Friday, October 10, 2008

Just for fun

Adam and I are writing a book together--one with a very silly plot, made up by me; and dialog and details from both of us: NOT something to publish, just something to write. It's an ongoing thing; and he's very excited by it, so excited that he's writing some of it by himself when I'm not there. As you probably know by now, I find Adam's observations about everything pretty interesting, including his response to my explanation of how royalties work. I didn't need to tell HIM most writers don't make much money:
"A lot of books are really boring."
The other night, he said:
"I think in kids' books, kids should make up what the people say."

His dialog is certainly very different from mine. EXAMPLE: The two main characters are Adam himself and his cousin Morgan (kind of a more sensible, less wild version of me as a kid -- I want Adam to be the star, her to be more the narrator). They're around the same age, their mothers are sisters (Adam's real mother, me grown-up -- only more serious and motherly), and the mothers are always saying how nice it is for the cousins -- who are both only children -- to have each other. Morgan and Adam, though, don't like each other. To them, the one good thing about the relationship is
"It's not every day."

Then, to save money, which their parents are obsessed with, Morgan and her mother have to move in with Adam and his parents. The story starts just after this decision and another decision: turn the back yard into a farm, use their boats for fishing, spend NO MONEY. The family will grow, catch, or pick their own food; make everything they need, etc....they won't buy anything.

The children are appalled -- no soccer uniforms, no candy, no video games?! The father says if they want money, they can earn it themselves. The mothers are so busy canning etc. (which they are not at all good at -- some sisterly fights and domestic catostrophes there, too) that they supervise the children far less than usual.

So Adam and Morgan are free to try out their money-making ideas, most of which (and the funniest ones -- I laughed so hard at one that tears came into my eyes) have been supplied by the real-life Adam. They argue about the ideas, then do some of them --with results that we (the real-life Adam and Libby) find hilarious.

But they still hate each other -- I want them to get to be better friends but Adam says no, "not until the last book" -- he has long been telling me to "write a series -- then you won't have to keep thinking of new topics." In the scenes I write by myself,which are all from Morgan's point of view, her feelings about Adam are shown indirectly in her treatment of Adam and, sometimes, directly -- but only in Morgan's thoughts and comments to her mother.

Adam tends to write lines like this:
"Hi, Adam. I hate you," Morgan said.
"Guess what? I hate you more," said Adam.

Other things change over the course of the book. For example, when they go to the Candy Shack that plays such a large part in their lives with the first money they've earned, Morgan sees her mother's favorite candy and buys it for her. Adam does the same for his mother. In real life, Adam is very generous and actually once bought ME a bag of candy when we went to this store (which is a pretty great place). But in the book, he grows into this kind of generosity, as does Morgan.

I'm not sure whether they will end up liking each other or not, but I do know that by the end, when the father gets offered a new job, no one will want him to take it because everyone is enjoying their new life so much. In real life, typically, Adam said:
"What's the job and how much money would he get?"

This is just for fun, though I can't help trying to make it better and think we may end up having two stories, as we do now: one (written by me and us together) about realistic ways the kids try to earn money -- showing the parents, too, and everyone's characters etc. The chapters the real Adam writes by himself --which tend to be very short, action-packed and highly UNrealistic -- could be stories-within-a-story. Diary of what he wished had happened? Story he's writing?

At RISD I remember hearing about a teacher who made everyone spend the whole class drawing something-- and then at the end of the class, he said:
"Now rip it up."
That always appalled me -- but I DO think there is something to be said for just making something without a money-making or goal-oriented purpose, and that's what this is. It's actually energized my "real" writing and reminded me of how light-hearted writing can be, something it's easy to lose sight of when you're expecting it to support you. But -- as I wrote last week -- getting a part-time job will also relieve that pressure.

PS About last week's post (the spy one): One of the BRGs emailed me saying she'd read it & thought it was a really fun post and why had I taken it down? I deleted it in a fit of thinking it was boring and bad -- which just goes to show that a) it's high time for me to stop taking writing so seriously ad b) I have to let something sit for awhile before I judge it! c) ALmost EVERYONE who writes is subject to these fits, which are really more moods than anything else. I have never in my life met a writer who didn't, at times, think that her writing totally sucked. But, encouraged by the BRGs, I have a new resolution: to write what I want -- including here in this blog -- and not be inhibited by what I imagine other people think, or even those black moods of mine. Easy to say, hard to do: but if *I* don't write what I want and enjoy doing it, why not just go back to a money-making job?


Grace Lin said...

Hey Libby, the book that you are writing with Adam seems really funny-- I love the, "Hi Adam, I hate you." lines. Post some excerpts!

And I am SO glad you are leaving this post, and hopefully the rest of your wonderful posts up.

alvinaling said...

Yes, I'd love to read more excerpts, especially more of Adam's dialogue!

Write what you want! That's what blogs are for! (uh, within reason of course...)

Rita said...


Every facet of this post is wonderful!! I love hearing the story you and Adam are writing; it sounds hilarious and fantastic (and, of course, thinking about whether it has "real" potential would only be natural from there).

I've also been focusing lately on injecting real lightness back into the activity of writing, so I relate on that level, too. Great, great, great. Thank you.