lovely, dark and deep

autumnalI took this photo in my yard.

I have a yard now.

Possibly obvious, but I no longer live in Manhattan.

I left the city in a blur of cardboard boxes and craziness and I owe a great number of people goodbye cocktails that never happened and probably even more people a “by the way I’m moving” update. My apologies. Time, as it does, got away from me, and here I am deep in autumn and leaves out in the woodsy mountains and now I have to make my own cocktails mostly but I am very much okay with that.

We lived in Manhattan for almost four years. I am going to miss parts of it dearly and other parts not at all. I already miss the ability to have sushi brought to my door, drinking sparkling rosé and eating pommes frites at Lafayette. Probably most of the things I will miss are food-based.

(Though as if I needed a sign from the universe that it was time to go, my favorite restaurant closed.)

I will miss Bryant Park and the High Line and the lobby of the Ace Hotel. The Met and the Morgan Library. I will miss walking up Park Avenue very late at night in the winter and buying used hardcover books at the Strand and Shakespeare in the Park but these are all things I can do again, that I may do even more now that Manhattan is for visiting.

So I have a house now, with stairs and rooms and trees outside and mice inside (teeny adorable mice it is difficult to be too terribly annoyed at even when they get into the Hallowe’en candy). I have never had a space of my own that did not come along with a diminishing number of months for occupying it, a space that can be painted and personalized and stayed in and lived in and it is nice but strange and I am still getting used to it.

I am organizing books on shelves. My new office is not office-shaped yet. Many things are still lost in cardboard boxes, waiting to be found again and put in new places.

Also I am quite literally in the woods. My internet is currently questionable at best though supposedly that might change in the future. I will try to keep up with things as well as I can. I am remaining on Twitter hiatus for now but I might drop in now & again more often than I have been.

I am still writing. New book is book-shaped but is not the right book-shape yet, which is a fussy confusing stage that there is probably a cake analogy for but I’m not sure what it would be. I write things wrong before I get them right, apparently it’s just a thing I do.

I am tearing things out and rewriting and replacing other things and trying to figure out which parts are book and what parts are not book and how to put them all back together properly and in what order. If this were indeed a cake analogy it would involve a very messy kitchen and there would probably be gluten-free flour in my hair. Sometimes in this non-existent analogy kitchen I sit on the floor and cry amongst broken eggs and ruined cake layers and sometimes the mice come out and whisper baking tips and advice to me before running off with more chocolate.

So, yes, still writing.

Every time I crawl out of the writing cave to peek at the internet someone somewhere is asking when my next book will be out. Here is your answer: I don’t know. If I knew I would tell you. I’m busy trying to get it right and make it good and find the proper way to tell this particular story, which feels more important than doing it quickly.

(I don’t have circus movie news either. No one tells me anything. It is, apparently, how such things go.)

A few new circusy things:

easton-press-editionThis very fancy, very limited, very pricey but very beautiful leather-bound, signed & gilded edition of The Night Circus is currently available from Easton Press. (They also have a very shiny edition of Ready Player One.)

vintage-childrens-classics-night-circusVintage UK has a Children’s Classics line that includes books for older readers and they’ve just added this new edition of The Night Circus. (It is in good company, including The Handmaid’s Tale. They have such great covers.)

I shall try to update the blog more often in the future. This year has been a blur of writing and moving. Whenever I find the time to stop and say something here I’m often at a loss for words.

To those about to NaNoWriMo, I wish you many words and endless inspiration and unexpected surprises. Last year’s post with lots of NaNo-related links including pep talks is here.

Merry NaNoWriMo Eve, Happiest of Hallowe’ens and Blessed Samhain.

pumpkin

happy bookaversary

lots-of-circuses

The Night Circus was first published five years ago today.

It’s been a wonderful, strange, emotional roller coaster since then and I am still so very grateful to everyone who embraced and supported the book and visited the circus.

Thank you.

I have been a bad blogger this year. I have been very deep in the writing cave and I really did have a blog post half-drafted that was a summertime check-in of sorts around my birthday but now it is September and beyond the point of summertime check-ins.

This is not a proper check-in. This is just a quick September bookaversary internet hello before I crawl back in my cave. I might grab a pumpkin to autumn-up the cave decor while I’m here.

