These are just a few of my incredible thoughts

My grandma has been telling me she wants to read a new blog post on here.

I started writing a general update, how Patrick and I have been traveling the past few weeks (as usual….) being in El Paso at the moment. Also how we spent last week in Wyoming and I saw some shit. Like, things that are seared into my brain forever. I could probably write a Stephen King-esque story based on the shit I saw.

Perhaps I shall tell that tale another day. (Or you’ll see it in the form of a paperback with a spooky font on the cover, who knows!)

Instead, due to some things I’ve seen on the internet today, I feel compelled instead to tell you why and how much I am sick of Thought Catalog and its ilk.

For those of you who, like Patrick earlier, are asking me, “WTF is Thought Catalog?”, it’s basically this: an online “magazine” that churns out a zillion shareable articles. But unlike Buzzfeed etc, it’s not as much silly lists or gif-fueled Reddit ripoffs (although those are still all over it)   as it is Pin-able, Facebook-y essays written by and aimed at Millennial women. (Whew, I am using so many interwebz words I’m getting dizzy.)

As much as I can barely stand the style (and, honestly, content) of Thought Catalog and similar sites, do I still sometimes get suckered into clicking a link to it? Yes. We all waste time on the internet. (Personally I’d rather waste mine giggling at doggo memes, but that’s neither here nor there.) Okay, so there’s that disclaimer.

Also I’d like to add that, as snobby as this rant compilation of thoughts is going to sound, I don’t fault anyone who writes for these sites. Writers gotta do what we gotta do. You get ’em, girl who wrote “Open Letter to the Best Friend I Don’t See Anymore”. I know you are probably actually a genius because you’ve figured out the voice they want and now you’ve got them tied around your little finger. You write on. We’ve gotta support each other. …Like how these sites should support writers by, like, actually paying them. Ahem.

What I’m saying is, I’m tired of these sites and their style of fake thoughtfulness. They feature essays that contain tons of line breaks, sentence fragments, and the same line repeated over and over for emphasis. They cover topics like travel and relationships with trendy prose and a brave veneer that’s supposed to inspire us as much as we’re inspired by pictures of girls doing yoga on giant rocks.

I know that some will say that’s just how it is nowadays. No one wants to really read anymore. Essays and articles nowadays have to be less than 500 words and have a title that’s a whole sentence for some reason. They have to be tagged, hashtagged, categorized, optimized, liked, shared, rehashed, recycled, and then write me another one tomorrow because this is apparently what Millennials want to read and paste all over their Facebook feed.

But I think we deserve more, and in fact, I think we desire more. Maybe some people want to read  weirdly condescending advice written in second person. But I think a lot of us would like to read an essay written by a real person, an essay that is– not vaguely, but inextricably– tied to a real experience. Something that goes beyond being “relatable” and actually makes us relate to other people.

~~~

As an afterword, I’d like to add that good stuff does exist. I’ve seen it, I’ve read it, and it was contemporary. Of course, that comes with a different batch of things I greatly dislike– I’ve been to some really weird open mic nights, people. (I have seen. some. shit. As I said before.) But that’s a whole different rant.

I suppose the main thing is that these “problems” are what spur me to write. On the days when I feel like I don’t have anything to say, or that what I say isn’t worthwhile or good enough, I think of how I very, very rarely see anyone else writing about the things I mull over most. Even when I do, it’s still not quite the same way I see it. And although I doubt my writing will ever perfectly get that down, I work toward getting as close as possible.

-Pen

PS: Okay, I definitely have to tell you about my weird experience in Wyoming, though.

 

Spring’s a girl in the street at night

Lately I can’t stop mentally singing “Dirty Old Town” even though until I looked it up, I knew only one verse. But anyway, that’s where the title of this post is from… Fitting for the moment as I continue to further– I don’t want to say explore, more like interact with— Denver as the weather jilts toward springlike. Although Denver isn’t dirty in the same way. It would be “slightly littered old town” or something.

I’m also interested in the song because it makes me think of how I am always trying to describe things, but I always try to describe them in this super deep way and I want to get it exactly right. It ends up sounding like Ray Bradbury on a nostalgia tangent. (We all know I love him but some of his stuff can get to be a bit much for me– Dandelion Wine? Like, cool it, man.) But when it comes to “Dirty Old Town”, I realize that you can actually write something very simple and people will overlay their own experiences onto it, and it will come out all right. Of course this is a simple concept that I knew on a conscious level, but have yet to grasp in my writing.

