May 24th, 2013
It’s hard to believe that the short film How to Keep Your Day Job, based on a short story of mine, has been in the world a year. It’s done some very cool things in that year, and the producer Lea Marin just emailed to share a few more.
If you’re going to be in NYC on June 26, you can see How to Keep Your Day Job at the Manhattan Film Festival. You should eventually be able to buy tickets at the link above, but for now you can just scroll down and look at the listings, which are in themselves pretty exciting!
And…if you’re flying Air Canada over the next little while, you can also watch it on their in-flight entertainment. I had noticed AC’s mini-tvs were getting better and better, but this is a new high. Very exciting!
If you get a chance to see it, I would love to hear what you think–I’m very very biased but can entertain other opinions. And if you know anyone else who might enjoy How to Keep Your Day Job and might have an opportunity to see it, please pass it on!
May 22nd, 2013
I do a lot of consumer surveys, as a method of procrastination and also a way to earn tiny amounts of money very slowly, so I know that 18 to 34 years of age is where it’s at. Which is baffling to me, as such a high percentage of people in that group, especially the first 2/3, don’t have enough disposable income to make it worth trying to figure out what they want.
But now I am leaving my broke and opinionated brethren, to join the 35 to 49-year-olds and be slightly less broke and not really any less opinionated. I’m not sorry to be moving on–I’m curious to see what the future holds, and anyway, I’m pretty immature, so even if I look my age I’ll never act it. Also, my friend Wren explained to me that the LCBO clerks probably have a quota of people they ask for ID in a shift, and 30-something women are the ones who give them the least hassle when they do, so that’s who they mainly choose!
My last couple birthdays have been…challenging, for various reason like rashes, travel, and sadness in the lives of friends. I’m hoping this next one, tomorrow, is simply peaceful–work, friends, Italian food, more work, followed by more Italian food with my husband. Somewhere in there, I hope to pet some cats.
I feel like I’ve written a lot of year-encapsulation posts lately so I’ll skip doing one here. I’m actually not in the mood to think about accomplishments or lacks thereof–I’m happy to just enjoy the day and wait patiently for my ice-cream cake.
34 an 364 days–yay! Thanks for reading and being a part of it!
May 16th, 2013
I wrote that post about dumb things people say to single women a while back with great joy–so many years of minor suffering exposed. I have been a married woman a comparatively brief amount of time, but I’m already finding that just because I have conformed to one set of societal expectations (getting married) doesn’t really keep people from picking on me. I think there’s probably a category of inane, mildly offensive chatter for every state of being–people can’t help themselves. My brief experience of marriage suggests single people get more obnoxiousness from the gadflies, but it hardly stops after the wedding ceremony.
Since I only have 9 months of newlywedded bliss to draw on, I’ve borrowed a few of these from friends…
Don’t get too used to…
I’ve heard this one applied to pretty everything nice about my husband. From remembering special occasions to simply doing his share of the household chores, apparently it’s all a show and Mark is on a one-way track to slothdom, soon to completely abandon his thoughtfulness in favour of televised sports and being a big jerk. It’s tempting to suggest that people who say this sort of thing are stuck in unhappy marriages and want me to get on the misery boat too–but I suspect some of them of being fairly fond of their spouses. I think this might be part of our weird societal fixation on monogamy–it’s supposed to be all anyone strives towards, but also a ball and chain that everyone resents. Weird Protestant work-ethic thing here?
Best thing to say to someone you like: “Shh–let me enjoy it while I can!”
Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: (with lip trembling, if possible) “Oh…no…I had no idea. I’ve made a terrible mistake.”
Now you can finally let yourself go!
It is relaxing to know your partner no longer cares if you wear yoga pants when not doing yoga, but we had that revelation years ago. I think this comment, as applied to women, is kinda moot–the standards set in romantic comedies and magazines for a young(ish) woman presenting herself on the dating market are so irrationally high–perfect skin, perfect BMI, perfect hair, manicure, plucked eyebrows, all manner of waxing, hours of shopping for a dress that you’ll be embarrassed if you wear at two events too close to each other–that “letting yourself go” means just accepting normal human flaws that people with real lives deal with anyway, single or married. My friend, who is very beautiful, got this comment after eating a cookie. ONE cookie.
Best thing to say to someone you like: Ok.
Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: Ok. [I see no reason to prolong this inane conversation, no matter how much you like or dislike the speaker.]
