Tag: self loathing

Do I Have to Wear This Body All the Time?

For those few of you who subscribe to my feed – let me apologize for flooding it this morning.  I had to move all the content from the Cricket and Grey site because we’re going to have it redirect to this one.  I don’t need any extra sites to manage and I’m in the process of starting the Post Apocalyptic Kitchen with my friend Emma – so it’s time to simplify.

I’m supposed to be calling a small produce market right now to get the price for a pallet of tomatoes.  I don’t feel like making any phone calls.  I don’t really feel like doing anything right now.  The kid just came home from school with a stomach ache.  Second week of school and he’s already missing some.

I feel like my body is going to explode because it seems bigger than ever.  Speculation abounds as to why I haven’t gotten even the tiniest bit more svelte after a month of not cooking with cheese.  I’ve had some dairy out once or twice a week, and that’s it.  Then there’s all that exercise.  I did take two weeks off to deal with the last truck load of crap from Oregon.  But I’ve exercised more in the last two months than I have in a very long time.  Yet still I’m huge and feeling huger.

After this coming weekend we are going to stop drinking alcohol at home unless we have guests over.  All I can say is – if I am not eating much dairy, and not drinking much alcohol, and getting plenty of exercise, and I don’t lose weight – I will be so fucking angry at the world.  At my body.  At the unfairness of it.  There is only one reward for not eating my favorite food and not drinking my favorite beverages – weight loss.

Yeah, I know.  My liver will thank me and so will my arteries.


My only pleasure left will be avocados.

Everyone’s got a theory about weight loss.  All I know is that it used to be simple.  If I wanted to lose weight I ate less cheese, ate smaller portions, drank less alcohol, and got more exercise.  Simple.  No complicated schemes where-in I eat many small meals a day or don’t eat after a certain hour or eat special foods or leave out entire food groups.  It was just simple.  It worked.

I really can’t bear to be this fat any more.  I’m making efforts but I look like a person making no effort.  And how could I possibly get BIGGER after cutting out cheese?!  It defies science.  I hate my body so much right now that I want to hurt it.  I hate it so much that looking in the mirror feels like getting punched in the face – I want to cry.  Sometimes I want to throw up.

So.  I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.  After next week I’ll be doing more.  After that – if my weight doesn’t budge, or if it goes up, I will demand a shitload of medical tests.  Incidentally – I don’t have a scale (can’t find the one we had) so I’m not basing this on specific numbers.  I’m basing this on how my clothes DON’T fit well.  My waistbands should feel more loose – not more tight.  The rolls down my back should feel lighter and smaller – not more prominent.

It’s hard to ignore these feelings when I have to wear this body all day long every single day.  There’s no break from it.  That’s the problem with bodies.  You have to BE IN IT ALL THE TIME.  So if you hate it – well – it’s hard to ignore it.  I would just like to step out of my skin.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

I want a break from my body.

It’s a good thing I’ll be able to get therapy from a psychologist soon.

This week I have my first psychiatrist visit at Kaiser.

I hope someday I’ll be looking back at this post from the other side.  Without fat rolls.  I hope I’ll look back and be amazed at how I could have not managed to see the change ahead of me.  I hope I’ll look back and feel truly grateful not to be carrying the weight of two bodies on one set of bones.

An Agony of Pitches: Pitch #1 for Cricket and Grey

Remember back when I was trying to write a pitch for Cricket and Grey after finishing the second draft?  Remember how much I sucked at it and how embarrassed you were at my efforts?  Now that I’m finished with the third draft I have to write a pitch and send it out to book agents until I land one.  In spite of receiving some good coaching from friends, I remain incapable of writing even a marginally good pitch.  My future depends on this skill and I can’ t conger up even the smallest chink of light onto to this mammoth task.  When I’m done posting my two pitch efforts I’m going to crack open the first of many beers to thin my blood and then I’m going to slit my wrists and take a hot bath.

The purpose of the pitch to an agent is to make them want to read your book.  Period.  It has to be short and concise and say just enough about character, crisis, and context to make the agent (or anyone) read more.  Easy, right?  It’s a summary of the key elements in your book.

First I wrote an elevator pitch:

At the end of the twenty first century, life is hard enough for Cricket Winters, a small town apothecary in Western Oregon.  When her father dies, leaving her with steep unpaid tax bills, she discovers the secrets he’s been hiding about her mother’s death, and it gets a whole lot harder.  Now, as she takes on a dangerous job as an armed guard for the local Mormon crime boss, she must also keep one step ahead of her mother’s killer.

