Image 01

Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

now we are thirty-five

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Today I am thirty-five years old, which means this blog is five years old (and flax-golden tales are four).

Five years sounds comparatively short but July of 2008 feels like a lifetime ago. More than a lifetime.

I’m not the girl I was then. I don’t think that girl could have imagined this particular version of “where do you think you’ll be in five years?” and that girl had a very good imagination.

I don’t think she even would have believed that I live in Manhattan.

And as much as life is overwhelming at times and I’m still figuring it all out, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

At some point over the last couple of years I starting posting less about personal things and I know that was partially because more people were listening and also because there was (and is) a good deal of negative personal stuff that doesn’t warrant talking about.

But somewhere in there I stopped talking about the positive stuff, too. And I think it’d be nice to start this fifth year of the blog, this thirty-fifth year of me, with something positive.

This is Adam.

DSC_0315

We met at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto while I was on that first whirlwind of a book tour in October of 2011. We got to know each other through emails and Skype chats and visits and vacations and then he was my date to my sister’s wedding last summer and I never gave him back.

He does handstands and takes fantastic photographs and reads more than anyone I’ve ever met.

I know I don’t have to tell the internet about my personal life and I won’t be oversharing or even sharing all that much, really, but I’m tired of saying “I” when I mean “we” and he makes me happier than I have ever been. He’s a gigantic, important part of my life and I love him. He keeps me steady on the crazy roller coaster that is life right now so that I can actually enjoy it. I thought the internet might like to meet him.

So this is thirty-five. It sounds strangely round as a number. I have no idea what the next five years might bring but I’m sure there will be reading and writing and cocktails and cupcakes and birthdays and stories and unimaginable adventures.

We shall see.

tarragon & bone

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

tarragon rug

This is the aforementioned tarragon and bone rug. Technically it has three different colors, though, so I’m not entirely sure what to call the pale pale shimmery green, as I’m guessing the darker one is tarragon and the background is bone.

The internet tells me that the word tarragon derives from something French for little dragon, which I like even if it’s not necessarily true just because the internet said it was.

But the fact that my living room floor is covered in swirls of little dragon herb green is rather fun and quite comfy.

Have yet to determine if it goes with the teal chairs, since the teal chairs have yet to arrive, but it blends well with everything else, so that’s something. I forgot how long it takes to sink into a new home, especially since I never properly sunk into the last apartment because I was travelling so much and also there was construction outside my windows that started every day at 7am which did not make it particularly cozy or relaxing.

I am likely the only person who has ever moved to Manhattan and delighted in how quiet it is. Comparatively.

I am assembling a puzzle of cozy homeyness and I don’t quite have all the pieces yet, but it’s getting there. I have books on shelves and I’m starting to hang things on walls and it feels warm despite the fact that it is far too cold outside.

I’m getting to know the outside, too, though slowly because it is cold. Discovering corners to linger with cocktails and delicious food, trying places on to see if they will become regular haunts. Though the at-home comfy is taking precedence over the outside comfy for the moment.

I found a place to buy loaves of freshly baked gluten-free bread so I can cut the slices as thick as I like (and then cover them with goat cheese and fig spread). I am in love with the fact that anything, anything can be ordered and delivered to your door here, and particularly delighted that sushi arrives in 15 minutes as opposed to the almost-hour that was standard in Boston. Though I suspect almost-instant sushi could also be dangerous.

I’m still unpacking. I just unpacked the rest of my shoes yesterday and half of them are still in a pile in the closet. Most of my office is still in boxes. The “catch up on email” that was near the top of the to-do list for January is still nowhere near to being crossed off despite the fact that January is slipping away.

At this rate I’m just hoping I’ll be through with the cardboard boxes by the time February shows up.

But I’m cozying up the writing cave, so I can spend most of February and March working on that not-yet-novel shaped thing my brain has been itching to get back to, though over the last while it was often too busy being tired to itch.

I think letting it sleep past 7am and not waking it up with beeping and crashing and jackhammers has helped. It’s feeling somewhat well-rested and it’s starting to get itchy again and I actually have a desk chair now, so that should be nicely writing conducive.

The fact that the calendar has little on it beyond writing and home-creating is delicious and delightful, and I can only hope that the writing goes as comparatively smoothly as the decorating has so far, building a new space piece by piece.

on time and the not having of it

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This post has been a long time coming and I suppose that’s fitting, since it’s mostly about not having time to write. Apparently that includes proper blog posts. Though this is not a proper blog post, this is a long rambling thing about what my life has been like lately.

