Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hissy Fit

Okay. So I'm crazy over this, but not as bad as this poor kid:


No word. Still.

I have a brilliant student. Being prone to procrastination, I waited until this morning to read the stories for today's class. And so bleary-eyed and not yet caffeinated I sat down to read and was absolutely blown away (goose-bumps and all) by one of the stories. I have never really had that happen before. I have definitely had talented students, but not of this caliber. I'm not even sure how to go about critiquing the story.

Still no word from the agent. I woke up at 4:00 again this morning and realized that I should probably come up with a back-up plan. I have no idea what to do with this book if he doesn't want it. I have warned P that I am on the edge of losing it. That I might just take the MCATS and go to medical school I have one more failure with my writing. I know it's extreme, but my ego has been so battered in the last few years, I'm ready to do something that has tangible -- and immediate -- rewards. I probably should opt for something that won't put me further into student loan debt. I have a friend who just went to Africa and helped build a house for Habitat for the Humanities. Maybe that's what I should do. I wonder if they let you bring along toddlers.

Esmee is obsessed with the movie, "Annie." She watches it every morning. She still can't form a sentence, but she can wordlessly sing the soundtrack with perfect pitch. When she was an infant, she could replicate any note I sang. It was a little creepy.

I'll be hanging out waiting today. Banging my head on my desk.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

So I had the nicest grown-up Sunday...Patrick watched the girls, and I spent hours wandering around Politics and Prose, looking for something to buy with my gift certificate. I wound up with a beautiful art book of Lewis Carroll's photographs and Atonement by Ian McEwan. I'm obsessing lately over Carroll's sepia colored photos of children. I think the secret to my next novel is somewhere inside that book. I was missing my grandfather the whole time. When I was little we took field trips to book stores where we spent hours and hours. Afterwards, I went to Trader Joes and got some nice cheese and then I made the most incredible soft black bean and chicken tostadas for dinner. Ifell into this blissful sleep until 4:00 this morning, when there was some weird scuffle on our street...teenagers yelling at each other, a car parked in front of our house. I think it was the girl who lives next door and her friends, and I can't quite figure out where her parents were. The cops finally came, and they were chuckling after speaking to the kids, so it was probably something ridiculous. It's scary though...a teenaged boy here was just killed by a cop the other day after he and his friends left an IHOP without paying their tab. The head of my bed is right by a window, and I always have this irrational fear that a stray bullet is going to get me while I'm sleeping. I know, I'm such a country mouse.

So, today has potential to be either terrible or wonderful (or just another excruciating day of waiting). I dreamed the other night that I had called Christy (my old agent) to tell her that I had found someone new to represent the book.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Longest Weekend

I've figured out how to make a weekend last forever...just have something you're waiting for on the other side of it. I'm hoping/fearing that I will get word from the agent on Monday. Not sure why Monday except that he promised to get to it quickly, and he hasn't broken a promise yet.

So I had a book-related, guilty-happy moment this weekend. James Frey has apparently lost out on his seven figure book deal following all of the Oprahooplah. I actually think his crucifixion has been a bit extreme...come on, it's just a stupid book for chrissakes. But, I cannot forgive him (or Jonathan Franzen for that matter -- by the way, you should check out this funny discussion of his author photo) for really screwing us other hard-working writers over. What I mean is...the last time something like this happened (i.e. an author disrespecting Miss Winfrey), she gave up the book club. The lottery for contemporary writers was shut down, the easy-pick tickets ripped from our tight hopeful fists. When she did bring it back, she played it safe picking books by dead authors. Now what is to happen? Do you really think she'll take a chance on someone who might further undermine the book club?? I think not. Thanks, James Frey. Losing your seven figures might make you think about all of the legitimate story-tellers out there you &*&%%!!!***ed over. Sorry about the hostility. I'm typically marshmellowy, but this really gets my goat.

Big plans for the weekend include writing an article about Making Workplace Safety a Priority. I finished Tayari Jones's lovely but disturbing novel, Leaving Atlanta, so I'm looking for the next book to suit my mood. I'm thinking about The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. I have now had three people recommend it to me. I also have been avoiding painting the ceiling in our basement because I HATE PAINTING CEILINGS. I haven't painted a single ceiling in this house. When people come over, I just hope they don't look up.

I also have a new vice...a little late, I know...but I am obsessed with Curb Your Enthusiasm. I can't get enough of it. We just got HBO, and I feel like I've just crawled out of a cave. Larry David is a genius.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Monetizing a Value Proposition

Okay. So I am writing like crazy about marketing strategies, sales, and service. And the scary thing is that I get it. I really, really get it. It's like this weird puzzle I've figured out. And the greatest distraction on earth from the reality that my entire future hangs suspended like some teetering aerialist.

You know, I was watching the ski jumpers tonight on the Olympics, and it just made me want to throw up. What sort of insane person just hurls their bodies five stories into the air? And then I thought, this is sort of what this is like. Throwing myself out there, wriggling around like I know what I'm doing, and hoping to God I don't smash into a wall or, worse, land on my head. Metaphoric thinking. It'll get you every time.

