August 21, 2005

Sweet September (New! Improved! More Charlize! Less Death!)

IN A VERY SHORT TIME (read: September 3rd) I am going to begin ten days of something entirely new: Travel WITH mercy! Extremely merciful kind beautiful travel. By which I mean, my husband is coming with me. And my children are staying with my parents. WHEEE! And we are going to London for four days, and then ON A SIX DAY CRUISE from England back to NYC, because how else can I possibly gain six pounds in six days? And I SOMEHOW must find a way to replace the six pounds I have SO painstakingly carved from my unwilling body by an unforgiving and ceaseless exercise regime, the shunning of all processed sugar (except Chess Pie because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I AM ONLY HUMAN) and the constant nibbling of organic produce.

I need to gain the weight back FASTFASTFAST because, as you know, my inherent value as a human being is based solely on what size pants I wear, and for a minute there, I almost had some self esteem! Tut tut! This is actually a BAD THING, because the smart-and-educated-adult-human-woman in me revolts against GETTING self esteem through smaller pants. SO! If I lose pounds, I gain self esteem, but lose self respect because I can't help but wonder what sort of a moron actually believes their pants = their value?

It's an equation---you have to solve for X where X is Lithium, like, “If Suzey loses 15 pounds and gains 4 self esteem notches while losing 6 units of self respect, how many milligrams of Lithium (x) will she need in order to become a functional human who can unpack the Kroger bags without weeping because she suddenly realizes SOME BLEAK-SOULED DEAMONSEED of a HELL-SPAWNED BAKER put HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP in the ONLY organic flax seed bread IN THE WHOLE STORE and she just paid FOUR BUCKS for the loaf...

This is the problem with mental illness: The math gets hard.

OH but the trip...I have been to London before, but not for a good 16 or 17 years. And my husband has never been. I am wildly excited. We have pre-booked an obscene number of West End shows as we are both HUGE theatre buffs. We are pretty much going every night we are there--- I am MOST excited about
ON THE CEILING. And then we want to go see the tower of London because Scott likes history and beheadings and I like outsize birds and equally outsize jewels. AND we'll go by my UK publisher and I’ll get to meet my UK Editor (!!!) And then get on the boat where I am The Very Special Guest Author™.

I hope this is not like being a Very Special Episode---I vow unto you now a most solemn vow that I will neither learn a valuable life lesson nor shall I attempt to inflict one upon others. BECAUSE THIS A CRUISE, PEOPLE. And no one wants anyone on a cruise to back the captain's thirteen year old perky daughter into a corner with a copy of Jane Eyre and badger the poor little thing until she bursts into tears and confesses, "I....I...I CAN'T READ!!!" I shall assume therefore that "very special" means "tells entertaining stories about the publishing industry and thw writing life and then later morphs into an amusing and possibly not entirely sober dinner companion." New Yorker Magazine and Cunard are sending me. WE LIKE THEM.

September is going to be a banner month. My friend Diane Thomas’s first novel will be released. I LOVE THIS BOOK! You’ll even see a blurb I wrote for it on the back cover. It’s a very special thing to me, because Diane was in my writing group. So I KNOW this is a dern good book because I helped her edit it as she was writing it----even as she was editing gods in Alabama for me. We’ve each heard each other’s books read out loud and discussed pacing and character and plot and language and theme and image maps...We were elbow deep in each others books, and YOU KNOW, this is something I say to people who are trying to write their first novel---GET A WRITING GROUP. I am blessed with SUCH a phenomenal writing group, and I really think it is invaluable---providing it is the RIGHT kind of group. It's NO GOOD if you sit there secretly feeling you are the best writer there and using that as balm for the inevitable misery/constant rejection you have to weather in this business. That kind of group won't help you get better, so it's less likely you will eventually sell a book, and more likely that you will NEED the balm. Vicious circle. You need to work with people who inspire you, people you admire and want to emulate, people whose work makes you strive to do better and try harder. People like Diane. She and her husband retired to the mountains, so she left us last year, but dernit the woman can WRITE.

And at LAST, next month, her book will be out. I know this has to be the longest August on record for her. BECAUSE OMG PUBLISHING IS SO SO SO SO SLOW. Forget the rabbit, turtles can out-run Publishing. Turtles in CHAINS. Terminally ill chained turtles with little turtle bloods dripping from their multiple mortal wounds have gotten into races with publishing, and look, I’m not saying it wasn't close. But the turtles gasped and flolloped and inched bleeding along neck and neck with publishing, but in the end, THE TURTLES WON. Hands down. Or feet down. Or paddley looking things down. Whatever turtles have. Publishing moves especially slowly when it is your very first book you are waiting on.

