Well, this week pretty much epitomized the term “rough week” for me, but I have a nice weekend to look forward to, so that’s keeping me cheery despite the rain here in New York. Tomorrow Joe and I are going to check out the Frick to see the Girl with the Pearl Earring and the Goldfinch--looking forward to it, since I’m in the middle of the book and really enjoying it. Sunday I’m meeting a friend to see the Jewels by JAR exhibit at the Met–should be a very cultured weekend!
Best of the Looks:
I like how Clarabelle took a bright spring skirt and made it work for the winter. Taking notes.
Stitchfix recently sponsored a contest for users to tell the story of one day through Pinterest, using Stitchfix styles throughout. It was a cool idea, and I liked the results.
A cute fabric-covered typewriter.
An illuminating interview with the Go Fug Yourself ladies.
One of my favorite winter looks from J. Crew.
So I could never pull off a plaid suit, but wouldn’t it be awesome if I could?
Best of the Books:
A fun gift guide for book lovers. Or, you know, you could get them some BOOKS.
Reality television for writers–the wave of the future?
Have a happy weekend, everybody!
When I got back from Thanksgiving in RI, the first thing I did (after finishing that thing I was working on) was go see Catching Fire. The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy was my favorite (once I got past all the recapping in the first half) and the movie didn’t disappoint. I loved the concept of the Quarter Quell, and I thought Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Heavensbee the gamemaker was genius. As usual, Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman stole any scene he was in–those teeth! that hair! that laugh! that bright orange skin!
But come on, we all love Katniss the most. And Jennifer Lawrence. Remember all the controversy when she was first cast as Katniss, back in the day, when everyone still hadn’t figured out how awesome she is? Yeah, I hate to say I told you so, but I did.
I could go on fangirling for a while, but one of the things I love about seeing these movies is getting to see Katniss’s costumes come to life. The costumes Cinna creates for her are just as much an emblem of her fierce determination and passion as her bow and arrow and mockingjay pin. And they’re gorgeous. Here are a few:
It was great seeing a book I liked translated into a movie I really enjoyed-it happens so rarely, and I thought this movie did a great job of staying faithful to the book.
Have you seen it? What did you think of it?
Well, November is over, and with it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). What started as a half-serious experiment for me ended as a useful and productive experience, one that I’m happy about and glad to have had.
First thing’s first–I DID make the 50,000 word count goal on November 30. It was very up to the wire, and I wrote more than 2,000 words in the hour between when I got home from Rhode Island, where I spent Thanksgiving, and when I was meeting a friend to see Catching Fire. There’s nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your ass. I celebrated hitting the 50,000 mark by throwing on my coat and dashing out the door (but later rewarded myself with a pack of Goobers at the movie).
Do I have a finished novel? Not even close. Do I have at least a draft of a novel? Nope. What I have is closer to a 50,000 word fleshing out of an idea, an exploration in point of view and character. I will likely keep some of it, but not all of it. My plan is to keep writing for as long as it takes to finish a first draft before I go back and do the necessary extensive chopping and editing and reconfiguring–revision. But while I have to keep working, for a LONG time, to get this thing even close to what one would call a novel, I am SO MUCH closer to that novel now than I was on October 31. And that’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo–it gave me an excuse, a reason, to actually start writing that novel that’s been living inside my head for a long time. Without that motivation, flimsy as it was, who knows when or IF I ever would have attempted to write a novel?
I also came away with the knowledge that no matter how busy you are or what you have going on, you CAN make time to write every day. I actually didn’t make a lot of sacrifices to make my word count goal. I didn’t have to give up social plans or change my daily routines. I wrote some during my lunch break and squeezed in some writing time with my morning coffee. I got a lot done on weekends and at night, an hour or two in the evenings after dinner, before watching tv or reading. Sometimes I went to a bar down the street with Joe, and we were those people sitting with our laptops and beers in a bar, not talking to each other, but it was okay–I kinda liked it. But I did actually fail in the writing every day department–there were two days that I didn’t write a word, and it was toward the beginning of the experience, when I was in Boston for work and visiting friends. I possibly could have written a little those days, but it would have meant giving up time with friends, which I didn’t want to do, and I’m glad I didn’t.
I didn’t make use of all the resources NaNoWriMo gives you–mostly, a community in which to share your ideas and tips and frustrations with. They have community write-ins where you can meet with other writers in your area and write together, as well as virtual write-ins. There are forums and Twitter challenges. But I was writing for myself, so I kept to myself. There was also, to me, an emphasis on different types of writing that I’m not necessarily interested in doing, like YA and sci-fi and romance. It just goes to show that anyone can do it, you don’t have to participate or “join in” if you don’t want to. You don’t have to buy the winner t-shirt with the video game graphics or display a flashing winner banner on your blog. But you CAN if you want to. Which is also an awesome option.
So I’m starting to ramble a little bit, so I’m going to summarize the key lessons I took away from NaNoWriMo:
- Just get started.
- You DO have time to write every day.
- You can do a lot more than you think in just fifteen minutes of writing.
- Keep a brief outline and list of characters’ names handy while you’re writing–you WILL forget things, even though they’re your creations.
