Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pressed but not crushed...

Well, okay, crushed.

It's hard to be anything but when you do what you told yourself and everybody else you wouldn't do--get your hopes up about your YA book getting published--and then get rejected.

It was a nice letter, but it's still one of those moments.

Inbox (1)
You stare at it.
You hold your breath. You click on it.
You read it. Again. And one more time for good measure.
You stare away the moisture--those are not tears.
You decide not to tell anybody.
Then you decide to tell everybody.

A big long exhale, and.... Here we go again.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Dangerous Cocktail


--1 somewhat serious perusal of St. Augustine's Confessions
--1 rapt viewing of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight

Shake..... (Read the warning label)

What comes out? Well, if you're like me (it helps to dust the cocktail with a good helping of suspended disbelief), you get a tragic, mental, emotional, ripping noise that comes from your gut and ends up hanging, embarrassingly, in the room like a frumpy ghost.

The cats think it's all good fun.

Why exactly are love stories like that (Achilles and Patroclus, Romeo and Juliette, Troilus and Cressida, Layla and Majnun, or Clapton and Pattie Boyde, for that matter) so compelling?

And--forgive me, this is not systematic philosophical inquiry by any means--why does it seem like the story is, at bottom, that which moves us, and not sympathy for the individuals themselves, trapped by their tragedies? It is not the sweet, loyal face of Patroclus that we pine for. Clapton's "Layla" does not invoke a sudden desire to see (extend to the other senses) the object of his personal "brand of heroine." It's the idea of the story that draws us, hungry and battling some inner turmoil we can't quite articulate, to these fictions.

But I've stepped over a line, calling them fictions, as if positing that we don't respond equally to "true" stories. But then, retold, what story is entirely devoid of fiction?

Let that rest, though.

My question: Is it the idea that we cherish, the idea that two people can want each other so badly.... We've certainly felt it ourselves. But if the dream fails for us, as it so often does, was it the dream that we loved or the human embodiment that dream?

And poor Augustine, to hold sexual love as the basest of human desires. Well, it's certainly the source of great suffering; some romantics would give anything for a crack at such love.

So what if, indeed, it is the dream we long for? Are we not, as Augustine would say, blind to the true nature of our desires, which crave the invisible, intangible, unchanging things, the dreams that vanish upon waking, whispers so frail they splinter and dissipate when the story ends, and we are left hollow, seeking incarnations in the place of some divinity? In other words, are we crazy?

Ugh! *stupid cocktail* Why this wretched desire for this opium that wreaks havoc on our capacity to appreciate, er, pretty damned much anything during the time the mind succumbs to the dream?

And afterwards? A lingering throb, the bite of regurgitated bile.

Warning: (1) Serving size is directly proportional to the extent of hangover one wishes to endure days following. (2) Consumption of the above recipe impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Waiting on Debra Dixon

Debra Dixon, the fiction editor at Bell Bridge Books, has requested a "more detailed synopsis" of my YA Down the Twisted Lane. Hoorayack! Can't celebrate too soon.

Because this could mean one of two things.

1. Debra, like any good editor, one month ago put her newest acquisition under the "stack" (probably electronic but still going by the same old name) of manuscripts "to read." A month later, she finally finishes off Manuscript X and finds my manuscript, still unread, at the bottom. She thinks, "Hmm, the author--this... Lora Rivera--has been waiting for a while. I'll ask her for more to give me more time." So she asks for the only thing she doesn't have (having already the full manuscript, the author's bio, and a short synopsis): a "more detailed synopsis."


2. Debra, like any good editor, one month ago put her newest acquisition under the "stack," eventually got to my manuscript, read, oh, say, a third of it, and found it quite intriguing and quite complicated. (It is.) So she sends off for a "more detailed synopsis" to see if the thing is at all viable before spending her valuable time reading the rest of the manuscript.

Let's hope for option 2. It's the best.