1. Today I decided not to write. This is different from procrastinating, and also different from trying to write, and failing. I purposely made the decision to not even try. I’ve been having a hard time with my new novel—figuring out what it’s doing, what happens, why it needs to exist, etc.—and I figured I’d just give myself a weekday holiday.
2. I still feel guilty about said holiday.
3. I went and got a bikini wax, and it was more hair removal than usual (I hate the term Brazilian, it seems grossly inaccurate, like don’t the women in Brazil have pubes? But I digress.) I haven’t done a big crazy wax like this in a year or so, as I generally believe adults should have pubic hair, that pubic hair is sexy and essential; however, sometimes it’s fun to do things differently. I like to see my own punani once in a while, you know? It didn’t hurt very badly, to my surprise, and the waxer and I discussed books and goodreads for most of it, which was pleasant. And this is probably TMI (ha! as if this entire paragraph wasn’t already TMI…!), but now that I am hairless down below, even sitting down feels vaguely erotic. Like, yow, hello there, vagina!
4. Patrick and I are going to Portland, Oregon for a weekend anniversary getaway this weekend. Yep, hello, vagina! (Maybe I’ll sit down in the fiction section at Powell’s and have an orgasm. Oh my goodness, please lord, let this happen to me.)
5. This is getting really gross. Sorry.
6. My Bar Method studio is doing this 50-day challenge to urge people to reach their fitness goals. Whoever goes the most wins a big prize. Some people are going every day, sometimes twice a day. It’s very inspiring, and also nutty. I was already going 5 times a week (I know, I know, I need a hobby), but now I am going 6 times a week if I can. I prefer to go at 6:00 or 6:30 am, sneaking out of the house before sunrise, shivering in the cold. There’s something about doing a 60-second plank or squeezing a small rubber ball between my thighs before 7 am that makes me feel totally badass.
7. I’ve been eating candy I bought to give out on Halloween. I knew getting a big bag of Starbursts was a bad idea.
8. On November 5th I am taking a social media detox until my birthday on February 2nd. I have to get this new novel into shape!
“Without ever getting the permission of the established publishing industry nor having a large promotional machine on our side, my first novel is reaching readers the way I always hoped it would – on its own terms.”—
Book review disguised as personal essay and/or personal essay disguised as craft talk, Ivy Pochoda’s latest for the LA Review of Books is moving, invigorating, and inspiring. A must-read for anyone who, uh, writes.
I had been warned that it would be impossible to write in the middle of a book tour. But these warnings seemed to stem from the idea that I’d be too busy or, let’s face it, too tired or hungover to be able to work. But the real reason I can’t write is that I’m being forced to dissect and debunk my own writing habit on a daily basis, ascribe reason and intention to something that is initially summoned from some unreasonable and intentionless place. During my free moments, I sit in front of my computer with a new idea — what had seemed like a good idea — charged by the most recent audience to create vivid characters, and all I can do is think, “Now how the hell does someone do that?”
Here’s the good news: in the past two months I’ve sold somewhere around 100 copies of my novel through my website, which is incredible. If you bought one, thank you so much. It means a lot.
Here’s the bad news: I’m running out of unique author’s commentaries to write in the margins of each one.
So I’ve decided that the next five copies sold will be the last to receive author’s commentaries in them. These are behind-the-scenes details about the novel, the characters, and (mostly) the weird drinks. One, for instance, was about the influence of DFW; several others featured One Direction. No two have been the same. After these last five copies are sold, I’ll still gladly sign and personalize books for you, of course—but no more commentaries.
(FINE PRINT: The book costs $21.95 CDN, with free shipping within Canada. Add $5 for U.S. orders, and $15 for the rest of the world.)
I have five secrets left, in other words. Who wants to hear them?
I have one of these! Go get one of Michael’s final margin secrets!
“I wanted this shirt in remembrance of my beautiful Yorkie that died on March 29, 2013. (I know the print isn’t of a Yorkie). It doesn’t fit very well at my chest and rides up when I move because it’s silky, but I still love it and will be keeping it! RIP Noah!”—Do you love the Modcloth reviews as much as I do?
I have a small child, and I have to read in short spurts. I like "literary fiction" (though I don't particularly like that name), but I am open to other genres. Do you have any recommendations for good books that can be easily digested in bite-sized chunks?
This is my greatest fear about having a child. First of all, have you tried neglecting the child in order to read in longer chunks?
If that doesn’t work, I’d say you are in need of some good short story collections. The no-brainer here is George Saunders. Since you like literary fiction, you may have already read Tenth of December, his collection that came out earlier this year and made everyone who’s ever whined that Americans won’t read short stories look like a doof. I think it’s his best collection yet, but the ones preceding it are also great. Try In Persuasion Nation or Pastoralia. His work is darkly funny but also compassionate and human—a good combination for a parent. Also, some of his stories are quite short, also good for parents.
You know what else? What about novellas? We have been reading novellas in Classics Book Group this year and have gotten spectacular turnout as a result, in part thanks to parents who are able to finish them in time for the meeting. From what I can tell, the clear favorites so far have been Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley, Chess Story by Stefan Zweig, and The Diamond As Big As The Ritz by F. Scott Fitgerald. Parnassus would probably be particularly good for your needs here.
Another thing to consider is reading or re-reading a childhood favorite. Perhaps even out loud to your kid, depending on how little! I’d rank The Phantom Tollbooth above half of the literary fiction that crosses the transom.
This has been a #bookadvice post. I’m answering one #bookadvice question most days this month, and occasionally relying on the advice of other people, for reasons to be explained at a later date. Go ahead and post your own questions under the #bookadvice tag, or answer one. Or answer this one!
I wrote a mere paragraph in 2.5 hours, and a mediocre one at that. But I also did come up with a great idea for the internet: someone should draw their imagined versions of NPR reporters/hosts. I mean, I don’t know for sure, but Kai Ryssdal is hot as hell, right.
If you’re in Los Angeles, come get Library Store goodies, independent bookstore books from Skylight Books & hear Cynthia Cruz, Rob Roberge & Louise Mathias read. I’ll be reading a little something on the topic of psychedelics. Hope to see you there! www.rhapsodomancy.org for bios, details.
This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.