After I stopped writing for the GL project last month, people asked me “What are you going to do next?” I almost wanted to tell them “I’m going to Disneyland!” I didn’t because it sounded snarky, also I didn’t even have the money to go to Disneyland. However, it is time for a new writing project, and a new blogging project as well.
First off, the writing project. I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Yeah, last year wasn’t a success. However, I’m in the “Try try try again” school where you get up, dust yourself off, sit down, and try again. I don’t want to say what the novel will be about, since I’m not sure yet. I’m always hesitant to tell much about my fiction or show it to other people. Usually people are supportive and give great feedback. However, I remember one time I showed my writing to a man I was interested in. “You write a lot about the suburbs, don’t you?” he asked me when he was done.
To be fair, I don’t think he was being snobby. I did get my dander up and I wanted to say: “Hey! What about it, man? So did John Cheever! And John Updike! And…” Oh, I could’ve gone on and on. Yet one of the first writing rules I learned was write about your neighborhood. Larry McMurtry has the oil towns of Texas, Anne Lamott has the lush beauty of Marin, and Flannery O’Connor had rural Georgia. Me, I have the East Bay Area suburbs. I think there are worse places to write about.
I can also get people who show another type of cluelessness. During one workshop, I was criticize that, of all things, my character picked out a Meg Cabot book to read. “I don’t know who she is! Will your readers know? I don’t think so.” It took everything not to respond to her: “She’s written over a hundred novels and half of them are New York Times best-sellers, plus her readings are filled with teenage girls. You bet your buttons they will know who she is, and you’d better learn too.” Me, bitter? Never!
This is why I can’t say much about my fiction writing; I really need to be quiet with it and figure out the plot, characters motivations, how they get from here to there. I know if it goes well I will write and talk about it soon, just not right now.
The blogging challenge is going to be just fun. Lizzie Skurnick, one of our authors, wrote one of my favorite books of the year, Shelf Discovery. In it, she rereads and remembers her favorite childhood/teen books. I almost wanted to write her and say: “I think you are my long-lost sister. I’m also very jealous you wrote this book before me.” I can’t write Shelf Discovery 2: Electric Boogaloo; however, I can do this blog challenge that she and Booking Mama have set up.
The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months, November 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010. Joining the challenge means getting a copy of Shelf Discovery, choosing which six books you want to read (tough!—maybe there will be extra credit for reading more than six), and reading them. After you’re done, write a blog post on Red Room about them.
On Booking Mama’s page, she’ll have links to the blogs in question starting November 1st. She also has ten copies of Shelf Discovery to give away as well. All you have to do is sign up, leave a comment, and you can qualify.
The six books I’ve picked out are:
The Long Secret, Louise Fitzhugh
To My Fans with All My Love Sylvie, Ellen Conford
Domestic Arrangements, Norma Klein
Now, you might be thinking, “Jennifer, I can’t do this right now! I’ve got NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice, Festivus…” Here’s the deal: You have until April 10, 2010. Five months! Plus it ends just in time for Drop Everything and Read Day, aka Beverly Cleary’s 94th birthday. The added bonus is the books are pretty short. The longest one is The Secret Garden, and that’s about three hundred pages.
So write that novel in November. Read Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Madeline L’Engle. Write about it here. Then when you are done you might not be able to go to Disneyland, but you’ve written a book and read other great YA/children’s books of the past. That’s even better than visiting Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries