Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Read the First Chapter of 'Three Day Summer'

Last night I got an awesome surprise in the mail...the first pass pages of Three Day Summer! The first pass pages represent the final layout of the book. This is where I actually get to see my manuscript look like a real book for the first time, complete with all the design work that goes into things like chapter headings and page numbers.

In a nutshell, I love it! I think the layout looks super '60s and groovy and really works well with the cover. And to celebrate...I want to share the first chapter of Three Day Summer with you, exactly how it's going to look in the book!

But first...let's ooh and aah over some of these amazing design elements, shall we? (You can click on each photo to see a larger version...)

First, the title page, which is basically a black and white recreation of the cover:

Then there are the awesome chapter headings. Three Day Summer is told from the dual perspective of my two main characters, so each chapter starts with one or the other of their names. I really like how bold they made that.

And, finally, I really like the tiny graphics that are at the top of each page right by the title and my name.

So, without further ado, may I present the first chapter of Three Day Summer:

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Book News, Part Deux!

Sooooo....this announcement just went up on Publishers Marketplace today!

Sarvenaz's Tash's THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE, a Comic Con rom-com about a lovelorn nerd who decides to profess his love for his best friend at the biggest event of their social calendar, pitched as PRETTY IN PINK goes to Comic Con to Zareen Jaffery at Simon & Schuster Children's, by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider/ICM.

So, YES, I sold another book! I honestly did not think I'd be writing another blog post that said that this year but...well, it's been a really amazing 2014. I feel really grateful and excited for it.

Here are a few more things to know about The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love.

First, a little synopsis:

When ultra-reclusive comic book creator Robert Zinc makes a surprise announcement that he will be at this year's New York Comic Con, 16-year-old Graham Posner makes an equally profound decision: he will finally profess his true feelings for longtime best friend Roxana Afsari. And he will do it at the biggest event of their social calendar, right after they've finally met their hero. Only, of course, nothing goes exactly to plan...

Second, my impetus for the book came from combining my extreme nerdiness with my love of John Hughes movies. So you should know that a) oh boy, is it nerdy and b) it has been so ridiculously, awesomely fun to write.

And, finally, this is actually the first book I sold on proposal. Meaning I had only written a partial manuscript and a synopsis when my editor scooped it up. What does this mean? Well, it means I now have a hard deadline for the completed first draft (which I've never had before since my previous books have all sold as full manuscripts). And that the next few months will be challenging...but in the best way. I can't express how excited I am to write this story and know as I'm writing it that it will get in the hands of readers. That's something that has never happened to me before either!

Oh, and the book is slated for Summer 2016, which means it will be out exactly one year after Three Day Summer!

And, in conclusion, here's a photo of me nerding out with my friend Billy at this year's Comic Con. Because why not?

Monday, November 17, 2014

TV I Love: 'North & South' and 'The Forsyte Saga'

For some reason, my Netflix "Suggestions For You" list is consistently chock-full of period British miniseries. Apparently its recommendation algorithm is so good, that it can simply divine that I would enjoy them. Skynet, man.

How does it know?!?!

Anyway, this magical technology led me to two new (to me) and wonderful discoveries in the world of melodrama in hoop skirts and posh accents. North & South and The Forsyte Saga.

I admit, North & South had been on my radar for some time and everything I had heard about it led me to suspect that it would be up my alley. Don't ask me why it took me so long to finally sit down and watch it. But about 40 minutes into the first episode, probably around the time when new girl in town Margaret Hale is giving a piece of her mind to factory owner John Thornton, I was hooked. Hooked as in even though I started the show on a Sunday night at 9 PM and there were four one-hour episodes to get through, I watched them all. That night. Whoops.

Was I bleary-eyed the next day at work? Yup. Was the swoony, dramatic final episode soooo worth it? You can bet your bonnet.

The show was beautifully shot and acted, had Downton's Mr. Bates acting very Mr. Bates-like,  and even gave me a new Brit to get moony-eyed over (hello, Richard Armitage). It's based on a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell--who I have to admit I've never read. I might need to remedy that situation!

Trust me on this one...
The Forsyte Saga is a 10-part series made around the same time as North & South (early 2000s). It follows three generations of a wealthy family over the course of 50 years (1870 through 1920). And, believe me, this family sees its share of scandal, tragedy, and dramatic levels of stalking.

