Getting back on the (Novel) Train (With Comments about NorCal!)

Friends–I’ve spent much of the last week in the girlish splendor of NorCal, out at Stanford’s homecoming– a school I didn’t attend–  appropriating much more than my standard allotment of Vitamin D and feeling insanely jealous of the people that managed to trick, steal, or academically impress their way onto this campus. Moving aside the fact that I would’ve never been able to get in, I am 86% sure I should’ve gone here.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad while visiting my friend Frank at UVA Law School.
Me: Dad, UVA is ridiculously gorgeous! The senior quad has all these singles and they’ve each got their own firewood and Thomas Jefferson built the whole school by himself with, like, three oxen, George Washington’s cherry tree axe, and–
Dad: Yes, Kevin, it is a nice school. What’s your point?
Me: My point is that I probably should’ve gone here.
Dad: Well… if it makes you feel any better, you probably couldn’t have gotten into any programs there, undergrad or grad!
Me: That…that doesn’t make me feel any better. Actually that makes me fe–
Dad: I love you too son.
(Hangs up)

The good news is, I don’t think about these things at all. Pushing past my inferior academic achievements, I want to talk about my book. Do you remember my book? I called it my thesis, and complained about it incessantly? It was, like, 300 pages, 220 of which weren’t that bad? No?  Well, start paying attention, bc it’s time to bring that sucker back out and finish up the last re-writes that my pseudo-agent-friend bugged me about twice before mentally writing me off as someone who’ll never actually finish anything, which is ridiculous… Because I did finish! I defended it as my thesis! And got critiqued! And felt really overwhelmed with the work I had to do! And then I got a steady job, took on several mag stories, and pushed it to the back quadrant of my mind, the place where I keep the Red Sox starting lineup from RBI Baseball (Don Baylor!) and an alarmingly staggering amount of knowledge re: Marvel Comics from 1990-1993.

I am planning on making the proper re-writes starting next week. I am allotting two hours every morning from 8:30-10:30 to be my “finish your damn book” time. I figure I can use this time because I normally spend it riding through the Internetz on a quest to find old, hilarious That’s So Raven episodes and music videos involving C&C Music Factory. I mean, I still plan on doing those things, but I’ll just do them later. Anyway, consider yourself warned. Kevin is back on the novel train, pumped up to complain about it, and even more pumped up to speak about himself in third person! I will now spend the entire rest of this week thinking of clever things to title this new blog path, and utilizing the hilarious complexity involved in replacing “s’s” with “z’s”. That, friendz, is just how Kevin rollz.

Baby Baby,
Baby

TLC

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26 thoughts on “Getting back on the (Novel) Train (With Comments about NorCal!)

  1. Tom

    I was JUST thinking about that! A friend forwarded that to me last week at the perfect moment! It’s very reassuring for those of us who are of the idea that "greatness shows itself early and often, and if you’re not great by nineteen you might as well hang it up."

    Herman, that is a great bit of info to post. Excellent article.

  2. Hollywood Herman

    Dude, did you read Gladwell’s New Yorker article this past week about late-bloomers? It’s a good one — especially for when your dad gets impatient…

  3. Tom

    There is a summer NaNoWriMo, for the record. I believe it’s in…June? Not sure on that, but one of my WriMo buddies (who is a teenager in high school, y’all) did it this past summer. Um, she also has finished four (FOUR!) novels so far. Nothing published, but don’t some of us feel tepid about our accomplishments now? More proof that all writing takes is sitting down and writing!

    I wonder if the NaNo folks would be open to ReWri? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Most people joke that the entire rest of their year before the next WriMo is spent doing SummerReWriMo.

    I was on the site for it yesterday, and there’s a Night of Writing Dangerously where, if you get $200 in donations toward their youth writing program you can take part in a five-hour group writing session in CA. There’s prizes and such, but really the thrill is just in the involvement. I’d SO love to be a part of that! So, so, so, so, SO much I want to do that! I’m just not sure how to afford air fare and a hotel. What a great opportunity, though, right?

    And now, back to the regularly scheduled rewriting, kids.

  4. Deborah Leiter

    I think the NaNoREWriMo idea is fantastic. I think the official month should definitely be a different one than November, though–perhaps May, to give people 6 months to let their November manuscripts to settle? OR, they could make both months potentially for either activity–so you could sign up for either activity in either month, depending on your schedule, etc. Ooh, I’m liking this more and more (I would totally do the novel-writing month in the spring, when my academic schedule is lighter, and the revising one in the fall…)

  5. Erin

    Genevieve, I have a confession to make, too. There is a CLIMACTIC scene in my novel revolving around a kareoke performance of "Sweet Child of Mine", so maybe that also explains why I’m rooting for Axl to actually release this thing. I have subconsciously linked my fate to his (which is a scary thought, considering how he’s pretty much doomed to fail).

