Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm only interesting in India.

I've come to the terrible conclusion that I only have things to say while in another country.  I actually have two blog posts that I've been working on, but I'm finding it really hard to work on them now that I'm in the States.  Partly, that's the fault of the jet lag, but some little bit is because I don't have any big insights.  Except I did.  Today on the way home from the gym.

I heard Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" for the first time this morning.  Normally, I listen to all kinds of music, but I've been on a country kick since coming back.  I've also had the totally normal urge to leave the radio on all day long because I've missed American music so much.  Even the commercials.  So it turns out this song came out last summer, but I live under a rock.  It's been raining all morning, and I guess Oklahoma was in the back of my mind.  As I pulled into the driveway, the chorus started.  I turned the radio up because the music was catchy, but the lyrics made me give the radio the side-eye.  Here's a snippet:

There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma
To wash the sins out of that house
There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma
To rip the nails out of the past
[Chorus]
Shatter every window till it’s all blown away,
Every brick, every board, every slamming door blown away
Till there’s nothing left standing,

You can see why I'd think it was weird.  I wondered if this was one of those benefit songs, but it seemed way too angry for that.  I Googled it when I came inside and discovered further proof that yes indeed, I still live under a rock.  So in the end, I suppose it was just strange timing, or a poor sense of humor on the radio host's part.  It did make me wonder two things though.  Why are so many of Carrie Underwood's songs about revenge, and why do I enjoy songs about revenge so much?  

In other news, I finished the second round of the 30DS with more results than last time.  I lost a few inches over all and another couple of pounds.  I'm up to a total of 10 pounds lost and my pants are loose again.  So yay for that.  I decided to switch back to straight cardio for the couple of weeks that we're here, then reevaluate.  I'll probably start a third round of the Shred because I love the muscle tone I'm starting to see.  Also, I sort of have abs for the first time ever.  While I've been trying to lose weight, Eli has been trying to gain it.  He lost so much weight in India from the lack of his kind of fast food that none of his pants fit.  We would have fried chicken for dinner, then Eli would want to go to KFC for dessert.  I went along because it was the only place in the country, as far as I could tell, that sold fountain Diet Coke.  Since coming back, I've gained about a pound, but that's because I haven't been paying much attention to what I'm eating.  For instance, I had like half a danish yesterday.  I don't mean one of those little circle danishes you get at Starbucks.  I mean the rectangular pound of danish you buy at the grocery store.  As most of you know, those things are my nemesis.  I don't know what went through my mind when I bought it, but I'm clearly sabotaging myself.  I need someone to come over and take away the rest of the danish.  Wait... be right back.  Okay, I got rid of the danish in a way that didn't involve me eating it.  There's nothing like sharing your fitness journey with all your friends and family to create a sense of accountability.  And, I guess I was wrong about having nothing to say.

Here's a picture from Sunday for those of you who couldn't make it to my graduation. 
I don't understand the hat either.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why I Can't Write from the Silence

Something has been irking me since my dissertation defense.  My committee accused me of silencing one of my characters, and they were right.  I did it on purpose.  Her role in the novel was to be a catalyst for later action.  She neither appears nor speaks in the entire 214 pages.  The book is about a privileged white girl in India who tries to find justice for a girl who was raped, and the problem is that the character I silenced is the Indian girl who was raped.  My committee kept circling back to one question: why didn't I tell her story? The answer I gave them still rings true: the story they were given wasn't about her.  I wanted to tell the story of the white girl in India.  Since then, I've put a lot of thought into answering that question for myself. Why don't I tell her story?  I have time now.  I'm deciding on my next project.  A lot of the background work on the character and setting is already done.  Tonight in the shower, I finally came to a conclusion (because all my good conclusions come in the shower).  Her character is silenced because I can't imagine her.  She gets raped, then shipped off to live on a friend's farm to avoid scandal.  She's happy enough at the end that she's provided for and better off than some of her siblings in the slums, but I could never see myself enough in that place to write about it.  I tried imagining a scene with her as the main character, and she wouldn't stay that compliant, complacent girl.  She morphs into a stoic hunter in a village on the Steppes, facing drought and famine and encroachment by another tribe.  She becomes a fighter.  She becomes strong.  She becomes self-sufficient.  And after being raped, she leaves her village for a better place of her own volition.  She takes her experiences, good and bad, and forges a life of adventure.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't expand on that original girl on the farm.  And I realized while washing my face, that I wouldn't want to read a story about that girl on the farm either.  I want to read about the second girl.  Silence is an unfortunate side-effect of rape (I suppose they're all unfortunate side-effects, aren't they?).  It does bother me that I chose to silence my character, but that was part of the point.  The readers are supposed to be bothered.  They're supposed to shout in support of her.  They're supposed to rise up and demand that she not be punished for actions beyond her control.  To protest for her when she wouldn't protest for herself.  My main character did.  But it doesn't change the fact that I can't make the girl on the farm the center of one of my stories in her current incarnation.  To break free of the silence I gave her, she needs to become someone else.  Which was kind of the point of the novel in the first place.  I wish I'd thought to say that in my dissertation defense. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

One week left.

I'm so excited to be coming home in a week.  We've been in India for three months, and it seems like the time has gone a lot faster than the last time.  We'll be in the US for three weeks, and I imagine that time will be gone before I know it.  I'm enjoying my time here now that I don't have grad school pressures to deal with, but I'm ready for this experience to be over so we can move on to the next one.

I'm thinking I'll start my next book after we get back.  It'll be fun to finally write just for me again without having to take into account the sensibilities of my committee.  I'm going back and forth about what I want to work on though.  I have a series of sci-fi short stories that I'd always planned to turn into a novel, but I also have the beginnings of a paranormal YA swimming around in my head.  Ideally, I'll finish both of them by December when D and I head home.  It would be really nice to finally start sending out novels I love to publishers that pay rather than short stories I like to journals that can't even offer me print copies as reimbursement.  I've been saying since I was 14 that I wanted to make writing my career.  I feel like I've made a lot of good headway toward that goal.  I've learned so much through school and practice, but I've reached the point where I just need to write.  I'm at the bottleneck where I have to trust in luck and fate as well as skill and research that my manuscript will reach an editor that it appeals to.  Well, you know, after I write it.

I'm so glad I have this opportunity to do what I love.  I'd always imagined that I would be a stay-at-home mom to my kids and write in my spare time.  I admit, that's a crazy goal with a child under 2, but eventually, D will start preschool, then real school.  I'll have time to spend with D, time to spend with Eli, and time to myself to write (or do whatever needs to get done) while they're both gone.  I wanted to finish my degree before we got to that point, and I have.  I wanted to have a couple of novels under my belt as well, and I do.  None of this would have been possible without Eli.  He's taken on a lot of my responsibilities so that I can pursue my passions, and I'm grateful every day for him.  Our third wedding anniversary is coming up, and it still feels like we just got back from Mexico.  I've read that the second year of marriage is the hardest, so I guess we're doing something right.

We decided that we'd like to go to Giggles for our anniversary, and naturally, we're inviting everyone we know because we just can't resist sharing fun times with our friends.  We'll organize it when we get home, but it'll probably be Friday, May 24th or Saturday, May 25th (Memorial Day weekend).  Should be fun.

UPDATE: After some research, it appears that Giggles may be closed?  Can we get a confirm or deny here?