Then I wrote a query letter length pitch (300 words or less):

At the end of the twenty first century, life is hard enough for Cricket Winters, a small town apothecary in Western Oregon.  When her father Peter (an armed guard) dies, leaving her with steep unpaid tax bills, she discovers secrets he’s been hiding about her mother’s death, and it gets a whole lot harder.  Grey Bonneville, a colleague and young friend of Peter’s, receives a posthumous request to watch over Cricket.  “Watching” over a pretty girl seems pleasant enough until FBI agents, Smith and Hesse, who have been investigating Peter and Grey on suspicion of smuggling, show up at the burial.

Smith, a swarthy pock faced bully, taunts Cricket at the graveside with accusations about her father’s criminal activity.  If he had not underestimated her reputation for being as skilled with herbs as she is with her fists he might have refrained from calling Cricket’s dead mother a whore.  Luckily, Grey has some valuable information Smith wants and accepts in exchange for Cricket’s release.  The fact that Grey won’t reveal to her the deal he’s made on her behalf convinces her not to trust him.

Her best friends Julie and Tommy (her ex-flame) want to help her pay her taxes and take her to their farm on the coast to rest and grieve.  But flu season is fast approaching and she refuses to abandon the poor people of her community when they need her most.  She stubbornly insists on solving her problems by taking a dangerous job as an armed guard for the local Mormon crime boss and discovers that Grey has been hired for the same job.  Now all she has to do is deliver Malakai’s under aged niece to her fiancé in Portland while staying one step ahead of her mother’s killer.

That was a 300 word piece of crap pitch.

My friend Emma (one of my readers and a really good person to listen to) read the pitch and told me it was all wrong.  She didn’t say it like that.  She pointed out that my book is about the relationship that develops between Cricket and Grey and how Cricket comes of age through all her dire experiences.  I know when someone is right because I often become unhinged and then very very angry with myself.  Of course the book is about my main character growing up and definitely a main part of the book is about her relationship with Grey, but I wrote it to be a suspense novel.  Not a romance.

NOT a coming of age romance.

So I’ve heard from all my readers and two friends who haven’t read the book but who know a lot about genres and pitching and all that.  My two friends who haven’t read the book both insist that any book set in the future, regardless of other elements of the story, are automatically in the science fiction genre.  That makes sense to me even though I don’t think of this story as being science fiction.

Two of my readers (Emma and Lucy) mostly think of it as a murder mystery.  When Emma tried to call it a murder mystery I practically jumped down her throat telling her not to call it that.  (Seriously, Emma is going to regret being my friend soon if I don’t stop being such a jumpy spaz)  Why would I object so fiercely to my book being thought of as a murder mystery?  Because I read a shitload of murder mysteries and every single one of them focuses on the main character SOLVING a crime.  Cricket does not look for clues to her mother’s death, she merely discovers some disturbing secrets about it her father has hidden.   She doesn’t have time to sleuth.  There’s just about ZERO sleuthing in this book.  Most of the time Cricket is trying to figure out how to make enough money not to lose her property and fighting everyone she knows about the best way for her to do it.  But because she KNOWS too much now about her mother’s murder she is being stalked.  The fact that her mother is killed and how she’s killed made an indelible impression on Cricket but who did it and finding clues is not something she has time to mull over all that much.

If I was going to try to sell this as a murder mystery I would have to seriously ammend the story to include lots of “clues” and make it much more about who did it.  Already I have added more lead-up to the end because I downplayed it too much.  Anyone expecting a murder mystery would be deeply disappointed in this book.  It aint no whodunnit.

I also didn’t intend to write a romance.  I think all the best books have a good romantic relationship in them but the thought of being a romance writer mortifies me.  Yet if I have to describe this novel in terms of a relationship then suddenly, it becomes clear I’ve just written the millionth stupid-ass novel about a girl who doesn’t think she needs anyone until she meets the person she needs.  I thought that it was just incidental, a part of her maturing, yes, and a pleasant development, but I never once thought of it as a book mostly about her relationship and her coming of age.  Yet there it is.  So now I have to wonder if I should sell it as a romance?  I could close my eyes and throw a stick and I’d be sure to hit a romance writer, there are THAT many of them around.  Why should the idea of being one of them bother me so much?  I don’t hate romance books.  In fact, I like some of them quite a bit.

Does genre matter at all?  Yes, it does.  People say “let the story speak for itself”.  That’s all well and good but if you can’t get someone to read it then it doesn’t have a chance to speak.  Agents, just like publishers, have a tendency to specialize in different genres.  If you sound like you’re peddling a romance to an agent who mostly handles paranormal novels, you’ve already lost the game.  Unless it’s a PARANORMAL romance.  So yes, it DOES matter.  It matters a lot.