    My novel originally clocked in at 132,648 words. The agent told me to get it down to 100,000. I was teriffied to start slashing it, but as I got used to the process, I found more and more that was repetitive or unneccessary, and I think the novel is now much stronger because of the cuts. We’ll see what I think when I finish it in 2 weeks!

  6. Genevieve

    Holy underwear, Erin. 33,000 words? That’s half my book. Is that half your book? How is the revision going? Are they changes you wanted to make, and do you feel good about?

    Kevin, I bet going back to the book now will be so much more fun than it was for you when you had to do it for school. The early mornings to come might be the write-in-your-robe-drinking-tea-and-eating-(low-fat-!)- blueberry-muffins-moments that you will remember fondly at your first book signing.

    And guys, I have a confession. As a teenager I was a Guns N roses fanatic. Even today, the totally wicked intro to "Welcome to the Jungle" gives me goosebumps and I will headbang in my car. So I will be buying this long awaited, most likely disappointing album. May I some day be a middle-aged famous writer whose fans have been waiting for my book while I’ve spent five years holed up in a mansion, and the day I finally release it they will show up in droves to buy it whether it is good or not. You gotta dream, you know?

  7. Erin

    Entertainment Weekly is giving some credence to the annoucement because two of the album’s tracks have sort of been released- one is available in the new Rock Band game, and another plays over the end credits of the movie Body of Lies. ….I don’t know why I’m sticking up for Axl, but I kind of believe him this time (probably because it’s taken me so long to finish my novel, too.)

    Tom, that is a fantastic idea! I’m going to contact the NaNoWriMo people and suggest NaNoREWriMo!

  8. Tom

    I love Olivia’s "chip away at the stone" thinking. Sooner or later, it WILL get done.

    That, and I still hold out next to zero hope for Axl and his hired Guns from getting this bird off the ground. I specifically remember the time, oh, maybe four years ago(?) when I was driving in the car, and the all-excited DJ came on the radio saying they were doing the FIRST EVARRRR release of the new Axl Rose song (OMG!!!!ELEVENTYONE!!111!!1!1). They played it. I never heard it after that. It was pulled from rotation by the man mere hours later. Al Jorgensen yanked Jesus Built My Hotrod several times before it ever really became a release (though he did come through, finally). Fortunately, I had an ubercool friend living in CA at the time who dubbed the initial mix off the radio, so I got the first (best) recording. Never liked the others as much.

    Um…and that was a giant tanget.

    NaNoWriMo has National Novel Writing Month. Surely there must be some sort of Nation Novel REwriting Month?

  9. Olivia

    Okay, guys, when it comes to getting up early just to sit and write, it’s wonderful. In the long run, though, it gets very tiring. Especially when you’re coupling that with staying up until 2a.m. to write…and couple that with having a four year old…and couple that with a serious addiction to caffeine or you’ll never make it through.

    The good news is, somewhere down the line you end up with a great novel, even if it’s five years later.

    Yeah, it’s worth it. Here’s to being a writer, and the fact that only other writers truly understand what you’re going through. Here’s to not getting any sleep and loving it.

    Erin, when you get the patent for that mobile alert system/homing device/GPS for washed up celebs/handcuffs, ball, and chain…let me know. I’ve got a list a mile long of people to use it on.

    Olivia

  10. Erin

    Genevieve,

    After five years of working on it, I thought my novel was done- until an agent told me to chop off almost 33,000 words, and I went back and noticed that wasn’t all that needed changing. I HOPE it will feel done when I finish this draft (by Halloween!)

    And I see there are two things that we all need:
    1. A support group for novelists in the editing process (as i mentioned before)
    2. A mobile alert system to track the progress of Axl Rose (there’s a guy who doesn’t seem to know when things are done.)

  11. Genevieve

    Does a novel ever feel done? I finished mine about a month ago and started sending it off, but I just reread the ending a couple of days ago and cringed. So much to edit! It does feel good to know that so many of us are plugging away at it. Kevin, I admire your energy level and – Wait. Axl Rose is releasing an album?

  12. Tom

    On the subject of Kevin-Alexander-related cultural references, right before I read this latest blog entry I was typing on a friend’s blog: "I don’t have the Disney Channel, so Raven doesn’t make me think of That’s So Raven, it makes me think of Kevin Alexander." True story. Incredible stuff, right?

