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Irreverence is Almost Always Appropriate

Hullo. You know how sometimes people are obsessed with books and writing and reading and talking about the same? Well this is one of those times, and I'm one of the obsessed. I write YA and read YA and like to talk about it and make friends. Do you?

Not Dead

Okay, Masters of the Goal-verse, listen up. (see what I did there? remember how awesome the music on that show was? or at least I thought so when I was all young and trying to impress my older brother by having an opinion...)

Anyway. Moving on. (oh man, that was so accidental...but so satisfying!)

So remember how the bylaws of Goal-Makers states that any Goal-Maker who does not complete the previous week's goals has to buy someone a book? Or delicious and cheap food? Well, one of my goals for last week was to post something here. And in case you haven't noticed I am the suck at posting something here. If this were a bomb and not a blog, and posting something meant something would blow up, then you'd be glad I'm such a lazy git.

But since posting something here just means I type words no one reads and nothing (theoretically) blows up, no one's glad when I don't post something. Not even my fellow Goal-Makers, even though they would get a book out of my failure. They are simply too nice (true story).

So here's my post,and then I have to go: sometimes I have these things called Ultimate Goals For Life, and although that title is super cryptic and you have NO idea what I'm talking about, I'm not going to explain it. Just give you one. A little UGFL gift.

Someday I'm going to learn semaphore. And teach it to my children.

Kay bye! Good luck!



Okay, Kids of Goal Nation, here’s what my life looked like last Sunday (I don’t remember anything that happened earlier than last Sunday):

Me: *wakes up, panicked* Must cancel all tertiary goals! Must write only! Must finish Act II ONLY!!
LIFE: *laughs* No.
Me: But I have to finish Act II so I can move on to Act III which is going to be so awesome and so hard to write!
LIFE: But instead you will hang out with Nandy* and Jeffiner* and then make food for the week, which will take you hours since you don’t really know what you’re doing. Also you will watch a movie with Hilary Duff and Henry from that one Amanda Bynes** show that you love. But that part will be your idea, not mine.
LIFE: YOUR idea.
Me: *cries*

LIFE did not lie.

But there was still *this* weekend, this coming-and-right-now-as-I-write-this weekend, for me to fill with writing. In theory. Theory which was then blowed up when this conversation happened on Tuesday:

Me: I will write all weekend long, except when I am having lunch with awesome friends I only see every few months even though we live really close to each other!
BOSS: Hey Amaris, we’re going to need you to cancel all your plans and work twelve hours a day and all weekend to get this show done by Tuesday. That’s not a problem, is it?
Me: *weakly* I love my job***.

So there’s my secret shame: Goal annihilation has been co-opted by job-keeping.
Good news: I have a job.
Bad news: Act II is waiting.
Good news: My job is important enough to the production that I have to work twenty or thirty extra hours before Tuesday just so we have a chance of meeting this deadline (also I am laughing; this schedule is impossible).
Bad news: I haven’t written since Tuesday.
Good news: I am actually kind of chafing at the lack of goal-annihilating that’s been going on in all my overtime; I have come to enjoy the writing down of things I need/want to do and the doing (read: destroying) of said written things.

Conclusion? Goal-Makers assassinihilates laziness and unproductivity in persons like me. Maybe you should try it.

*these are code names. And it was really necessary that I spend time with them, so I don’t feel bad about it. And neither should you.
**What I Like About You. After the mostly un-funny first season (even though it had Simon Rex and I kind of love him for being all into Felicity even though she was mostly using him), this show gets good. Jennie Garth is hilarious. As is everyone else on it. The only bad thing is that it was only four seasons (one of which, as previously noted, blows).
***this is actually true. I work for a great company with amazing bosses and I can't believe I get to work on the show I get to work on.
The new year is ten days old; so what? It's still new. I mean, when you have a baby, are you like no, please, no more presents; he's already ten days old, this is old hat, boring, move along? He's just a baby. He doesn't even know his name yet. There's still time for kisses and presents and totally kicking the crap out of the goals you've set for the still-embryonic(ish) year.

Wait...goals? Oh look, a segue...

We do not break the goals; we make the goals. We are the Goal-Makers.

Ah, Charles Manson and his crazy, crazy talk. Remember when he said that (only he was more like 'I am the crazy-faced Law-Maker')? Remember, I was in high school and he did that interview and he was crazy? No? Well, I do, for some undefinable reason, and now I'm glad. Now I'm going to co-op his craziness and make a mantra.

See, I am what's known as a Lazy Person. It's in my blood. My mother says I'm just like my uncle (the uncle whose birthday I share, not the one who looks like my brother) and that if he were any more laid-back he'd be horizontal. Now, that particular uncle has a wife who is exceedingly NOT laid-back, and she gets him to do stuff*. Stuff like go to work and get a better job and get stuff done. Stuff he would never do if left to his own devices (his devices lead to fishing, whereas mine lead to reading lots and lots of books. And eating cereal).

