Oh my gosh.
NOTHING LEFT TO BURN WILL BE PUBLISHED BY RAZORBILL!
How do I even articulate myself right now?
NOTHING LEFT TO BURN (previously known around here as AFOT 1), the book I started writing when I was 13. The book I first queried at 14. That I revised and rewrote and revised and rewrote and put away and gave up on and picked back up again some thirty times. That first received agent interest at 15, and then again at 17, and again at 21, and finally at 23, which led to me signing with the inimitable Sarah Davies–who continued fighting for this book when I was close to caving, collapsed, eating tear-soaked cookies on my studio rug.
And Razorbill! You guys, Razorbiiiiiilllllllll, oh my, an imprint of Penguin Random House, but more importantly, an imprint that’s been publishing books I’ve been DEVOURING since I was a pre-teen.
Can I please go back to 2006 and tell fourteen-year-old me?
I’ve been holding tight to this incredible news since March 1st, after a sleepless night, after jumping at a call from my agent and hearing “you’re going to be published,” after being in such confusion and glee I couldn’t quite cry though I’d been so sure I’d cry and yes fine I did eventually cry (and later sobbed), after calling my mom and my dad, after sleeping for some forty minutes (because my body shut down at the shock) and then somehow managing to teach and not shout at my students to shut up shut up shut up you guys shusssssshhhhhhhh it’s happening!!!!, after devouring a giant sushi boat with my boyfriend in celebration, and subtweeting about the news, and watching Sideways and opening a bottle of delicious wine despite the near-rancid cork.
how many times am I going to post a variation of this photo? I DUNNO. this is a face of a sleep-depreived someone who, mere hours before, learned her dream was happening! and also yay SUSHI!!!
In March 2006, I finished the first draft of the first version of this absurd little book about passion/obsession and first love/lust and Orange County and FIRE (!!!!!). In March 2016, I sold it to a dream imprint and landed with a kick ass editor (we bonded over Gilmore Girls within minutes of our call, and later our shared crush over my very own fictional character *swoon*).
Over ten years. I’ve been pushing and running and kicking and dreaming for over ten years. If you count my kindergarten declaration that I wanted to be a writer, then, well, even longer.
I’m so, so glad I didn’t stop writing (and rewriting).
It feels mighty fine to finally share the news. Hopefully I’ll be sharing even more soon. And perhaps elaborating on what it took to get from there to here, and the work that comes next.
What comes next? I start writing and revising books FASTER.
Some related posts:
- how it took a decade to find my agent
- a post-rejection blog
- rewriting a yr-long plot into 24 hrs
- basically I’m saying the same thing in every entry, but there you go
I feel like I need to write in the form of a list. I miss list blogs. Some of my favorite past posts, especially those not published here, were written in the form of a list (I’m super nostalgic for Colorado College and London, FYI).
It’s mid-March and the expected madness is at play. So much is happening every day and there are so many moments to share, that I feel I should share, that I WANT to share, but then the very idea of attempting to articulate all of it, some of it, completely consumes me and I just don’t. I’ve forgotten the art of blogging, which I think is totally acceptable and fair, albeit frustrating. It’s only a blog.
I also feel like I’ve forgotten how to write a new book. I’ve been revising and rewriting and editing and revising NOTHING LEFT TO BURN off and on for the last 10 years (!!!). And while, yes, I drafted another novel somewhere in there when I was 16/17 and one of the rewrites of BURN was so severe that it may has well have been a totally New Thing, I’m utterly consumed by terror and–as with blogging and journaling and ALL forms of writing–too many thoughts.
I live in graduate housing at UAF. We get monthly emails about the poor state of our water. “People who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer” and “If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.” I’m not severely comprised but my immune system certainly doesn’t need another factor working against it, plus the water tastes rancid. So I go to a water station and fill up 7 gallons of drinking water a week.
Back in November, I couldn’t carry the water jug. Now I can lug it from my car to the apartment and (most weeks) even lift it above my head onto the fridge. This feels like the sweetest of victories.
My writing pause may also have to do with significant things happening with past writing. I need time to process, to recover, to let joy and terror sink in, to not be productive, to refill the well. I’m not saying anything new but the repetition is calming me.
On the first day of the month, I attacked a giant sushi boat for damn fantastic reasons.
As mentioned a few weeks back, I moved out of my studio and into the one directly below mine. Sharing 380 sq ft with another person is an odd thing. But I kind of love it, as a temporary set up, it’s damn cozy and warm. And I no longer have to walk back and forth and up and down those stairs twenty times a night, no longer have to carry down pots of soup and be caught by neighbors in my PJs. I can stay right here. It’s so nice to just stay right here.
I also forgot how to design and code websites, which I miss have the ability to do. I need to relearn at least the basics.
Last week, I said goodbye to my California driver’s license. The Alaska DMV wouldn’t let me keep it as a souvenir–surely a mini tragedy. While having an Alaska license for a few years will be swell (and my CA one was set to expire in August), I already miss my gleeful newly permitted 15-year-old face.
Today, I was preliminary diagnosed with an ulcer. Ulcers don’t run in my family. My mom says, “We don’t do ulcers” (to which I rolled my eyes). I have low blood pressure and severely low cholesterol. I eat generally healthy. I shouldn’t have an ulcer. I clearly know nothing about ulcers. My anxiety has been stupid high this year, paired with other significant mental rubbish that has been left untreated because of a shortage of psychiatrists in Fairbanks. I did’t know ulcers or heartburn could hurt so bad. I didn’t know stress could do such damage. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve known the implications of stress since I was seven. But taking medication for the acid in my stomach? That’s a new one.
