John Milton, Betty Neels, William of Orange

This past Tuesday, my new never-met-you-but-you-might-be-my-soulmate Twitter friend, Patricia C, linked to a tweet by Hannah VanderHart, which linked to a site called Academic Earth. This site offers crazy fantastic brain candy. Didn’t get into Yale? Always wanted to go to MIT? Now’s your chance! For free! The American Novel Since 1945 by Amy Hungerford! Literary Theory with Paul Fry! All yours for the click of a mouse. Apparently you can also take courses for credit, but I haven’t gotten that far. And whom do I need to impress with credentials at this point anyway? Plus, at my rate of intellectual digestion it would take me three years just to get through John Rogers’ Milton course.

After the holiday weekend I had every intention of hitting the ground running (I am on deadline to finish editing my second book and to get it to my agent, so she has enough time to give it a thorough read before it goes to my editor by the appointed due date of April 1). Anyway, after I linked to the Academic Earth site, I knew my morning was shot to hell. (Haha, bad pun alert). Anyway, John Rogers, Professor of English at Yale, was speaking about Books V and VI of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The lecture was 52 minutes. It took me three hours of starting and stopping and transcribing favorite lines, and just trying to listen, to get through it.

I have allowed myself (even pushed myself) to be so happily absorbed in worlds of rapid-fire correspondence (tweeting, texting, emailing) or on-the-go multi-tasking (driving, talking on the phone, and negotiating with a five year old boy to put his seat belt on), that I had almost despaired of my ability to comprehend more profoundly. Even writing books—which is necessarily thoughtful, meditative, even occasionally profound—is really more of me and my thoughts spewing from myself. To shut all that off and listen, really listen, was…debilitating.

It feels so rusty up in there. There’s no 140-character quip about Eve’s “yielding” when Adam’s “gentle hand seized her.” Rogers expounded on that for a minute. Her yielding, while seized, was still her choice…to yield. Of course, since I write primarily about relationships between men and women, which sometimes happen to take place in the bedroom, these ideas of yielding and seizing are easily translated into a language of contemporary male-female politics. That was the first of the fifty two minutes, I think. See what I mean? I finally got through it (I plan to listen again and again), and almost immediately saw different ways to use some of these Big Ideas in my books.

The book that I am in the midst of writing is about a very strong-willed woman with what might be construed as a bit of a self-destructive streak. I have written other blog posts (and entire books) about women’s desires to escape the shackles of conformity, even though that conformity might appear quite delightful and serene to the casual observer. Edenic, even. (That should be said in the Snagglepuss voice, “Heavens to Murgatroyd…even!”) So much more of Milton’s Eve will be woven into my willful, Colombian horse breeder heroine.

And Satan’s motivation for leaving heaven? Same idea. You’ve got it pretty good, dude. Why the big dust-up? Prof. Rogers talks about the moment Satan (and the rest of the archangels) are informed that God now has only one true son and that everyone should, “Under his great vicegerent reign abide…forever happy.” I could so relate to Satan’s who-are-you-to-tell-me-to-be-happy response. The Other Man in the Colombian horsewoman book is just that kind of man. He has everything that should make him happy, but he just isn’t satisfied. So he’s busy and dynamic and exciting to be around and totally wrong for her. So. That’s what I’ll be writing in March.

While all of that esoterica was shuffling about in my head, I was also very slowly, very happily reading Betty Neels’ Caroline’s Waterloo. Neels wrote over one hundred Harlequin romances over the years and she has a bit of a cult following. Her stories are nigh on interchangeable (strong-Dutch-doctor hero meets mousy-ethical-hardworking heroine), but how they get together, why, and after what trials, make each story strangely addictive. I’ve only read four, but I have four more on my desk. My husband is of Dutch ancestry (one of Neels’ heroes even shares his last name), so I am familiar with the type. And, without sounding horribly prejudiced or narrow-minded, some of those stereotypes are actually true. Men with fixed opinions. Big and brawny. An abiding respect for order.

To rationalize away my new addiction to Betty Neels I decided it was research. William of Orange was a similarly prototypical Dutch hero. Commanding. Quiet. Contemplative. A leader. I know he was flawed, and remains despised by many, but he was heroic in lots of ways. I decided last year to write my first historical novel about him. This is going to be massive and difficult so I need to do lots of forward recon. Betty Neels is a start. She is really good at writing incommunicative characters who communicate plenty in other, non-verbal ways.

