That sound you hear? That's me blasting past the word limit for my current work in progress at high speed, gleefully barreling towards completion. I don't think I'll double the requested word limit ... not quite.
So there I was, minding my own business, just trying to catch up on some of my neglected blog reading (some of my Bloglines subscriptions are so far past overflowing that it's not even funny) and came across an entry of Elaine's that mentioned a new online book cataloging site, LibraryThing. I was interested enough to check it out ... and thus, I was doomed.
LibraryThing lets you list all the books that you own. Through the Library of Congress and the various Amazons, you can add books quickly and have their listings automatically include pictures of the covers, author, title, ISBN, publication date, publisher, etc. Then you can use tags to categorize and subcategorize everything in your library, leave personal comments about any of the books, their condition, location in your house, etc., and see who else on LibraryThing has the same books. Social networking through books!!
You can list up to 200 books for free, and a lifetime paid account is $10. I have paid my $10, and am filling up my personal library in spare bits of time. Oh, it's so lovely! Especially when I can get all the books at my parents' house listed, too -- all the books I own, searchable, categorized, at my fingertips!
I feel bad for those who choose only to "write what they know" in the strictest and most limited sense. How terribly dull. In the past few days I've researched archaeological digs, forensic anthropology, and retrotransposons. And the story's nowhere near done.
I realized I haven't said this publicly, and please excuse the egotism inherent in this thought, but really, I should. I'm happy right now. More so, I think, than I have been in a long time.
I've said that the trip I took in August was amazing. I don't really feel right calling it a vacation, because it was so much more than that. It made me feel connected, inspired. I walked around for three weeks constantly amazed and overjoyed and just so overwhelmingly happy with the places I was going, the things I was seeing, and the people with whom I was spending my time. I came home jetlagged, yes, but also feeling so full of energy that I didn't know what to do with it all. And things just started happening.
Right now, I'm doing what I love. And not just writing, though of course I mean that. I have two fiction projects on the go: a science fiction story (with a deadline) that's currently called "Harbinger" -- a story that's creepy, mysterious and requiring more research to pull off than I ever thought I'd need to do -- and the novel. A novel that I love, with a story that makes me smile just to think about. I'm also doing things with wool: a scarf that Carly requested, and a very large crochet project that's a gift for an unnamed person. I've designed a logo. I'm thinking about painting again.
And then there's Stellar Magpie. Sarah and I haven't really said much publicly about our Great Plan, and I suppose we should at some point, but in short I've been learning to make jewelry over the last few weeks. Very simple things at first -- adding beads to headpins on pre-formed pieces and the like -- but branching out as I go. I'm learning to knit and weave wire, and am picking up a few basic chainmail weaves. I created an earring style this afternoon that I'm calling a Byzantine Tear -- a bit of Byzantine chainmail knotwork made from 5mm rings, from which hangs a deep blue teardrop glass bead. Very simple, and yet beautiful.
There's more, too. So much more. The key thing, though, is that I'm being creative. Not just in one particular way, and not in scraps of time, but with my whole self. I'm working on a whole variety of different creative pursuits that engage different aspects of my brain, and am doing it on a very flexible schedule. I'm getting enough sleep, and trying to eat better foods.
And the thing is, I feel like me. I feel more myself in a very whole and grounded sort of way than I think I can ever remember feeling for more than a day or two at a time. It's an amazing thing to strip away the stress and the worry and the pointless demands and all the rest and see what's left behind. I think I'm a better person. And I think it's apparent to those around me, too; I can't quite count the number of times I've been told since I returned home in August how great I'm looking, how happy, how alive.
Yesterday I started reading and fell in love with Adam Stemple's novel Singer of Souls. This was one from a small collection of ARCs kindly loaned to me by generous friends.
