Posted on April 19th, 2010 by annakjarzab
I had a pretty productive weekend, I must admit. Slowly but surely I’m building Untitled Book 2 back up to its original length; I’ve got over 270 pages now (remember how I cut 150 pages from the manuscript and started the second half completely fresh? Well you do now!), and I’m thinking the manuscript will clock in somewhere around 315-320 pages. That would make it just around the same length as AUT (which is 352 pages printed, but I think the final manuscript for that sucker was somewhere around 310 pages), maybe a little longer. I find that surprising. I thought it’d come in around 300 pages, but now, thirty pages from the end, I’m nowhere near ready to really tie up the mystery–I need some more space for that. I always thought of Untitled Book 2 as less complex than AUT, not to mention funnier, lighter, more romantic, but I don’t think it’s going to be. When I cut those last 150 pages and made a real shift in the story, it darkened the book up a lot. The book got angrier and more slippery. I’ve been having a bit of a rough time nailing down the emotional trajectory of the second half, and for a long time I was angry at myself for that–I always had a very clear idea of the emotional trajectory of AUT, what was I doing wrong this time?–but I’m starting to see that such slipperiness is innate in the character who’s telling the story. He’s not really sure what’s going on, what he wants or needs or feels at any given moment, and his memory is unreliable, which upsets him. I’m still struggling to get a firmer grasp on him, but I understand that he as a character is tough to get to know because he doesn’t know who he is at any given moment, necessarily.
I also got out of my house and away from my computer this weekend, surprisingly. On Saturday night, I went out for my friend Eric’s birthday, which was the best time I’ve had in a while because I got to see a lot of old friends I don’t hang out with as often any more. See, Eric (he who designed this website) and I used to work at the same company, and then I left to work for another company last August. Which is all well and good, but I’d worked at the old company for almost two years and because it was so small and we all sat in one big bull pen, we talked all the time and got really, really close as a group the way you can’t if you’re all sequestered in offices (not that I don’t love having my own office, because I do, I’m just saying). So while Eric is one of my best friends, everyone else we worked with are people I love and enjoy spending time with and miss. And lots of them came to the party! I literally knew everyone there, which is fun.
On Sunday I took a walk down Riverside Drive in an attempt to get some exercise and see some new things. And boy did I. Here are some pictures I snapped with my iPhone while I was walking:
Riverside is full of interesting architecture and lovely sculptures and monuments and things. It’s given me plenty of inspiration for a book I hope to be writing three years from now. These are indeed phone pictures, but I made them look way cooler with this photo app I downloaded, Camera Bag. It is paid, but it’s worth it–and this coming from someone who basically never pays for apps ever. The Photoshop app is free (I think) and allows you to make photo effects also, but the PS app has a lot of options, and I do better with less options. Camera Bag is just simpler, and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to take some pictures in New Orleans and jazz them up with Camera Bag, also. Did I tell you I’m going to New Orleans in two weeks? I’m so excited!
- Filed under: random, writing
- Tagged: Anna's boring life, Book 2, iPhone, MB, New York City, pictures, writing
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Posted on November 1st, 2009 by annakjarzab
You remember how I was telling you all that I’m writing a book about two estrange sisters, that I’m calling CH, not because that has anything to do with the title, which is constantly changing although I think I might’ve settled on something, but because those are the initials of the sisters? Well, that’s going pretty well, actually. I’m 190 pages into the zero draft–you know, the version of the book that’s so crappy you can’t show it to anyone because you’ll die of embarrassment if anyone finds out just how bad a writer you actually are?
Sunshine and roses today on the Jarzab blog, you guys!
Anyway, it’s going really well. I know! You thought I was going to complain. Writing this book has been an interesting experience for me–continues to be, really, since I’m not done with it, or even close. It’s been interesting because it’s been difficult to immerse myself to the level that I’ve found myself immersed in other books in the past–even GR, which I’ve been writing on and off this year as well, is much more alive in my head than CH has been. The characters in CH–C and H, mostly–have been hard to get to know.
I’m writing this book without an outline. That’s a little different for me. I’m writing GR with an outline, because it needs one, but I can only get so far on the outline without doing some serious research/puzzle creating, and I don’t have time right now, which is why all my writing energy is devoted to CH. But writing CH without an outline was purposeful, because I knew that I wasn’t going to really acquaint myself with my characters any other way. I had to let them lead the way because I didn’t know them well enough to guide them. I’m still trying to get to know especially H, because she’s difficult to penetrate, but I think more will come in the first draft.
