Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Acceptable Destruction, or: the Calculus of Mess

Wow. I think I've forgotten how to blog. And I miss it! I've been trying to write a catch-up post for the past week. There are several saved versions in my blogger archive that I poked away at but that never coalesced -- in my deadline addled brain -- into any kind of sense. So. No guarantees here, either.

The monumentalness (monumentality, if you want to be strict about it) of having finished the book has given way to a feeling of weightlessness. Floating. The book is not in my head any more. It is not even just in my computer any more. It is on paper, fatly bound at Kinko's into proto-bookness, and it has also zipped through the ether to various large cities -- New York, London, Los Angeles. Weaverville, North Carolina, ha ha. It exists in the world in its unpolished state. Up next: polishing. Which is a job that I relish. I have a polisher's heart. I love to tinker. Bring on the tinkering! And if there are changes and fixes too big to be called tinkering, that's okay too. I love all of revision. (But ask me about it in late October and we'll see how I feel then.)

(To Katie, who enquired if this was yet another book after Daughter of Smoke and Bone: no. This was that book. Next up = the sequel! Actually, next up, today, is polishing a script to an illustrated project for younger readers that Jim and I have in the works. I wrote it last fall with a sleeping newborn in my lap and it has had a fairly interesting life so far, taken a number of journeys, lived temporarily in a number of houses, and now it is home like a college kid with a duffel bag full of laundry, soon to be sent on its way again :-)

So. Today I am auditioning a new writing cafe. Because of this tragedy:
Boo hoo hoo! My cafe closed. Three days after I finished the book! Isn't that eerie? I have this crazy idea that it is a drifting cafe of the mind (like the Treehouse of the Mind in Horns) that is there when you most need it. Right now, it is opening its doors in some little corner of Cincinnati or Boise or Sassafras (come on, there is probably a town in the US called Sassafras) where someone is in need of a quiet place to write.

To that person, I say: Give it back. It's mine.

Boo hoo hoo!

This new cafe is bigger and shinier, and not too busy or noisy, but a) the service wasn't friendly, and b) it's a 17-minute walk from my house, versus three. Which will be exceedingly unpleasant in the coming rains. I actually liked my three-minute umbrella walks to my old cafe, but I think the fun would wear off somewhere around minute five or six. I could (and probably will) get a bike, but then there's the whole glasses-in-the-rain thing. I never wear my contacts for staring at words. Ouchy.

There is another cafe closer to home, maybe ten minutes walk, but it is really busy and noisy and also so full of delicious baked goodness that I would ... increase ... if I went there every day. It's possible that I would prove powerless against coffee cake. Like, yesterday: I woke up from an afternoon nap filled with the pure conviction that if I didn't have cake immediately, I would die. Luckily, there was cake at hand, and so I live on.

Oh sigh. I may have to revert to my writing room for winter, and just barricade the door against cuteness and plug in my earbuds and pretend I'm in a cafe. It'll be cheaper. Plus, my writing room is awesome! I miss it! I am reminded of its awesomeness after having finally, totally belatedly, cleaned it to photograph it for inclusion in an upcoming studios issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (love love love that magazine). Ah, cleaning with a one-year-old is so. Much. Fun. You know it is. Ever since Clementine became mobile, we have been learning what I'm sure all parents everywhere know, and it is this thing I'll call "acceptable destruction." I'll give you an example:

If Clementine is kept occupied for two full minutes by shredding a roll of toilet paper, and I am able in that time to brush my teeth and put my contacts in and maybe even apply mascara, is the resulting destruction acceptable or does it cross the line into being more hassle than those two minutes were worth? It's a careful and constantly evolving calculus of mess. It is amazing what comes to seem "acceptable." Such as: "Hm, it looks like letting Clementine destroy my brand-new crocheted flower paper clips from Anthropologie is going to buy me three minutes. Well. They were only $10." (And yes, I was watching to make sure she did not ingest any paper clips! I admit, though, she finds things. Like the other day, she was innocuously playing with a stuffed animal she had pulled off the shelf, and I looked up to find she had undone the pin it was wearing and had stretched back the needle-sharp pokey part like a ... hideous stabbing instrument ... and was looking at me kind of like, "Dude, you're letting me play with this?" )


(And as for the paper clips, I was going to take the flowers off anyway and sew them onto barrettes because really: who needs crocheted flowers on their paper clips?)

So. I don't have any photos of the real mess-making, but here is Clementine in various ways helping put the finishing touches on the room:
These books are for me, right? I mean, why else would you stack them under the bench? (Doy.)

Hey look, this stuffed animal is wearing a giant stabby pin too! (Hazards abound!)

Did you know there are a ton more books back here? Score!

Oh, I'm sure this post-it isn't marking anything important here. I'll just have this, thanks ...

What? I'm helping.

My work here is done. I'm off to climb the stairs now! Bye!

And of course, I can't neglect to show you this:
First, look at that keyboard! I have worn that thing out, which makes me weirdly proud. But the missing "m" is not my doing. How easily it disengaged, with the littlest "snick" sound. She reached right for it, like she wanted that one.