You must be so happy not to be dating anymore.
I have probably mentioned before, but folks who hate dating are not great dates–especially if they announce it at the beginning of dinner. Yes, it’s hard to leave the house in your nicest clothes knowing you could spend the rest of the evening hearing about dice-related games, a pitch for real estate, or why your date doesn’t really want to be there. But a certain amount of hopefulness and faith in mankind is necessary to find a life-partner, and also just generally not to be an awful person to be around. I liked dating–new people, new conversations, new restaurants. I liked dating especially after I met my husband, but really if you don’t enjoy an hour or two of chat with a person who professes to like you, what’s the point?
Best thing to say to someone you like: I liked dating; what don’t you like about it?
Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: No, I pine for it actually.
Babies? Babies! BABIES BABIES BABIES BABIES!
Once you’re married, people get *very* eager to see you move on to the next obvious life phase on their checklists. To a certain degree, I get it. If you (and by “you,” I mean anyone I know) said you were going to make a tiny adorable person, and then maybe let me play with said person, I would be happy and encourage you to proceed with this excellent plan. But I wouldn’t *instigate* the plan, no matter how cute I thought your offspring might be. There are so many reasons someone might not like to discuss this issue, from infertility to financial or psychological issues making it not the best time to produce new infants, to “I’m pregnant right now but not telling yet.” There’s just no reason to introduce potential awkwardness like this unless you are *very* close to the potential parent in question. And I have it on good authority from moms I know that even *having* a baby does not eliminate this question from common conversation; people just move on to asking when you’ll have your second, and so on until basically menopause. At least it ends there for parents; for those who remain childless, at menopause I hear people just start asking about adoption.
Best thing to say to someone you like: We’ll see (this is a minor fudge if you in fact already know the answer; what you actually mean is “you’ll see” but that sounds kinda mean).
Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on this. (Especially hilarious if your questioner is someone you barely know, which is very very often the case.) I’ve also heard suggested, “Well, for now we’re happy just having recreational sex,” but there’s probably no one I’d want to embarrass that much and anyway I don’t have the stones to say it.
Where’s your spouse tonight?
Married people are varying degrees of joined at the hip: some have tonnes of interests they can share with their spouses, others are happy with “being married” as their only shared interest. Everyone who actually lives in society knows this, but somehow when you see your married friend standing at a party with no spouse in sight, it’s the first thing you ask about. I know, I’ve done it, and continue to accidentally do even as I insist that I have no idea what Mark is up to some nights and why is everybody asking me?
Best answer for someone you like: I guess, tell them if you know, and your spouse isn’t in the witness-protection program or at a strip-club or something.
Best answer for someone you don’t like: Oh my god, ack, I thought he was right over there and now he’s GONE. (Parents spring this one on me all the time when I ask about the whereabouts of their kids, but I think babysitting arrangements are way more normal to ask about than the movements of an autonomous adult! To each, their own, I guess….)
So, how’s married life?
This is the sweetest, most innocent question of all the annoying questions on this list. You spend months or a year (or many years) getting ready for your wedding, talking about plans and ideas and nerves, of course people are going to want to know how it all turned out. Of course, this question is impossible to answer–life is always a million things at once. I have learned to say, to anyone, “I like it–I think we made the right choice.” Whether I love them or hate them, most people are happy with this answer–people love love and happiness makes them happy…most of the time!
Anyone else want to offer up anything terrible said to a newlywed, either to you or by you or within your hearing?
May 14th, 2013
2013 has been quiet so far on the readings and publications fronts–up until last week, I’d done neither at all this year–it’s all been working and writing and editing and being stressed, the sort of thing that doesn’t do well on stage or in print. I think last week’s Windsor Review would’ve been sufficient to bolster me for a while, but of course it never rains but it pours. After 5 months of silence, two stories in the world within a week is weird, but not undelightful.
My story “Love-Story Story” is just out in the May/June issue of This Magazine, which I’m so pleased about. That story was a long time in process, and longer looking for the right home so I’m grateful to Dani Couture for giving it such an estimable one. To celebrate, I think I’ll read an excerpt from the story at Racket at the Rocket on Friday night.
The Racket is a new east-side reading series. Their website hasn’t been update, but here’s the details if you think you might like to join me and Mark Sampson, among other stellar writers, for an evening of literature and cookies (the Red Rocket cafe, which hosts, has nice baked items in addition to beer, wine, and caffeinated things). I’ve stolen these details from Mark…
When: Friday, May 17, 2013. 7:30 p.m.
