Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time Marches On....

.......and I'm finally pretty much back to normal (or what passes for it around here). I discover that I experienced the same kind of thing I go through if I'm away from home for a long time (which, for me, is three weeks MAX): to wit, it takes me a few days to reorient myself to routine (or what passes for it around here). I'm making a note to myself in my NaNoWriMo book so that I'm prepared for that next year. Did you catch that? "NEXT YEAR" ! The first time is sort of a dress-rehearsal as I see it. Next year I think even the rough draft might be a little more polished. So what's happened since my last post?

First - it snew. The first Proper Snow of the season, I'd have to say, as it resulted in a Snow Day - well, two for us because we weren't scheduled the second day anyhow. Oh, I'm sympathetic to folks who have to drive in bad conditions, &c. My son is a semi driver; my daughter has to get to work. There were many years when I worked at University Hospitals, and I don't have to mention that hospitals don't close, for weather or anything else. I also worked at the University, and even when every elementary, middle and high school in town are closed, the University does not. I think it's closed maybe twice on twenty years.

But the Museum did close (our school groups from out of town cancelled in any event - and I'm just as glad. I wouldn't want to see a school bus coming from out of town in bad weather). So all the kiddies in town were out sledding and playing, and I? Curled up on the couch with a cuppa in one hand, book in the other, knitting and cat in my lap - and probably a shit-eatin'grin. Part-way through the afternoon - a nap. I always was pretty good at the Power Nap (I could doze through a 15-minute break, did me a world o' good at work) but now that I am of Advancing Age I do a masterful, luxurious, elegant nap.

NOTE: that's how they feel ... I'm probably splayed out in a most unattrative manner snoring and drooling. If so - and you know of it - spare me, I don't want to hear about it. Nevermind.

Last week a few of us NaNoWriMo Winners had a celebratory and festive wrap-up party! It was also modest, but then - we are novelists, and at this point none of us have Newbury awards, Nobel prizes or movie deals.

I'd reserved a room in the Memorial Union (I can do that, for free, on account of I am a Lifetime Member) and we arranged to meet midafternoon on Saturday. The room I booked is called "The Board Room", and it's on the 3rd floor. It's a smallish room, has a conference table and chairs in it, and a water cooler; there's a chalkboard on one wall. HOWEVER!! It also had two (count 'em, 2) pianos, not that there was room for dancing; there were three trashcans, two full of empty chili bowls and the effluvia of an earlier meal, and the water cooler bottle was nearly empty.

FURTHERMORE (and I'll issue a warning here - Wrathful Feisty Old Broad Ahead!!) they were holding the Hoofers' Ski Sale. No worries, it's an annual and very popular event, they sell off their used equipment for cheap. But this had a negative impact on the NaNo Celebration: when Becky and I took the elevator up to third floor (remember me? "advancing age"?) there was a table pushed across the elevator opening ! Can you say "Call the ADA"? We just moved it, and went around to our room. There were also three people sitting on chairs at the stairwell, to keep folks from coming up or going down - you see, there was a big huge fear that thousands of people would storm the place and run off with stolen merchandise. Folks - we're talking SKIS here. SNOWBOARDS. Frankly, if a kid can conceal a pair of skis and poles (and probably boots)....even under a thick North Face down vest - heck, I say let 'em have them, and I want to watch. Talk about material for a novel!

I went to find the Floor Supervisor and apprised her of the problem. The result? We had a fresh bottle of water almost instantly. The Troll on the Table, however, still refused to let us use the elevator to go down - he told us(grudgingly) that he'd let us out of the elevator coming up, but (and this is a direct quote, with Becky and the gods as my witnesses): "You're both able-bodied, you can walk down."

My father was famous for his brilliantly-written Letters of Dissatisfaction; we called them the "Sidney S. Goldish Three-Page Letters", and you didn't want one. A nasty Speech teacher of mine in high school got one - and he apologized to me, at some length, in front of the whole class for his ill-chosen words earlier the week. Now, I consider myself a Writer, and I'm told now and then that I'm pretty fair at it. I do pride myself on having inherited the SSGTPL gene, and I am SO writing one to the Union Directorate. Just sayin'.