I am fairly certain there will be news of varying sorts to post here in the foreseeable future. I might even be allowed back on Twitter sometime soonish. Lots of things are afoot and busy and buzzing like bees.

 

I keep forgetting it is December, probably because I finished my NaNoWriMo-ness early this year.

I do hope all of you who NaNo-ed enjoyed yourselves, regardless of how many words you wrote, and I hope you’re proud of yourselves because you should be.

All I really wanted to do myself was add 50k to this draft during November and I managed it in 21 days which was excellent timing because my last week of November was very busy. Look, word count graph!

nano 2015 graph

I do so love a word count graph. I should probably just make my own little motivational graphs to use all the time but I don’t think it’d be the same. Maybe I’ll just stick gold stars on things.

So the good news is that this draft is much longer than it was, the not so good is that it is still quite a ways from finding its end. It wants to be long. I am going to try to talk it into being perhaps just a little bit shorter once I find the end of it. It keeps looking at me and pouting and going “but I’m epic!” and then we have debates over the difference between epics and fairy tales and myths and regular old novels. It is consenting to becoming book-shaped, though. It is much more book-esque than it was even before November, and it is very much a winter creature so I have a feeling I will be sledding towards the end of this draft over the next few months and thus things will likely be quite quiet around here though I will do some annual end of the year posts.

I wish I could say more about the not-quite-book but at this point I can’t, really. This point is still alchemy and ingredients and I’m not quite certain how the finished product will turn out, exactly, not enough to describe it properly.

But here, have two sensory hints about it, early winter holiday presents:

Right now the new book smells like snow and beeswax candles and leather and honey.

And it sounds like this, a peek at the beginning of the ever-changing playlist:

playlist sneak peek

flower

My brain does not like summer in general and this one in particular. It is too hot and too bright. I’m tired at odd times of day and I forget to buy almond milk for my coffee.

I was already planning on curling up into my sweaters and my head in the fall but I think I shall start the curling early, even if the sweaters have to wait. I’ve been mostly neglecting the internet anyway but for some reason making it official and giving myself rules works better for my brain. And it seems more polite to announce than to simply vanish.

Starting August 1st I will not be on Twitter (I will tweet if there is particularly tweet-worthy news or information to be shared but I will not be reading my @ replies.)

I will blog if there is blog-worthy anything, though there usually isn’t because right now involves a lot of things that are still incubating and not sharable and not a lot of news. My day-to-day news of late is usually the not-blog-worthy type of things like “got new red lipstick” or “made blueberry pancakes” and “still in Dragon Age withdrawal.”

I will be on Instagram & Tumblr occasionally. Lipstick & pancake related news might turn up over there.

I don’t know how long this particular hiatus is going to last. I am planning on crawling into my head and not coming out again properly until I find the end of this book, which I know at this point seems like it has been a very very long time coming. I threw out everything I had in January and started over, so really it is going quite quickly and I have so much more of it figured out even if I haven’t convinced the words to cling to the pages in the right order just yet. It is much less like word soup now than it used to be but it is still a word soufflé and I need to be careful and quiet with it so it doesn’t collapse.

So I’m going to step away from the internet (mostly) and figure out how to get from soufflé to whatever the next stage of this analogy is (probably cake) and someday there will be a proper book and hopefully someday is a lot less far off than it used to be.

blank pages

notebooksFor as long as I can remember, blank books have made me anxious.

I love them, though it’s maybe a bit strange to love something that makes you anxious, but I do. I love crisp paper and fancy bindings and the clever little elastics to keep them closed. I particularly love the ones that have pockets in the back though I rarely put anything in the pockets.

I used to get blank books and journals and fill a few pages and stop, having ruined them with lousy handwriting and messy thoughts. And then I’d feel bad about letting them languish and didn’t like having long gaps of time between pages so the rest of the pages would stay blank.

I can’t even count how many once-blank books I’ve owned. I can count the ones I’ve filled cover-to-cover on one hand.

You would think, after all the time and all the words and all the writing, they wouldn’t make me nervous anymore. But they do.

I don’t have the same anxiety about blank pages when I type. Maybe it’s the mutability of a file, the possibilities of a blinking cursor are a more flexible sort, easily taken away again with a few additional keystrokes. I spelt additional wrong on the first try, easily fixed here.