Its production value is a bit lower than North & South and I think some of the storylines can veer a tiny bit too far into soap territory. That being said, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. And, ultimately, I really got into the character arc of Soames Forsyte (played by Damian Lewis) who, besides having a last name as a first name, spends a lot of the show desperately looking like he really needs a mustache to twirl and yet somehow manages to redeem himself in the end.

Somebody give this man some facial hair to grab onto.

The Forsyte Saga is based on a series of books by John Galsworthy--who won a Nobel Prize in Literature for it. (I've also now added them to my to-be-read list.)

So if your "recently watched" list looks anything like mine and you haven't checked these two out yet, I highly recommend them. And if you and/or Netflix have some other hatted and corseted Brits to recommend to me, I am all (delicate) ears.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Read the First Excerpt from 'Three Day Summer!'

This week, my editor shared with me the small excerpt that will be going on the back cover of Three Day Summer... and I thought I would share it with all of you!

This is the first bit of this book that I've posted but since we are almost exactly six months out from publication, and since it's Friday, and since it's cold and I've been daydreaming about summer, here it is!

It begins to rain again, gently at first and then a bit harder. All around us, the water plops as it’s hit with itself, the line between lake and sky becoming hazy. It’s like being in a bath and a shower at the same time. Cora laughs, holding her hand out to catch some raindrops and then letting them fall through her fingers into the water. Plop
A piece of her hair has come undone from its braid and it trails behind her in the lake, like a silky eel.
I reach over and lift it, watching the wet, dark strands make patterns on my palm. 
“It’s so beautiful,” I say. Then I look right at her and drink her in: her deep, brown eyes and small nose; her wide lips; the slope of her shoulders which only draws my eye downward to take in the rest of her curves which she has, unfortunately, kept shrouded beneath the water. The red Hog Farm fabric is still around her wrist, sodden and trailing in the water like a red flag, a claim.
“You are so beautiful,” I say, a little choked up at how true it is. Especially here, surrounded by water and music. I think that this has to be the most romantic moment of my life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Book Trail

Hello intrepid and ghoulish explorers,

Welcome to my stop on the Halloween Book Trail! I'm the author of the MG novel, The Mapmaker and the Ghost--which, as you might have guessed, has a ghost in it--and the upcoming Woodstock YA, Three Day Summer--which will be presented ghost-free. (Probably...though I can't really predict future hauntings, so proceed at your own risk!)

And, of course, since The Mapmaker and the Ghost is filled with a very spirited spirit (see what I did there?), I am part of the Cemetery Trail.

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday so I am delighted to participate in this tour and answer some Hallow's Eve related questions. And as far as giveaways go: you should know that the grand prize for the trail includes a signed paperback of The Mapmaker and the Ghost. Also, I am running a separate giveaway right at the bottom of this blog for a brand, spankin' new signed ARC of Three Day Summer (which is so exclusive, I don't even have one yet...). So read on.

1. If your MC went trick or treating, what would they dress up as and why?

Funny you should ask, because a couple of years ago, I actually did make my MC dress up for Halloween! Her name is Goldenrod Moram, and she is an explorer and budding mapmaker who idolizes Lewis & Clark. So who would she dress up as? Ta-da:

Yup, that's her as the ghost of Meriwether Lewis. She has it on good authority that her outfit is historically accurate too.

2. Please share a photo of your favorite Halloween costume you’ve worn.

This is a tough one because, as I said, Halloween is my favorite! But, also, my birthday happens to be exactly a week before Halloween and for the past several years, I've always thrown a costumed theme party for it. So, for this question, I will share an actual Halloween costume, and one that was for my birthday.

May I present: Maverick and Goose from Top Gun.

Yup, that's me and my husband. Hilariously, this is the photo Facebook randomly chose to display when we got engaged. And by hilariously, I mean awesomely. Because it pretty accurately sums up our relationship.

And, for the record, this might also be the most comfortable Halloween outfit I've ever worn. Flightsuit onesies FTW!

And as for my favorite birthday theme party outfit:

Me as Hermione after she took Polyjuice Potion with the wrong ingredient in it. This was for my Tridecade Tournament when I turned the big 3-0. (It was also was my favorite birthday theme party. There was a Sorting Hat. And house points. And Tridecade tasks to complete....)

3. What scares the pants out of you?

So. Many. Things. Truly, I startle really easily. As in, if I'm walking down the street and lost in my own thoughts (which is about 100% of the time), and you say "hello" to me, I will jump. As in, even if I know my husband is home but he's in a different room than I expected and I catch him out of the corner of my eye, I will jump.