Did I mention I got a gift certificate to Politics and Prose for Valentine's Day? (In addition to the pound of chocolate which has been gone for almost a week now.) Me, I'm the thoughtful type. I registered P in a St. Patrick's Day 10K.

Esmee can say "elevator," and Kicky has decided to be a "vermician" when she grows up. You know, so she can do magic.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


So I think I am so anxious I'm having some sort of psychosomatic attack...I feel fine, but I've got a temperature of 101. I am really, really tired, but no runny nose. No headache. Nothing.

Anyway. No word from the agent yet. Plugging away at the laboratory supply company newsletter. Ever heard of Process Effectiveness. Me neither! It's like learning a new language.

Speaking of which, Esmee can say "George Bush scary." And Kicky was speaking made-up Spanish in her sleep a few nights ago. The poor kid is so confused. She goes to a Jewish pre-school, and in her wonderful toddler logic, she thinks kabbalah is the Spanish word for "stop." She was muttering it in her dreams, kabbalah, kabbalah, kabbalah.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fear and Self-Loathing

I just sent the manuscript off to my agent-in-waiting. God, I am petrified. I seriously can no longer tell whether the book is a masterpiece or a piece of shit. I've added and subtracted so much, it's the same book but entirely different. I am so scared. If he decides, again, to pass, I'm not sure what to do next. I have no back-up plan. Every egg I've got is in this little basket. Please do send fairy dust and a little voodoo directed toward New York City where my novel sits and waits in the agent's in-box.

The girls are climbing the walls; I've been at the computer for a week solid. I'm a terrible mother. Kicky is disciplining Esmee as I write. When she starts cooking the meals I should probably worry...

Unfortunately, there is no rest in sight. I've taken on a freelance job writing a newsletter for a laboratory supply company. Am I insane? Also, my classes are in workshop mode, so I am either reading or critiquing continuously from now until May.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Here are the things I love today:

the merbabies
bread pudding with Irish creme sauce
a pint of amber beer
new books delivered to my door
Esmee's first stabs at "I love you."
my mother, father, sister
the smell of the chocolate brownies I just baked
Esmee's breath in my ear
waking up to the padding of four tiny feet
one warm sleeping body next to me
the certainty of trees

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nor'easter Posted by Picasa

This is what we woke up to this morning. Snow. Glorious snow. What quiet. The girls played outside until their boots were filled with snow and their mittens were sopping wet.

This afternoon Kicky and I are going to brave the weather and head out to catch "Curious George." Tonight P and I are going out for an early Valentine's filet mignon. Maybe to Utopia. We always wind up there; we're both such creatures of habit.

I have one week and two days to finish my revisions.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Can't a Girl Get a Break?

So I didn't get the position at George Washington (a one year visiting writer appointment). I didn't really think I would, but there was this tiny little glimmer of hope. I wonder sometimes if I'll ever have a full-time teaching gig. Then I wonder if I really want one. I think I just really want to be compensated. There is nothing more frustrating than working and working and working and getting paid in peanuts or working and working and working with no guarantee that I will ever be paid. Welcome to the writing life.

Good news is, nothing like adversity to light a fire under my heinie. I have been revising like a madly. My benevolent agent-in-waiting is now waiting for the whole revised enchilada which I have promised to send by February 20th.

Esmee, my late-talker, can say her name now, but she has to say it in two syllables...and with much coaxing. EZ. MAY.

I'm feeling blue. I really wanted this job.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My "New" Office Posted by Picasa

The last few weeks have been spent re-doing the basement which is fast becoming my favorite room in the house. My office has been revamped (with a mural -- above), the godawful paneling has been painted, and all of the girls' toys are in tidy little bins in a giant cubby bookcase (lookout, Martha). We have a sleeper couch, a TV, and new carpeting as well. There's a sweet reading corner with all of the girls' books and a cozy chair for us. It's been well worth the time and money spent.

I have also been madly revising. I think I've got about three weeks left, if I stay on schedule. I'm finding that I have really learned the value of economy. I am forcing myself to cut one page per chapter. This makes for much tighter writing. My agent-in-waiting continues to give me positive feedback, and I feel encouraged.

The pre-school issue has been resolved. The school is grandfathering current students and their siblings, so both girls will be going half-days next fall. I haven't heard yet about the position at GW (a visiting writer position I applied for), but having them in school will open up my schedule a bit.

I went to hear Tayari Jones read at GW a couple of nights ago. We share a mutual writer friend, Nichelle Tramble (http://www.nichelletramble.com). Nichelle is going to post an interview with me sometime in the next couple of weeks. Tayari was terrific. She read from her first novel, Leaving Atlanta.

Today I teach at The Writer's Center and then it's home to play with the merbabies and do some more work. Did I mention my desk faces their play area? Multi-tasking at it's best.