Work Not in Progress

September 26th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

For those who have been with me during the misery of the blurbage process, I found this article, “Six Writers Tell All About Covers and Blurbs” to be really comforting. I paricularly like Mark Jude Poirier‘s take on it:

Asking for blurbs is humiliating and horrible. If your editor and or publicist can do it for you, you’re lucky. If left on your own, ask writer friends or professors. Because I know how awkward it is to ask for blurbs, this is what I usually say when I’m asked to blurb someone’s book: “I’d be happy to blurb your book, but are you sure you don’t want to ask someone with a fan base that isn’t limited to his mother’s book club?” If you ask someone for a blurb, and they write you a decent one, use it! I once was asked to write a blurb for a friend so I diligently reread his novel—I had read earlier drafts. He didn’t use my blurb, which was a good blurb, damn it! I would have understood if my blurb had been knocked off the jacket by blurbs from Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie and Annie Proulx, but no; my blurb was knocked off by blurbs from writers just as obscure as I am. Feelings check: hurt.

And with that thought in mind, I am officially going to not mention anything else about my novel until a) my agent sells it or b) my agent tells me it’s not going to sell. She has not yet sent my novel out on submission, but the entire thing is simply too stressful to think about, so I’m pushing it out of my mind and focusing on my next novel.

Which, by the way, is also extremely stressful. I find that once I have a rhythm going, I love to write. But these first steps, when I’m figuring out my character, trying to plot out the action, I’m a bundle of nerves. I read too much, trying to do research, most of which is never used. I obsess too much, toying with the characters in my mind while I’m running in the mornings. I jot too much, and I end up with random pieces of paper with strange lines of dialogue I’ve overheard or an idea I thought of. At some point, it all comes together, but it hasn’t yet for me. I have two main characters in my next novel. One I have a very clear idea of who she is. The other is still a foggy notion for me. I know some basic facts, but I don’t know her, and until I know her, I can’t be sure what she’s going to do. As my agent so wisely told me, the plot doesn’t drive the character; the character must drive the plot. In other words, what your character does must make sense, must move the plot forward. You can’t simply change your character to make sense of a plot.

Now if only my character would come out of hiding. I can just barely glimpse her….

How I Hope and I Pray That I Will…

September 19th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Am I the only one who gets teary eyed at Schoolhouse Rock? Seriously! Every time that Bill becomes a Law, I just want to weep in happiness for him.

The pressure in not blogging very often is that when I finally do blog, I know you all think I’m going to have something interesting to say. But very often—okay, always—I don’t. So then you just have to hear about what’s on my mind. And, oh, there are many things on my mind! For instance:

Adam and I play this little game. The recycling bin fills up to the point where we can’t close the garbage drawer. So someone pulls it out of the drawer. And we leave it in the middle of the kitchen. And continue to fill it. It’s like Jenga, in reverse. Who can add on the most without the pile toppling over? And who’s going to be chicken, finally taking the recycling out? Last time, it was me. Next time, I won’t give in so easily.

My son, who has Hebrew school three days a week, (soon) hockey twice a week, drums once a week, Cub Scouts every other week, has now decided he’s going to take up the viola. The viola. I had to look it up. I mean, who the hell knows what a viola is? Why not the violin? “The viola makes a better sound.” Let’s try him in a blind listening test. I don’t think he’d be able to tell the viola from, oh, I don’t know, a garbage truck.

My daughter is coming up with yet more creative ways to get out of going to sleep. “My arm hurts! My eye hurts! Mommy, let’s make out!” [Making out being our snuggle time with lots of kisses] Pie is currently working on being “brave and independent.” Uh, yeah.

Speaking of my daughter, she said to me, “I’m reading level M books! I can read Junie B. Jones!” I asked her, “Were you tested on level M books?” quite surprised. Level M is the beginning of 3rd grade reading. My little first grader is a great reader, but an age-appropriate reader. Last anyone checked, Pie was solidly on the end of kindergarten/beginning of 1st grade level. So I asked again, “Someone tested you on Level M books?” She happily replied, “Yes!” Very surprised, I said, “Who tested you on Level M books?” She rolled her eyes. “Me, Mommy! I tested myself! I can read Level M books!” Sigh. And now comes the process of “managing expectations.”

