The first genuinely boring week of the year did not betray my expectations. Nothing interesting happened this week, at least not in the world I choose to inhabit. It was time, really. Mid-February is the time you start to settle into the year, which is no longer as new as it was in January, and some scratching and bruising around the edges begins to appear. But even nothing merits a profound look back so I looked back profoundly.
A New Career Path
I used to have these sporadic dreams of becoming a comedienne when I first encountered some of Britain’s best. When I first watched stand-up comedy (No, I can’t remember who it was doing it) I thought how cool it must be to make so many people laugh. And how hard. And how taxing on your brain. And no wonder they all end up alcoholics or drug addicts, so no, thanks. I call this sour grapes management.
Anyway, even if I had serious intentions of pursuing a career in stage comedy I couldn’t have because I happen to come from a culture with no comedic tradition outside a select few in literature because we are too busy focusing on how horrible and unfair life is to see anything funny about it. It’s weird, really, because there are plenty of peoples who have suffered their fair share historically but do have stand-up comedy. Soviet Russia had it, for flicker’s sake.
The local comedic tradition on stage began about thirty years ago and by now it has evolved enough for stand-up comedy clubs to come into existence. I can finally pursue my dream! This was the thought came into my mind after a handful of people told me they’d laughed out loud while reading my profoundly terrible account of how I got lost at a mall in Italy. Now is the time, I thought. Turn it into a script and go make more people laugh at your stupidity, yay!
Unlikely as this is to actually happen, planning it alone worked a miracle on a looming something that felt too much like seasonal depressionette. My manuscript was going nowhere for no discernible reason. I felt overworked and bored at the same time. But when I started planning my first — and no doubt glorious — stage performance as a comedienne all this vanished. Things like that make you think about the self-healing powers of the brain, don’t they?
How to Handle Leftovers
I had a couple of chicken legs left over from a meal and I wondered what to do with them. Big C could have them for lunch because Little C only eats meat on a full moon and I don’t lunch. Or I could make something else out of them and the piece of bacon also left over from earlier in the week. What I did make out of the legs and the bacon — chopped and blended with an egg, some radish in cream, salt, and pepper — could be considered a terrine, I suppose, only I roasted it in the oven and did not use any special moulds. It turned out pretty good.
As usual, cooking got me thinking what it takes to write a story. Knowing that our brain picks up so many things we don’t consciously remember and stocks them up for later use, a lot of stories may be leftover terrines. You take a half-forgotten dream, for example, of vampires that suck your blood not with their teeth but with their hair (True story. I mean, true dream). You add a setting — a luxury yacht because you catch more flies with honey, as everyone knows — and you make people suffer because thirty years ago someone at school made fun of you and you still haven’t forgotten it.
Most of a story is leftovers: from the past and from what your brain cooks using your daily experiences and serves you during the night. Sometimes the result is less than wonderful but other times the leftover meal could be quite delicious, even better than the original one. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Instead of wasting all those emotions and dumping them on your loved ones who have done nothing to deserve this, you put them to good use scaring and/or depressing strangers who can appreciate a good scare. A classic win-win.
Have Makeup. Will Wear It.
I’m not much of a makeup person. I work from home. In my pyjamas. I only go out for an hour every day and I spend this hour riding a bus and walking, not communicating with people. I can freely afford to be my natural, non-enhanced self 24/7. Yet once in a while certain events make enhancements necessary for the sake of public decency. What I’m trying to say is that before I left for that conference I bought a foundation, a set of eye shadows, and two lipsticks.
Of course, I only used all that once. But I spent money on it and while it wasn’t a real splashing, it was money I would have used for something more sensible under other circumstances. I’m not one of those lofty individuals that despise money. It takes effort to make it, so I appreciate it and the things it can buy me. So, I’m stuck with all this makeup and some of it will supposedly go bad within a year. Which means I’ll be using it.
If you just pictured a fully made up face on a body in pyjamas, we had the same hilarious vision. No, I’m not going to wear makeup at home, that would be too much. But I do occasionally leave my home for reasons different than taking Little C to school and this is when I will use my new aesthetic enhancers. For kids’ birthday parties (Little C has made a lot of friends at school. She get invited to birthday parties. Big C and I take turns suffering through them.). For nights out with friends. I will now be a better-looking version of myself, sparing them my naturality, making the world a tiny little bit less bad-looking and all this thanks to a single event. Talk about a butterfly effect.
In Other News
I’ve tentatively begun the querying process for Second Skin. I wrote my cover letter in minutes. The pitch took me a few false starts but I think I managed the best one I could and it didn’t take days. I also wrote the synopsis in under an hour. And no, it is not the crap you would expect because what we are being told and retold endlessly is how tough and hard and hellish writing a synopsis is.
I went to that circle of hell with The Lamiastriga. I went through it again and again, choked by frustration and insecurity, increasingly certain the book didn’t deserve all this effort. No more.
I wrote the pitch in a funny mood, of the kind when everything you see and hear looks hilarious (without the help of chemical substances). I, therefore, had fun writing my pitch ideas. I wrote half a dozen. When I reviewed them in a more serious mood, I found the first was spot on. No stress.
I did the same with the synopsis. I told myself it was just a page of description. No lives would be in danger if I failed. I’d just get a lot of rejections. Big deal. I’ve got enough work as it is, who needs to be a writer? (I’m planning a sour grapes management tactics blog) I outlined the main points. I wrote the main points. I cut a few sentences out. It’s now resting for a couple of days before the final makeover and my personal official stamp of approval. Then it’s away to publishers. Let the rejections flow in.