SO come beautiful September! Come soon. Because Diane needs her book to come out, and me? I just want to close my eyes and think of England.

Posted by joshilyn at August 21, 2005 12:55 PM

Bon Voyage, you two! And Scott, for Pete's sake, don't let her take any silly old math books with her. ;-)

Posted by: David at August 21, 2005 1:20 PM

Wow -- congrats and good luck. Sounds like it'll be a fantastic voyage. Don't forget to enjoy a fluffy drink with an umbrella on the lido deck for me.

I heartily agree with you about a writer's group. Having one that is filled with people you admire and trust is essential. If you don't feel like you've had your butt kicked at the end of a session (but more loved than ever), you've got the wrong crowd.

Posted by: Michele at August 21, 2005 2:01 PM

I'm certain your mother is feeling much better now, that you're thinking of England.

I think I left the package of umbrellas at your place. Please take them on the cruise. ;)

Posted by: Mir at August 21, 2005 3:35 PM

This is SO COOL about your cruise and so smart of them that I think everyone should buy Cunard stock if such exists. I mean, QM2! AND YOU! AND they have a whole Canyon Ranch thingie, described as "The 20,000-square-foot SpaClub™ facility...located on two decks" featuring, among many other delights:

Rasul Ceremony – 50 Minutes
Embark on an exotic Middle Eastern cleansing ritual of Rasul, created thousands of years ago for royal lovers. Indulge all your senses in an exquisite, ornately tiled steam chamber designed entirely for your comfort and pleasure. You and your partner generously lather each other’s skin with rare, purifying muds and recline in gently warmed, tiled chairs as intermittent herbal steam surrounds you. Finish with a rain-shower rinse from a starry, fiber-optic sky. A Canyon Ranch signature service.

Plus which, I totally bet that those exquisite, ornately tiled steam chambers are newt-free...

The "therapeutic body cocoons" also on offer sound a little freaky, however.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at August 21, 2005 4:37 PM

As I tell my friend Ash, who is having her dream wedding and honeymoon soon, If I didn't like you so much, I would hate you.

Hey, if you buy my book from lulu, I will call you pretty. ;)

Posted by: Heather at August 21, 2005 6:00 PM

i haven't even finished reading -- i got to chess pie and stopped --- i'm wondering if this is what our family calls chess cake -- is it like 6 pie crusts w/egg yolk, sugar, and maybe butter (can't remember -- my recipe book w/my great gramma's recipe is far away right now...) if it is, of COURSE you cannot shun that b/c you ARE ONLY HUMAN!

my gramma made this for my uncle's wedding - THAT is how special it is in our family. i've had it twice...the last time was for my gramma's 90th b-day this past march.


okay - going back to

Posted by: kristen at August 22, 2005 1:49 AM

I agree with you about the writing group, but HOW does one assemble said group? That's really the problem.

I once joined a group with three writers I respect terrifically. However, they all have lives and rarely made the meetings, so the group didn't make it.

The other group I've found has members who don't give useful crit at all. ["I liked it" isn't beneficial whatsoever. If my work were that great, it'd be in print already.] Although it's nice that they all want to be respectful to one another, I leave feeling that I can't really trust anyone's crit b/c it's vague and heavy on compliments. :-(

Extremely nice people but not helping me as a writer. I have no idea how to create a worthy group.

Posted by: Alicia at August 22, 2005 8:47 AM

Have a great trip! Sounds glorious.

The extended turtle metaphor is sooooo perfect. I just finished the FIRST draft of a novel, and when people ask me when it will be out, they're surprised when I look at them as if they have a large hole in their heads!

Posted by: Edgy Mama at August 22, 2005 12:01 PM

it soooo looked like a Mensa problem, but I couldnt' figure it out, so could I have - ohhhhh pulllleeease four gross of Lithium?

Oh I so loved London, have fun, stock up on crunchy Cadbury, fish n' chips, and steak and ale pie. Oh, yummmmm there are 5 of your six pounds and you didn't even hit the cruise ship yet.

Crit partners and writing groups are so critical, and all too often you find a group that gives you half assed (as if I need half an ass more) assessments - totally sucks. Alicia drop me a line, I love to crit, I'm almost done with my current.

Hmmm, btw Joss you missed that herd of turtles on fly paper over there.

Posted by: Cele at August 23, 2005 7:36 PM