Sunday, December 27, 2009

Conversation with a Half-Finished Novel

Hi, novel? We need to talk.

See, the thing is...I mean, it's like this... Oh, crap. I'm just going to say it.

It's over.

No, no, it's not you. Not at all. You're wonderful. Amazing. You're deep and layered and evocative and...and... Well, you know, I admire you so much. And love you, sure. Of course. It's just...I'm not in love with you.

I have tried. You know I have. I was there for you, wasn't I? Every day for a year and a half--

Oh, here we go again. Complaining that I have a day job. How many times do I have to explain this to you? The laptop, the flash drive, you think they grow on trees? I worked for those. I gave you the best, I busted my butt for you. You can't deny that. I've worked so hard but it's just not...

No, don't cry. Come on. Please. I swear, it's not you. It's me. Really. I'm not good enough for you. You deserve someone better. Someone who can do you justice. You're so intricate, I already say layered?

What? No! How can you even think that? I mean sure, there have been blog posts, but they're nothing compared to you! I would never--

Okay, now you're just talking crazy. When would I even have had the time? Five days a week, who was I working on? You. What do you think, I had some other file open on some other computer? That in between typing on you, I'd sneak away and dash off two sentences with someone else and then sneak back? Do you hear how crazy that sounds?

Those were games of solitaire! Look, I swear to you, I never once cheated on you. What are you talking about, "other novel"? What other nov--

Oh. That.

OK, look, just calm down, all right? It's not what it looks like, I can explain. See, there was this...

Fine. You want the truth? OK, then. You're right. I am leaving you for another book.

No, it did not start back in Chapter 3! I didn't even know the other novel then!

See, this is what I'm saying. We've always had problems. Right from the start, fighting over every single word. I kept thinking it'd get better, that if I just hung in there we'd hit that groove, we'd start making beautiful music...

As if I need you to tell me that. You're not my first trip to the fair, you know. I know it gets hard. I know there are rough patches. Times we want to quit. But where was the magic? We didn't even get a honeymoon. That exaltation, the joy of beginning, when you feel you can scale mountains and cross deserts, like you can conquer the world... You don't even understand what I'm talking about, do you?

Why yes, if you want to know. The other novel does understand.

I didn't mean for this to happen. It's not like I went out looking for it. The other novel just popped into my head. And we started spending time together, and it just, I don't know. It made me feel so alive. Like I could do anything! I admit it, I fell. I fell hard. I couldn't help it.

Oh, sure, throw that in my face. "Once a cheater, always a cheater." You think once the going gets tough I'm going to dump the new novel, too. Well, I won't.

I won't.

No, I won't.

Fine. Believe whatever you want. But this isn't some whim. I've agonized over this decision for weeks. Months. And I've decided it's for the best. For both of us.

No, wait, let me explain! What I mean is, maybe I'm just not ready for you yet. In a year or two, when I've got this other novel out of my system...I mean, I'm not making any promises or anything...

So hey, we're good, right? Because I hate to do this, but I've got to go. Thanks. For everything. You taught me a lot. I'll never forget you.

Um, yeah...the other novel is waiting.

Okaaaay, well. Awkward. So, um, take care of yourself. It's been great. And we can still be friends, right?

Oh, wait, I almost forgot. I, uh...I'm going to need that flash drive.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

From Virginia, With Love

I recently received the most delicious news: Ten Cents a Dance has been named a 2009 Jefferson Cup Honor Book by the Virginia Library Association!

Each year, the Jefferson Cup Award Committee selects one winner and four honor books that are "distinguished American biography, historical fiction or history book for young people." Of Ten Cents, the committee said: "Chicago life in the 1940s is described with such accuracy in details of speech and slang, clothes, transportation, and clubs as to lend unusual veracity and authority to a work of teen fiction. Ruby is believably portrayed in her time and place as a feisty young woman doing her best with a difficult situation."

Without the resources of our own magnificent Multnomah County Library, with its wonderful and ever-helpful librarians, I never could have achieved anything close to that veracity. Most writers love libraries and I'm no exception. And that makes recognition by librarians very sweet indeed! Many, many thanks to the Jefferson Cup Award Committee for selecting Ten Cents a Dance as one of their four honor books this year. Love ya, Virginia!