Saturday, June 10
Cloudy and cool
Yesterday, was, once again, lost to the Situation, which is so frustrating. But, we can’t back down now – if we continue to press forward, maybe we can resolve it by early July.
I’m just so wrung out, physically and emotionally, that I need the equivalent of a Victorian “rest cure.”
Maybe a day at the Crystal Spa in Saratoga?
I forgot, in yesterday’s entry to relate a dog story from Thursday’s train trip home:
As usual, Metro North had trouble. We were, supposedly, an express Peak hour train back to the ‘burbs. We ground to a halt. There was a stalled train in front of us. So they sent us backwards until there was a changeover track, to put us on another train (in rush hour, probably facing some other train head on like a those third grade math problems).
I didn’t care, particularly. I sat in my seat, reading Pen to Paper, chuckling that Pamela Frankau’s book, published the year before I was born, sounds so much like my own writing eccentricities.
Suddenly, something is licking my hand.
I look down and there are two small, very fluffy white dogs with their little paws on the rim of the seat, wagging little white tails, happy to see me. They clamber up onto the seat and into my lap, wriggling with joy at finding a new friend, sending the book sprawling. After a few minutes of utter devotion, they scamper down and begin running up and down the train car.
We finally figure out they belong to the sleeping woman in the seat opposite me. She had a mesh carrying bag for the two little fluffballs that velcroed on the top. When she fell asleep, the two little dickenses got it open, wiggled out, and used the train as their playpen.
One passenger woke up the woman, who was mortified. I got into the aisle, and called the dogs, who raced each other to jump back into my arms. We maneuvered them back into their carrying case, closed the top, and that was that.
So we thought.
I went back to my book; the woman dozed off. Less than five minutes later, little paws tapped me and little pink tongues were licking my cheek.
So I let them sit in my lap until we reached my stop. Because they were so darned cute, who could resist?
There’s a lot of interesting information in Frankau’s book. However, her method of destroying her process notebooks and all her notes and her rough draft once she’s written a smooth draft makes my skin crawl. I keep everything, because I always go back to it at some point.
Yes, I went through a stage of burning bad poetry in the sink, but when you’re in your twenties living a life that’s not really who you are, you do stuff like that.
I did a bit of research on Frankau, because I’d never heard of her or read her work. She wrote about twenty or thirty books, with her first novel published at age twenty. Her father was a novelist and her grandmother a satirist. Her biographical entries talk more about her personal life than her writing, which I think is – sad? Inappropriate? A bit of both, I guess. She was involved with a married male poet for years, then stopped writing, then spent twenty or so years in a relationship with a female theatre director. Well, I hope she was happy and found what she wanted, but why isn’t there information about her writing, other than a list of books? Her book about writing was quite interesting, although I don’t agree with all of it. And the memoir bit in the back read like fiction trying to pose as non-fiction. She protested too much, if you know what I mean – five times a page stating how much she loved her father, when the actual actions related showed how difficult their relationship was.
I started reading Angela du Maurier’s memoir, It’s Only the Sister, which was published in 1951. She spends a great deal of time name dropping and talking about how witty the parties were – only they sound deadly dull on paper. Sometimes, in theatrical situations, you really do have to be there – no matter how faithfully you transcribe the event, it doesn’t translate. And, often, at these parties, the attendees aren’t anywhere near as clever as they think they are.
I need to get some writing done, in and around the errands and the Belmont.
Hope Clark has wonderful advice this week in her Funds for Writers newsletter about creating writing time when you’re juggling a family. As usual, her advice is clear-sighted and practical, without being judgmental. I think there are many writers (of both genders) who use their families as an excuse not to succeed as writers. Hey, if they’re tied up in family stuff all the time and “don’t have time” to write, then they’ll never fail, right? There are plenty (my friends among them), who are genuinely striving to juggle family time and writing time. But I constantly see those who won’t make the commitment. Which is fine, if you don’t want to. But then stop pretending that you want to. For instance, in the-forum-in-which-I’m-absent, there are two other published writers and thirty people who daily whine that “they don’t have time” or rail that the ONE place they sent their (badly spelled, poorly formatted) query rejected them and how dare anyone reject them?
An acquaintance of mine, who is an often-published writer and a marketing genius, told me I should just jettison the lazies. Don’t even respond to them on the forums anymore – he’s right, at this point, I can smell it in the first sentence if this is someone who’s serious about writing or just another whining dilettante. And his theory is, hey, the more wanna-bes there are who don’t get around to the work, the more of the pie is left for those who do. Save the “tough love” energy for the students who are paying me for my time and experience.
In and around all the Situational interruptions, I got ideas for a few more stories. I’m not sure what any of them will turn out to be – although one, I suspect, will be a novel to be written somewhere down the line. It makes the most sense to set in 1940, with one of the last passenger lines coming to New York from the UK with some children on it visiting a family friend to get them out of Britain during the war. However, my American characters seem to want to live 20 years earlier, during WWI. The English children on the ship don’t care which decade they live in, as long as they don’t have to stay on the ship indefinitely. I need to research some details about both eras more closely and then decide what fits the story best. Because the war (whichever war it turns out to be) is a backdrop, not a focus. Its shadow will affect the daily lives of these children, but there are other reasons the group of them are together at this point in this place.
I also had the idea for another piece, a romantic comedy about the new craze of hiring male nannies (mannies). I figured, oh, I can dash this off in a few weeks. And then I started outlining, and it breaks formula (while still a romantic comedy) and has much more to do with current social issues than chick lit is supposed to. So we’ll see what to do about that.
And then, there are two stories where I met the characters, but don’t know what they’re doing yet.
So I took my notes, put them in my folders, mused about the treasure hunt piece, and, working in these dribs and drabs, the day wasn’t a total loss, although I couldn’t get done what I wanted to.
Another of the queries I sent out yesterday came back as a yes, which is also good news.
Enough musings. I need to get some work done. There’s a ghost in the Arizona rim country waiting for me to finish telling his story. On my way, Nate!