- You can skip scenes if you want to.
- 50,000 words is actually not that many words.
- Don’t be afraid to write crap and go back and edit later.
- Having a structure, any structure, is hugely helpful in attempting to tackle a large project like a novel.
- Writing in bars can be fun.
- Don’t quit.
This morning’s rain seems to have cleared up and the weekend is rapidly approaching. I treated myself to an iced coffee this morning and am contemplating a lunch time stroll to The Strand. Friday! We have a couple friends in town this weekend, so we’re planning a big karaoke gathering tomorrow night, which promises to be a good time, and Sunday afternoon we’re attending a pre-Thanksgiving potluck. Any time I get to eat stuffing is a good time, in my opinion.
Oh, and writing. I’ll be doing a lot of writing. I’m at 29,000 words for NaNoWriMo and my goal is to get to 35,000 by weekend’s end. It’s lofty, but I think I can do it!
What are you all planning for the weekend?
Best of the Looks:
Annie of the Other Side of Gray is really evoking fall foliage with her orange sweater and pine green skirt. An unlikely combo, but I like how it’s working here.
On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, we’ve all been bombarded with retrospectives and remembrances. One that caught my eye was this Slate article about the significance of Jackie Kennedy’s dress and what it meant that she didn’t change it.
Out of Print is now offering jewelry.
What the women of Stitch Fix wear to work. (Talk about a dream job).
Damsel in Dior’s Holiday Gift Guide is lovely.
The Classy Cubicle’s guide to owning the interview.
Best of the Books:
The National Book Awards were held Wednesday. A hearty congrats to the winners!
Speaking of the National Book Awards, my friend Julia attended the 5 Under 35 party Monday night and wrote about it. Look out for a cameo appearance in her post!
How awesome would it be to have a reading net in your home?
Messy Nessy Chic rounds up an impressive compendium of items found in books–some of them are quite beautiful.
Good friend, writer, beer aficionado, and blogger Llalan Fowler also happens to manage an independent bookstore in Mansfield, Ohio in her spare time. Llalan has devoted a great deal of energy and spark into revitalizing her store, Main Street Books, but also the local community. I did an interview with her to find out more about what running a local bookstore is like.
How did you come to Mansfield and Main Street Books?
When I first started managing MSB I ordered everything I thought people in my tiny Ohio town would read: Grisham, Evanovich, etc, but because I can’t afford to price new hardbacks at 30% off, they never sold. So I stopped ordering them. In fact, I stopped ordering pretty much any new hardbacks. (We special order all the time and most people don’t seem to mind waiting a day.) It’s a poor area of the country, and they’re unaffordable at list price. I also underestimated my customers. Instead of trying to be like the B&N Mansfield already has, I try to set us apart by ordering more new authors, small press books, and off-the-beaten-path titles. We regularly get complimented on our selection by bookish-types, but we have a lot of mass market paperbacks too–many come in used. We started taking in used books for trade credit last February, and because I have such smart, interesting, and weird loyal customers, we have a bunch of interesting, weird used books, too! We don’t sell a whole lot other than books–the store next door is a news stand, so no periodicals. We have greeting cards, journals, a few little gifty things and a few inexpensive games/toys.
We have a big local section. B&N doesn’t take self-published books, so pretty much any local writer that comes in with a decent-looking book will get a spot on my shelf. Louis Bromfield lived in this area of Ohio, too, so we have most of his titles. Plus other books about the area–not necessarily by a local writer–like about rust belt life or breweries and wineries of Ohio or the big state reformatory we have here (featured in Shawshank Redemption). Our beer and brewing section is especially complete, natch. Oh! And graphic novels. I love them, so we have more than I’ve seen at most bookstores.
I’ve always been one to share too much, haven’t I? I guess I just don’t think about it–I think my friends read it, those who’d already know the gist of what’s going on, but I don’t worry too much about it. It’s more for me to practice and work things out in my own head. There are one or two customers who make note of it, but for the most part I think it’s you and my dad that read it.
It definitely affected what role I see the bookstore playing in the arts community. When I moved here the store had a book club but there was no writing group in town that I knew of, and only a monthly open mic at the bar next door, which wasn’t well-suited for poetry reading. I knew that I wouldn’t keep up writing if I didn’t have the pressure of deadlines and others seemed to be interested in a workshop-type thing, so I started it and the monthly literary open mic. Both have been really fun and surprisingly successful. And now I write more and more often than I ever did in the big cities! (And probably better, to be honest…)
The first Poetry & Prose Extravaganza (the monthly literary open mics) was pretty fantastic. It was (so I’ve been told) the first such event of its kind in town, and our little book loft was PACKED. We read and drank wine for HOURS. But really, any of those where you get a collection of strong writers reading their own stuff…it can be electrifying. It has become an arena in which writers feel very comfortable (which is a difficult atmosphere to achieve and is important to note) and we get everything from well-rehearsed, searing spoken word to the first three unedited pages of a personal essay on marriage.
We are a nurturing nest for creativity and a haven for characters–both real and fictional.
What’s your favorite local indie bookstore? What do you love about it?