Friday, February 3, 2012

GO Somewhere and DO Something

I am generally a productive person. I have vices, but they generally are vices that make me work more, not less, which is convenient when you are in the writerly line of work. I have even honed a fine system of reward and punishment which grants me time to procrastinate on an earned basis, which probably makes it more properly "free time" than "procrastination." Oh yes, I am a productive person.

Jackson preeningBut it also means that I am extremely unprepared for coping with times when I suddenly find myself not productive, as I did this week. Rather than writing, I found myself making bread, eating cookies, reading novels, watching Ghost Hunters, winning awards, animating hands, and playing Irish pub music on Hannibal the piano. And I seemed incapable of breaking this vicious cycle. So I turned to my authorial friends. I rely a lot on the wisdom of my friends when I get stumped, and so last night, I reached out to my friend Jackson Pearce and asked for her oracular advice on my unproductivity. (that's Jackson ---->)

The following occurred.

This struck me as sage advice as I had not left the house in approximately three months when I was last on tour, so I went to bed early with the intention of taking Thing 1 and Thing 2 to school the next day (a task ordinarily relegated to Lover) and then Going Somewhere and Doing Something. The following morning, I rose with the birds, packed school lunches (bread and cookies, because as you could see, we had plenty on hand), and journeyed off to the Big City with the children, driving Slick the Wonder Car.

Well! I thought as I drove. This is already doing quite well! I have story ideas already! I am quite awake! It is not even 8 a.m.! Truly Jackson is wise!

Then I dropped off Things 1 & 2, and because I needed to Go Somewhere, I went to the Big City's Super Target to get some bagels for Thing 2 and some acid for my contact lenses and also several pairs of cheap sunglasses because I had lost the Very Expensive Ones that Lover had gotten me and because the sun was a lot brighter than I remembered from 2011, when I last left my house. By virtue of it being not even 8:30 a.m., the Super Target was virtually empty, apart from the 4,002 employees restocking the shelves. I ogled my books in the book section, because I'm classy like that, and then I collected my items and headed toward the front. There was only one register open, with the cashier standing in front of it (I told you, I was the only customer there), and I made a bee line toward her, smiling in a way that I hoped was more "good morning I am human" and less "my teeth are bared run away." Cashier smiled back, but then her face abruptly changed.

CASHIER: Oh my God.
ME: !
CASHIER: Are you?
ME: . . .
CASHIER: Maggie?
ME: . . .
CASHIER: Stiefvater?

My thoughts were twofold. 1) She pronounced my last name right! 2) This is all Jackson Pearce's fault.

ME *in retrospect, with probably more wariness than was warranted*: How did you know it was me?
CASHIER: I read your blog!
ME: *I am never leaving the house without brushing my hair again*

If you are reading this, friendly cashier and blog reader, I am sorry for goggling my eyeballs at you. I had not left the house in a very long time, as I mentioned, and when I did finally emerge, it seemed that I had become famous. Or at the very least, like someone who really ought to brush their hair before leaving their house. And so I'm sure I would be more coherent now, but at the moment, I know there was eye goggling involved.

My New Cheap SunglassesAnyway, I then staggered back to Slick the Wonder Car. For a moment, I was distracted from Jackson's advice by my urgent need to drink the mango smoothie I had just purchased while listening to a very obnoxious piece of music (you won't like it) and picking the UV sticker off the cheap sunglasses I had just purchased. Then, putting on the sunglasses and coming to, I realized that it was not enough to have Gone Somewhere. Remembering Jackson's exhortation to Do Something, I put the car in gear and drove to the Mitsubishi dealer*.

*Oh, I am so relieved that I have announced RAVEN BOYS so this following story involving Mitsubishis will have a modicum of context.

Because it was not yet 9 a.m., I assumed the dealer was closed, so I cruised into the parking lot and backed Slick the Wonder Car into an empty spot. Ha! I was woefully mistaken, dear reader! The moment I stepped out of the car, a dealer-man manifested directly next to me.

DEALER-MAN: What can I DO for YOU?
ME: I am here to look at Evos.
DEALER-MAN: *strangled noise*
ME: What was that? That noise?
DEALER-MAN: *wordlessly points from Slick the Wonder Car to the Evos.* *finally manages* But you have that. WHY?
ME: That is anti-salesmanship, my good sir.

Do you know what a Mitsubishi Evo(lution) is, dear reader? It is this:


This marvelous thing goes from 0-60 in 4 seconds or something close to it, is not very expensive in the general sense of things that go 0-60 in less time that it takes you to find your car keys, and is generally clumped in the greater automotive lexicon of Boy Racer. It is quite precisely what you would expect to find a Raven Boy in, which was why I was there, but it was also quite clearly not what DealerMan expected to find a Maggie in (which is patently false. If I did not have Loki and Slick the Wonder Car, I would consider a Boy Racer because I enjoy both speed and irony, and me in an Evo would accomplish both neatly).

For a moment, I thought about inventing a story about how I was contemplating trading Slick the Wonder Car in for an Evo because I'd caught my husband and my dog trainer in the back seat of Slick the Wonder Car, or how I had watched 2 Fast 2 Furious so often that my life wouldn't be complete without an Evo, or how I just couldn't bear the unremitting Slickness of Slick the Wonder Car and needed something less slick, but then I remembered that I lived in the Big City and had just been recognized in a Super Target, so it wouldn't behoove me to go around telling grandiose falsehoods in case I ran into DealerMan again in a different context.

So instead I told him who I was and that one of my characters was driving an Evo in my next book (the sequel to Raven Boys) and that he had absolutely no chance of selling one to me as I merely wanted to poke around for research's sake. Unperturbed, DealerMan spent the next 30 minutes talking about Evos and then he got the key and let me sit in it and start it up. I would've test-driven it, too, although there was no earthly reason to test-drive one for purposes of my novel, but apparently you cannot test-drive Evos, because they know that all you want to do is find out if it really does go 0-60 in less time than it takes you to say "Excuse me, ma'am, can I have a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce but no mayonnaise, please?"

Then DealerMan and I parted ways amicably and I drove home and wrote a chapter with a Mitsubishi Evo in it. It's a very fine chapter, if I do say so myself.

So thank you, Jackson Pearce. It turned out all I really needed was to Go Somewhere and Do Something.


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Gennifer Albin said...

Maggie, this is exactly what I needed to read today as I sat dreading opening up the file marked "sequel." I will Go Somewhere and Do Something on Monday, and I'll brush my hair first although no one will recognize me.

Thank you.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley said...

This has nothing to do with your post.

I just wanted to tell you about it. I gave Scorpio Races out to a bunch of people this year, including a friend who's about 50, a horseperson and counselor, very smart and educated. I ran into her last week and she said, "I'm reading that book you gave me. It's fiction--isn't it?"

It was the tiny hopeful doubt in her voice that got to me. "Isn't it?" Or, "couldn't this be true?"


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