Where: Red Rocket Coffee – 1364 Danforth Ave (near Greenwood Subway Station), Toronto.
And of course, this comes on the heels of another reading/panel discussion, which I did earlier yesterday–no readings for 6 months, then two in a week. Go figure. Anyway, it was fun and credit should be given to my lovely co-panellists–Christine Gilbert, Monica S. Kuebler, and Claire Horsnell.
May 10th, 2013
I have come across (or remembered) a higher-than-average of quality stuff on the internet lately. Let me share it for your possible entertainment…
Allie Brosh, much-beloved blog artist behind Hyperbole and a Half, is back. She had this zany comic based on her life, illustrated in childish MSPaint drawings, for quite a while, and a lot of people loved it. She’s actually quite a good artist and her quasi-naif style is adorable but doesn’t really limit the range of emotions she can show (which is probably why I didn’t like Parenthood: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, because those pictures are genuinely bad [though it's still a sweet little book]). Anyway, then she disappeared for a few months and came back with a post about depression that was so sad and wise and actually quite funny. Everyone was happy she was working through it. Then she disappeared for a year and half, and returned yesterday with Depression Part Two, which accounts for the past year, in which things apparently got much worse. Hilariously so, at least in retrospect. I love her style and humour, plus I’d been worried about her (genuinely–it’s amazing what feelings you can feel about internet people) so I was really happy to see this. The post also got 5000 comments in a day, which is lovely. As we all know, most comments people post on internet forums are deranged rubbish, but the majority of the comments I saw were more “yay!” and “I’m glad you’re still alive” and “thanks for writing this.” It actually got a bit boring after a few hundred of those, so I stopped reading–if things got mean and weird later, please don’t tell me. I prefer my illusions.
I rewatched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off recently, owing mainly to the fact that people without Netflick or Apple TV are now sorely limited in where they can obtain movies to watch at home, and whenever our local library has a DVD I think I might like that doesn’t look like it’s been dumped in a food processor, I bring it home. This film definitely has its charming moments, but I found it much harsher and more callous than I’d recalled. Poor taken-advantage-of, abused-child Cameron! And I guess that’s the difference between the 80s and now, but I found I couldn’t get too excited about an entitled, unemployed 17-year-old white boy spending his parents’ money in Chicago and whining about no one buying him a car. A few years ago, an enterprising film editor reworked some footage into a trailer for what looks like a much better film–as we watched the real one, I found myself wishing for the imaginary one. But I still loved Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen’s little moment!
My friend Suzanne Alyssa Andrew wrote a wonderful book called Circle of Stones, and excerpt of which has now been set to music by Menalon and made available on Soundcloud. Enjoy!
Kay, that should keep you busy for a while. Have a great weekend!
May 7th, 2013
The Windsor Review‘s Best Writers under 35 edition came in the mail yesterday, looking lovely and including lots of great folks, as well as yours truly. Please keep in mind that it’s an impressionistic “best” and also that I will turn 35 in 16 days (making me, I’m pretty sure, the oldest writer in the collection) but also that this’ll be a great read. I’m definitely flattered to be included with the likes of Souvankham Thammavongsa, Spencer Gordon, and Andrew MacDonald, among many awesome others. The whole show is curated by the lovely Jenny Sampirisi. On newsstands now, I believe…
April 23rd, 2013
So that stressful project at work is complete, I believe, so I’m finally on vacation this week and next! And for once, I’m not going anywhere or doing anything big on vacation. When I was younger, I mocked the concept of the “staycation,” but that was probably because I never realized how much I could like my own life. I have an amazing apartment, partner, friends, family, and city, not to mention gift certificates–why would I want to use my limited free time to leave all that.
So I’m here, enjoying my life (and accepting lunch dates, if you’re interested!) So far I’ve
–eaten Korean food and gone to a board games cafe
–gone to a farmers’ market
–built a nightstand
–watch a movie in a movie-theatre
–walked all the way across downtown
–eaten Thai food
–bought a vacuum cleaner
Some of this is prosaic, I admit, but the chores need to be done and at least I have time to do them at my own pace. And most of it’s just been lovely–especially that long walk yesterday. I had an over an hour before a lunch date and nothing in particular to do, so I decided to walk it. The weather was stunning, I had nice music on my ipod, and the thing I was walking towards was such a pleasant prospect. I love walking in Toronto–it’s really how the city looks its best.