When I was younger, it was easier. I didn’t try as hard to convey exactly because I didn’t really understand how different others’ experiences were from mine. I thought, you can just write about the woods, describe the smell and maybe the tree bark and leave it at that. And you can! But now that I’ve been more places and met more people I feel this weird need to be like, “THIS IS THE EXACT WAY IT IS OKAY”. Basically, I need to relax.

I can write something as simple as, “I smelled the spring on the smoky air” and it doesn’t have to  be complicated.

Writers are all only one person with one set of senses. Which is why it’s important to be as observant, open, and deep-digging as we can; and in writing, to leave enough space around our narrow experience for a reader to stand in and see not only what we see but what they’ve seen and what we can both imagine.

Well, that ended up kind of philosophical… All from some Irish folk song that Patrick and I started to sing in a jokey way when we walked to Chipotle one night, striding past lampposts and construction signs and a fancy restaurant where a guy smoking outside looked up in surprise.

Then it got stuck in my head and I was left alone with my thoughts… and a blog. Oh dear.

-Pen

 

though my memory rusts, I will always see the icicle tusk.

So we were supposed to have this life-threatening winter snowstorm deep freeze thing today… but at the moment, it’s just extremely cold. Which is bad enough, okay, but seriously….?

People’s obsessions with weather used to annoy me, but then I got obsessed too. Or at least mildly interested, maybe because of my interest, always, in the atmosphere of everything. Some of the most lovely and interesting weather I have seen happens very late at night when Oliver has to drive me home and try not to crash. Fog, mist, rain, sleet, snow– movie-set snow, snow like moon dust or sand, and last night’s snow that seemed to hang in the air like fog, casting everything mysterious and white.

I don’t very much appreciate the atmosphere of danger that ice imparts, though.

Darn! I wanted a snow day, an excuse to drink excessive hot chocolate and lie around listening to records and reading books and maybe finally topping off the candles I made with Bug and Marie, which have been sitting in a box waiting patiently while I gallivant around in everyone’s Christmas break. “Yeah, you really need a break from… nothing,” Oliver said.

But it wasn’t a break! Actually, I think my brain has been more active lately than it’s been in ages. I’ve been reading every day, chewing my way through alleged classics and The Secret History (yum); I’ve been researching and gathering materials constantly for my current “Robots” story; I’ve been absorbing my surroundings better than ever, remembering more conversations, getting better at character sketches.

This probably still sounds like a break, actually, and I’m not saying that this was super difficult for me, or that any of this felt like work. But lately I keep remembering what someone in my writer’s group once said to me. She was talking about the advantages of keeping a journal as a writer, and she said that you start out just writing things down when you’re looking for inspiration, or when you’re waiting for the “grist”, as she called it. But then after a while you realize that you’re not writing stuff down while you’re waiting for the grist anymore; that stuff has become the grist. For me this isn’t all totally intentional, gathering grist– but thinking about that advice, I have become more aware of (and hopefully better at) the practice.

This probably also sounds like I’m all, “I’m taking time to focus on my Art” [*adjusts tortoiseshell glasses*], but… I did lie around a lot, too. Whatever.

started early, took my blog

Yesterday I thought to myself that I should once again try sending some poetry out to different magazines and such. So I got out the old Poet’s Market (well, actually, it wasn’t the old one– my library is very up to date, you know) and started going through.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

In the descriptions of what the magazines want, it’s always “we want the edgy, the avant-garde, the weird, bizarre, disturbing–” And then I skiiiiiip….

Or it’s “we want pieces that will make the reader _________.” Well, I can’t control other people’s actions or emotions. This is Basic Life 101. I mean, I can write something with a certain vibe, but how am I supposed to be certain that it will resonate in a certain specific way with someone? And isn’t part of the awesomeness of art that everyone can interpret things in their own way, that the same piece can be important to someone for totally different reasons than it’s important to someone else? (Or unimportant to someone else, as the case may be.) (“Important… Unimportant….” as the King of Hearts would say.)