Which leads to the point of this post–I’m over halfway done with CH! Which is cause for celebration. I always assume my books are going to be around 300 pages, because that’s been the truth so far with AUT and MB. They’re usually a little bit shorter than 300 and then expand in the revisions process, because I tend to focus on advancing action and character through dialogue, and then Joanna and my editor are like, “How about some introspection here? And here? And here?” So stuff gets added, which is funny because I feel like most writers have to cut in revisions, and I always have to beef things up a bit.
Of course, this is where all the hard work comes in. I’ve been setting my characters up for a major emotional rollercoaster, and now I’m about to plunge them straight down into it. There’s a lot going on in this section, so it’s important to keep it taught and well-paced. I very much adhere to the Kurt Vonnegut quote: “Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.” Although, while true about sentences, it’s absolutely true about scenes. I try to never have a scene in my books that doesn’t do one of those two things, because I just think readers have more important things to do than listen to a character wax poetical for five pages.
(That’s not to say I always succeed; there’s two pages in MB that will almost certainly get cut in the revisions process with my editor, because my narrator makes this long, drawn-out, fairly specious comparison between falling in love and living in New York that makes sense to, like, only people who live in New York, which is not many of my readers. I love it, and I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep it in because I think it’s an interesting way to talk about how people relate to each other, but, you know, we’ll see.)
This is entirely unrelated to all the stuff I’ve just written, but I found this cute fake Polaroid picture on my friend Shannel’s blog and I wanted to post it (this is Shannel and I with our friend Carmen at her wedding). Look, it’s the ubiquitous blue dress!
Posted on January 13th, 2009 by Anna Jarzab
Today I turned 25. Whatever, don’t worry about it, apparently people age or something. I don’t like it, but that seems to be the way it is. I’m not a big fan of birthdays, but I thought this would be a good time to show you what I looked like when I wasn’t 25, since I had to come onto the blog to change my About page anyway. I’m going to attempt to do this in yearly increments of five, just to be symmetrical about the whole thing.
Me as a wee babe. Look, I’m as pink as my blanket!
Age 5. I believe this was my first grade picture.
Age 10. Look how blonde and long my hair used to be! Nevertheless, it’s looking a bit weird here.
I cheated, this is a picture of me when I was probably sixteen, but just sixteen. It’s my high school senior photo. Look how my hair is no longer blonde. Fascinating, I KNOW.
Okay, now here’s where it gets sketchy, because most of the photos I have of myself when I’m twenty are not digital because only moms and dads who had jobs could afford digital cameras back then. So…this is what I have to offer you. This is Halloween, my junior year in college. I’m on the left (obvs), with my RED! HAIR! which I loved and hope someday to go back to. My best friend from college, Carmen, is on the right. Our friend Pat, dressed up as a Playboy bunny (??) is in the middle. I’m sure they’re so glad that I’ve posted this picture!
I don’t have a picture of what I look like today, yet, but you’ve seen the ‘Stache Bash photos…I look basically the same as that, without the ‘stache.
Posted on November 21st, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
I’m very, very excited for the upcoming holiday season. I have so many plans! I mean, I also have so much to do, but there is so much fun to look forward to. First things first, the stuff that has already happened.
On Wednesday, I got a bouquet of flowers delivered to my office:
This is them, sitting on my desk at work. They’re from my parents, and they came with a sweet note telling me how proud they are of me and how much they’ve always believed in me. They sent them to me because, drum roll, my contracts are finally ready!
Photo’s blurry, but nobody needs to read them except me, anyway. But they exist! They were sitting right on my kitchen table last night, and I signed them with my special pen. This may seem terribly boring, but it was the result of a couple of months of waiting for me (probably way less than other people experience, and I’m lucky that the process went so quickly for me, and I am grateful, but anyway), so I’m completely thrilled about it. So thrilled I had my roommate take a picture of me signing the contracts:
My hair’s not looking so great in this picture because I’d just finished swimming laps at the gym, but still. Thrilling! AND I’m getting my revision letter from my editor today, AND I’m going to see Twilight tonight…so many things to look forward to. Not to mention the Giving of the Thanks, which I will be spending in sunny San Diego with all of my best friends, whom I dearly love. And then once I get back, BAM!, AUT revisions. Hopefully I’ll finish MB revisions this weekend and then not have to think about it again for a little while.
- Filed under: writing
- Tagged: California, contracts, flowers, pictures, revisions, Thanksgiving, writing
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Posted on November 19th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
*Probably the lamest blog post title ever. My deepest apologies.
