Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The first draft of the book is done and in my editor's hands. So be it.

The last two or three weeks have been as stressing as any I've experienced in their own ways. I've boarded out with a dog two weekends in a row, had the manuscript to revise, was doing 8 a.m. & 9 p.m. walks for an elderly dog. My sister-in-law blew in for 36 fun late hours. I didn't dust for her but I did clean the bathroom.

Yesterday I finished boarding out and slept on clean sheets in my own bed after a weekend of sleeping late and watching TV at Allen's house. It's good to be home even if home is [still] dusty, disorganized, cluttered and hairy. I'm excited to be abstinent and deeply perplexed about what to do next.

I was walking Daisy and Henry home from Hero's house yesterday evening, a circuitous walk via the bank in a lighter rain than we'd had most of the day or would have at night. I stopped to take a picture of the lilac tree, which is the sweetest smelling place in Brooklyn Heights and possibly the world right now. The photo can't capture it, not only because one sense doesn't substitute for another but also because the white lilacs don't convey that immediate Proustian blip that purple lilacs on a bush do. Nonetheless, it made me think about being in my body after a long spell of being out of my mind.

By the time we stepped out of the bank, where we'd replaced the two $5 bills Henry had snacked on earlier, it was supper time on Montague Street. The humid air held the smells of hot oil, garlic, spices from the Chinese restaurant across the street, broiled meat from the souvlaki vendors, the underscent of two rainy days that had sprouted mushrooms on the plane trees. My left shoulder hurt from sleeping awkwardly sandwiched between Daisy and Allan; an encounter with a snot of a dog walker a couple of weeks ago that sent Allan and Boomer into a frenzy and resulted in fracturing the cartilage of my right index finger (forget opposable thumbs: an aching index finger is hell) twinged; my feet were glad to be in warm socks in my asparagus-printed rainboots. I was getting hungry and I needed to pee.

And for once I wasn't having a heart attack over what had to be done. I want to clean one of my kitchen cupboards, begin making the change of season clothes, delete a bunch of photos from my computer, round up all the websites I used in the book in one file, answer emails, scour the job postings at the American Writers Program site and run 52 errands -- but the albatross of dogs eating the fringes of my time, the time that should be devoted to writing, the necessity of being social: all that was gone. I could take stock of where I stood.

I don't know what I'm doing next. I want to write a novel. I have four ideas. The one that's most attractive right now is unfortunately closest to the whining I've blogged about and wrote about in Angry Fat Girls, as well as some other elements from the book. Dogs, magick, chaos theory, revenge.

Are these subjects good for me? Am I writing a fictional "project-oire" of one alternate future rather than a true novel? I'm sick of myself after two memoirs: can I stand another round of my obsessions? Is the idea commercial?

This makes my shoulders tense and my stomach rise. It is the next day: quite cool, light rain, my windows admitting the sound of birds, leaves in the breeze, airplanes, rain. My toes are chilly. Daisy is sleeping.

I took my sister-in-law to Sunday in the Park with George two weeks ago and cried from the end of the first act through the second act. I mean, I cried. Tears were dripping off the end of my hair. The pain of artistic redundancy, breaking through to the next personal level, the shoulda's and coulda's of love pierced me thoroughly. I'm not Geroges Seurat, not a genius, although it's plain stupid of me to feint a humility that ignores the thanks I've received for writing Passing for Thin, for chronicling this pain of weight and outsiderness and food obsession. Still, I doubt I'll be part of the Canon the next time a Harold Bloom waves his fat-ass opinions around the world. But I am praying for inspiration, readiness, willingness -- and for staying in the moment, in my body, and another day of using the right key for the next dog's door instead of the futile jabbing of the last couple of weeks.

I think I'll take my scared stomach off to the kitchen to make some oatmeal and take some Naprosin, with a Zoloft/Wellbutrin chaser...


The Coz said...

Congratulations Frances on getting your book to your editor! I bet you are happy to have that on the "Done" list. I'm looking forward to reading your new book when it comes out.


Marian said...

Congratulations on the book, I cannot wait to read it!

And speaking of crying at musicals, have you ever seen Company? I watched the televised production that was on PBS a while back and it had me sobbing for two hours! All about being on the cusp of middle age (which in the early 70s was apparently 35!) and wondering if marriage - well, at least partnering up with another person - is a good idea. As my shrink says, it's just trading one set of stresses for another.

Right now, I'd settle for the love of a good dog.

Unknown said...

I don't know how important it is to determine the commercial appeal of your revenge fantasy/magick novel. It may be the stuff you need to work through to get to the stuff that you really want to write, or it may turn out to be gold. If you spend some time with it I'm sure you'll know.

Glad to hear you're taking the time to breathe, and that things are letting up. That drumbeat of "I should be..." is at least quieter now.

Think good thoughts for me next Monday.

Bea said...

Thank God that's done.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing the book! Can't wait to read it -- take care --

Cindy said...

I love lilacs!!!!!!!!!!

Helen said...

Congratulations on getting the book to your editor!! I can't wait to read it...and whatever is next. :-)

Laura N said...

Frances, it's such great news that the 1st draft is done. Congrats to you. You'll find your way to the next project. There's too much brilliance in you for it not to come pouring out.

Anonymous said...

The unfortunate thing about finishing a first draft is that you're usually too exhausted to feel thrilled. Still, I hope that you do--writing two books is a major accomplishment. Don't worry too much about making the next project "saleable". This is easier said than done, especially since you write for a living. Still, Harry Potter wasn't supposed to be saleable, and neither were a lot of other best sellers.