Anyway, there were just five us of (I can only assume that the other local winners were still lying comatose in front of their laptops or desktops), and *I*, at least, had a very nice time!

Personalized NaNo Winners' Cake!!

Now, there's nothing like comestibles to add some Happy to a gathering anyway. I went down (in search of pizza, but there warn't none) and brought up some nachos for the masses (OK, I admit it, I was looking for another excuse to use the elevator) -- but then Becky went and got HER offering. Have you EVER??

DETAIL: there is a NOVEL on the cake!! How cool is that?

Notice the detail - it's a tiny BOOK! Furthermore, this cake not only had all the requirements for a Perfect Treat Celebrating a Major Event - it was so far beyond "delicious" as to defy description. It had light, buttery cake, and between the layers a thick, rich strawberry layer. Sometimes when cakes are this beautiful, and even when they have fillings like that, sometimes the frosting isn't so great. They go for texture so they can make nice flowers and stuff. But HOLD THE PHONE! This was actually really-truly buttercream frosting. So along with the appearance, which you can see for yourself, the flavor was incomparable.

When I eat cake, I like to take a bit and then breathe a little bit, you know? So you get the fragrance of it as well as the taste. And I'm here to tell you - that was just awfully wonderful. Becky - THANK YOU, in ten languages! The room was a little dismal, the trolls outside a disappointment - but the cake made up for everything.

And guess what? That wasn't even the best part! (Embarrassing Admission: I'm terrible with names. Terrible. So - when I say "Linda" - I hope that was her name. I remember James, and Becky, and Mary {Marie?} -- and I *think* "Linda". Forgive me, I'll improve but for now, I'll call her "Linda") Oh - and if any of the others know, and see this - could you let me know? There ARE drawbacks to Advancing Age........

Anyway, Linda had a good idea: we'd each read a bit from our novels, just three minutes' worth or so, and talk about them. So we did, and I was struck by similarities in our very diverse stories - a few of us had moonlight, and there was an uncommon richness of imagination and language. FURTHERMORE - hey, three minutes is not enough. I want to hear MORE of all of 'em! (Also, I hadn't anticipated that, or I'd have dug out some bits that I thought were a little better than what I had at hand.)

Anyway - the upshot is that we're hoping to begin to meet regularly, more like a regular critique group - like read more like 10 pages each time to comment on. Can't get but a little taste in three minutes. That's like dipping a pinky in the gravy for a taste when there's a whole huge fragrant roast joint on the table. I don't know about y'all, but I want a SLICE! So that's the plan, and I'm excited. It's going to have to wait until "after the holidays"......but it sure is something to look forward to in the new year!

Otherwise: my Writers' Group really liked my little story about the ill little girl and the teddy bear - and I've decided that I AM going to go back over my novel to see if anything is salvageable.

Normal Life (or what passes for it around here) resumes!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

School's Out!

Doesn't this just say it all??

And now what? I really do feel like school's out! I find myself thinking "OK, the dishes are done, now I can get in a little more writing.......oh, wait! It's DONE!" and dare I say it? I miss it! What I need to do establish the routine of writing regularly for my regular writing now. And I think I'll be able to do that, because it really is just about habit to go into the writing room at 10:30 pm and get to work.

SO what did I win? See above! And the feeling of just letting it all spew out, and then, like an archaelogist, attacking it with a little brush and getting rid of the crap.

I *still* haven't started at the beginning and read it straight through, but I'm about it, and then print it out so I can more easily circle the good bits and cross out the roughage. I'm hoping that, after I do that, there'll be enough shards left to put into a good story. (I still like the bit where she nurses the baby, which was cool because she never gave birth. Pretty clever.) Hopefully there'll be more bits like that.

Oh, and to all my fellow NaNoWriMos who crossed the finish line: MAZEL TOV!! We are now all genuine novelists! Next step: submission, publication - and negotiating for film rights!