Five Bucks

21 August 2002

Days left to deadline: 10.

Days left to final draft goal date: 8.

Pages of The World Builders written (total): 132.

Note that there is no longer a first draft figure above. Yes! I have finished the first draft! I wrote my book! Woohoo woohoo!

It's a short book. It's a YA, for heaven's sake. Mark read it before dinner yesterday. Timprov read it more or less as soon as he was awake enough to do so. I have a twice-marked copy sitting on the kitchen table right now and it is my book.

I really, really love this life, you know?

So I finished writing my book, first draft form. Woohoo woohoo! And then I did a bunch of stuff from The List, stuff like cleaning the answering machine. (This may not sound like an important thing to you, but our answering machine sits next to the stove, and sometimes a damp cloth just will not do. But the first time you look at it and think, oh, that thing needs some Fantastik posthaste, you're not going to immediately get up and get the Fantastik, you're going to keep stirring the soup and reading your novel, and eventually you're going to write down "clean answering machine" and spend enough time thinking that you should have done it that you might as well have done it at the time. But if you're me, you didn't. So last night I did.) Oh, and we had corn on the cob, and it was good. Most excellent. And the tips weren't pointy. All of the white corn we've been getting has very pointy tips, very hard to drive a corn skewer into them, and all kinds of pokey bits on the end. But this was nice, blunt-ended yellow corn from the produce place next to the fish taco place. Yum. Also I was not required to stuff chicken breasts I did not want to stuff. And I hope I will want to stuff them tonight, because we have the almond-dill-ricotta mixed up, and the chicken is all marinated now. I wrote to C.J. and did laundry and changed the sheets. Oh, and I did a few more lines of Space Moose, which seems to be something I do when I'm in a silly mood.

And then I found five bucks.

I don't think I've explained "and then I found five bucks" here. It's a useful phrase once you get the hang of it. When you're telling a story that seemed like it had a point when you started it, but you realize halfway through that not only does nobody else care, you don't really care either? You immediately say, "And then I found five bucks." It's a pleasant ending. Makes the rest of it seem like it was leading up to something, but not something so outrageous that your listeners have to doubt you. It's not a hundred bucks. It's five. Okay, then. Cool. That's nice. Let's move on with our lives, freed of the obligation to tell or hear this boring story.

But then if the other people listening to you know the magic of "and then I found five bucks," they can stop you if you were wrong and say, "No, but really, what happened with the BART ticket?" or something like that, if they genuinely want to know.

The other use of "and then I found five bucks" is when you realize you're telling a story whose climax will be inappropriate to the audience. For example, if the punch-line revolves around why exactly your college friend is no longer allowed to drink rum, and you're talking to my grandma, it is time to find five bucks. Immediately.. In fact, once you decide to use this out, the sooner you can find five bucks, the better.

I really did find five bucks, though, in my mailbox, as payment for "Instead of Glass Slippers." (Short-shorts. They don't pay so well, but they're fun.)

And I read Dealing With Dragons, and I had a disturbing moment. Well, two of them. You see, in children's fantasies like Dealing With Dragons, there's always some physical way in which the main-character princess is not physically suitable to be a princess. In this case, Cimorene's hair is black and curly, and she's too tall. So I got to thinking: if I was the children's book princess, what would it be? And, people, it took me a long time. I'm not too tall, and my hair does more or less what it's told, so if I tell it to do princess curls (and somebody else does the actual curling), voila. And I'm not too tanned from playing out in the woods all day. And despite the complex I tease my dad about giving me, my shoulders aren't really that broad.

I was beginning, with alarm, to think that I would make an acceptable storybook princess, which of course would make me a totally unacceptable storybook princess for any storybook written since 1970, wherein the princess gets to do something. But then I remembered that I have freckles (I do! Pale ones, you have to look close sometimes, but they're there!), and princesses do not have freckles. So there you have it. Whew. I could still find myself a dragon and do brave deeds. If I didn't have so many books to write, I mean.

I was also alarmed because, at least at the time, Patricia Wrede lived in Edina. Now, most of you are waiting for the alarming part. That was it. Edina is a suburb of the Twin Cities, and I made fun of Edina girls in college. They all looked alike. Okay, so they didn't all look alike, but a stunning percentage of them had butter-blonde hair cut in a pageboy or a bob. And many of them were North Siders. (My college was not segregated by race or ethnicity, and I even had some friends who were North Siders rather than the infinitely preferable South Siders. One or two friends. But still.) So having Patricia Wrede in Edina is totally messing with my stereotypes.

It's always alarming to have your stereotypes messed with, of course.

I've also been reading Alan Dundes' Interpreting Folklore, which is interesting stuff and also occasionally alarming, but not in ways that have to do with Edina. Which is good. I'll take the Dundes on the train to David's later this morning. And I will hang around with David and Miss Jasmine and not think about the book (much) and then come home and do a read-through myself and start doing edits on it.

Woohoo woohoo! I wrote another book!

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