For my Williamite historical, I’ve already loosely plotted out the love interest (she is French and secretly connected to the court of Louis XIV, sworn enemy of William…but of course William is not free to do anything until after the death of Mary…and even then…well, questions about his sexuality linger). Anyway, I have started reading The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century (which, of course, aforementioned Dutch-extraction husband already owns) in fits and starts, looking for clues into William’s personality. There are religious, political, dynastic, and international factors that will come into play. I feel pretty much overwhelmed at this point. But as long as I feel like little bits of particulate ideas and story-matter are floating around and I can look at them and think how they might relate to William, I feel like the story is gradually solidifying in my mind.

So after a few weeks of feeling disjointed and all-over-the-map, all of a sudden everything seems to relate. I just needed to remind myself that there is connective tissue all around us all the time. I just had to allow myself to dismiss the supposed incongruity and begin to put it all together as I see it. And if one or two other people happen to think about things like Snagglepuss and Milton in the same synapse, then I might even have a reader or two. Or one.

Ceci n’est pas une blog.

This is not a blog. I am trying to stay on task. To write a blog a week. Sometimes I forget why I made a decision to do such a thing, but I decided, so here I am. So this is really nothing. It makes me think of this:


I thought of writing a blog called “Let It Bleed” because I am preoccupied with blood lately, in all of its metaphors, but mostly in the way my life seems to “bleed out.” 

I try hard not to perpetuate the negative stereotype of the writer or (gag) “creative type” who is unable to structure her life. I had hoped I would be the type of “creative type” who could drop the kids off at school, run to the coffee shop or library, skip through the butterfly-thick pasture of my giddy imagination for six hours (preferably resulting in three thousand new words each day) and then pull up to my son’s school at 2:20 pm (precisely) and be The Mom. Bey Blade battle, anyone? Tae Kwon Do transportation module? 

I usually make it until about half past six. 

And then I want to get back to the pasture. Then I get a little peevish that people expect food and other incidentals. I have people in my head: passionate, demanding people. Characters. I tell them to wait. I try to tend to real life. And then everyone goes to bed and I usually read someone else’s words. Words. Words. WORDS. I love them. But I need to contain myself. My love. I don’t want to tamp it down, I just want to manage it. I know this is possible. 

I’ve been through the blush of first love before and (even though I may have wanted to) I never charged into Starbucks yelling about how in love I was. So why do I sometimes feel that way about writing? I spoke to an old friend this morning about finding one’s passion. It’s kind of terrifying for everyone involved. My family is occasionally worried by the intensity of my enthusiasm. As am I. 

I have started asking other writers how they manage it. Vivian Arend is terrifically enlightened about all of this and kindly shared some of her wisdom. Productivity is great, but scheduling is imperative. I cannot be writing book six, doing final copy edits on book one, first round edits on book two, fact-checking book three, blogging, futzing with books four and five, and thinking eagerly about the Really Big One (book seven!). Bird by bird. One thing at a time. I know these things. (But the ideas!!! The words!!!)

I actually stood in the shower this morning and missed book six. I started it in December, but had to set it aside to focus on the care-and-feeding of Book One (my first REAL book! Jesus, Megan, FOCUS!) Anyway, it’s all part of the learning curve. Before I had an agent and a book deal I just wrote like Gene Gene The Dancing Machine danced on The Gong Show (with abandon):


I still will write like that…but at a specific time. Scheduling has its upside. Now that I have promised myself that I will write my heart out for the month of March I am in a state of delightful anticipation. I can get all this editing and blog-amassing and really important worker-bee stuff (synopses! author video!) out of the way and then…MARCH! In March, I will write like a…a…a writer.

Will Self And Me

So, I came upon this interview with Will Self in Epigram (Bristol University’s Independent Student Newspaper) via a Twitter mention a couple of days ago. I have been marveling. Endlessly. I am terrified of Will Self. He is so fierce, it made me feel weak just to type his name in that sentence. And his picture is staring at me now. His eyes are so direct. His whole presentation is so bold. Fearless. Unapologetic. Not to mention his vocabulary.

I thought I would do a running commentary of what went through my mind while I read this article. Of course, it is mortifying on one level: my ignorance is vast and now right here for your amusement. On another level, it is liberating and a relief. There is always more to learn, more to know. It is only when I think I’ve heard it all or have that creeping feeling that words are empty wrappers and none of us will ever connect or understand one another in the slightest that I am truly depressed.

As I am wont to do, I have put my comments directly into the text and highlighted them. I am MM. The Interviewer is FP. And Will Self is WS. Enjoy!


