Friday, July 29, 2005

To the pond

Last post for a while...the girls and I are to Vermont for the whole glorious month of August. I'm hoping to finish the novel revisions while there. I also plan to hide a letterbox ( on the island...with a poem that Harper wrote for Betsy.

Adieu, adieu.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

With gratitude

Thank you to all of you who offered up your adolescent tragedies. With your assistance, I found a perfect but small and innocent way for Betsy to break Harper's heart. Patrick went out last night with friends and I hunkered down to write. Finally, at about 11:00 it all came together. I went to sleep feeling happily pleased with the chapter and with the progress. (Did I mention the book has already grown 20 pages and I'm only 60 pages into it? At this rate I may surpass John Irving's page total!) Anyway, Patrick came home around midnight, and then at 1:00 the ceiling fan stopped. Outside was the wildest thunder and lightning storm we've had yet this summer. The air was so tight, it was literally bursting. We stood out on the back porch just to cool off...without electricity, the heat was unbelievable. The girls both slept and sweated through it.

We're leaving in one week for Vermont. I am so excited to vacate this oppressive humidity. I am also excited to have a whole month to work on the book. I am hoping it will be enough time to get a really, really good draft done by Labor Day when Christy should be returning after her maternity leave. I am grateful now for her baby's early send me into a sort of revision whirlwind I've never experienced before. I have learned great patience in so many ways this summer.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Soliciting Small Sorrows

I'm going to do something I've never done before here. I'm stuck and I need help. For anybody reading this who can assist, I'm soliciting minor heartbreaks. I need to write a new chapter in which Betsy breaks Harper's heart in some small way (though not necessarily romantic). They're thirteen years old or so. If you have a small sorrow of the adolescent kind to share, I'd be ever-grateful. . .

Here is the chapter's opening paragraph:

Betsy broke my heart a thousand times. She didn’t mean to; she was never deliberately unkind. But the moments (disappointments both small and fantastic) are still like tender scars: each one a tiny but certain fissure. And like anything that has been broken and then mended over and over again, I was weakened by her. And she didn’t even know it.


Saturday, July 16, 2005


The revising is going quite well...despite the number of balls (bananas, sippy cups, and binkies) I've been juggling. I have been doing work for my old boss, planning my GW class, finishing up the Characterization class I'm teaching, planning the kitchen remodel, entertaining guests, and trying to find a sitter to watch Esmee this fall. I am about forty pages into the book now (which is growing exponentially, it seems)...just sort of methodically going though the chapters, adding and subtracting, tinkering and making full-blown changes. One things that is emerging as I do this is that Harper's initial crush on Betsy is completely unreciprocated. I guess I knew that, but dramatically it just wasn't evident before. I'm also really pleased with the prologue, I think. I made some fairly significant changes throughout. I want it to be as tight as the prologue in Nearer Than the Sky, but sometimes I feel like I got sort of lucky with that one.

I bought John Irving's new brick, I mean book, "Until I Find You" (800 some-odd pages). It's coming to Vermont with me. It's gotten relatively bad reviews, but I'm always optimistic which is surprising since I was so put off when I saw him speak that one time in Seattle. He was on tour for "A Son of the Circus" -- he refused to sign any books. Now, isn't that sort of your bonus gift to your fans after they spend $25 on your book? He was also not at all what I expected (wanted) him to be. Hard to explain...I just remember feeling incredibly disappointed. I think I've always made a pretty big attempt to be much more approachable and accessible to my readers (all six of them!).

This afternoon I am interviewing Nanny #1. Mary Poppins should be landing at around 1:00.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Firecracker, firecracker

Took a break from the book for a few days. My sister, Ceilidh, was out from Flagstaff for the 4th. We took her to the Mall for a picnic and later to the Takoma Park fireworks of the oldest in the nation, apparently. The history of this area continually blows my mind. Forgot the bug spray and am now paying for my recklessness with giant itchy welts on my ankles and legs.

KK has left, but we have a new houseguest: Ella the Caterpella. Apparently (based on extensive research on the web) she will eventually become a Tiger Moth. Kicky caught about twenty fireflies to keep her company the other night. She put them by her bed and stayed up well into the night watching them. We set them free in the morning. (They certainly are sluggish creatures in the wee hours.) It's getting hotter everyday; the girls have spent more time under the sprinkler than not.

Back to revising after KK's departure yesterday. . . still struggling with the first chapter. It's so convoluted. I feel like I'm trying to cram too much in such a small space. The chronology and tense are all messed up. I'm beginning to realize that Christy's maternity leave has been a gigantic Godsend...I would never have been this scrupulous if I'd rushed to get it submitted this summer. It doesn't feel leisurely exactly, but thorough. I do want to submit this section for the Maryland State Arts Council grant application (due 7/28), so I need to make some progress soon.