Sunday, May 30, 2004

I really did set out to create a space that would INTEREST and EDUCATE those of you who straggle in here. I'm afraid that instead I've revealed my laziness. I seem to be suffering through a lazy streak. Think of all the interesting things I could write in here. I could, for instance, post past journal entries from my teenage years in here, so painful for me to read now because you would think I was an absolutely dingey, stupid girl full of nothing but self-loathing and boy-lust. In a word, how most teenagers come off to the world. But I SWEAR, I swear I had deeper thoughts even then. Which brings me to the whole concept of journals and self-revelation. I never seem to write about what is good, my joys and success in my journals. I've got something like sixty or seventy of the fuckers and you know what they are? Catalogues of suffering. And not like, world suffering...oh no...suffering over pimples and spurned love, over girlfriends stabbing me in the back, and me stabbing back. Over parents and their bad decisions. Not an original thought in the mix.

And I don't think that has changed. However, I think I've decided I need to take on a religion. Or a spiritual discipline. One with some kind of figurehead at its zenith. I could go into my ethnic stream and pick up some judaism. Or I could follow with my parents early hippie ethic and take on a newage medium like transcendental meditation or throwing the I-ching. But I think I might need to get the experience now that I'm an adult of the whole church scene. But since I'm terribly against the major world religions I don't think I'd make a good Christian, Muslim or Jew, nor even a Buddhist, Taoist or Sufist. So...I think I might have to check out the Science of Mind, which is NOT scientology at least and seems to take the best from all religions. Maybe I need the experience. Maybe I need to be reminded (or brainwashed) into believing there is a purpose to our human experiences here. Pressed too heavily beneath the weight of my personality, I feel easily despairing and seek convenient material answers, thinking my agent's phone call with good news will save my soul...

Being a writer is dangerous. Do not attempt this at home.


Friday, May 21, 2004

I'm trying to break my habit of posting only once a week or less. One day when I get smarter, I'll include interesting links and open up the world beyond just my own head. I'm so slow. I was the last to get a cell phone, and I still have the clunky old kind that doubles as a weapon of self-defense. Also late on the DVD front. Up until a year and a half ago, we still had a television with only twelve channels...on a dial. excuses? Well, the obvious. Too many things on this one tiny plate that feels tinier by the day, like the storage space in my brain is shrinking. I will be glad to have the story of the Petaluma River behind me, though I'm enjoying the process and feel very connected to my river now. But the amount of work going into this project for the ultimate amount of pay...whoo...this is for the credit and the experience, i assure you. And my former Holly Golightly pace, that whirlwind energy seems to be ever dwindling. One river story and I'm a basket case. Okay, yes, I have to WORK too, sheesh.

Marshall Chapman is here with me, and she's got an amazing amount of energy even though she claims to fade in and out of it. She stayed at the very chic Metro Hotel around the corner from me, which I will now recommend to's whimsical and sort of pseudo-european and I love it. I'd like an apartment like that with lots of light and wooden floors...Anyway. The only problem with a guest is that I find I have no internal head space. My psyche is diverted and I can't focus on my own writing. It's only for a day, but I am seeing how miserly I've grown with my free time, and how much recharge I actually need. It makes me very wary about having a child, I must say. Can I possibly GIVE that much time? But you know, why am I thinking about that now?

Anyway...I feel overwhelmed on a lot of fronts and I'm just hoping that I can get the majority of the work out of the way for this story so that I can also finish stuff up at my real job without feeling too resentful in either direction. I've got to unload my plate here in order to open up space for more creative flow.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Too Tired

I have been too tired to post. I'm with my own thoughts daily so to write them here for those of you who might actually be reading them is exhausting lately. Sorry, it's nothing you've done.

I've got this lovely but complicated story I'm writing for the Petaluma Magazine that is taking all of my extra resources, what little there were between Bennington work and work work. I must say that daily I grow more fond of the idea of working from home at only a variety of kinds of writing. I adore the Sonoma Ecology Center and I am grateful for the job, but in that bubble inside which all my fantasies reside, I work for no one but myself.

I'm sorry I've been so fatigued. I will try to keep you posted. So far I've been down on the river on kayak which was a blast (the story is on the Petaluma River). I've talked to the City Planner about the Downtown Enhancement plan that's going on and I've got other interviews lined up with a variety of river-savvy folks. I am enjoying this and could get very easily used to it...if I didn't have a real job at the same time.

Stay with me, I'll be back when I'm rested.

Oh, and Marshall Chapman is coming through town this week. Staying here on Thursday and then she'll be on Word by Word (my show) Friday. We'll probably tool around towards Pt. Reyes until I bring her back to Copperfield's for her reading...oh it's a busy week. Again. And I'm off to Vermont in three weeks.

Wowsers. I feel so important.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Producing Word by Word and attending Bennington have had a funny affect on me in regard to the celebrity status of writers. Prior to both things, I had the usual amount of awe and reverence for writers whose work I admired. My first few interviews I had to breathe through terrible butterflies, cold sweats and dry mouth. I was lucky that my first in person interview--with Chitra Divakaruni-- was so easy, but that was all because she was so natural, so free of "airs."