My son is not immune to problems. Last Wednesday he said to me, “School is boring. I’m not going today.” I tried to ascertain if something had happened, but no, it was simply boring and he wasn’t going. “Okay,” I said logically. “Everyone needs a mental health day every now and then. And if you need one, you can take one. However, in March, when you truly need a mental health day and want to take one, I’m going to say, ‘No, because you took a mental health day ON THE FIFTH DAY OF SCHOOL, YOU TOTAL DOLT!'” Shockingly, the boy decided to go to school. Boredom and all.

John Irving signs a copy of "Hotel New Hampshire"

A friend and I went to see John Irving speak the other night. He read from his next book, which will be out next year, and it definitely intrigued me. But I enjoyed when he talked about writing, how he plots out every part of his book before he starts so he knows exactly what will happen and just needs to worry about language. An interesting way of looking at it. I want to try that on my next book, for which I have some pretty strong ideas but no formally written plot yet. But then he said things like, “I think writing in the present tense is lazy” and “I don’t like most modern writing” and it made me happy that literary curmudgeons still exist today.

After school this afternoon, my son said, “I’m so happy! We have homework and it’s due tomorrow!” I said, “Really? That’s great!” He looked at me with third-grade eyes, and said, “Duh, Mom! That was sarcasm!” Gee, how did I miss that?

I e-mailed an author I like to see if she’d blurb my novel, and she e-mailed me back to have my agent send it to her agent. How exciting is that! She basically told me, “Have your people call my people,” and, I HAVE PEOPLE! Life throws you a bone every now and then.

Even if today, I’m still just a Bill.

The Agony of the Page Proof

September 1st, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Reading your own work is painful. Reading it multiple times is akin to water torture.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not talking about revising. I’ve grown to really love the revision process. Revision is welcome because the bones of the piece are down. I don’t have to worry about “where is this going” and “what happens next.” True, these things sometimes change in revision, but the structure is there and the revision process is simply to make it better. The best revising is when you get great feedback (my agent worked miracles with her suggestions!) and can see the improvements as you’re going. It’s exciting, it’s invigorating, it’s intoxicating.

No, I’m talking about rereading when it’s a done deal. When it’s in print and ready to go, or even worse, out there for the world.

I recently received the page proofs for the essay I have coming out in Bellevue Literary Review this fall. (Page proofs are your story typeset and laid out, so you can simply check for typos.) When you see your pages, there’s an initial feeling of elation. “Look! It’s my name! In print!” And then you start reading your work. First of all, when I’m done with a piece, truly done, I disconnect from it. It represents a different time and place for me, and it’s always strange to revisit it, as if going to a high school reunion and trying to reconnect with friends from whom you were once inseparable. It’s never quite the same. Second of all, revision never ends. But page proofs are too late to be making changes, so even if you think, “Oh, it would be better if it said QRS instead of XYZ,” unless it’s an actual error, it’s too late.

The thing with submitting stories and essays is that, generally, I don’t. Many writers create pieces and send them off. I tell myself that I’ll do that, too, because that’s the best way to get published. But I don’t usually work that way. I write a piece. I leave it. I edit it. I leave it. I edit it. And at some point I forget about it. Then, if I happen to see–on a Web site, in the back of Poets and Writers, through a friend–a good fit for the piece, I’ll remember it and submit it. But because of that, I often submit things that are older. The piece that’s coming out now is an older piece, written about traveling before I was married, when kids weren’t even a tiny thought yet. So looking back is odd, trying to remember who I was at that time.

Don’t get me wrong: I still like the piece. I’m very excited it’s going to be published. And I hope you’ll read it. But now you’ll understand why I won’t.

Being Judged

July 19th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

The other night we watched Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (and by “we watched,” I mean, I watched while Adam fell asleep on the couch. I admire Joan Rivers a lot. It’s easy to joke about the plastic surgery and the QVC stuff she does, but she really has—to quote Michelle Bachmann—a lot of “choots-pa.” She has done amazing things with her life. But what stuck out at me most about the documentary is how, at 75, she still fears being judged. She’s still completely insecure. She put on a play in London to a standing ovation. Yet the reporters were lukewarm on it, so she refused to put the play on in New York for fear of what the critics would say.

That’s the thing with any creative field. And I don’t think I realized it until recently. An entire hierarchy exists in which, if you can just get to the next point, everything will be okay. But the problem is, that next point doesn’t exist. There’s always the point after.