And then they give tips like: “Send only your best work.” Seriously? I guess these people must have gotten submissions that were hand-written in pencil on a greasy napkin. Because they also say things like, “We want works of great literary and artistic value”. It seems to me that writers are constantly doubting themselves (I certainly am), so of course we don’t think of our stuff as being Literature. We don’t picture ourselves as marble busts in splendorous libraries with those rolly-ladder things. (Especially because how would we write anything, seeing as we’d lack hands?) So when you say that, magazines, you’re going to discourage the down-to-earth writers who just write, and get submissions from Poets who Write Poetry. 

But I think the problem is not just with literary magazines. The problem isn’t even just with people’s current attitude toward art, like you have to be a breathy, bespectacled Artist and create things that no one can understand but that people in the know will pick apart and interpret into something meaningful. I think the problem lies with poetry itself, with art itself these days. I’m not going to cry about bygone eras (except when I think of all the lovely frocks I could wear if I had a time machine). And I’m all for new stlyes and being less rigid (Lord knows I never could write a decent haiku). But I feel like we’ve gotten to a point where not only would Tennyson or Frost or Yeats or Dickinson or Thomas never be published– they rhyme, how trite!– but no one with anything new will be, either. People think poetry is either this:

I like birds
and I rhyme words
cuz I’m a poet
and now you’ll know it!

Or this:

the
tomato
rots
on the window-
                              sill.

Which, yeah, rhymey-rhymey poetry is dumb, and the second one sounds poetic or metaphorical. But where’s the imagery? Where’s the… Where is this windowsill anyway? What are you doing while the tomato’s rotting? And why should I care?

And what’s wrong with rhyming, anyway, when it’s done well? Anyone ever heard one of the million examples I could pull out of my brain/the interwebs if I had more time? Rhymes are, in my opinion, more fabulous than non-rhyming when the rhyming makes it sound like that’s the only way you could possibly say, well, whatever they say.

And I like them. So there.

Poetry isn’t writing a bunch of Poetic-sounding things and then chopping the lines up so it sounds even more meaningful, okay?

Poetry is…
Um.

I could say, “Poetry is something that moves your soul” or something like that, but I won’t. Sometimes I don’t feel as much soul-moved by poetry as “Well, that was really cool.” And what’s wrong with that?

If “poetry, like bread, is for everyone”, then who cares if I like to eat mine with butter?

~Pen

It’s beginning to look a lot like… an utter failure on the part of nature to deliver an actual winter.

All I want for Christmas is SNOW.
I will aslo accept:
slush,
sleet,
brooding gray clouds,
marrow-clenching cold,
or a combination of the above.
So, yeah, hint-hint, you guys. Better get cracking on that, because so far it pretty much still looks like October. It’s already St. Nicholas Day, didn’t you know. (And I already snarfed the chocolate coins I found in my shoes this morning. I can’t control myself around those things. Shiny! Tasty! We must have the precious!) 

Hey, speaking of preciouses, I finally got my hands on Reached, the sequel to the fab book Matched (I am pretending Book Two never happened. Although it did help me learn something about myself: I can’t handle guys with issues. Sorry, I just don’t get the whole brooding + depressed = attractive thing. I mean, Rochester has issues, and he can be brooding sometimes– partly because that’s just his face– but he’s also teasing and independent and he doesn’t give in to melodrama. And seriously, if a guy in a GOTHIC NOVEL doesn’t do melodrama, then what the heck is your problem, Ky and that soldier guy and Arthur Clennam who I secretly love anyway?)

Ahem. Back to what I was saying… I finished Reached today after getting it last night. (Basically, I behave the same way around shiny new books as I do around shiny coin chocolate. Omnomnom.) It was not as good as Matched, which I obviously expected, but it was much more like Matched than book two was. So it made me happy.
