Monday, April 26, 2010

Wabi Sabi

This weekend I read an article about "wabi sabi" which is the Japanese philosophy of embracing imperfection (to sum it up imperfectly).

Beauty is transient and so we find peace in the worn, the wrinkled, and the not-so-perfect aspects of our lives.

The last two days, I've been trying to live this philosophy.

Toys on the floor? wabi sabi

Stack of paper collecting in my kitchen? wabi sabi

Buzz light-year shoes with his brand-new church suit? Scratches on my coffee table? Poop-stains on my cute baby clothes? Scuffs on the wall? WABI SABI!

(By the way, there needs to be a better balance between a wabi sabi home and a zen home, because after a weekend of saying "wabi sabi" to all messes, it's a huge disaster.)

What about the messes, the incongruencies, the scratches, and the poop-stains in my manuscript? Just like I need to learn to live in an imperfect house and live with an imperfect me, I need to learn to write in an imperfect manuscript.

When I edit, I can try and perfect it. But not now. I am writing my second draft, but it is still a draft and I've been striving too hard for perfect.

I don't want this draft to be quite the train wreck my first draft was. I find that as I write, I need a scene to be strong before I build on it with another scene. Strong, not perfect.

What about you? Do you need a little wabi sabi in your manuscript?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Character Thereby Complete

He is also handsome...which a young man ought likewise to be if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete.

I was perusing my Pride and Prejudice the other day and came upon this. Although Jane Austen meant sarcasm to drip from Elizabeth's lips and off the page, I think she hit on a young adult fiction truth.

Oh the handsome teenage hero!

I know there may be exceptions, but I'd say that most young adult heroes I've read rival Edward's granite abs. And I confess that my two heroes (how will she choose!?) are nice-looking.

Of course the hero has other attributes: He's smart. He's witty. He's caring. He is IN LOVE WITH THE HEROINE! However, these you often discover as you read. When the hero first enters the book, don't we want to know what he looks like?

Why? WHY? Because the teenage girls need to fall in love with the hero? Is this the quickest way to their heart? (So what are we telling them exactly?)

I'm not about to uglify my heroes, but it made me think and wonder after everyone else's take on this phenomenon of handsomeness.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Enter Olivia

I am pausing this week of viruses, fevers, and drips to post a piece from my book. Remember Olivia and how much trouble she gave me? Well, the words did finally wrap around her and pull her into the manuscript but not without a fight.

Cue Curtain

“That’s Olivia,” Quinn said, following my gaze. The girl stood to meet us, unfolding her pale legs and wiping her hands on her cut-offs. A mess of blonde curls burst from under a red bandana, and she studied me as we crossed the short distance between the grid and the pyramid. I thought her faded tee seemed a little tight for the jungle, and her legs a little long for archaeology.

“Olivia’s our glyph girl,” Quinn continued. “Did you remember the necklace?”

I placed my hand over my heart where the amulet hung, still tucked away under my shirt. “We don’t have to show her. She looks busy.”

“She’s not too busy.”

As we approached, Olivia stepped over the ropes and pegs that divided the grid. “I waited for you this morning,” she said to Quinn. “What took you so long?” Her voice was breathy and British and hinted of the peppermint she cracked between her teeth.

...About a page and a half more words that would not make sense to you out of context, would be way too long a stop for you on the blog highway, and frankly, I'm not sure I like enough to post...

“What are you thinking about?” Quinn asked as we stopped under the shade of the tent.

I hesitated, unwilling to share my real thoughts, and jerked my head towards Olivia. “I don’t think she likes me.”

“How would you know?” Quinn asked. “You barely spoke to each other.”

“It’s girl language,” I said, lowering my voice. “She looked right at me, and said ‘I don’t like you.’”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, she also said, ‘Hands off. I saw him first.’”

Quinn’s eyebrows knit together for an instant before comprehension lit his face. “You mean…You think she…” His words fell off as he looked at Olivia, who luckily seemed unaware of our discussion as she brushed away at the dirt.

“Yes,” I said, cringing when I saw a smile’s shadow play on his lips. “That makes you happy?”

“That makes me amused, Tess,” he said, his eyes searching mine. “I’m not interested in Olivia. I’m interested in somebody else.”

I hoped the subdued light under the tent masked my blush. “What did you want me to see?”

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I hate for a whole week to go by without posting. And so, because I'm short on time and inspiration, I'm going to make a short brag list. It is more exciting to me than you, I'm sure, but maybe you'll be a little bit jealous. Which is my goal. To make everyone jealous.

In May I am going to attend an SCBWI workshop on characterization. It is so much more than a workshop, however. It will be my first time alone and away from both children for more than two hours.

In June I am attending a Supernatural Summer event which is actually coming HERE, to Kansas of all places. And only twenty minutes from where I live. I'll get to meet Aprilynne Pike. Hers was one of the first blogs I came across when I started writing and blogging over a year ago, and she has been a great source of inspiration. Plus, she writes lovely books.

Last week I attended a fundraising event at church, and purchased five hours of website design for only $30. I'm not sure whether to redeem this now or later. It seems kind of early in my writer development for an actual website.

So in a couple months I will characterize better, own a signed copy of Spells, and possibly have a website. There is nothing more exciting...except maybe finishing a book. And finding an agent to represent the book. And selling the book. Hopefully you'll read that list someday.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Husbands Are Good For

I've mentioned before that I am concerned about the expiration date on my novel.

See, my novel centers around the Mayan end-of-time prophecy. Which is 2012. Which is in two years.

1) Most agents are looking at novels now for publication in 2012.
2) My novel is not finished. (It's 2010!) Clock is ticking.
(Oh and 3) Most importantly, as the world will be ending in approximately two years, eight months, and eighteen days, who will be left to read my book?)

When I shared these thoughts with my husband he said I only had to change a few things in my novel, and it could be published later.

Like what?! I asked, irritation clouding the air between us like a foul odor intent on stinking up any marital communication that involved my masterpiece.

He suggested, between mouthfuls of underdone red meat, that as the world will in fact not REALLY end in 2012 (you had me fooled, Long Count Calendar), people may want to know exactly who saved them and how.

What a genius.

No more end-of-time pressure.