Positively Anonymous – Temporary Hiatus

To the best of my recollection, it’s only been a month or so since I last mentioned Positively Anonymous on here. At the time, I mentioned being super excited about what I’d hoped would be the last of my big revisions. There was one thing I didn’t mention in that post: I hadn’t actually done any revisions.

It seems like such a ridiculous thing to avoid doing, not mentioning how you expect your revisions to go before you start them. I’m kind of shaking my head at myself now. But I hadn’t started those revisions then, and as weeks passed without my getting on the ball, I began to realize there was a reason for my procrastination.

Positively Anonymous began as my senior honors thesis about two years ago. And though the story I told in my thesis and the story I was trying to tell with Positively are very similar, the ways in which I had to think about the thesis were very different than the ways in which I viewed Positively.

While I worked on my thesis, length was always my foremost concern. It had to be. Even then I had too much story for the very limited page requirements I had to fit the piece inside. And though the English department was very supportive and helpful in my attempts to cut the story down, I never stopped being aware that what I had written still needed to be SHORTER.

This, in case you were wondering, is a horrible way to try and write a novel. When I began the rewrite that became Positively Anonymous almost a year ago, I’d thought that I was past the thesis mindset about how short was the way to go. I thought I’d taken a lot of big steps with the story. And I had. But they weren’t big enough.

I’ve gotten a ton of good feedback on the MS as it stands. All of my CPs have been amazingly helpful in pointing out where the plot doesn’t make sense or where the emotion is lacking. And because they’ve put so much time and energy into this MS, I feel obligated to put the same time and energy into my revisions.

The problem is that I’m not yet in the head space where I can do that. I’m going to set Positively aside for awhile–how long I’m not sure. And when the story starts gnawing at the inside of my brain again, I’m going to pour everything I’ve got into those revisions so that the end result is something I’ll be super excited to query.

I hope you’re all as excited for that day as I am.

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Book Review #18: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A YA novel set in the nineties that isn’t marketed as historical fiction? Color me shocked.

Seriously, I was so set to love “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” for its blend of small town settings, gay rights issues, and high school in a decade I knew only from a kid’s point of view. And while there were some strong moments surrounding each of these things, I never saw enough development to fall head-over-heels in love the way I might have liked.

The first couple chapters of this book, introducing Cameron’s early flirtatious interactions with a female friend, were the strongest of the story. I loved the ‘hook’ here, the idea that Cameron’s parents were killed while she was out making mischief with a girl she sort of had feelings for. When her aunt and grandmother move in to take care of her, I thought I could see the shape of the story starting to coalesce.

Except it didn’t, really. ‘Miseducation’ covers most of Cameron’s life from late childhood on up, yet doesn’t quite manage to give any of the later moments the depth they deserve. I think one of my largest issues with the story was that the timeline spanned way too many years to give me the impression that the most important parts of Cameron’s development were being touched upon.

The book jumps from fling to fling and drama to drama, but it never settles on one topic long enough to garner any kind of lasting sympathy. Even the big issue mentioned in the flap copy–her aunt finding out about a budding relationship and trying to ‘fix’ her–doesn’t actually happen until the last quarter of the story. And most of the resolution surrounding that huge incident never occurs.

Maybe it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but I get irritated when the incident or change or trauma using to draw in a reader only impacts the character for a small section of the story. It always makes me feel like the author might have started in the wrong place.

I had a couple issues with plot-related ‘cop-outs,’ things that popped up once in perhaps the wrong way, or were dealt with too quickly to keep the tension levels where I would’ve wanted them. Those are smaller issues, mostly, but they still lowered the rating.

Don’t get me wrong. The dialogue was snappy and I loved the high school character interactions between Cameron and her first love, the girls on the swim team and at her lifeguarding job, and the guys she’s known her whole life. I loved the fact that so few of the relationships–familial, platonic, or romantic–felt cliched or overused. I just wish we would’ve seen more of them so I could get a better sense for everything Cameron stood to lose in having her aunt send her away.

I’m not sure whether I’d recommend this or not. Depending upon how immediate or sprawling you like your fiction to be, you’d probably have to decide for yourself.

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A Timely Personal Update: or, My Recent Blogging Failure

I’m going to make this post a quick one, if only in the spirit of spending less time screwing around with perfectionism and more time on getting things done.

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been mostly absent from both social media and this blog over the latter half of this summer. What you probably haven’t realized is that I’ve been mostly absent from my writing also–as well as a few other hobbies like music and exercise. There’s a simplistic reason for my lack of availability, even if said reason isn’t always easy to explain.

I started a new job at the beginning of July, as an administrative assistant for a local business. The job title is pretty basic, but the responsibilities are a bit more complicated. Assistant, in this case, means only that I’m working in conjunction with the administrative management at company headquarters in another city. I’m still responsible for accounts management, finances, filing, and bill paying for the entire branch of the business where I work–among other things. On top of that, I also have customer service duties that I spend part of my day fulfilling.

There isn’t a lot of downtime, and there’s a ton I’ve had to learn. I’m just getting to the point where I feel comfortable doing the majority of my day to day tasks, and the only reason that’s happened so fast is because of an unexpectedly high turnover rate due to employees moving or heading back to school.

Between work itself, adjusting to a new work schedule, and trying to fit personal responsibilities around my working hours, I haven’t had a lot of motivation to be productive.

On top of that, I’ve also been apartment hunting and–more recently–dealing with the logistical nightmare of getting everything ready to move into a new place in a very short span of time. Getting my address changed on official paperwork, putting some of the bills in my name and paying them, as well as figuring out when the majority of my belongings were going to be moved has exhausted most of the energy and patience I usually put into doing other, more enjoyable things.

My boyfriend–and co-conspirator/roommate in this whole crazy mess–has been extremely helpful, and I’d probably still be up to my elbows if it weren’t for his jollying me along. (The only reason he isn’t a giant ball of stress is because he his old lease is in his name through September, which means he’s got a bit more time to pack and clean up and get out.)

But in any case, the majority of the stress and turmoil and changes should hopefully be falling by the wayside within a couple weeks or so, and then, then, I will be getting back to the writing, and the blogging, and the reading for pleasure, and all the other things I enjoy that I’ve been missing out on.