Monday, July 28, 2014

Booked:Flygirl


I loved Code Name Verity and because of that this book, Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, was recommended to me. Instead of being set in England, this book is set in the United States (Louisiana and Texas, mostly) and tells the story of women in the WASPs here. Women piloting planes for the military, either ferrying planes, testing new ones, or providing support.

I liked this book. I doesn't read like Code Name Verity but I rooted for the characters and learned a chunk about the female pilots on this side of the Atlantic. The only thing I didn't love was that the book read a bit like the kind of novel a teacher might assign in order to discuss WWII with a class of teenagers. But if you can't get enough of WWII or female pilots, it's a quick read and plenty entertaining.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some people count more.

People like to say that you have to "know your audience." That's certainly true when I write for AfterEllen. It absolutely true when I write fiction. It's true when I open my mouth and talk. You don't say the things you tell your wife to her mother or your mother. You don't talk to your five year old in the same way you talk to your boss.

So, perhaps this is not earth shattering news to anyone but I have come to realize that you need your own little focus group. I ask my wife to read my work occasionally. She doesn't read this blog, or my recaps, or anything I write over on AfterEllen unless I ask her to. But when I write fiction, I always want her to read it. She lives through the process of me stomping around and grumbling when I don't get to work on it or snarling at the page when I can't get it right.

She reads and tells me what she thinks. Her opinion matters a lot to me but it's not because she's a writer. She is well read and can tell me where story holes are. She can say if it's no good and if I can get to her heart, I know I've done something good. In many ways she is my target audience but she's not the person I ask if I need to talk the nitty gritty of writing.

I have writer friends who, thankfully, tell me when something works or doesn't and can help me out of a word jam. These are the people who help me with the craft of writing and can give me more than "I liked it." These are my experts, my focus group (I know I am using that term more broadly than it might be used in terms of a movie or a product).

The same goes for my wife. I know she's an excellent doctor. I know it because I have seen her in action, I know the skills she brings to the table, and because her peers and supervisors have told me that she's amazing. But when she needs feedback on her practice or a patient she might talk to me in general terms but I don't know anything about anything when it comes to treating sick people. So she has her experts to talk to and bounce ideas around with and sometimes just blow off steam.

What's the point? Well, sometimes someone says something stupid about your work. They tell you that your story is shit or they don't get it. And that can hurt a whole hell of a lot. I have gotten mad and stomped around in circles and snarled and been a treat to be around. But finally, I have realized that it's okay for people to hate your work and that not every opinion matters the same amount.

Sure, I attach extra meaning to the feedback from my friends and people I want to like my stuff but at some point I figured out that if this isn't their thing, if lesbian romance isn't their wheelhouse, well, it might not mean as much if they think your work is crap. Some people are never going to like it, and that's all right. Some people are always going to like it, and that's all right too. The trick is figuring out how to navigate both ends of the spectrum while still getting the help and feedback you need and keeping your ego from collapsing into a puddle.

It's not easy. But realizing that there are people who are your "experts" and that there are others who should never be your undoing, is helpful for me. I don't know why it took me this long to figure that out but realizing that I can stop trying to please the people who are never going to like what I write is very freeing. It may never be good enough for them, and that's all right. They aren't the ones who count.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Less of a drag

This week, and basically every week since I started my new job, has been a bit of a drag. Things are nutty bananas in our house and it's seriously cutting into my writing time. But I assume we'll adjust somehow and find a new balance. Amid all the chaos this video popped up this week and I finally had a chance to watch it. It's fun, catchy, and Kristen Stewart (oft maligned for looking like she never has fun ever) is a treat to watch doing her best dude impression.

It's Friday, I hope you have excellent plans for the weekend and that this is a wonderful way to kick it off. Have a giggle or two.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Booked: Everything Leads to You


About a week ago I read Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. It is a very sweet love story about a couple a high school ages girls who live in LA, work on movies, and hunt down a mystery in their spare time. The mystery starts with a note they find tucked in a record at an estate sale and from there they unravel the mystery while also working on their movie sets.

It's sweet without being cloying and the kind of book that I kind of wish had been around when I was a teenager. Not because it gripped me on a visceral level but because of it's complete normalness. Some of the characters are gay. Girls fall on and out of love in it and it's not a big deal other than the fact that when you're 18 relationships feel like a big deal.

I almost want to call this a beach read in the sense that it is totally, wonderfully entertaining and left me feeling happy (but don't wish to malign it to the extent "beach read" might make you think it's crap. It's not crap, it's just happy and fun). Issue books are great. Books that make you feel less alone when coming out seems like the most insane idea are necessary but books where girls have regular old girl drama are also kind of a gift.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Booked: Baseball Three Pack

Since the beginning of June I have been working on revising. It's not my strong suit so I decided that while I work on my "baseball" novel, I would read a couple of baseball books to help me see what works and what doesn't. I solicited some book titles and got reading. I read three books, which I hope will help me as I continue revising my own.

The Dreyfuss Affair:A Love Story, by Peter Lefcourt, Smokey O by Celia Cohen, and Playing for First by Chris Paynter gave me three very different looks at writing a book with baseball as a backdrop. The first, is the story of male ballplayers on a fictional major league team who fall in love. If I had to pick the best of the bunch this book would be it. It feels very dated in some ways (it was published in 1992) but that doesn't take away from its charm. I think it highlights how much the world has changed, even if baseball would still be rocked by a couple of teammates dating.

The other two books were shorter, published by small presses, and lesbian. I liked both. They had very different approaches to how much actual baseball made it into the story and I found it really helpful. I am trying to sort out, in my own tory, how much actual baseball I need and how much I should leave out. I am sure there is no "right" answer but sometimes seeing someone else do it well (or not) makes it easier for me to imagine how I should write it.

So this weekend was spent reading a lot and now it's time to dive back into revising. this sucker won't fix itself, will it?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do it like a girl


It's another ad campaign generating interest all over the place. This time it's a company that makes maxi pads. But mostly, I don't give a crap why they made the ad, just that this is another voice in the chorus asking us to treat girls differently. Being in a girl isn't a bad thing (not matter what a bunch of old, out of touch, assholes on the Supreme Court say) and any time we see a company, a person, or anything championing girls I am all for it.

I threw like a girl. I ran like a girl. I played hockey like a girl. And man, did it piss the boys off when I beat them.

Monday, June 30, 2014

10 years later...

After four years of college.

Sixteen months of post-baccalaureate studies.

Four years of medical school.

Three years of residency.

Two years of fellowship.

Four states in ten years

Today is the last day of my wife's formal medical training. We have made it through overnight calls, board exams, two pregnancies, two sets of potty training, sleep deprivation, low pay and absurdly long hours, and things we never imagined.

We have reached the end. It takes a long time to become a doctor. I am not sure we ever thought today would come, frankly. We didn't have a clue how long this would all take or how hard it would be when my wife decided in 2003 that she wanted to be a doctor. But we made it. And starting tomorrow she has a new job with better pay and most importantly, better hours and more control over when she works and what she does.

I'm getting my wife back and it is glorious. I will be raising a glass to her tonight. If you have a doctor in your life take a second to appreciate just how long it takes to raise a doctor from a wee little med student to a saver of lives. It's a long haul. After having a ring side view of it all, I respect anyone who takes on that challenge.