Thursday, April 21, 2005

Off Like a Prom Dress

So I'm off to San Diego later today. . .and though I absolutely hate flying, I can hardly wait for the solitude. I've got my CD Player, two books, and cash for little baby wine bottles. Bliss.

And I also got some fantastic news yesterday that I plan to carry with me...Christy (my agent) wrote that she really likes the book thus far. A tremendous relief. Is it possible to third-guess yourself? Anyway, I trust her absolutely, and so it means a lot when the words are kind. She plans to finish this weekend and come up with a game plan next week. This is the thrilling part...

More after the trip.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Tulips. Posted by Hello

You wouldn't believe the things that are blooming in our yard. After this winter, I was fairly convinced that nothing would ever WANT to grow in our barren little patch of the world. But now the rhododendrons, tulips (in every shade of red, orange, and yellow), and argh...just as I'm waxing poetic here with what's blooming P called to tell me it's going to cost $800 to fix the breaks in his car. Nothing like a little acid rain on my parade here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Two more days until my highly-anticipated and much-needed vacation to San Diego. Alone. I have not been alone in years, it seems. Most of my plans for the trip revolve around the food I miss: fish tacos at South Beach, chimichangas at El Rodeo, cheesesteaks at Theo's and sitting on the deck at New York Giant Pizza. Nevermind vodka lemonades on the roof at Sunshine Co. and beers at the beach. The beach!! I can't believe how much I miss the beach. For a native Vermonter, I sure grew accustomed quickly to the sound of waves crashing and seals barking.

This trip should also give me a good chance to get my mind off the book which sits, still, with my agent. She's due to have her baby in just over a month. I can't imagine that she'll be able to tackle this project before she goes, but I have high hopes.

I bought a new book for the trip: "Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld. I'll admit it -- I got sucked in by the hype, otherwise I would have waited or the paperback. I'm typically a wait for the video kind of girl (read, cheap). But I am drawn to the books with acknowledgements thanking the author's publicity team. TEAM? That's Random House for you.

I am close to finishing the Bohjalian book whose pace slows down considerably after the accident scene. Still quite good, though. I am looking forward to five hours of time -- alone -- to read on the plane.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Would the NEA fund her next project? Posted by Hello

Five Steps

Now that I actually have time to devote to my children, it seems the littlest might finally be able to reach some significant developmental milestones. Do I blame myself that Esmee, at fifteen months, isn't walking yet?? Yes. Kicky was walking at ten months, I am convinced, because for those ten months she was simply the be-all, end-all of my world. I quit writing, reading, eating, and sleeping back then. Poor little neglected E. But yesterday, after much love and coaxing, she took five whole steps. With a look of pure terror and exhileration, she walked from the ottoman to the couch.

I've been reading...what a treat...a lot since I finished the book. Right now I'm half-way through "Before You Know Kindness" by Chris Bohjalian. He's a fellow Vermont writer, and (despite the fact that he once never returned a request for a blurb) I really respect his work. This novel is meticulous. Every time I read someone who spends so much time on each detail, I feel like I hurry through scenes in my own writing. I don't know whether I am afraid of rambling or just lazy, but there's a certain economy to my dialogue, description, etc...

I've also had time to spend in basking in the sunshine while Patrick plants and tills. We've got a vegetable garden in the backyard and a lilac bush out front. I feel like we live in the country, instead of just a few miles to the White House. We have squirrels, cardinals, and a bird that sings, "Right here, right here."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Eight Steps

I'm feeling a certain ennui since "finishing" the book. Everyone always compares finishing a novel to giving birth. I've done both, and let me tell you, they are two very different things.

I think of the days after letting the book go more like the grieving process:

1) Denial/Shock: It's done?! It can't be done. How did I manage to do this?
2) Anger: Four years of graduate school, student loans that could have bought me a brand new Lexus, and instead all I get is this?
3) Bargaining: If this one gets picked by Oprah, I'll never cuss, drink, scream at my kids again.
4) Guilt: I really suck. There are much better writers out there.
5) Depression: I really, really suck. There are much, much better writers out there.
6) Loneliness: So I choose to spend most of my time alone manufacturing make-believe people living in make-believe places. What kind of loser am I?
7) Acceptance: Well, this is what I do. Maybe they'll like it, maybe they won't. Doesn't matter.
8) Hope: Maybe they'll like it...maybe they'll really, really like it??

I think the last dud of a novel (the one I spent nearly a year of my life writing) has really shattered me for this one. I am second-guessing almost every word. Every punctuation mark. Since the manuscript made it's cyber journey northward to New York, I have felt nothing even remotely akin to relief or excitement. Just anxiety. Sheer fear. Nevermind the coincidental and ironic recent e-mail onslaught from readers who want to know when the next book is coming out. How do you say that it may not? That there may never, ever, ever be a publishable book again?

On a lighter note: we took the girls to see Debbie Allen's "Dancing in the Wings" (based on the children's book) at The Kennedy Center last night. My eyes and throat swelled up with joy at the ants dancing ( a sort of drumline dance of about fifty kids dressed up like ants). The strangest things are moving me lately (did I mention the pile of blue glass on the street the other day? the man sitting in a kitchen chair in front of his row house on 15th St., listening to jazz on a portable record player?).

At least it's spring. Kicky plucked three brilliant dandelions from the yard yesterday.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What now?

So I don't know what to do with myself. I feel like I just got off a ship and still have my sea-legs. Every time I get a free minute I feel this familiar overwhelming urgency to sit down at the computer to work on the book. But there is, at least for now, no book to work on. I hesitate to start a new project; since I know this respite is temporary, but I'm antsy.

Today was the first truly beautiful day since we moved here. Seventy wonderful degrees (I love each and every one of them) and sunny. I took the girls to the park in the wagon (which still has some sand from OB in it), had a picnic, and then came home and basked on the front lawn while Kicky played "hopstock" with sidewalk chalk. Still feeling at the periphery of this bug, I wound up crashed out during Esmee's afternoon nap as Kicky watched God only knows what on tv.

I'm making plans for the Weeki Wachee research trip. My wheels are spinning. I suspect I'll be ready for a bit of Florida sunshine by next winter. I'm thinking old school family roadtrip. Too bad I ditched the Volvo wagon.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pixie Dust

In the past, I have always sent my manuscripts out via the post office...with much ceremonially fanfare (good-luck dances, crazy wishing prayers, etc...). Now, with my first e-mail submission, clicking the Send button suddenly carries all sorts of new significance. I've never made such a nervous click of the mouse in my life.

The novel went out about five minutes ago to my agent.

Think good thoughts.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

'Tis the (flu) season

I swear to God if I accidentally delete one more post (I just spelled that poast) I will quit the blogging life.

Anyway...SO in the last week, our little family has endured simultaneous chest colds, stomach flus, and mysterious high-fever achey-body-shakey complaints. I have never cleaned up so much vomit in my life. The girls are better now, thankfully, and Patrick has recovered as well. I, on the other hand, have managed to teeter on the edge of this in a way I've mastered since becoming a mother...who has the time to languish sickly with two kids? It's lurking, though (in the depths of my throat, chest, gut).

I finished the novel on my grampa's birthday...last word, "arms." I cried a little bit, drank a mini-bottle of champagne and saved the cork to join the five others (another hoody-goody compulsive habit). Now I'm revising madly. I want to get it off to Christy tomorrow or Tuesday. I need it out of my house, head.

I painted two murals this week...the biggest hit was the ballerina for a little girl down the street yesterday. I like being able to finish a project in a day. I should never have become a novelist. I have a poet's attention span.