It was also so good, good, good to sink my teeth into a book that’s not a classic, that’s not an “adult” book, that’s not something I want to nitpick or something I grabbed out of desperation. I just let myself enjoy this, you know? Classics can be enjoyable, but they require work to get through– I don’t mean “boo-hoo, they made me think!”, I mean “ouch my brain why why why are your sentences so wordy, Dickens?” Time and the evolution of the English language makes reading some classics hard. (To use Jane Eyre again, I initially rolled my eyes at that book every time it said “unclosed” instead of “opened”. But then I got into it, and I loved it so much, and also Eliza wrote a poem inspired by it that used the word “unclosing”, and I just couldn’t hate it after that.) I think some people believe that “easy reading” is for wimps or lazy consumers or the uneducated mass market or whatever. But you know what? Writers work so hard to write well, to make everything correct and clear and beautiful. They forge the same sentences over and over until it’s perfect. And then– they make it so you don’t see those words that they worked so hard over. They make it so that you see only the story. It’s hard to make it easy.
Plus, wouldn;t you rather puzzle about the meaning of the story– and by extension, the meaning of life!, says the hipster on my left shoulder– than the meaning of a sentence?

OK, well, I didn’t mean to go into a rant there… See what literature does to my brain?

Anyway. Hmm.

Oh, yes.

So, the other night we were watching “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because it was on TV. By we, I mean: Dad, Poncho, and me. We were kind of sitting there in quiet bemusement, because the movie is so weird. I never noticed how weird when I was a kid (I always liked “The Little Drummer Boy” better, anyway), but, okay. Everyone in the movie is mean, especially Santa Claus, and Rudolph’s mom doesn’t even have a name. (Also the snowman is a Communist, according to Poor Bill.)
Then Mom came in towards the end of the movie, right when there’s a big snowstorm and they’re going to “cancel Christmas”.
Me: “So this is the movie that started that idiocy.”
Mom: “I don’t know if they started it, or just jumped on the bandwagon.”
Santa: “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Mom: “So basically, Santa’s a total jerk to you until you have something he needs.”
Rudolph: Of course” (or whatever he said to the affirmative)
Mom: “Jeez, Rudolph has some boundary issues. He should’ve been like, ‘Screw you, Santa!'”
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA”
Later…
Mom: “I’ve always felt that way about that movie, and I’ve never been able to express myself.”
Me: “Well, it’s true. I mean, Santa never has a change of heart in this movie. He gets fat, but he’s still mean. Also do you find it weird that Rudolph’s mom’s name is literally Mrs. Donner?”
Mom: “Yeah, kinda…”
Me: “And only the boy reindeer can fly, apparently? I mean, do not tell me that all of Santa’s reindeer are supposed to be boys. There’s girl names in the song. You know Dasher and Comet and Cupid and… uh…”
Dodge: “Well, they all have antlers.”
Mom: “Girl reindeer have antlers, too!”
Dodge: “No they don’t….”
Mom:
Dodge:
Me: “BAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
(Can you tell that “later” meant “after midnight”?)

Well, then I went to help “Saint Nick” get a certain present ready. It involved funneling fake snow into a glass ornament. The brand of artificial snow was called Rainbow Snow. But I mis-read it as “Raining Snow”.
Me: “Look, mommy, it’s raining snow outside! Ahahahahahahaha–”
Mom: “Har.”

Yeah, if only it were raining snow…

Yours till the snow flakes (DO YOU HEAR ME UP THERE! I SAID SNOW!!!),
Pen

red and gold and green and blue

It used to annoy me how people would talk about how beautiful fall is. Yes, yes, we all know, pretty leaves. Snore.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am gazing out the window in awe. Cloudy, rainy, foggy, cold, and/or dim fall days are awesome, perfect for stories. But these cloudless clear ones bring back waves of memories, not inspiration. The blazing red trees against the bluest sky this city ever sees stops me in my tracks (or trains of thought) and re-routs them down memory lane.

Poncho: “Hey look. I turned it into a cube.” As he holds out some chewed gum to me. It is, indeed, shaped like a cube.

Brothers.

But even with it bein’ fair and sunny weather, I do feel strangely inspired for one of my current, sort-of-started projects. (Is it weird that I find it just as difficult to tell when a novel is started as when it’s finished? My process is kind of… um. Not very process-y.) It’s the most “realistic” story I’ve ever thought up so far, straying perhaps completely out of the realm of fantasy and more into the realm of whatever Jane Eyre is, minus the Gothic stuff, with other stuff to replace it. (I know, that was the best elevator pitch ever.)

This story idea kind of scares me because sometimes, you start a story and it’s all la-la-la, happy day– HEY WRITER, GUESS WHAT? And then it throws things at you. 