I am not saying this is how it goes for every author, the more authors I meet the more I realize that it’s a strange sort of career where everyone’s experience is unique despite some overlapping elements. There’s a lot more to being a writer than writing, between book promotion and public speaking and signing things.

The Night Circus came out last September. I spent the weeks leading up to it doing interviews and Q&As and trying not to freak out about the whole thing. I’d also moved over the summer so I was still in cardboard box land.

From September until mid November I was on book tour, or doing book-related things abroad. This involved near-constant travel, I was never in any one location for more than a couple of days at most. I was on more airplanes in the first month than I’d been on in my entire life beforehand.

Here’s the thing about book tours: Yes they are fabulous and exciting and it’s wonderful to meet people in so many different cities but they are also physically and emotionally exhausting. I’m not sure it can be properly explained, it’s likely one of those situations that is near impossible to understand unless you’re the person in it. I feel like I have a better understanding of it now, having gone through it, and a better idea of how I react and what I need to do to keep myself sane, but it was a learn by doing sort of thing.

(And by “learn by doing” I mean “learn by having a near breakdown in the middle of an airport.”)

I am endlessly thankful that having a theatre background makes the whole public speaking thing easier to handle, but being a writer still involves more talking than I’d expected. And it’s hard to find a balance when I’m relating the same stories and answering similar questions, I start to feel repetitive and awkward and sometimes my social anxiety kicks in despite the actor training.

The strangest thing, for me, at least, and this might warrant a separate thoughtful post of its own, is the sudden transition between being the center of attention in a room filled with people to being alone in an unfamiliar hotel room.

(Side note: in two hotel rooms on my tour the concierge left a bottle of wine and two glasses. I still cannot decide if it would be more or less depressing to have a single glass. Which one is a harsher reminder that you’re alone?)

December should not count as a month off because it has holidays in it, and for most of January I was too tired to function.

At the end of January I was on a mini-tour, in a different city every day for a week, and then I had a few days off and then I was in Toronto in early February, which was actually lovely because I heart Canada.

But that means it was mid-February before I was really able to start properly recovering from tour mode.

And it would have been fabulous if that meant I could sit down and work on my next book that has been languishing for months but I also have long-neglected email to deal with and extra content type things to work on for various upcoming paperback editions. More Q&As, this time from more countries, and now people send me books they want me to read and say nice things about and did I mention that there are a few cardboard boxes kicking around from last summer and I’m likely going to be moving again this fall? I’m also just tired, still, and some days grocery shopping or laundry or putting on shoes takes more energy than it should.

Also, my desk chair is broken.

All these things take time. Sure, a lot of the individual things aren’t that complicated or time-consuming but once you start adding them up they eat a lot of time. And I need to allot time to blogging and tweeting and try to have a life in there somewhere, too.

It gets hard to separate work time from non-work time with this sort of job. I have an office (I ordered a new desk chair) but it’s not like I’m in there from 9 to 5 because I don’t have typical days so I end up feeling guilty at 10pm when I’m sitting around eating gelato instead of answering emails even when I’ve spent all day working. This is a mental thing I’m aware of but I still struggle with it, a lot. I’m trying to be better about taking weekends off.

And then there’s that added complication of having people actually waiting for this book. No one was waiting for the circus. I got to write the circus in a bubble, and now the bubble is gone, it will be the only bubble book, ever. I am thrilled that I already had several other stories in varying degrees of not-yet-novel-shaped because if I was staring at a blank page right now I know it would be worse.

For comparison: the circus took five years to write (and rewrite), and I wasn’t dealing with book tours and outside pressure while I was working on it. I am hoping that I will have a draft of my next novel done at some point this year, but right now I have a few months and then a fairly busy summer (my sister is getting married in August, yay!) and then I’ll be touring again in the fall and then it will be Mayan calendar end of the world time and then 2013 because when you reach the end of a calendar you get a new one.

I’m also not going to write faster just for the sake of having the next book out sooner. I want to write the best book I can despite the complications of time and the general busyness my life has taken on. If I can do that this year, that’ll be fabulous. It’ll also mean the earliest that book could possibly be available would be very late next year or more likely sometime in 2014, because once I’m done with it it’s still a long way from being a finished shiny book.

So yeah, that’s the rough idea of why I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like.  I am learning to make time for it, though, all of this is a learning process. I have a whole new life and I’m trying to get the hang of it but I’m still a toddler so I have tendencies to fall down and cry and need a cookie and a hug.

And if blog posts are few and far between and I’m slow on email replies for the next while, I’m sorry. I’m trying to write another book, because really, that part is my actual job.