But see, I don't have a wife. (nor do I want one; I am a girl and I want a husband) And I don't even have a husband to kick me in the pants and get me moving. All I have is me and if you remember from earlier, kids, I am a Lazy Person. It's no good.

For most of my life Laziness has triumphed to some degree or another, but now I have Goals that are beginning to eat away at the sweet bliss of Laziness and Complacency and leave me Dissatisfied with the status quo. I mean, I have a job that is pretty awesome and an even awesomer place to live and some supersweetawesomesauce friends, so that is all very very good. But what I don't have, what I want real bad, is to write and sell and publish books. Lots and lots of YA books. For people to read and love and read again.

This does not happen by sitting around and wishing for it. I know, because I've tried that for a while now, and hey, look, no book (no, I am not writing a novel in verse, though I am clearly gifted in that area). This happens by Doing, and, as you all know, Doing is very hard for Lazy Persons such as myself.

And that is where the Goal-Makers come in. Maybe six months ago I bullied another Extremely Talented but Slightly Rudderless friend (yes I did just imply that I am Extremely Talented; what of it? I could be Extremely Talented; you don't know) into joining me in my Attack on Laziness, and now we are the Goal-Makers.

Goal-Makers is when you meet once a week and write down, in your little Moleskin (mine has a sticker of Beck on it, *swoon*), things like 'I will make my own deodorant**' and 'I will post some crap already' and 'WRITE FOR AWESOME'. And you tell the other Goal-Makers your goals, and they tell you theirs, and you talk about boys, and then you GO AWAY AND DO THEM. Because if you don't you have to buy me a book.

This is the beauty of the Goal-Makers; it is simple and painful and effective. I do not like doing some of the things on my list, because changing my oil is boring, and letters, for some reason, are really hard for me to write. So I never do--unless I've written it down on my list, and then I have to because no way am I buying Huck's Aunt a book again (you only get one, lady. I hope you chose wisely). One failed list is enough for me (now that the group is larger, having to buy each person a book would cut deeper than our collective blood supply will allow, so sometimes we buy In-N-Out and it is good).

So...goals. Good for the annihilation of Laziness and Complacency in Persons Who Should Be Writing. (for some well-elucidated dissecting of Goals and Why They Are Good, go here)

Oh, and just for the record (which WILL be checked), here are some of last week's goals which I TOTALLY obliterated:

-pay rent
-don't buy anything unnecessary
-deal with Sallie Mae***

Kay then. Carry on. Feel free to join in the Effectiveness, any fellow Lazy Persons. We are here to cheer.

* it should be noted that he gets her to do stuff too, like not explode from the stress of being super tightly wound (ps I love them; they are delightful people and they gave me a vintage sweater one time; it was rad)
** no, for reals. like so
*** bloody hell

Cloudy New Year's Day--My Favorite!

ETA: Apparently I wrote this entry and then didn't post it and then forgot about it. It's like that time I thought I had run out of frozen bananas for my peanut butter-banana milkshake and then found some in the freezer and so I had a shake...I mean, it's almost like that time, only better, and with more words.

Oh look, it's New Year's Day. It's a new year, all shiny and fat with possibilities and hopes and goals...ANYTHING could happen this year. ANYTHING--good stuff, hard stuff, necessary stuff...stuff so awesome I will want to cry like a little girl...

Also, this stuff could happen:

I could write one letter a month. On paper. With words and ink and stamps for mailing.

I could learn how to cook food. Real food; whole food; food that tastes good and makes for the healthiness of being alive.

I could finish this rewrite that is actually going pretty well right now...I could revise and polish and get crits and then...

I could query. It could happen.

I could pay off one of my credit cards. And never use it again.

I could go to Greece...I should go to Greece...I should go to Greece! Done!

I could read a Rob Thomas book out of love for Veronica Mars.

I could learn how to blog. I could make friends and be friends and have friends...I like people*.

I could buy more books!! Hee!

I could meet a Beastie Boy.

See? Gallons of possibilities. The potential for awesome is pretty much endless.

Plus, I love God. Sometimes I just want to say that.

*I mean, I like awesome people. So, basically, you.
I was just reading Jackson Pearce's post on books that make people cry and lots of the comments were about books that have death in them. And it made me wonder why I don't usually (not always--just usually) cry when characters die. I mean, I can't watch the news because real-life hurt kills me, even if I don't know the people involved, but when a character I know & love dies, I just keep reading/watching. When The Man With Three First Names (as we called Robert Sean Leonard in high school) killed himself in Dead Poet's Society, I think I actually laughed. It just seemed so unreal. So maybe there's an element of shock there; maybe I don't fully feel their deaths when they first happen? It took me three viewings before I cried when Buffy died. And then it was really seeing Spike break down that got to me. I'm always way more sad for the people left behind than the one who died. The same when Sirius died–-he was the only person alive that Harry could fully claim as his--his like family--and he was gone. Of course, Harry still had several amazing friends, really good relationships and all that, but all of them had ties outside of their friendship with Harry. Sirius didn't--he and Harry belonged only to each other, and when that disappeared, it just killed me.