Now if you had said to me, here is a book about a musician with magical powers and his crazy entanglements with the faery courts, I just might have passed. Because, really, there are a great many books about this general theme, some of which are quite excellent and a great many of which I could have frankly done without. But the drugs, lack of whininess and absence of misunderstood musician angst in the opening chapter made me give it a go and within a few chapters I knew I was in trouble because it was clear that I loved this book and that I had to give back the ARC and I wanted it to be mine, mine, mine. (I have this trouble with library books, too. And other books I borrow from friends. Etc.)
I continued loving this book right up to the last few chapters. And then it took a very sharp turn into "WTF??" territory and left me blinking. As I closed the book and set it aside, I actually said aloud, "Now why did he have to go and do that?" ("He" meaning the author, though I suppose that it's a valid question for the character, too.) I tried to tell myself that it's just an ARC and maybe everything will be (has been) fixed in the real book, though somehow I think that a complete rewrite of the ending does not fall in the same category as copyediting errors.
And it's not that I am against sad/painful/etc. endings as a general principle -- quite the opposite, in fact. What I am against, however, is wrong endings. Endings that don't fit the tone of the book, or the personality of the character as established through the rest of the book; endings that are ... the wrong shape. It's just the wrong shape.
So I'd like to register a complaint.
Adam Stemple: your book kicks ass. Its ending does not. I am displeased at my own displeasure with the ending of the book. Please do not do this again. Ever.
Thank you, The Management
So now I am torn. I love this book ... mostly. I'll probably still buy it, but it's no longer at the top of my "when I have money again, I'll buy ..." list. And I'm definitely not getting it in hardcover.
But I have hope. According to the back of the ARC, this is the first novel that he's written (with the exception of collaborations with his mother, Jane Yolen) and if his first novel was so engaging, then just imagine what his second might be like.
Back when I was working at York, somehow -- and tracing the exact details of how and why and when is a difficult task -- I became very interested in marketing. Specifically, online marketing, customer relationship building through the internet, that sort of thing. It was somewhat shocking, this new interest of mine, simply because it was heading in almost the opposite direction of where I thought my interests would lead me. I mean, I found the idea of getting a business degree actively repellant, not to mention somewhat confusing (why would anyone want such a thing?), and yet there I was, taking marketing texts out of the library on my spare time.
When I left York, I sort of left that aspect of my interests behind -- with the rare and fun exception of a few in-depth conversations with my father. Though I brought all my work bookmarks home with me to transfer to my home computer, and though I set up my personal Bloglines account with a Marketing/Blogging folder that contained all my favourite daily reads on such things, once I was home I very easily fell back into the behavioural patterns of Karina, writer girl and SF fan. I never visited the websites; my marketing subscriptions cue up, unread.
Yet recently, at a job interview, I jumped at the mention of the possibility of my being a Marketing Assistant. Though I ultimately chose not to interview for the position when asked due to other reasons entirely, my own reaction got me to thinking: marketing, huh? Still?
My mental answer was yes, very much yes.
So this evening, on a whim, I visited what was perhaps one of my very favourite sites, a daily read every morning, top of the to-do list when I reached work: the blog Creating Passionate Users. I didn't let myself read much of the new material, but instead dug through the archives for a single picture at the top of one of the entries. Here it is. When I first found it, I laughed for a good minute and then declared it the funniest thing I'd seen in a long while. I made it my desktop at work and every time I saw it, I'd smile. Why? Because I new exactly what it was talking about and it felt like me -- like I was one of those people, chatting about that transparent Cluetrain and influencing the sneezers. Because I was. Much to the perpetual confusion of my coworkers, that was me.
A geek who talked like a marketer. And oh, how I loved it.
Staring at that picture, and all those lovely references to Scoble and Cluetrain and Seth Godin and all the rest, I remembered how it felt to be that person, the absolute thrill it gave me.
I'm still very happy being Karina, writer girl and SF fan, but if I can I think I'd like to add Karina, geek marketer back into the mix. As I scour the job boards these days, I think that that's the job I'm looking for.