If you read this whole thing I’m impressed and I feel you deserve a picture of a kitten. (If you skimmed just to get to the kitten, that’s okay, too.)

 

please remember me, happily

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

I don’t know what to say about 2011.

This year was too full to be easily condensed into a December 31st blog post.

Everything looks different than it did this time last year, and only partially because I have new contact lenses.

I have a new life, in so many new ways.

I’m still adjusting.

Only one star in my hair this year. That’s as much as I can handle at the moment, though I also have the moon around my neck.

(I suppose now I have some sort of tradition of New Year’s Eve webcam photos in which I don’t look at the camera.)

I thought a lot about what the song of the year was, but in the end there wasn’t any competition.

 

It was an almost-ten-minute-long song kind of year. An angel kissin’ on a sinner kind of year.

A frightened trapeze swinger kind of year.

Apparently safety nets are overrated.

So, hello, 2012. I hear you’re supposed to be the end of the world.

Strange how endings feel so much like beginnings.

you used to write magnificent.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I get a lot of spam comments on the blog. Like a lot a lot, so I apologize if real comments get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish real comments from spam, like this morning there was this one:

Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your tremendous writings.

Which made me feel sad until I noticed all the other information just wanted to sell me an iPhone 4s, and I already have one. It has a fabulous Leontine Greenberg GelaSkin and everything:

But yeah, I miss my tremendous writings, too. Not that I’m certain I ever wrote magnificent (or magnificently), but I used to be able to write vaguely thoughtful things and I’m sorry that I haven’t in a while to the point where I feel sad about spam comments trying to sell me things I already have. Though usually they’re trying to sell me Zunes, which I do not have and do not want. Also a lot of them lately are about babies and escort services. Not usually at the same time.

I am working on two other blog posts, one is a belated tour catch-up with photos that I did manage to get off of my old phone. And there shall be an epic post about Writing and Publishing because I keep getting asked for Advice and I figured I should try to cover some of it here. (A forewarning: it will be more Thoughts and Personal Experience than Advice.)

But this post is not about those things. This post is an attempt to get back to posting about what’s going on with me because the heart of any blog is narcissism. And cats, but we’ll save the cats for later.

On Thursday I was given less than 24 hours to write a piece about NaNoWriMo for NPR and I very nearly said no but then decided since NaNo is about writing under a daunting sort of deadline it was absurd to decline just on principle so I wrote it and sent it and thought that would be that. Friday I got a call at noon that they liked it so much they wanted me to record it for All Things Considered that afternoon. I got this call while I was still in my pajamas doing my laundry. So my Friday afternoon was more interesting than I’d anticipated, and you can read & listen to my quickly-written rambling over here.

This weekend I read several volumes worth of Fables, which I am loving like a lovey thing and will likely curl up with again later today. I’ve been meaning to get into it for a while and finally read volume one about a week ago after it had been sitting on my shelf for ages and immediately ordered several more volumes.  (In non-graphic novel reading I am working my way very slowly through Nick Harkaway’s upcoming Angelmaker). I also ate a lot of good food and did a lot of laundry and taught myself how to make origami stars.

I’m not very good at them yet, but I’m making them with laser printer paper since that’s all I have on hand at the moment and it doesn’t make for the most elegant origami. I like them, though, they’re fairly easy and they turn out all poofy with lots of personality, even if most of them are somewhat lopsided.

Also this weekend I finally got to see The Muppets, which I have been giddily excited about for ages. I grew up on Muppets. I saw The Great Muppet Caper in the theater when I was about four years old and I think it’s the reason why I am still obsessive about sitting through the credits at any movie because my dad and I were the only ones left when Gonzo takes a photograph of the audience at the end. I’d had high hopes for this film since it seemed like it was aiming to capture a very classic Muppet tone and I wasn’t disappointed. I was actually so wrapped in a glorious nostalgia-hug that I teared up a few times, I cry easily and have been particularly emotionally fragile lately but I’m certain I would have gotten verklempt anyway. And laughing and crying at the same film seems rather appropriate right now.

I’m still in post-tour recovery mode, though I’m feeling slightly more alive. Maybe too alive. I’m a mess of nostalgia and fear of the future and I’m not sure how to be me anymore because my life has changed and expanded so much in the last year or so. I’m not sure I should even tell the internet such things, but old habits die hard.

For now I am trying to adjust to my life as it is right now and making poofy little paper stars. Wondering how, exactly, to write magnificent.

miscellany & musings & music

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Pardon me, but where did August go? Excuse me whilst I cling to this final day, in denial that the morning will bring September in all its autumnal, impending book release glory.

