Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jealousy, envy and their discontents

Recently, I read a novelist friends' second novel. I love this writer--and this person.  She's smart, funny, and I actually first met her because I tracked her down after adoring her first novel.  A brilliant writer, she's read my pages with a toughness I crave, and every time she comes to NYC, we hang out. Her new novel is terrific--and I had the sensation of this sick, yearning jealousy as I was reading because I kept thinking, how could I ever write anything this good?  And because my friend knows I wish her nothing but good things, because we talk about everything, I told her what I was feeling.

We had this great discussion about jealousy, about how it's natural to feel it, and how talking about it dissipates the sting of it. She said she took my feelings as a compliment, and that too often, jealousy and envy are something writers don't discuss. I know where my feelings come from.  A sense that there is not enough to go around. A feeling that there is enough to go around but not for ME.  My own persona psychodrama! But I don't act on those feelings, and if I do, it's in a positive way.  I  heap on more praise (I am a big believer in karma) or I might post a great Amazon review for someone.  I want my friend's novel to succeed brilliantly (and trust me, it is so great, that it will) and I want to help her do everything she can to make it big.  I know that my  jealousy was not that I did not want her to have that great writing, but it was something more turned inward--a fear that I did not have the writing chops that she does, a sick yearning to be that good and a nauseous fear that I never would be.

Of course, there are times when you can't help but feel irritated--like when a book that is slapped together gets front page praise everywhere and a multi-million dollar advance, let's say. But that's more about unfairness.

So, how do any of you handle jealousy and envy? And if you never, ever feel it, can you bottle what you have and send me a case?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Deep into research

I am deep into research for a novel I am writing now--while waiting for second round of revisions on Breathe--and I have been talking to this brilliant neurologist and it is so much fun, I can barely contain myself. There is the thrill of learning something fascinating, of course, but there is also the deeper thrill of being able to use all this information to make my characters and my novel start to breathe on their own and come alive.  (Ah, more medical talk.)

I love medicine. Every time I visit my doctors, I grab for the JAMA (journal of american medicine) rather than the other magazines and pour over it.  I wish I had had the chemistry grades and the ability to be two things--a doctor and a writer.  I would have been a neurologist, or an obstetrician or a hematologist, or maybe I would have done research.  Of course, I also love science and sometimes I wish I had become an astronomer or a physicist, too.  I suppose you could say I get to dip into all of those subjects being a writer, but really, you know it isn't the same. 

I read recently about the wife of an old friend who, in her 40s, was going to med school to be a nurse.  It's a great career, and there is constant work, and I wonder if that is something I would like, which is why one of my main characters is a neonatal nurse. 

But right now, with all this neurological information, I am so excited, I am setting off sparks. And of course, the thing I really want to continue to be is a novelist.  

Friday, March 27, 2009

The high school horror

This is going to be a boring post for anyone who does not have kids, but highly interesting to those of us who do. 

Our Max is 12, but already we have to start looking for high schools to apply to.  Dalton, in NYC is 34,000 a year. (ha, ha, ha.) we cannot apply to Hunter because although we are in NYC's unofficial 6th borough, we are not in the city.  There's a great gifted school down the block, but we have to set up an appointment and beg for money.  We love this fabulous high school in the area where 98 percent go on to Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and it's FREE, but it is so competitive that we cannot count on Max getting in. (I think they take 4 from Hoboken.) We went to look at another prep school, which we all hated, and the deal was sealed when I asked the principal, "Where do kids go on to college?" and she didn't know.  Couldn't remember. Hello? 

So today we went to the local high school which has an IB program (college level courses, you can graduate in three years), tons of advanced placement, too. The problem is, all this is fairly new stuff (just a year and a half in the making, with a new principal) and before, the school still has vestiges of its crummy past.  Only 70 percent go on to college (WARNING), a lot of the equipment in the school is outmoded.  Not our first choice, but it is a choice, I guess.

