Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
So now, after four days away, I have to get back into my writing routine, and my freelance routine. I told Jeff today, that if I didn't have all this freelance, I could write a novel every year or two years like other writers. I wonder about the toll trying to make a living takes on writers? I always try to do my writing first, but sometimes, with deadlines looming (right along with bills), it isn't always possible. How does anybody do it all?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Oh yes, it snowed again! This amazing image on top is part of a gift of Numi flowering teas I received from a beloved friend. They are AMAZING. You put the bud in hot water (and the teas come with a little perfect glass teapot) and they slowly unfurl into bursts of color--plus the teas are delicious! We also got a gift of a dozen oranges and tangerines, so now we can have tea and oranges, like like the Leonard Cohen song!
Friday, December 19, 2008
That's the boy, Max Henry Leavitt Tamarkin, being a STAR as Charlie Brown in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. The theater company, run by the incredibly talented Chase Leyner (sister of Mark Leyner), requires auditions or invitations, and it has a great stage, reasonable prices, and cupcakes (!) at intermission. It was a packed house, front row center seats and I think the most amazing moment was towards the end when Max had his big show-stopper of a number, singing as he came onto the stage, the last one out to be applauded. (His dream was to finally get to be the last one applauded.) He looked almost overwhelmed with joy and astonishment, which of course, made me cry.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
The photo is my prized KitKat clock. It no longer works but it is one of my many favorite things that I keep in my office to keep me happy. (I don't quite know why the numbers are reversed on the cat, but it does give it a jaunty charm.)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!
There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors Guild."
Enjoy the holidays.
Roy Blount Jr.
I wanted to talk about book amnesia.
As soon as I finish a novel, I forget how difficult it was to write it. (They say that about giving birth and/or pain, but I have not found that to be true. Giving birth was bliss for me, and I have had my share of terrible physical pain and I remember that to the wince.) I create a false memory about writing my novels. I imagine that my books flew onto the pages, the characters fully alive, and as soon as I have positive response from someone, that cements this fallacy even more.
So here I am, waiting publication of Breathe and working on a new novel, and all I can think is everyone else out there is writing harder, more disciplined, better, faster, more alive than I am. I am at my desk for hours, I turn out 1500 words, and I think, surely that is not enough. Surely every other writer is turning out 2000 or 4000 or even 6000. I think something is off about my plot, something is wrong with my characters, the whole idea that obsesses me won't obsess anyone else.
So I posted on facebook and instantly heard from other writers who felt the same. I emailed writer friends who reassured me that this is the writers' lot in life, that yep, they feel the same way. I think the only thing to do is write, to block out the voices and the fear, and to dig deeper into the story. Already I am in too deep to let it go. It's a story I want to read, I want to find out what happens, and I want to write it.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The wonders of online is that in the space of two weeks I have discovered two other writers who share my beloved agent--which is wonderful and comforting. Without quick access, I feel so cut-off! I can't even post the photo I wanted to, which is of these two amazing teak monkeys I had as a kid which are now worth hundreds of dollars (but I am keeping them.) I have the name of the famous toy designer in my IMac which I cannot get!
And of course, this has all made me appreciate my Mac all the more. It's funny, but I always wanted one and was talked out of it years ago by a friend's boyfriend, then talked out of it again by a boyfriend--and now, hooray, horray, was encouraged by my husband! (And friends.)
It is hard to work waiting for the Big Fix! I finished a client's manuscript evaluation (love, love doing this, love it with a passion.) The script has another rewrite to go. The novel is now entering the "too much is written to turn back now" phase, where the honeymoon of the first chapter has given way to the anxiety about the midsection. Is it working? I worry so much that the main, driving idea is awful, but I have been obsessed with this particular idea for so long that I really want to make it work. I somehow cannot let go of it.
Here's to a speedy recovery of all systems.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I first encountered the works of Amy Koppelman when her first novel, A Mouthful of Air, came across my desk. It was a summer filled with breezy reads, and this book, about a young mother's postpartum depression, promised something more substantial. I devoured the book. I loved it so much I build a whole Boston Globe column, "Let's Hear it for the Unhappy Ending" around it. Koppelman's second novel, I Smile Back, is equally ferocious, beautiful, and unforgettable. I asked her, "What's it like being a novelist the second time around, and here is her very thoughtful response.
I thought that it had to get easier, that the second time around I would have more confidence, which would invariably lead to more productivity. I wouldn't be timid about bending a sentence this way or that because the last time I bent someone bought. I was certain I would find validation between the hard covers and deckled edges. So much so, that I might begin to call myself a “writer”--might even say “I'm sorry, I can't meet you for coffee because I have to write.” That's what we writers do right? --we write. Yes, if only I could get my first novel published I'd be part of the we- and my second novel would pour out of me like (and I'm one who takes issue with simile) melted chocolate from a gravy boat.
The thing is, a blank sheet of paper is exactly that-blank. An 8x10 inescapable white surface that you must fill with letters. Letters that form words. Words that build sentences. Sentences that comprise paragraphs. Paragraphs that hone thought. Thought that sustains chapters. Chapters that link a narrative. A narrative, and this is where it gets tricky, that means something. You are, after all trying to say something. That's what we writers do right? -we say something. Yes, if only I could get my first novel published I'd be one of those people that espouses. Morality would spring from me (and I'm one who takes issue with metaphor) like oil from a well.
What's more I had a plan. I was building a career. A small press leads to a big press. I would recoup my advance, I would sell out my printing, I would be operating in the black. I would have reviews, a small but dedicated group of fans-- I would get another shot. I didn't factor in book scan. A friend of mine, let's call her X, sold her book for $300,000 to one of the big presses. She sold five thousand more books that I did. They lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I got a royalty check. Aren't I the better investment?
The answer to the above is succinct. “No.” The publishing world of today rarely builds careers. Editors, if they want to keep their jobs, simply don't have the time. There is so much media to compete with: the movies, internet, Youtube. If books about teenagers in New York City are all the rage you can expect a run on them. And that's not only okay, it's reasonable. Publishing is a business. I knew this back then but thought it was somehow different.
I write now with the assumption that few will ever read my words and validation will remain, for me, perhaps more elusive than a Times book review. BUT, what I also know is that as long as I keep at it there's the chance that I might find the words to build the sentences that comprise the paragraphs…
For the sheer possibility, I remain grateful.