Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Thoughts and Updates

I collect happy thoughts in a file folder.


I stick things in there like the Mothers' Day card my daughter once made with a picture of an oversized version of me in my glasses and ugliest green sweats with a creepy grin on my face, and I'm standing on a mini version of earth like some sort of balancing super-sweat woman; the caption underneath my huge self says, "to Mom, the best person in the WORLD."

Wow. And you guys thought YOU were hot stuff. Think again--I'm better. The best. Arguably, according to this picture, the largest, as well.

Though she's the daughter who liked to balance my ego by shouting when she was mad at me that I was the WORST person in the whole world.

But I digress from happy.

Anything that makes me smile goes into that file in the drawer. And I like to take out my happy thoughts and read them sometimes. So here are just a few of mine this week, and not from the drawer:

*the Wasatch Mountains in the fall

*yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden

*blueberry-grapes every morning from the vines over the front porch

*falling asleep to scenes from my book

*letters from my son in Korea

*reading Over Sea Under Stone every night with my 10-year-old

*three teenage girls in the house as of this week (thanks to my daughter's 13th b-day): well, yeah--it can be a mixed bag, but kind of delightful, too. And ideal for perfecting my YA voice.

What are your happies?

Since I can write myself out of a depression, writing is a happy thought, too. Here's an update on my writing, and on a couple of other things, too.

On my fairytale-fantasy: Not allowed to talk about that here. Yet. Sorry.

On my work in progress (WIP): Revisions going well, mostly what I call up-writing--pages and pages of notes to myself on stuff like world-building and character details that have changed or needed clarification in my mind. I do up-writing until my brain is so full the story just dumps itself out. Kind of like doing imaginary research--when you get enough info packed into your head, it's hard NOT to write.

Started a YA poetry novel, kind of dark and edgy, because it's hard for me to write poetry that isn't a little dark, at least most of the time. For older teens, and it's prosier than the poems I usually write: 11 pages into it. Passed a test-reading by my picky almost-16-year-old. My question: should I bother continuing or should I stick with regular fiction? Her verdict: "Yes. I wanted to read more. Really liked it. And I hope there's a romance. There has to be romance." There will be--duh, it's YA. I always feel vaguely surprised that teens like poetry, until I think about myself as a teen. I loved poetry, the darker the better. Still do. It reaches into the crevices of the soul like no other writing.

On my Boy Story: Fantasy about a 12-year-old desert-dwelling slave boy. That's all I'm giving you now. Hard not to dump WIP and just go for it with this story, which teases me a lot, and so does my son, who feels gyped that all my books have female protagonists. But I think WIP deserves attention after a lot of time in the drawer.

On School Absence Excuse Notes: wrote one this week.

On triathlon training: attempting my first (possibly last) triathlon the beginning of November. My plantar fasciitis is clearing up, but I'm still not running, so I'll be able to for the race. So I'm doing mucho power-walking, and hitting the biking really hard, and plenty of yoga, which boosts my swimming somehow, which I always seem to put off. In other words, I'm going to choke in the swim and the run, and the bike will be only part where I don't die. Wish me luck. The best thing about it is that I'm getting lots of high-oxygen thinking time for my books.

On having a nice day: I can't tell anyone to have a good day without hearing, at least in some back corner of my mind, Harrison Ford as he stands on the deck of a boat in the movie Mosquito Coast and shouts, "Good-bye, America, and have a nice day!" his voice oozing with sarcasm. That does not mean I don't mean it when I say it. The sound just pops into my head, like a cynical brain-wave radio announcer. I can't help it. And I swear I'm not being sarcastic now when I say I wish you a happy day. Really.

I plan on having one :)


  1. What an incredibly inspired thing to say. "I plan on having one." My father loves to say "Make a good day!" Instead of "Have a good day!" Gotta love my dad.

    Congrats on all the excellent WIP's. You're one busy gal!

    I love the "happy" folder idea. I should start one of my own.

  2. An awesome post Elena! All your works sound uber-fascinating! Can't wait to read!

    Oh! And I have a happy drawer too! I print off special emails, save cards and such that tell me nice things about myself. Then when I'm feeling down, I can sift through the pages and remember that I AM loved.

    I've started them for my boys too, and for hubby--one day, they'll need a pick-me-up and I'll be able to hand them their folder and say, "here, have a read, and feel better!"

  3. Love your post Elena. Maybe I need a happy file. I hope you'll share good news on your WIP's as soon as you can.

    Have a great day! I can't compete with your daughter. But I think you're pretty amazing too.

  4. I agree with you about the fall. So beautiful. I rode Squaw Peak today and could not help but scream out loud a few times because I was so happy and it was so exhilarating.
    I can't wait for your first Tri. Karl wants to do it and I am thinking about it. I hate it when they start out with the run though, so we'll see.
    I am looking forward to the picnic tonight and more fall beauty. Until then...

  5. Ali, that's just what I do with my file, too, and it works. Except when it doesn't. Or when I forget I have one. But that's what brownies and depression poetry are for, right?
    L.T. and Kristi, you guys belong in my happy file. I should stick you in, right now. Ali, too. I love my writing friends.

    Sara, that's one of the best things about riding a bike, isn't it? The mountains are amazing, especially right now. You should definitely do the tri, too. That would be fun to hang out at the starting line. Before you and Karl leave me in the dust. And then you could cheer me in, because you'd be all rested up and ready to ride again by the time I finished. My only goal is not to die.

  6. I love your list of happy thoughts.
    Also--its great to read an update about your writing.
    A triatholon--wow.
    Wish I could see the mountains . . .

  7. (Still channeling Oscar the Grouch)
    This just makes me sick. All this Happy nonsense.
    This is the 2nd time this morning I've read about Harrison Ford, earlier he was personally delivering an Oscar (Grrr) to R. Polanski. Sick.
    (Thanks though for your nice message on my blog.) ... A picture cemented my mood as well, I need to put it in my pre-suicide file. If ever contemplating, look in here. So completely unflattering that when I saw it I swore and then wondered when it was taken, was I pregnant?! 2 months ago? Ughhhh. I'm still not over it.
    Thanks for trying though. ;/ <--attempted smile.

  8. What a lovely post! I love happy thoughts, and the Wasatch Mountains in the fall. I have them right out my office window, and I'm watching the earth morph into flaming trees of fall. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hailey,
    Go read my comment on your blog. FYI, my happy file is suicide prevention: if ever contemplating, look in here; hopefully you'll find something worth living for. Again, if only I can remember I have one. I hate happy people when I'm not, so sorry to make you suffer. I can send you some depression poetry if you like. I can go there, too.

    Just discovered that I wasn't following your blog when I thought I was (guess it was just Facebook), so it's great to hear from you. Hope the MA's going well.

    Hi! Thanks for commenting. Glad you found my blog.

  10. Hey there Elena,
    Thanks for the comments! -- and trying to cheer me up. I think it is a phase. The parent/teacher meeting phase? Ugh. And then there is that Picture...

  11. Elena,
    You're on my blog reader, google reader, so I usually just read over there, without popping onto your actual blog page.
    I should figure out this technical "following" blog stuff; my blog reader works quite well.
    (Notice--I used a semi-colon.)



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