Sigh.  High school for me was horrific.  I went to a working class school outside of Boston where only 15% went on to college and I had to hide my report cards because of the threats of being beaten up because I got As.  I, and my small pack of friends, were shouted at, bullied, and there was the great Leavitt/Grail fight when the toughest girl in my school threatened to beat me up because "I looked like a goddamned hippie."  She snarled at me and pointedly said, "Three o'clock.  Parking lot."  Lucky for me, she called in a bomb scare first and was caught and hauled off to juvie hall.  My classes were horrible.  An english teacher gave us Rod McKuen for our poetry unit, the sociology teacher spent all class talking about what a bitch his sister was, and I hid out in the art room for most of the time.

I want so desperately for Max to go to a great school with great people in it! Anyone want to give us $120,000 so he can? 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today is Purple Day to raise epilepsy awareness


 Today is  Purple Daystarted by the gorgeous girl, Cassidy Megan, in the photo. This young girl was incredibly brave and decided that instead of being shamed by her illness, she was going to claim it, talk about it, and make people realize how it impacts the lives of people. 

I met her at the Purple Day party, organized in part by the fabulous Jessica Keener, and held at the delectable Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC. Surrounded by people and photographed every second, she was serene, beautiful, and she spoke eloquently.  The Anita Kaufmann Foundation, and its director, Debra Josephs, were key to bringing this event to Dylan's, by the way. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writing question, everyone chime in!

So when you are writing about something that may or may not be realistic, how do you make it seem as though it is?  How do you make the world seem absolutely true and real? 

Leaving Revisionland and entering New Novel World

Uh oh.  I don't have a map, I barely speak the language, and I am worried about the natives, but while I wait for the next set of revisions on Breathe, I am back to my new novel and riddled with doubts.

 I pingpong, just the way I did with the revisions.  One second I think it is great, and the next, I wonder who would have ever come up with such a vapid, silly plot and such paper-thin characters? Oh, but I have my tricks to keep myself feeling bouyed.  A writer I respect really liked the premise and the basic made-to-be-changed outline.  And I have my John Irving quote about not being afraid to feel on the edge of humiliation. And I have that sense of excitement. Can I pull this off? Will it reveal itself to me? Will it be alive? And, will my agent and editor like it?

Ack-I need to shut off the constant fear-mongering that goes on in my head and just write.

See you in a while, crocodiles.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Florida and Chicago love my Grief Diet Essay!

My mother-in-law just excitedly called to tell me her sister in Florida called: A really nice review of Harriet Brown's Feed Me (Random House), with a shout-out about my essay about the relationship between grief, food, control and enduring a toxic relationship, The Grief Diet appeared on both the Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune!  Harriet made my essay available online if you would like to read it. 


Saturday, March 21, 2009

malaise

I just saw a wonderful t-shirt that said my literary angst can beat up your literary angst.  I think if it said "writerly" instead of literary, I would want that shirt in a heartbeat. 

It is so strange not doing novel revisions.  My brilliant editor is reading what I worked on, and I know they will start up again, (I hope they do. I love this process) and I have zillions to do on a new novel I have started, but somehow I cannot seem to do anything but stare at the computer, read, want to go to movies and want to go out for a bike ride. And my mind, not a great neighborhood to be in at this time, is pinballing around at the oddest topics, like why is Hoboken University Hospital allowed to call itself that when there is no Hoboken University (it seems as if they are calling their packaged chocolate pudding mousse from the Four Seasons, now doesn't it?) and what would happen if I actually had to go there instead of into NYC where we always go, and what would really be the best conditioner for my mop of fine, curly hair. 

Then because novelists are fond of magical thinking, I start to obsess about all kinds of worst case scenarios and how I might triumph over them (or not.) Then I read a lot of different blogs, which always make it seem as if the bloggers are living much more productive, colorful and interesting lives than I am, or, at least they are taking better photographs. I stress about the economy, I worry over friends' lives, I panic at how fast time is zooming by, (I know, I know, quantum physics says time is a recent occurrence and eventually it will run backwards or stop altogether, but that doesn't help me NOW) and I think about other producers in Hollywood whom I can convince to read my scripts.  I had one very big A-lister looking but I think he is looking for a different type of film than mine, but I did get him to a friend of mine who is just his ticket, so there is karma for you.

