Monday, June 18, 2012

a panegyric The Rabbit Room.

     I think I first stumbled across it a year or two ago when I was looking for writer/singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson's website. Yes, that was it. I went to his website and encountered this lovely little carousel of portals. One of them, in particular, captivated me.

I clicked it. And my life has never been the same.

     The Rabbit Room is a sort of consortium of awesome. It's a blog, with well-written, writer-encouraging, worship- and whimsy-inducing, thought-provoking articles appearing several times a week, with quality comment sections that the authors actually respond to. It's also a resource room of music and books. Because it's made up of people bound together not just by a love of books and such but by being blood-bought children of the same Father, it really is a community. Whenever I visit The Rabbit Room, I leave exhorted, inspired, rejuvenated, and smiling (or sometimes weeping). It makes me excited about my role in this story, points my eyes to the Author, reminds me to be humble and reflective, and refills my canteen for the journey.
     And that is that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

oh, Novels.

  I'm at 14,383 words on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, Linden Suite. If you do the math (day 12 of 30, 14,383 of 50,000 words), yes, I'm quite a bit behind. That's what comes of having so much lovely free time and not being forced to pound out the words as quickly as possible like I had to during school time.

Another way I've spent my time:

 They're green beans, and I'm absurdly excited about them.

     This second novel (in the NaNo sense; i.e. 50,000-word glob of text) has been an interesting experience to contrast with the first, which I wrote back in November. The way I wrote that one, I just sat down on day one and started typing. When I'd get to a point where I got tired of the scene or had no idea why Mr. Thoreson was frantically telling Miss Hemming to jump off the roof or why Mathieu was kicked out of school to go build a crate in the woods (both still unresolved questions), I'd drop the scene and skip a line. I'd start writing something completely different, not necessarily with any clear relationship to anything else in the book. It was fun; it was free; it was full of crazy leaps of imagination and lazy shirkings of scene-writing; but I came out at the end of the month with, essentially, a pile of scraps. I've spent hours (fewer than I should have) outlining the fragments on note cards, putting them in order, and detailing the gaps that need to be filled, the chronology issues that need to be resolved, the cardboard-cutout characters that need to come to life (all of them), the unanswered questions and tangential plot lines that need to be resolved or scrapped.


     This time, by contrast, I've started at the beginning and written in order. There was a period of a couple of days where I was hating it. It was clipping along, but, man, was this boring. Gone was the utter, gleeful freedom of my rock-skipping November days. Here were the plodding mechanics of June. At the same time, it was oddly elevating. I was... writing. I think the hours I put in going through the patchwork November manuscript eroded a reader's-advocate-consciousness-of-narrative into me, a sense of order and the necessity of explanation that has been sheep-dogging me this time around.
     The story, however, was just not taking off. I kept trying to make something happen, but my main character would end up having dinner with his family, or waking up in the morning, or waxing philosophical just to fill up words.
     Then, finally, out of the blue, they showed up. In the tree-house. Wearing knee-high boots and long golden hair and habit-like garments. His name was Tripiondello; hers the Lady Linden. They came by trolley, and they were on a mission.

     Houston, we're back in business

Saturday, June 2, 2012


       I've recently finished my Junior year of high school, and begun the eighteenth summer of my life.
       For a kid, as for most of my existence I have considered myself to be, and, indeed, have been, that's a thrilling and unnerving and surprising and yet perfectly fitting place to be. It's where I am, and it's where I ought to be. I may feel like age twelve really is not that far away, but I did do the work: I lived through thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and sixteen, the whole years. Never skipped a day.
       Memory is an odd thing. Time, history, perspective.
       My Camp NaNoWriMo novel is set in Minneapolis in 1907. I did some research, and my jaw has literally dropped several times.

Exhibit A: We no longer have camels in Longfellow Park.

Exhibit B: You know, sometimes I've wondered if Minneapolis even existed in the '20s. I mean, I hear few people telling stories about those days. Maybe I'm not well enough read, but from nowhere but the most obscure of books (Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places, an excellent pictorial tour of history Minnesota has lost, and another book, a quite strange but fascinating history of a family in the late 1800s in St. Anthony, the title of which I've forgotten) do I have even a flavor of what the city was like in the old days. Where did the ruined businessmen of the Great Depression work in downtown? Where did they buy their hats? Their newspapers?
Behold: Newspaper Row of 1897.

       Forgive my blindness to the obviosity of history (I was paying attention on our field trip to the excellent riverside Mill City Museum, and when I went to the Minnesota History Museum once in sixth grade, and I know that Minneapolis existed in the '20s), but like eternity future and the return of Christ, the reality of finity past takes faith and quite a lot of mental exercise to realize.
      It just hit me a little harder when, in the course of one day, I walked along the shore of Lake Harriet and heard the cheering of a crowd at the Bandshell, and looked at pictures of what it was like a hundred fifteen years ago.

Exhibit C: the Lake Harriet Bandshell built in 1986 and standing today (or at least it was on Friday), and the Lake Harriet Pavilion of 1905, which burned down, to be followed by several other burned-down structures.

Times have changed, and so have I, and it's hard to remember the old days.