In conclusion: I do not go to haunted houses. I do not watch scary movies. I can't deal with that build-up of suspense at all.

4. What magical/supernatural creature do you secretly want to be?

A phoenix, I think. Flying + healing powers + immortality + wisdom? It basically sounds like Wolverine + Superman.

5. What is your favorite sentence/paragraph from your novel?

You're making me pick favorites?! I will take the PC route and say that here is one of my favorite passages:
"But there are no such things as ghosts," Goldenrod muttered.
"Who told you that?" the spirit of Meriwether Lewis asked.
"My parents, mainly," Goldenrod confessed.
"And they are grown-ups, I assume?" the man asked.
Goldenrod nodded.
"Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that the modern world is sorely lacking in imagination. And grown-ups are the biggest culprits of all. Regardless, the simple fact is, here I am. And seeing how I was born in 1774, I can't very well not be a ghost, now can I?"

So now it's time to go here, to author MG Buehrlen's blog, for the next stop on the Halloween Book Trail!

And, if you want to enter to win a signed advanced copy of Three Day Summer (which I will send out as soon as I get one--probably in the next few weeks!), simply check out the Rafflecopter form below.

Boy meets Girl…at the most amazing concert the world has ever seen.

It’s the summer of 1969, and Michael is a directionless 18-year-old music fan struggling with an uncertain future in a time of cultural and military upheaval. Cora is the obedient candy-striper daughter of an ultra-conservative father who likes her ex-boyfriend, Ned, so much he still shows up for Sunday dinners despite their break-up months earlier. When Michael and Cora meet at the medical tent at the Woodstock Music Festival, their lives will never quite be the same. 

Coming May 19, 2015. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Happiest Happenstance

Do you ever feel that some things are just mean to be?

I was delighted to come across this quote today. I'd actually never read it before:
"I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days--three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain." ~ John Keats
I honestly wish I could tell you I was clever enough to have picked the title of Three Day Summer from that quote because it is just so perfect for the book. But the title really came as a collaboration between my editor and me and was picked from pages and pages of options. And this...well, this is just one of those wonderful serendipitous things. Because it encapsulates so much of what I think the book is about...

And speaking of the book, I am in the middle of copyedits as we speak. This is one of my favorite, albeit most nerve-wracking parts of the publishing process. Nerve-wracking because this is pretty much my last chance to change things before the book goes out into the world and in the hands of readers (there are also first pass pages but, at that point, I'm pretty limited to what I can change). And exciting because...well, really for the same reason! This story will be in the hands of readers soon...

For what it's worth, I'm personally really proud of this book. I feel so much of my heart is on the page. And I'm grateful that I will get to share that soon.

Colored pencils + decoder = copyedits!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The One About the 'Three Day Summer' Cover

The cover for Three Day Summer has just been exclusively revealed on Hypable! I'm going to link out to it here and then ask you to come back because I want to share some feelings about it.



Did you feast your eyes on it? What do you think?

I will tell you my thoughts: it is the cover of my psychedelic dreams! Quite honestly, when my editor told me the concept behind it (it's based on '60s concert art), I may have given out an inadvertent, not entirely ladylike, squeal. Why? I've been enamored of the art on those posters for almost as long as I can remember. I had quite a few of them plastered on one wall of my teenaged bedroom.

And when my husband and I got married last year, we based our Save the Dates on two specific '60s posters (the proof is here).

And when I was writing the book and daydreaming about possible cover art, that is exactly the concept I most wished it would be. But I didn't share this with the Simon & Schuster team. They just read my mind.

So, quite simply, I love it. I love that it so thoughtfully pays homage to the era without being clichéd. I love the joy that seems to emanate from it. I love that it looks so modern and fresh and still tips its hat to the '60s. And I love how very colorful it is. I can't wait to see it on a bookshelf.

So HUGE props (and my gratitude) to designer Krista Vossen for rocking out this whole cover thing so very much.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

'Three Day Summer' Is Now on Goodreads!

I've been a Goodreads user for a long time. You might even say that I'm a hipster Goodreads user, because I was totally on there before it was cool.

Those glasses are not even prescription.

In all seriousness though, I love being able to keep track of books I want to read, what I've read, and even how I felt about them. So it was extra special to me when my first book popped up on there and it's just as special to have my new book up there too! (It says "2 distinct works" underneath my author profile now. That sounds all kinds of official. Possibly a little pompous, but, hey, that all works with my new hipster persona.)