At any rate, now when I am in contact with a writer who used to make my pulse race, I find that I feel quite normal. I'm trying to decide then if I've become jaded, or simply equal. By equal, I mean that where I used to think that these writers were sort of uber-humans, I have come to see their humanity all too well, and recognize it in myself. Though they have success and published books on their side, they don't frighten me. I no longer think that if they are supremely smart, I will inevitably say only stupid things. At least on radio the host is allowed to get away with asking the stupid questions so that the guest can run free and do the heavy lifting of conversation. Nobody wants to hear the host prattle on and on. What I feel is that I too am a writer, just a step away from being published. I have always been a writer, it's not something I decided to try on in college. It's been with me since time immemorial...or er, at least the late seventies, when Kindergarten presented opportunities for manipulation of the alphabet.

Have I lost some respect, or am I coming up out of my station? Nah. I'm just seeing through the veneer.

Oh...wish my book luck, please. Publishers have it in their hands now and I've just decided that they have no choice but to buy it. It's not an option for this book not to sell.


Friday, May 07, 2004

My next Bennington residency arrives in just a month, and I'm glad, because something about being elbow to elbow with my fellow writers always puts the spark of purpose back into the game for me. This month I feel as if I've become all too aware of my bad habits, pitfalls and slip-ups without any real way to fix them. I feel a bit like I'm trapped in a groove that I can't find my way free of, and I keep finding myself moving things around in my office, trying to change external things as if this will be the answer. Or maybe it's just that at Bennington I must be a short fiction writer, when in reality I am a novelist, and that novelist in me tries to come out inside every piece I write. I feel as if I've been living inside a bubble, forgetting about the world beyond my computer screen, even going through work in a sort of grey fuzz. Maybe it's because I don't like thinking about the state of the world. Since I'm not an activist of any kind (though my mother sure is) and I'm not a political writer, I feel impotent. I wonder how much this affects me?

I was supposed to interview Lucinda Rosenfeld today for Word by Word, though it slipped her schedule. I think I was just so enamored of the idea that we share the last name, and that the name Rosenfeld could appear on a published book looking so darn cool. At any rate...I wound up doing two hours of pitching through KRCB's pledge drive and though I panic through it all, in the long run I'm glad I did it. We raised $600 through All Things Considered, which apparently was a record for this pledge run. I do hate begging for money, and I don't have the polish that Robin and Bruce--who have been doing this for years--have down, so I fumbled and bumbled, lost track of words, tripped up and all that, still, apparently we were effective.

So if I could just get some little sign or glimpse into what the hell I need to snap me out of the conviction that I am a talentless hack, that would sure be nice.

On a positive note, eight publishers will be considering Shaky Grounds now. Yikes and Yeah! I believe it will be different this time around.

P.S. I love trashy television.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Do readers want happy endings? This question plagues me. I think they ultimately do or commercial fiction, movies and television wouldn't revolve so heavily around things working out. We want to be convinced that there are reasons for hope, that we are correct to believe in that greener grass around the corner. People getting married and having babies and forgiving their evil family members and winning lotteries and saving people and giving people second chances...this is what commercialism is built upon.

I'm in limbo deciding what to write next. I think I'm going to print Self Serve out and start working on it bit by bit, revising it, plumping it, making it feel more final. But I want to write something else. I've got three or four serious ideas that keep biting at me, but I admit, it's hard to know where to begin when I don't know the fate of Shaky Grounds. Plus, ultimately I'm rather exhausted lately. I don't know if it's cumulative from a year's worth of pushing really hard on all fronts. I've got a year of graduate school behind me, a year of writing freelance journalism, a year of doing the radio show. My god it was a busy fucking year! It feels like all that stuff started "back then" but really it's been this past year. No wonder I'm tired! Jesus.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

I am reading a book by a woman named Lucinda Rosenfeld, and if I cover up the "Lucinda" part and the title of her novel I can envision it is by me. Rosenfeld, while a common name in any Jewish neighborhood in New York, is not one you see often on the cover of novels terribly often. Name a famous novelist named Rosenfeld! I dare you. Lucinda (no relation that I know of) is near my age, a few years older, but is one of these sort of savvy manhattanites--or Brooklynites, I guess--who speaks the language of fashion, shopping and pop culture in a way that boggles me. Am I some sort of country girl who doesn't know she is? A backwoods child, a hippie leftover? I know just enough about enough subjects to feel as though I can hold a meaningful conversation with most people I know. But I'm neither academic nor hipster socialite. I don't know who's who...I don't understand the fascination with designer fashions. I shop at consignment stores for chrissakes! These kinds of books that touch on those things, like "The Devil Wears Prada" or "Bergdorf Blondes" sell so well. It's part of that same level of celebrity-stupor that we suffer from in this country. It irritates me.

I mean, I'm no saint when it comes to what fascinates me. I like my books literate but plot-oriented, my television to be mind-numbing, but tender-hearted, my conversations to be light but lean toward philosophizing. Does that make sense? I have been enjoying fiction with a historical bent. By which I do not mean historical fiction, per se. I have greatly enjoyed reading Great Expectations, surprised to find out how much I really GET what Dickens was trying to do...or so I believe. I'm loving "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides and I gobbled up "The Crimson Petal and the White." And now I'm rambling.

I'm just staving off thinking about the fact that my agent is submitting my novel next week. The process begins again. YOu weren't here for the first round, when my novel Self-Serve bored a handful of publishers to death. Actually Harper Collins said "almost, maybe" and three others gave a variety of reasons for their passing, and FOUR whole publishers couldn't even get it together to respond to us. Pocket books inquired about it's availability and then never got back to us. How hard it is to reject someone? I mean, I'd come to count, at least, on rejections...

Not anymore.