I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember — scratched out before I knew D’Nealian cursive, rambling in my mind as I walked to and from elementary school, painstakingly pecked on my manual typewriter — too many characters, plots and settings to recall or remember, but each a coveted facet of my imagination.
With another manuscript behind me, I wait as it attempts to find flight, or bluntly, a publisher. It’s a nail-biting time and my hands like to keep busy. So rather than destroy my manicure, I begin anew, yet again.
While the next novel forms in mind alone, I’ve decided to walk away from the keyboard and into the kitchen because along with writing, I’ve always loved to cook. The joy of creating something from scratch and with love grounds my over-active imagination.
When my daughter was diagnosed with type1 diabetes two years ago, the freedom I once felt toiling amid pots and pans disappeared. Cooking became a chore and a frustrating task. Slowly, through daily trips to Chinos farm stand and weekly jaunts to the farmers market, I’ve reconnected with food. Once again finding solitude in nourishing my family, as well as, my soul. It is from this place that I found my next project.
For Good Measure will debut this coming fall. Until then, I’ll be in the kitchen.
I have reader’s block.
I stared at the bookshelf, reading and rereading book jacket after book jacket.
Nothing. No excitement, no heart flutters … pure emotional silence.
Perhaps it’s the genre?
Maybe I need something lighter, funny?
Or suspense-filled, historic … even a classic?
I ran my fingertips over the book spines I lovingly selected last month at Shakespeare and Company. I had cradled them to my chest as I wandered the murky Seine to my pied-a-terre, rain and night falling around me. Like a child alone in a candy store, I anticipated devouring each and every translated title in a heightened frenzy. Unlocking the door, I shook off the rain and tucked the treasures in my luggage only to stow them on my crowded bookshelf once I returned home.
I feared I had lost my mind or at least my identity.
Since first reading at four, books had been my constant companions.
Friends come & go, family moves away, lovers’ change and children grow.
But books never cease.
On Saturday, I had enough.
I rearranged my library and alas, today, I selected a new read.
Leila Slimani’s Lullaby, ironically picked up on that memorable Paris stroll.
I’m counting the hours until I can settle in and turn the first page.
Perhaps I’m cured?
“He took a moment to look at his wife, thinking he could be a few minutes late and no one would mind. The boys would be throwing back Scotch at the Seasons bar without a second glance at their Rolexes. He walked over to the bed and ran his hand under the hemline of Lauren’s skirt. “I could convince you to change . . .”
“No,” she said, pushing him off. “It’s a party for one tonight . . . sorry.”
I write from memory. Fiction being fiction, embellished recollection is a more appropriate description of what falls on the page. Wandering into my protagonist’s mind as I set the above scene, I thought back to the years leading up to my thirties.
I remembered the beautiful girl who sat down next to me in Grammar for Journalism, sophomore year of undergrad. Meg – her honest smile, love of life, and amazing eyebrows. She could sing Blue Moon in perfect pitch and loved crab cheesecake. For over ten years, we were close friends until life wedged in between us.
Ironically, I reached out several months back asking permission to use Megan’s adage in my latest manuscript. We bantered, caught up, and then said goodbye. I smiled in the afterglow, reminded of moments shared decades before.
Last Saturday, Meg’s “party for one tonight” unexpectedly became forever. “A black celebration,” she would have said, laughing. Rest in Peace.
November is about light.
We chase elongated shadows … the sun’s warmth … daylight.
In November, we walk on silent tiptoe
between seasons … hot and cold … light and dark.
Holidays dot the horizon
but in early November, we watch the light and wait.
I’ve always loved to write…and of course read.
In black and white, clarity is found. Vocalized, the same words blend into the hum of white noise we surround ourselves in. I love you blends into the dishwasher’s rinse cycle, while the turning point in your loved one’s day mixes with road noise as the car races home.
I’ve always been baffled how words can fall free and fluid from my fingertips, but strangle in my throat. I’ve learned to write letters to win arguments, tell my children how much they mean to me, and communicate with friends. I leave post-it notes everywhere, even in the bathroom, and countless journals fill my bookshelves.
Over the years, I’ve left quite a paper trail.
This morning I cracked a new spine and smelled the blank first page, holding a sharpened Ticonderoga … I couldn’t help but smile.
I want a typewriter.
An old, heavy, ribbon-wielding machine of metal. I want to feel bruises on my fingertips after a great writing spell pounded against smooth click-clacking keys and hear the swing of the carriage return as the paper shifts up to reveal space for yet another story to unfold.
From shabby chic interior shops to hipster-loving retail chains, my impulse has been tempted by century old antiques & jewel-tone portables. But to this day, my desk remains empty.
What I’ve come to understand is I don’t want a typewriter. I want the 1960’s manual Royal my grandmother bequeathed to me at the budding age of twelve. I loved it until college and have missed it like an old friend.
A couple from my bookshelf, a few from favorite authors, and several deemed as research. My summer should be spent editing, but I have a feeling it will be spent reading. What are you taking with you to the beach?
It was Mother’s Day; we dropped our silver brunch forks, rushed to Children’s Hospital, peed on a ketone strip, and spent the following week in a crash course on Type 1 Diabetes.
Waiting in a pale blue room the size of a linen closet holding my daughter’s moist shaky hand, I was transported into another realm of motherhood. One I was totally unprepared for, but highly equipped to handle. Thankfully, we humans are adaptable creatures.
Three months into a new manuscript, I was already exploring how illness challenges a family. Last Mother’s Day in that airless room, I stared at my greatest fear, stood up and slammed the door.
“…Keira stands rooted. A tear running in a silvery streak of defiance down her cheek. She’s eight years old and holding on to the fleshy remnants of infancy in body alone. This household has stolen her innocence and crushed it under its leaden heel. We’re all in hell she tells herself turning her back on her daughter. I’m tired of pretending it’s ok, because it’s not…it’s not f***ing ok and never will be…”
I love placing a character in a space I’ve visited. To visualize them sitting in a chair I admired for it’s fabric or smile at the scent of orange blossoms tickling their nose – they start to breathe on the page and become authentic. Routines and rituals pass time, people run in circles and characters are imagined, but life comes alive in the details.
So while my favorite editor is running her red pen over my latest manuscript’s 60,000 words, I’m jetting to San Francisco to check that the yellow fabric on the chair mentioned in chapter 32 is just right.