Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's raining again

In constant fear that my internal organs are going to start tumbling out through my jitch, I’ve revived The Kegel Pole-kaTM exercise regime.1 You'll recall this involves a fair bit of walking, so I wisely decided to start yesterday, which happened to be the hottest, sunniest day we’ve seen for what seems like forever.2 I walked pretty far in bad shoes, sweating and turning a bright and melty shade of red that had my satellite-office3 employees diving for the phone to call 911 when I arrived there looking all heart-attacky-ish.

So today I was working at Mount Saint Vincent University. (Note the name.) I didn’t have the car and had printed off a bunch of bus schedules so I could take the bus home. Unfortunately, in my printing frenzy I forgot to bring money or tickets for the bus, so I set out to track down some change. It was after 5 pm, and it’s summer, so the only thing open in the Seton Academic Centre complex was the library.

“Is there a bank machine here or would I have to got up to Rosaria?” I asked the friendly librarian, who must have been bored stiff and miserably lonely because she jumped up and ran towards me as soon as I opened the library door.

“I’m sorry, you’d have to go up to Rosaria.”

Rosaria is behind the library. It takes about three minutes to get there. But it’s up a hill. A steep hill. (This is where you recall the university’s name. The MOUNT.4) And there’re A LOT of crows there that time of day.5

So instead, in my infinite and ever-surprising wisdom, I opted to take the half-hour walk to the grocery store instead. In the rain.6 Actually it was more of a drizzle – one where an umbrella won’t even help7 because the drops don’t fall down, they just sort of hover and slide around through the air, making them impossible to escape. If you’re stunned enough to venture outside. Which I clearly am.8

Do you know what was going through my head as I walked? Yep, you guessed it: the theme music from Sex And The City. It’s not that I think I’m anything like Carrie Bradshaw (I wish), but it sure makes the walk more fun if you strut a little and pretend like you don’t know the bus with your picture on the side is about to come along and splash mucky water all over you and your pink-leotard-and-tutu dress.9

So I’m prancing (yes, prancing) down the Bedford Highway during rush hour, and it’s not the most picturesque sight – the railroad tracks on the left mar the view of Halifax Harbour and giant concrete retaining walls flank me on the right. But then I see this:

Here it is up close:

That’s right. It’s raining rose petals.

Be open to the happy, my friends. It’s out there – rain or shine.

1. I’m also concerned that if I don’t start losing some weight, I’m going to need a new postal code now that Canada Post is back in action.

2. It’s been raining incessantly here for the past few months. We all have Seasonal Affective Disorder and want to kill each other. I’ve even taken to sniping at strangers on other people’s blogs and FaceBook about the stupidest things. I haven’t been this bitchy since I made a girl cry in Grade 10 debating. The topic was “smoking in bingo halls.” I have no idea if our team was pro or con. All that matters is that we won, bitches.

3. Starbucks.

4. Please – no nun sex jokes, k?

5. Like, thousands. No joke.

6. Did I mention that the hot sunny weather was short-lived? Mother Nature has a serious hate-on for us right now. I blame the NDP.

7. Not that I had the fucking foresight to bring an umbrella, of course.

8. By the time I reached Superstore, my hair had frizzed to such a size that I couldn't fit through the door.

9. Sorry – that’s the SAD seeping in.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Please, Sir, may I have a shower?

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend today about how as wives and mothers we feel compelled to ask permission to do – well, anything.

Even in this age of the enlightened husband/father, we still have our unhealthy doses of mother/wife guilt that somehow seep into everything we do.

And we do a lot. A helluva a lot.

There has never been so much pressure on women to do it all and be it all. With a smile. With time to spare. And yet we feel guilty when we have a night meeting. Or when we have a volunteer responsibility (often undertaken for the benefit of our children and their peers). Or when we go to a movie or for supper with a friend. Or when we don’t balance the books. Or when we get a shower.

Wait now – guilt over a shower?

We all need to shower, right? Isn’t the world a better place when you don’t stank up the joint like a rotting cowpatty?

So why do I feel the need to check that it’s “ok” for me to get a shower before I do it? I can’t remember the last time my husband asked me if it was ok for him to get in the shower.

Oh yah – that’s because it’s never frikkin’ happened.

It’s not really asking permission directly, as in “May I get a shower?” It’s more like “I’m going to hop in the shower, ok?” It’s the ok that I tack on the end. It seems like an afterthought but it is, essentially, asking permission.

And that makes me throw up a little on my twin set and poodle skirt.