Once upon a time, I was a lonely little writer sitting in my illegal first floor apartment on 10th Street in the East Village of New York City. I had a box of a computer with the black screen and a copy of WordStar. I worked as an editorial assistant for a now defunct book packaging company, and while during the day I churned out book proposals for work, at night I spent every free hour that wasn’t drinking, doing freelance proofreading (because at my peak in this company, I earned $16,000, which even in 1990, wasn’t enough to live on in NYC) and working on “my writing.” “My writing” was this ambiguous thing in those days, scrawls that filled notebooks and half pages of WordStar files. When I was feeling brave enough, I’d print them out and bring them to a writing group, filled with folks like myself—overeducated, underpaid, young New Yorkers who longed for a more literary era. Personally, I fancied myself a Dorothy Parker.

Each writing group was fraught as we gently tried to help each other improve. Sitting there silently as others judged your writing was a challenge. But it was a necessary evil as three years later I decided I wanted to do something with “my writing” and I applied to MFA programs.

Talk about brutal. I knew that once I got into a program, everything would be okay. I’d be validated about my writing and I’d begin a successful career. Never mind the rejection notices I received. I had pretty much despaired, planning on skipping out of NYC, finding a place to wait tables somewhere out West, and just write, when I came home late one night, half drunk, from a friend’s show at Sin-e on St. Mark’s. I actually remember the night pretty well, because there was another guy sitting there, writing, while the band was playing and he was wearing headphones, listening to something else, which I thought was pretty rude. I confronted him on it, because that’s the kind of thing I do. He claimed to be a musician and not into my friend’s music, and I thought he was an ass, and continued to think he was an ass, even though it turned out he was a famous ass and then a tragic one when he died a few years later.

But, as usual, I digress. The point is, I came home that night, opened my mail box, and cried when I saw the thin letter from the University of Washington. In the hallway, I started just sobbing. I really wanted to go to the University of Washington. I was going to put the envelope on the table to deal with the next morning, but didn’t want to wake to misery, so I opened it, thinking “It’s odd that they’re pleased to reject me,” taking a full five minutes to realize that, thin or not, it was an acceptance.

And so my life was made. I was set! Until I had to produce, three pieces a trimester, to be—not gently—ripped apart by my peers, constantly worried that I was the fraud, that I was the one who didn’t belong. Trying to keep up, trying to produce work. Trying to complete my thesis. And, finally, so I did.

And so my life was made. I was set! Well, until I started trying to get published. Once a literary journal had accepted me, I’d be validated about my writing and have a successful career.

And the journals have come. Very slowly. Painfully slowly. Dribbles here and there amidst the multitude of rejections. I save my rejections in a folder, hold onto them for the day I can say, “See! I told you I could write!” But it turns out publishing in journals isn’t enough.

I had to write the novel. And I did. Four of them actually (if you count my grad school thesis). But finally I wrote the one I thought would work. It passed the muster of my writing group. But I needed an agent. So I put myself out there again. I queried and hoped and revised and because once I got an agent, I’d be validated about my writing and have that successful career. And it happened. I got my agent. My wonderful agent who put my novel through the wringer to make it not just a good novel, but what I hope is a great novel. So I’m there. I’m validated. I’m done.

Except, of course, I’m not. Because, after watching Joan Rivers tonight, it’s been hammered in what should have been so obvious to begin with. If you choose a career like writing, there is no validation, there is no content with a successful career. Because when you’re writing, you’re always auditioning.

Now, I sit and wait for my agent to submit the novel to editors who will then judge my writing. And in the meantime, I submit my novel to writers whom I admire to see if they will blurb my book, and I wait, anxiously, for them to judge me. And—if—an editor makes an offer on my book, I’ll wait to hear what readers, what critics have to say. And then there will be the pressure of the next book, where it starts (almost) all over.

How many times have you picked up a published book and thought, “Eh? Didn’t love it.” And there are even times you pick one up and say, “This was terrible!” Not everyone will love every book. I have to remind myself of that. Not everyone will love my novel.

I’m not going to spout platitudes about how simply writing is validation. It’s not. Simply writing is simply writing. I guess the key is to give up looking for that validation, although, let’s face it: That’s not human nature.