Title: Will Self
MM: even his name is aggressive…Will! Self! Self Will! Monosyllabic. Final.

Title: interview:
MM: Wow! This student from Bristol got to meet Will Self*

Title: ‘The Olympics Suck’
MM: I don’t know if I think the Olympics suck or not, but I bet Will Self will make it sound fantastically obvious.

Author: Faye Planer (FP)
MM: Lucky student from Bristol who got to meet Will Self *

January 30th, 2012
MM: Why did I not see this until like six days after! (As if the student newspaper of Bristol would be at the top of my to-do pile).

MM: Holy fuck. Just look at him. Even his dog is looking at me like he knows I don’t really know what ontogeny means. Is that shirt meant to look like that or it it the result of a bleach accident? That’s what my black t-shirt looked like when I splattered bleach on it. Why did I throw that out? It looks pretty cool. Hmmm, Will Self has a big hand. And I like the way he is holding that dog…I wonder if it’s a pure-bred Jack Russell…it’s kind of cute…I wonder if Will Self is cute with his dog…British people tend to be cute with their animals…should Abigail (the heroine of my third novel) have a dog? It might soften her a little bit…she’s coming across as a bit of a hard-ass.

Faye Planer probes
MM: Odd choice of words…sounds like an alien medical inspection

…the nation’s angriest wit
MM: Now that Christopher Hitchens is dead and probably Hitchens would seem milquetoast by comparison anyway and maybe Hitchens wasn’t even British anymore…did Hitchens ever become an American citizen, I wonder.

…on his views of the upcoming Olympics, and on what on earth ‘psychogeography’ is all about.
MM: Oh, a new word! Psychogeography. Probably something to do with how fucked up people are by where they live or something. Thinks briefly of Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.

FP: I hear that you are unenthusiastic about the prospect of the Olympics this summer. In your eyes, what is the greatest folly of this whole affair?

WS: Rather unenthusiastic is putting it waaaaay mildly…

MM: Are Faye and Will sitting in a cafe in Bristol when he says “waaaaaay” like that? It sounds sort of Valley Girl-ish.

WS: I think the Olympics suck dogshit through a straw.

MM: YAY! There’s the Will I love. Dogshit through a straw. Must remember to use that (to myself only, of course) when thinking of that book I forced myself to read while I was on the cruise with my mom over Christmas…because that book sucked dogshit through a straw. I hate myself a little for not being able to say what I think on my own blog about a book I read that I thought sucked dogshit through a straw…(re-reads last week’s post about not being properly prepared to ignore what other people think of me)…some people loved that dogshit book and who am I to rain on their diarrhea-swilling parade?

WS: People believe they encourage da yoof…

MM: Momentary fond memory of the first time I saw Ali G in the late 90’s when he interviewed Professor Sue Lees, and I clung to my husband’s arm and laughed so hard I cried as Ali asked Prof. Lees if she thought all girls should try feminism at least once (Video here:

WS: to take up running, jumping and fainting in coils…

MM: Makes note to look fainting in coils

WS: – but this is nonsense. They’re a boondoggle…

MM: Why do I always misuse boondoggle? It sounds like it should be a fun junket…a boon, with a dog along for company. Like a trip you win to go to Hawaii for a week. Avoid future use of word boondoggle.

WS: …for politicians and financiers, a further corruption of an already corrupt self-appointed international coterie of Olympian cunts…

MM: DAMN IT!!! Why does Will Self get to say cunts out loud and I don’t? I love to call people cunts.

WS: …an excuse for ‘elite’ athletes to fuck each other, …

MM: I wonder if he means that literally…do Olympic athletes shag like minks?

WS: snarf steroids…

MM: Is snarf still slang or is it in the OED now?

WS: and pick up sponsorship deals, and a senseless hitching of infrastructural investment…

MM: I like this use of the word hitching.

WS: if there’s any reality to this anyway – to a useless loss-trailing expenditure on starchitectural bollix…

MM: Have to look up starchitectural…and I thought bollix was bollocks.

WS: The stadia themselves are a folly.

MM: I don’t think he means this like the Temple of Apollo at Stourhead.

WS: The new Westfield is a temple to moribund consumerism – in ten years time they’ll all be cracked and spalled;

MM: Have to look up spalled.

WS: a Hitlerian mass of post-pomo nonsense.

MM: Must try to use post-pomo in a sentence…why wouldn’t that just be po-po-mo?

FP: If the Olympics did not exist, would it be necessary to invent them?

