Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Looking Young

I realize that there are many of you who do not want to hear me complain about this topic, so for you, I suggest you go here instead and look at these cute pictures of animals.

If you're still here, I have a new story for the Sarah Looks Freakishly Young file. Today I went with Rob to an art gallery reception for one of his retired former colleagues. After we went around and looked at all the paintings, we went up to the former colleague and congratulated him on his show. He greeted Rob. Then he turned to me and said something like "And who's this young lady?"

I immediately assumed that he had mistaken me for a student. Hey, that happens sometimes if I go to a college campus. And the man in question is older. Fine.

Little did I know it was actually much worse.

At this point, Rob introduced me and said "Have you met my wife Sarah?" There was some handshaking and greeting and then the former colleague said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but you look like a junior high girl."He then went on to say I looked young enough to be Rob's daughter, which is verging on the ridiculous.

When people say stuff like that, I find myself wishing I routinely carried around a selection of photos of myself at various ages so I could have them compare how I ACTUALLY LOOKED in junior high with how I look now. So, for your amusement, I offer this photo of myself from the University Heights Middle School 8th grade class of '89 yearbook (right).

See? I have, in fact, aged considerably since then. Well, maybe not considerably. But I'm a couple of inches taller. And at least 30 pounds heavier. I do still own a jean jacket, but now it's delightfully retro. (At least, that's what I tell myself.) I think I'm probably just as much of a nerd, if not more so. In fact, in 8th grade I was on the drill team, which I thought made me way cool. Oh, it's picture time again! Bottom row, 3rd from the right!

Yeah, I was probably cooler back then.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tribulations of Revision

So, I'm in the midst of revision for Underneath, my next YA novel. I'm gradually discharging various finite freelance projects so that I can focus as much as possible on rewriting with a minimum of distraction. So far it's going OK--the part about keeping freelance work under control, that is. I did a reasonable job of saying no to new things for the duration of this month, and asking for help on some stuff where it was possible to do so. I don't find it very easy to ask for help, in general, so I'm trying to see that as an accomplishment.

And, just this morning, I finished one freelance writing project which I can now cross off the list. That will earn me some extra hours for the next few weeks. Another freelance project, some Illustrator vector images, will be finished probably tomorrow, so that will be another thing to check off.

But I'm not making great progress on the revision. It's going slowly. Every time I look at it I think how incredibly amazing it is that they want to publish it in the first place. I'm at an awful point where I read it and all I can think is OH GOD IT'S TERRIBLE AND EVERYONE WILL HATE IT. I'm having horrible visions of reviews that say stuff like "After a promising debut, Stevenson has come out with a truly lackluster sophomore effort, trite and mediocre."

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just one of the stages inherent in revision, and that this project in particular is liable to prompt negative thinking because of the fact that it's been far more challenging to write this story at every step of the way. Not for any particularly exciting or emotionally charged reason (at least, not that I'm aware of consciously)--just plain old blockage. Halfway through the first draft--which I started, by the way, in something like 2006--I stopped and had no clue where the story was going. I put it away. Then I took it back out a few years ago with renewed energy, finished the first draft, and promptly went UGH again and put it away. Last year I did a massive rewrite, sent it to my publisher, and amazingly they liked it. But now I'm back at the point of looking at it and going UGH.

I'm actually more annoyed with myself than anything else because I'm having so much trouble giving myself the support I need to work on this one. It was easy with The Latte Rebellion because I was pretty much in love with that project every step of the way. This one's been much more of a love-hate relationship.