Of books, Britney, and being pissed off

It’s been a tough week and not just for me.

After several 14-hour writing days tacked onto two months of marathon writing, I hit the wall Monday. I could not physically make myself write another word. It wasn’t just the exhaustion. The lagging self-confidence. The conviction that I was writing a shit combination of The Victorian “O.C.” and the world’s longest and worst emo song. I’d just hit it. Total burn out. So long and thanks for all the fish.

The knowledge that I would not make this new deadline induced a complete panic in me. I was consumed with self-loathing and guilt, the terrible feeling that I was letting everyone down. And that, in turn, produced a writing paralysis which didn’t help anything.

And then this amazing thing happened on Monday night.

I got pissed off. I mean really snarling, middle finger salute to the world, you-and-what-army, Peter Finch in “Network,” Pete Townsend-guitar solo-side four-of-“Quadrophenia” pissed off. The kind of pissed off that makes me feel as if I have finally passed from the resigned end of a French New Wave film–all grainy film and trenchoated ennui–into a late 1970’s dystopian England, broken beer bottle in my hand and a punk war cry on my lips. And you know what? It really, really helped. It wasn’t a specific pissed off, just a I “wow, I really needed that” thing.

I made the “click” that I was missing that from the work as well. There was no real anger or blood in the work. I was missing the fist of it all. The you-think-you-can-tell-me-how-to-live-in-this-world-well-you’re-bloody-mistaken-chum cri de coeur that girls/women are often denied. (I’m sure there is, quite rightly, the argument to be made that boys/men are denied the cultural right to their tears and doubts. But that can be somebody else’s Friday blog.) I allowed myself to just scream, “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!!!” at the top of my lungs, and the next day, the writing was a dream.

Which brings me to Britney Spears. Britney needs some serious scream time.

As I live on the planet earth, I haven’t been able to tune out the ongoing Britney saga. I’d open Safari and there she’d be on CNN.com–lost, vacant-eyed, her head newly shaved, a little girl staring back at the camera. Yes, I know there have been the countless panty-free shots of Ms. S splashed over the Internet, but there was something so much more naked about these photos. It’s the sort of rawness it’s difficult to really look at–or look away from unscathed. At least for me it is.

I was reminded of how incredibly screwed up I was at 18, 19, 20…well, you get the picture. How that inability to get good and angry, to feel entitled to a good, “FUCK YOU!” at the top of my lungs meant that I could only implode. Self-destruct. Self-destroy. If I hadn’t had a journal and a pen and some bit of wild hardwiring in me that owes more to Iggy Pop than the good southern girl I’d been trained to be, I might have succeeded in that.
It struck me that Britney had taken out her rage on the wrong person. Instead of shearing herself bald and inking her body with tattoos that I’m guessing were not well thought out in advance (sort of Christian Bratz themed), I wish she could have flipped off the world, gone home, grabbed her journal and started writing the sort of album that is as raw and naked as her head. Maybe she still will. I hope so.

Meanwhile, my editor, who is one of the world’s loveliest people, and I have worked out a schedule that works which satisfies all. It will be tight, but the book will be out on time. It will be something that I have fought for, something I have put marrow into, and that is a good feeling.

173 thoughts on “Of books, Britney, and being pissed off

  1. Re: Back to Britney…and the world

    Preach, sister!!! This is one of the few issues that makes me glad I’ve got all boys. The sad thing is that I ran around half-naked all the time when I was eight, and nobody thought anything of it because I was a LITTLE KID! And when I wanted to look special, it was twirly-skirts and puffy sleeves, not these pseudo-provacative clothes that designers are coming out with now. I mean, good greif, I was at least allowed to hit puberty before I had to start worrying about things as trivial as clothes! There were bikes to be ridden, knees to be scraped–and you can get some doozies riding a bike in a ruffly dress!!!

    Sometimes I think that America has declared an official ban on childhood, for girls at least. SO depressing.

  2. Hey!

    Hey!
    I L-O-V-E love ur books! they rock!!!! Ur r oh so gifted that u need not to worry about the 3rd book it will b great! As 4 brit. well um I dislike her a lot so i say who cares! But some of her songs r ok.

  3. Your Books

    XDDDDDD! I loooooove both your books, and I think that it is so cool that you actually post/read on your live journal. I am actually trying to become a writer; at my school we have a fiction writing course that I take. I have some ideas floating around, and I would just LOVE (underlined about a million times) to have some input?
    You books rock my socks.

    ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. I agree. Felicity is very independent and she’s already having troubles relying on Gemma to take her into the realms. I want to trust her, but she reminds me of Miss Moore a bit because she wants the power for herself. Remember when she killed a deer as a sacrifice so she could get power from the huntress? She almost messed Gemma up there.

  5. Getting mad helps a lot. Not letting out anger is not good. It eats you from the inside out until you burst. And the bursting is also not good. What you did reminds me of an episode of Roseanne. I don’t normally watch but there’s this one episode when Roseanne and her family go to Martha’s Vineyard with this really rich family. When Roseanne makes fun of them, they forgive her too quickly so she goes and teaches them how to get mad and scream.

