Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bon Voyage, Fusty!

Fusty is moving! Exciting, no? You will find me at Shy Oyster, . Come visit. I've only just moved in. You know how that goes: boxes everywhere, furniture crowded together in odd places, paintings leaning against the walls, nothing in the refrigerator.

So please excuse the mess and come on over! I'll still be just me, but you can't have everything, right? :-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Squish! Under the Foot of the Giant

I can add nothing intelligent to the Google takeover of the literary universe, so there is no need for you, dear reader, to wait for my keen insight. There isn't one. Mostly, I just want to squeeze my eyes tightly shut and wish the conundrum away. But that's not possible. And it's not a question of That Awful Google, which is also hosting this blog, though I do worry a bit about any company worth billions that innocently states, Don't Be Evil. Sure, that and five dollars will buy you a great piece of real estate in Florida. No, if it wasn't Google it would be some other giant word-sucking digital vacuum cleaning up after authors.

And, to quote the character played by Mel Gibson in Signs (one of my favorite movies of all time, though perhaps not for the reasons one might think,) "It might be good. Might be bad." Yup, the space aliens have landed and writers are doomed. Or maybe not. (This is where I am not intelligent. I have no idea whether the Google Settlement, should it be approved, will ultimately be good for writers or not. I get a headache just thinking about it.)

But Google has put writers in the interesting position of having to re-claim their own work. To wave their collective hand in the air and say, "Yes, the work you have just stolen is mine, and thank you so much for screwing me over and giving me a few dollars for my efforts. We're just so darned grateful!" What's not to love?

You, dear reader, have probably detected a tone of cynicism in my words. Yes, it is there. But still, I am open to the vacuum-suck that is going on, because the Powers of the Universe, i.e., Google and lovers of all things digital, or LOATDs, (as opposed to those who consider consequences before they hit accept) have agreed that what's mine is theirs and proceeded as such, and, as an author, whatcha gonna do? I don't think Ghost Busters can help.

But it would have been nice of The Google to ask first. Really. The Glorious Future that you, Dear Google, have envisioned might indeed come to pass, and I might end up a happy participant. But you didn't play nice, and you took stuff that wasn't yours. Miss Manners would be horrified.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I am taking a break from my project today, which is cleaning my office/writing room. Rather, I'm giving myself permission to take a break, having realized that I won't finish this very major operation by dinner, by sunset, by bedtime, or even by daybreak tomorrow. I hate leaving a mess, but then my office was a mess to begin with, so really, what's the difference? Dust and clutter are my long-time companions. In fact, they never seem to want to go home. Oh, right. This is their home.

Eventually, my office will look better, but apparently not today.

Which makes me think about "better." The person and writer that I am is plagued with the notion that I must do "better." Clean better, work better, write better, tech better, blog better, be better. There is a deep panic over the feared truth that I am not better at any of these things and will never be--i.e., I am therefore, by default, a failure. Old bit of mental garbage, there. Still, it's a live electric wire in my mind.

Here at Fusty, though, I will just refer to the part about write better, as goodness knows no one else would be interested in the other ways in which I stumble around in a state of unbetter.

I know I am not alone in facing the "better" conundrum. Many writers (though not, of course, all) are plagued with uncertainty, with the belief that if only they were better writers, all would be well. Which could possibly be true. It doesn't hurt to have some spit and shine to your words.

But there is a wider aspect, a deeply-held belief that we (the other writers who share this concern) do not and will never add up. Will never be special, in a writing kind of way.

One issue is that some writers are simply better writers than we are. A painful but true fact. There is always someone out there whose words sparkle in a way yours don't. [Insert expletive here.] By way of encouragement, I feel this true for everyone, even the successful.

Another issue is the fact that the competition for getting published, for being recognized in any way, for winning awards, for being paid money for your work, for even being read at all, is so absolutely ferocious. Armies have nothing over writers, when it comes to clashes in the night.

By which I don't mean we aren't a friendly bunch, at least on the surface, as for the most part we are. But rather we (the uncertains) know deep in our hearts that you either make it or you don't, and your success has little to do with good writing. Though good writing doesn't hurt. Though you can also be a good writer and still get nowhere. Not to say that those who do get somewhere aren't good or excellent writers, as many of them are.

Is this confusing enough for you?

In a winner-takes-all publishing world, if you are not a winner, what are you? Something? Nothing? Anything at all?

This is not to get into a big boo-hoo over the hard life of being a wordsmith, but rather to wonder how to survive such a harsh landscape. I haven't quite figured it out myself, though I have been trying for several years now. I do, most of the time, walk on firmer emotional ground than I used to, which is good, as being a writer can include a lot of weeping-and-wailing time. At least for the uncertains.

Maybe the "better" I need to concentrate on is just being better at not being so freaked-out and discouraged all the time. That feels like a paltry goal, though, compared to fame and riches.

Maybe I need to just concentrate on being better at cleaning my office.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sparkle! Sparkle!

Someone recently suggested I think about what might have happened to my books if they had been written by a current famous award-winning young adult novelist. At first I just chuckled, then thought, hmm. So I pulled on this famous author's sparkly celebrity jacket--nice buttons! shiny pockets! tassels!--and had some fun.