A story for you: My grandmother was an incredibly well read woman. We traded books fairly frequently. She was also a very harsh woman, a woman who rarely had a kind word to say to anyone’s face. I’m not sure why I did it, but shortly before she died, I let her read one of my novels (not the one that’s being shopped around; one that I keep in my bottom drawer). She read it. She called me. She told me she was proud of me for writing a novel, she didn’t know how I did it with kids and working and keeping my home, and it was marvelous that I had done it. She was so impressed. And, then, she started the critique. And, oh what a critique it was. I don’t even remember half of it. Except for one part. “One of the problems with the main character is all she does is get drunk and get laid. That’s it! She needs to be a more three-dimensional character. There has to be more to her than drinking and sex.” Valid point. And then she said it. The words that shall live in my heart forever. “She’s you, right? Your main character is based on you.”

You can’t escape being judged. Sometimes not even by your own grandmother. But learning to live with the judgements is easier than not being a writer. So go ahead. Judge away.

…The End…

July 12th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

And… it’s… in! I finished revisions to my revisions and my agent is crafting a cover letter and preparing to send my manuscript off into the world. It will be months, most likely, before things really start to happen, but right now, I feel light and happy and free! Yes, I’m still trying to get blurbs. Yes, there will probably be more revisions if? when? the manuscript is bought. But for now, the novel is all wrapped up in a pretty bow.

I think it’s time to open a bottle of something!

Fellow Writer

June 23rd, 2011 § Comments Off on Fellow Writer § permalink

My writing group rocks! My co-writing group buddy, Sheryl Carpenter, is a 2011 Golden Heart YA finalist. Read an interview with her at Luv YA. (YA is Young Adult, for those not in the know.)

The Post After NYC, Which Is Sure to Be a Disappointment

June 16th, 2011 § Comments Off on The Post After NYC, Which Is Sure to Be a Disappointment § permalink

The pressure! How do I follow up my blog posts about NYC and still keep all of you guys interested? I have to say, when I blogged about drinking, all-night bars, and general debauchery, my page hits went up. Not that I care about page hits. Definitely not. But I am curious about who is out there thinking I’m a total lush who deserts her kids for the wild life. I don’t do it often, I swear. No more than once a week. Seriously. (Better?)

So what can I tell you now that will keep you on the edge of your seat? I thought of live Tweeting the PTO meeting tonight—It was captivating! It was enchanting! I complained about the lack of booze! (well, one of those statements is true)—but under the fierce eye of the principal, I caved and put my phone away.

I just e-mailed my revised manuscript to my agent. That’s really the excitement of my day. It’s been weighing on me for so long that I finally said, “Damn it! Just send it off!” I think there’s a process one goes through when getting those revisions. It goes something like:

  1. Denial: What? You want changes? On my perfect, incredibly manuscript?
  2. Anger: Ugh! I hate revising! Revising sucks! No way!
  3. Bargaining: Okay, I’ll make a couple of these changes. A few of the changes make sense. But no way am I making those other changes!
  4. Depression: Oy, she is so right. Her changes make so much sense. I’m a terrible writer. I’ve made all her changes and now I see there are so many more changes that should be made. Ohmygod, how many times do I use the word “very”? Everyone knows that “very” should be banned from the English vocabulary! What is that other word? How many times does it appear? Okay, let’s read through this one more time…. What a hack I am!
  5. Acceptance: You know, with these changes, this thing isn’t half bad. It’s actually pretty okay. Hey, I like my novel again! It rocks!

(Does that list of stages look familiar? No, I didn’t think so either.)

Seriously, my agent’s suggestions were dead on, even if at first I felt resistant. But as I sat with them, I realized they made total sense. But the thing is, I made changes she suggested. And I thought of more. And more. Revising can go on forever if you don’t at some point say, “Enough!” Words can always be tweaked and sentences restructured. So I just sent it off and I feel light and airy… and ready to rework my marketing plan. Sigh.

I’m sorry, is this post too wholesome for you? I’ll throw in: martini! cute boys! ignoring the children!

There. Now do you feel back at home?

Blurry Morning

June 6th, 2011 § Comments Off on Blurry Morning § permalink

Who filled my house with a swimming pool? At least, that’s what I assumed happened. Because I feel like I’m trying to walk through water. Slow. Sluggish. Not moving very fast. Time is crawling. My revision doesn’t seem to be revising itself.

Those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know that my weekend in NYC was, um, shall we say eventful? I’m not sure how much of it is interesting to all of you, but I’ll tell you anyway, breaking it up into multiple posts, as I do need to be revising!

Thursday morning was freakin’ jam packed. Woke up extra early so I could cram everything in: I wrote the school newsletter, ran 6 miles, volunteered at the before-school PE program, showered, volunteered for an hour in kindergarten, packed, and still showed up at South Station an hour early for the Acela (why an hour? I have no idea what I was thinking except that I wanted time to buy food). Train ride was uneventful—napped, worked, read. Fast ride—train was only 15 minutes late.

