Friday, December 1, 2006
Rainy and cooler
Can you believe it’s December already?
December means that every morning I run around to all the advent calendars in the house and open the window appropriate to the day. I LOVE advent calendars. I think they’re the best.
Today is also the last day of my daily missives to my Nano adoptees. I am so, so proud of them. I had 9 First-timers this year, plus I sent the daily essays to two other colleagues doing Nano, and one friend who wanted to test-drive without signing up for Nano this year, but will sign up for it next year. So, including me, we were 13. Out of my Nine, I think that only one quit – got behind in the first week and just gave up, which is disappointing and makes me wonder what else I could have done to help, but, ultimately, it’s not my choice, it’s the writer’s. All the others, whether they hit 50K or not, kept at it and hopefully learned a lot to apply to other projects, whether writing or anything else.
The next batch of gifts arrived from National Wildlife Federation. I’m packing up the overseas ones to go out today and tomorrow. And I’m hitting the card list. Of course, if I actually sat down and wrote the cards instead of hitting the list, it would be more productive.
Yesterday, it felt weird not to spend time with Simon and Morag of Assumption. As difficult as it was to get into the piece in the beginning, I managed to immerse myself in the world of the story, and these characters grew important to me. Now, we have a vacation from each other until nearly the end of January.
It was very, very difficult to sit myself down and finish the Plum essay yesterday. And it’s not because I don’t enjoy it. I do enjoy the piece, and I like my editor a lot, and all of that. And it’s on deadline. It’s simply a completely different mindset to write non-fiction from fiction. Fiction is an easier planet for me to inhabit. Non-fiction is a different type of challenge, using a different part of my brain. It’s good for me, but I find it tougher to coax the words onto the page in a voice that sparkles. Early drafts tend to be dull – plodding, full of information and inference. The personality has to be layered in. Whereas in fiction, because I start from character, the personality is THERE and the rest gets layered in.
Also, when I finish a big project, my desire is to sleep for about three days and then start the next one. However, that’s not an option in my current life, so I get up and soldier on. I always think of Anthony Trollope at times like this – who wrote every morning before heading out to his civil service job. If he wrote “The End” within his writing time, he simply pulled out a fresh sheet and started a new book.
The Situation: The Sequel continues to eat up hours of time and energy each day. Many thanks to those who say “turn the phone off and don’t answer the door”. As you well know, in most situations, that’s what I do. However, when your home is under attack and you are under threat of being tossed into the street at any moment, every attempt at intimidation must be answered immediately and forcefully, and, as one of the heads of the organization, it goes with the gig – I don’t get to be ever off call.
Baked brownies for the PEN event, tried to help one of the Maine bunch with sources for his term paper, and, of course, worked on the Plum essay.
So, last night’s PEN event: I had a three-hour round trip commute to spend an hour and a half there. But it was worth it. A group of us wrote cards to the writers imprisoned in various countries that PEN has in its case files – holiday cards with quotations and other positive greetings. I wrote to writers in Cuba, China, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. It seemed like so little to do for them – a personal message in a card. And yet, just from days when I’m blue, a card can mean a lot. So – provided the cards ever get through – maybe it will make a difference to someone. Also, looking, really looking at one of the addresses in Vietnam and seeing “Labor Camp” in the address – gave me a chill. This guy is in a labor camp. For being a writer.
By the way – the home-baked brownies were a hit.
Getting there was an adventure in itself – Metro North actually kind of sort of worked. But then I’m on the platform at 42nd Street and the announcement comes on that, because some train somewhere has a malfunctioning door, there’s no downtown service on the N, R, or W. So they stick us on the Q which kinda sorta takes us in the general direction where we need to go. And, fortunately for me, I get to hop off only two blocks from my destination before the train crosses to Brooklyn. And getting back – well, I was reminded why, here in New York, we nickname the R and the N trains “Rarely” and “Never.”
Peter Kalikow has to go! Just because the man played with trains as a small child doesn’t mean he’s qualified to head a transportation system!!!!
I could do a better job. Hell, my CATS could do a better job, even though they aren’t interested. They’d still be better than this bozo.
Came back to yet more chaos to be sorted out in The Situation: The Sequel. Okay, these guys are really pissing me off. Can we please spank them, and I don’t mean getting in Ms. Domintria in her black leather outfit. They’d enjoy it too much.
Kept working on the Plum essay until nearly 1 AM. I’m searching for a couple of additional quotes to punch it up, and then I’ll do the final polish and off it goes. I hope the editor likes it. I started to rev up with it again, and I made some connections I hadn’t originally seen as I worked on it.
Keep your fingers crossed for me! I hope I’m giving them something they want and like!
I decided to wait before going back to Fix-It Girl and/or Real for a few days, so that I can clear off The “Merry”, Tokens and Affections, and the rewrite on Tumble, all of which are due in the coming weeks.
And I need to start scouring the job boards for more paying work – there are bills coming up and the holidays. Everything was about Nano and the Plum essay in November, and I didn’t hustle the way I should have.
Continuing with the alternative therapy and had a second night in a row of good, restful sleep. I’m starting to feel human again, which is a step in the right direction.
Off to write now.