Tuesday, January 25, 2011

will digital surpass print by 2014?

I read a report today claiming that by 2014 e-books would surpass print books. The numbers and stats and newsy-news about digital media is coming in faster that warp speed. If the typos and grammatical errors in the aforementioned piece are an indication of what might happen when the speed of publication becomes more important than the craft behind the content, we readers and writers are in for a cold water dunk.

I've been most interested in e-book outfits that seem to walk the careful road when it comes to digital pub, and I really like Jane Friedman's approach at Open Road. Open Road is creating a bridge between old sensibilities and new form, which I think is important for old-schoolers like myself. Now that some 10.5 m folks have e-readers, the door is open to a variety of approaches to get those readers' attention.

I also like the speculation that indie bookstores are getting a leg up as the big box guys go down, mostly because indies have always nurtured community and the digital landscape of social media has given them more tools, more ways to get the word out.

I still wish my Kindle weren't so freakin' ugly though.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

chop kale, filter water: the midterm report

I'm more than halfway through. I have eight more days, to be exact. I'm already fantasizing the perfect post-cleanse first meal (like the Last Supper, but in reverse). Bagels and lox will be involved.

I've learned a bunch of crap about myself during this process, but the number one thing I learned? I have a facility for shortcuts. Okay, I'm lazy. If I have one fabulous talent, it's figuring out how to crawl really close to the edge of not doing something but still do it. If I were a Nike tagline I'd be, "Just fudge it."

Thank God I live in Portland, is all I have to say. The land of myriad health food stores, gluten-free start-ups, carts that serve raw food. I discovered a frozen bread yesterday that's made from rice flour and sunflower oil and sea salt. A salad dressing that's olive oil and organic blueberries and balsamic vinegar. A cafe with non-soy vegan soup. But still, I'm cleaning out the juicer, chopping the fennel, and soaking the raw cashews. In filtered water. For two hours.

Ok, the deets since last we spoke. Still the same on the tmi front. Mucus and other bodily unpleasantries continue to diminish. I feel lighter. I am lighter (7 or 8 pounds). And I no longer have the caffeine withdrawal headaches. And about four days ago my energy came back. Finally! Oh, and my blood pressure went down 10 diastolic points (and 20 systolic). I'm now "normal." Yay!

But I miss eating like a normal person. There, I said it. I miss stuffing chocolate in my face, sipping an espresso tinged with brown sugar, the chili-cheese fries at Meadows after a morning on the slopes. And don't get me started on how much I miss cocktails!

Okay, do get me started, because I need to confess my one big, fat "off the wagon" moment last Friday.

I had a glass of cabernet. One glass. And I stretched it out for 45 minutes, lingering in its warmth and embrace like a starved sailor does a whore. I noted all those hifalutin descriptors on fancy bottles of wine: crisp, earthy, fleshy, varietal, herbaceous, oaky, nervy, mid-palate, peak.

All was well until I started eyeing my son's hamburger. And his potato chips. And his Shirley Temple.

And the next morning I felt like total shit. Bloaty, head-achy, lardassy, all of that. I punished myself by cramming an entire bundle of lacinato kale down the juicer chute, and following it with a chaser of bok choy.

Yes, I know. This sounds very eating disorderish. I admit, I wonder about the psychological jostling that occurs with "cleanses" generally. Viewing most Western food as poison. The eschewing of this, that and the other. My husband keeps asking what I'm going to continue to avoid once I'm "clean." Probably dairy, if I had to pick one thing (there goes the bagel/lox thing, 'cause I'm not spreading hummus on it). I'll try to limit coffee. Less booze. Less bread. Less bacon. I've developed a fondness for fennel. I'm way more into carrots than ever before. But please, don't take away my chocolate on a permanent basis. I think a life without chocolate would be like walking around in a burlap sack.

Any of you have fucked up fad diet stories to share? Or even successful fad diet ones?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the life of a treasure hunter

In Erin Reel's Lit Coach blog today, there is a terrific interview with author Paula Reed. The theme is "artistic integrity" and the take-away from this post is: write what you love, and don't let predetermined ideas about displeasing editors and readers that may be beholden to your previous books interfere with writing the book that's calling out to you.

I love this advice, and I especially loved when Reed, who built her reputation on romance novels, says:
In the romance genre the main story must be a love story, and happily-ever-after is a non-negotiable element. Sometimes, though, it seems to me that happily-ever-after can be walking away when a romantic relationship ends and keeping a true friend, so when I wrote Hester I chose a different path—straight historical fiction based upon a previous literary work.