And I type faster than I write longhand.

But I like writing longhand, even though it makes me feel slow and awkward and uncertain. I loved this piece that the lovely Daniel Kraus did on Booklist about writing longhand.

I suspect I just need to do it more, but there’s that horrid feeling of ruining something pristine mixed with too much possibility.

I have a couple of notebooks going for the novel-in-progress and pages upon pages on my computer, but I just pulled out a new blank book to work in and it’s making me nervous. Compounding the nerves that are already there from being back to the writing phase that’s just me and the world in my head and the pages to fill.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll spell things wrong and spill ink and hopefully this will be one of those books that gets filled cover-to-cover, and I’ll be able to make something of what’s inside.

 

I thought 2013 was going to be the year of calming down from the emotional roller coaster and getting myself back on track and writing again. Instead the roller coaster threw me for a few more loops and left me sitting with my head between my knees trying not to vomit more than I would have preferred.

I am feeling better now, but I am really, really tired of high highs and low lows.

When I was writing a lot, before, I was sad. The kind of sad that you swallow and push down and try to pretend it’s not there and you get really, really good at hiding it. To the point where no one believes that you could possibly be unhappy.

I wrote to escape. I lived in my head because I couldn’t feel the sad as much in there.

And over the last couple of years the sad has been going away. I like the life I have outside my head now.

I need to learn how to write now that I’m happy. I like spending time in my head but I don’t have outside things pushing me back in the way I used to.

I’m getting to know myself again, and I need to figure out how this me writes now, in 2014. I took baby steps toward figuring it out last year, and hopefully I can how I approach my head and learn to live there properly again, enough to make the stuff in there book-shaped.

It also means I need to have a low-volume internet year.

I know, it seems to be trendy to be taking social media hiatuses and unplugging and whatnot, but I really, really need it this year. So…

 

A few notes for 2014:

Regarding the blog

I have been habitually posting twice a week, in the highly organized categories of “flax-golden tales” and “other stuff.” The flaxies will continue as scheduled, the other stuff may turn into more photos and little bits of things rather than long writing-heavy posts. Not that I’ve been good about long writing-heavy posts lately, but I’m going to make a point of it this year.

I may also do a site overhaul/redesign mid-year. Pondering.

Regarding Twitter & Tumblr

I will still be Tweeting, maybe a little less than I am. I try to respond to @ replies as much as I can. I am convinced that Twitter eats them sometimes, as well as Direct Messages.

I am currently avoiding Tumblr almost entirely because I live in fear of Sherlock spoilers but I will continue to mostly re-tumbl things I like. I might not keep up with it as frequently as I’ve been trying to. I still haven’t gotten the hang of tagging things.

Regarding Instagram

I will probably be keeping up the same volume of Instagramming.

I very nearly Instagrammed our salted caramel ice cream sundae (with popcorn on it!) at abc kitchen last night but it was too marvelous not to consume immediately.

Regarding email

Nothing has changed since this post. I am finally, finally caught up with my personal/professional email as in things that go to my personal address but the website email is a sad neglected thing that I believe has an autoreply on it that thinks it’s still May. My apologies. Someday I will have a good and proper system for email. Today is not that day. Hopefully I’ll sort it out around that mid-year possible site overhaul.

If you need to contact me for important reasons and you do not have my personal email address please contact InkWell or one of the Random House contacts listed in the sidebar of the blog.

Regarding book blurbs

If you are an editor/agent/etc and have sent me an advance copy of anything for blurbing in the last calendar year I am sorry if I have not gotten back to you. The pile seen in this photo is now nearly three times as high. The bookish time-bomb-ness of them makes me anxious and I’m afraid the vast, vast majority hit their quoting expiration dates and silently detonated before I could give them proper attention.

(For reference: I read 40 books last year, total. It took me all of December just to get through The Goldfinch and no I still don’t know what I thought of it. It would take me more than a year, probably more than two, to read everything in the please-blurb pile right now.)

I don’t know how I’m going to manage in the future but I need to be writing this year, especially the first half of this year. I am sorry I have not been able to be properly communicative about things that are sent to me unsolicited but I’m not sure I can be better about it in the future. I don’t want to put out a blanket “don’t send me things” because I never know what will stand out and capture my attention. I like books. I wish I could stop time so I could read them all. If anyone figures out how to do that, please let me know.

