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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

Lets-Panic.com → 

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Thursday
Sep092004

I hate titles, do you know that?

I’m sorry I haven’t posted sooner, dear readers, but truly, you wouldn’t have wanted to hear from me. I have been nothing but whiny and listless these days. Last night, I spent hours reading back issues of People I borrowed from the building recycling bin (Is Britney Spears gaining weight? Sweet Mother of God, can it be?). I have a headache and my legs aren’t working right and also my skin feels funny. I’ve been better.

It’s nothing serious, mind you. I know serious, and this—this is a day in the park. A day when you can’t find a shady spot for your blanket and when you finally do the yellowjackets swarm all over your lemon bars, but still, the park isn’t all bad! Those guys over there playing softball are enjoying themselves, aren’t they? Stop crying!

The Republicans were around recently, as you might have heard, and that didn’t do much for my spirits. Watching the Zell Miller-bot head jabber maniacally tore a small hole in my joie de vivre. Also, I read this book review about the near-inevitability of nuclear terrorism, and I might have freaked out a wee bit--I decided to move us all to Iowa, actually. I was all set to go but my husband pointed out that maybe I shouldn’t make major life decisions based on book reviews. And summer is over, which normally I’d be all hoop-dee-doo (why can’t I use real words as adjectives?) about, but when you have a toddler, it's more or less vital to go outside at least twice a day and let said toddler run in crazy circles until he releases the devil spirits inhabiting his tiny frame. In the winter, it’s a little like “The Shining” around here, only with crayons instead of an axe, a little less blood pouring through the hallways, and…hmm…actually, in every other way it’s identical to “The Shining.”

But the real problem is that creatively I have found myself at a standstill. The kind of standstill where you think maybe you're a talentless hack who can't construct a coherent or entertaining narrative and oops, you wasted half your life trying. I have the first draft of a children’s book finished, two essays sort of begun, countless drafts of short stories that need work, and a novel for adults (note: not an adult novel, which is a different, sexier thing and would probably pay more) that I keep abandoning and then running back to, begging forgiveness. Lately, every time I sit down to work, I flit from piece to piece, glancing at and then fleeing in horror from each one because it turns out that I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. There’s nothing in my brain but a low, steady hum, interrupted periodically by a tiny voice squeaking, “Alice! Hey, Alice! You suck!”

I realize that right now I’m not the best judge of my work, so I continue to struggle valiantly against the urge to delete every document and/or set my computer on fire. But I’m not entirely sure how to get back on track and stop hating every word I’ve ever written. Do I stop trying to write for a few days? Or a few years? Or do I grimly return to my routine—which currently means sitting at my computer, hands poised above keyboard, hyperventilating quietly and waiting for the hour to be up so I can rock back and forth in a corner somewhere?

What would you do, reader? Alternately, what would Jesus do? Answers to either of these questions would be most appreciated.

Reader Comments (33)

I like what Anna said, two floors up. Cut yourself some slack. You have plenty to say; you're putting it in your blog, and entertaining a lot of folks. As for the other pieces, I'll put on my Joseph Campbell hat and say "follow your bliss." Think about what it is about writing that makes you happy, and go there. Once you're there, the words should follow.
September 10, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterGen
I foolishly maintain two blogs for my own self and two for work, so I often find all my creativity sapped when I try to write anything else. My advice: deadlines. They've worked like magic for me ever since elementary school!
September 11, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Okay. Everyone loves to give advice, especially me. So here's some from when I was writing (never as much as you, but more than I am now):

1. Stop for a few days. Give yourself a break. Let your brain breathe.2. Drag out Writing Down the Bones and read it until you feel inspired or until you feel like throwing it across the room.3. Make a date with a friend (or an e-friend) (or us! Your blog friends!) and check in once a week or every couple weeks on what you’ve done so far. Your friend can do the same and you can cheer each other on. Sort of like a writers’ group but without the critiques.4. Along those lines, could you possibly be convinced to post a little bit of some of your “other” writing on this blog? We’ll be supportive! We want to read it! And maybe that would help you get sort of psyched.

That little voice telling you you suck is evil, it’s like Zell Miller in your head, it wants to trick you. Don't let it. That's what Jesus would say, I'm sure.

Like everyone above, I love your writing. You are so totally awesome for writing and working on projects and finishing drafts of whole books. You have lots to say and lots of us who want to read it.
September 11, 2004 | Unregistered Commenterelswhere
Eat an entire tub of cookies-n-cream ice cream.

Don't know if it would work, but back in college, it always made me feel better.

At least until the mind-numbing guilt came.
September 12, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
I adore you. Please don't give up. I am waiting to read your book, even if it is about your dryer lint because I find that you give that special little sparkle to everything.

Two things:1) I have a tendency to write a chapter and then go back and edit. And edit some more. Oh, this sentence is stupid. This part could be funnier. Then I never get anywhere. Did I mention it was the first chapter and all I have are first chapters? Maybe I'll publish those, there are quite a few.

2) I read a creative writing book once that calls the little voice "an inner auditer" (or possibly "guardian" or, in my words, annoying little voice that says "Dana. Hey, Dana. You suck." Maybe our voices are related). Anyway, the suggestion the book gave was that you write a letter to this voice and pretty much just tell it off. I tried it. It helped.
September 12, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterDM
1) Read a book which is really really good, one you love. It's inspiring.

2) Read a book which is really really bad (Nicholas Sparks perhaps, or even that guy who wrote Bridges of Madison County). It will make you laugh at how bad it is, and it inspires too.:)
September 12, 2004 | Unregistered Commenterdwarf
Reading poetry often shakes things loose in my head. Also, doing the dishes. Also, duct-taping the boy to the television for a few hours. Go ahead! It's okay! That's what Batman is FOR.
September 13, 2004 | Unregistered Commenterthe child psychologist
I admire you for trying to write for an hour a day. I have a (to me, ambitious) goal of three new poems and one new short story a YEAR. I abandoned my novel three years ago, even though it was done, because I realized it just sucked, and I didn't want to fix it. Just because you start a story doesn't mean you have to finish it. Just go for a good sentence once a week. Stay cool.
September 17, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterRita

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