Let me tell you a little story. (There is a point to all this babbling, I promise.) Ahem. Once upon a time, I was forced to play sports thanks to the lovely institution called School, which I used to be trapped inside. Sports, I thought, were fun, but not for me. Because in sports, the player is faced with a choice as the ball (or Frisbee) sails through the air.

Choice A: Catch it.

Choice B: This. 

Yes. That is me, re-enacting every encounter with flying objects I’ve ever had.

And so, you see, I was not very good at sports. If it was coming right to me, I would leap out of the way. So there was definitely no way in heck I was going to leap into the path of the flying object in order for it to hit me to catch it.

Little did I know that there would be things thrown at me in writing, too. But unlike actual sports, there is no gravity in storyland. Once you get over the cringe reflex, you can still pluck it out of the air and decide what to do with it.

So I’m trying to decide what to do with the fact that this story says it wants to be, in fact, Ohioan. That’s right. It wants to take place right. here.  

What does that even mean? How can I even tell if it’s actually Ohioan? I mean, what do I know about Ohio, it’s not like I live–
Oh right. That’s right. I’m Ohioan.

So why do I feel like if I write it that way, it’ll be doomed?
a) Unlike Fantasy World, real people live in Ohio. People older and wiser and more knowledgeable than me. And maybe it won’t seem right to them!

Ah, but the key here: Perspective. Of course it can’t and won’t be “correct”. It might not even be close to what other people see/know/think about this place. But I guess I can let dear old POV take the blame/credit (whatever the case may be).

So, I think the project is a go. Despite my inherent fears.

Also, I know nothing about horses.
Guess what? 
There’s a big old horse right smack in the heart of the story.

The good news is that my other story, A City With Bears, is slowly breaking out of the idea-stage cocoon. And since other things I know nothing about– trains and streetcars– play a pretty big part in it, I am taking a writing field trip this weekend to a Train and Streetcar Museum! Hurrah! I’ll get to ride a real streetcar! 

Check that off the Life Dreams list. (It’s the one right below Live Next to Train Tracks. Thanks, 112th Street Garden, for that inspiration. You’re pulling carrots and then wwwwwwoooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo the train goes by so close you can see the color of the driver’s eyes. Dizzying and exhilarating and, the first time, a little scary.) 

Grand!

I think I shall go enjoy this unbearably lovely day outside.

Yours till the iron horses,
Pen

I never saw a moor, I never saw the sea

but I know what heather looks like / and what a wave must be…

Actually, I do know what heather looks like, but I don’t know how it smells or how tall it would be if I stood in it or how it looks when it’s dead and snowed on or does it even get snowed on at all and if it’s soft and what noise it makes when wind or footsteps go over it. 

I have a little better knowledge of waves, as I have visited a particular Great Lake on several occasions, but it’s not the sea and it doesn’t smell like salt. It kind of smells like sweaty water and whatever fishing bait is being used nearby. Besides, it’s hard to smell when you’re being blinded by the glare of the sun off the lake and the concret you’re sitting on, and you’re distracted by herons that your brother is feeding heat-stroked minnows to.

It’s hard to reasearch things on this disorganized network of inaccurate information we fondly call the internet. And I keep having to look up things for White Funeral, like different types of sailboats and rowboats and docks and tides and… The list goes on.

But there are things I do know. I know the twenty-nine different types of snow, the feel of cold wind down the back of my neck,  months where the difference between day and night is just the sky changing shades of gray. The moon being so huge and orange and low on the horizon that it seems to be asking for someone to try and climb onto it. (Which is how it looked last night, and I wished I was out in an open field so I could chase after it, or just stare and stare without streetlights polluting my view).  

 Well, speaking of things never seen, I am leaving this weekend for… Kentucky! I will be surrounded by wilderness, and I will see mountains, and (best part) I’m going with the DHFs! I think it will be awesome as long as it doesn’t turn out like a cliche TV show, where the one character gets invited to go camping or something and they show up in a pretty dress with some technological device in hand. (Not that I don’t know how to pack; Eliza has given me a helpful list, and I’ve gone camping plenty of times. It’s just a weird phobia I have, I guess.)

