Thursday, June 3, 2010


When I spent all those nights reading in my closet with a flashlight as a kid, I had no idea a seduction was taking place, that some day I'd be married to writing.

At least women giving birth in the natural way don't have to push out fully-grown adults, but most characters in fiction don't start out as babies.

Last summer, I went through one of my novel-writing meltdowns--I'd just read through the latest draft, 8 years and counting, and wished I'd gone for genetic testing before I started it--and I took to carrying the manuscript around with me in my daughter's old French binder.  It was a pink plastic binder with cheerful doodles markered all over it.  I toted it everywhere in hope of sudden clarity regarding revision, like those sacks of flour high school girls lug around to simulate the omnipresent needs of an infant.

It was July, it was hot, and I drove to meet a friend for coffee.  I decided not to bring the manuscript with me since I was already running late, so I left it on the back seat.

I think J. was talking about Virginia Woolf.  I was seeing her eyes, her pretty face, sipping my whatever, but all I thought about was the novel.  It wasn't thinking so much as experiencing something like a tidal pull in the mind.  The tide hit a rock; I panicked.  "I left the manuscript in the car," I realized, "and I forgot to crack the windows.  There's no air in there. It's ninety thousand degrees.  It's going to die."

I looked at my friend with sagacity.  "Yes, Bloomsbury certainly was one crazy assemblage of post-Victorians," I said.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Um. Well."

Fortunately, J. is also in the family of writers, so she didn't question my sanity.    Or maybe she was just showing the kind of tact that normal families, non-writing families, reserve for their crazy cat lady aunt.

NEXT POST: How my novel got a name.  No, not a title. A name, like George.


Anonymous said...

Quote, "The tide hit a rock; I panicked. "I left the manuscript in the car," I realized, "and I forgot to crack the windows. There's no air in there. It's ninety thousand degrees. It's going to die.""

Hilarious! Love it!

I think writers everywhere are nodding in recognition as they read your blog.

You are brilliant. :)

HelenQP said...


The really hilarious part is that I meant it...

Catherine Stine said...

ACK! So did the pink plastic binder melt all over your mss or what?

HelenQP said...

hmmm...the end of the story is yet to come...