We Get to Carry Each Other

Last week the Irish band U2 did a terrible thing. They released a previously unannounced album and Apple automatically put it into everyone’s iTunes accounts–for free.

I know, right? Those jerks.

I’m mostly joking; I did find the situation creepy. Let me decide if I want your music. If I don’t, let me delete it. And at least as serious as the presumption and privacy violation, as I started listening to the new album, all I heard was over-produced, generic pop. Like most of their recent efforts, this album lacked verve and originality. The band’s fingerprints, even. After a few spins, I think I’m out.

Songs of Innocence did, however, spark an intense discussion about the group and their place in popular culture, including a fascinating New Yorker article by Joshua Rothman on “The Church of U2.” (Aside: I was discussing the piece with my friend Kimberly Truesdale, she pointed toward some pieces she’d written about the same themes a decade ago, including this one. Very smart stuff.)

In the process of reading these essays I started listening to the U2 music I actually like including their masterpiece “One.” In the chorus, the speaker sings, “We get to carry each other.” And today, the emphasis in the line sounds to me as if it’s on the word “get.” As in we have the opportunity to carry each other. The responsibility. The reward. The expectation. All of these things, good and bad at once, come from being subject to one another.

I have inconsistent work habits to put it mildly. I’ve written 7,000 words in a day, but most days I write none. I cannot defend this. It is not good process. I know it, and yet I persist in doing it. I think about my projects all the time, but they occupy my fingers less. I don’t think of it as the muse leaving the building. It’s more like a tide. At periods, it will be in and my brain is fecund. Then it rolls out and I’m like a shell baking on an arid shore.

Or like a vessel. I pour myself out, trusting that it will refill. And right now, I’m waiting.

La Source, Ingres Image Used via WikiMedia Commons License
La Source, Ingres
Image Used via WikiMedia Commons License

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My Writing Process

Thank you so much to Margaret Locke for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour!

1)     What am I working on?

At present, I’m finishing a contemporary novella, a romance between a good girl staffer and a bad boy rocker. It grows out of my series, The Easy Part, but it’s uncontracted so I need to get back to my other work in progress: the third, untitled book for that series. I don’t want to say too much about that project, other than it’s set on the campaign trail, the hero is a Democrat, and the heroine is a Republican. It should be out next year.

Oh, and I have a book coming out in April (Special Interests) and I cannot wait  for you all to read it. (Cannot wait! But also feel a little sick about it going out into the world. Now I need some chocolate.) And I’m on the cusp of edits for my second Easy Part novel, Private Politics, which will be out in September.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most of what I’m writing now is explicitly political. The characters fight about policy and their pillow talk is about fundraising. Other romance writers have considered ambitious, professional women in love (see James, Julie) and there certainly have been political romances (Unfinished Business, The American President, Strange Bedpersons, Fatal Affair)–but in general romance writers have been told to avoid such potentially controversial matters.

Beyond my sort-of-kind-of-different subject matter, what I have to offer is voice: fresh, smart, and witty.

I mean I hope. Jeez, I’m bad at self-promotion.

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Crazy Talk

I don’t mind writing synopses. In fact, I find writing synopses helpful.

If you write long-form fiction, you probably just said aloud, “That’s crazy.” If you don’t write fiction…this post might be confusing.

A little background: a synopsis is a short summary of what happens in a book. Not like a blurb (e.g., what you read on the back of the book), a synopsis runs through the major action and the beats of characterization. Synopses tend to be between 3 to 5 double-spaced pages in length, though I’ve heard they need to be longer if you’re pitching a project you haven’t written yet. You need a synopsis for contests, pitches, and queries and also when you turn in a manuscript.

Suffice it to say most writers rank writing synopses only slightly below getting a root canal on lists of their least favorite things to do. How do you take a 250 – 300 page book and reduce it to approximately 1000 words? If your beautiful plot could be condensed, wouldn’t you have condensed it in the first place?

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