Walked to my folks’ apartment, and did the first thing one must do in New York: Meet the Tweedle Twirp for a pedi and a cosmo. After we had a French dinner outside with my parents and the Tweedle Twirp’s boyfriend/partner/other half (we had discussions about what to call the Tweedle Twirp’s legally-recognized domestic partner of 18 years, and I don’t think we ever came up with a satisfactory title, so I guess we’ll stick with Tweedle Twin) that was delicious even if we did have to keep picking leaves out of our wine. I had requested we go anywhere that was not kid friendly and the place fulfilled! (No chicken fingers on the menu and tight quarters.)

Went to bed fairly early and woke up at my normal 5 a.m. on Friday. Had a lovely run on the Hudson River Park and the High Line Park. Got dressed and walked on down to…

my agent’s office! The office is on the top floor of a small building in the West Village, and I’m kicking myself for not sneaking a picture or two, but—as you can guess—I was so excited (and, yes, a little nervous) about meeting Laney that thoughts like “pictures” weren’t in the forefront of my mind.

The office was exactly what I imagined an agent’s office to look like—it was pretty old school. Desks in nooks and crannies and books everywhere. It’s a small office, but it looked like the kind of place you’d want to just pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and talk books. It was 9 a.m. so not many folks were in yet. Laney and I headed downstairs for coffee.

Talking with her was both reassuring and a little scary. First, having a face to put on e-mail is fabulous. Second, I genuinely liked her as a person. The scary part was when we talked about the state of the publishing world—it’s tough out there and having an agent is no guarantee of a sell, so she’s really working hard to “bullet-proof” my manuscript. I was reassured when she told me she keeps her list small and she only takes on projects she truly loves. But it’s daunting to hear how much work this is going to take!

We talked about ourselves a bit; the only awkward moment was when it came out that my family is serious about the Red Sox. As a native New Yorker, she’s definitely in the Yankee camp, but I think it’s something we can move beyond.

This may be of interest for those of you who are writers in the querying process: I mentioned to Laney that I had tweeted another agent’s blog post and that the other agent had looked at my profile and commented that she really loves Laney. Laney had high raves for this other agent and she said that every now and then (not too often I gathered), if she got a query for a project that she thought had merit but wasn’t in a genre she reps, she’d pass it on to the other agent. Nice to know there’s some camaraderie out there!

Finally, I asked her about my name. Seriously. I have great angst about how common my name is (my father prefers to call my name “popular,” but really, let’s call it as it is: common). So the question is: What name do I publish under? When I first started publishing in literary journals, I went with initials: J. S. Brown (I was a huge fan of A. M. Homes at the time, which most likely influenced me). But given that it’s women’s fiction I’m writing, it makes more sense to have a more identifiably female name. Jenny Brown is so common, although I do generally come up in the top 3 in a Google search. But the domain for that is owned by someone who sells “cheap homes.” I do own the domain, which I’ve used basically as a placeholder. As much as I detest “Jennifer,” it looks like that might make the most sense. And it’ll weed out those I know from those I don’t (e-mails and phone calls to “Jennifer” always mean you have no idea who I am).

Okay, that takes us up to 10 a.m. on Friday morning. And with that, I’m going to go revise. More later. If I can make my way out of this swimming pool daze, that is.

Random Thoughts

June 2nd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

I am on the Acela headed south to New York City. (Whenever I say “New York City,” I think of that old salsa ad.) So you, my friends (or whoever you are), will be subject to my random thoughts of the moment.

—I sent in my marketing materials to my agent, but haven’t gotten feedback on it yet. I think that those marketing materials were the hardest thing I’ve had to write—definitely harder than the novel itself; possibly harder than the query. And I feel like a jerk calling my own writing “powerful” and “engaging.” I mean, it is “powerful” and “engaging,” I’d just rather others say it for me.

—Shoes. I hate shoes. I never know what shoes go with what. Which makes it especially annoying that by the front door of our house lives a shoe pile that makes the annual shoe sale at Nordtrom look contained:
There are eight feet in this family! Why are there so many shoes? My daughter alone could shoe a small nation with the ones she hordes in her closet. Seriously. She does not part with shoes. No matter how small they get.

