Thursday, May 26, 2011

Connected, not connected. This is the way it goes.

We've reached the thin end of things again where there's more month than money. MathMan and I drive past  billboard shrieking the current lottery amounts in garish colors.

Me: Let's just buy a lottery ticket. A winning one.
(The typical silence that follows my deep thoughts.)
Me, again: Of course, winning the lottery creates its own problems....but I could use a new set of problems.

Let's make using the cliche "kick the can down the road" in a political context punishable by a kick to the nutsack. Wait, no, let's make any use of cliches or folksy-speak in a political context punishable by a kick to the nutsack. Recycle that can, get away from the pig with that lipstick, and compost those tea leaves already.

As for the nutsackless, kneecap them. Unless they're women, then just leave them alone. Living in this oppressive patriarchy is punishment enough.

Also: Spurs job creation. Nutsack kickers need jobs, too.

Last night I called to see if my parents were keeping an eye on the weather as tornado warnings spread across Indiana. My dad, the man who watches The Weather Channel for entertainment, answered the phone. I asked if they were prepared for bad weather.

"What? No! We're watching the Reds game."

Me in an aside to MathMan who is next to me on the bed with his laptop propped on his knees, "Of course they're not prepared. They're watching the Reds game."

MathMan doesn't take his eyes off the laptop screen. His laptop is the third person in our love triangle. "They've got bigger worries than the weather. The Reds just blew a lead in extra innings."

I've been handed off. Mother is on the phone now. "They're in the eleventh inning. Is everything okay there?"

"We're fine, I was just checking on you guys." My eyes are trained on the red triangles stretching along the Ohio Valley that the Weather Channel woman is rubbing her hand over.

"Oh, we're okay. Dad, did Ryan Howard just get a hit?" It always perplexed me a little when my mother called my father "Dad." Did she do that even after we kids moved out?

"Well, I just wanted to see how things were there." The Weather Channel was playing their elevator music in the background. I'd rather watch the Reds' game, too.

Mother spoke again. We were back to the weather evidently. "You know, the last time the tornado sirens went off at night, we didn't hear them."

I sat up straighter. "No, I didn't know. Maybe the two of you should just sleep in the bathtub." In a whispered aside to MathMan, "I don't want to dig them out of the rubble, do you?"

"I've got to work the rest of this week." He's so practical.

My mom again. "The Reds were playing like little leaguers but now they're playing like first graders."

"Next thing you know, you'll be calling them Fetus Leaguers," I said.

My mother laughed. "Fetus Leaguers," she repeated.

I nudged MathMan. "Write down this date. I made my mother laugh."

"Oh, I'm just really tired. That's why I laughed."

So nevermind.

This. This is why I am prone to shouting at my children how wonderful, funny, creative, beautiful, intelligent and talented they are. This is why I overuse the word proud.

Yesterday, I drove toward the sun and thought about the choices we make about the people we love. Why some people make better friends than lovers, why some make betters mates than lovers, how some passions never burn out while others fade away. How some choices aren't ours to make. How one little change in the arc of a story - a life story or one imagined - can change all the outcomes. How the light reflecting off the hood of the car entices me to stare at it. A bad idea when one is supposed to be paying attention to oncoming traffic. Like so many enticing things. Shiny but dangerous.

I'm considering self-publishing. Playing by the rules has been a loser game for me in other aspects of my working life so maybe I should try a different approach.

I'm finishing up The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok. I love her straightforward writing. And the story itself is so compelling.  I was excited to see the author is following me on Twitter, but aside from the ego boost that is, there's a practical element to it. Mira runs miraslist. Mira's List is "a resource for artists, writers, composers, and others in the arts providing up to date information, links and artist interviews, deadlines for grants, fellowships and international residencies. Money, time and a place to create."

Hey you, creative types, visit there and get the RSS feed. You never know where the good stuff is going to come from next.

A bientot.


  1. I want to hug you. Why is that? I don't know why you aren't making millions of dollars with your writing. It makes no sense to me.

  2. I thought you finished your manuscript less than a year ago? You haven't put it through the paces of regular publishing yet, surely. I think you can pay an editor for feedback at writers conferences if not elsewhere. I want to see you making money off of your work, not just settling so soon. Not that you wouldn't sell any copies of a book you self published, but I think you could make a lot more by going the traditional route.

    And here I thought the only things I was going to take away from this post were a searing image of the word "nutsack" on my retinas and a smile because you love your kids so much.

  3. I'm with macdougal. This is a great post. You are a great writer.

  4. Spurs'll create jobs when Tim Duncan retires.

    Fetus Leaguers is ace.

  5. I could use 'a new set of problems' too!

  6. Dads only watch the weather channel when its boring. That's the point. If the weather is bad, they watch sports. And if your fascinated preschooler is in the room, they favor the gorier bits of Law and Order reruns.

  7. Speaking about can and nutsack kicking, the old boys don't have time to figure out a way to pass a budget, cut out unnecessary deficit spending and keep an eye on Wallstreet and oil company thieves, they're too involved in making women's vaginas a political playground.

  8. I love the "set of new problems" concept.

    And, just to play devil's advocate, here's Rachelle Gardner's post about how self-publishing benefits the writers, not readers. (And by "benefit" I don't mean making writers lots of money, especially if they don't already have five books out by major houses, like Altucher.)

