21 October 2012

Wordstock, David Levithan, and High school with Libba Bray

This past week has been ass kicking. I have kicked ass and I have had my ass kicked. It's been filled with new challenges and big wins. I am exhausted and happy.

Last Sunday I attended my first Wordstock. For years it was in November, always coinciding with my birthday weekend (when I prefer to flee the city for the fresh smells of ocean air and the crashing sounds of the Pacific). It has since moved to October, but there's always been something else going on at the same time.

This year I finally made it a point to go. With David Levithan there, how could I resist? He was, as always, witty, wise, and inspiring. He talked about his latest book (Every Day) and he shared the three books he's loving on right now. They are Nina LaCour's The Disenchantments (which I adored), Eliot Schrefer's Endangered, and A.S. King's Ask the Passengers (the last two are already on my nightstand in the TBR pile.

Thursday I had a completely awesome day hanging out with Libba Bray (who has written such lovely, smart books). I went on a school visit to Hillsboro High School (which was a really cool experience). She did this awesome improv exercise with the kids about creating a story. It was broken down into six questions:

Where are they from?
What do they desire/want?
What do they fear?
What is the next thing that happens?
What is the last sentence of your story?

The kids had a lot of fun with this. She pulled several up to the front with her and had them answer the questions, drawing from the audience for participation as well. After she was done, she answered questions and took time listening to each and every student. She was funny, she was kind, she was honest, and she gives great hugs. We talked about books (including the new novel by Gayle Forman due out in January (Just One Day) which we both adored). In short, she was everything I hoped she'd be and more. I had so much fun I went to her event later that night at Powell's and took my husband along as well (who is now a big fan too). At the event, she shared a brilliant writing prompt. "In the letter I never wrote to you I said..."

Now that NaNoWriMo 2012 is less than two weeks away, I've been trying to narrow down the story that I want to tell. I've got a couple characters starting to materialize, their images getting more and more solid each day. As I learn more about them, I keep coming back to Libba's six questions. They really do seem like a brilliant place to start...

Libba Bray with my copy of my favorite of her books.
David modelling his last two for me. For my photo/book project I've been forcing authors to pose with my books.

14 October 2012

Do It Anyway

It's been one week since I arrived home from a long weekend on the Oregon Coast. I had a lovely 24 hours to myself followed by a lovely 48 hours with friends and conversation. I walked beside ocean waves in sunshine, I played tag (and lost) to the Pacific, I drank wine, dined on delicious seafood, I took deep breaths and remembered how to dream. I took naps. I read books. I listened.

There has been a song that has become my mantra during this time in my life of so many big changes. It's off the new Ben Folds Five album and is called "Do It Anyway." I was first introduced to the song via the brilliant video featuring Chris Hardwick (I am an enormous Nerdist Podcast fan) and the Fraggles (I'm old enough to have watched them the first time around...barely). I have since purchased the album (which is, of course, awesome!) and this past week the song has come up on shuffle during some thoughtful and resonant moments.

You might put your love and trust on the line. It's risky, people love to tear that down. Let 'em try. Do it anyway. Risk it anyway.

Walking by myself, sitting on giant rocks while the sun set and listening to the salty water crash against the sand, I thought about NaNoWriMo and my ambitions beyond my current career.

And if you're paralyzed by a voice in your head. It's the standing still that should be scaring you instead. Go on and do it anyway. Do it anyway.

Over the last two weeks, I feel like I've taken a step back and am watching my life move forward at speeds that are unsettling. There is change beyond my control and it is both exhilarating and frightening. It's like sitting at the top of the roller coaster knowing the only way out is to take the plummet.

There will be times you might leap before you look. There'll be times you'll like the cover and that's preciscely why you'll love the book. Do it anyway. Do it anyway.

I've been thinking about my life five years ago, ten, twenty. I've thought about my sixteen year old dreams and ambitions.

Tell me what I said I'd never do. Tell me what I said I'd never say. Read me off a list of the things that I used to not like but now I think are okay.

As I've been pondering the cons, the pros, the should I and shouldn't I of this year's NaNoWriMo question, I've been thinking about the stories that have been rising up from the depths, the story that I want to tell and why it's important for me to tell it.

Despite your grand attempts the chips are set to fall. And all the stories you might weave cannot negotiate them all. Do it anyway. Be honest, anyway.

As the days on the calendar keep flipping from one right into the next, I've found myself at the center of October and people keep asking me if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year and I think I've finally got a definitive answer for them.

Call it surrender, but you know that that's a joke. And the punchline is you were actually never in control. But still, surrender anyway.

So what have I decided? What's the answer to the question that's been tugging me back and forth?

Everybody knows that you just gotta do it anyway.