For my next trick, I will be experiencing my first spa, thanks to a gift certificate I got for Christmas. The treatment itself is very expensive, but there’s all kinds of extra stuff there you can do for free there, like work out in the gym and swim in the pool. So obviously I’m going to go 2 hours early and try everything, because why not, right?
I am also, of course, writing a bit on my break. I am so tired from work that I am not setting any huge goals, but it’s nice to be able to give writing some of the good part of the day, instead of getting to it when I’m already sort of miserable. I always write, but often in tiny bursts–my output has been pretty pitiful lately. I hope some leisure time will help expand it a bit.
Speaking of pitiful, I contribute a little bit to “Failure Week” on Hazlitt, in the form a comment in Jowita Bydlowska’s article “Where Do All the Dead Stories and Characters Go?” A fun and somehow inspiring article–so many brilliant writers have to kill so much of their work, and yet it turns out amazing anyway. Encouraging!
Anyway, so that’s the news with me right now–rather pleasant, and no griping for once. Hope it’s the same where you are!
April 15th, 2013
So if you’re friends with me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I spent last week counting down to a trip to Ikea. Due to logistical (it’s far away and awkward on transit, plus I hate driving) and practical (we don’t actually need that much stuff) reasons, I haven’t been in two years, but it’s come to a point that there were a lot of gaps in the household, and I was very excited to go fill them. Due to my incessant posting, a few people asked me to report on how it went. I have no way of knowing if they were being sarcastic or not, but here we go.
1. You can’t get stressed about everything.
I can’t recall how much I’ve complained about it here, but my job has been very stressful since oh, the end of November. Boo. It’s taken a toll on me, but the upside is I no longer have the energy to get stressed about things outside of work that would normally bother me . When the major north-south artery in the city was closed for maintenance, we planned to take the obvious alternative, and when the entrance to *that* was closed, we took Yonge Street, which is about as dumb as trying to drive 15km through parking lots. The waste of time, and the waste of my husband’s patience (we split down gender essentialist lines regarding Ikea [only--well, also musicals] and I was very worried he would lose interest in the whole venture before we’d purchased anything) would normally have agitated me greatly. But at least no one was snapping at me, or asking me to check every line break in the chapter for the 3rd time. So I just rode it out, rather peacefully (for me).
2. Without context, the difference between bad parenting and a bad day is very hard to see. Why not just assume the best of people?
Ikea is filled with children and the children, not being major stakeholders in couch-purchasing, are beserk. It was also a rainy Saturday and I thought perhaps a few families were there as a last resort. Other than a few free-range children in the cafeteria who threatened to send my tray into my chest, most of the kids there were content to bother each other or their folks, not strangers, and some were really cute. And really, if you’re easily irritated by cranky children misbehaving, you don’t really belong at Ikea.
3. Some Ikea stuff is not all that.
When I was younger, I was quite enamoured at how Ikea stuff all matched, and how I could afford it all. I thought people who were snobby about particle board and flimsiness or some aesthetic criteria I didn’t care about were, well, snobs. I still basically think that–Ikea is good enough for “all normal purposes” as they say, and if my Billy bookcase isn’t particularly nice, it isn’t particularly ugly, either. But for the first time, I did see some ugly things at Ikea this trip, though. I’m not sure whether their stuff is getting less nice, or this is just something that happens to women in their mid-thirties.
4. If something comes with sauce, and you ask for it without sauce, it won’t be good.
I learn this lesson over and over, and always forget. I got the cafeteria salmon without hollandaise because, in case you don’t know. hollandaise is basically stealthy mayonnaise, a substance I loathe (other things that are secretly mayonnaise include: aioli, tartar sauce, ranch dressing, Russian dressing, the pink stuff in spicy maki rolls, and certain brands of Caesar dressing. Mayonnaise is horribly insidious, and can sneak in anywhere.) Anyway, the salmon was super-dry, but the Daim cake made up for it, though it’s been renamed something super-literal like “almond buttercream biscuit cake.” I thought perhaps I would learn to make it, I love it so much, but no dice–if you go to the link above, you’ll see Daim cake is actually made out of Daims. Which is not a thing, as far as I know. So…no.
Kay, enough boring lessons–here’s what we bought.
