*Yes it’s a David Bowie reference. Yes, I’m still upset. Leave me alone.
We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination. – Tchaikovsky
So wow….I seemed to have lost a month. During the beginning of which I turned 39 (!!) and by the end of which, today, my husband reached over and plucked a white hair out of the top of my head.
I’m not even kidding. It was WHITE. I’m officially old.
So in between now and then I have a few people to thank, list-style
- In Between Hangovers for publishing Yoga and Scanxiety
- Carcinogenic Poetry for Porn
- Dead Snakes for A Letter to My Radiation Oncologist, Verlaine was a Dirty Old Man and Everybody’s Got a Hungry Heart
- Misfit Magazine for New York Methodist Hospital Radiation Oncology Waiting Room, Key in a Lock, The First Night and Songs
- Your One Phone Call for taking Leipzig Train Station
- Pyrokinection for taking No Heat/No Hot Water
- And Drunk in a Midnight Choir for Anniversary and for including the Dead Snakes link in their round up
In other writing news, I’ve been working with Six Gallery Press and Low Ghost Press on edits to Better Luck Next Year which should be out end of July. In case you don’t know it’s the poetry book that’s all about the cancer escapade. I won’t say journey cause I hate that term. Anyway, I gave Kris at Low Ghost a giant hot emotional mess and out of that he has helped to carve a really honest and raw look at what 2014-2015 was like from the days before diagnosis to the end of treatment.
Caveat: So I’m just going to put this here because a number of people have asked me about treatment lately, specifically Am I done? and if not When will I be? That’s a hard question to answer, even as I come barreling towards Cancerversary #2. I’m not going to be “done” for a few more years. I’ll be on tamoxifen for at least three more years unless it causes potentially dangerous side effects. I’m still going to be getting injections of ovarian suppressants (Zoladex) for another year and a half. But what I do each month is not at all like what people typically think of when they say “treatment” which is chemo. So I guess the answer is yes-ish but also no-ish.
I’m really excited for Better Luck Next Year. I think it contains some of my best writing – and if not then it’s definitely got the rawest and most honest stuff I have done. I promise it’s not to terribly “woe is me” or too terribly depressing.
In other writing news, I’ve been doing a lot of hand wringing lately over Palimpsest (the massive nightmare that is the sci-fi book.) I’ve been querying agents and I’ve had some very promising leads and bites and interest but nothing that has panned out into an offer. Which is fine, these things take time. That said, at the beginning of the month I had a really interesting conversation with an agent who made some suggestions that would require a big revision.
And I have been heming and hawing about it for a month now, whinning to friends and beta readers if I should go through with it and “one person’s opinion” and “am I willing to do the work” and whine whine whine.
Ultimately the problem is the end. Endings are HARD. And then a friend shared this list of suggestions from Billy Wilder to Cameron Crowe:
- The audience is fickle. Grab ’em by the throat and don’t let ‘em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.*
- Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you for it.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees; add to what they are seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second-act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo until the last event, and then …
- … that’s it. Don’t hang around.
* emphasis mine
My friend wrote a whole post about it here which is great and you should read it. It was number five from this list that hit home for me.
And I think I found the problem in the first act. So the only question is should I cut my loses, scrap this to “one person’s opinion” and move on?
Or am I able to do the heavy lifting – the WORK – that will be turning this book around? Am I willing to put my other stuff on hold to go back into the trenches with Palimpsest again?
Oh who am I kidding?
My alarm is already set for 5 am. There is no spoon.
Wish me luck.