I’m visiting home in less than two weeks for AWP Los Angeles and I CANNOT WAIT TO HOLD MY DOG. And have a break from Alaska.
It’s spring break and so damn beautiful in its own Alaskan way. The sun is already setting after 8 PM, but we had the first real significant snow fall (10 inches) since December, which felt so, so good. I forgot the hush. The soothe. The brightness. How clean it feels. But I’m petrified of the growing light. My one advantage this year is that I know what to expect: madness, endless day, insomnia, people yelling in the Writing Center when they really mean to be talking softly, me running in circles, me pacing.
My Mini Cooper is my baby, more and more. I’m so happy I drove it up the continent this summer, even if I have to drive it back down in two months. I think I’m moving to Utah, and then Seattle several months to a year after that. Does this surprise anyone? I can’t stay still. Not yet.
This space will be changing significantly soon (next week?). I’m CRAZY excited (for so many things).
I want to spoon myself hot salsa so bad right now.
What a thick, passage-y list. Oops.
I finally archived the bio that I wrote in 2011, feverish in Humboldt County. Though much hasn’t changed and I still get IDed at the airport and write in longlonglong sentences, it felt time to make that ramble a blog entry rather than my standing bio. Now the WHO? page is short (we’ll see how long that lasts) and I suppose sweet, though still featuring my blurry selfie from that drippy green era of life, because I miss Humboldt and I miss the compulsion to blog so vulnerably with no restraint, miss the way I approached this space during that timeframe.
I don’t think I’ll ever go back to that sort of blogging, because that place of unrestraint came from total isolation. I had a roommate who is now a dear friend, but I was so bloody lonely and stuck in my own head during my own time in Humboldt. I made sure to keep to myself, to not make friends. Called it my semester of solitude in attempt to recover from an on and off again 5-year-long not-so-good relationship. That semester, I went to one house party and briefly fell in love with a body named Bread and then went salsa dancing at a university event only to puke into muddy ferns bordering a parking lot (I attended the community college). I went to class, took walks in the forest, drove too fast, and blogged. If I look at my blogging patterns, I’m most prolific and INYOURFACE when I’m in a period of Alone. Whether that’s living at my parents’ house, or in Berkeley or Arcata, or re-settling in Colorado. And, you know, I don’t want to go back to those times, no matter how fundamental and mesmerizing they are in memory. I have no way of knowing what’s to come, but I don’t think I’ll be going back there anytime soon.
I’m in the process of moving into the studio directly below my own to save money for reasons that will eventually be revealed. My smallest move yet. Dragging my belongings bit by bit down the stairs I go up and down and up and down every day. Setting myself up in the studio I’m currently writing from now. No car involved. No shipping. No surprises. Same layout. Same 380 sq ft. But shared. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney. Less room to stretch and dance because down here there is a couch and TV circa 2004 or something. And then in the spring/summer/sometime soon? A far bigger move. Again the Mini, which is being prepped with a roof rack and cargo box. It only took me moving 10 + times in a go cart to give into utilizing its roof.
I suppose this blog is an ode to my need to move, my need to travel, my need to stir it up. Unplanned moves of the future, BRING IT.
(Who will I be 12 hours from now? Who are you today?)
The photos were taken last Friday between ??:?? and ??:??*
It’s a warm January. A mild winter. We haven’t had a below 40 day yet and I want it. My students tell me shhhh, they tell me not to jinx it. But below 40 here is normal for winter. Not 20F. Not -2F. Not the smell of wet trees at 11 PM in late January. I crave normal, or rather the idea of it. And I want proof that Alaska isn’t already thawing. That the world isn’t melting. I want the freeze in my eyes, my nose, on my teeth. It feels like something special. Wakes me up.
I’m writing something new and it’s so odd to be writing something new. Attempting to write something new. That’s not true. I’ve written so many new things this past year but nothing big, nothing that feels so heavy it’s hard to think, difficult to see its core.
So much is happening. This spring will be rapid, rough, so light. It’s getting brighter every day. And every day, I wish I knew what to say that would articulate the change.
On Wednesday, I spoke on the phone with someone new. A business call that had me waking by the hour beforehand, a call that had me falling out of bed faster than I have since September. For the first few minutes, we small chatted about Alaska. Every phone call with someone new outside out of Alaska ends up entailing some talk of Alaska. This is especially true with customer service reps. When will the sun set? When does it rise? Is it dark all the time? How cold is it? What happens to the light? Why do you live there? Why?
The person I talked to Wednesday, not a customer service rep, this person who was so nice, she asked me about Alaska and I laughed and I said, “I don’t think I really like Alaska.”
And that’s not totally true. I’m infatuated and confused. I’m angry, exhausted. My nervous system is charred by the seasons’ swings that aggravate my own. I’m in love with the challenge and the extremes. I’m broken. Stuck on repeat: stating the same things. I’ll try to not write about Alaska and the weather and the light the next time I post an entry.
But this new class I’m teaching? It’s a challenge too, but oy. My students (and me!) are rising to the occasion. I never thought I’d stay up late to read student writing, but that’s already happened more than once and it feels good.