Monday, March 11, 2013

Deal with the Devil...

OK, I just have to blog about this meeting I just had.

I just met with my brilliant writing-partner, who always knows the right things to say.

So, I say to her:

"You know that I have just about 50,000 good words, and another 10,000 or weak ones I have discarded in December. And I need 80,000 words to enter the competition we agree on. And I won't quit. So I'm a little panicky right now, and a little depressed about it."

And she says: "You already have 20-30,000 words of a novel that needs to be written. You already have a novel between the lines. You can easily write those by September."

And then I take her feedback on two stories-two chapters, and get back into my "perpetual latte-making" office, and the words pour down! She was right. With a little bit of guidance on what's missing in the novel, I'm expanding on chapters pretty quickly actually.

Now, it's tiring. It's intense. But what job worth anything isn't?!

I also love her telling me that "I have chosen to go for the Boston marathon, not the Cherry Blossom 5K," by picking to work on my book to expand it in every direction over picking to publish it the way it is.
"You want a million-dollar book deal," she says. "So do I."

And there's nothing wrong with that. Right?

And only now am I realizing that I made a deal with "the devil." I can't really focus on anything else but this book for the next six, seven months.
Not if I want to do it right this time.
It's now or never, it really is.

Not only has my writing-partner given me ideas on how to expand my chapters, but also what new chapters to write.

So, I sat down a few hours ago, with this Golden-Grip gun chapter I have been working on for the last couple of weeks, and it's like a puzzle I MUST solve, it MUST be perfect, it just has to be.
And all of a sudden, I'm researching World War I, and the battles between Serbs and Croats in it, and the gun ends up being a gift to my character's great grandfather from the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand just before he was killed by the Black Hand. And, oh, history blends with fiction, and politics, and superstition, and magical realism...
It's just blowing my mind, where it's going, and it only needed a gentle push...

It's gonna be a great book, I promise you, no false modesty here needed. I can already see it. It will kill me to create it but once it's born, it's gonna be a great read.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Grannies and Frogs

It's Sunday.
And what Sunday means to me is freedom. Yoga. Writing. Lattes.
But my body or brain doesn't necessarily agree with my plans.
So, I barely survived an hour of Vinyasa Flow class, and I have no idea why. I was just so low energy, cramping and inflexible.
But I did it.
Then I showered up, got ready and walked to my favorite cafe, ordered an exquisite latte (yummy) aaaaand...nothing.
I don't know what to do.
I mean I know what to do, but....I don't know where to begin.
Let me elaborate (I love that word!)
I need about 30,000 to 35,000 words of excellent quality by September.
It might not sound like a lot, especially since I did manage to write over 50,000 in one month in November, but we are talking here about apples and oranges, or, as Serbs would say "grannies and frogs."
It's one thing writing every day for a month in order to reach a goal, it's totally another writing an excellent literary novel, a family saga, a novel-in-stories, where every fact has to match, and every story-chapter has to have a purpose.
Out of those, let's say, 35,000, I have 10,000 that are weak and I have discarded in December.
So, I either need to rewrite those, or write a whole new 35,000....
Why do I need 80,000 words, you ask? (Or you couldn't care less. Either way, I'll tell you.)
That's the minimum to send to the big competition in October. The deadline me and my writing-partner (who, by the way, already has a 450-page novel) have set for ourselves.
And I don't get out of deadlines or deals. Ever? Well, yeah, I think, never. Unless my life is in danger...
So, I'm just slightly depressed right now, despite the sun and all.
Not even the sight of a guy in front of me right now with a very, very,very high red shorts (hello butt cheeks) and a leather jacket, can't make me feel better.
But in order to write a good story, a good chapter, I need an inspiration, an idea, and those don't come along that often.
The best idea I have right now is to start rewriting, hoping it will lead to more writing, new writing, more stories.
And I hope to God my writing-partner will have a resolution to my problem tomorrow.
I need to tell her how skimpy my book is.
Tomorrow morning.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time...."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I have recently acquired myself a writing partner.
And I'm allowed to write here about her since she's not on Facebook because "it would take from her writing time." (See now why we're a perfect match?)
How did this happen? What's a "writing partner?"
It's not as naughty as it sounds. Let me elaborate...

Do you remember me writing, once upon a time, about a class I took at the Writer's Center. One of them? (Of course not, cause you probably have a life. Good for you!)
Well, there was one very talented woman there, taking it with me.
Then she invited me to read at her reading last June, as her guest.
We stayed in touch, and one thing led to another and...we exchanged work!
(Is Facebook gonna block me for this?)
So, she is everything I'm not and a lot of what I am.
She's an excellent writer and a perfectionist. She's been working on her novel for six years, had refused agents a couple of years ago since her novel didn't have "sufficient depth." She said "I only have one debut novel, and I want it to be the best it can be." (Not a problem or concern for many novelists out there right now....)
And the best thing of all?
She's helping me structure my novel, i.e. make it into a novel out of a collection of interwoven short stories.
The problem is, this immensely exciting process in which my baby is growing, changing forms, reaching maturity is also very painful for me and sooooo much work!
I have to write tones more, rewrite and discard a lot.
All the while sustaining one Arc.
And we are on a schedule, meeting every ten days, reading each others work, critiquing, writing, rewriting, editing...
And the cherry on top?
We have a deadline--end of September since we are submitting it to some Big Shot Novel Competition on October 1!

For the first time since two NYC agents told me that "the writing is wonderful but it needs to be novel-in-stories in order to sell it" I think I have a grip on what I'm doing with it.
And I have a family tree! In which male characters are not important (try explaining that to my Serbian father who, I am sure, is part Turkish).
So, at this point, my future readers, we are looking at a Balkan family saga with a family curse, an heirloom gun with old Slavonic writings on the handle, and lots of mystery and secrets.
How does that sound to you?