 

 

In summation

I am still trying to figure all this out. How to be a proper author. How to be me. How to be me on the internet. How to be nice to myself. How to keep my hair from going all hobbit-y. How not to get overwhelmed. How to write a novel again.

I am trying. I appreciate your patience and attention. Thank you for reading, always.

horoscope

Cancer Horoscope for week of July 4, 2013

Thomas Gray was a renowned 18th-century English poet best remembered for his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” It was a short poem — only 986 words, which is less than the length of this horoscope column. On the other hand, it took him seven years to write it, or an average of 12 words per month. I suspect that you are embarking on a labor of love that will evolve at a gradual pace, too, Cancerian. It might not occupy you for seven years, but it will probably take longer than you imagine. And yet, that’s exactly how long it should take. This is a character-building, life-defining project that can’t and shouldn’t be rushed.

Thank you, Rob Brezsny, for making me feel better about this not-yet-novel-shaped thing taking so long.

Last week I got to wear a blue (blue! not black!) dress and interview Neil Gaiman and talk about The Ocean at the End of the Lane and admit in front of hundreds of people that I’ve never seen Doctor Who.

(I know. I’m sorry.)

I had planned on doing some sort of post-event blog post but then afterwards I really wasn’t sure what to say.

I had a lot of fun and though I was supremely nervous it went really well and everyone including Neil seemed very pleased with everything. He’s remarkably easy to interview considering he kept answering questions before I even asked them. Perhaps he’s clairvoyant. I met him for the very first time about an hour before we were on stage so the whole thing felt remarkably surreal.

There is an excellent writeup of the evening over on Tor.com (though I think a few of the quotes about whether or not we die may be misattributed).

I had many more questions than we had time for, though my main goal was to talk about things that maybe weren’t being talked about at every single stop on his tour, and we got tiny frogs in teacups and BPAL and Mythic Boy Jesus so I’d call that a win.

One of the last audience questions posed to Neil was “Who is your favourite living writer?” and of course it was a longer list than just one, and included a few recently no longer living writers as well, like Iain Banks and Diana Wynne Jones.

And I thought in that moment how incredibly lucky I was to be sitting there, when I will never get the opportunity to meet the other gigantic influence on my writer-brain I mentioned in my babbling introduction, the incomparable Douglas Adams.

There is a sentiment I am concerned got a bit lost in that babbling during that introduction (I was nervous), which is this:

I would not be the writer I am today without Neil Gaiman.

I’m not sure I would even be a writer at all without him.

I discovered his work at the perfect time for my developing story-brain and I am eternally grateful for that.

I’m not sure the gratitude got properly expressed then, so here’s an extra Thank You, Neil for good measure:

Thank you, Neil.

For your work and for asking me to do this event and for being a real live lovely person.

(Also I am sorry that I inadvertently stole the title of that Batman thing, but The Night Circus is indeed a really good title.)

Erin & Neil

This is the second installment of the twitter-sourced blog post. This one is book/writing focused in two parts. (Part one is here.)

 

About The Night Circus

I would love to know more behind the inspiration for the Night Circus and a possible sequel?

Possibly bad news first: no sequel. It was never written to be a series, I don’t want to try to make it something that it’s not, so there will be no book two or anything like that. Possibly good news second: I would like to write more stuff about the circus in the future, likely in short pieces of backstory or sidestory or futurestory. No idea when I’d get to that, though.

Inspiration-wise the entire thing started as a tangent in another novel that I was working on for NaNoWriMo. I got bored & sent the characters to the circus. That’s where it started, with the instant manifestation of a circus in my imagination, which at that point had lots of tents and a bonfire in the center though I wasn’t sure what the bonfire was for yet. Poppet & Widget were in that first wandering through the circus, along with their kittens. I decided to write more about the circus though I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, so I wrote lots of little vignettes about tents, about the creators of the circus, about its performers and fans. Eventually I had enough vignettes to fill a novel and then it was a long road of revising before it reached its finished form.

There are a lot of specific influences and flavors in play, inspirations ranging from Shakespeare and Dickens to Edward Gorey and Roald Dahl. The circus itself is my ideal entertainment venue, elegant and immersive, something to explore in a self-directed way. The black-and-white came from wanting to have a clear-cut visual aesthetic and wanting to give it a formality, a circus in evening wear.