MM: I think Faye is trying to be cheeky here…I don’t think she is in a coffee shop with Will Self. I think she is on the phone in Bristol. And Will Self is somewhere dank and abandoned in a fug of smoke and ideas.

WS: They didn’t exist for thousands of years. The modern Olympics is a fatuous exercise…

MM: Try to use ‘fatuous’ today.

WS: in internationalism through limbering up and then running down to entropy…

MM: Great use of the athletic metaphor (or would that be synecdoche?) only to arrive at chaos.

WS: The modern Olympics have always been a political football – nothing more and nothing less – endlessly traduced…

MM: Have never used the word traduced. At least I know what it means.

WS: and manipulated by the regimes…

MM: Are all governments regimes? Probably yes.

WS: that ‘host’ them.

MM: How did he indicate that the word host was to be put into quotation marks? Was that to suggest that they are like a host-body with a contagion? Or just the idea of a regime hosting a cocktail party? Whichever is more damning, I suspect.

WS: This one is no different, presenting a fine opportunity for the British security state apparatus and its private security firm hangers-on…

MM: Love that.

WS: to deploy…

MM: I love martial language.

WS: the mass-suppression and urban paranoiac technologies…

MM: Love.

WS: in the service of export earning.

MM: Repeats to self softly: Export. Earning.

WS: Some peace,  some freedom.

MM: A little bit of Rita’s all I need.

FP: Assuming we will always have the Olympics, could you suggest a better way of doing them?

WS: Why assume that?

MM: Yeah, Faye, why? I imagine myself scraping my metal chair legs across the unfinished concrete floor and moving closer to Will Self in the dim basement where he and I are taking Faye’s call.

WS: If you want to run and jump, go do it in a field for free.

MM: Fuck yeah.

WS: If you want to run and jump with a Kenyan or a Croatian, go out and find one – there are plenty around my way – and go and run and jump together in a field.

MM: I don’ think there are many Kenyans or Croatians around my way…why do I live in Florida?

WS: Costs nothing.

MM: True enough.

WS: You may even make a few bob by charging people to watch you.

MM: Wait. But isn’t that what the Olympic hosts are trying to do? But since it’s the individual and not the security state apparatus, we’re good with it. Got it.

FP: You walked around the Olympic site a few years ago. What were your observations? Have you been back since?

WS: I didn’t see much of it – there wasn’t much of it to see. I joined Sinclair…

MM: Hope they tell me who Sinclair is later in the article.

WS: for part of his circumambulation…

MM: Does Will Self really say circumambulation in a random sentence? Does he also say postprandial and diaphoresis?

WS: of Hackney for his book.

MM: Okay. So Sinclair must be writing a book about the Olympics. Or Hackney.

WS: I can’t remember a lot about the walk at all, except that Iain…

MM: And Sinclair’s first name is Iain.

WS: held forth a lot – but that’s OK, he’s good at holding forth.

MM: I also like people who are good at holding forth.

WS: He and I agree on most things Olympic and consensus is a big barrier to keen observation…

MM: Oh my, if that isn’t the truth. So much easier to just all share the same opinion than it is to really look at something afresh.

WS: – ask Lordy-Lordy Coe and Tessa Jowls.

MM: For some reason those names made me think of Gertrude Jekyll. They must be poncy Olympic organizers. I might name a future fictional butler Jowls.

WS: I haven’t been back – it’s not my manor, thank God.

MM: ‘It’s not my manor’? Is that like ‘I don’t have a dog in this fight’ or more ‘not in my back yard’?

FP: Could you explain the principles of pyschogeography and do you think it’s something that can only be applied to urban spaces?

WS: Ooh, big question.

MM: Is Will Self making fun of Faye?

WS: I take my lead on matters psycho-geo…

MM: Is this hipstellectual talk? “Yo, Psycho-geo! Po-po-po-mo psycho-geo, yo!”

WS: from the Situationist fons et origo.

MM: Definitely going to need to get the dictionary out on this one. No clue about the Situationist, but I like the sound of it. Can sort of deduce that fons et origo are something to do with font and origin…beginnings…and not with Happy Days and/or Iris. Am so relieved my 12-year-old has taken a shine to latin. She will have such a better grasp of language than I ever will. I wonder where she will go to high school?

WS: It’s part of the tearing down of the Society of the Spectacle…

MM: Ooooh, I like the sound of the tearing down of the Society of the Spectacle. The Super Bowl confused me.

