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.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Milk is an extraordinary film--and an important one. In an age where Sarah Palin dares to say that the true America is the "little pockets, the small towns, where everyone is the same" which, in her way of thinking and speaking, seems like her particular code words for intolerance, a film likes this explores and challenges prejudice. Penn is astonishing, the movie is heartscorching, and the lines were around the block an hour before show time.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
and I peppered Melissa with questions, which are below.
1. What led you to write a book about friendship and what made you decide on the friendship pairs that you did?
When I went through a particularly rough patch a few years ago, I really came to appreciate the joy, laughter and moral support that my girlfriends provided. While I had always felt my friendships were important, it occurred to me that as we get older with more responsibilities – husbands, homes, children, jobs – that we might need to be reminded to take a little time out to stay in touch with those we hold dear. So, the idea was to create a way to honor the wonderful women we hold dear – and the book was born.
When I was researching my last book, How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life, I learned a bit about Audrey’s friendship with Sophia Loren. From there, I researched who was friends with who. Also, I tried to choose relationships that represent the various types of friendships we all encounter. For example, Lucy Ball and Vivian Vance as co-workers, Katharine Hepburn as a mentor to Lauren Bacall and Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds as a mother/daughter friendship. There were some friendships that perhaps did not have enough information to become a chapter and so you can find them as smaller stories throughout the book.
2. What surprised you about these friendships? (I know I was surprised by the depth of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynold's relationship.)
Overall, I would say I was surprised at how normal these friendships were. Certainly, these were women who led extraordinary, public lives – and yet privately, I think they looked for the same things in a friendship that we all do – companionship, compassion and laughter. They rallied together in times of tragedy and celebrated together when the time was right. They gave each other professional and personal advice.
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds are a very interesting pair – not only because they are both fascinating and seasoned women, but also because they have managed to go through so much together and still keep laughing. There is something especially beautiful about family members who become friends.
3. Were there any famous friendships you didn't include that you wished that you had?
I wish I could have known more about the friendship between Vivien Leigh and Katharine Hepburn, but both were fairly private about each other. I also considered including a chapter about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford – perhaps the ultimate frenemies. There are some ridiculous and amazing stories there! They worked hard at getting under each other’s skin. But in the end, the book was a celebration of friendship, and so I decided to leave them out.
4. What do you think this book says about modern day friendships, in relationship to some of these very classy, vintage ones?
Perhaps it comments on the fact that no matter what the social culture, era or lifestyle, female friendships don’t change all that much. For me, this is a very reassuring fact. We need each other and often for the same reasons our grandmothers and great-grandmothers needed their friends.
5. What is in the works now for you?
I am working on a few ideas. Writing Getting Along Famously, I was fascinated to learn that Lucille Ball became not only the first female head of a studio, but also the largest studio in Hollywood at the time. She made landmark shows like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek possible. And so I have been looking into what other female firsts might be worth learning about.
6. Was there a question I should have asked that I didn't?
Nothing comes to mind! It was a pleasure!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
It's all that anxiety from the election, and being run-down, and overworked and not exactly taking the best of care of myself but driving myself to do more, be more, etc. etc.