I’m struggling to finish a novel I promised to someone back in the fall when I was under duress to get out another novel–never a good time to make promises. So as I kept saying, yeah, yeah, sure, no problem on that deadline, I wasn’t thinking about the reality of turning in REBEL ANGELS in February and having to turn right around and pump out about 300-odd pages (veeerrrry odd pages, it turns out…) of something completely different in only two months. Quick! Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow! Yeah, that rarely worked on Dr. Who and it ain’t working here, either.
I look like Bill the Cat and probably smell that good, too, but hey, I’m 290 pages in, and I am really enjoying writing it. That of course makes me paranoid that it sucks. Writers. We’re a confident lot. I always felt that Terry Gilliam had the other half of my charm necklace, and it’s fun to indulge that very absurdist, weird side of me that I don’t let out of the attic when company’s around.
You know what I love? I love thinking I know what a book is about and finding out during the writing of it, that it’s not about that at all but about something totally different. I love discovering that I’m discovering and that it’s not so much about finding the answers as it is finding which questions I want to explore. Or, as it happened to me yesterday, I changed one punctuation mark and that completely ripped the novel wide open for me when I was feeling stuck. Ah. The power of punctuation.
Yes, I am that much of a geek. Question marks rule.
Okay, before I bore everyone into a coma with my Zen and the Art of Novel Writing epiphanies, I’ll just say that the paperback of BEAUTY hit the NYTimes bestseller list today at #7. Whoohoo! It’s actually in print this time, and I felt proud and happy and sort of unreal and a little sheepish when I opened up my paper and read the words, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray right there. My name didn’t seem like my name but someone else’s. It was a truly happy moment. It almost makes up for the time in sixth grade when some mean kids stole my pet rock collection, and I was left to slobber into my attractive braces-and-rubber bands-combo, “Astrid! Rainbow! Charlie! Where are you?!!!” (Please be sure to envision the accompanying striped Sears polyester sweater straining over my beginner boobs, the delightfully fashionable “Huksy” sized jeans, and shoulder-length stringy hair. I know you want the full effect.) Oh, the pain, the pain.
Well, I think I will celebrate the joy of it all by eating some ice cream with stuff mushed in it while making new iPod playlists. Perhaps a Revenge of the Pet Rock Nerds playlist is in order, n’est-ce pas?
Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes–it was lovely.