    So anyway, I’m glad that you got through that and good luck with the rest of the book! I’m sure that after your… “episode”(for lack of a better word)… it will be ten times better.

  6. shave heads

    sometimes i want to shave my head, i just dont have the guts. Well atleast i can scream at the top of my lungs, but only when i am really brave or just really pissed off.
    the book will be great and i cant wait
    Lisa

  7. Oh, how I enjoy reading your…thingies i forgot what they are called….
    Right, well then. I can’t wait to read the latest one!! AH….Harry Potter and now this. Two things- not many- but hey, it’s better than something like “Ah…Coke and now Pepsi- the revolution, people, the revolution!!!”
    ๐Ÿ™‚
    Sorry.

  8. hey i love both of your books but when is the new one is comming out? lol. OMG i cant wait till it comes out. me and my friends are putting our money on pip being the villian.but anyways its cool im so anxious to see your new book. but anywayz i totally understand about the wanting to scream your brains out and say fuck you to all the world and go into your little pissed off secluded corner. i have been going through that alot lately what with state testing coming up and quarter coming to an end and yeh. well anywayz im glad to finally see your site hopefully we can contact further. if you want you can comment me back on my email. Artic_wolf_girl@yahoo.com. thanx
    sincerely
    rihana

  9. every one has to do that alot!

    skreming the f word out in to the air (mostly to know one) is such a panic relever, I mostly like to cry it off because then you have that fresh and new fealing (dose that make since?) so once you finish the bawlling your like “ok so this is what i need to do… I think” and it works like a charm!-Jasmine

  10. movie- next book?

    so i was on the internet movie database the other day .. something i do when i really want to avoid doing my homework.. and saw that A Great Terrible Beauty is in production.. i was wondering if your staying involved with the film.. i hope so.. it’s best when the author gives their input.. especially on casting.. i watched the trailer from the book awards.. it was great but the girls just weren’t right.. it would be amazing if you could use the girl from the cover of the books.. either way im sure it will be an amazing movie if it’s based off of the book … by the way.. i dont know whether you announced it at any point and i missed it.. but when is the next book scheduled to come out around?.. i can’t wait!!

    -rebecca

  11. Random

    This is random- You use the word throng alot in the 2nd book. Also, if you are suffering writers block I would randomly add romance if it helps. I wish you could explain the realms more.

  12. I think abuot that all the time-people splashed across the pages of magazines, followed everywhere, having someone care about every step you make, and not being able to call it stalking and get a restraining order. Paparzzi are like telemarketers-when you take the job, you MUST know no one is going to like you.
    I just wish we could find way to stop our fascination with people in movies. They are our gods, but in reality they could be you, or me. Some of them might be as good inside as the crazy neighbor down the street, but what does that matter as long as they keep you entertained? It’s perverse.

  13. im glad you write these i just left a comment but this occured to me-you doing this is kind of what Tennyson was saying in this poem. Is that why you write anyway?

    I sometimes hold it half a sin
    To put in words the grief I feel;
    For words,like nature,half reveal
    And half conceal the soul within.

    But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
    A use in measured language lies;
    The sad mechanic excersise,
    Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

    In words,like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
    Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
    But that large grief which these enfold
    Is given in outline and no more.

    I just checked selected works of his out of the library, and when i came across this it reminded me of writers who write well, because you can’t make up feeling, you would have to feel it yourself fist, and your writing can show that very well. A little dark for Tennyson, but…there you go.

  14. Re: please read this…

    just in case you don’t know this yet, you probably want to know that she’s currently writing her third book. and the series is a trilogy. you are obviously really excited, so i thought you would wanna know.

  15. Re: hmmm

    OMG SEPTEMBER!!!!???? you just made my heart rate double. it’s 1:40 in the morning and i just started to actually get tired but now i’ll never fall asleep. holy crap that’s exciting.
    the movie is supposed to come out in 2008, but the only info on it is who’s directing and the producers and stuff. I don’t think they have a cast yet.

  16. cover!!

    omg i found the cover of the sweet far thing!! amazing! i can’t wait until it comes out this september. can’t it come out any sooner?!?

  17. actors

    where did you find the actors for the movie. I cant find them anywhere. I want to know who they are considering for gemma, felicity, pippa,etc. PLEASE tell me.

  18. On Britney and writing

    She probably feels more comfortable shaving her head and dealing with the publicity that that would give her, than flipping off the world and the far larger lode of problems that would have brought her. On writing, I am trying to write a book also. I am working on a program called New Novelist and I am having so troubles developing my main character and if you have any tips on how to make the character better I would really appreciate it. By the way, my name is Stephanie and I’m 13.

  19. Float On

    when i get really angry, i always read a book or something. it is so much better to deal with a characters life than your own. i also listen to a song that no matter how angry or sad or whatever you are, you cant stay that way. sure getting anry feels good because at the moment, you are a bit carefree. this song “Float On” by modest mouse is SUCH a great song. just the whole energy is awesome. its loud, no one can really understand the lyrics the first time, and original. i LOVE it, so i recommend it if you havent heard it before.

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