I want to like your book

No, I still haven’t completed my second draft. Shhhh. 


Last night I finished reading Rules of Civility by the fabulously-named Amor Towles. I loved it, and I am so glad that I loved it because I love Amor Towles. I know nothing about him except this quote but that’s enough.

I read a fair number of books because I like the person who wrote them. Sometimes it’s because I’m friends with the author, so obviously I like them and buy and read their book. Sometimes, though, I get a glimmer into a person’s mind and I am excited by what I see, like with Amor Towles, or someone is simply entertaining on the internet, like Delilah Dawson or Gail Carriger. If I then check out their books and go “oh hey this sounds cool,” it’s a sale.

So. There’s a lot of debate about the usefulness of having an online platform, but if I am your target audience it totally helps. Very simply, I like supporting people I like. Make me like you, and I’ll probably buy your first book. Write a good book, and I’ll probably buy your second.

on writing, distracted

Tomorrow is going to be a hardcore writing day (I mean, I will be hardcore about writing, not that the writing itself will be hardcore). This means you might see me online a bit more than usual, since a lot of “writing days” are also “tweeting days” and “blogging days” and “LOLcat days.”

Which, as I’m sure you know, is not how one is supposed to write. Distractions are the devil.

Distractions can also keep you sane. I consider them like quick stretches in the middle of a writing marathon, the way a jogger will stretch their calves while waiting for a light to change. It’s not like I’m spending half an hour agonizing over every tweet; they’re just quick bursts of thought. And when I’m hard at work, blogging is a good break, a different kind of writing requiring a different kind of brainpower. A good little stretch.

My biggest distraction, though, is television. I mean that in a good way, not in an “I don’t have time to write because I watch 40 hours of TV a week” way. If I were to guess, I’d say the TV is on 90% of the time I’m writing. Yeah. A lot. Not how you’re supposed to do it.

I watch TV the way some people listen to music while they write. It’s basically visual background noise. To hear me talk, it sounds like I spend my entire life watching reality TV and cartoons. What isn’t generally obvious in conversation is that I also wrote a chapter during that episode of Jersey Shore.

The key is that I’m pretty picky about what is on when I’m writing. The main rule: it’s either something I’ve seen many times before or something with no discernible plot. Some things that work especially well for me:

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (I basically have this memorized)
  • Star Wars (see above)
  • The Avengers, Steed and Peel-style
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Justice League/Justice League Unlimited
  • Star Trek (original series)
  • Project Runway, especially the seasons I’ve seen a half dozen times
  • Real Housewives of Wherever the Hell

Things that do not work:

  • subtitles (which unfortunately rules out all Kurosawa and Miyazaki)
  • movies/TV shows I have not seen
  • movies/TV shows that are plot heavy (Babylon 5)

Of course, the question is: Could I be getting more work done if I were to just sit at my desk with the internet and TV off? The answer, honestly, is I don’t think so. I don’t think the distractions are detrimental. I don’t think I could write 6000 words in a weekend if I weren’t keeping myself sane with a few little sidesteps, and that’s my goal in the next two days.

When I’m in the zone it all just blurs out. I’ll look up and Snooki is in the middle of another hair-pulling fight and I have no idea why, or Batman has progressed 3 episodes and is trying to punch himself. I don’t need to know anything going on around the moment so I watch for a bit (a few seconds to a few minutes), loosen my brain up, and then I write more.

I’m not suggesting everyone who writes turn up the TV and bounce around the internet. It very obviously does not work for a lot of people. It doesn’t always work for me. But it’s my standard modus operandi, and it is how I will be spending a fair amount of the next 48 hours.

I love hearing about other writers and their techniques—so what about you? Do you need uninterrupted silence, or are you more like me?

off on adventures

By the time you read this, I will be on a bus. GREETINGS, FUTURE-PEOPLE.

Anyway. I’m heading to the SCBWI winter conference in New York City. Not actually attending the conference, but a bunch of my friends will be there and since NY is basically right next door to me I really have no excuse not to go.

So! If you’re there say hey! I’ll be practicing my skulking.

words of wisdom

From CNN’s interview with Amor Towles, author of The Rules of Civility:

I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. From the age of 15 to 25, I probably wrote more than 50 short stories, one of which was published in “the Paris Review” in 1989.

Then in my late 30s and early 40s, I wrote a novel set in the farmlands of Stalinist Russia, which I stuck in a drawer. So when I finished the manuscript for “Rules of Civility,” it was the first thing I had submitted for publication in almost 20 years.

One reason for the long hiatus is that I have been an investment professional since my mid-20s. My personal challenge as an artist has been having a day job which is intellectually satisfying and fun — and thus can easily supplant the desire to make art.

But the benefit of having that career has been that I could write without an overwhelming sense of urgency to be published. I could just keep refining my craft until I was convinced I had something worth sharing.

This quote really makes me feel good about my life choices, not gonna lie. Also I want to read his book now.

Also Amor Towles may possibly be the best name ever.


So I have come to realize that there has been a major oversight in my blogging. I have not yet—or barely—touched on one of my favorite subjects: Oscar Wilde.

This man:


Oh, the hotness.

So I am going to institute a new feature here at Gracetopia. Yes, you guessed it: Wilde Wednesdays!

Why Wednesday? Because it starts with a W, obviously. :)

Wilde Wednesdays will be random whateverness of Wilde. They might be historical factoids, or snippets of a play, or just a picture, or something. Long or short. Who knows? We shall see. So many Wednesdays, so little time. No wait. So much Wilde, so little time. There we go.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce the the first edition of Wilde Wednesdays.

We have to start at the beginning, of course. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854. Really it should be an international holiday. Week from Friday. Anyone want to party? Anyway, he was born in Dublin to Sir William Wilde, an eye and ear doctor, and the extraordinary, fabulous, inimitable Jane Speranza Francesca Wilde.

Lady Wilde

Lady Wilde was a character. Poet, suffragette, diva, she was always larger than life. I have yet to actually read a book on her (I saw one once but did not buy it what was I thinking) but it is pretty obvious from what little I know of her that she was instrumental in shaping Oscar into the man he became.

Lady Wilde quote of the day, which pretty much sums her up: “I should like to rage through life—this orthodox creeping is too tame for me—ah, this wild rebellious ambitious nature of mine. I wish I could satiate it with Empires, though a St. Helena were the end.”

And there we go. Brief, yes, but Wilde.