—I missed National Short Story Month. Seriously. Apparently May was National Short Story Month and I just blinked and let it slip by. Which is a shame, because short stories are so digestible. What’s June? I mean other than National It’s My Birthday Month So What Are You Getting Me? Only 23 shopping days left, people! One Story, which is a journal I love and highly recommend, published a list of the top 10 short stories. I think my goal for the next 12 months is to read every story on their top 10 and their big list.

—V. S. Naipaul, what up? I mean, dude, I stood by you through that whole Paul Theroux feud. I mean, yes, you sounded like an ass. But who knows? Theroux has proven in his writing that he’s not always the easiest man to get along with. But women writers suck? All of them? Look, I’ve actually read your books. And let me tell you, there are plenty of folks who say they’ve read your books, but I’ve actually sat down and read, from beginning to end, three of your books (technically, three and a half. I couldn’t get through Half a Life: A Novel). I was a loyal fan. But not anymore. We’re done. Jack ass.

—I have no idea where I am. I see highway and bridges. Oh, and water! So I am officially somewhere between Massachusetts and New York (sorry Rhode Island and Connecticut that I can’t tell you apart).

—Does the train really need to be air conditioned? I won’t even turn on the air condition in my own home, because although we’ve hit 88 degrees, it’s not summer yet. Wasteful train.

—Oh, I’m in New London! Which would be helpful if I had any idea where New London was. Gotcha, Connecticut. I can tell by the Foxwoods signs. I may not know my towns, but I do know my casinos.

Okay, signing off now, because I did promise myself I’d take this train ride to do more revising. Or sleeping. Or revising in my sleep. Something like that. There might be more from NYC. There’s bound to be lots of tweets. Something about New York just makes me Twitter happy. Fuggedaboutit.

Writing Life

May 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Insomnia sucks. I have my rewrite dancing in my head and it won’t go away, so I’ve decided to just get up and obey the force that says, “Work on it already, damn it!” Which would be fine if I weren’t working on it every day as it is. My agent marked it up all nice and pretty with lots of red marks and comments, which wouldn’t bug me so much if she weren’t so right. Reading her comments all I can do is scratch my head and think, “Duh! Why didn’t that occur to me!” Reason number one why an agent is so valuable.

Another blogger, Writer Unboxed, wrote a piece on living the life of a professional writer. She writes that she thought writing would be “me quietly pursuing my stories under cloudy skies. There would be a cat on the windowsill, a dog by the fire.” And it brings me right back to my own memories of what I thought my writing life would be. I pictured a three room house in a Key West–type location. The kitchen is charming, in a colorful, Caribbean-kind of way. Next to it, the bedroom room is small and cozy. And running the length of the two rooms is a long living room, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, French doors that open to a stone patio, my desk with a non-Internet-connected (although Internet didn’t exist when I originally created this fantasy) computer. No TV lives in this house. Just a radio for connection to the outside world. With the doors open, the indoors and the outdoors were seamless, and sometimes I’d sit on the patio table to write and other times I’d write surrounded by my books, only a cat for company. If I need something—say more wine or cheese or chocolate—I’d hop on my bike and get it. But otherwise, it’s a very solitary existence of which I dreamed.

Let’s contrast this with the reality: At the moment, my computer is perched on my lap while the rest of the family sleeps upstairs. This is as good as it gets. Normally I’m hunched on the kitchen counter or hiding in my office, trying to cram in quality sessions in between having to write the school newsletter, get into the kindergarten to volunteer, bake cupcakes for the Cub Scout barbecue, write an op-ed for our local override, or any of the other million things that have to be done in the six hours the children are in school. When they are home, there’s “What are you doing? What are all those marks on that writing? Can you get me a snack? Can you get my Shrinky Dinks down? Will you play Go Fish with me?” There is nothing romantic about this writing life, although I do have almost floor-to-ceiling book shelves in my family room.

But at least I’m writing. That part of the fantasy remains true. And to be honest, that’s all of the fantasy I really need. The rest is, well, just a fantasy. And it’s not even what I want anymore. Now I want, “What are you doing? What are all those marks on that writing? Can you get me a snack…?” The writing life needs a few challenges in it to keep it interesting, no?

And now, the fantasy is merely that I continue to write. So on that note, it’s back to the revision before the rest of the world wakes up….

Where Am I?

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  • Who I Am

    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, MODERN GIRLS will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

    I mostly update the writing blog these days, so find me over there.

    More about me and my writing.

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