 

A tent you wanted to include but ran out of space in the book for

There was a knife-throwing tent at one point. It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t space for it, but more that it seemed like excessive amounts of knife-throwing.

There was a tent that was removed fairly late into revisions, it’s referred to in passing as being reminiscent of Indonesian puppet theatre. It used to be online somewhere as an excerpt but my search skills are failing me. It’s a paper-screen maze with shifting walls and the puppets, among other things, act out Tsukiko’s backstory.

 

As someone who loves present-tense, I would love to know why you chose to write The Night Circus in present-tense.

The present tense decision was made fairly easily, because I knew from the beginning that I wanted to include sections of the circus itself told in second person. Since the second person sections would have to be in present tense, I thought it would be too jarring to go back and forth between past and present, so I kept everything in present. I also think it worked better for the alternating timelines, keeping everything immediate. I prefer present tense and it’s usually my default writing-wise unless something really reads better in past.

 

is night circus going to be made into a movie?

Possibly. The answer will remain “possibly” pretty much until it’s in theatres, if it ever is. The film rights were optioned not long after the book sold by Summit Entertainment, David Heyman who produced the Harry Potter films is signed on to produce, I believe they’re currently looking for a director. They don’t always tell me things. I’m sure there are meetings and phone calls and such going on that I’m not privy to. I’m involved more than most authors which is still really not all that involved at all, and it’s in the early stages at this point, so it’ll be awhile but when I have updates I’m allowed to share I will share them.

 

Scent and memory.

(This wasn’t specifically circus-related but it fit so well with Widget’s Bedtime Stories tent that I thought I’d include it here.)

I have a lousy memory but a rather good sense of smell. And since the sense of smell has the strongest memory-triggering power a scent will often remind me of something I can’t remember. It’s rather disorienting. The scent of those nut-roasting street vendor carts always does that, especially in winter. I get that nostalgia kick to the olfactory receptors and I have no idea what it’s for. I don’t know if that’s better or worse than immediately being pulled back into the memory proper.

That idea of scent triggering memories and memory-as-story was the genesis of the Bedtime Stories tent. That and a mild obsession with BPAL.

 

About the new book

Literally any hint whatsoever about your next book. Even if it’s one word.

Film noir-flavored Alice in Wonderland. That’s five words. Six if we count the hyphenated one as two. (More words below.)

 

blog about what you’re working on writing-wise.

At this very moment writing-wise I’m trying to write a bunch of flax-golden tales so I can schedule them ahead of time for most of the summer and focus on the new novel. I usually write them weekly so it’s interesting to do several at the same time.

Mostly I’m working on the new novel that is still not book-shaped. Currently this consists of more research than writing, and when there is writing it is scrawled in blue-green ink with a fountain pen. I have more blue-green pages than I did a few weeks ago, though, so that’s something.

 

what is the focus of your next book?

If I knew what the focus was I’d probably be further along than I am. It is a loose riff on an Alice in Wonderland motif so I do have a central protagonist this time but it’s still a bit of an ensemble piece and I’m still putting together the ensemble. It’s a mystery (several mysteries, actually) but I haven’t piled all the clues and red herrings together yet.

If a book is like a jigsaw puzzle I’m still sawing out pieces though I have a few of the already-shaped pieces connected. I’m figuring out more of the flavors and influences for this one, the biggest ones are Alice, of course, and classic detective novels and cocktails as alchemy and Egyptian mythology. I’m worldbuilding and characterbuilding and trying to find the story within all that, and then I can figure out the best way to tell it.

 

when we can expect your next book! 🙂

Not for a good long while, I’m afraid. It’s not finished yet, so I have to do that first. After I’m finished it’ll likely be a year to a year and a half before it’s actually in stores because it’ll need to be edited and prettied up and made all shiny.

I’d rather take my time and write something good than rush just to have another book on shelves. I’ve been working on this one for awhile but I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to sink my brain into it the way I need to until recently.

 

That’s it for the Twitter-sourcing this go-round, thank you to everyone who suggested or asked things and my apologies to the ones I didn’t get to. I will likely do this again sometime.