In other news, today was like a giant time-warp because I had to go to the dentist and get my hair cut. And then it was like oh wait, the day is completely over. Sigh. I never want to sit in another waiting-room chair for as long as I live. (Unfortunately, some dreams really are unattainable.) Now I have to get some writer’s group stuff together, and go to bed. (Instead, I’m half-watching The Voice and writing this. I justify blogging because it’s already been some time since my last post and I assume I will not be back here until I’m home from Kentucky. How do I justify watching some lame singing show? Yeah. There’s really no excuse.)

sparrows in the holly bush

Well, I don’t have much to say, but it’s been FOREVER since I blogged and I hate to be away so long.
So.
Here I am.

So much has happened between Christmas and now that I feel like I have to catch up. Christmas was awesome, obviously, and New Years was extremely lame (Mom says we need to come up with a new tradition– I vote for playing games because…) my birthday was SUPER FUN and it involved going to the park, eating delicious food, being with my friends, and playing Spot It with my family. Grandpa kept shouting “whale!” for the dolphin, and it was so fun playing games with everyone. I also got a birdfeeder for my bedroom window (no birds have found it yet even though some sparrows live in a holly bush literally five feet away).Oh, and we had cookies.

Being seventeen is waaaaaaay more enjoyable (so far) than being sixteen. I don’t know why; I just felt like at sixteen there were somehow all these societal expectations– driving, working, being a grownup yet a typical teenager. I hated telling people I was sixteen! But now, I’m seventeen and I feel like the pressure is off– if I’m not driving now I must be waiting until eighteen and the same with everything else. I’m in an in-between age where nothing in particular is expected of me and I love it. (Perhaps that is why I loved being fifteen as well…. So nineteen must be my next fun age. Hm.) I feel like I have the freedom to “stretch” and evolve at my own pace and not rush into things just because I’m now old enough for it.

I wish I could vote, though. (Not that citizens get to vote on anything important [cough, SOPA/PIPA].)

The other main thing that I have been doing lately is writing. I am so excited about the way that White Funeral is shaping up. It’s different from the original in many ways, yet I feel like it’s closer to the original concept. Things haven’t really changed, it’s just that I understand them better now. So things that I’m adding are things that I feel were in the original, just not fully revealed or explored. I’m really having fun unveiling things, and feeling like, “oh, that’s what I really meant when I said that”. Sometimes I think my subconscious writes and I just try to follow along.

Oh, and one more thing: I taught my dog Lily to speak! (I mean bark on command. If she was really holding conversations with me I would have mentioned it earlier.) Anyway, she does the trick perfectly… unless other people are watching.
Me: “Dad, watch, I taught the dog to speak.”
Dad: “Wow, she learned English? When did that happen?”
Me: “Noooooo… You know what I mean.”
Dad: “She does that too much already.”
Me: “No. She’s a good doggie! Lily, wanna treat?”
Dad: “Too much noise…”
Me: “Lily! Lily! Sit. Good. Speak!”
Lily: ………. *tail wagging*
Me: “Speak!”
Lily: …………*staring hungrily at treat*
Me: “Lily, speak!”
Lily: ………. *squirms*
Me: “Speak, Lily! Speeeeeak!”
Lily: “woof-BARK!”
Dad: “Wow. Amazing.”
Lily: *sneezes on me*
Me: “Thanks…”

…and I could smell the milky moon and the hardness of stars.

The above title is the last line I read last night before I went to sleep. From Ray Bradbury’s The Rocket Man. I really don’t care for space, or rockets, or anything of that sort, but I like The Golden Apples of the Sun and the many stories contained therein. The Exiles is my favorite, but I also like The Murderer and There Be Tygers. He generally has a good writing style, and sometimes he comes up with a line or two that I can almost taste. Such as the one I mentioned above. It’s like literary M&M’s.

I’m really jealous of him, though, for having the ability to write so many short stories– enough to make a book out of. I’ve written maybe three short stories, one novelette, and I’m in the process of novelette #2. Novelettes are UNSELLABLE, I tell you. I just spent the last hour and a half scouring websites of small presses, literary magazines, agents, whatever– and guess what? White Funeral fits nowhere.

Leave it to me to write completely outside all acceptable forms and genres.