This post is going to be all over the place, be prepared. Proper blogging keeps getting lost in the wilds of the to-do list.

I would have been updating the internet on all manner of happenings were it not for the cumbersome to-do list and also the fact that I had a horrid summer head cold for the last week, so I was hampered by a mucus-y haze. It felt as gross as that sounds. Mostly better now, just slightly sniffly.

I added a tour page to this poor neglected site, I meant to do it ages ago but formatting is hard. It’s still not perfect and it doesn’t have Canadian or UK info but I’ll be adding to it, hopefully in a timely manner.

Last week I spent a delightful evening under tents in a field in Concord, meeting booksellers and flouncing around in a white dress with red feathers in my hair. The lovely ladies of Random House put together a marvelous circusy event and I got to tell the story of why Bailey is from Concord, which is not a story I’ve gotten to tell very much so that was particularly fun. I wish I’d had more time to talk to everyone but I signed a lot of galleys (I ended up with a very nice not-mine pen that I’m pretty sure I was told I can keep, which I hope I’m remembering correctly but it’s always possible that I am just an incorrigible pen thief). I had a splendid time and there will be splendid photos soonish, as Kelly Davidson who did my wonderful author photo was there shooting for the Boston Phoenix and we ran around taking photos in fields with sunflowers and the very heavy crystal ball the tarot reader was kind enough to let us use. (Late in the evening I had my cards read, which was a lovely end to the night.) My sincere thanks to everyone there, from organizers to guests and my darling editor who was my date for the evening, for participating in such a fantastical event.

Now, almost post-head cold, I am in pre-tour mode, trying to get myself organized for the impending whirlwind, looking skeptically at September. I had a lot of things I’d intended to do over the summer that seem to have fallen by the wayside. September seemed far away for a very long time and now it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that The Night Circus comes out in less than two weeks. I waver between terribly excited and extremely apprehensive, so I feel like I am lightly caffeinated at all times, even when I’m not.

I’ve been mostly trying to take care of myself as I think I’m going to need it. I’ve been reading a lot as it tends to calm my brain, escaping into a book. And I have a perfect escape in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 that I was lucky enough to grab an ARC of when I was in NYC signing thousands of books, it was a much better reward than a wrist massage. I’m about halfway through at the moment, attempting to finish all almost-1000 pages of brilliance before tour so I can take lighter weight reading on planes.

And I have been listening to the new Florence + the Machine song over and over and over. Saw her do this live and delighted that it is just as good now, studio recorded and tipping into autumn as it was under a summer night sky.

So, that is what Erinland sounds like at the moment, tinged with September-eve disbelief.

Eep.

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Hi.

I have been completely useless. I keep squealing at people on the phone when I’m not rendered utterly speechless. At this point I think my agent would be shocked if we had a conversation that didn’t partially involve stunned silence on my part. I think I EEPed at him. That’s probably not very professional.

I’ve been trying to write. I’ve been trying to read. I have been failing on both counts. I have a half-finished painting on the workbench that Tessa keeps napping on.

So I’ve been drinking tea and wandering around the internet. I bought a pencil skirt.

And I’ve been reading through Allie Brosh’s brilliant blog, Hyperbole and a Half. Her post on being a failure at success is so me right now it’s absurd.

I am not coping well with this bit of success I seem to have come across.  It appears that my nervous system is having trouble distinguishing celebratory excitement from extreme danger.

So yeah, me in a nutshell right now, only not as blonde:

I go back and forth from hysterical giggles to near panic attack. I think the boy is concerned.

I almost don’t want to post this. I want to appear all calm and cool and collected but I’m totally not. And I figure the best thing I can do is just be honest. So yeah, I’m squealing at people on the phone. A lot. I’m giddy with excitement but I’m also kind of nauseous and I feel like my life suddenly completely changed even though I haven’t left my apartment.

Amusement park ride metaphors would likely be appropriate. Maybe not quite roller coaster, but that centrifuge thing that spins you back against the side of a wheel while the world tilts out from under you? Yeah, that.

If I try to get off, I’ll probably just fall down. So I’m going to hold on and see what happens next.

so long, 2009.

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

There is a fluffy coating of snow falling outside my windows, obscuring what’s left of 2009 in powdered sugar white. White primer to paint 2010 over.

Ten years ago tonight I was ringing out 1999 in the dearly departed Grotto nightclub in NoHo. The only bit I clearly remember is asking drag queens about the lyrics to that Whitney Houston song that was all over the place, and they confirmed it was indeed “something about Amistad.” That seems very long ago & far away.

