Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When to let go

Yesterday I witnessed an internet train wreck. Several thousand others did as well. Twitter was buzzing with it. In short, a blogger reviewed a book, the author took umbrage to the review and said so on the blog, there was a back and forth for a while between the author and posters until finally the author told everyone to F -off not once but twice. Then there was silence from the author's corner, but not from the rest of the internet. Her rant had gone viral and when last I checked the comment count was over 300.

At first I was with the majority. OMG how COULD she do that! She had just destroyed any vestige of respect she’d have in the community. Agents had seen her rants and no doubt would remember her, and not in a good way. People were suggesting next time she write she 1) go to writing classes 2) get an editor 3) get a pen-name 4) don’t bother to write again because she was awful.
The comments spilled over to Kindle where not only this book, but another one she’d written were on sale. When I had curiously checked Kindle for her book I had originally found 3 comments – all 5 stars. Today there are 35 comments. Mostly 1 star reviews, there are the occasional 5 star “pity” reviews. Many of the comments mention the blog this all started on and having to come to Kindle to check the book out for themselves.

And as I read all this I began to think of two things. First how the internet empowers us to say things we would never say to another person’s face. Would the majority of the people who commented on the blog and Amazon say the same thing the same way in person? Would the author act like she did on the blog if she was in a room with the blogger? I seriously doubt it.

But then I began to think about the author. She’d written this book. She’s spent time with these characters and had honestly thought she had a story to tell. She was passionate about it. Sadly, from what I could glean from some of the reviews the story itself was pretty good, the grammar was not. And being one of the grammatically challenged I can feel for her in a way.

So now the crux of this ramble, when do you let go of your work? You have spent months if not years with this manuscript. You have breathed life into characters, you’ve created worlds and places for them to inhabit. You eat, sleep and breathe your creation. So when, do you let go?

Do you start to ease your grip during your re-writes and edits? Is it when you start querying agents? When do you get that little bit of thicker skin growing that allows you to look at negative reviews and, maybe not shrug them off, but accept them and move on?

This whole kerfuffle will blow over in a few days and something else will take its place. The internet is funny that way. In a few months or years someone might say – hey remember the time that author blew up on that blog? People will chuckle at the memory, but for the author I doubt there will be any good memories of this. She couldn’t let go of her work, she couldn’t shrug it off and say “okay you have a right to your opinion.”

Yesterday I was aghast, then amused by what transpired. Today I am saddened because a person who obviously takes joy in writing couldn’t let go, and suffered a very public fall that could haunt her for the rest of her writing career.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creature of habit...

I have learned I am a creature of habit.  My alarm goes off at the same time every morning, I hit the snooze every morning and curse that I'm getting up so early...every morning.  I take the same route into work every day and take the same route home.  I even park in the same spot and get darned upset when someone has swiped my spot!  I even have the same routine when I get to work, drop the lunch sack, login, check out the comics, then get to work.

But this week my daily routine got spun up and for a while I was not sure how to deal with it.  The ladies' bathroom is being renovated at work.  It will be closed for a month!  Now I have to change my routine!  I have to go down to the third floor!  I know I KNOW it's daring!  I mean what's to stop me from the third!  Maybe I'll go down and sneak into the OHSU bathroom (Oregon Health Sciences University for you non-Portlanders) - they have some of their business offices in our building.  I mean - this sudden break of routine is heady stuff!  I mean it's not like I'll suddenly go into the Men's bathroom or anything like that.

And today -driving home - I went a different way!  Yes yes I did!  I DID!  I was giddy with routine breaking!  It's actually kind of like my current WIP - ooo see I'm breaking my blog routine of NOT blogging about writing!  For over a year I'd been working on a historical novel...I was in the routine of research and write, research and write.  My critique group ( The  Always awesome Dead Bunny Club) were supportive, but I felt like I was stuck in the literary rut.

An idea had been festering in my mind for a while and so I decided to ... wait for it... break out of the routine... did you say it with me?  I shelved the historical fiction - no doubt my Main Character is spitting nails because of this.  I started brand new with the idea that had been festering and it's worked out great so far!  Where I felt like I was prying words and pages like a 19th century dentist pulling out teeth, I now feel like they're flowing from me like a quicksilver river!

So moral of the story - it's good to sometimes shake things up and not be such a creature of habit in life and in writing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Yesterday was my ... somewhat delayed...Birthday dinner.  I didn't mind really, it meant I got to stretch my birthday over several weeks as opposed to one day.  I had pondered long and hard about where to go for this special day.  Should we drive into Portland and perhaps try Le Pigeon or Paley's Place?  Both are on my list to eat at... some day.

No.  I decided to stick close to home and boy am I glad I did.  We ended up going to Roots .  If you don't know Roots you don't know what you're missing.  Brad Roots opened his namesake restaurant in 2003 in Camas.  Since then he's opened two more Lapellah and 360 Pizzeria .  Each has it's own distinct style and food offering.  But by far Roots is the most elegant of the three and well it should be.

The restaurant is not all that large, but it has a nice airy feeling.  We sat near the open kitchen and were able to watch the chefs do their magic.  The lighting was subdued but not the murky darkness that you get some places - I'm looking at you steak houses!

The one thing I like about Roots is that they have small plates as well as your regular dinner plates.  For people like my mother, this is a perfect idea and the list of small plates is quite large.  She ended up ordering a cup of their dungeness crab bisque and a small plate of their homemade butternut squash ravioli on melted leeks and truffle oil.

The soup first.  I think it was Lee Iacocca who said you can always tell how good a restaurant is by their soup.  Judging by the crab bisque were were going to have a great night.  Whole lumps of dungeness crab meat, a cream base that was light and flavorful.  Their "cup" looked to be about the size of a bowl so I'd be curious to see how big their bowls are.

They had three specials a fresh petrole sole on a bed of lentils, a 12 oz NY strip and an 8 oz filet mignon.  I opted for the NY strip as did my Dad.  I ordered my rare, I've learned in the past to order it that way because if I'm very lucky I'll actually get it rare and if I'm not I'll at least get it medium rare - which I don't mind either.

What came to the table was a thing of beauty - and I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures.  The steak rested on a bed of veggies and roasted potatoes.  Grilled onions rested on top of the steak and there was a small pat of balsamic butter.  I made my first cut.  I've been to so-called steak houses that couldn't cook a steak this good.  It was, at least to me, perfectly rare.  And Dad's steak was also cooked perfectly medium, for his taste.

The only drawback we had the entire night was that the red wine Mom ordered was a bit on the sour side and not all that good.  The manhattan I had was well made and I tip my hat to their mixologist.  Word of warning, if you order a martini with olives be prepared, the olives in Dad's drink were not pitted.

Roots mission is to use NW produce and vendors and the food reflects that beef and pork from Carlton Farms, mussels from the Puget sound, etc.

Bottom line - GO!  The food is very very good!  The atmosphere is very nice, however the place does tend to get a little noisy when it gets crowded.  The small plates allow you to have a nice dinner for a small price.

They're also opened for lunch and brunch.  Another fun thing that both Roots and Lapellah do is Sunday dinner.  A set dinner with a soup/salad of your choice, special entree, and a dessert of your choice all for $25. Not a bad price!

So, Vancouverites, stay on this side of the bridge and try a local upscale eatery.  Portlanders, come... come to other side of the bridge and find that your Northern neighbors have some awesome places to eat as well.