Showing posts from June, 2011

how do you carry your drops of oil?

After a long and sleep-deprived cross-country trek, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend are finally settled in at their most recent nest, this time a rustic cabin in the Maine woods. Internet is spotty at best (and picked up via a Rube Goldberg-esque antenna contraption Techie Boyfriend assembled from twist ties and bits of metal, which must be pointed North at all times and never, ever touched, especially by INTERN, whose touch has the awesome power of rendering most technological devices unusable). If the rate of posts on this blog is somewhat erratic this summer, you now know why.

All this rustic living (outdoor kitchen, outhouse, gallons of water carried from a pump, fireflies at night and tiny wild strawberries growing in tall grass) has put INTERN in a storytelling mood. So here goes.

There was once a young adventurer, let’s call her Brunhilde, who wished to receive the great secret of life from the queen. She traveled many days, crossing deserts and paddling through oceans and thwacking …

on whoopie pies and elephant rides

So you’re walking down the street one day when you overhear a couple of people gushing about whoopie pies.

“They’re so delicious!” you hear them say. “And so hot in New York right now!”

One of your foodie friends confirms the rumor: whoopie pies are the hot new street food. As a matter of fact, there are food carts popping up all over the place selling whoopie pies for six dollars each, and they’re making a killing.

“Six dollars each?” you think to yourself, incredulous. “For a whoopie pie? Hell, why don’t I make some whoopie pies?”

You go home to your kitchen, pull out some ingredients, and start messing around. Your first few batches are nasty, but you get the hang of it soon enough, and it isn’t long before you have a caseload of whoopie pies ready to sell.

You wheel your case of whoopie pies out to the corner and stand there waiting for your first customers. You’ve only been standing on the corner for ten minutes when a man in a designer suit and sunglasses sidles up to you.

“Whoopie p…

"come on, baby, let's start new": on getting back together

So it's been a few months since you and your manuscript broke up. At first, it was great—the freedom! the not-needing-to-share-your-sandwich-with-anyone! But lately, you've found your thoughts drifting back to the good times. Remembering all the cute things your manuscript used to do. Playing back those sweet sentences in your head. And you get to wondering what your manuscript is up to these days.

Your best friends say you're crazy. They point out that, mere months ago, you did nothing but whine about it. You and your manuscript used to bicker over the stupidest things. Your manuscript couldn't even bring up That Subplot (you know the one) without making you sulk for hours. Let's face it: you fought all the time. That's why you broke up in the first place. What makes you think this time will be any different?

Well, here's why:

"Baby, I've changed."

Before, you were immature. Irresponsible. You'd stumble in at 3 AM to find your manuscript wait…

on finding beauty again

There comes a point during revision when you stop seeing your manuscript as a work of art and start treating it like a leaky toilet: “shit, I got Chapter 6 to work, but now Chapter 9 is loose and I need a whole different kind of toilet-glue to hold Chapters 10 and 11 together.”

You make endless trips to the hardware store of your imagination, lugging home ideas and fixes that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. You screw scenes on and rip them out again, come up with the perfect sentence only to realize that you’re going to have to scrap the entire subplot it belongs to.

Where you once had a manuscript, you now have a messy construction site. Your book doesn’t even look like a book anymore—it looks like a pile of broken stuff waiting to be hauled to the dump. You don’t feel like a writer anymore, either—you feel like a deranged cook sweating over a boiling vat of soup that only tastes worse and worse with every ingredient you throw in to fix your last mistake.

You can’t remember what ins…

Having An Agent Is Weird

Last night, INTERN was chatting with a writer-friend about all things bookish, and they got to talking about agents. How the internet is stuffed with advice about snagging one (always snagging!) but goes curiously silent after the proverbial wedding day, like so many fairy tales. Just like the (presumably awkward) deflowering scene that happens off-stage in those fairytales, there's something the internet doesn't tell you about agents: Having An Agent Is Weird.

Why is having an agent the most awkward thing ever if you've never done it before?

It's a bit like dating your first boy/girlfriend.

If you are the least bit neurotic, you will constantly ask yourself "Do we talk enough? Am I too needy? Too distant? Amy and Brad call each other, like, every hour. Should I fly to NYC to visit him?"

You are the least bit self-doubty, you will wonder, "Does she/he really like me? Does he regret going out with me? Is he just waiting for the right moment to dump me? Is sh…

three cups of lame: wily non-fiction bandits strike again

So, you've probably heard about the recent legal ensnarglements surrounding Greg Mortenson's book Three Cups of Tea, the latest of which is a personal injury lawsuit filed by irate readers who claim to have been "damaged" (to the tune of twelve bucks) by the discovery that parts of the book weren't exactly true.

According to the lawsuit,

"Mortenson and CAI committed actual fraud against Plaintiffs by inducing them to donate to CAI and purchase the book that Mortenson and CAI publicly represented to be a true work when in fact Mortenson’s books contained numerous fabrications."

Shocking, yes. But there's more:

“The purpose of these fabrications was to induce unsuspecting individuals to purchase his books and donate to CAI.”

Actual Fraud! Inducement of unsuspecting individuals! You'd think Mortenson had conned their grandma on the subway, not written a freaking book. INTERN isn't saying these readers aren't justified in feeling cheated—especia…

Autoresponse: Out of Office

INTERN will be locked in a moving vehicle with a bunch of axe murders from craigslist out of office for the nextbut seriously, if you don't hear from INTERN within a couple days, please notify the California Highway Patrol2-3 days as her and Techie Boyfriend complete Stage 1 of their madcap scheme well thought-out plan to move onto their friends'commune artist community for the summer.

In case of emergency, please contact INTERN's secretary, Slartybartfast, by waving a towel at the sky.



little nudges, big effects: thoughts on #YAsaves

If you been within two feet of a computer this weekend, you've undoubtedly already read about or participated in the massive #YAsaves thingie that erupted in response to this Wall Street Journal article deploring a perceived Grittiness Overload in YA. YA, the article implies, ought to be cleaner, safer— you should be able to grab it off the shelf like one of those "eating right" TV dinners and be sure you won't be getting more than 6 grams of swear words and 300 calories of Depravity.

A huge number of readers and writers have already written eloquently about how YA literature has given them empathy, hope, a lifeline, or just good readin'.

One thing INTERN finds interesting about the whole ferschnuzzle is the question it raises about the role parents should (or shouldn't) play in vetting what their kids read.

INTERN is speaking as a person whom YA explicitly *didn't* save—but not for the reasons listed in WSJ.

In INTERN's case, INTERN's mom didn't…

how to RUG.

You have doubtless heard of RUE—Resist the Urge to Explain.

From INTERN's personal lexicon of literary terminology, a lesser known rule:

RUG: Resist the Urge to Google.

RUG refers to the temptation, in this age of wifi-enabled coffeeshops and writing rooms, to interrupt writing every fifteen seconds to google a piece of crucial "research" for one's novel instead of figuring it out for oneself by thinking about it.

In the past few days, INTERN is guilty of googling the following:

"how to survive fall from fourth-story window"
"how to climb building"
"parkour how to climb building"
"what rhymes with "affordable"
"Pocky ingredients"
"how to drywall"
"schedule for #17 nightbus"
"how to true spokes"
"causes of accidental death in America"
"Fender guitars"
"causes of homelessness"
"homelessness statistics"
"Pocky flavors"

etc. etc. etc.

Only one of these sear…