Monday, August 23, 2010

Down Periscope

It was a good break, all in all. And taking a break – or “submarining” -- is the theme of this post, in fact.

I came up with this term, “submarining,” because I needed a way to describe the behavior of this friend of mine who, when she was going through a tough stretch, would simply drop out of sight, generally for months at a time. You wouldn’t hear from her, wouldn’t see her. All attempts to reach her would meet with failure. Then, when she was ready to face the world again, she’d reappear, like a sub coming back to port for fresh supplies.

Sub crew at the North Pole. You may not need to go to this extreme but then again, you just might.

I realize it’s just that time of year – August. People are slacking off a bit because it's a sensible thing to do in the summer. But it does seem like I’ve also heard more than a few folks contemplating taking long breaks from their blog, because life is pulling them away from it or because they are downright sick of blogging. Or, more often, because the demands on their time are such that they must choose between working on their novels or posting to their blogs.

And they feel guilty about it.

To which I say, fie! You shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. (WHY do I not say fie more often? It's an awesome word.)

I’m here to grant you -- such that I have the authority to dispense such things -- permission to go into submarine mode.

As a writing teacher of mine once said, “At some point, you’ve got to just go off on your own.” How true it is.

Writers forums and critique groups and Twitter and blogging. These are all great support systems and also a lot of fun, but as we all know, too much fun can be a bad thing. It's kind of like that group of friends from high school who wanted you to come out with them on a Wednesday night and go cow-tipping. AGAIN. For like the fourth night in a row. And you’re like, sheesh, man, I've kind of had enough cow-tipping for one week, and besides, I should probably finish my college application essay. And they’re like, No way, man! Come on! After we tip some cows, we’re going up to the water tower to break beer bottles with sticks.

Well, maybe that was just my experience. My point is that our primary job as writers is to write books. To do that, you need time and no distractions. And that ‘no distraction’ thing might just require that you board that sub and get out into the Mariana Trench for a bit. Sometimes you need to be out in the still, deep water, where it’s just you, your work, and the giant squid attached to your metaphoric hull.

So if you do decide to go into stealth mode, don’t feel guilty. Just hang a note on your blog and go write. We’ll still be here when you return. Besides, we want to hear your tales of the sea when you come back. We especially want to know how you lost your eye and why you've developed a liking for tinned meat.

Of course, if you don’t like the sub suggestion, feel free to pick some other locale where you can get away from it all. Whatever works for you. I recommend you steer clear of any jobs as a winter caretaker at a resort hotel in Maine, however. That tends not to work out so well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blogging Lacuna

Hey, all,

I won't be posting for the next two weeks due to the rigors of vacationary demands.  

Come to think of it. It's August, man. You shouldn't even be reading this. Get your squinty, writerly self to the beach or somewhere where you will come into contact with some sunshine.

Go on. Git.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Pandas and Pimpin’

Here I go with the panda thing again.

Loyal readers are no doubt well aware of my hatred of pandas. Here’s the full reference in case you’re new to the blog and my panda wrath.

And just what has reanimated my animus toward pandas this summer? Why nothing less than a visit to the National Zoo, of course. Those of you with a love of this worthless animal, turn back now because I’d first like to direct you to a story that was sent to me by my West Coast colleague who goes by the mysteriously haunting handle, “Denise.” (Not her real name.*) Check out the link, PANDAS ARE LOSERS.

So the dang pandas can’t get pregnant but once in a blue moon, and then when she does have the cub, she has twins, only to abandon one of them and then roll over on the other and kill it?!!! God, could this animal get any more loathsome?

Here’s what totally bummed me out on the latest zoo jaunt. Behold, a picture of the South American Giant Anteater taken by my lovely daughter.

Mr. Anteater looks depressed, doesn’t he? (Or she. I have no expertise in sexing anteaters, but we'll assume it's a he.) You know why this anteater is so depressed? Because his enclosure is off the beaten path, hardly anyone comes by to check him out, and he’s fully aware that he’s kind of not that attractive.

Meanwhile, these rock star diva pandas have THIS in their totally tricked-out panda pavilion.

It’s got a mini-Houston mission control to monitor their every waking (and mostly sleeping) moment and keep track of each linear foot of bamboo that they stuff down their gullets at taxpayer expense. And probably they each have a high-def DVR to watch snuff films (Oh, you didn't know that about pandas? Yeah, they watch a lot of snuff films. I know, right? Awful.)

How could this not be a blow to the anteater’s self-esteem? Who could live in their pathetic little paddock knowing these pandas are up there in air-conditioned, first-class accommodations with people waiting in line to see them? Meanwhile, passersby look at the sign directing them to the giant anteater enclosure and say, “Oh. An anteater….Hey, let’s go get a sno-cone.”

So in summary I say again: Pandas = evil. When will the world wake up and realize that the scourge of panda love must end?

OK, onto other matters.

Perhaps this week you may find yourself in the position of having a few bucks that you don’t know what to do with. Here’s a thought: how about you lay off the hot wings and 50 cent drafts and forego that second blooming onion and do something useful with your money for a change? Why don’t you go and buy Blythe Woolston’s debut novel, The Freak Observer. Apparently it’s a really good book, and what’s more amazing, she typed the entire manuscript with her feet. Not because she had to, mind you. Just to give herself more of a challenge while writing it.

(Of course I made that up. Come on. She wrote the novel with her feet? Actually I probably shouldn’t put that out on the internet at all because this is just the sort of thing that’ll take on a life of its own, and the next thing you know, Blythe will be asked to be on Nightline and be billed as America’s foremost YA foot writer. So I take it back. She didn’t write the book with her feet at all. She is a regular, two-handed writer who did NOT write her novel with her feet. OK, well maybe the acknowledgements page. Maybe. But that's all.)

And since I’ve got my sparkly pimping hat on anyway, I’ll send you over to Sierra Godfrey’s blog for her contest wherein she asks you to describe a certain soccer player who looks like he gamely volunteered to get a haircut from a freshman at some technical training high school. I’m probably not explaining it very well. Just go and have a look see.

Until next week, my comrades.

*Actually, yes, it is.