Houston, we have a book. And hair.

Thanks to all who came out tonight and all who sent support from afar! Tonight was the perfect celebration for a very sweaty, panicked month that packed BIG RESULTS. It was great to see everyone and I can’t wait to see all of your projects on Accountabillibuddy!

And major kudos to Write By Night for hosting, Brian Nicolet for being an awesome writing coach, Adam David for some excellent shear work, my family for listening to me read all 29 first drafts of my first chapter, and STEPHEN LEVY for being the most wonderful, supportive boyfriend a girl could ask for.

And now for my next feat: revising the entire thing!

Oh boy…

Weeks 2 & 3: Procrastinating Overachievers RUIN EVERYTHING @write_by_night #blackmailme

When most people think of a procrastinator, they think of laziness. There’s my procrastinating teenage son, playing video games and not doing the dishes. There’s my procrastinating college buddy, having a good night in the frat rather than doing her paper.

Me, I’m more of a perfectionist overachiever. I procrastinate by doing things like running a half marathon (it just really needed to be run!) or baking cookies for the entire neighborhood Just Because. You can tell when I’m procrastinating because I’m getting a whole lot done. Except, of course, what I actually need to be doing.

That, after all, is why I decided to do this headshave blackmail. To overcome my procrastinating overachieving…ness, I needed consequences, and I needed them to be dire.

But after week one of the challenge, during which I was mostly productive thanks to a little performance enhancement drug called Tic Tacs, I was lured back to old habits.

ONE: I decided the business I’d slowly been working on launching should be launched RIGHT NOW. TWO: I said yes to writing about 25,000 words for freelance jobs, which included a major SEO job for a paper supplies company and a big literature guide for a Dr. Seuss book.

Soon, I didn’t know what I was working on when. I confused the paper project with the Seuss project.

*Note: That should read “beets,” but I’d bet Dwight is a pretty good DJ, too.

Paper product SEO crept into my book.

And, like the sneaky enemy it is, time fled.

A week to go before my head shave deadline. Never had I been more productive. Never had I further to go.

I’m not writing The Hunger Games

When I was in 7th grade, I won 2nd place in a contest for a poem I wrote about the Israeli prime minister’s assassination. My parents were proud of me, my grandparents were proud of me, everyone was proud of me right on down the line.

But I wasn’t proud of me. An hour before I had to go read at the award ceremony, I had a meltdown in my room. We’re talking lots of sobbing and plenty more throwing my body dramatically from my bed to the floor. The poem sucked, in my opinion, because it didn’t rhyme. And everyone else’s poems rhymed. Therefore, I did not have a poem. Therefore, my entire life was a fraud.

Now, as the lines for The Hunger Games reach from the Alamo Drafthouse to Timbuktu, I’m looking at the draft of my book and thinking, “My dystopia is no dystopia.” There is no teen killing teen action. There is no cutting or anorexia or suicide.

But there are Insult-o-bots, which rove the school waiting for that moment when you’ve fallen down the stairs and spilled spaghetti sauce all over your shirt to say, “Nice face.” There are “Get A Life Planes,” ready and waiting to write, “Nice job, loser” with exhaust in the sky. There is a word machine and a “muse” named Frank who has a Bronx accent, hairy armpits and spits when he speaks. There are anthropomorphic Shakespearian insults and word machines and chefs with steaks for heads. There is a kid named Alexander Grapefruit, with an all too appropriately shaped head.

So, what do you say? In our dystopic world, is there room for a sarcastic, self-deprecating, goofy dystopia as well as teen-on-teen murder?

I’m throwing myself from bed to floor here people. Because it’s 4.5 days before my book is due. And I’m telling you, it doesn’t rhyme.

Review of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, as with many post-modern, magical realist or fantasy books, I loved that feeling that anything could happen at any time. Leaches could fall from the sky or a man could talk to cats, and it would be strange but not unheard of within the framework of this world. I also found the plot and subplots gripping, and enjoyed the way the book moved from very separate to entwined narratives.

I also ultimately liked playing with the idea that life and the people and events that fill it are or can be a metaphor…until they’re not. As with most post-modern devices, I cringed at the obvious gimmick at first and put up a stiff arm, but, again in my usual way, I was moved by it in the end. The use of the Oedipal legend works elegantly here, both as a method of ordering plot and making certain actions feel inevitable. The characters’ knowledge of Oedipus begs us to ponder how much power we really have when we’re working with a metaphor.

Most problematic to me was the character of Oshima, the transgendered librarian working at the library where much of the plot takes place. It is clear to me that Oshima is intended to be the philosophical heart of the book – the one who sparks the most change in Kafka’s life and gets him thinking in new ways. But… I found his philosophies very … high school. That is: profound and an important part of development, but not “metaphysically mind bending” as many of the reviews have suggested. Cherry-picking details from previous big thinkers and weaving them together into a philosophy that supports your own world view is hardly earth-shaking stuff.

This wouldn’t have been so problematic if Oshima hadn’t been so condescending and self-assured. He asks questions he believes are probing – and I know if I were in high school they would be (and I don’t say that to be condescending, because I do think these are very important thoughts) – all the while feeling like the greater world doesn’t understand his path or who he is. And yet, when he encounters people who aren’t like him, he has great difficulty *listening* to what they’re saying, which is exactly the kind of behavior that has lead to him being misunderstood.

This is most clearly on display when it’s revealed to us that Oshima is transgendered as he questions two feminists who ask for separate men and women’s bathrooms. Oshima insists (smarmily so) that gender is metaphorical, something he would know because of who he is and something these women can’t possibly understand. Then he largely dismisses these women (who, by the way, are painted pretty unsympathetically) by talking in parallel to them, deflecting his questions down other supposedly more worldly and weighty routes without *ever answering the freaking questions*.

This is what’s so bizarre. Just as Oshima (and through him, Murakami) dismiss the concept of gender, he is confirming a very stereotypical gendered behavior. This could be a powerful moment where Murakami could speak to this larger idea of futility within this larger metaphor, but instead I got the sense he had no idea he was even doing it. Which is the whole problem. This was something I felt in his depictions of most of the females throughout the book, who are sometimes wise, sometimes desired, sometimes objectified and sometimes inspiration for change, but who rarely *do* anything. Some of the women reflect on this in the book, but they do so half-heartedly as kind of an afterthought near the end. I found this intensely frustrating.

This is all the more aggravating because Murakami also has a habit of telling us what to think through other characters’ reactions to the protagonist, like telling us someone is shocked by how wise beyond his years Kafka is. I’ll decide that for myself, thank you very much.

Overall I did enjoy the plot, the way the author drew from many different types of storytelling devices, and some of the characters and would read more Murakami in the future.