Out of a desire not to feed the machine, I’m not linking to any news stories to put this in context, but most will know what I’m writing about.
The best response to the tragedy in Colorado, I think, is to GO to the movies this weekend, NOT bathe in the cable and online terror-lather created by the shooter (whose name I won’t use: he doesn’t deserve to achieve sick fame with his twisted act.) As Roger Ebert pointed out in his great column yesterday, attention paid to this crime is only getting some other sick-in-the-head psycho planning his own spotlight-seeking massacre (and, sadly, it could happen anywhere, not just a theater — have we forgotten all the school, mall, workplace bloodbaths?) So, I’m not reading anymore about it. I’m completely happy to turn off the lights on this right now and there’s literally no better place for that than a darkened theater.
I’m excited to announce that THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT is here! (Though, my title does also lead you to people who want to sell you talisman to protect you when the Mayan prophecy comes true Dec. 21.)
Right now, through a deal between my publisher, Alloy Entertainment,and Barnes and Noble, the book is available exclusively on BN.com for their NOOK device. If you don’t have a NOOK and want to read it right away, you can download a NOOK app for your smartphone, iPhone or computer. Or, if you own a Kindle, an iPad or another e-reader device, you’ll be able to buy the book on Aug. 18.
In the past week, much has been made of the article, “The Busy Trap,” on the New York Times’ website. Much being made, these days, means that a whole slew of people posted the article to their Facebook Timeline and then went back to playing Bubble Witch Saga.
But, seriously, the writer, Tim Kreider, is on to something. Why so busy, Batman?
He posits that a lot of our busy is self-imposed, and he’d probably be right. In the last few months — and especially when my manuscript was in its final round of edits — I’ve had dozens of heart-popping moments in which my brain rotates around a list of to-dos that, if I really mulled them, could be reduced by half if I also created a “why bother?” list. (For example, no one has to read a mounting pile of US Weekly back issues, and yet, when in the final throes of The End of the World as We Know It, nothing seemed more important than making sure the stack was not neglected.)
I’m not yet a full-time writer, so some of my busy is, to me, totally necessary. I have to, as much as possible, try to squeeze in some writing every day, even if it’s only for a half-hour before my son wakes up, or for 45 minutes before bed, after I’ve gone to work, prevented a toddling lunatic from swan-diving off the furniture, eaten some semblance of a meal. I’m helped by a supportive husband who takes on more than his fair share of the workload. (Right now, he’s playing blocks with our son, whose idea of sleeping in this Saturday was waiting until 5:41 a.m. to make it clear he had better things to do than peacefully slumber. His cries translated roughly to, “Getupgetupgetup, doImakemyselfclearyoulazySOBS???”)
Usually, after a long day, what I really want to do is give in to the siren song of vegetation, watching TV or reading a book and saying I’m doing so in the name of research. On weekends, I long to be the kind of SoCal denizen who does leisurely weekend things, like take long, head-clearing hikes; glide along the beach like one of those effortless L.A. beauties that I’m too pale and high-strung to ever be; linger over brunch; cook wonderfully healthy meals with fresh goodies I picked up on a stroll through the farmers market. (Though I don’t stroll. These L.A. people walk way too slowly for this Chicago girl.) Sometimes, I fit that stuff in, but I have to be careful not to pack the weekend with too many activities, making myself too busy to get a nice chunk of writing time in. See, there is that inconvenient truth to being a writer: You have to actually, you know, write.
Despite the image of writers as cool characters who lounge in cafes all day and then jot down an outpouring of brilliant words by night, the reality for me is, that a lot of weekends in the middle of one of my projects, I spend a whole bunch of time whining that the rest of the world is having more fun than me. When I’m writing, I believe everyone I know is doing something super-fantastic that I’ll never have the chance to do. Even if you tell me you’re not, and call me from Wal-mart jail or something, I won’t believe you. But the paradox is this: when I do go do something fun, that’s not writing, I feel guilt for not writing and whine about that. I could be diving into a pool filled with cake batter in the South of France on my birthday while drunk enough to believe Marie Antoinette was playing lifeguard but still my annoying inner-taskmaster would be worried about the fact that I’m not writing. (My hallucinatory drunkenness would not be a problem.)