One of the perks of living as a writer is that, more than most people, you get to follow your passion, in Reed's case, the desire to explore the "what abouts" in The Scarlet Letter. You get to go on a treasure hunt every single day. And sometimes, you actually do uncover gems. Those are the days that make it all worth while.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

on loving one's own story

It's been incredibly rainy this weekend. Even for the Pacific Northwest. For the first time ever, I called the Oregonian and had them redeliver the Sunday paper. Even though the thing was double-bagged it was soaked through by daylight!

But, now that I've devoured the dry replacement, and tuned in to the playoffs to find Seattle getting anhialated by Chicago, and have administered an herbal remedy to my ailing child, I am finally at my desk. The Empress awaits. Or rather, her contemporary counterpart, Liz, whose storyline needs a little bit more of a kick in the ass.

I have to say, on re-reading the manuscript, I rather love Sisi and Liz. I love their quirkiness, their spunkiness, their views of the world. Sure, there are a few plot points that need a little extra tension, a bit more breadcrumbing with the diary and all, but on the whole, this book I've written is exactly the sort of book I sought when I was a bookish youngster. Novels that featured girls, at their most vulnerable ages, with the reality of adulthood around the corner--the expectations, the lack of control over one's body and mind. The hormones!

I have no idea if anyone will ever publish this thing, of course. There's no explosions, no ghosts, no vampires. The magic is a bit more complicated than typical YA, and I linger in certain aspects of character longer than many readers have patience for, but if you write a book, invest in characters, a story, a world, shouldn't your main audience be yourself? I ask this in all sincerity.

Would you write a book you wouldn't read if that book went on to be a bestseller? Or would you rather write the best possible book you could, that pleases you, and have it go nowhere? Well, which one would you choose?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

writer at work

Husband heading out of town, so starting tomorrow, I'm burying myself in finishing up the revision of Empress Chronicles. Four days of immersion. Heaven!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

chop kale, filter water, week one

It's the weekend most people dismantle all signs of the holiday. The Christmas tree comes down; the greeting cards get recycled. Any uneaten fruitcake goes in the trash.

Fitting for me that it's also the end of my first week on the cleanse. Eight days to be exact. All the excess of December brought to an abrupt halt (I decided against the "elimination week" and just plunged headlong into the liquid meals and raw foods portion of the deal.)

That rusty recycling bin? Well, that would be the perfect metaphor for my body as it processes the detritus from my holiday of overindulgence.

I've de-tinseled, unstrung, and otherwise shed the fun and glitter from my daily regime. Sigh.

But, there's nothing more obscene than a diet Nazi: a prostheletizing faster who goes on like the parents in a Peanuts cartoon: blah, blah, blah, toxins, blah, blah, chemicals, blah, blah, carbs, fat, processed food. Gluten. Red meat. Blah, blah, this-is-your-body-on-sugar.

It's been hard, really hard, and I'm only a quarter of the way through. I now completely understand why Women's Lib corresponded to the invention of the microwave and McDonalds. Who, other than a designated-stay-at-home, has the time to prepare fresh, raw food? The planning, procuring and unpacking of the ingredients alone takes a fucking half-a-day. Friday? It took me an hour to make my lunch. Ten minutes to eat it. And then another 45 minutes to clean up afterwards.

So, why am I continuing on? Is it some early Lent? Am I atoning? Well, of course I am. But that's really not the main reason I'm moving into week two weilding my produce knife like Sinbad the Sailor.

Here's the scoop (and I'll warn you before it gets into tmi, which it will).

1. I feel a lot lighter.
2. Complete absence of the "bloated feeling."
3. Lost 5 pounds just like that (which was the weight that I gained in 2010).
4. No morning runny nose.
5. After the first four days, diminished aches and pains in joints.
6. Dark circles and bags under my eyes less noticeable.

(Here's the tmi part--so don't read this if you don't want the purient deets)

7. I smell better (everywhere)
8. Even my shit doesn't stink. (Okay, maybe a little, but what Junger goes on at length about in his book is that normal elimination should not be foul--as it is when it's gunked up in there with the paste of the Western diet)
9. The usual mucusy stuff that tries to find a way out wherever it can has become almost non-existent.

Okay, and this last one? If you're my kids or my dad or something, you MAY NOT read it. Others, use your discretion. It's highly tmi.