It seems that winter has arrived in dear old NYC, because the temperature is in the low thirties (feels like mid-twenties, says the barely helpful weather website I use) and I’ve brought out my ugly black winter coat which, despite being ugly, is pretty warm and has lots of pockets for hiding things like gloves, ear muffs, receipts, movie tickets and even an old cough drop or two.
I can already kind of feel my body and mind going into hibernation. After an active summer in which I lost weight and got a lot done, I’m starting to slow down, eat more carbs, and opt to watch episodes of The West Wing instead of finish revisions of MB or write anything new. My apartment hasn’t reached the sauna-like levels we experienced last February yet (I’m sure that’s coming, though), but it is nice and warm, and the coziness helps with the laziness.
This cannot continue. I’m hoping to shake myself out of this malaise after Thanksgiving and get some serious stuff accomplished by Christmas. As always, inability to work corresponds with inability to move in my bedroom due to laundry and shoes everywhere and not putting things in their place. Organization always helps me get back on track, so because there are no football games to watch this weekend (at least, not any of my teams) and my only current obligation is a viewing of Twilight (!!!11!!1) on Friday night, I can do laundry, go to Trader Joe’s, read, and finish my MB revisions so that I can start my AUT revisions. Lots to do, lots to do!
I thought this might amuse some people. I got a package from my aunt last night full of all sorts of goodies–batteries for my cell phone, which was a very welcome gift because it’s gotten to the point where my phone is near death within hours of being charged (so far the new battery I put in works great), and even better, copies of my cousin Emma’s senior photos, her brother’s school photo from this year, and an extra special bonus picture of me that I’m guessing my aunt stumbled across in her house recently. Here’s the picture:
Now, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture, and I’ve actually given it some thought. My guess is that I’m around three or four here, and I can’t judge by the facial expression whether I’m crying (possible, I was very sensitive as a young child) or just squinting into the sun and talking to whoever was taking the picture. My shirt says “Manhattan” on it (which is probably why my aunt sent it to me in the first place, other than that it’s sort of funny), but it has what at first I thought was a dog but now I’m pretty sure is a cow on it. Why would a shirt that says “Manhattan” on it have a cow on it? There are no cows in Manhattan, I live here, I know. I plan on calling my aunt on Thursday, so I’m sure I’ll get the full story then. I’d love to give this thing the LOLCat treatment, but I can’t think of a funny caption. Any suggestions?
Posted on October 13th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
Okay, admittedly there’s a lot wrong with that blog post title. First of all, the lyrics to “Spanish Rose” say that she’s from Allentown, PA or Pittsburg, PA, depending on whether or not you’re talking about the Broadway production or that version starring Jason Alexander that was on TV when I was in middle school. Second of all, I’m not from Philadelphia or anywhere else in Pennsylvania. But points for the Bye Bye Birdie shout out, yes? No?
Anyway, y’all may not know this about me but even though I live in New York, which besides being the biggest city in the US is also close to a lot of other cool, big cities on the eastern seaboard, I never, ever leave Manhattan, except to go to Target in the Bronx and visit my friend Cambria in Brooklyn. Why leave? I mean, everything I need is right here, right? WRONG. I need to get out of New York more, so on Saturday Cambria and I took the train to Philadelphia, a city neither of us had ever been to. And guess what I did? That’s right! Took a lot of pictures of buildings from Revolutionary War-era America. Oh, and I ate a cheesesteak. Yeeeeah!
Independence Hall. This was especially cool because I’ve seen National Treasure like a frillion times, and they find the glasses used to read the map at Independence Hall.
The B. Free Franklin post office. Unlike every other post office in the US, this one doesn’t have an American flag flying over it because it was established before the United States actually existed. Ben Franklin was the post master of Philadelphia, and as such he had franking privileges, so he used to sign “B. Free Franklin” on his letters and not have to put postage on them.
This arch leads to a courtyard where Ben Franklin’s home and printing shop once stood. That little sign affixed to the brick with the black tree on a cream colored crest is actually a fire insurance symbol. It turns out that Ben Franklin invented fire insurance (that man invented A LOT of stuff), except that fire insurance back then meant that you paid a certain amount of money and if your building ever caught on fire, a local volunteer fire company (also invented by Ben Franklin) would be sure to come put it out. These are all over the historic buildings in Philadelphia, and there are many different kinds because there were several different fire companies.