I am about to make a pair of fingerless mitts for the photographer who helped me on my novel and I cannot wait.  Somehow the sweater I have been making for the past months is sapping my energy and a quick project seems like the boost I want. 

If this were a film, this would be the calm before the earthquake--which makes me very glad, it is real life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bush-wacked

So, Bush got millions for a book he is going to write.  As one friend said, he didn't realize there were any Bush supporters who actually knew how to read.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Leaving Revisionland! (for now...)

The Star!  A very good tarot card to pull indeed, which means completion.  After 12 and 13 hour days, and much anxiety, I finished this round and sent it off to my editor. I made all her changes, and some of my own.  I tightened arcs and strengthened characters and ramped up the theme.  And I realized that you never really are done, that there is always more to do.  And I realized that I am so close to the work after this week that I can't tell anymore if what I did was great or terrible or subtle or like a hammer knocking on everyone's head.

Ah, but that is why God invented brilliant editors, no?

Great new book blog at More.com

Dawn Raffel, who is a wonderful writer and an editor at More Magazine has a terrific new book blog. It's smart, informative and it's just five posts old! Go and check it out:


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuessday in Revisionland

Yes, it is a six in the morning photo and yes, I am in my bathrobe, and no I have not brushed my teeth or my hair, and yes I am working. Don't I look as if I am about to burst into tears? And there is that furrow between my eyes and those deep, attractive clown lines around my mouth....(calling all expensive skin cream, on the double...). Not my best look, but I am working, working, working.

I had to do some other work first, some reviews for People, and for my columns at Dame and Boston Globe, and I wanted to do shout-out for friends. (See blog posts below, please.)  

Today's task is theme and character clean-up. I didn't weave threads in strongly enough, so I am going back now through the whole novel.  The problem and peril of doing this is that you start to discover other things that you didn't do.  Suddenly, I am seeing that I didn't develop a character enough, or that I dropped a scene that should have been expanded.  Really, right now, it is like the Butterfly Effect-you change one little thing and EVERYTHING changes.  

I rubber-ball around.  Some minutes I think: Oh, this is good.  This is better than anything I have done before.  Then a second later, I am obsessing: This is horrifically bad. This is the end of my career and I will have to get a job writing about towels, again. (Ten Terrific Shades for just 9.99 ea.) I have my editor as my lifeline and I keep trying not to anxiously look at the clock.  The funny thing is I have become paranoid about saving everything and so not only do I keep backing up on Time Tunnel, or whatever the Mac thing is called, but I back up on CD.  I email the whole novel to myself.  

Part of me cannot wait to get this right, but part of me is desperate not to lose my characters. I wonder, when this is over, if I will know what to do with myself.  

Jennifer Gooch Hummer is an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarterfinalist!

OK, there is a story that goes with this.  I first met Jennifer when she came into one of my UCLA novel writing courses.  She was beginning this novel APRON, about a young girl grappling with her mother's death and her father's betrayal, and who finds support with two gay men who run a flower shop. I went nuts for the pages she was submitting in class.  There were lines that I was underlining, and I felt the kind of mounting excitement you always do when you see someone with real talent. We became friends through the class, and stayed friends afterwards, and we always manage to see each other at least once a year, which is always wonderful. And through the years, I have watched APRON become this stunner of a novel.  (Jennifer also has another great novel she just finished, which is about Feng Shui, but that's another story.)

No one writes like this woman, and she entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and just made quarter finalist!  Want to read it and comment and VOTE FOR HER ?  Of course you do!  

Check this out!

Please check out Well Read Donkey, Kepler's wonderful blog which is being written this week by author and editor Victoria Zackheim.