One thing no one is calling this book, besides me, is a suspense.

I’d like to flatter myself and suggest that this book is just so unique that it defies any genre.  This is patently untrue and what every single writer on earth wants to believe.

I think I’ve written a common little romance with a little murder mystery thrown in for fun.

Makes me think of the first book I wrote “Jane Doe”.  What would I have called it?  Suspense.  Yep.  But looking at it through today’s eyes I’d have to say that it’s identical in essence to Cricket and Grey except it doesn’t take place in the future.  Mentally ill girl who was raped and left for dead when she was thirteen grows up, heals, and just when she’s even finally healed enough to have a relationship (ROMANCE!) she gets stabbed and left for dead in her apartment.  So apparently I like romance books with lots of violence in them.

I’m full of black piss and stinging vinegar today.  If all I’m going to write are romances with a little murder mystery thrown in, I’m going to quit writing right now because that means I keep writing shit I don’t mean to write.  Which means I’ve got the skill of a writing pig or else I’m too arrogant to just accept what I write for what it is.

But before I go off to bloody my walls with my head, I’m going to post my angry pitch so you can all see how I pitch my book bitterly as a romance.  It’s a parody of a pitch so don’t take it seriously.  Watch for it next.


Ma Heid’s Mince

Mine ain heid in yon tree!

I’ve had my head buried in Scots all day in an effort to add some flavor to my Scottish characters in Cricket and Grey.  Meaning to add just a touch of it to add a bit of the sound of the real thing without meaning to muck everything up with constant dialect which would be tedious to read and to write.  It seemed a good idea.  My plan was to spend all day polishing up the complete rewrite of chapter one.  Which, for the record, has been completely rewritten a total of five times now.  More than any other chapter or part of the book.  The depressing thing about that is that it sucks more now than it has any of the other times I wrote it.

This entire third draft effort has been beyond laborious, tedious, impossible, and made me believe that I have now come to the very edge of my writing abilities.  Here it is.  I believe that I am a second draft quality writer.  I can’t get past it.  Every effort is stilted and repulsive.  Smoothing?  Polishing?  Not capable.  My mother, in an effort to help me out agreed that I may have just hit the limit of my skills and talent and said “after all, it’s not like you have a degree in writing.”  She pointed out the snug suggestion that this is an opportunity to stretch myself.  As if I haven’t been stretching myself just to write the first and second damn draft.  No, I don’t have a degree in writing.  I know that people who do have such degrees are predisposed to believe that it gives them a real edge.  Who am I to say?  I’m an uneducated eejit.

Everything is making me feel worse.  I was really hungry and just ate a ton of pizza.  I am already obese.  I hurt myself more when I’m feeling low because I am already a repulsive  being physically and no amount of effort I put into changing that will help.  I feel disgusting.  So the natural thing to do is to ensure that I become even more disgusting.  My mom commented about me “inhaling” my pizza and this, naturally, determined that I would eat the maximum amount because obviously I am already a pig.  I have a breathtakingly self destructive nature.

This is huge though.  Really huge.  Not my obesity.  Not my physical repulsiveness (I can’t bear to even look at my own face in the mirror any more), no, it’s really huge have finished the second draft three months ago and still not be further than one single chapter rewrite and for that rewrite to be worse than the version before it.  I have expended an insane amount of time and energy into this project with the firm belief that I am capable of doing this and making it really good.  However, three months for 5,00o shitty words is unacceptable.  People saying to “sit back” and “wait a while” might think that this project is some kind of personal indulgence.  It’s not.  This is me trying to finally make my damn career as a novelist take off after 31 years of practice, observation, practice, voracious devouring of literature of all kinds and all genres, creative writing classes, submissions of work to contests, a hundred million words penned by hand and by typewriter, self publishing poems, reading books about writing, going to see and hear authors speak, more and more endless practicing and constantly working to make my writing better.  This is me, mid-life, not there yet.  This is me with the hours slipping away from my life and suddenly everything that comes out of my head is pure shit.

We all have our place in life, in our career, in relationships, with ambitions and rank.  At what point does a B-movie director admit that he/she is B-movie material?  At what point does an author accept that their fiction is nothing worthier than pulp?  Is it so bad?  Can it possibly be worse to accept a lowly rank in one’s field than it is to continually believe yourself to be worth more when everyone else sees that you have hit your level, and consequently fail to achieve your goals over and over?