Here’s what Heidman says about his schedule:
I am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know. Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day.
I ambish (new word, meaning “to have ambition for”) to be the laziest ambitious person I know, just like Heidman. For the time being, I have to deal with being a busy lazy person.
I know I could maybe give up writing. It’s true that, in the week or so after I finish a project, when I’m at most tinkering around with an idea but not really, truly in full writing mode, I do feel a little more relaxed. I have time to do more stuff I like. I read more, and see more movies. I cook more and I bake. I get outdoors more. My garden is only half-dead instead of full-dead. It’s not like I’d harm anyone by retiring this instant. As Heidman puts it:
More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.
Richard Scarry, though he was a children’s book author and illustrator, didn’t — as far as I can remember — include his career in his Busytown books. What we do wouldn’t stop the world from spinning on its axis, though I hope it makes it more pleasant. Maybe Scarry’s dump truck driver is a blues guitarist by night, and that meter maid is writing a screenplay. And maybe Lowly Worm totally sells his paintings on Etsy. You know Dingo dog is up to something in his spare time. Or at least I hope so. Because for as much as I could pack my life with new to-do’s if I weren’t writing, I think the not-writing would — in time, at least — hurt more.
I hope, if you’re reading this and you’re looking for more time to make your art or do your thing, my confession (that not every writer wants to spend all of his or her free time writing) has helped. And, if you’re just wondering why you never have time to just chill, here’s an exercise to try: Next time someone asks what you’re up to at your lunch hour, or after work, or over the weekend, take pause before you tell them you’re “crazy busy.” Are you really, or is the to-do that’s calling you your equivalent of tending to some dusty US Weekly mags?
While you do that, I’ll be over here, not learning how to stroll.
Oops. What a terrible title for this post that is. I mean, I know why I’m here. And I hope you’re here to meet me and, like, learn about my books and stuff. *gazes at feet and shyly kicks ground* If I knew why WE were here, I’d certainly be living it up this Saturday evening, you know, collecting lauds for my genius in the penthouse suite of a mountain (a mountain that I own, having received it as a gift from an unnamed dignitary). Fizzy cocktails and desserts on sticks would be involved. But I don’t, and I’m not. Rather, I’m squeezing in this post before settling in to watch some Downton Abbey. (D to the A, what what?) Unless, watching Downton Abbey is why we’re here. Couldn’t tell you. I’m only one episode in.
Preamble ramble aside, let’s now get to why I’m here, and why I hope you are here:
To learn about my book, The End of the World As We Know It.
The tizzy you’re having is real, and it’s good. So tizz away. Just be classy about it.
So, The End of the World As We KnowItwill be arriving to electronic reading devices soon. It’s a young adult novel about an unlikely quartet of teens thrown together to battle aliens that have attacked their Chicago suburb. It takes place over Casimir Pulaski Day weekend. (Casimir Pulaski Day is a holiday in mid-March for which you get a day off school if you live in Chicago. Yeah, it’s pretty special. If I figure out why we’re here, maybe I’ll get a school holiday in my honor, too, or maybe there will just be no school ever again.) Anyway, please think of TEotWaWKI as War of the Worlds meets The Breakfast Club(if Ally Sheedy had had more weapons in her crazy handbag.)
The book is from the good folks at Alloy Entertainment, who’ve brought you Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, The A-List, and the upcoming 666 Park Avenue, among many other very entertaining things.
The pretty official word on the street is that TEotWaWKI is due out on BN.com as a Nook Book beginning July 10, and will emerge for other e-book formats (Kindle, iBooks) starting about a month later. (You could say that the book is so nice, we’re releasing it twice.) I’ll confirm all of that as the date nears, and hopefully have a sample chapter or two to share. So stop back for more details, find me on Twitter (@ivamarie) and on Facebook and, most importantly, get ready for The End of the World as We KnowIt!
Picture a glorious web site, filled with funny quips, cute pictures, insights, heart, hilarity, unicorns, reading recommendations and giant globs of self promotion. Now keep that in your head until my team and I can transform this placeholder site into just such a place.
Even more important, please watch here for updates on my soon to be released Alloy book “The End of the World as We Know It.”
And in the meantime check me out on Twitter @ivamarie.