And psst--Jeff and I both got a mention in there--but that isn't why you should go and take a look!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day Two of Revisionland week and counting

1. I fixed all the time problems. Seasons were melding into seasons and people were wearing coats in the middle of July.
2. I had a revelation about a major plot point and theme emailed my editor who bless her, bless her, got back to me in five minutes! Fixed the problem throughout the book in four hours.
3. I realized I needed to add more sensory details, but in doing so, discovered I had to rewrite another whole chapter.  Four hours.
4. Put in all the details from the photographer I spoke to (she was so cool, I am knitting her fingerless. mitts!) Totally exhausted.  Going to have a pot of tea, try to watch a video and sink into sleep. 

Tomorrow have to cancel the dentist and get a new Visa for Revisionland.

Revisionland, here we come!

The truth about Revisionland today?  I cannot wait.  Every writer should have an editor as  brilliant as the one I have and be this happy. Every question she asks opens up the novel sets new things in motion. I always mention (I know I have before in this blog) this Alice Hoffman quote.  She had three editors vying for her work.  Two said, "Oh, this is great, we will publish as is, and one, the great Faith Sale, said, "Well, I like it but it needs work." She went with Faith Sale.  You want to get better.  You want to go deeper.  You want to learn everything you can so that not only is the book  you are working on the best it can be, but the next one is even better. I feel like my editor is in the trenches with me, and she has brought canteens of spring water and food from Whole Foods.

I am really lucky, and I need to go back to work.  


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Revisionland


Not my best photo--bleary, red eyes, overworked stare, and not exactly smiling into the camera, am I? I probably could brush my hair, too (oh, wait, you don't brush curly hair.) If I look like I am in another world...well, I am.

Welcome to Revisionland!

I have until Friday to turn in a set of revisions to my adored editor at Algonquin. I have been working ten hours days, sharpening arcs, revising themes, reordering chapters and puzzling out questions my editor asked, and it is really hallucinatory. She deconstructed the novel and helped me to put it together again  in a way that makes everything richer, stronger, and more surprising.

The characters whisper behind my back, making me strain to hear what they are saying. They take all the blankets at night so I can't sleep and they invade my dreams.  They use up all the soy milk before I get to breakfast and all the hot water in the shower so I get soap in my eyes, and they dog my every step so I cannot even do a simple thing like thread earrings on without thinking of them.

 Of course, I love them.  Of course, after what I put them through, I can't blame them for being a little peeved. But I am so deeply in their world now--much more so than in my own right now--that every time I come to the last page, I burst into tears. 

I want so badly for readers to love them, too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Purple Day party and more about huge advances

Of course, I forgot a camera.  Of course, my phone photos did not come out, which is really upsetting because I took a photograph of the little girl who started it out, Cassidy Megan, who was in a gorgeous ballerina dress, sitting serenely in a chair eating a purple cupcake.  Purple Day was stared by her because she was tired of being shamed at having epilepsy and wanted to raise public awareness. (The real Purple Day is the 26th--this was a party.) Organized in part by the brilliant writer Jessica Keener, there was media, there was music--and there were other writers!  I got to hug M. J. Rose, Susan Henderson and Jessica, and I met a lot of people.  Held at Dylan's Candy Bar on the Upper East Side (what a place!  Heaven for candy lovers like me), it was just a blast. (And the goody bag was to die for--purple cupcake, chocolate, skin cream, more chocolate, nail polish, cookies, more chocolate, eye shadow in purple tones, and of, course, more chocolate.)

I usually am a shy one at parties, but this was so warm, and so much fun.  And before the party I slipped into Bloomingdale's.  I haven't been there in years because I prefer funky little shops, and the first thing I saw was a woman laying on a table getting what looked like a back massage in the middle of the store!  Then there was an alarming Barbie exhibit, with one whole section devoted to Barbie-like clothing!  Come on, gals!  Do we really want to dress like a plastic doll with hard breasts?

