Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

I do, in fact, want fries with my existential despair

Today: Spent the morning rereading one of my favorite Victorian source books (Inside the Victorian Home), paying particular attention to the food served at formal dinners and the means of serving it, which at the beginning of the century was à la francaise, and then (from France, ironically) à la russe. Then went out for a burger. As you do.

Valerie and Emily, my roommates from college, and I have actually done a pretty good job of getting out and having lunch more often; today we went over to Five Guys. I had a small run of bad luck while I was there, though, because a guy who thought he was the funniest thing ever let Valerie go ahead of him. Then his girlfriend showed up, and he made a big deal out of Emily go ahead of them--"but you! You have to stay back here!" And I thought eventually he'd kind of go, "Naaaah, I'm kidding," and... he totally didn't. He even turned around one more time and said, in tones of deep self hilarity, "Remember, you have to stay back here!" I laughed through the whole thing, but I was extremely puzzled. And then, at the soda fountain whatever thing, I slipped and fell, because my day hadn't been awesome enough yet. At least three different guys and a bonus employee immediately went "OH MY GOD, ARE YOU OKAY?" Fortunately (?) I fell forward onto my shin, which hurt like a motherfuck, but at least I didn't screw up my actual knee. So I'll probably have a glorious bruise on my dignity shin, but life goes on.

So I move forward towards the condiments, shaking my head. I look back, and there's that same employee crouching down, frantically rubbing the floor to figure out why it was slippery, and if he's going to get fired for it. I turn back around to the front, and the guy in front of me goes, "You need a lawyer?"

But the weather was beautiful and the fries were good and Valerie's little boy is a charmer, so. And next week we will take him to the zoo! I bet you have NO IDEA what I'm going to take pictures of THERE.

Earlier this week: existential despair. I spent a couple of days convinced that my three-year-old Black Ribbon drafts were heinous and that I should just give up on everything and maybe crawl under the covers for a few years. I have those days now and then; I kind of think they might be related to normal hormonal fluctuations on top of the regular clinical depression issues. The important thing is just to ride those days out and not do anything stupid--like, say, erase your hard drive and sign up for the Peace Corps--but the problem with sincerely feeling like there is no hope is that you also feel like there's never going to be any hope. It's hard to talk yourself out of these things, is what I'm saying. I just try to get through them as best I can. But... it was pretty bad on--Wednesday, I think? Pretty bad.

In the end, I got through it by making myself think of the parts of the novel I really love in my head, even if I haven't gotten what's on the page to match that yet. The bright spots, as I started to think of them. And so Thursday and today have been better. Right now, I'm going back and forth between bright spots--when one wind runs out, I run over and try to catch another--but I am definitely trying to hack through all the notes and revision ideas and general crapfulness of the first chapter, so I can at least have an excerpt that makes sense to shop around. I mean, ideally I would have 3-5 chapters, but the journey of a novel begins with a single scene, I guess. So right now, I'm hacking through the beginning (seriously, sometimes it feels like I am using an actual machete in a very thick jungle), and then bouncing around between chapters with bright spots. My current focus is to make the dialogue Moar Better, eliminate "grimly" and "dryly" whenever possible, and tweak the characterization so that I need as few dialogue tag adverbs as possible.

(Oddly, you know what has really helped with this? Writing 70+ installments of The Secret Life of Dolls, and having to use dialogue to differentiate between multiple pairs of dolls that are nominally the same character, while still having you see which part of the original character I'm running with. I'm looking at my novel drafts now, and I'm actually kind of overwhelmed with the amount of editorial "Oh, honey, no" that's washing over me--because all the super-fun hobby writing made me a better writer, as writing more will make any writer, and now my old "legitimate" work feels like a pair of shoes I've outgrown. It's frustrating, but I think--I hope--I know enough now to fix it as well.)

(New installment of Secret Life tomorrow, by the way.)

And at some point, I will have to figure out which publisher(s) to query about this. Well, my agent and I will. I don't know if everyone wants steampunk vampires now, or no one does.

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Tags: black ribbon, depression, friends, leaving the house omg, victoriana, writing
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