Clearing the Decks

So I’ve been getting more and more erratic with the blog, as you, my few loyal and devoted followers, no doubt have noticed. What can I say? School resumed, and since we live 30 miles from my son’s high school, that means enormous amounts of time spent in the car. No, I can’t blog while I’m in the car. Because I’M DRIVING, that’s why. People actually ask me things like that. Well, can’t you just write in the car? I could if I were sitting in a parking lot, doofus, but I don’t just get in my car and sit there for a few hours. That would be weird. Although strangely restful. Why don’t you move closer to the school, so you don’t have to spend hours driving there and back and there and back every day? That’s another one I hear a lot. Well, thank you, there was a plan to that affect but then this little thing called the Mortgage Crisis kicked in and now our house is pretty much unsellable. So—the long, draining, daily drive. Throw in working a second job and all the usual housewifey/mom things and there’s not a lot of writing time left.

Which brings me to the point of the blog: If I use what little writing time I have to tweet and blog and Facebook—is Facebook a verb now? Does one engage in the act of Facebooking? I don’t know what else to call it. (This is how you know Facebook is ultimately going to go the same way of MySpace—it just does not sound like a cool thing to do. Tweeting and twittering, they sound like fun. Pinning stuff—that sounds kind of fun too. Even though I still don’t fully understand why I’m supposed to be pinning pictures of things on the Internet instead of pinning actual pictures on walls, it sounds fun. Facebooking sounds like something cops do when you’re arrested.

Anyway, now I’m really getting to the point, and this time I mean it: the point is, if I’m spending all my time on peripheral writing like this blog, there’s very little time and mental energy left over to work on a new book. And I really need to work on a new book. Not because it will make me rich—it won’t. I need to do it because then I’m a writer. And I just don’t feel like blogging really “counts” when it comes to writing. I suppose that makes me a bit of a luddite. I’ve toyed with doing something very hip and postmodern, like writing my next book online—blogging each new chapter and letting blog readers vote on where the story goes. But I’m too much of a control freak for that. So, I need to focus on the next book. Maybe even more than ONE next book.

And in order to do that, I’ve finally succumbed to one of the craziest damn schemes I’ve ever heard of: NaNoWriMo. This is where a bunch of other creatively frustrated writers decide that putting themselves under an insane deadline and a ridiculous amount of pressure might result in a brilliant—or at least passable—first draft of a new book. In one month. The month of November. Hence the name: National Novel Writing Month.

I suspect this is going to be a disaster for me. I think it’s going to work like a diet. If I go on an official diet, I immediately crave whatever thing I’m supposed to be giving up, even if it’s mashed eels. I then gain five more pounds, get depressed about those five pounds, and eat myself up to an additional five more pounds. Probably I’ll try to meet an insane word count quota for NaNoWriMo and totally seize up. Then I won’t even be able to produce enough words for a blog, much less an entire novel.

But I also think it could be a lot of fun just to give this a go. See if it reignites my dwindling enthusiasm for novel writing. And if it doesn’t, then maybe come December, I’ll be spending a lot more time pinning virtual pictures of things at Pinterest instead. But if it DOES reignite my enthusiasm, by the end of November, I’ll have most of a rough draft done for my next novel. Which is important since I put a picture of it on my bookmarks and told everyone it will be coming out “sometime next year.”

In the meantime, little weblings, don’t despair. As I churn out my 50,000 words for November, I’ll probably still pop in here from time to time. I just don’t plan to be very wordy when I do.

Mostly, I’ll just drop in, say Hey! and leave you with some edifying piece of pop culture, like this brilliantly true piece about the realities of the publishing biz from one of my favorite comedy teams, Mitchell and Webb.

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B*tches Be Crazy

So it’s looking like Dr. Sheldon Cooper is turning out to be an even bigger magnet for weirdos than I was in my youth. And I was an incredible weirdo super-magnet, believe me.  Plus. he’s starting with the weirdo magnetism way earlier than I did—in his teens, whereas I was such a wallflower, I didn’t start pulling them into my orbit until my early twenties! So kudos to Dr. Cooper once again for being an overachiever.

As for my personal collection of weirdos: first there was Ralph, your standard unemployed loser with a wispy mustache who lived with his mom. There was Jack, who played a mean game of darts but was mean in so many other ways too. A couple of dysfunctional married men, of course. And last but not least, Rich the Elvis Impersonator. Because how can you call your life complete if you haven’t dated at least one Elvis Impersonator? [Note: Rich was not nearly as cute as Drew Ahearn.]