Now, I know that Apricotpie is… well, “Apricotpie”, as the DHFs and I say. (When we want constructive criticism, we say, “Don’t be Apricotpie”, because AP tends to give great encouragement while lacking the critical side. Which is not a bad thing; when you’re in the middle of something, you sometimes need a group of people cheering your story on unabashedly.) But anyway… I still wonder, How can all these people think that White Funeral should be published, and all these people really like it, and yet no one will publish it? Just based on length, they won’t even look at it.

I don’t understand why novelettes and novellas are so apparently unaccepted. Sure, they’re not mainstream, but maybe they would be if they could actually get published. Maybe it would be nice to pick up a thin volume once in a while. To read a story in one day, in a few hours. To pick something up and read it, the core of a story– only just enough background, just enough characters. Short plots can take twists, too, you know; and maybe not every YA fantasy has to fit into the same cookie-cutter mold of 80,000 word tome.

Even the Comic Sans publisher guy won’t accept anything shorter than 50,000.
That’s just depressing.

And literary magazines? Well, their guidelines are even harder to follow. Most of them want the quirky, the strange, the offbeat– which, you’d think, perfect. But the storyline of White Funeral is pretty straightforward, not weird enough, not cutting-edge or contemporary. It’s only the format, the length of it that’s bizarre. And besides, there are about 3 YA literary magazines. Wow. Great odds there.

I’m about to give up. 

Except not.

Because I still have some faith left in White Funeral. And a lot of faith left in readers. Real people in the real world want good stories. Period. 

At least, I hope so.

“I figured out what my problem is”

Over the last few days I’ve spent basically all my spare time (and some time that wasn’t) working on my submission for my writers’ group this month… Just finished last night. I work surprisingly well under pressure. Well, when it comes to writing at least. If I have a real deadline (not one I make up myself), then I don’t let myself procrastinate or get stuck, because even if you’re stuck you still have to write something. I had a goal– ten pages– and I reached it in, oh, four days. A near-record for me, I think. It’s a little embarassing to admit that I let writers’ block get to me until the last moment, but I figured out what my problem is, as I told Mom at least 70 times during this process.

Well. Anyway. So that’s why I pretty much vanished from the internet for a few days. In the meantime, of course, a few other things have happened… The youth group saga got interesting and that’s all I’ll say about it…
I re-read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and was floored once again by how well-written it is. I could write a whole thesis on that book, I tell you. I mean, she doesn’t impersonate Alpha until page 236. Speaking of Alpha, when they’re up on the widow’s walk, he thinks that her neglected positive words are funny. I didn’t even catch that part of the conversation before, or I didn’t remember it, or something. But it’s great. Because it makes you realize that… well, it makes you realize something. The only thing I don’t like, reading it this time, is that she doesn’t dump Matthew. I see why she couldn’t, the plot wouldn’t work out if she did, and I get why she didn’t (she didn’t want to lose all the Bassets and be ignored like Star was) but STILL. I would have dumped him. Sorry. 
Would Alpha have respected her more if she dumped Matthew?
I think he was a little disappointed in her for just going quietly along with him. For not sticking up for herself. For not being… For not eating the whole frozen custard. There. By letting Matthew dictate her personality, she wasn’t eating the whole frozen custard. She was giving half of it away to some boy. In the pizza shop, Alpha sounded disappointed when he kept making the frozen custard references and insinuating that Frankie wouldn’t really fight for what she wanted. He thought she would just give the frozen custard away and dash off as soon as her mother called.

So that leads me to the whole character development thing.
Frankie was the giver of frozen custard in the beginning of the book, right? She compromised. But then she impersonated Alpha and all that, bleh bleh bleh. Which makes her, at the end of the book, a fighter. She became who she truly was– or did she? Was doing that all just to impress Alpha, make him respect her? The reader might wonder.
BUT.
Then, at the very very end, the author shows us that Frankie really DID change. She’s no longer looking for respect or admiration from Alpha. She no longer cares about his approval, or anyone else’s but her own.
Because when he messages her–
She.
Doesn’t.
Reply.

I swear. That book is GENIUS. Right there. Proof before your eyes, people! As Eliza would say. ;)

And none of that probably made any sense outside of my head. Whatever. It’s still awesome.

Peace,
Pen