The too-long sentences, the information withheld too long and the other information given too soon, the questions unanswered, the scene’s not well set up, the confusions and awkward shifts in place and time, all of this can be polished by an excellent writer.  I am incapable of fixing these things.  When I plunge my hand in it becomes worse and worse.  I now have fragments of change attempted all over the place that have simply muddied and messed up what already needed polishing.

I’ve read quite a few mediocre books in my time.  I’ve read an astonishing number of books from famous authors that I thought were weakly written, disappointing, and not quite up to my level of expectation of enjoyment and intelligent writing.  I have also read authors who have won Nobel prizes who have a very special way of making the most convoluted insensibly long sentences the length of paragraphs that once you get to the end of you must read the beginning to remember where it all started.  Faulkner.  Whom I despise even more than Steinbeck, but not less than Flaubert.  Wait, no, I do hate Faulkner most of all.  His work is like a great masterbation of words for which my understanding and interest as a reader isn’t really necessary to the author.

Obviously many people disagree with me on that.  I’ve had arguments about Faulkner.  And about Steinbeck.  Though, for the record, I hate Steinbeck because his books make me want to kill myself though his writing is excellent; I hate Faulkner because his writing is tortured and unintelligible and lousy.

But me?  I already know I’m not in the same league as Steinbeck, and by that I mean to say that I know I never will be in his league, but I’d like to believe that I’m better than a hack.  I’d like to believe, and indeed, I used to believe, that I am better than mediocre.  What on earth could have led me to believe such a thing besides having my head up my ass and my ego on backwards?

If you have any idea how many hours I’ve laid into this project, you would have to ask yourself how I managed to only get this far having put in so much time.  The thing that stuck with me after reading those articles about what authors really make is that in order to make a living many authors are writing two books a year.  How many drafts are they writing?  How long are these books?  What quality?  Nora Roberts writes several books a year, she’s not only been on the best selling list so many times I’m sure it’s very boring to her at this point, but how many drafts is she writing?  How many hours a day?  Obviously she’s no Steinbeck either, but where on the scale does her work land?  She’s prolific.  I have put in a lot of hours on my book.  I have put in an average of 25 hours a week on my book for over a year.  Why isn’t it better than it is?  I have two part time jobs: the one that pays, and writing the book.  I know Nora Roberts puts in at least 8 hours a day on writing (I read this about her) so obviously she’s putting in full time.  Because she’s a successful full time author.  But even so, she’s putting out multiple books EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  So how much actual time does she put into each one in terms of hours?

Maybe I am not capable of making my story better than it is right now.  I know I’ve read published books much crappier than my unfinished on is.  Should I stop now?  Should I just trust that all the imperfections and things that a better writer than I am could have fixed are just how my work will be and get myself published as one of the crappier rougher books?  What do I do?  Should I scrap it altogether?  Walk away.  Is this a message to me that I really really really aren’t meant to succeed at anything in my life?  Because, you know, I have yet to be a real success at anything.  There always comes this point where I can’t get any further.  Like back when I actually thought I was good enough to become a professional blog writer.  I worked really hard at so mlly any angles.  There was also the retail business which didn’t fail so much as it drained the light from my soul and the money from my house and if I wanted to sign over my sanity to the devil I might have seen that become a success- but really, even saying that is ridiculous because I basically failed to make a go of it.  I was told absolutely that I would never become a designer at the job where I was a design assistant.  I did fairly well for not having done the one thing I really wanted to do- become a designer.  I also failed at being a costumer and also managed somehow to believe I was a business partner of that concern but it wasn’t until I quit and I was told I had to file as an independent contractor, but without any of the deductions that might have accompanied a partner- I knew that I had just been an employee with delusions and my ex-employer has since gone on to be very successful.  I’ve paid a lot for all of my failures.  Those are just the professional failures.

That’s not me feeling sorry for myself, I mean I obviously am feeling very sorry for myself at this moment (and I assure you it won’t last for too long), but that is a list of facts.  You can put a good spin on all of those professional experiences and explain how they helped me grow, how they were all opportunities to become better and wiser and smarter and more successful.  But the fact is that I keep racking up those opportunities and think I’m learning and growing and becoming stronger and smarter and the fact is, I never reach a single goal I set for myself.  Where is the “I worked my ass off and look how far I’ve come!”  or “All those hours I put in and finally I’m where I wanted to be!”.  Those aren’t moments I’ve had.

To get this far with the book and to not be capable of taking a step further?  That is the worst failure I’ve ever experienced.

I am fully demoralized.

People say to wait.  Give it time.  Take a break.  But what for?  Why?  What will that accomplish if I have reached the limit of my writing skills and talent?