WS: mandated by late capitalism; unstructured dérives…

MM: Back to the dictionary.

WS: or drifts across the urban landscape cut across the predetermined routes of commercial necessity which were best defined by a graffito I once saw on a supermarket wall outside Yate in Somerset: ‘Work, Consume, Die’.

MM: Now, that is something I can totally get my mind around. (Tries not to think to hard about how true that is. Momentarily hates all humanity.)

WS: What I think of as ‘the man-machine matrix’ wants you trammelled on EasyJet…
MM: Oh my god! Remember that time we took EasyJet to Nice and what a fucking nightmare it was? I had totally forgotten about that.

WS: watching a six-inch screen implanted in the back of another human’s head,…

MM: Borg. Borg. Borg.

WS: wants you stuck in a car coughing out lead particulates, wants you staring at a VDU,…

MM: Dictionary. Probably British for monitor.

WS: doesn’t want you on foot, transgressing.

MM: Oh, how I want to be on foot, transgressing. Get me back to New York or London. I want to wander in strange patterns along streets where I have neither purpose nor destination. Thinks momentarily of Ford Madox Ford.

FP: I went to a talk you gave about J.G. Ballard. What do you think he would have to say about the Olympic transformation of the east end of London?

MM: Have never read J.G. Ballard. I did see Crash and Empire of the Sun. (Makes note to read J.G. Ballard).

WS: He’d probably have loved it! He loved modernity, he loved big things – he was ambivalent of course, but it gave him a sort of visceral thrill that he connected to his wonderstruck childhood in Shanghai…

MM: Thinks of Shibumi.

WS: which at that time – the 1930s – was one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world.

MM: Was Will Self personally acquainted with J.G. Ballard? Hmmm. I want to be given visceral thrills, too.
FP: ‘Really, one may say that the whole Olympic process was a pasteurisation of the city… the microbes disappeared and from a hygienic point of view maybe that was positive, but really what happened is that the variety was destroyed in the process…’

MM: I was in Barcelona in 1999 and I thought it was varied.

FP: Manuel Vázquez Montalbán said this about the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Do you believe that London is being pasteurised too?

WS: No, I’m quite confident that London is too big and too anarchic to be seriously pasteurised by the games.

MM: Whew. I always want London to feel on the edge of falling away.

WS: It’s so big, so filthy, so nasty that it could probably eat twenty Olympiads for breakfast and spit out the Ferroconcrete bones.

MM: Dictionary. Ferroconcrete. Probably Brit for rebar.

FP: Iain Sinclair believes that cities aspire to be like an airport departure lounge. How do you envisage cities of the future?

MM: I think I will be reading some of this Sinclair person. It’s not just cities. I think most of America is an airport departure lounge already.

WS: Declining in the West, certainly. With no industry and an ageing population – except for Gastarbeiter –

MM: Dictionary. Visiting workers. Interesting. Reminds me of husband’s Swiss boss who always put the emphasis on awkward syllables. He pronounced foreigners like fuh-RAY-nerz.

WS: the cities will decline into monumental care homes rather than departure lounges.

MM: Oh. Please, no.

WS: No one will want to go anywhere because their private health insurance provider – which is what the Government will become –

MM: No. No. No.

WS: will make them stay here. The colours will be muted pastel, the building will be soft and foamy, the food will be puréed.

MM: Florida. Florida. Florida.

FP: You are the ringmaster: what sport would you make Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP enter in the Olympics?

MM: I think I have heard of this Hunt fellow. Sounds like Fay and Will Self are about to have a bit of fun at his expense.

WS: Something equestrian – he could be the show pony.

MM: Um. Dirty mind thinks of pony play.

FP: What would be your sport of choice?

WS: Riding him – hard.

MM: Hey! I ended my last blog with the word hard. Still thinking about pony play, with Will Self using a little crop on the Right Honorable Rump of Jeremy Hunt MP. I wonder if they were at Oxford together. Maybe Will and Jeremy have a secret past. Wanders off.

The original interview (sans MM) is here:

Does it matter what people think of me?

The cursor flashes accusingly. Each blip…well, does it? Does it? Does it? Does it? This is a tough one. There are all those inspirational quotes about “what-other-people-think-of-me-is-none-of-my-business” and all that sort of thing. Expressions like that make me think of phrases like, “That’s all well and good for *you* people.”

I am usually calmed by the reassurance that no one is really thinking about anyone but themselves very often or for very long. Or at least, they only think about other people insofar as they relate to themselves. In my personal life, I have gotten pretty good at not caring. I care about the people who matter. My family. My friends. My work colleagues.

