Friday, October 16, 2009
Friday Update 10/16
• This week I didn't do much but work. I finished the new proposal for The Cousins' Club and got stuck on the last couple of paragraphs. I wrote them about a thousand different ways, and it didn't feel right. I knew I would get it eventually--it just took time. And trees. I printed the thing out again and again to read it in hard copy. Of course I made changes every time.
I was looking for something that felt organic but not obvious, satisfying but not hokey. It had to illustrate the main character's arc without sounding punchline-y.
Then at last the characters spoke to me and I got an ending that felt right. So I did one last edit and sent the whole 17,000-word proposal off to my agents. Now I wait to see if they think I nailed it this time.
• I'm still reading THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH, but slowly. I'm not even at the halfway point. It's not a book that pulls me in, and I find myself avoiding it much of the time. I don't think it's the book's fault. I think it's me. I'm an odd sort of reader. I have a hard time handling books that are too tense. Clearly, I'm alone in this, because millions of people love thrillers. Page-turners, they call them. But it has the opposite effect on me. When things really heat up I have to put the book down and walk away. Yes, I am that much of a wuss.
I feel a little sheepish admitting this, because some of my best friends are thriller writers. I like and respect these people. If they came to my house, I would even let them use my bathroom. (Sorry. I read a story this morning about a racist judge and that line stuck in my head.)
So now you know. I may be a tad emotionally intense. But I'm getting better. I used to come close to blacking out at movies because I would hold my breath during the tense parts. (My husband learned to gently pat my hand during these scenes and remind me to breathe.) Now I remember to inhale and exhale on my own.
• Any other grownups really excited about seeing WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE?
• I spent much of the day yesterday glued to the television worrying about balloon boy. Now some people are whispering that the whole thing may have been a hoax. The fact that his father is a bit of a media hound is fueling this. I don't know, but there is one thing about the story that's bugging me. There were cameras following that balloon for hours, and we got a very good view of it. We didn't know how the thing was constructed, and assumed it was possible for someone to be inside. But the part of the craft that could hold people was not attached, and that had to be completely obvious to the parents. Why were the authorities never alerted to the fact that there was no way the boy could inside that enclosed section of the craft? I'm just saying.
• Thanks to Ellis Weiner and The New Yorker for the funniest thing I have read in a long, long time.
• Reminder: I'm giving a talk at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. Free refreshments and lots of leftover Halloween candy. It's on Sunday, November 1, at 3 pm. Click here for details.
• One sad and heartbreaking note. My beloved creative writing professor from SUNY Buffalo, Raymond Federman, passed away this week. He was a writer, poet, scholar and holocaust survivor who had a significant impact on me and many others, I'm sure. Rest in peace, Ray.