I also want to comment on the 5 million advance paid out to the author of The Time Traveler's Wife for her second book.  She says she would have liked to have stayed with struggling and fabulous publisher MacAdam Cage, but instead took the money. (Yes, I know, that is a hard figure to turn away from!)  In this climate, where houses are failing, bookstores are closing and writers are having tough times, I really think an advance that huge is part of the problem. There have been countless articles already about how huge advances that don't earn back ruin publishers (and make it that much tougher for other authors). Was this really necessary? Yes, I know many people think she is a fine writer (Although I admire her style, I found Time Traveler's Wife book repetitious and unmoving.  I know this is shocking to many, but I did.) Couldn't she have taken a smaller advance and if she is worth 8 million, earned it in royalties?   Believe me, I am not sour grapish--I want all writers to succeed.  I want publishing to thrive and bookstores to flourish and  I am a bit of a Pollyanna who wants everyone to be happy. But hearing that advance figure made me worry for her publisher, and for truly, for all of us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm worried about just about everything

Last night, Jeff and I were up at three until four.  Jeff announced he couldn't sleep because he kept hearing the irritating line from Tommy (HOW do you think he does it? I don't know--line), which, of  course, means that I heard it, too. So, my bleary-eyed state at eight in the morning has something to do with my worries.

Newspapers are failing and more to come.  I write for newspapers.  I have a book column in The Boston Globe.  I have built up relationships with other journalists at other papers. I keep ticking off on my fingers all the newspapers that have reviewed my novels or reviews over the years and they are gone or going or in trouble. There is talk that the library here may not survive.  The library! Two of Jeff's journalistic outlets have laid off people and one magazine was sold. We always rally, but in this economic climate, it's harder and harder to do.  Every job that I can do--writing, journalism, teaching--is suffering. If I thought about changing careers, the jobs I would think about doing (being a shrink), are suffering as well.

I, of course, am panicked. For the first time, at four in the morning, I began to feel that I was not twenty any longer. It isn't that I fear growing old--I don't unless I am sick and I have a lucky life full of husband, son, writing, home, book coming out from an exquisitely good publishing house with a brilliant editor--but I do fear growing old without money.  

I know this gloom and doom cloud will pass, that I will throw out feelers for more writing or teaching jobs, that Jeff will find other outlets.  But right now, on three hours of sleep, it feels like Blade Runner (being in it, not watching it) and that "I just discovered I am an android" feeling and the whole world changes around me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A piece by Liz Lerman-let's make Wall Street execs into artists

A Proposed Job Swap To Save American Capitalism

By Liz Lerman

Do Wall Street executives deserve big bonuses during hard times? Does increased arts funding have a place in an economic stimulus package? I’ll leave it to others to debate these controversies. Meanwhile I’d like to make a modest proposal to solve some of our economic problems: Let’s do a job swap. We’ll put the corporate executives to work as artists while the artists run Wall Street.

Since their first task will be getting economic markets back on solid footing, I’m convinced that artists have the perfect resum├Ęs for their new jobs. Here’s why: 

1.     Artists work ridiculous hours for no pay. And most of the artists I know will keep working until they get the job done right. 

2.     Artists do not need fancy offices. In fact, they usually work in the worst part of town … until that part of town becomes fancy because the artists are there. Then they have to move because they haven’t paid themselves enough to afford the new rent. 

3.     Artists throw everything they earn back into the store – which is why they haven’t paid themselves enough. (I will admit that there was one time I didn’t do this. When I was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship back in 2002, I decided to open my first retirement account. I put the money in “very safe” stock market investments. I would have been better off putting it into my next dance.) 

4.     Artists do not need financial incentives. Artists do the work they do because they love it. Or because they believe in it. Or because they think it is a social necessity for our communities. Or because they know when people make poems or pictures or dances, our best human spirits emerge. 

5.     Artists do not expect to get anything if they do a bad job. Except maybe a bad review. 

6.     No artist gets a bonus because there is never enough money at the end of a project. 

7.     Artists keep very tight budgets. They know how to spend the same penny over and over (not by cooking the books, but by pinching, recycling, borrowing, bartering and plowing their economy-airline frequent-flyer miles back into the next project.) 

8.     Artists have a rightful reputation for fresh ideas combined with a capacity for self-evaluation that borders on recrimination. 

9.     Artists play well with others, having evolved highly efficient collaborative techniques in the service of their visions. But they are also very independent, delivering great things even when they work alone. 