But enough about me. We were talking about Dr. Sheldon Cooper‘s nascent love life. I say nascent but at the rate it’s going, it could in fact be stillborn. [Actual quote from Dr. Cooper—who is not very religious at all—after the latest “incident:” Maybe I should just become a priest.]

We’ve talked before about the tragic figure of Ophelia, whose ongoing battle with severe mental illness informs Dr. Cooper’s reaction to all “interested” females (for lack of a better term). When he met the new girl, who shall henceforth be known as Annie (after that famously self-involved neurotic, Annie Hall), things seemed to be looking up. They met at a school mixer and she asked for his number. This will be quick, I thought. Because I am OLD.

[Okay, I’m not really that old. But it was too entertaining to pass up. Thank you, Retronaut!] Back in my day – you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, wearing shoulder pads and really big hair, a girl would never have dared ask for a guy’s number. Then she would never have dared use that number. And if she had used it once, she would never have used it again, because she would’ve then taken the hint if he didn’t call her back. Even if he was just clueless and didn’t actually mean it as a hint to stop calling.

But that was B.C. – Before Cellphones. Now, with the joyous advent of mobile technology, you can politely give out your phone number to someone you barely know—and be pursued by them relentlessly for a year or more even if you offer almost no encouragement whatsoever.

And of course, that is exactly what has happened to Dr. Cooper. Both he and Annie are, frankly, remarkably lame when it comes to social skills with the opposite sex. So was I as a teenager, but without cell phones and Facebook, I had a lot less opportunity to display my lameness.

With almost no encouragement, Annie Hall has continued to text Dr. Cooper about her life on a semi-regular basis, clearly hoping at some point he will ask her out. Or something. Dr. Cooper confided that while he would like a “female friend” to invite to dances and other obligatory adolescent social events, he really does not want a “girlfriend.” And who can blame him after the Ophelia incident?

Over the summer, the texting stopped, but now that school has resumed, so has the texting. My theory? Summer romance gone wrong, Annie Hall has decided to target her back-up option. Mildly annoying but no big deal.

And then, last week this:

U R A WASTE OF TIME! GOOD BYE

WTF?

Well, it turns out that while Dr. Cooper was meeting with his algebra tutor (with phone turned off, of course, because algebra tutors are like that, especially when they’re also head of the school’s Discipline Committee)—Annie Hall had repeatedly texted him. The entire content of those texts: “Hello.” Followed by the ubiquitous and annoying, “Hey.” Apparently, his failure to respond solicitously was the last straw. Thus the searing wit of her “Waste of Time” missive.

RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

I would like to say I found all this out because Dr. Cooper confided in me and asked my advice, but alas, he did not. Truth is, I snooped. Since the Ophelia incident, I figure my job is not to be his friend or his friend’s friend. It’s to proactively protect. Some experts might call it “helicopter parenting,” but that is because no one ever tried to commit bloody suicide while talking on the phone to their thirteen-year-old. Call me Tiger Mom. Rowr. Also, I pay for the damn phone, so I can look at whatever’s on it. After three or four days of Brooding Dr. Cooper with no explanation, I checked out the call log and discovered the message. But it turned out, that wasn’t what had annoyed him. What really annoyed him is that he thought the “Waste of Time” message meant she was out of his life. But of course, with girls and Dr. Cooper, it can never be that simple. Two days later, she had texted him while he was hanging out with friends at the Homecoming Game. 

HEY. I’M HERE.

And when he didn’t respond to that with a heartfelt invitation to come sit with him, she dashed off an irritable:

FINE. I AM LEAVING NOW.

I’ve got a newsflash for Annie Hall: Once you call a guy a “waste of time,” it’s kind of over. Unless your next text is, “So sorry, it must’ve been the vodka and PMS. Forgive me.”

But even then, you might want to just delete that phone number from your Contacts List and find someone who gives a darn.

Here’s hoping that in college (if not sooner), Dr. Cooper can start attracting girls with higher self-esteem. And not so much of the passive-aggressive Bella Swan Velcro Personality Disorder so popular with teenaged girls these days.

MORE ABOUT WRITING NEXT TIME. I SWEAR. CAN I HELP IT IF MY LIFE IS A TEEN SOAP OPERA?!

Are you missing me?

I’m not sure what really happened, but suddenly I noticed it’s been over two weeks since I posted here. I’m going to blame Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s crazy schedule. Being his personal chauffeur is quite time-consuming, and now that school’s back in session, the mileage really goes up.

Here’s an absolute promise to catch up on this blog this weekend and not let it slide so long in the future!