  9. I once talked to The Big Cheese at a self-publishing house ... I walked aways with two less than thrilling facts.

    1. Printing cost. Seems no matter if you print 2000 copies (their recommendation) or 40,000 copies (my target number) - the cost of printing per book was the same ... that doesn't make sense to me. Seems if the print number is large then the printing cost/book should decrease. I didn't like that at all.

    2. Marketing and distribution. The self-publish company does a tiny bit but the bulk of the work of getting your book noticed, in stores, in catalogs, etc. becomes your task.

    Aside from internet biz, you fill tour car with books and start driving ... think encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners or aluminum siding ... the essence of making cold calls.

  10. Don't give up. Not yet...

    I overpraise my children for the same reason, and say, I'm sorry too much. They'll at least know what it sounds like.

    I wish I had more but my thoughts are too scrambled today, it's too dark and too messy.

    Hang in there, Lisa.

  11. You should be making millions from your writing. You are so freaking talented.

    "I'm considering self-publishing. Playing by the rules has been a loser game for me in other aspects of my working life so maybe I should try a different approach."

    That might be a great idea.

  12. Such a mix of funny, sad and poignant. It sounds like your parents prefer a little ignorance if a tornado is how they are going to go. (and I do love your practical husband).

    You saw my fliration with the self-pub thing... I think it can be done to great success or great misery, but you have a pretty good base started for your network, and lack of network is the 2nd biggest mistake I see (the first biggest being a 'not done' book)

  13. I buy lottery tickets. I sometimes feel a little embarrassed standing in front of the machine and I know the odds are ridiculous, but I buy 2 pretty much every week. It gives me more room for my dreams.

  14. Oh that's good to know that you're considering self publishing. It's a great idea.

  15. Promise us you will NOT self-publish until you've sent that manuscript to every goddamn agent in the country.


    We're waiting, tapping our feet.

  16. While self--publishing is a successful move for the very few, it's generally as lucrative as playing the lottery.

    You're far too talented to make that decision yet.

    Write, query, rewrite, query some more. Your writing leaves most of us in the dirt. You'll score; just give it more time.

  17. I'm on the side of those encouraging you to keep trying the traditional publishing route. I'd love to see you mixing it up with Oprah once your book gets published to the wild acclaim of all your fans and the millions more who would surely follow.

  18. My friend has a habit of calling her bf's "Daddy". I don't know if it's because she has a penchant to dating older men, or because her father died when she was very young.

    Or maybe she's just kinky that way.

  19. First, before you resort to self-publishing, run through Making Light, which has good information on publishing scams and self-publishing (you'll probably have to do a search) and a link (somewhere) to Absolute Write.

    Secondly, the Reds game brought up some rue. (Later.)

    Thirdly, Black Magpie Theory seems to be gone.

  20. Thank you, gang, for these great comments. I know I'm crap at responding to comments these days. Another reason to move Wordpress for good. They make comment reply way easier with their templates.

    I appreciate the feedback on self-publishing. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do, but when I used to have a job, I often could be heard saying "just because we've always done it this way doesn't mean we can't try something new." Now I might have to live by those words. Sometimes the new idea worked and sometimes it didn't, but we would never know if we didn't try.

    And besides, it's not like I only have one idea for a project.

    In the meantime, enjoy your long weekend and thank you for being here.

  21. "We've reached the thin end of things again where there's more month than money. "

    Same here.

    One small wrinkle is that we are marrying off our younger daughter this weekend while trying to avoid any financial humiliation.

  22. jobs... don't even get me started....they government don't create jobs.... corporations do... that is why unemployment is so high.... George Bush told me so.

  23. I say again.... where the hell is Dammit.

    Regarding your manuscript, I'm also going to say, "What Averil said." Send it to the who's-who of NYC and see what happens. The worst that can happen is it'll take 2 or 3 months to see if anyone bites.

    I was going to send my m/s out last fall, but it's not ready --- still --- yet I have amassed a TON of agent info. If I can help in any way, by sharing what miniscule iotas I've learned (names, what they want, how they want it, etc...) e-mail me. Seriously.

  24. Parents - kids - it's all the same, isn't it? You worry when they don't; they fret when you can't understand why they make a fuss... It's not such an issue when other people are out of anxietysynch with us - just the people up and down the generational ladder.

    Spouse is a different thing entirely - more like the prevailing weather - larger. Not so much something we jive with (or not) as something we live within or under. Great when it's sunny, tough when it's not.

    Publishing... I just don't know which route makes sense. The old rules and approaches seem to me to be in flux. I DO know I'll be buying a copy of your book regardless of how it reaches print. Let me know if I can help with cover art... And I think there are some publishing options where there is small up front expense on your part, and the books are printed as ordered. The cost is more for each book, but the publishing firm gets their cut and so do you from each one printed and mailed to the buyer. At least I've heard there are outfits like that...

  25. I agree with the others re: try traditional publishing first. That said, I saw an article recently about this young woman who got a book contract for a lot o' money, but only after she sold a lot of books at her own site as e-books. Seems that she was making a lot of money on her own (something like $100k a month!) and after writing a number of books (I think it's a serial) the publishing company came through. Thing is, apparently she would have made more money if she continued self-publishing, but perhaps she was doing it for the movie rights or something.

  26. You write so well, Lisa.
    Maybe you should go after the money with some genre fiction. I love the voice you use in your writing here . . . can't you put that voice into a romance or a mystery or something that sells in stacks at Barnes and Noble?


And then you say....

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