I don’t have the memory or the inclination to do a decade in review. Ten years ago was my senior year of college. Since then I moved around Massachusetts at least five times, got married, got cats, had bad jobs, quit bad jobs, made lots of art, completed a tarot deck and a handful of novel drafts. Somewhere in there I developed a rather poor memory, too.

But here, I’ll look back a bit at 2009 proper, since that’s freshest in the blur that is the ’00s.

2009 was…

A year of literary agent blogs and Absolute Write and query letters and having minor heart attacks every time my phone rang with a 212 call. A year of taking up residence in revisionland and preparing to move back in tomorrow. For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. Or something.

A year of flax-golden tales that made me happy to be a dreamer and a wisher and a liar, especially one that is friends with Carey Farrell.

This year, more than any previous year, made me own the writer half of artist/writer. Even to the point of moving slowly toward writer/artist, which is surprising but nice, all at once.

It was a year of Sleep No More (carrying over into early 2010, seeing it 2x more) which kind of blew open the creative part of my brain. Remember that episode of Six Feet Under where Claire is trying to break her eye open for art school? Sleep No More did that for me.

A year of Bat for Lashes & Azure Ray & new Moby & yes, Lady Gaga.

A year for finishing the tarot deck after 3 years and 78 paintings.

A year of Fluevogs and shiny objects and cutting my hair shorter than it has ever been in my life. I’ll post pictures at some point, I promise.

I had an interesting year, I think. I’m not sure if it was good or bad but it was full and varied and I get to have Prosecco & fondue later so I can’t really complain all that much.

springy

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

For spring, which has sprung, a random list of artsy things I would like to do/try/attempt someday, when time and space and money and such fickle things align properly:

  • Re-finish and creatively paint furniture, in muted technicolor funky-but-classy patterns. You know, when I have the room to strip and store furniture.
  • Art dolls, quirky creepy pseudo-Victorian porcelain nightmares in lace. This will likely require improving my sewing skills.
  • Documentary film. I don’t know what subject, maybe something will come to me eventually. But I like documentaries, and have an odd desire to make one myself.
  • Encaustic painting. Painting with hot wax! C’mon, that’s awesome. Expensive and messy, but awesome.
  • Some sort of collaborative photo-based project to be star odyssey 2.0. No idea how to fix what went wrong with 1.0 yet, though, so will require pondering.
  • Zen garden, with koi pond and fountain and meditating Buddha statues. Need a yard first.
  • Another tarot deck, perhaps in a minimalist pencil sketch sort of style.

And I have a long-harbored desire to make an installation sculpture consisting of a skull stuffed with teabags and a top hat, entitled Requiem for the Mad Hatter.

brave knights on valiant panthers

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I finished draft 4 of the novel on Monday. I think it’s draft 4, it might be draft 3.5. I immediately found about 8 things that need changing but since that draft is now safely in the hands of three trustworthy beta readers (if they’ve already beta’d it are they gamma readers now?) so I am trying to let it go. I made notes, but I put them aside to work on and I am trying to distract myself with other things.

It is not going so well. But it’s only been a couple days so I should probably chill out about it.

I’m working on the tarot court cards. I have rough sketches for the pages and yesterday I worked on the knights a bit. Here is a sneak preview of the Knight of Wands for those of you who did not already see it via Twitter:

The large stack of paper the sketchbook is sitting on is the aforementioned draft 4-or-possibly-3.5. Happily the boy has taken it away today so it’s no longer taunting me from the coffee table. Am pleased with the knight sketch, need to do at least another one today and hopefully will have sketches for all of them by the weekend. Still not sure what to do with the queens or kings, but will worry about that later.

Other things I am doing to keep myself from over-thinking the novel include reading other novels. I finally finished Palimpsest yesterday and sadly didn’t like it as much as I’d wanted to. It’s gorgeously written, of course, but I didn’t connect with it at all. It hit wrong notes for me, or wasn’t my cup of tea or some other musical or beverage-based metaphor. Everyone else I know seems to love it, so it may just be me and my peculiar tastes.

I’ve pulled out a lot of my creativity books again, to continue ongoing self-analysis of my often tumultuous creative process. And I have more novels in the to-read pile for when I get sick of my own brain.

There is tea and sunshine, and I should probably paint something but not while I’m wearing this shirt.

Also, I have vague aspirations of updating this blog every day in May. Suggestions for content or photos or questions to answer welcome.