1) A purple lampshade for the Not lamp I purchased at a Montreal Ikea in the late 1990s, whose shade smashed when I knocked it over last week. The new shade is preventing the living room from being an uninhabitable blinding horrible place, but it looks weird on the base and is going to get replaced as soon as I gather strength. Small fail. $9.
2) A geometric patterned brown doormat. Looks perfect in front of the door, goes well with the hardwood, kitten adores it and rolls on her back on it, kicking her tiny feet (this was part of the plan). Big win. $40.
3) Fuzzy blue mat that goes in the middle of my office for no discernible reason except that I liked it and it was cheap. Cats not too interested, but looks reasonably nice in my office. Small win. $10.
4) Striped turquoise napkins. Because everyone needs napkins, right? Haven’t used them yet. $4.
5) Malm nightstand. In a somewhat sad metaphor, both my husband and I entered our marriage with only one nightstand each. His is from Ikea, a Hemnes in chestnut, a few years old. Mine was from my parents’ basement, so I figured I’d discard it and match up with him. Only Ikea has discontinued that chestnut colour in the Hemnes line, or maybe everywhere. It comes in grey, blue, red, and white–no actual natural-looking woods anymore. This was the point in the expedition when I had been there for a while and was getting tired and it seemed to matter a LOT that I couldn’t buy that matching nightstand. I wandered around in circles for a while, hunting, as if perhaps the chestnut nightstand was hiding. I was super-sad. Then I came to my senses, and got on with my life. I wound up with a birch Malm, which matches my bureau. Haven’t put it together yet, so who knows how this story ends. $69.
6) Laundry hamper on wheels, like all the cool university students in our building have. Again, not yet assembled, but I’m really hopeful about this one. $35.
When we got home, we collapsed on the couch and popped in a *30 Rock* DVD–surprise, it was the Ikea episode where Liz and Chris get into a fight there. We congratulated each other on our non-fightingness, and whiled away the evening in the gentle glow of our modest purchases.
April 11th, 2013
I’m trying to find an old story fragment and I don’t remember what I called the file–or even any of the words I might’ve used–so I’m basically having to go through every file in my Dropbox whose contents I don’t recall by looking at the name. It’s annoying, but I’m finding lots of weird stuff I don’t remember writing, which is kinda cool. It took me a minute to recall what the bit below is…at first I had no idea. It’s actually a cut chunk of a story called “Massacre Day” that was in my first collection, *Once*. I think this piece got cut pretty early–it was too random–and that means I probably haven’t looked at it since 2007. But I like it, still, and since it’ll probably never have another home, I’ll post it here, below. The file name, for reasons that do in fact make sense but are incredibly obscure, was “couch.” It’s going to be a long search.
The new hot thing was shop-lifting from garage sales. It was of course way easier, since there weren’t security tags or scanners or guards or anything. Also because people selling stuff at garage sales didn’t care much what happened to the stuff—if you’re selling a bunch of video tapes with mold on them for ten cents each, you just want them gone, and if some kid wants to put’em under his shirt instead of giving you the dime, you’ll probably just look out into traffic and let’em disappear.
So basically it was a dumb thing to do because there was no challenge or sport to it, and at first also it was dumb because you never got anything good. The tapes we smashed for the tape inside and then strung it around on trees for a while, which was boring and as old-fashioned as the tapes themselves. Then we tried tying Kaleigh up with it, because she never minds what you do to her as long as you pay attention to her.
The stuff turned out to be really strong, you wouldn’t think it to see it all flashy-wispy up in a tree, plus my dad said those tapes were always crap, the ribbon always snapping or twisting inside where you couldn’t reach it, even with a pencil. But I guess when you have the whole of “Return of the Jedi” to use and Kaleigh not being much more than bones in a hoodie, you could get her fairly settled.
April 7th, 2013
When I was teaching short-story writing to high-school students, the first exercises I asked them to do involved dreaming up a character. One assignment was to write a description of this character’s home (I also gave them the option of drawing the place, but few took me up on it). This assignment was amazingly successful–students wrote in great detail, especially girls. Some took it as a basically a shopping fantasty, stocking the fictional rooms with brand-name bling, but almost everyone was able to flesh out a setting to an extent that you could see it in your mind. I was impressed at how carefully they worked their way around a space, describing each piece of furniture in turn.