I always think of S.E. Hinton when it comes to books that break my heart. I loved Johnny and his death was hard (harder than most, even), but still, the moment that kills me is when Ponyboy breaks that bottle and is prepared to use it without even realizing what that means. It's that change--I guess you could call it a loss of innocence, though that sounds hokey--that makes me cry until the only thing I can be glad about is that I'm not reading That Was Then, This Is Now. *shudder* That book is a killer, and no one even dies in it.

But then, I think that's it. A friendship dies in that story--like, dies dies, for real, not Buffy dies, which isn't always (usually?) permanent. I feel like that kind of death is less natural to me than physical death...people die; we all die, it happens. But friendships don't *have* to die, so when they do, it hurts more. Which is possibly silly, and not how I feel in real life--I mean, I mourn the loss of friendships huge, but, yeah, I'd choose that over someone's physical death as the better option any day.

I just tried to figure out why stories are different in my head and came up with a lame answer that didn't really float, so I'm just going to leave it at that. Stories with tragedies that involve loss other than death are way harder for me to take than when characters die. I mean, if Buffy dying makes me shrug my shoulders and say 'how are they going to get out of this' and 'that was a pretty satisfying ending' but I still can't watch the season 2 finale* without kind of severe emotional distress, then...yeah. I'd much rather my favorite characters die than get their hearts that broken (which is why I'm not in charge).

*I just realized that the finale has a death (at least, an apparent death; see Buffy comment above), but, again, it's not the loss of Angel that hurts like stabbing**, it's that Buffy had to sacrifice freaking everything, AGAIN, to save the world. It's all kinds of tragic and heartbreaking and I really can't take any more, so lay off already!

**that's a line from one of Caroline B. Cooney's books (Camp Girl-Meets-Boy, I think) and I love it. It just sticks in my head and I'm always tempted to use it but that's plagiarism and I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE.

p.s. I love Caroline B. Cooney. I met her once. I was a little bit starstruck.

One Thing on a Tuesday

Sometimes I write notes to myself while I am writing, and they are like this, in caps because I have to yell at myself to get my attention:




Can't you smell the genius?

Stirling Bennett has left the Building

Okay, so it's my birthday and I've decided that my birthday is the new New Year for me--all the things I thought about writing down and doing and accomplishing and ticking off my New Year's Resolution/Goal list but *didn't* do, because I am me and have been for a very long time, I'm just going to transfer to right now and my New Year. Because it's way easier to keep track of what I did when I was a certain age rather than the year it happened to be. (ie, remember when I was twenty-two and had that really traumatic experience at that hair show? I have no idea what that year was, unless I stop to think and count, but I will ALWAYS remember the hats I had to wear to cover up what they did to my hair and crying in the brightly-lit mirror in my mother's bathroom and the 'why'd you cut your hair' questions and it all happened when I was twenty-two)


New Year, new livejournal*, new pen name**. New awesome.


And my birthday present to myself was to finish the rough draft of my WIP, tentatively titled ABOVEWATER (not to be confused with ABOVEWORLD, jennreese's debut from Candlewick in 2012! Woohoo!). It was real hard and real satisfying and although I definitely bit off more than I could chew well, I did it and am now going through and assessing the situation and what it will take to get it into readable order.

Also, just to make it interesting, who remembers Flash Forward? These guys?

pre-Firefly and pre...I guess Ben Foster is still acting, which is awesome since he is awesome, but I truly have not seen him since the days of Flash Forward. Which is weird, because I watch movies...anyway, he's rad. He's actually kind of the model for one of my characters--this guy who is kind of angry and bitter but who is, at one point, enchanted into vacuous stupidity...I feel like Ben here could pull off both of those aspects swimmingly.

*I was stirlingbennett , but now I'm not.

** I love Stirling Bennett as a pen name, but several people have encouraged me to just go with my real name since it's unusual and memorable and whatnot. And I agree; I really like my name (thanks, Momza!), but the thing is, it's also really hard to pronounce. And when it's pronounced incorrectly, it hurts my soul and I'm always too embarrassed to correct people, which is lame and I am getting over that soon, but...seriously, most people will never remember how to say my name correctly. But answering to Stirling feels weird--like I'm wearing a mask. An ill-fitting mask made of LIES.

So here is a handy little guide to saying my name. I really hope it works.
Amaris: like America; rhymes with Paris.

Does that help? *hopes*