Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

A few hundred miles northwest, in Stuttgart, far from book thieves, mayors' wives, and Himmel Street, a man was sitting in the dark. It was the best place, they decided. It's harder to find a jew in the dark.
He sat on his suitcase, waiting. How many days had it been now? He had eaten only the foul taste of his own hungry breath for what felt like weeks, and still, nothing. For now, he could only sit on his suitcase couch, hands under his chin, his elbows burning his thighs.--excerpt from The book Thief
I am currently reading this extraordinary book, and keep wondering why I waited so long to read it. I read a wide variety of books, and am in my tired-of-fantasy stage. I wanted to read historical fiction, but with an edge...this is exactly what I was looking for.
First the colors. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try. Here is a small fact: You are going to die.--The Book Thief
The narrator is none other than Death. The main character is a little orphan, German girl who loves books. Unfortunatly, she cannot aford them. I am relishing every sentence of this book, it's lovely. Wry, witty, poetic, gut wrenching. Mr. Zusak peels away the layers of the story slowly, gently, yet holds my attention. You must read this award-winning book.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Slog Blogger

I'm probably the sloggiest blogger here in Brainland. It's weird being Jewish sometimes. When Hannukah comes at Christmas time we all get to hustle bustle and feel the anticipation. But our holiday is almost over, and for me, this year, it was eclipsed by my daughter's wild and woolly twelfth birthday blowout. Almost 30 kids and a DJ and that was a small turn-out because a few of her better friends had prior commitments they couldn't get out of. But I survived. She survived. And now I wait.

That's what this season has been for me. A season of waiting for the BIG WORD to come in. I've had some extreme interest from a very good agent and I am waiting for her decision. It's been two weeks since she told me she loves my novel. I've had very considerate updates, but no WORD. Somehow all of this reminds of the election of 2000 when all we did between election day and Dec 17 was wait, and when it came the news wasn't good. It's been a tough time for me, my stomach in knots. I could use some holiday hub-bub to distract me!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ho Ho Help!

I finally found a writing routine that was working. I changed jobs in August and my writing grove was ruined. I would plan to write after work then would have to cook, do laundry, after all that would collapse on the couch. After several attempts to find the right time to write I realized I could take my laptop to work and write during my lunch hour. I was getting a lot done, it was great.
Cue the holidays. I have my Christmas decorations out, no gifts bought. I adopted two women and their children from the battered woman's shelter, I am supposed to have their gifts by next Weds...nothing. My youngest turns five on the eighteenth and my mother's birthday is the twentieth. I have taken my computer to work the last three days and have not opened it. Motivation is not there. I think there is way too much expected of me this time of year and something has to give. The laundry? No, they get angry when you send your child to school without pants. So Mom is only going to write if I feel like it this month. No obligation to it. I give myself permission to take a break, and anyone else who needs one. Then my spare time is spent on what it should family.

Happy Happy Holidays!!

This week we're talking about our writing habits during the holidays. And if it weren't for my perma pregnant brain fog -- which has been going on now for approximately 7 months -- I'd say I write the same as always. (Lately, I've been a bit distracted by the bowling ball belly!)
Luckily, we do low-key holidays. With my husband's family, we draw names for gifts. And my husband and I don't exchange gifts -- just Santa Stockings with our favorite treats. We have everything we could possibly need, so it's almost silly to stress over gifts this time of year.
We have a little one on the way, so next year we get to do three Santa Stockings and one gift for her. (She has LOADS of aunts, uncles, grandmas and more that will SHOWER her a-plenty). And the rest of my holidays are spent working and enjoying the month. I LOVE to go and get a coffee at the mall and watch people frantically shop. Because I don't.
And though I love getting Christmas cards, I don't send them. From Colombia, postage is about $4.50 for a card. Definitely not worth the money or the hassle. So I will write and work during this month just as if it were any other month .. but with more flare because this time of year is magical to me. It's about family, tradition, and sharing. And I do attempt to bake some things after a day at the keyboard which the family may or may not appreciate ... depending on the result! But it's such a peaceful time of year for me, I'm always sad to see it pass. So maybe in January, we'll have to write about the January Blues.
Happy Writing!
Happy Holidays!
Enjoy them with your loved ones.

Heidi Ayarbe

Deck the haaaaaaaalls

My house is half-decorated, the UPS man keeps dropping off presents I've purchased from the Internet, there's no food in the house, and the baby has missed his nap. Oh, and there's a pile of addressed but un-stamped holiday cards on the dining room table.

But I should be writing, right?


The rest of the year, I work hard to make writing a priority, the same way I would any other job. Chores get put off, and dinner is sometimes of the stick-a-frozen-pizza-in-the-oven variety so that I can finish chapter seven. And that's good! Life can suck up all my writing time in the blink of an eye, and I don't want that to happen.

Except in December. There's a time to work, and there's a time to rest and celebrate and snuggle in with my family. It's difficult to remember that sometimes, when I'm so used to pushing myself to writewritewrite. I look at it this way: I get irritated with my husband when he's too focused on his job around the holidays. This time of year is for family! How dare he be putting in weekend hours when it's time to put up decorations? So, I try to hold myself to the same standard.

The chapters will still need to be written in January (and what else am I going to do with snow on the ground and the wind chills registering in the sub-zero category?) If I get some writing done now - yay! Bonus! If not . . . well. It's the one month a year when I can kick back with a glass of egg nog and watch the fire, so I'll make a point to do that.

Now I need to go wrap some presents . . . . .