Writers write.

I’ve posted something along those lines before, both on my blog here and on Social media. I do believe that to be the truth; writers are people who write. Writers don’t write all the time of course; we take breaks, we step away from it for a while–sometimes days, weeks, months, years; some writers walk away and never write. But writers do write.

Sometime in the past year or so–I don’t remember when–I saw somewhere, I don’t remember where–someone took umbrage to the notion that writers write and wrote a lengthy diatribe about how some writers don’t write; as I read all the reasons people don’t write I just kind of shook my head. I take time off from writing periodically; sometimes it’s necessary to take some down time to think, to read, to relax so you don’t burn out or get stale.

And no matter what anyone thinks, says, or feels, I will always think it’s true: writers write.

Michael Thomas Ford (aka That Bitch Ford; or TBF for short) writes. He writes a lot. And he’s very good; he can pretty much write anything. He’s written children’s books and young adult; mysteries and romances and vampires and zombies and essays. I first became acquainted with his work when he was writing a syndicated column in the LGBT press (there used to be such a thing, kids) called “My Queer Life.” I met him when he signed a collection of those essays at the Marigny Bookstore, Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me, and they were all quite funny (included in that collection is my favorite essay about writing ever, “The Nonwriting Life,” which is absolutely spot-on), and over the years we’ve stayed in touch, remained friends; he was one of my contributing editors when I was at Lambda Book Report, he’s contributed to my anthologies over the years, we’ve shared editors, friends and enemies and lots of snark.

Endless amounts of snark.

But after several years away from writing, he’s back, and once again, he’s done a fantastic job with his new work, Lily.

Lily is a fairy tale of sorts, in the same way Tim Burton movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride are; like Neil Gaiman’s Emmeline. Lily is a little girl who, on her birthday, develops the ability to know when whomever she touches will die; and the book follows her after her mother sells her to a traveling tent revivial–as she struggles to fulfill a quest given to her by the witch Baba-yaga as well as find her way back to her safe old world.

The illustrations are quite beautiful, and they match the tone and beauty of the story as well. I am often amazed at how TBF can so easily master different voices and tone and styles. It’s a wonderful wonderful story; one adults can enjoy as well as children.

It’s an excellent addition to your library.

Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)

One more day to get through and then it’s vacation. Woo-hoo!

I have literally been riveted by Owen Laukkanen’s The Watcher in the Wall; I hated having to put it down and go to bed last night. I’m about halfway finished; Paul won’t be home until late tonight so I am hoping I’ll be able to finish it tonight. I’m probably going to read Michael Thomas Ford’s Lily tomorrow; the LSU game is on early and after that I am probably going to do a lot of cleaning and organizing and reading. (I’ve decided to take Saturday off from all projects, in order to recharge my batteries.) There’s no Saints game on Sunday, so I am debating whether I should attempt Costco before the LSU game tomorrow, or just go Sunday while everyone’s at church.

Decisions, decisions.

Of course, while I juggle these multiple projects, I’ve been thinking a lot about a couple of short stories I’ve been working on for years, “The Ditch” and “Fireflies”; this was triggered, I think, by reading the Lisa Unger novel. I’ve been also thinking about a y/a novel I’ve wanted to write for years called Ruins; rereading the two Barbara Michaels novels in October started me down that path, and the Unger kicked it into overdrive. The problem with Ruins is that I borrowed some of it for Lake Thirteen; if I am going to write Ruins I’ll have to come up with some new things to say, and replace the scenes I borrowed. The problem with Ruins, of course, is that it’s a Civil War ghost story, and you can’t write that kind of book without addressing the elephant in the room: slavery and racism. I originally wrote it as a short story a long time ago (correction: make that a really bad short story; I think it was one of the stories I wrote in the 1980’s when I was trying to emulate Stephen King. I didn’t address any of those issues in the short story; I blissfully pretended, as so many others have done, that none of that mattered. God, the naivete. I think this is why I have so much trouble with trying to write about Alabama. Is there anything more annoying than a progressive white person trying to address race issues? I loved To Kill a Mockingbird when I read it as a kid; I reread it again recently and, while still thinking it was a moving story that was beautifully written, recognized several problems with it. I have copies of the Colson Whitehead novel that just won the National Book Award and the controversial book Ben Winters published earlier this year; I also found a copy of William Bradford Huie’s The Klansman, about the civil rights struggle in Alabama in the 1960’s, on ebay that I want to reread. (I read it when I was young; I’d like to give it a reread as an adult.)

Maybe after I read Lily. The time has never been more ripe for reading about racism, and studying America’s history of it. I also have Philip Roth’s alternate history The Plot Against America.


Of course, actually writing Ruins is a long way away; I have so much to do before the end of the year…

But it’s lovely feeling creative again. I am making lots of notes. The book is coming along rather well, too. I may even get all these things done when I am supposed to

Scary. Who am I?

And on that note, I should probably head back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hottie for today: