Writer's insecurity/Wardrobe malfunction/J-Hole

    I think the best compliment I can pay a fellow novelist is to say that reading his/her books made me feel like a complete amateur and made me consider giving up writing fiction for a permanent staff position on the obit desk. It means I was so impressed with his or her (mostly her) writing that my own looks like last week's garbage.

    Authors whose writing has impacted me this way include Karen Marie Moning, Laura Kinsale and now... Tara Janzen.

    I've been absent from this blog, and largely absent from life, for two reasons. One of them is Tara Janzen's CRAZY series. I read CRAZY COOL a few weeks ago and fell in love with the immediacy of her prose. So for my non-birthday, I went out and bought CRAZY HOT, CRAZY WILD and CRAZY KISSES. And I devoured them, cover to cover.

    As a result, I'm now looking at my own WIP (that's writer shorthand for "work in progress") and hating it. Which means I'm not writing.. Uh-oh.

    I once had a conversation with Karen Marie about this phenomenon. I told her that her writing was so elastic. She's able to bend and twist and shape it into really interesting, fun, lively expressive prose. Mine, I told her, was more like big blocks of concrete that are clumped down however best I can clump them but which don't DO anything. She told me my writing was like fine silk that slid through a sewing machine, whereas her writing was thick material that got caught on the needle and bunched up.

    Yes, authors express themselves strangely...

    Anyway, now I'm struck by how Tara (a fellow Colorado author) is able to write in such a way that you're right there with the character -- not outside but inside each character, breathing with them in each moment. That's how it feels to me. By comparison, I feel like my writing is terribly stiff and external.

    The truth is that each of us has a voice, and I'm not sure how much can be done to change an author's voice. I do try to challenge myself with each book to have very in-depth characterization, to make each hero different so they don't all feel like they're made from the same alpha-male mold or something. So I can't write like Karen or Tara, and they can't write like me (or so I tell myself -- right now I think a baboon with a crayon could write like I write).

    And, incidentally, my favorite Tara Janzen hero is either Quinn or Christian. I like those two heroines best, also. I'm not into kick-butt heroines much — strong and smart, yes, but not "tough" or kick-ass. I like Kid Chaos, too, and Nikki. Who spells her name like my sister Mikki.

    The other reason I haven't blogged, besides too much reading and attempting to write my now grotesquely overdue book, is what I'll call J-hole from now on.

    Here's what that means:

    Ketamine was really popular in the late 1990s. It's an animal anesthetic, but people were breaking into vet clinics and stealing it, then using it. It really knocks people for a loop, sometimes resulting in them soiling their pants. (ICK!) A person who's really out of it on Ketamine (or Special K) is said to be in "K-hole."

    I was in J-hole. J = journalism. Busy week at the paper.

    In other news, I did something completely UNcharacteristic for me and went shopping for clothes. This was prompted by a wardrobe malfunction yesterday in which my favorite denim skirt split across the ass, leaving my butt hangin' out. The staff at the paper alerted me, and Grace, one of the reporters, helped me retrieve my dignity by taping it together with duct tape. But the tape didn't hold. And people gawked.

    I was struck this summer by how nicely people who don't live in Boulder dress. In Boulder, almost anything goes. Women don't shave. People go barefoot. Tie-dye and paisley. Hemp clothes and T-shirts. Climbing gear worn for daily wear. (Tara does a funny job of describing my town, BTW. Travis cracks me up.) An office meeting here might have the CEO in shorts and a hemp T-shirt with Teva sandals or Birks (that's BIRKENSTOCKS) for non-Boulderites.

    So I leave Boulder, get dressed up the best I can, go to the RWA conference... and arrive to find myself looking like, well, a fat slob. Lina helped rescue me last year. But I just don't buy clothes. I hate malls, hate to shop, hate the whole scene. I have to say that though I tried to upgrade my wardrobe to something un-Boulder, my tastes run to hippie chic. But at least my ass won't be hanging out...

    I've missed you all!

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