March 18th, 2004

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Well, it was only a matter of time...

Now that my life is no longer consumed by my friend's wedding (and trust me, consumed is putting it lightly - prior to last weekend I had to order entire days around finding the right shade of lip gloss), I find myself with a dearth of ready material for my journal. As I started this entry, I thought about all of things I could write about. What came to mind, first, was a discussion of circus folk and my ability to look busy. Sadly, I did not run away with the circus as a child, mostly out of fear that they'd make me the bearded lady. And, as great a gift as I have for looking busy when someone has a task for me - it's not exactly riveting for my readers. So, what then am I to discuss?

Well, my novel, naturally.

Everyone has a novel they'd like to write, and probably will tell you about if you so much as hint that you'd like to know. I once had an army recruiter spend 40 minutes on the phone with me as he explained his idea for a novel and I tried to explain that short, fat girls don't make good soldiers. But my novel is not that kind of novel. It's an honest-to-God-it's-there-on-my-desk,-all-300-odd-pages-of- it-novel. If I tell someone I wrote novel they generally have one of two reactions - either they're very impressed (which they shouldn't be) or they aren't impressed at all (which they should be).

Writing is hard work, but it's not rocket science. If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is sit down and write. Whether or not you'll be a good writer is anyone's guess and mostly, someone else's opinion. I've been writing since I was nine and decided that Anne of Green Gables would be a much better story if Gilbert Blythe fell in love with me instead of Anne. I fixed this problem buy using my science notebook to re-write certain portions to my satisfaction. Several years of failing science grads, four years of college, three years of grad school, and one year in "Real World" later I still don't know if I'm a good writer, but I keep writing, because that's what I do.

I miss having an audience for my work - which is probably why I've decided to dedicate this entry to my book. Since I finished the MFA program at Emerson, I haven't had much of anyone to look at my work and keep me in check. My mother read my book and could only say "I loved it, it was so good," which, is wholly unsatisfying. Great that she loved it, but I want her to tell me scene by scene exactly WHY she liked it, which parts where the best, what details stood out - which word on which page was the greatest thing about the entire novel? And since she's my mother, and not a writer, all she'll say is "It was so good." Like being stabbed in the gut, those words.

Anyhow, so I wrote a book. I wrote a book about a family dealing with illness - not a new topic, but one that may someday get me a deal to develop my book into a Lifetime Original Movie - which is totally my goal. [Staring Tori Spelling, if I have anything to say about it.] This family, the March family, is full of neurotic, uptight New England women who feel very sorry for themselves and think the weight of the world is one their shoulders. My intent was to make a tragicomedy about life and loss. Somehow, though I make myself laugh sometimes just by waking up in the morning, the book isn't all that funny. But it is sad and, hopefully, it rings true. [You know who'd star in my LOM: Tori Spelling and what's her name, Laura, from General Hospital. Not that either of them are exactly "New England" but I imagine this could be accomplished by a lack of make-up and a wardrobe straight from the L.L.Bean catalog.] So anyway, I wrote a book.

I'm writing another book, this one completely different from the last. It's about a girl who decides to change her identity and along the way encounters some things she didn't count on - like being homesick and having to decide if she believes in God. I wrote this story originally as a short story - and then it bloomed and died as a novella. I love this story. I call it "Mary Louise in Rapture" and, if it's possible to be in love with words on a page, I am in fact, head over heels. Not that the story is any good - it lacks motive and a clear plot. Some of the writing is downright awful. Some, however, is incredibly brilliant. I look back on it and I wonder how I ever managed such good work. Now, having a fresh perspective on this story (realizing that it's terrible), I've got some new material. I can see this being a novel. I can tell you exactly what the cover looks like - it's a girl in a short trench coat, her back to the camera, walking away in very high heels. The street she's walking down is rainy, and her hair is soaked. No idea who will play Mary Louise in the arty independent film made of this book, though I can tell you, she should be able to walk in heels and better have the kind of face that can pull off hats - as Mary Louise wears several that on a lesser woman would look embarrassing. I'm not sure why I like this heroine so much. She's stuck with me, ever since I saw her in an ad for London Fog raincoats on the side of a subway car. I think maybe it's the idea of this story that keeps me coming back to it. It's about knowing who you are, and finding faith in that. Important stuff.

So, anyhow, I wrote a book, and now I'm writing another. And eventually, I'll write one after that. Go figure