Okay. The secret truth is: this is all really really fun. Clementine is getting more fun every day -- that's what everyone says, and it's true. At this rate, when does your head just explode from overload? Or do we just have an infinite capacity for cuteness tolerance? I don't know.
Hey, I'm taller than you now, devil girl!

Where can I get some horns like that?

Uh, mommy, why's this door closed ... ?

I'm going to try to be an actual blogger again, because I really miss it! Don't give up on me! I'm still heeeeeeeeeere ...


Fletcher of the Day said...

When you tweeted about your cafe going out of business it reminded me of the room of requirement in Harry Potter..there when you need it!

I'm lucky that Fletcher is still in the 'Golden Age' where he can't fully roll over or crawl yet...so much to look forward too! :)

Glad to hear you had some cake...Priorities!!!

xx Lori

dawn said...

this was the perfect pick-me-up-to-put-my-butt-back-in-chair moment/post. you have the most beautiful and most certainly "best dressed" helper/mess-meister. :) sorry to hear of the cafe; this *is* weird. you'll find another perfect spot. we're so excited for you. hugs.

Catherine Denton said...

Keep posting pictures like this and we'll be waiting. Sorry to hear about your cafe closing. Hope you find another one soon. Or sound-proof earplugs for your writing room. An MP3 player perhaps?

JediEasterbunni said...

I grew up about ten minutes from Sassafras Kentucky :)
And my son chose the R instead of the M. You are right it popped off with such ease. The thirty plus minutes I spent putting it back on with the help of a youtube video wasn't filled with as much ease.
I love to infinity your work and Clementine is so utterly cute that I think work would be impossible with her in the vicinity.

Stephanie Perkins said...

"Right now, it is opening its doors in some little corner of Cincinnati or Boise or Sassafras (come on, there is probably a town in the US called Sassafras) where someone is in need of a quiet place to write."

Maybe it's coming to visit ME!!

I always love pictures of your home. Pretty, pretty, pretty. *Almost* as pretty as Clementine Pie!

Mae said...

I'm a editer while I write- my little mistakes (I forgot to explain the theoretical physics- and yes, I am using theoretical physics in fantasy) are edited out while I'm working on this exceptionally tough scene... POV switches really help! Especially when you have a persona to write through, who's the character of the editor, who isn't really in the story, and is kinda between you and the narrator... Or in this heartwrenching scene I had to write, I come up with phrases that need to be in it (I'm still trying to find a place for 'cold revenge'), go back, and edit. Haven't even finished the first chapter and I'm doing what probably will be the end of the fourteenth. I'm weird. You're amazing. Good night.

ChristyG said...

Great to see a new post from you! I absolutely adore your blog, and your amazing novels, of course. So very inspiring. Hmmm... this whole finishing-the-novel thing is very intriguing to me. So, it was won at auction by a publishing house without being completed yet, do I have that right? All this big time publishing stuff is so fascinating to me. The photos of Clementine are beyond adorable, by the way!

tone almhjell said...

How absolutely true about the calculation of mess! I only really worry when Magnus goes...quiet. Then I know trouble will ensue.

I like the idea of the college project. Did you cry when it left the frist time? I hear it's hard. :)

Don't worry, I'll keep checking your blog, even when you're pressed for time to write. I love it.

Unknown said...

How do you get your photos to be nice clickable images? I am hopeless at blogging =(

Katie Anderson said...

Phew. I am kinda relieved you hadn't cranked out ANOTHER book in that short time :)

Your desire for a new cafe reminds me of the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. That's what you need. HA!

And the pics of little Clementine are adorable, as usual. She is so precious.

Good luck with all your writing :)


Marilyn said...

i can't believe she's a year old already. so cute! so much has happened in your life since we met for breakfast in PDX, oh those many years ago now. ;) nice to see you posting and i still read here, no matter how infrequent the posts. i've recently enjoyed returning to blogging, too. Twitter and Facebook are cool, but there's nothing quite like good old-fashioned blogging. ;) xo

Robin L said...

I have serious, SERIOUS writing room envy! Wow, gorgeous!

And how much do I love the calculus of mess. That is SUCH a perfect description of the constant balance and prioritizing one does as a parent of toddlers. And Miss Clementine is too cute for words. I especially love that utterly devilish expression she wears in that last photo.

Shveta Thakrar said...

This was a super cute entry, just like your daughter. :) And congrats again on getting the draft done!

Charlotte said...

so cute!

We lost "k" to our boy. I think yours has better taste.

Amber said...

She is JUST SO CUTE!! No. You won't get used to it. It will just keep coming for you. ;)

I am having a hard time finding the right writing cafe! I am thinking I may have to check out the library with the 'bucks across the street... Stinks there are no good ones near me.

Debbie Barr said...

Cuuuute pictures! And you should be darn proud of that keyboard. I'm kind of jealous of how worn it is. So many words created there!

Life is Good(ell) said...

Clementine is lucky to grow up in such a beautiful and imaginative home! (And I'm jealous that she has enough hair for those adorable barrettses unlike my 16-month-old!)

Amber Lough said...

I. Love. This. Post.

"Acceptable Destruction." hee hee. So right. Like...if I let him draw on the walls with washable markers, I can finish my coffee while it's still hot? Alright. Draw. Draw!

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