First, of course, my books soared in both popularity and critical acclaim. Amazon practically toppled over from the sudden weight of my fameiness. And the fans! I could barely keep up with my e-mail. Librarians drooled over me so much I feared for my sparkly jacket. And boy-o-boy the invitations! I received invites to speak at ALA, BEA, ALAN, MLA, and NSA, plus I received every state award in the U.S. of A.. And, need I say the word? Printz. Australia anointed me with a specially created, "Magnificent American Author" award, and, world-wide, teens in every country begged for me to grace their MySpace and Facebook pages, if not their shores. So I did all that.

By the time I got home, though (exhausted, in need of a nap) and hung my sparkly jacket in the closet, I knew it was time to eat a big slice of reality pie. (Never my favorite. I prefer apple.)

If this said famous author had written my books, instead of the ones said famous author actually wrote, well, maybe said famous author would not have ended up so famous. Or, if I had written said famous author's books instead of my own, they might have ended up awardless and without acclaim, tossed unloved onto the remainder heap of that long good night. Face it, the personality of the author has a lot to do with his or her success in the world. (Excuse me a moment while I shed a tear over my own personality. Or, as some might put it, the lack thereof.)

So, when I finished my pie, I knew I had to return the sparkly celebrity jacket to its rightful owner. (Drat. Plus I had to send it to the cleaners first. Sparkles cost buckets of $$ to clean! And lets not talk about tassels.) Still, I have no regrets. I will always cherish the memory of my books laughing in the sun, basking in the warmth of the world's embrace, blushing at being hailed as masterful achievements, giggling with delighted embarrassment when their naked covers turned up on You Tube.

A girl's gotta dream.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Uppity Downity

I'm flapping and flopping around in a big puddle of anxiety. I hate it when that happens, as it's terribly uncomfortable. I'm just anxious about (flap flap flop) pretty much everything at the moment, but I will try to focus on one specific.

Nothing new, of course, just my currently dim author aura. (Low wattage, that one.) I am not commercial enough, either in my work or in my aspect, to attract attention. So, dim dim dim it goes.

But I don't want to dwell on it or get the self-sorries. Mostly I just want to comment on one of the things about being an artist that is true: you go up and you go down. I think (here I'm feeling superior to those who are successful) that if you are lucky you experience the downward turn at a lower level of popularity. Because if you are very popular and then you go down, well, that's crushing. But if you are not so high up and go down . . . okay, it's crushing, but at least you haven't yet begun to feel you're too big to fail. (Sorry. Couldn't help it.)

Of course, if you go up in popularity and stay there and never come down, well, this post ain't for you, so scram!

Anyway, I am grateful that I can see the arc of my work, and that after the depression of failure and loss comes acceptance. And--I am hopeful I will rise again! Which saying, in and of itself, makes me sound important. So there.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Peas Porridge Hot

I am passing time before I commence making a (very simple) food dish to bring to an Easter dinner gathering. Concerning cooking and cleaning, I have pretty much given up on my ever being anything but a household clod, and have come to feel more acceptance of my actual domestic nature.

On the writing front, I am making slow progress on my current work-in-progress. Approaching the end, but I won't get there for a while. I wish I were a speed-writer, but I'm not. In fact, the only thing I approach with any speed at all is a piece of chocolate. So today, Easter, is pretty much my day. :-)

Still, with some authors whipping out books right and left, as if they're on a speed-date with fame, it can be disconcerting. I, myself, actually went through a relatively fast whipping-out-of-books period a few years back, but have since resorted to my usual lumbering pace. I knew it was out there waiting for me.

Coming to terms with one's imperfections is the work of the mature. By which I mean old. By which I mean probably older than you, but maybe not. When you are young you intrinsically understand that the perfections are coming. They will be here next week or next year, just hold on!

Part of me is still holding . . .

But by the time you figure out that the word "mature" applies to you--yes, you--well, you have two choices: Despair over your generally rotted state, or accept the imperfections, much as you would accept a raggedy garden. Needs weeding and watering and fertilizing, but by damn a few pink and yellow flowers are still blooming!

So maybe this is my Easter sermon. I didn't plan to have one. I don't go to church precisely because of the word "sermon," though of course that is unkind to good sermonizers everywhere.

At any rate, I wish a Happy Easter to all who are Eastering, and a happy just-plain-good-day to those who are not.

I, myself, will sit quietly for a while and try to muster my cooking gene. It's in there somewhere, waiting to flex its tiny muscle.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm Back! said Nora, with a monumental crash . . .

That might not be the exact line, but the image from NOISY NORA by Rosemary Wells (I'm thinking of the original illustrations) where Nora, the little mouse jealous of her big sister and new baby brother, hiding from her parents to make them worry and come looking for her, triumphantly bursts out of her hiding place, flinging open the closet door . . . is priceless, as they say.

So, I'm back. Or backish, as I still feel a little uncertain. I became fearful that my blog was beyond hopeless. Not hot enough or commercial enough. I know what I'm up against, in the author blogosphere, and, face it, I ain't there.

Nonetheless, having been given two recent nudges, I've traipsed my way back. Maybe I just got lonely for the sound of my own words. Personal blogs are very much a me me me situation. Well, all I've got to share is me, so there you have it.

As for writerly news: well, um, a manuscript is being shopped and another one is under construction, but that's about it. Scary times in publishing, as in everywhere else, but I feel strangely okay. Not sure why, but what else is there to do but get through it, come out the other side? In a time of buildings collapsing, meteorites hitting, dinosaurs prowling . . . I exaggerate, but it does feel that way . . . in these weird times I have decided to perk up and claim my authorhood. Weird seems to suit me.

"I'm back!" said Fusty, with a monumental splat. We'll see . . .