Fall is for Writers, Not for L.A.

rain-girl-sketch-illustration-blogIt was raining in Los Angeles for half a second. I’m ready to bake pies and warm my cockles by the ovenside. The crock pot is cold and lonely.

This is my first week off from my book. I wrote it in a whirlwind, NaNoWriMo style, in exactly one month. This was in July, after I left my job (which, by the way, was more invigorating than frightening…but also kind of frightening). Then I spent another couple of months editing, and enjoyed three immobilizing days of a final marathon read. I find that step, reading the manuscript from start to finish as fast as I can, particularly helpful for wheedling out repetitive words, finding inconsistencies and plot holes, and taking a sweeping look at character development. It doesn’t allow you to forget what’s already been read.

Now it’s November 1. First day of actual NaNoWriMo and I feel like I’ve come out of the wrong chute, even though I’m obviously relieved to see the first draft long finished and so ready to leave the revised version in the hands of beta readers. But, temporarily bereft of a major, moving creative project, I’m trying to avoid the deadlights of limbo. Nothing really replaces the feeling of having your own book to work on every day.

I told myself I’m allowed a break after three months of frenzied writing and editing; one day into relaxation, I can already feel myself floundering and sinking into that weird postpartum that always arrives during beta reads and, particularly, querying.

I have plenty to do, though, so I’m going to try filling in the gaps with serious business–not the least of which is embarking upon freelancing (for real). I let myself put it aside because how often do you get a chance to work on your own project day and night? But it’s probably time to be an adult again.

~S.Z.

Book Talk: White is for Witching

white-is-for-witching-oyeyemi-illustration

Illustration by S. Zainab Williams

Another day, another slaying by Helen Oyeyemi. After reading Boy, Snow, Bird, I wanted more more more, and picked up White is for Witching. I’m a sucker for witchy books, so it was a no-brainer.

Goodreads Description:

There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies, White is for Witching is a boldly original, terrifying, and elegant novel by a prodigious talent.

I didn’t expect this book to give me a fright, but a fright it gave. Oyeyemi possesses a skill for that quiet, creeping terror I find missing from my recent straightforward horror reads. If you’re hesitant to read genre fiction, favoring literary fiction, I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat, especially if you’re looking for October/Halloween reads. As mentioned in the book blurb, the subject matter is complex and grave, but its handled in the realm of the supernatural. I’m becoming a big fan of focused real-world subject matter through the speculative lens, thanks to this and other books I’ve read recently.

On a side note, I haven’t been posting much #readtodraw art, but decided to start again, only with books I find visually compelling. This was one of them.