[This was written the afternoon of Friday July 27th]
It has been a pretty nighmarish 12 hours, trying to get to Austin for what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend with family and friends, eating tons of delicious barbeque and Tex-Mex, and catching flicks at the Alamo Draft House. I’m writing this from 30,000 feet, so, spoiler alert — I make it on the plane. Of course, that was after a seventeen hour delay. Last night was absolutely wretched, the lowlights of which were three hours on the runway in a hailstorm before taking us back to the gate. At a certain point, they knew the flight was canceled, but they left us on the plane another hour anyway, waiting for the rain to let up so the ground crew could actually go outside and connect the aircraft to the exit ramp. That part was awesome, you know, the way that people who are sarcastic all the time say things are awesome.
Once we knew that our options for the night were paying for a $350 hotel room or sleeping on the floor of the most luxurious baggage claim in the continental United States, I sounded the social media alarums, asking for a place we could crash for the night. The kind friends who responded with offers of hospitality totally took me by surprise. I want to give them some shout outs, because they’re awesome people and you should know how cool they are in addition to how nice they are.
First there’s John Marc Imbrescia, or JM as we called him back at “the ‘dovah.” He was my Blue Key! Or I was his Blue Key, I can never remember which. But basically, on my first day of high school, he showed me around campus and taught me the ends and the outs of the theater department. It was a great introduction, one that got me excited about putting on plays at school and culminated in me being selected as one of the student heads of the department three years later. These days, JM is an internet badass — basically the Boba Fett of web design. Formerly a hot shot at the most fun dating website in the world, OkCupid, he now helps artists turn their craft into commerce as the senior software designer at Etsy.
Another kind soul who reached out to us was Mark Turetsky. Mark was another of the wise men in the theater department. He’s an incredible voice performer. You should download his reading of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Holy cow it’s funny. But the highlight of his voice acting for me has to be the talent show he MCed back in high school. The best parts were when he did a reading from Catch-22 and played all the parts (I swear, if you closed your eyes, you would have sworn there were a half dozen people on stage) and when he belched the A-B-C’s.
Max B Young is the man. We haven’t been in touch much sine we graduated from NYU, but that didn’t stop him from taking charge and telling us we could crash with him. He really is a champ. All through film school, I don’t know if I ever met someone so relentlessly positive. He’s kind, smart, and totally chill. Spike Lee is one lucky dude to have Max at his production company 40 Acres and a Mule. You should all be lucky enough to work with him some day.
And last but not least, our dear friends Kelsey and Emily opened their home to us. It was like, no questions asked. They cranked out the air mattress, gave us fancy pillows, thrust tall glasses of water into our hands the moment we walked in the door, and stayed up late letting us vent about the ordeal even though they had work in the morning. They even woke up with us at 4:00AM to see us off. Honestly, it was nice just to have friendly faces and a hug. Kelsey and Emily are both the bomb dot com, and you should read some of their stuff, their writing is rock and roll. Kelsey just had a story come out in the essential Lightspeed Magazine, a story which manages to be both beautiful and grotesque. Emily is a staff writer at Tor.com. If you see her byline on a post there, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it’s going to be brilliant, but some of my all-time favorite posts of hers are here, here, and here. And of course, a special shout out to her post about our wedding.
YAY FRIENDSHIP! These people are amazingly kind and groovy friends. Check them out! I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I do.
And you know what the happy ending to the story is? When I woke up this morning, I received an offer from a magazine to buy one of my short stories. Hooray! I’ll tell you much more about it in a later post, but in the meantime, thank you super friends! You saved us this time.
I’m writing this in a rental car as we cruise towards Minneapolis, where Jordan and I will take our plane back to NYC after long trip to my brother’s destination wedding in Spirit Lake, Iowa. It is a beautiful place, and the new additions to our family were nicely accommodating. We roasted a goat at the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony went off without a hitch, the reception was a blast, and we danced the night away.
All of this filled me with happy feel good family feelings.
All of this was cataclysmic for my writing. If my math is correct, as of this writing I’m four thousand words behind schedule, which means that I have gone four full days without writing a word. This is very bad for my progress on the write-a-thon, so I’m taking this transit day as an opportunity to catch up on as much as I possibly can. This coming week I have even more stuff to worry about and work on, professional commitments and school commitments and other stuff that is long overdue and needs to get done, so it’s only going to get worse, not better.
At times I think I’m totally screwed, although when I missed a day at the beginning of the write-a-thon I started making up the words at a steady rate. I had been doing between 1100 and 1300 every day, so maybe if I do that and never miss another day until August, I’ll be fine. But that line of thinking frustrates me. I’ve had five thousand-word days in the past. I don’t understand why I can’t have one of them, and be all caught up. Or have a bunch of them, and finish the write-a-thon by the end of the week. For some reason, the words just aren’t coming as easily as I would like them too. But I guess that’s because I’m not treating this rough draft as a rough draft. I’m trying to make each scene flow logically into the next, sustain tension, compose great sentences, and so on.
Generally I’m of the opinion that first drafts are for throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, not placing your favorite bits delicately on the wall and hoping nothing falls off. Someone who agrees with this theory is Brian Keene (@briankeene), who created a bit of a stir over the weekend when he announced on Friday that he had written forty thousand words in one day, and then totaled eighty thousand words in a weekend. Based in the writing environment he described in his post, I do not doubt that he did in fact produce the words he claimed. I’ve never had a day like that, but when I write uninterrupted for several hours, it is startling to see how fast the word count goes up. I guess he just drew the long straw this weekend. He found a perfect opportunity to blast out a massive quantity of words. I drew the short straw. I had no time to blog, no time to draft, no time to brainstorm, no time to write, no time to even think, we were so busy with the wedding from Tuesday to Sunday.
One of my favorite “how to write” books in unambiguous about this issue. There are no days off from writing. Is it Christmas, your birthday, your vasectomy? Too bad! You gotta write today. You gotta write every day if you want to be a writer. NaNoWriMo starts at midnight on Halloween and goes through the thanksgiving vacation. That is brutal. But you gotta do it if you’re going to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. The writer of that book would probably be mad at me for the wedding excuse. So what if it is your brother’s wedding? Find time to write your thousand words a day or you’re not a real writer. I tried. I really did. I got 390 words on Thursday. That was the best I could do, given the restrictions on my free time.
I wonder what mister Keene would say about me. My guess is that he would forgive my transgression. After all, it was an important occasion. He had just come back from a week’s vacation and was way behind schedule when he wrote his eighty thousand words. So maybe this will be my magic week. I hope so.