First the big news for me.
I finished my novel, which is called Traveling Angels.
This is incredible because it has taken me almost four years and much angst to do it. I thought I was done two years ago and then I showed the synopsis to a writer friend who made me realize that I had a whole huge subplot that was pulling apart the main thrust of the novel. (I make all my writing students at UCLA do synopsis and this is why. It really does show up holes and wrong turns in your work. In the course of writing one novel, I may redo the synopsis a thousand times. OK, I'm lying. But it feels like a thousand times.)
A few weeks ago, the novel made its way to my screenwriting partner, and to two other writers, and suddenly, with their help (thank you, thank you, thank you) it unlocked. It's an extraordinary feeling, giving birth to a novel. But before I can send it to my incomparably fabulous agent, Jeff is reading it and so is another writer. Then more revisions, and then to my agent. September, my favorite month, is my deadline!
I really think the secret to finishing is to have something else in the back of your mind that you want to do, and for weeks a novel has been brewing and I'm finally ready to let go.
I also want to tell everyone to please watch out for the launch of DAME magazine. It's an online magazine that is part Salon, part Jon Stewart, and I'll be writing about books for them.
And I’m off for a week’s vacation. All of my friends always think it’s a hoot that I go to the beach, because they know me.
Okay, I’m no Annette Funicello. All my life, I’ve avoided the beach because A. I don’t tan. I grew up being called Caspar the friendly ghost (at least I got the friendly moniker), and it’s only recently, with the "anti-tan/pale is healthy" contingent, that I now get a seal of approval. (Last week, a woman stared at me on the subway and just as I was about to get really paranoid, she blurted, “You have really nice, pale skin.” And B. I’m afraid of sharks and jellyfish and all manner of things lurking in the ocean.. And C. I don’t really like hot weather. Give me winter any day.
Before you roll your eyes, you should know that my partner in crime, my husband Jeff is a lot like me. He doesn’t swim, and like me, his idea of a perfect summer day is four movies in an air conditioned place with cushy seats and no one kicking our chairs or coughing or talking too loudly during the film. But then we had our son. You can’t keep a kid from the beach! I actually think it’s a criminal offense in several parts of the country, so we started to go. But because Jeff is a smarty pants as well as a sweetheart (this is a guy who took me to a Japanese supermarket for our second date), he found the perfect place for us.
Every year we go to Ocean City, NJ. It’s got boardwalks you can bike on every morning, surreys you can rent, and enough honkytonk stores to make your eyeballs buzz. (My favorite is one that sells figurines of clowns in all sorts of professions, like a clown doctor, a clown artist, and a clown rabbi.) There are great arcades and those fab photo booths, plus a movie theater, and we stay close enough to the water so we can take our son swimming for a half hour, and then head for a no-holds-barred game of mini golf. The last time we were there, MaryAnne from Gilligan’s Island fame showed up—now, really, how can you beat that for kitsch?
So, I’m packing tons of books to read (Alice Sebold’s new book, and Stef Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves), my knitting (for those of you who knit, it’s a Rowan pattern, so you know that it is, indeed, a mother, and I have already ripped out the front three times and am ready to scream), my black swimsuit (of course, black, I live in the NYC area), and of course the sunblock with an SPF of 9,000 so I won’t tan even if I’m on the sun.
Be back in a week. See you later, alligators.