Saturday, December 29, 2012

Good Day, Flu Day

My brother-in-law referred to me the other day as a "high-energy person."  He said it without preamble or pause as though it was a given fact.  Not long ago an old friend of mine described us (friend and I) "as basically the same person" and used the word "frenetic."  I was intrigued by both observations.  I don't refute them.  I've just never thought about myself that way.  I'm don't have a hyper or tumultuous personality.  I like peace, quiet, and solitude.  But I do talk fast and I walk very very fast, and, more to the point, I do like to get a lot of things done each day.  You can see why I don't refute it.  :)  Being productive makes me happy.  Opposite, unproductive=>unhappy, holds true as well.

So being sick?  That's about the worst thing that I can happen to me.  Not only do I feel badly physically, I feel bad mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  I can't get anything done.  Curses on the germ gods!

This week I have the flu.  I never nap yet I am napping all day and sleeping all night.  Who is this sleepy demon possessing my body?  Even when I am awake, my eyelids are hanging half-mast.  Fever, chills, etc.  You know the picture I'm drawing.  I'll leave it there.  In short, the flu.  You probably have it too if the Tylenol shelf at my local grocer is any indication.

Bad for certain parts of my life - this blog, facebook, email, getting together with friends, photographing Christmas morning (not to mention being in photographs Christmas morning), twitter probably thinks I've died, I haven't updated goodreads in forever...  The one thing the flu has been GREAT for is the pile of books on my night stand!  Yesterday I finished a book, started and finished a book, started another book, and watched a movie I loved (Moonrise Kingdom.  Focus Features has me down.  It rocks harder than the Good Housekeeping seal.).  I've read countless picture books to my children. I truly listened to and inspected everything they've told and shown me because I wasn't busy with five other things at the same time.  

I'm starting to think this flu is a gift.  :)

As 2012 wraps up I want to list a few books and authors I liked, including the ones I read yesterday.  I'm not even going to number it because it is not in any way comprehensive.  It is just a few recent ones off my fever-addled, fuzzy brain.  I hope you like them.

  • Malinda Lo - Ash - fairy tale retelling with a lesbian twist - very cool person too as far as I can tell
  • Brad Parks - Faces of the Gone - mystery in voice of Carter Ross investigative reporter, not my usual genre but entertaining, award-winning author and very nice guy
  • David Levithan - every day - co-author of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and a million other best sellers.  He's brilliant, I LOVE his writing style, and his storylines blow me away.
  • Lisa Scottoline - Save Me - very fast pace as we have come to love from her (Did you know, by the way, that "Scottoline" is pronounced like "fettucine", not Scott-o-LINE?  I learned that this year.  Same with Jody Picoult -  "Pee-co" not Pi-COLT.  Feel badly I've been murdering their names for years.)
  • Manhunt and Chasing Lincoln's Killer - James L. Swanson 
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky - in process but I generally love epistolary novels
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan - Vaddey Ratner - not my most enjoyable read but one of the ones that has stuck with me, inspiring a lot of thought and wonder.
  • ADDED - The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda - I almost forgot this one because I read it in January.  
  • Most excited about in 2013 - The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Merry Christmas, friends!  Happy Holidays!  Have a happy New Year!  If you like snow, I hope you get it.  If you like warmth, I hope you keep it.  :)

~M.M. Finck
@mmfinck on twitter

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Muses

I recently heard a popular recording artist say that she doesn't listen to much music when she is writing a new album.  This makes sense to me.  

If I am writing a murder mystery from the perspective of an investigative reporter, say, I wouldn't read a book about the same.  (I've never actually written that.  It happens to be what I'm reading now.  Check out "Faces of the Gone" by Brad Parks.  Nice guy; good, award-winning book.) However, I would read other mysteries.  Keeping myself suspended in tension (or romance, literary fiction, etc.) 24/7 even when I am away from my laptop helps keep my writing on spot.  That's the mood part - both mine and my novel's.  The craft part is that the novels I read make for great study. If I like a device used by the author, I might try it.  Opposite is true, of course, for things I don't, like long prologues.  Unsurprisingly, the more unfamiliar what I'm writing is to me, the more I want to immerse myself in it.  

But at some point, the study goes from tutor and catalyst to distraction.  A time comes when I am so deep in my own head and my story is rolling, that I become deaf to the rest of the world.  I don't even read that much at night.  There is no room in my head anymore for anyone else's voice.  I give everything I've got to my story.  Everything else is suffers, but I am manic.  I have no choice.  I close the laptop in the wee hours and pass out for a few more until I wake up, take care of the absolute minimum of my other responsibilities and then become deaf again.

Music is different.  Music is my muse, not my study.  Music never messes with me.  It freely and always gives me what I need.  It helps me unlock safes and translate foreign languages.  You would not believe how many of my gnarly plot/dialogue/character knots have loosened and slipped into solved in my car with the stereo blaring.  Here are some of the artists to whom I owe pockets of my sanity:

  • Mumford & Sons, possibly my favorite band ever
  • Lumineers
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Taylor Swift
  • Florence + the Machine
  • Fun. (don't sleep on the first album, very diff from 2nd, but great; sound can be misleading, have to listen to lyrics - an attribute I love)
  • Brett Dennen- an incredible poet
  • Amos Lee - soul, baby, soul
  • Hunter Hayes
  • Joshua James - another poet
  • Augustana - too much talent
  • Matt Nathanson
  • and always, always The Killers

I would never describe myself as hip on music.  But I love knowing people who are.  I suppose I owe some of my sanity (and word count!) to them as well.  :)

Happy Holidays, my friends!  For those brave NaNoWriMo souls, great job!  Be proud.  Keep it up.

~M.M. Finck
@mmfinck on Twitter