This is a picture of a house in Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest street in America. Built in 1702, people still live here. It’s short and tiny and full of these super adorable historic houses and I’m sure it’s a pain to live there because tourists are constantly walking up and down it day and night, but wouldn’t it be sort of awesome to live in a house that is older than the country you live in? I think so. That’s Cambria standing in the sun with the black sunglasses and the pensive expression.
This is the First Bank of America. I think. Did you know that Ben Franklin wanted the national bird to be the wild turkey? He felt that the eagle, which was both a predator and a scavenger (i.e. it’ll eat dead things it didn’t kill itself), wasn’t very representative of the country. When our tour guide said that, I turned to Cambria and said, “You know, Val [my dog] hunts wild turkeys in my parents’ neighborhood.” Which is true, because she’s a beagle and her father was a champion hunting dog, but she’s never caught one, or gotten near one. They’re all over my parents’ neighborhood in California, though, and they’re pretty terrifying, so even though it sounds kind of silly to have a wild turkey as a national bird, I can think of other birds that I’d rather meet in a dark alley.
Betcha can’t guess what this is! Oh, you’re right, it’s the Liberty Bell. Did you know that the famous crack, when they found it originally, was actually just a hairline fracture, but they drilled it even more so that the two sides wouldn’t rub together and vibrate irritatingly, and then they screwed two bolts in to keep it together, and that totally didn’t work? So they retired it and now the Centennial Bell hangs in the bell tower of Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell apparently became a symbol of the abolitionist movement before and during the Civil War, because the inscription says “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10) and, duh, because of slavery and the subjugation of women that wasn’t entirely correct. Also, the Civil War was a scar on the liberty of the nation, so that’s what the crack represented. Heavy stuff.
I don’t…remember what this is, except that it’s called the Philadelphia Exchange.
Ben Franklin’s tomb. According to legend, if you toss a penny onto the grave (that’s what all those shiny copper things are), and it lands heads-up, it’s good luck or some such. I try not to indulge my incredibly superstitious mind, but I wanted to do this, except I did not have a single penny, not a single coin in fact, in my wallet. So my luck is just ordinary I guess.
Okay, forget history, on to the good stuff. Cheesesteaks! Philadelphia’s famous for them, and we went to the most famous place to get them, Jim’s Steaks on 4th and South. This place was recommended by my friend Sunil, who is from Philly, and boy was it good. We did wait in line for like an hour, though, which was rough. But worth it. SO WORTH IT.
New Facebook photo? Don’t mind if I do!
- Filed under: random
- Tagged: American history, Bye Bye Birdie, cheesesteaks, musicals, Philadelphia, pictures
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Posted on September 5th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
Someday soon, I hope, my friend Eric is going to design me a website. We haven’t been really working on it because of the summer and our various vacations and my need to really finish my revisions, etc., but hopefully now that it’s fall we can start thinking about things and get the ball rolling. I’ve also been putting it off because ideally I’d like to maybe possibly sell AUT before we design the site, mostly because, you know, some content besides the blog would be nice. But I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to do that, so I think we’ll take our time and work on it when we can until I make a decision about what exactly I would like to go up.
Anyway, Eric told me to start gathering up some ideas about what I want the site to look like. I have kind of an idea but no concrete plan, so I decided the best way would be to gather up images that invoked the aesthetic I wanted and then show them to him and see what he can do with that. The easiest (read: laziest) way I’ve found to do this is to subscribe to the RSS feeds for We Heart It and FFFFOUND and a frillion other Tumblrs and use Google Reader’s star feature to keep track of all the images I like. I’ve been downloading them and putting them into a Picasa album for Eric to look at when he gets home.
I thought I’d put up some samples here. Mostly they conform to one very broad aesthetic, a sort of vintage, shabby-chic (I guess–this is the term Eric used) look with lots of muted, faded tones and soft light filters. My attraction to this aesthetic sort of surprises me, since I’m usually all about bright colors and graphics, but I want the site to be sophisticated and understated and beautiful, not loud and in-your-face. Enjoy!
I know it’s probably been done over and over again, but I really like the vintage Poloroid look a lot of these pictures have. It’s nice and subtle. This isn’t the entire collection of images I’ve amassed for Eric, but it’s a good sampling.
[Also, I should note that none of these photographs were taken by me, and they are the property of whoever produced them. This is just for illustration. If you know anything about We Heart It and FFFFOUND and Tumblr, you’ll know that a lot of these photos just wandered into my Google Reader without sources, so if they belong to you and you’d like me to put up a link please email me.]