Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No April Fools— 90 Day Challenge Begins Today!


I’ve done it. After a massive assist from my illustrator, Sungyoon Choi, the manuscript of Still Life Las Vegas has been delivered to my editor Sara at St. Martin's Press. Nothing so hefty as a giant stack of papers boxed up and shipped, just a digital PDF Dropboxed over the internet, but it's a weighty milestone nonetheless. Godspeed and a safe voyage, oh little book!

Now, what do I do with the year before it actually makes it to print? I can think of nothing better than to begin something new, and I'm getting my ass in gear with the help of a book called “The 90-Day Novel. 
(Incidentally-- what's up with all of these 90-day improvement programs? Novel in 90 Days, P-90X,  90-Day rehab— it seems one can do ANYTHING in 90 days. Has "90 days" become the new "40 days and 40 nights" for our non-biblical times?) 

I’ve finished the prep from the book, which included writing about my fears (chief amongst them being the urge to throw the book across the room) and what I believe most strongly in (pot pies). I’m ready for my start date of today, April 1st. 

I’ve decided to document this process (misery loves company) and I’m joined in my 90-day odyssey by Holly Myer, writer of the blog “Unemployed on Purpose,” who also has a project she wants to get off the ground. This 26-year-old, unrepentant optimist has agreed to regularly check in with me, just so we can keep each other honest. Here’s the text transcript of our initial Facebook chat:





James Sie: Okay, before we begin: which character from "Girls" do you most identify with?

Holly Myer: I'm 1/2 Hannah and 1/2 Shosh. I've thought a lot about it.

JS: Excellent answer! You pass the first test.


So... let's talk about our projects, shall we? You first.

HM: Okay. I want to make at least 100 illustrations for my based-on-blog book.

JS: What kind of illustrations, and in what medium?

HM: Digital drawing/painting via Photoshop.
I hope to have a black/white and full color version of each one.


JS: 100... it'll be a little more than one a day, then, yah? Will you feel like Julie whatsername going through every one of Julia Child's recipes?
Does that make me
Meryl Streep? Yay

HM: Yeah, at least one a day. And yes, I do rather see myself as an Amy Adams-type in this situation. If only Chris Messina were my husband.

JS: We'll work on that.

HM: Great. I wish I could say I was planning to study the works of a legend like Julia Child, but I'm just going through my own essays to think about them again, with a more visual perspective

JS: I, for my part, am writing a novel about coyotes. Real ones, not smuggler ones.

HM: I'm hooked, tell me more!

JS: I'm hoping it's going to be like Game of Thrones, but with canis latrans. And set in Los Angeles. Lots of nudity. With fur. Or let's say... "Watership Down" meets "The Sopranos."

HM: That's an incredible mashup. Sounds like it has HBO written all over it.

JS: There are coyotes in our neighborhood, and when they pass me and my dog  on our walk they stare at me as if to say, "Man, are you working on that thing yet?"

Holly, thanks for pushing me to do this. And I'm sure your boundless optimism will be equal parts infuriating and inspiring.

HM: You're welcome! In sixth grade, I won the Initiative Megaskill Award, and it's one of my proudest accomplishments.

JS: I’m frightened.

We have two people who may be joining in. Grace is working on a screenplay, and Wendy is wanting to do a daily kind of journal, but still unsure about the parameters. They're down with the 90 days. So, a variety!

HM: Wooo! WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER [Note: “High School Musical” reference]

JS: Though I keep feeling like this is "Ten Little Indians" and we'll be whittled down one by one. [Note: this has already happened, as Grace has unfortunately had to bow out]

Do I lose you with the "Ten Little Indians" reference?

HM: No, I get that one! And I refuse to be whittled.

JS: So, Thelma, ready to rev the engine and go over the cliff?

HM: Yes, Louise!
(Thelma and Louise, right?)
Holly would have made a GIF.
I just... can't. 
JS: Very good.

HM: (I've never watched the whole movie)

JS: Shit. Sorry for the spoiler. WATCH THE WHOLE MOVIE, FOR CHRISSAKE!

HM: It's okay. Troy Bolton goes to Cal at the end of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” Now we're even.

JS: Maybe we should just leave it there. Check on you next week?

HM: Yes, please!

JS: Good luck! Happy April!

HM: To you, as well!





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