Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Oh god, is it ever Fall. In the East Coast they have the delicious turning of foliage to announce the seasonal shift. Here a thick curtain of gray drops between the sun and us. It's hard to keep the spirits lifted.

I have posted almost nothing about my agent process in the last couple weeks. Partly because nothing is the amount of news I've received and decisions I've made in regard to the process. I feel a little bit stymied. The market trends continue to show that non-fiction sells really well, that in fact, agents and editors are "desperate" for non-fiction in a sea of fiction that overwhelms them with its unsaleability. So I keep dancing on the edge of really going for it with a non-fiction book proposal and then backing away. But maybe this is my answer, my way in. I've got an idea that keeps coming to me over and over and I keep brushing it away in favor of other ideas that seem darker or easier to write about. But I wonder if I should just go for this. I can't give away my idea, of course, but trust me--it's a good one.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to distill information out of the world around me to write interesting freelance articles. I find that while an idea might fascinate me, it bores editors to what do you do but spend more time researching random and assorted tidbits of information? And apply for myriad writing grants and other forms of public assistance...

Why do I make you suffer by coming here? Stay tuned for an October update on Friday!


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Me, looking like the good radio host at Word by Word's one year anniversary party. Posted by Hello

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Hello again. It's been awhile, or at least, it feels like it. Perhaps once a month is as often as you check in!

Do you notice that there was an overnight shift in the weather? Here in California it went from the high nineties to this shy, fragile cool that seems like it could go either direction. And the light, notice what it's doing? How if you come out of a room into a hallway after six p.m. there are shadows--deeper, darker shadows and more of them--than the past few months? It gives me a funny shiver of anticipation. Tonight it even smells like fall--you know that smoky musk that the air takes on? It blows my mind. I love fall, but it moves so fast into winter, which I don't love. I wish I did. I like it when it rains because there seems to be this electricity in the air. But when it's just gray and bleak I feel my insides want to cave in. Ah, the climatic burden of those of us who don't live in the snow, eh, yeah, you weep for me, I know.

Today I began my day with a hayride on the Cardoza family property in Petaluma. This is 1,737 acres that the County has acquired an option to purchase (Open Space is putting up $9 million) by April. They have to raise another $9 Million, so they're doing a tremendous amount of outreach. I'm writing a story for The Bohemian on it. It was very informative and I felt really proud to be covering a story that is so timely and can have an impact on this process. It's nice too to be with a bunch of folks who are talking about change and progress rather than lamenting the coming election. Other scintillating articles on my plate at the moment are: The Redwood Landfill vs. the delicate ecology of the Petaluma River; The winner of the Grand Nationals (horses); Designer-owned boutiques; a profile of the delightful Ken Brown—the director of the Sonoma Community Center and all around gracious human being, and an interview with a fabulous woman whose expertise (and recently completed Master's Thesis) is in "Visual Rhetoric." Just the words make me delighted.

After my dust-laden hayride (in which a very elderly gentleman regaled me with tales of his youth, including a graphic story involving one desperate farmer, no bathroom in sight and a handful of lawn clippings) I headed up to the Sonoma County Book Fair, and not having my own booth this year made it possible to booth hop and shmooze. It was a great feeling to realize how many people in the county I now consider part of my literary peer group and to recognize and be recognized by them. I prefer this kind of insider camaraderie so much to the idea of being "famous," which is of course still just an idea.

Now light a candle (chant, pray, dance) for me now as we send off this little special action grant to the NEA on behalf of Word by Word. There is so much I want to discuss about things happening at KRCB that I just am not at liberty to discuss right now. Suffice it to say that the creative team who helped Word by Word come into being may not be with us in the near future due to shifting sands of chaos at the station (by no fault of their own) and I don't know what this means for the show. I really want to continue it. I realize that it is truly a labor of love that I have now invested deeply in. I want it to flourish and succeed! I want to do this for life. Wow! Big statements. But I mean it.

So...I think I might be the only person I know who is quantifiably an "adult" and is in therapy with both of her parents (separately). Yes, that's right. Weds. nights it's mom. Thursday nights, dad. The fact that dad and I are in therapy seems much more miraculous to me and to all who know us. Getting us to sit in the same room together seemed as though it was going to take a combined effort of architects, military strategists and beefy bouncers of night clubs. But no, time and some flexibility on the part of our divine therapist made it come to pass. The most interesting part is getting to KNOW my father, like, really know about his life and his thoughts. He is sort of a mystery to me. He holds so much of himself aside and away from me that I realize I have spent the greater part of my life constructing and creating my own interpretation of his thoughts/feelings. Gee, you smell the making of a fiction writer here?

Oh...I must tell you, I had the best interview with the founder of National Novel Writing Month. Not only is he cute (yes, we must make him blush, it's only right), he had lots of great things to say and has a very cool book out from Chronicle books called "No Plot, No Problem." I'm impressed and the slightest bit envious, but in a good way. And I fully intend to do "nanowrimo" again this year because I have a whole new novel to write, based on the sad saga of being impotently agented, as I feel I am...

No new news to report there, probably because he's been busy clinching yet another non-fiction deal. I'm happy that he's bringing home bacon, you know, but what can I say...I want more for me! I'm tired of the "Hollywood no" as he calls it (they don't get back to you). But hey, I've only got three novels under my belt. Some great writers had as many as eight written before their big break... (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA).

You know what? I'm making $$ writing, and I'm feeling happily creative, perhaps more than at any other time in my life. I've got an amazing husband supporting my creative endeavors and willingly backing my decision to give more to my writing and less to my "career" path. I have so much and I am grateful, and I will get that book published, one way or another, someday.

Meanwhile I've got a bunch of small publications coming out in October and thereafter. Stay tuned.


Monday, September 06, 2004

I have the worst kind of writer's block: intermittent. Here's an analogy: you know those construction problems on roads where they block off one side of the road to let the traffic going North pass while all the South-bounders must wait for twenty minutes, and then finally they let the South-bounders go while the next round of Northbounders wait? Yeah, it's like that.

So I sit down at my computer to write some fiction, and a tiny little dribble comes out, like 250 words maybe, enough to fool me into thinking I've just hit a writing jones. just quits on me. The next 250 words are stuck, waiting somewhere while suddenly the notes for that fucking annotation for Bennington start to spring to mind. So then I think, well, go where the flow is, you know, and I move over to let the annotation out and whaddya know? Another dribble and then I'm stuck with two barely trickling streams totally unrelated to each other, neither helping the other get written. So yeah, it's writing, but it's maddening!

I'm not sure what to make of this particular blockage. The only things I can seem to get out are articles, purely non-fiction, purely coming from a reality outside of my own know, journalism. Which is good since that's how I intend to make a substantial part of my income in the near-future, but it's also frustrating since all the editors at the moment are on overload and haven't had time to respond to my pitches. But this is just the beginning.

This is just whining, and while I thank you for tuning in, I think that I'm done for the moment. See, I've even got blog-block. This is awful.

I'll try again later.