I care what my family thinks of me (which is not a lot at the moment, by the way, since the hub decided to “surprise” me by coming home in the middle of the day and I told him I would prefer if he went in another room since I am in the middle of a writing sprint). But it matters to me: that my children think I am loving; that my friends think I am loyal; that my work colleagues—InkWell and Sourcebooks—think I am efficient, productive, and dependable. Moreover, I don’t just want them to think that for the sake of thinking it. I want them to think it because it is true.

I want to be a loving mother and wife and I am not always. I am angry and demanding and I yell. I threaten. But I am loving! I really am! When I am on the edge of my own insecurity, what other people think comes in really handy. Especially if they like me. If I am feeling like a shitty mother, I can talk to other mothers I admire and they can tell me how they feel like shitty mothers sometimes, too. And I can tell them, “You are such a good mother!” and they can tell me, “You are such a good mother!” That is the good kind of caring what other people think. I believe them. I respect their opinions AND they make me feel better about myself. Win-win.

I want to be a loyal friend. But sometimes my friends piss me off. They say thoughtless things or they betray confidences. They hurt me. And then I remember that I have said thoughtless things (well, it was an ugly pair of shoes, I’m sorry) and betray confidences (I only told that one person). And I have hurt them. Enter the ninja of long-term friendship: The Apology. I was so ridiculously inept at The Apology growing up that there is a long-standing family joke that I wasn’t even able to say the word “wrong.” So everyone in my family, to this day, says, “I was rrrrrrr.” Because who really wants to stand up and say, “I was wrong!”? It’s miserable (or so I thought). In fact, it is just the opposite of miserable. It is liberating. Because when I can say, “I was wrong,” all the heat and sadness and betrayal flies out of the room and there I am with my friend again. (Tune in next time for those dreadful times when neither of you thinks you are wrong.)

Finally, the work colleagues. Okay. This is major. We’re talking money here. These are people who will pay me. Hard. Earned. Cash. I don’t think of it as kissing ass to do what they suggest; I think of it as good business. They don’t really want to hear about when I am feeling like a shitty mom, or a hurt friend, they want results. And that is as it should be. If they say the synopsis is too short, then it is. If they say this cover art will sell the most books, then I believe them. Otherwise, why did I sign the contract for them to publish my books? If I am not going to listen to the opinions of people who stand to make the money right along with me, then to whom will I listen?

So far, those are the three major Venn diagram circles that are overlapping around little triangular me: Family. Friends. Work.

But you know where this is going, don’t you? My little world is about to have a very large, very opinionated fourth circle. The World. Readers. Strangers!

When my first book comes out in September, one hundred thousand of my words are going to be judged, enjoyed, despised (I honestly don’t think there is much in it that qualifies as despicable, but I may be rrrrr). <- See! I am already defensive! It is pathetic! It is terrifying. I don’t want it to matter. I wrote the book. My part is over. I truly believe that. If a reader loves it or hates it, that doesn't actually change the book. (Unless that reader is, say, Oprah, and then I might consider a rewrite).

The point is (there are several, but I always feel compelled to boil it down to one in these blogs) I need to decide whether that fourth circle is going to be part of my Venn diagram at all. Some writers never read reviews. (Or that's what they say). Writers have all sorts of opinions about how to manage opinions. What do you think? Do I just pick a time of the week, say Wednesday at four, and like Holly Hunter's character in Broadcast News, (am dating myself again), start the ten-minute timer and simply bawl my eyes out, cry uncontrollably for how many people hate my book, and then *ding* my ten minutes are up? Wipe eyes. Move on.

I don't know. I tend to fare much better at complete abstinence than I do at moderation. Two in the morning on a Monday might strike me as a really good time to re-read that Goodreads post about why it was the worst book ever written. Just so I know how that person really feels. For the book in question, as I said, it's done and dusted. Nothing I can do about it now. But what about future books? What if that reader is right? What if I need a more compelling plot? What if I need better dialogue? What if there really *is* too much sex? (Don't be ridiculous.) And then the real danger presents itself. Authorial Insecurity. (I just made that up and then capitalized it as if it were really A Thing, but you get the picture.) What if I lose my mojo? What if all those people's opinions start swirling around in my head and I am no longer sure? That's why I want to put my head in the sand, because if enough people like my books the way they are, I don't want to risk losing my fire.

Because this whole making-shit-up and writing-it-down is not for the faint of heart. You have to believe. Hard.