So Three Day Summer is now available on Goodreads! Shelve it on your to-be-read list and Goodreads will actually even alert you on its release date (May 19, 2015). Which is a feature I've found to be extra helpful when I'm waiting on a book to be released.

Just click the button below and it'll take you directly to Three Day Summer's shiny new Goodreads page.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

'Three Day Summer' Peace, Love & Music Giveaway!

Tomorrow marks the 45th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival! Now, do you want to take a gander as to where my upcoming book, Three Day Summer, takes place? If you said "Woodstock Music Festival," virtual love beads to you, my friend!

IN FACT...take a look at the very first page of Three Day Summer:

Does that date look familiar?!

Although my book won't be out until next year, I couldn't let this momentous anniversary pass by without doing something to mark the groovy occasion. So I present to you: the Three Day Summer Peace, Love, & Music Giveaway!

The Prizes:

Peace: This lovely sterling silver dove necklace, on a 16" chain, represents peace and the iconic emblem of the festival.

Love: Not just love, but summer love, courtesy of the wonderful The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han published by none other than Three Day Summer publishers Simon & Schuster BFYR. This is the paperback boxed set of all three books.

Music: $25 iTunes Gift Card. For purchasing whatever music makes you feel young, free, and happy (whether that's Hendrix, Creedence, 5 Seconds of Summer...)

How to Enter:

Everyone gets one free entry (because how else would you celebrate the mother of all free concerts?). Other entries can be gained by following me on Twitter, Facebook, or this blog; leaving a comment on this blog telling me which three bands (past or present) you'd most like to see in a live festival; or tweeting out a link to the giveaway from the Rafflecopter form below (2 entries per day for that one).

Check out the form below for all the details! The giveaway runs from today through to Monday, August 18th (the last day of the festival).

Good luck! And, can I just say, I'm pretty excited to see what sort of amazing virtual festivals you come up with.

*U.S. entries only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Depression

I actually wrote this post in March and waffled a lot about whether to post it. In the end, I chose not to. But then now--this week--it seemed like maybe it was time to post it anyway. Robin Williams, I am thinking of you and your family, and wishing things were different...

I've been thinking about Ned Vizzini a lot lately.

I never met him, but we had many things in common. Ned was the same age as me. He grew up in the neighborhood I now live in and I would see his name on workshop posters at my local Barnes & Noble a lot. We had friends in common. We both wrote MG and YA books (though he did it a lot more successfully and prolifically).

Something else we had in common: suffering from clinical depression. I unfortunately have to use the past tense here not because I no longer suffer from depression, but because Ned lost his battle with his in December. He died just a few blocks away from where I live.

Somehow, all the clichés you hear about depression are true. Though, I guess, that tends to be the thing about clichés, doesn't it? That it's like a fog. That it's like drowning. It's not sadness, not really. Everyone experience sadness, grief, bad feelings. But those things usually have a source; they are feelings that can be linked to events. Long-term depression is like churning magma, always there, just waiting to be prodded into roaring life by sometimes the slightest disturbance. It's not terribly logical. It lurks like a thief, in the unexpected corners of your mind, popping up when you're not looking and pilfering away your joy slowly. So that you don't even notice it ebbing away until suddenly you feel completely hollow. By then, sometimes it's too late.

The way J.K. Rowling wrote about it, disguising it as how dementors make you feel, I always thought was entirely accurate. Two of my favorite (and, incidentally, funniest) pieces of writing on it come from the immensely talented Allie Brosh and can be found here and here. There are so many talented people who have written so eloquently about it, actually. I don't think it's much of a coincidence that a lot of writers, and creative people in general, suffer from it. I think the same neurons that nurture imagination and creativity, that have one foot in a made-up world, are the ones that are most inclined to turn on you in this way.

I've never written publicly about my depression before. In fact, I rarely ever talk about it. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who even know, empirically, that I've been diagnosed with it. I can list the reasons I've been so quiet about it, even though it's been a through-line of much of my life: I've been embarrassed and ashamed. I didn't want to be perceived as weak. I didn't want it to define me. It didn't really seem like anybody's business... I can list lots of reasons, actually. And very few to be writing this blog post.