  13. Christine

    I am in the wonderful world of rewriting as well so I commiserate/celebrate with those of you on the same ladder rung as me.

    Kevin, I kid you not–I was just searching for C+C Music Factory videos this week after a discussion I had with a friend. Pathetic, isn’t it? I was, of course, supposed to be writing at the time, but you know how easy it is to get distracted. Actually supposed to be writing now, but I know there is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 on YouTube I could be watching so off I go!

  14. Tom

    Okay, let’s not keep the General Cinemas goodness from the rest of the world:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6uHhUKURYE

    It was a Midwesty(?) sort of thing – bought out by AMC Theatres in the 00s. I’m sort of surprised there’s not a better copy readily available. Heck, I always remember it being just about as fuzzy and poorly edited as it is on Youtube, but that just makes the memory sweeter. If I could liver an alternate life for one day, it would be as the guy playing brushes on that little ditty. Immortalized forever as a pre-shower bumper.

    Glad I could help divert you from real work, Kev.

  15. Pat

    Well, Kevin and Tom, if you are writing every morning, then I must fight to get there first or chase the cat of my office chair and work on my rewriting also. But…wait…I can only do this for the next two weeks. NaNoWriMo starts November 1st and I will endeavor to create another 50,000 word novel draft. This will be my 5th—with two good ones and two that need a lot of work—where will this draft fit? Hopefully in the good draft category.

    Any encouragement to work is good encouragement so I wish you all the best on the rewriting.

  16. Deborah Leiter

    Hey all, good luck on the novels! My deal is, if I can get the requisite amount of grad school writing and conference papers done during October (and work ahead a bit for November’s load o’ academic work), I can pull my much-neglected novel from underneath its rock and revise the thing again during November (provided I can dodge the theoretical avalanches that will be letting loose around me at that point in the semester.

    Oh, and if you want a break, stop by my blog and check out the cage fight I’m narrating over there this week (http://deborahleiter.blogspot.com/2008/10/cage-match-background-part-2-progeny.html).

    Well, back to my academic tomes…

  17. Erin

    If you don’t believe me (and trust me, I understand and share your skepticism), check out the report on the entertainment weekly website. They say it’s coming out on Nov. 23 and this time it’s for real.

    Kevin, I forgot to ask before, how could the Stanford campus possibly have more splendor than where you went to school? (I’m allowed to be sarcastic because I grew up in the area and took a few graduate courses at your alma mater and even once got to have a latte at the espresso bar in their library. That campus is the nicest part of that "city".)

    And could someone please explain what General Cinemas are? I feel like I should know this.

  18. Tom

    I am here to say, as an informal delegate of Mr. Rose’s home state, that he will in no way be capable of releasing Chinese Democracy on November 23rd, which should really only spur you on to greater and greater feats of literary accomplishment, because then you can say "I beat Axl Rose to the punch! Sucka!"

    I applaud the "two hours in the A.M." approach to noveling, Kev. I just started getting up an entire hour earlier in the morning just so I could write. It actually makes me want to get out of bed! And, shockingly, stuff gets done! This has curtailed my evening activities, as I’m now going to bed at the "old guy" hour of say ten or ten-thirty, but there’s writing happening, and that gives me a lot more to talk about than another hour of what would probably be surfing the internet looking for vintage clock parts and Youtube videos of old General Cinemas bumpers and commercials (quite addictive).

  19. Kevin Alexander

    Holy ish! Is he really finally releasing Chinese Democracy? He can’t! The world will, undoubtedly, enter an apocalypse. But good luck Erin… I think the appropriate term for us is safety in numbers.

  20. Erin

    Kevin,
    I am super excited to see you back on the novel train, because I’m in the same exact place with my novel. A long time ago, an agent (the first I ever pitched to) asked me for a partial if I could cut roughly 33,000 words out of my manuscript. A week after the agent gave me this task, I made the slightly crazy decision to quit my job, move to another state, find another job, and begin a career as a freelance entertainment writer in my spare time. The novel got pushed to the part of my brain where I store the dance moves from old NSYNC videos and the lyrics to the theme song from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But lately, after starting a writer’s group in my new home town, I’ve had a renewed sense of vigor and have made a vow to myself to finish my rewrites by Halloween (I picked Halloween because the opening scene of my novel takes place on that day). I look forward to reading about how this process is going for you.

    If it helps, I’d like to lend you my personal motto, (which I just adopted yesterday): If Axl Rose can release Chinese Democracy on Nov. 23, I can certainly finish my novel!

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