Thursday, October 28, 2010

The power and pain of options

Back in the dark ages when I was in grade school, we learned all about the Big Bad USSR: those horrible Communists kept its pathetic citizens in rags and poverty for decades. They existed in sad living conditions and had few chances for advancement and were constantly under scrutiny by secret police.

Well, at least that's what we were taught.

The worst part for a ten year old to learn was the lack of options the Soviets had in the grocery stores. Even if the citizens had money to buy food, the shelves were often bare or they would have few choices. Those poor people! we thought. They couldn't buy Twinkies and Devil Dogs! They only had one kind of toilet paper! They might not even get chocolate milk!

As an adult now, I kind of miss the old Soviet ways. Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite activities ever. When I step into the store, I feel bombarded by choices. What soymilk do I buy? Which pasta do I choose? Why are there ten different types of tomatoes?

Maybe I'm old. Too old to shop. Which is just fine with me.

But as a writer, I love having options. I love the power of choice when I pick a character's name, her hair style, her family life and favorite color...every step of her journey is at my fingertips. The beauty of writing (and rewriting) is the ability to make any change I want at any time. As I step into the fray of a major rewrite on my current story, I have to remind myself that I can do anything I want with it. I can move scenes, delete characters, change story arcs...and make the story better, stronger, faster. Knowing I can do that is very comforting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's been a while since I've gotten one of these...

Autograph seekers Bernd and Bobby Beckers from Germany have apparently decided *my* autograph is worthy of adding to their collection. Never mind the fact that they are supposedly teenage brothers who claim to have read my books (seriously? YA chick lit? seriously?). Like all the others I've posted about, they are from Europe and claim to want my autograph because they are fans. I did this once and saw one of my signed postcards had ended up on German eBay (for a mere 1 euro, I might add!).

So for all of you writers, actors, singers, comedians, etc. who have written to me over the past year to tell me that you too have gotten emails from the people whose names I've posted, here is the latest one to watch out for:

Dear Leigh,
our name is Bernd and Bobby. We are brothers and our hobby is collecting autographs. The small town in which we are living is Alsdorf - it`s near Aachen and Cologne. Our age is 15 and 16 years.
We are a very big fan of you, so we want to have your autograph. Please would you be so friendly, to send us 2 handsigned and inscribed pictures for our collection.
All the best for you from the 2 guys from Alsdorf
Bernd + Bobby Beckers
Here is our Adress: Bernd Beckers, Nordring 48, D-52477 Alsdorf // Germany

Sorry, Bernd and Bobby, I fell for the first one and then just kept getting these so now I (and you all) know better. I won't be so "friendly" this time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Perfection is a road

"When I have a book published, my life will be perfect."

"When I have my degree, my life will be perfect."

"When I get a new job..." You get the idea.

I'm currently working on a book that deals with the concept of perfection- personally and culturally. What makes something or someone perfect? Can we all agree on its definition? Obviously not. Your idea of perfection may be vastly different from mine. My own image of perfection is at odds with itself: Things I once thought would make my life perfect and me supremely happy are no longer applicable to my life.

Well, sure, Leigh, those things change because YOU change. Your subjective opinion changes as you acquire more experience in life and understand what's really important.

True, but even among objective notions of perfection, there are shifts in perception. An example: Nadia Comaneci received perfect 10s in the 1977 Olympics but if an Olympian were to perform her routines now, she might only get a 7 or 8. The same holds true for ice skating and other sports that are supposed to be objectively scored. What was once an unusual or difficult move that warranted a high score, like a triple axel or a backflip on the balance beam, has now become commonplace.

It makes no sense to be disappointed that things in your life are not perfect. Or even that you yourself are not perfect. That's impossible. Perfection evolves. To say you strive for perfection means only that you work to the best of your ability at that time in your life. You can never achieve it because it is always changing.

And too, don't let the fear of failing to be perfect stop you from attempting things. If you sit down to write a book or enroll in a dance class, don't expect to be perfect from the first word or step. A writer or dancer has a chance to learn new things every day and new ways to fail to be perfect!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Male YA Author Month at A Book and A Chat

The amazing Barry Eva, author/raconteur/radio host, is holding "MYM" in November. Male YA Author Month! He'll be interviewing a whole month's worth of male authors and bloggers on his show, "A Book and a Chat."

If you've never experienced internet radio, it works much like real radio: Barry interviews an author or blogger via phone, and you can listen in from the website in real time and then call in with questions. You can also listen to past interviews from his archives to get a feel for how he works - and to hear all the wonderful interviews he's done! Like mine!

Barry is charming and funny and makes everyone feel at ease. It's like talking or listening to an old friend, although one who makes all the right jokes and says all the right things.

So be sure to check out MYM this upcoming month on "A Book and a Chat"!

Don't Forget November is MALE YA MONTH