Hello again! That rampaging silence emanating from this blog for the past month has been fueled by my 1) finishing a draft of my book, and then 2) having a party, then 3) getting very sick, and 4) having a half-kinda-sorta-maybe-little vacation.
So, to #1:
I finished a draft. And I won't say, now, that I finished a book. I finished a draft. Because there's still a lot of work to go, of that I am sure. Finishing wasn't euphoria, finishing was...it was a new emotion I have not yet mastered and one upon which I have no perspective. Which means my descriptions would fall hallow. So, let me sum it up this way: Take a metal pen, or some sort of metal object, and stick it in the freezer for an hour. Take it out, feel it, and imagine that metal pen being poked around the inside of your gut. It's not like it's painful (at least, subtract the pain of someone actually stabbing your gut, that would hurt), and it's not strictly unpleasant either. It's like little nauseating florets pop up out of nowhere every now and then. They're tied together by the background euphoria, the background feeling of accomplishment, the background of pride and achievement. But having spent 3 years with the idea in my head, one conceiving it and another writing it, to just attach that document to an e-mail and press "send"... that's not something that's going to have me jumping for joy. That's like giving your kid a slap in the back and sending him off to college, off to people who can make him better, smarter - people who can make him make more sense. But when he comes back to you you're still going to try to be parental and impart wisdom, because it's your kid.
Yes, finising a book means you come to know the ways of mixed metaphors. Intimately.
It's confusing, it's overwrought, it's weird and silent, and isolating. Very few people I know have felt this, and none of them have ever described it accurately. There's an obscenely happy part of me, and an extremely apprehensive part as well. They don't play nicely.
When the book first took its full shape, however, of a book, then, then, I danced and jumped for joy and destroyed things in my apartment by accident. And scared my cat.
No. 2: I had a party. I had planned on this for after the book was done, but not as a book party, not as a party for me and not as a party for my missed birthdays or whatever. I just missed my friends and family and wanted some excuse to bring them all together under a joyous cause, and seriously, what better time in the world to thank the people I love, the people who were silent and unwitting partners in my sanity during this crazy time. I rented a loft and we danced and danced and danced until 3 a.m., literally acting out 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' three times in a row (and one encore later). It was goofy, it was sweaty, it was beyond wonderful and freeing. Leaky staffers came from all over the country, my family drove in from all over the city, and we even got my sister's fiancee, Elliot, to dance (a miracle). As a bonus, Alex and Matt planned shows in the area to justify coming out, and so we had a weekend full of activity. Kathleen and David pulled the biggest surprise of the night on me; I thought only David was coming, and he kept saying he had a gift for me - that gift turned out to be Kathleen, who was hiding behind him. I just screamed at her like she'd scared me - twice, right in her face, just screamed. I couldn't believe it.
The next morning, after breakfast with David and Kathleen, I came back to thirty people in my apartment, eating bagels and cleaning my kitchen, playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band and in general enjoying the hell out of each other's presence, in that easy, free way that has the power to make gatherings like that perfect.
No. 3: John stayed through the next week, and I was not much company, because I got sick. I slept 20 hours a day, had fever and brick-solid sinuses, chills, the whole bit. That happens, like I've noted here before - my body just plots and exacts revenge when I work it too hard.
And the rest of the time until now (which is when I will soon probably maybe get edits/notes and be back to work) has been spent catching back up on Leaky work and new work with the HPA, and getting my bearings again. Seeing my family, feeding my cat, yadda yadda, boring.
I went back over my questions thread and unearthed a few more, so here we go:
Cath asked: How did you become a journalist?
Because of pizza. My first-day-of-college pre-med buddies and I went for pizza at The Hoya's open house, and a girl asked me if I wanted to write theater reviews...and that was that. Well, no, the story's longer, but it also involves the novel I wrote when I was eight, the reviews I wrote in high school, and a hard decision to not take my MCAT exams and go from the hard but solid and predictable path to the M.D., to the hard but completely unpredictable and amorphous path of...writing. But, mostly, it was because of some pizza.
Michelle asked about: the progress of my book, what I expected this summer to be like, my years in school, my craziest fan and "lots of random stuff."
OK: Progress of book, check.
What I expected this (2007) summer to be like: Unforgettable.
My years in school: Oh, um, hem, um... long, long, long, long blog post. Maybe it's another book.
My "craziest fan": The concept of having "fans" for my web site work is not something I've wholly made peace with, and not something I completely buy into, either. There's a weird inside-a-fandom-miniceleb thing that goes on, but I consider that a microcosm and aberration and not real fame. The people I meet, the people who come up to me and have something to share or something to say or something to appreciate because of the web site and the podcast, well, they're just people I get to meet and talk to. I swear that's not false modesty - it is very, very hard to adapt to the whole idea that fans have fans, much less be one of those fans. It's a bit easier with the podcast, because that's an item of entertainment in and of itself and I can understand how a show can have fans. But to be a fan of someone because they are a fan of something else - it's a strange, layered, twisty sort of "fame." On the one hand, I get it: Anyone who appreciates the work someone else does is a fan of them, and why renounce that in any way? That's cool, everyone should have fans if that's the requirement. Bring on the fans. On the other hand, it's more like... huh? You want me to sign what, now? Are you sure? You know I'm probably doing more to harm this book than anything else, right? I'm not saying I don't like it - an attempt at that would be disingenuous at best. Anyone who's recognized for their work would like it - it just is sometimes hard to understand, because we're a bunch of geeks who didn't start doing what we do with the understanding that if we were successful, it would come with fans (unlike actors or singers or traditionally "celebbed" people). The whole phenomenon has been a huge surprise to all of us (and let's of course not discredit the fact that the boybandesque quality of the MuggleCasters fueled a lot of the baseline fannishness around the podcasts - and I don't mean that in a bad way or a derogatory way at all - few things incite fans like funny and cute boys). It will be a lot easier to accept that my book has fans, if it does, than it has been to accept that I've been granted fans for running a fan site. It really feels closer to being a member of student council or prom court or something. Ah, high school, from whence all bad analogies spring.
But, taking the notion of fan as a given, there've been no crazies, only colorful people. I loved when PotterCast listeners showed up to a LeakyMug with a picture of my cat on their T-shirt - that was a real check-yourself kind of moment. And the best thing that has ever happened, and continues to happen, is the stream of letters I get from teens who want to be journalists, and sometimes young girls who feel slightly lost. That's...if that's what it is to have fans, then yes, I'll gladly call them fans and linger in this twisty fandom world forever.
Random stuff: I'm wearing a sweatshirt that should have been washed a few weeks ago; I went to the gym twice this week after a three-month lapse and it feels great; I decided to vote for Obama about three days ago, when I realized that all the leaders whose names we remember, whose messages we remember, were instruments of change who used inspiration as their chief tool; I just watched Blood Diamond and loved it; I read three books last week and have taken up beading jewelry (Luna style) as a pasttime.
All right...more soon, and this time I mean it.