Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I'm baaaccckkk!!! What an amazing, wonderful, emotional past two weeks it has been, too. As you can see from the photo, I've been in sunny Southern California, watching my son and his friends graduate from college. A few of you have probably been hearing about him for years and years---I started my first novel when I was pregnant. And now here he is, twenty-two years old, advancing confidently in the direction of his dreams. (After a trip to Europe, what a lucky kid he is). I should have known how emotional a time it would be, but as usual, real life surprised me. I thought about all the details of his graduation--the accomodations, the flights, the coordination of family, the gifts, etc. All those details kept my mind off the big picture. But I saw it all as I sat there in the stands with my husband and my dad and his wife and my son's girlfriends' family--the future was down there, standing tall in a black gown, showing a thumbs up to the crowd. The future and past become one in that beautiful moment; I really felt the whole of our lives coming together. Thank God someone had a Kleenex is all I can say. :) People often ask me if writing my books make me cry, and the answer is "only once." But boy, real life gets me every time. I cry at acceptance speeches, a good Hallmark ad, triumphant sports moments. And graduations. You name it.
I have to say, it really got me thinking about milestones in women's lives. There are so many big moments along the way. For me, the past few years have been chock full of them. My son's graduation from high school...starting college..and now graduating from college. Each of those beginnings was as meaningful for me as for him, and offered as big a life change. Then there is my approaching birthday (fifty, but don't tell anyone, please), and my upcoming twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Yikes. 2010 is a big year for me. I am going to make a commitment now to take the time to really celebrate all of these special moments, and I hope you'll all do the same. So much of our crazy, hectic, whirlwind lives seem to be about other people. I say we should watch each other's backs--girlfriends uniting to make sure that we stop every now and then and smell the roses.
Of course, maybe I'm saying all of this because of another, smaller milestone. As many of you know, I finished the book for 2011 recently. It was a long haul and took a LOT of rewrites and re-thinking to get this one right, but it's finally tucked into its little bed with the high thread count sheets. The cover is well on it's way to done and the slow-going publishing process has begun. That's good news, right?
Right. It is...good news, I mean. I've done the lion's share of my work on the content of the book. Sure, there are still things to do--copy editing, galley reading, flap copy writing---but those are manageable tasks. Mostly, now, I just wait to hear what industry people think of the book. You might think that would be a stressful time, but it's not. Compared to the Herculean task of writing a book, getting reviews are nothing. You can't survive long in this business if you let yourself be bothered by professional reviews. Readers are who I care about, and I won't hear from all of you for a long time. So in a way, this is the halycon days of a book--I can sit back and dream that everyone will love what I've done. :)
No, the stressful time now is the perennial question. You hear it almost instantly, the second your book is done. What's next?
AAAAGGGHHHH. Honestly, it makes me want to call me editor and ask for another crack at the "finished" book. At least I know what that one's about. Now I am faced with the daunting challenge of finding another idea--and not just any idea will do. Sadly, I'm picky about my ideas. They have to sweep me away, scare the heck out of me, challenge my abilities, and fire my imagination. I have to love an idea so much that I will live, eat, breathe, dream it for the next fourteen months. And right now, I have only the barest glimmer--a seedling in a damaged shell. I'll plant it and stand back and pray. I hope it grows into something great...
While it's growing, I'll research endlessly--nothing coherent, mind you, just a collection of things I've found "interesting" enough to compile. They will seem to have nothing in common, but somehow, a few will begin to braid together. In Winter Garden, all I had in the beginning was a fascination with Leningrad in WWII. In True Colors, there was an injustice that nagged at me. This time, all I have right now is a very special time and place. Wish me luck.
When I'm not researching (and praying--a lot of desperation is involved in this process--my girlfriends will soon stop taking my calls), I'll be reading. Emily Giffin's latest is on my tbr pile, as is a YA novel, Before I Fall, and I'm currently finishing my first Jack Reacher novel. And there's the television, of course. The last episode of American Idol. (GO CRYSTAL!!!)
I am still a little melancholy over the end of Lost, which I will miss tremendously. The finale was really emotional in places. Juliet and Sawyer!! Claire and Charlie!!! Locke getting out of the chair and forgiving Ben!! Loved it all. Yes, I would have like a little bit more intellectually satisfying conclusion, but they hit all the emotional moments and I loved them for that.
Although I do have Fringe, which is deliciously bizarre and wonderful...
So, send me some book suggestions. The more obscure the better. I feel like a juicy, emotional roller coaster that is impossible to put down. Something like The Passage. Oh, wait, I already recommended that to you all, but I guess it bears repeating.
And let me know what milestones you all are celebrating this year. Let's raise our cyber glasses together!!