Except, I think of people like Ned and like L'Wren Scott...and now Robin. Also people like David Foster Wallace, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath, John Kennedy Toole, Nick Drake...such a long list of people who have battled and, just one day, were not able to win. Countless more whose names I don't know but who suffered just as much. And I think...maybe it's time we talk about it more. Maybe it's time I talk about it more, as a real illness, not as a weakness or a character defect.

So there it is. Me, coming clean. I know I'm not alone. And if you, reading this, suffer from depression too, I just want you to know that you aren't either.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Manuscript of Firsts

There's something I tend to do with almost any writing project I've ever embarked upon and that is to try something new. It can be something as all-encompassing as a new genre or medium, or something as small as a different POV or tense.

Part of the reason is a purposeful focus on craft. Trying out new things and seeing what works (and what doesn't) is, I think, the only way to continuously grow and get better. Part of the reason is that different stories just call for different things. And another part of the reason is that it's just plain fun to try something I've never done before.

Not surprisingly, then, Three Day Summer is a manuscript of firsts for me. It is:

- my first completed YA manuscript. I loved focusing on teenaged characters and all of the inherent conflicts that they would have. Coming-of-age stories have been one my very favorite genres since I can remember, and to dive into writing one was extraordinarily fun.

- my first historical novel. Not only that, but it took place in an era that I have long had a huge affinity for (I'm talking about since I was 8-years-old). So researching it was a total blast. And, I'm going to be honest, was my primary reason for starting to write the book.

- my first book told from dual first-person POVs. It was challenging and fun to get into the different characters' heads, move the story along, and make sure they each had their own distinctive voices.

- actually my first book written in first-person at all.

- my first book written in present tense. Which it wasn't initially, until I was about 150 pages into the first draft and realized that it needed to be. Changing tenses in the middle of a draft? That was definitely a first, too (and though I was annoyed at the discovery at the time, I really think present tense ties into the themes of the book so much better).

- my first time writing from the first-person POV of a boy. I have long suspected that being a boy would be sooooo much more fun. I can definitely confirm that writing from the perspective of one was.

I have to say that I'm pretty proud and happy with all I've learned from all these firsts...and I hope that they ultimately make for an enjoyable read!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

And the Title of the New Book Is...

We have a title!


I'm really happy to announce that my upcoming YA novel will be called..Three Day Summer!

And because I didn't share all of this info before, here is the full pitch:

Three Day Summer is about two teens whose lives are forever changed when they meet for a weekend of music and romance during the biggest music festival the world has ever seen, pitched as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Bridget Jones, with hippies.

What do you think of the title?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Book News!

I don't think I can fully express how excited I am to finally share this news so, without further ado...

Okay, one ado...this photo:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers will be publishing my new YA novel! We're still searching for a perfect title, but I can tell you that it's my Woodstock love story pitched as Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Bridget Jones. It's got hippies! And music! And humor! And romance! It was honestly the most fun I ever had writing a book and I am beyond thrilled to finally get to share it with you.

So many, many thanks to my agent Victoria Marini and my new editor Dani Young. I cannot wait to work with the team at S&S. And I absolutely cannot wait for you to finally get to read this one...currently slated for Summer 2015!


Friday, June 13, 2014

The Best Question I Ever Got Asked

I did a school visit today and I got asked a lot of amazing questions (because 4th and 5th graders always ask the best questions, no lie)...but there was one that really made me pause. In fact, I think it might be one of the best philosophical questions I've ever gotten asked.

We were talking about reviews, and one student asked me: "If you know you're going to get bad reviews, why would you even show anyone your work?"

Wow. What a perfect question. The funny thing is, when I was her age, I would never have even thought about showing my work to anybody. Even though it was my dream to "publish a book," I kept all my writing to myself. In fact, I didn't show anything to anyone until I had to submit a short story to get into my undergrad film program. And then, as it turned out, I got thrown into the deep end at film school where, of course, you're constantly making work to get critiqued. (And thank goodness for that. I may not have a very thick skin still, but it's much thicker than it would have been without it.)

So...why do I? My response wasn't that bad reviews don't bother me. Or that it doesn't matter what someone who doesn't like my book says. Because none of those would be entirely true--though I have learned to not be personally affronted by them (for the most part...). In essence, I had to think about why I tell stories, really. I tell them for myself, yes, but I also tell them in the hopes that they can be shared. That in the midst of writing them, I will happen upon some truth that means something to me but that, hopefully, means something to someone else too. That's what books have always done for me. That's what I always aspire for mine to do. And that's what makes it worth it.