Meanwhile, in their new capacities as painters, poets, cellists and choreographers, our Wall Street executives might be experiencing a combination of culture shock therapy and ethical boot camp. Artistic practice may force them to discover what they really believe in, because the combination of introspection, discipline and craft that fuels an artist’s work (oh, and it is work) puts people in a very demanding state of truth. Doing what artists do every day, some might find themselves in overcrowded classrooms, excited to share their practices to help young people discover that they actually can learn. Others might be sparked to help communities solve problems by bridging differences through the unique power of their art forms. Those who have been lucky enough to get funded for their work will likely be staying up nights, filling out multiple forms to prove the exact use of the money they have been granted. All will find their moral compasses tested as they balance the demanding loyalties of pursuing personal vision and creating value for an audience.

The job swap I propose might have a final payoff: With artists in charge of Wall Street, you might even see people donate to the cause because artists know how to inspire others to participate together, to work for something that matters, to build on the intangibles of the human experience, to make a difference. 

Imagine that kind of Wall Street. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reading with Robin

Reading with Robin is a fantastic radio show that really is a feast for book lovers--plus, Robin Krall, who runs the program, is absolutely wonderful.  Robin reaches out to writers and to readers and her interviews and thought-provoking, fun, and funny, too.  Her guests have included Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Meg Cabot--and me!  Coming up this Saturday is Sandra Novak, the author of Precious (see a few blog posts below.) If we were not going to be out of town to avoid the Hoboken pre St. Paddy's Day drunk fest, (participants line up for the bars at six in the morning. I'm not kidding. All the single digit IQ folk seem to converge on the town and overstay their welcome way into the night.  I love Hoboken, but I hate this day) I would be calling up to join the conversation, and say hello to Sandy and to Robin.

I still have a Reading with Robin cup from my time on her show, which I treasure, and it is truly a wonderful thing for a writer to listen to other writers talk about their craft and their work and their angst--especially when they are talking to someone as passionate about books as Robin is.   So go listen.  And say hello for me.

Carole Parker is cool

One of the great things about Facebook is the networking. I met Carole Parker, a screenwriter there and we quickly became fast friends.  Not only is she hilariously funny and smart, but it turns out we frequented the same NYC haunts in our heydays--from Danceteria to the Kiev to four in the morning 8th Avenue walks home when 8th Avenue was really, really hold-your-breath dangerous.  But the even greater thing is she is knock-your-socks off talented.  A New Tomorrow (poster on the left) is her savvy, sharp mockumentary that takes place around an election, poking fun at the Christian Right, reenactors (my fave), would be rockers, and more.  Her newest script, a pilot, set in 1980s NYC , is  groundbreaking.  Called La Femme Accident, it follows Candy (think Voltaire's Candide) a boy who leaves a bleak existence back home to come to NYC and make it with a makeshift family of friends...as a woman.

What I loved about the script was all the highbrow references (smartypants like me will love the subtle Voltaire and Wizard of Oz references.) Carole gets  all the club details achingly right, with a few famous characters (think Billy Idol) thrown in for good measure. If this gets picked up, (and it should--it's that good) I am going to nag Carole to let me write an episode or twelve. Or at least a few lines.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday worries and rants

I know these numbered worries below are ridiculous, and I also know, that on some level, they actually work to energize me because I have to rally against them.  Ultimately it all ends up in digging deeper, shutting out these voices and working harder, which is always a good thing for a writer.  Anyway, I wonder if other writers feel the insecurities that I do and how they manage. Or, perhaps being insecure is just part of being a writer--that extra sensitivity, the feeling that you are like the Fool on the tarot card, about to step off the mountain and out into the unknown. Okay, here are the rants and my talking myself down:

1. I am not working hard enough (every other writer is producing much more than I am.) This idea may crop up even after I have put in 6 hours and my head is about to explode.)
2. I may have written something good once--and I say that only because reviewers said it--but that doesn't mean I can do it ever again. But wait, I'm a book critic and I don't say things I don't mean about books, so why should any other reviewer? And there is that great John Irving quote about feeling that you are on the verge on humiliating yourself and losing control, which means you are pushing the boundaries.
3.  I have no plot.  Or, it is tired and stupid and embarrassing.  Or, it simply does not make sense. (See Irving quote above.)
4. I don't know how to schmooze and network enough and I spend way too much time anxious that either I will not get readings or no one will show up. Or worse, one person will show up who will be there to witness that no one else showed up.  This bookstore thing happens to a lot of writers. It makes a funny story.  Not then, but later.
5. No other writer suffers when they write, but somehow, effortlessly and with great grace, produces masterworks.  Uh huh.  

I also know that all this business in my brain is a kind of Jewish Evil Eye, a protection against disaster. I also think it is just what writers do.  We imagine the most dramatic scenario, where the stakes are the highest, and then we play it out in our heads.

Sigh and alas.  Back to work for me. And truly--though I am probably the 2009 winner for the Most Insecure Person on the Planet Award, I love what I do.  I feel so lucky that I get to do something that feels so important to me, and so rich. And if these worries are part of it, well it is still so much better than when I worked for Columbia House and had to write reams of copy about how many videos a customer could get for $24.95 with dividend dollars.


Read this Book: The Brightest Moon of the Century


First the reviews: "Poignant and wise," Los Angeles Times.  

" A collection that is so stunning...that I could not help but move on to the next story." Entertainment weekly
"Original and articulate." Midwest Book Review

These stellar reviews are for Christopher Meek's The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea and Other Stories, and guess what--the book was self-published.  Now Meeks has a new book out The Brightest Moon of the Century ( started in my UCLA advanced novel writing class four years ago) which follows Edward, a Minnesotan, from age 14 to 45, and it is already is racking up the raves.


Purple Day is coming March 26th

Purple Day is meant to increase awareness about epilepsy worldwide. I'm honored to report that I am going to be joining other writers at a very special big deal Purple Day party at Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC on March 10th  (many thanks to the incredible Jessica Keener for helping to organize this.)

Founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, Purple Day is an international grassroots effort d. On March 26, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy.

Why? Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That's more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined.

Why purple? Lavender is the international colour for epilepsy.

Getting involved is easy. Wear purple and encourage others to do the same. Host a Purple Day party or fundraising event at your home, school or business. And most importantly, get real facts about epilepsy by browsing this site and those of our partners.

Cassidy's Story

Hi, my name is Cassidy Megan. I’m nine years old and I have epilepsy. I started Purple Day because I wanted to tell everyone about epilepsy, especially that all seizures are not the same and that people with epilepsy are ordinary people just like everyone else. I also wanted kids with epilepsy to know that they are not alone.

Before I started Purple Day, I was afraid to tell people about my epilepsy because I thought they would make fun of me. After the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia did a presentation in my class, I started to talk with the other kids about my seizures. That is when I decided to become a spokesperson for kids with epilepsy.


Please visit the website http://www.purpleday.org  for more details!

Have a heart


The photo of the handsome guy on the left is my friend Peter.  I've know him for about 20 years now, and we have weathered together bad dates, divorces, deaths, critical illnesses, marriages, births, work woes and more.  We spoke at each other's weddings and embarrassed each other on elevators and in fine restaurants.  Every year, we make outrageous cards for each other's birthdays and we try to have lunch together whenever we can. I adore Peter.

Over five years ago, Peter's husband called me to tell me that Peter was in the hospital with a glioblastoma, one of the deadliest brain cancers there is.  Peter, who believes everything is possible, beat it.  Miraculously, there is no sign of the cancer after five years, and Peter started this foundation for research. Please consider donating, and if you are in the NYC area, you may want to come to this!


Thursday, May 14th, The Salzano-Smith Foundation for Brain Tumor Research presents Hats Off To Dance at The Venetian, with cocktails, special live performances, a four course meal and dancing.  Plus super prizes.  It's only $40 for dinner, $30 for a donation. For more info, you can email me at carleavitt@hotmail.com.