The reason I gave this assignment is it’s a good, concrete way to start developing character–showing the objects a character would acquire and keep close is a good way to start to edge in on who he or she is. If you were to realize that the only two items of furniture I contributed to the living room I share with my husband are an easy chair from my childhood bedroom and an end table my father got with green stamps in the sixties (like a prototypical Air Miles), you would know a few things about me: cheap, partial to nostalgia.
The problem was, I suppose, the leap I expected the students to be making when they did the exercises–I wanted them to use these bits of character development to guide the story they would write: a person who would dress like this, who would own furniture like this, would *be* like this and in certain circumstances… When it came time to put together a first draft of their stories, I said they could “draw on” any of the exercises they’d previously done. Mainly, this translated into a long, pointlessly detailed description of a room in every story.
I tried to explain that the room descriptions were for the *them*, the writers–a way to gain more insight into their characters. Once they knew enough, they could show the characters in tiny details a reader could absorb easily, and not need these towering stacks of details. If you know a character well enough, you barely have to describe him/her at all–you know exactly how to nail it down.
My students were pissed–the concept of writing for themselves, writing to make later writing better, writing that they got no marks for, all foreign to them. I could not convince most of them to remove these descriptions. Even when I suggested they didn’t need to replace it with anything, even when I said other character work elsewhere in the piece was strong enough to carry it, even with no word-count minimum, and my pointed comments that the description was making the story awkward and dull, they refused to take work they had done off the page.
Which is totally natural when you are 15 and never wanted to take a creative writing class in the first place. But it is a helpful reminder for those of us who are allegedly adults and writing for the love it, that just because I wrote it doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile, and just because it’s worthwhile doesn’t mean it needs to go *in* the story. I do a lot of writing *towards* a story–exploring backstory, motivations, minor characters–that seems to me as I write to in fact be part of the story itself. It will illuminate things for the reader, I tell myself, or else that this is part of the narrator’s thought process and should naturally be included. Then when I read it through, I realize I was just doing some kind of imaginative research in order to get to the point where i knew the characters well enough to write the scene and…chop, chop, chop.
It is too easy to leave that stuff in, because even unnecessary writing is hard and it hurts to kill something that took a long time to create. But it’s self-indulgent to do otherwise–ok for 15-year-olds, but not anyone who actually wants to be taken seriously.
I’m on this topic because I recently started researching clothing styles and brands. Normally, the characters I write about dress like people I know, so if clothing comes up I know how to describe it, and even if it doesn’t come up, I know how characters would react to, say, sitting on the floor, or spilled wine–I know what they’re wearing and how they feel about what they’re wearing. But I’m starting on a character whose clothes are a lot nicer than anyone’s I know, and they are important to her–important enough I can’t get away with a vague impression of silhouettes and shades. The Mighty J recommended a wonderful and addictive site called Polyvore. It’s basically paper dolls with current designer clothes, and it’s a wonderful way to make outfits for characters if you’re not too fashion-savvy and the characters are. It’s also SO fun playing matchup with unrelated clothes, and I’m saying this as a person who is currently wearing and orange skirt, orange tights, and one of her father’s dress shirts from the 60s.
Of course i spent a tonne of time playing around and I got to the point where I was able to imagine this woman’s clothes, her budget, her body issues, her brand awareness. I also had a couple nice outfits lined up and I knew where in the story she’d wear them. It is now *very* tempting to start putting brand names in the story, long descriptions of the exact sheen of shoe leather, the fit of a skirt. I need, largely, to resist this temptation. The character owns the clothes; she’s used to them, and not dazzled by how pretty they are because she has lots of pretty clothes. If I go all schoolgirl and start kvelling in detail about everything in her closet is, it undermines the character’s own take on things, which is much more arch and unimpressed. It will also take up a lot of space when the story isn’t *about* clothes; they’re really just a character detail that it was important to imagine correctly in order to imagine the whole woman correctly.
So, according to my 15-year-old students and sometimes my own interior whiny voice, I basically wasted several hours creating material–outfits–that can’t go in the story. Which is ridiculous–I couldn’t write about the character this well any other way. I’m guessing there are people in the world who are more efficient and don’t need to do this sort of research, and good for them, but I am learning to be accepting of my somewhat circuitous process. From talking to other writers, this is not so unusual, though they may be in the library, at an archive, or at a museum–it’s just hard to use most research most of the time. But it’s still really worth doing, I’d say (also, Polyvore=the funnest!)