Huh, it hasn’t been nearly as long as I’d thought since I updated this, just late July. That means I only let one month go entirely without posting. I’m such a bad, boring blogger. I’d promise to do better but we all know that’s a lie.
I had two rounds of edits Tipping the Balance, plus galleys, in August, and that absorbed the lion’s share of my discretionary time. Despite my own proofreading, plus that of my two beta readers, one of whom is a professional editor in her own right, there were more typos and infelicities of style than I considered acceptable. So I read the entire manuscript backwards. I forget where I first happened up on this technique–a tweet from another author? Not sure. But it works very well. If the point of a novel is to create flow and catch the reader up in the story, reading a manuscript backwards deliberately circumvents this. The problem with that flow as a writer of course is that your subconscious fills in blanks and corrects errors without troubling your conscious mind. Reading backward deliberately circumvents this, forcing you to realize just how ugly your writing really is. It’s just very time consuming. I hope Tipping the Balance is the better for it.
Here’s the cover art for it. I can’t say I love it like I love the cover for Rocking the Boat, but then, we always have a special place in our hearts for our first, right?
Still, I’m not complaining. I’ve got my name on the cover of another book. Tomorrow, September 12, is the release date, so get out there and crash Dreamspinner’s servers in your frenzied demand for your very own copy.
I’m not sure why this one’s different, but I’m not nearly as anxious about this release. Don’t get me wrong. I love the book and I’m proud of the story I told. I’m just not losing sleep or popping acid blockers and benzodiazepines. Maybe because Tipping the Balance isn’t my first novel. This does not, however, mean I won’t be up early downloading my own e-copy.
Currently I’m working on a gay riff on Pride and Prejudice tentatively titled The Answer to His Prayers. Years ago, before my husband and I adopted The Kid Himself, my life resembled those depicted in Miss Austen’s work insofar as life consisted of a variety of social occasions designed to find people boyfriends/husbands, we all knew each other’s business, and heaven help you if you did something gauche.
I also wrote and sold a short story to MLR Press in August. “The Advent Calendar” is a Christmas story (duh) to be released in December (even more duh). More details will follow.
On a personal front, I seem to be moving back into coaching, at least for a while. The big thing around the boathouse these days is qualifying for a seat in one of the team’s boats in the Head of the Charles in Boston, one of the biggest regattas in North America and the biggest in the US. It can be great fun. But the anxiety of it all was a bit much for me. I get anxious pretty easily. In terms of scores on the erg, I’ve got more power than anyone else on the team save for a man who’s thirteen years younger than I am. In terms of applying it on the water…well, that’s another story.
In thinking about it, I realized I have a very complex relationship with crew. It’s a major part of my life and my self-identity. I will always think of myself as a rower, and currently I’m enjoying time in my single, the one my husband bought me when we could marry legally. I wasn’t enjoying practice in the bigger boats much at all, particularly with the build-up to Head of the Charles, because crew is also one of the major foci of my anxiety issues and perfectionism. So something I enjoy very much also makes me crazier than just about anything else, and yet as an author who spends a great deal of time alone inside his head, I need to get out and see people. I get a little weird if I don’t.
Then it occurred to me there was a way to have it both ways. I told my coach that if I don’t make a boat, I’ll run practices for those who aren’t going to Boston so she can focus the majority of her efforts on the Boston-bound boats. I’ve got coaching experience, in fact I have a USRowing level 1 coaching certificate. Granted, it’s been a while, but it’ll come back. It’s just like falling off a bike, right? This way I can contribute to the Boston effort, even if I’m not supplying horsepower. Look at me being a team player. Who knew.
In and among all that, there’s parenting and being a husband. I don’t talk about those a lot here, and that’ll probably stay that way for while. They deserve their privacy, even if I’m jumping up and down on a street corner, naked as the day I was born, and hooting and hollering, which is basically what social media and writing both are all about. “Look at me! Look at me! Buy my books! Buy my books!”
Seriously. Go buy mine.
People ask me why I row. This video, shot my by one of my teammates, describes it very well. It really is that magical out on the water.
The Port is sometimes not much to look at, and I’m convinced that the tugboat operators are the minions of Satan, but the water is usually fantastic.
But it’s more than that.
At it’s best, rowing reminds me to stay focused on the moment, not the past, not the future. It’s the stroke right now that matters. The last stroke is history. I can’t change it. I can’t do anything about it. If it sucked, I can do this stroke differently. If it was good, I can try to duplicate it. The next stroke hasn’t happened yet. If I worry about it, I’m not focused on the present stroke.
Pain is temporary, but the pride of accomplishment lasts a long time. There’s also a difference between pain (your body’s way of telling you, Knock it off, fool!) and discomfort, which can and should be tolerated on the road to growth. No one every promised us an entirely comfortable life, and learning to tolerate discomfort comes with maturity.
I’m up as a guest blogger on the wonderful Rie McGaha’s An Author’s Tale with a piece on why rowing is better than sex.
It’s (ahem) up.
What? You thought I was saying rowing was really better than sex? I suppose you’ll have to go see to find out.