How would you answer that question?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Books I Love: High and Dry

I've been immersing myself in Veronica Mars for the past month. As a die-hard fan of the original show, of course I jumped at the chance to join the Kickstarter campaign last year to get the film on the big screen. As you likely know, that campaign was a huge success, shattering records left and right and, most importantly, resurrecting my beloved Veronica (and Logan, let's face it).

After I saw the movie in theaters, I rewatched the whole series, then watched the movie again, and then read the book that just came out (The Thousand-Dollar Tanline). Like I said: immersive!

But what's a Veronica Mars fan to do while she impatiently waits for the second book (and, hopefully, a Veronica Mars 2 movie*cough*Rob Thomas*cough*...)? Might I recommend picking up Sarah Skilton's just-released High & Dry?

Several years ago, I went on a noir kick, reading classics from the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. I discovered so much nuance to this genre--the language, the prototypical characters and, of course, the mysteries. I really got into it--especially the hard-boiled private dick speak, see? I found the genre almost otherworldly in its depictions and yet, so wildly fun to read.

This is why I think High and Dry is particularly a work of genius. It takes noir to the world of contemporary high school (much like VM did), dives in headfirst, and totally works. It's a deeply stylized book that examines the seedy underbelly of its setting in exactly the same way Hammett and Spillane would. Yet, despite this stylization, it remains so truthful to the darker side of high school life. And, of course, it has a wonderful mystery at its center. (Also, I am now going to fully admit that when I first read this, I totally imagined main character Charlie as Logan Echolls. Which upped the smoldering/dreamy factor for me. You are welcome to steal this visualization).

Give it a whirl. And, if you like it and haven't had a chance to read The Thin Man or The Big Sleep yet, I would wholeheartedly recommend them, too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Write Like Nobody Is Reading

Hi friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I'm still here and still plugging away. Speaking of plugging, I just started recapping Orphan Black, one of my favorite current TV shows, for Tuesday Night Movies. You can find my first recap here. After a brief hiatus next week (I'll be on vacation), I should be recapping them on a weekly basis.

Also, I've made a vow to stop neglecting my blog. My biggest problem over the past year or so has been trying to figure out what to write about. But I think I'm going to take that "dance like nobody is watching" adage for a spin and write like nobody is reading. By which I mean, I'll write whatever I want and stop feeling so anxious about it (not that I'm not grateful for anybody who is deigning to read this, because I am. And, hi!) So stay tuned here for stuff about movies, books, television, and general geekery that I am currently obsessing over.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sarvenaz Tash and the Perfectionist's Stone

Last week, on the very last day of 2013, I was having a discussion with someone about perfectionism. I am--oftentimes to my detriment but sometimes to my credit--a perfectionist. The question that was posed to me was why be a perfectionist when you innately know that nothing is perfect.

I've never had the question put to me like that before and my response actually surprised myself. I said: the thing is that there are things that are perfect to me. And those things are generally works of art: books, movies, pieces of music. I immediately thought about how the Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary, The Westing Game were works that I found flawless. Movies like West Side Story, When Harry Met Sally and The Sound of Music. Songs like "Here Comes the Sun," "Landslide," "The Way You Make Me Feel," and even "Toxic."

Do I know that not everyone loves these things the way that I do? Of course. People even hate them. Do I care? No. That means they aren't inherently perfect. They are just perfect to me. They make me laugh, they make me cry, or they just put me in a better mood because they make me dance (I'm looking at you, Brit). Some of them make me examine my life through their lens, and some of them just let me escape reality entirely for a while.

So when I pursue perfectionism in my own work, I think that's really what I'm after. Can I create something that means something to somebody out there in this great, big world? Not everybody, just somebody. And how can I do that without fine-tuning it over and over again, trying to make it the best it can possibly be, even seeking something that doesn't exist? That is the one thing I don't think I can turn off, that I think I owe to my potential somebody.

The way I see it, the time, energy and passion that you put into creative work is what I think is reflected back, and always at a dimmer wattage then what you put in. I think that's why I'm always trying to carve out the brightest story I can. So that maybe, in the reflection, it can still give somebody some light.

Now the answer to whether I will continue to drive myself crazy while doing that is...of course. But, then again, I have it on good authority that a very many of my creative heroes put in a lot of hard work to create my very favorite things. I'm so grateful they did.