Now, granted, we put a lot of this pressure on ourselves. Sure our worser halves can be jerks about stuff like this, but I believe that we (ok, I) can be paranoid about reprimands and reproachful glances that sometimes don’t exist. (Sometimes. Not all the time.)

How did we end up with this guilt and need to get sign-off before we do things? What would happen if we did as our husbands do most of the time and just said “I’m doing this right now.” The “Deal with it” would be implied. We deal with it. We may grumble, but that’s what we do. (That’s usually what they do too, but the grumbles are more whiny – at least at my house.)

But seriously – would the world fall apart without female guilt? Would shit just not get done without it?

Ugh – this topic makes me feel dirty. I’m getting a shower.


P.S. RIP Peter Falk... As you wish.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's not you, it's me...

Thank you Merit Badger for so beautifully expressing what it means to query.

For you non-writers out there,querying is when you think your novel is finished and you start to fish around asking agents to consider representing you and your little project. The main thrust of the process is the query letter, in which you must convey just how frikkin' awesome your work is, without telling (showing only, of course) and by somehow encapsulating the plot, characters, voice and genre in about 250 words. You research agents and figure out which ones might be interested in your work and try to find some tidbit of information that links you to them3 or to work they've represented and/or admired.5 Then you you do a few (63) test runs to make sure your formatting is going to be ok when you send it, you double, triple and quadruple check your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, contact information (yours and theirs - no Dear John when you are sending to Jill), blind copy yourself so you can prolong the torture after you actually send it by finding typos and /&*20/ weird formatting codes that pop up despite your best efforts and then - press send. Then throw up. You do this individually for your dream list of agents.

And then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And hit refresh.

And wait.

And wait.

And repeat this process 68 times per hour until...

The first form rejection.

And then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And hit refresh.

And wait.

And wait.

And repeat this process 68 times per hour until...

The second form rejection.

And then you wait.

And... well, you get the picture.

Rejection is an unavoidable part of most writers' lives. The form rejection is where you get to see how nice and creative your dream agent is (and get reminded how much you really, really liked them before they smashed your tender little dreams into a million little rainbow sprinkles, peed on the sprinkles and then flushed them down the nearest toilet), or how they were probably an arsehole and you were lucky to dodge them. (Hey - we have to protect our fragile egos somehow.)

"You're work is interesting, but I'm not the best person to represent it at this time."

"Thank you for your interest, but I'm not looking for this type of work."

"I'm going to have to pass at this time - this is not a reflection of the quality of your work; I'm sure some other agent will love it and make you millions of dollars. I'm just too stunned to appreciate your brilliance and earn you the money you so richly deserve."

"It's not you, it's me."

A response to a query letter can take anywhere from an hour to never (many agents have a "no response means no" practice thanks to the gazillions of queries they now get in this delightfully convenient age of e-mail).  

Occasionally, so I've heard, writers will get a request for a partial (50 or 100 pages) or full (the entire manuscript). A precious few will get offers of representation. I'm at two form rejections now, so I'm just getting started. There will be many, many more rejections before I get a nibble. If I get a nibble. Eventually I will tire of stalking my e-mail and pacing a hole through my living room floor and will get back to what we are all advised to do when querying:

Keep writing.

Actually, that's what we're advised to do all the time. Because writers write. And if you love it, you have to focus on the writing and not on the business side of it or you will surely go mad.7

Just keep writing.

And so, here I am, blogging again after an embarrassingly considerable absence and hopefully giving you a taste of an unpublished writer's life. And perhaps a hint as to why I am so fucking crazy half9 the time.

Wish me luck!

1. The writers, upon seeing the Q word, have long since retreated to a corner and are balled into fetal position, rocking back and forth, humming and sucking their thumbs. Or petting rabbits.2

2. And by that I mean the John-Malkovich-playing-Lennie-in-Of-Mice-and-Men style of rabbit petting.

3. She's a Quidditch Seeker too - match made in publishing heaven!4

4. I'm not really a Seeker. I'd be more of a Beater. But not in a dirty way.

5. She loves Helen Fielding and Ernest Hemmingway - what a coincidence - I write like their long-lost love child!6

6. Not really. But maybe I should...

7. I know, I know, Most writers are a bit loopy to start with.8 But this whole trying-to-get-published stuff is like a hyper-warp beyond your previously slow, measured descent into madness, fo' shizzle.

8. Sort of like city councillors.

9. Jodi. Being generous with the fractions. (Think Rob Schneider making copies again.)