10. I have it on good authority that I, uh, taste really good.

My energy is not consistent though. Sometimes, I'm incredibly tired, and gross motor stuff (like elliptical at the gym, for instance) is exhausting. Today, day eight, I cheated. I had a double espresso (but I used agave as sweetener instead of the usual 2 packets of Sugar in the Raw). I wanted to see what my body would feel like with a caffeine jolt on the cusp of yet another pilgrimage to Whole Foods for basics. I felt that familiar engagement: instant alertness. Which I liked. But I also felt like someone with a lead foot invaded my body and pressed down. My heart rate increased. I'm sure my blood pressure rose. It was an interesting experiment. Next week, I may have a glass of wine. I haven't decided yet.

But here's the biggest takeaway so far. I've been forced, through the sheer mechanical requirements of this cleanse, to live scrupulously in the moment. I have had to slow down and live at a different pace than the one I've become accustomed to. And I'm going with it. Today, the Whole Foods thing took over an hour, and I immersed myself in the shopping. Typically, I resent shopping, and try to fit in as many multi-tasks as possible: the post office, the bookstore, the gym. Checking my email while in line. Texting while ambling down the aisles. Today, when the checker asked his boilerplate, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" I said, "No, actually. There's this hair product made from quinoa that I couldn't find today," thus causing a b-and-f that must have enraged the shoppers in line behind me for the extra minute it added to the transaction. Something that, in my normal state as the next-in-queue, would totally piss me off.

But to neutralize the karmic impact, I held the elevator to the parking garage open for others, and allowed them to disembark before me, and I even returned my shopping cart after unloading it, instead of ramming it into a nearby wall as is my usual wont.

I'm rolling up my sleeves for week two, but I have to admit, I do miss happy hour. A lot.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

clowns to the left of me jokers to the right

I don't think I've ever had to leap out of the holidays and into real life quite as abruptly as I have this year.  Clients, projects, creative juices and ambition are propelling me, and, as you all know, I must don the yoke and pull the cart without the aid of coffee!

Okay, so I'm like six days into this cleanse, and yesterday was a sort of turning point where I could actually hear my body talking to me.  It said, "So, this is a real thing you're doing?  Really?" 

I could actually feel the little cells rearranging, as though tired ladies on public transportation resigned to allowing the homeless guy to sit in the seat next to them.  It's foreign, it has to happen, we're dealing.

So amid all of my solipsistic hyper-attention to my body, I've had some terrific, expansive meetings with clients--all of whom have indicated that they wish to move forward.  With me!  I know how "The Secret" this is going to sound, but the woo-woo thing here is that the forces (yes, forces) around me seem to be parroting my push for change and risk.  It's all very mysterious.  Or maybe I'm just having visions from my cleanse.  I do feel somewhat walk-about today.  I think it's time to squeeze my morning kale-and-apple juice.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

chop kale, filter water

This is my fourth morning without coffee. My headache has moved to my neck, where it's simmering angrily, its petulant wave of pain gnawing at me like a nasty field mouse.

This is also day 4 without booze, bread and bacon. Without sugar. Without noodles. Without anything even remotely conveying comfort.

But why? ask my friends and colleagues in their best Cindy-Lou Who. Those with whom I party and sip and knock back a few.

Why indeed, I ask myself as I get increasingly stoopider, slower and phlegmatic. But really, I do know why I'm doing this. After a blessedly celebratory year that culminated in a month of parties, hedonism and pure fun, my body looks and acts like someone from an insane asylum. I'd become so "Go ask Alice" with the drug to get me going, the drug to mellow me out, the drug to make me happy. All legal, by the way, but potent just the same.

God, I love whiskey. Sigh.

I'm doing the Junger cleanse, and I"m following the program like a monk. I even bought a Jack LaLanne Juicer from Costco and watched the instructional video on my husband's laptop (at his insistence). Imagine uncaffeinated me at the helm of this buff machine cramming in fennel, kale, green apples and carrots--my detoxing slumped posture, and the "Please Sir, may I have some more?" look on my face after downing what is now breakfast.

And right be-next to the juicer sits the "bullet" and next to that the blender, the knife, the chopping block and a variety of leafy green things that are poised to eradicate my digestive system of toxins and sludge. Yummy!

But deprivation ain't the only thing with the Junger cleanse. It states quite emphatically that the cleanser must undergo weekly massages (the first of which I've scheduled for just two hours from now!), and then there's skin brushing, hot/cold plunging, yoga and meditation. Really, it's about way more than food.

It's about writing this blog entry without letting my mind leaf through the other items in my inbox. It's about sitting down with my kale shake while my husband and son devour their pork chops and feeling grateful, blessed, whole. It's about trying not to count the days (that would be 24) until I can, once again, litter my body with poisons and meet my friends for lunch!