy brain" -- like I really need a further excuse for dithering about, seeming to look busy, all while getting very little work done! Sigh.

There has been a little bit of nesting interference, which I suppose can truly be blamed on pregnancy brain (sort of). The beginning of a remodeling project to create a wee nursery out of a bizarro unfinished "room" we've had hiding behind a large armoire for years. Old houses are weird, y'all. If you live in one, you should consider all space beyond walls as having potential hidden rooms or at least the space for them, because you really never know. Our strange hidden room (which I once dreamed had been the hideaway of a bed-ridden, invalid alien), has falling-down insulation and heating ducts that run across the floor, and tomorrow those heating ducts will be rerouted in preparation of the building of walls and a floor, and all this will soon become a very adorable little space for a crib, etc. Very exciting! I can't wait for the cute-making portion of events to come!

But anyway, I can't blame my lack of work-accomplishments of the past week entirely on greeting heating company workers or tidying up laundry rooms or assembling new bland storage furniture, or even going out to hear fun music shows and eating french fries. (OR on trying without success to track down a book that has no business being so elusive!)

No. It's just more of the usual: fear.

Fear of progressing into the deep unknown of the story. I hold this wondrous story in my head and it's as perfect and fragile in there as a crystalline sphere, and I worry that the sphere won't be able to withstand the harsh conditions of the actual world. Our Earth atmosphere will crush it. It's safest, really, to leave it right where it is, inside my head, where nothing can get smudgy fingerprints on it or threaten its perfection, least of all my inept meddling with words!

Yeah yeah. But it must come out, it simply must, deformed and imperfect or not. One of my favorite quotes about writing:

"The only way [the book can be written] is to set the unbook -- the gilt-framed portrait of the book -- right there on the altar and sacrifice it, truly sacrifice it. Only then may the book, the real live flawed finite book, slowly, sentence by carnal sentence, appear."
-Bonnie Friedman

God that's good. I looooovve the word "carnal" -- don't you?

So, in an effort to shake off my fearful dithering and sacrifice my "unbook," this morning I started writing the new section by hand in a notebook, with my computer and all its nifty wireless distractions (the universe at your fingertips! How awfully, awfully distracting that is!) shut tight, and it was good. The early morning hours, still dark, writing with a pen, a blanket wrapped around me, a cup of coffee. This is a good, good thing. The story must come out somehow -- sometimes coaxing works, sweet gentle coaxing. But other times it must be forced, dragged, inelegantly, unwillingly, its heels making skid marks on the wood floor.

This is the job: figuring out what works, day after day, and doing it.

We talk a lot about "process" as writers. I know I'm always hungry to learn some secret trick that will make writing easier. And I have learned tricks, things that work for me, but process is inconsistent. What works one day might not the next. I'm going to try this notebook thing for a little while, for as long as it is helps me drag the story forth into the light. I already know that at some point, likely soon, my persnickety brain will assert itself and demand I take some time to tidy up, make my new thoughts presentable. And that will be hard and rewarding in its own way, as this is now hard and rewarding in its way.

The dance steps are always changing, dammit. Stumblingly, I try to keep up.


tone almhjell said...

I'm rooting for you. Love the idea of handwriting in notebooks! And I've wondered if I should find a way to disable my computer from going online during the day. Stupid internet, gnaws huge chunks of time out of my writing day.

Also, baby talk in mail :)

Lexi said...

I hope writing in the notebook works for you! It doesn't work for me-- inevitably the essay or story will turn into a detailed drawing of... something. Like a squirrel with lightning bolts coming out of it.

Marianne said...

I love the "unbook" quote and have kept it for myself since last time you used it. Kill that little f#$%ker, it's an evil imposter standing in the way of your real, magnificent book.

I am now intrigued beyond words at the idea of your wee secret baby room and think I may have to come and see it one day. Do you think they put the invalid in there and then sealed up the wall?

Stephanie Perkins said...

Yippee! I have my Book Babe ticket! ITZ OFFICIAL!!

"Carnal" -- Great word. Thinking I need to use it somewhere in Second Novel.

Good luck with your pen and coffee :)

holly cupala said...

Someone (Jane Yolen, maybe? Katherine Paterson?) said that writing comes out one word at a time, as a spider draws her web out of her own body. When I'm hungry to learn secret tricks, I always look you up, dear!

Many good wishes and sweetness to your baby. xo

tanita✿davis said...

Laini, you say things so eloquently, even when you're not trying. I really, really, REALLY understand the fear. And it's ...crippling and annoying and yes, we drag the words out of ourselves with their heels dragging.

Good luck with the unBook, and thanks for even speaking these thoughts "out loud;" they're encouragement of its own sort.

persnickety_jen said...

There's something totally therapeutic about physically writing in a notebook. I have a friend/client who writes everything down by hand first, and then transcribes it all onto the computer. I could never imagine writing that way - I edit too much as I go along - but it's a marvelous method for her. Opening the notebook allows her to immediately tap into her creative mind, like some mental trigger. I have the same experience when I listen to certain music.

Christine Fletcher said...

Damn, that's a good quote. I'm writing that one down.

Shari Sherman said...

Your writing is far, far from "inept meddling with words." Puhhleeze, girl.

Laini Taylor said...

Thank you, Shari :-) But that's what if FEELS like when I'm in anxious-perfectionist mode, like I can only ruin my wonderful idea. Agh!