Monday, January 31, 2011


I'm not sure how to say this, but the whole word count thing is a sham.  I'd never tried it before, so how could I have known?  But, really?  I could sit and type the word accomplishment 5,150 times and report to you that number and look like some kind of bad-ass.  Not that I have.  I've been brutally honest here (as evidenced by my excruciatingly low word count.  Who would fake that?), but the point remains.  The number is meaningless.

In this job, attendance is really the only thing that counts.  You must show up, you must come with good intentions and you must stay until you cannot stay any longer.  There.  That's your job.  Because some days, when there is absolutely no word count, there has been lots of work.  But then I have to log in and 'fess up and I feel like a loser, when I should be feeling like a winner because--hey--I showed up.  Or, some days, when I know the word count is decent, I also know that I hate them all and they're getting deleted as soon as possible.  Then, I log in and feel like a poser.  Does it seem like I'm moving the goalposts?  Yeah, it does to me, too.  But, whatever.  I'm over the word count.  That's all I'm saying.

Image found on mrlomo's flikr page.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Word Count:  114

Mood:  Today I was discouraged.  Why can't writing just be writing?  Why does there have to be so much forethought?  I suppose on the best of days this forethought vanishes and there's just a clear path, without obstacles that look like gigantic piles of reasons why not.  Not a good choice, not a good metaphor, not an interesting setting, not an authentic action, not happy enough, not sad enough, not big enough, not small enough, not early enough, not late enough. . .Today was not one of those days.  Today felt like I was in one of those traffic rounds where you yield, wait, turn, yield, wait, turn. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Word Count:  Hard to say because I will skipping between three different manuscripts.  Going back in for edits, trying to find my way.  Thinking a lot about story and how it's so very different from life.  Like going from a solid straight to a liquid (I learned today that this is called sublimation.  Perfect, huh?)  It's kind of a perfect metaphor, I think.  Take the big solid, heavy chunks of life and sublimate them into a gorgeous, drinkable solution.  Chemistry for writers.

Reading:  Old Filth by Jane Gardam.  It's like a classier Ian McEwan.  All proper British country house blokes with loads of devilish secrets lurking underneath.  I love it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Word Count:  0

Mood:  It hurts to see it in black and white.  Here's what took precedence:  Loads of math, reading, writing & spelling work with T, sewing a thank you letter (?!?), Target, Parcheesi, nachos, email, filing, bills, and Pilates.  Hmmm.  Would you ever admit that list to your boss?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Word Count:   62

Mood:  I'm so glad you're a forgiving boss, who requires no dress code nor daily minimum.  Give youself a raise.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Word Count:  246

Mood:  Some books should come with warning labels.  The Unnamed should warn its readers:  This book is so devastating that you may cry until your whole face is wet and you feel both ashamed and elated that such genuine tears were prompted by paper and ink.  Joshua Ferris is not a writer to be messed with.  His prose is so confident, his vision so remarkable, his empathy so deep, he may actually be able to write us the fuck out of trouble.

I may need cucumber slices on my eyes in the morning.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Word Count:  103

Mood:  Sometimes it seems like we're our own biggest obstacles.  Get out of the way, Meg. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Word Count:  238

Mood:  During the carpool this morning, the world seemed so tender.  Maybe because of the weekend's events in Arizona, I felt a kind of communal heavy sigh as I passed a young red-headed office worker juggling her coffee and her keys on the way to her car for the early commute, a middle-aged man waiting for the bus and smiling at a pigeon cooing near his feet, a group of brave golfers carrying their clubs across a frosted green.  They all seemed to be struggling with the same kind of quiet disbelief of the pain we humans inflict on each other.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Word Count:  0

Mood:  I'm weepy and achy in my gut reading Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed.  It's devastating in all the best ways.  It captures life's sweetness and its cruelty with such poignancy that it will slay you.  These kinds of books (Lark & Termite, Let the Great World Spin, The Story of Lucy Gault) are either huge sources of inspiration, or the best argument for retirement, depending on the day.  Look at the number above and you'll see in which of those applies to me at the moment.  Does that count as a sick day, Boss?  Or, two?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Word Count:  138

Mood:  sunny (and there's no sarcasm in that, I swear).

PS Thanks, Boss, for the encouraging comment.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Word Count:  15

Mood:  #@%?!%Fifteen
Word Count:  251

Mood:  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . .

Blogger funked out on me last night so these numbers are for yesterday, January 5th.  Sorry, Boss.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Word Count:  169

Mood:  Really?

But here's this from an interview with Dave Eggers, aka King of the World, in the Guardian:

"I procrastinate worse than anybody.  Writing is so hard.  I need eight hours to get maybe 20 minutes of work done.  I had one of those yesterday:  seven hours of self-loathing."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Word Count:  218

Mood:  a wee bit lost, but it's not all bad

I've been plodding my way through more of The Great House.  It's an odd book.  It doesn't feel novelistic at all.  Which is strange because The History of Love was such a tight, fully realized novel.  This book almost feels like a series of monologues.  Like it should be on stage.  I'm determined to finish it, though. 

Sugar Fast:  Coincidence or not?  This morning at the ungodly hour of 6:30, though I was not happy to awaken, I was completely AWAKE once I put my feet on the floor.  This is highly unusual for me.  I usually trudge through the first 45 minutes of the morning as though walking through mud.  Hmmm.  But, chocolate is everywhere and there are several members of my own family who torture me with their cocoa breath.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I know a thing about caution.  As much as I love a good resolution, I am also a realist.  So here's what I have to say about today:  I spent a lot of time looking at cookie recipes.  Time that might otherwise have been spent, say, writing.  Why, you ask.  Well, because in addition to assigning you all the new job title of BOSS, I also decided to give up sugar for the month of January.  And who would have guessed--all I really want right now is just a little smidge of chocolate or a little crunch of a butter cookie.  Suddenly, I regret all the cookies I never ate.  Seriously, I didn't gorge myself enough!  I never took advantage of actually eating sugar when there was no rule against it!  Did I?  Oh, crimeny.  It's bad.  The Mister says it will only be a little bit WORSE tomorrow.  Really?  WTF?  If you're in the mood to drool, or if you are actually a sane Boss who can eat whatever the fuck you want because you don't bother with stupid resolutions and self-deprivations, then hop on over and make this recipe.  It's one that I stared at long and hard.  It's printed out beside me right now.  My mouth is watering.  How many days left in January?

Word count:  Zero

Mood:  Greedy

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reading Steven Millhauser's story in the New Yorker, "Getting Closer," was such a beautiful meditation on life and writing.  It resonated with me.  Often, the anticipation of writing, the collecting of ideas and images, is so full of promise--just like standing at the edge of the water, on the cusp of the perfect day you've imagined for so long.  

Word count:  249

Mood: cautious

making a change


Happy New Year!!

I'm using the first day of this year to make some changes to the blog.  No, it won't be prettier, wittier or wiser.  In fact, it may be less of all those things, if you can imagine.

I'm going to use this place as though it's my supervisor--so if none of you are interested in being the boss of a very sensitive writer struggling with her third novel, this may not be your cup of tea.  It could get ugly.  My plan is to check in DAILY with a weather report of sorts:  A page word count for the day, a general update of my writing mood, and maybe a little about what I'm reading and how it's influencing the work.  Capiche?