And…we’re back. Sorry for the break in posting, in the odd case that anyone cared. I was in self-imposed blog exile while I spent every free and semi-coherent moment finishing my last (uh, 4th? So far?) round of uptight, overly detail-oriented round of revisions before my agent submits my novel. Because I am a mistress of strategery, I sent him the draft on a summer Friday afternoon, so that it is sure to molder in his inbox and will probably have an odd odor and unidentifiable bubbles on the surface by the time he discovers it. Still, it’s a semi-good feeling to be semi-done with it!
These edits were result of my own last-minute cold feet, so I know that my sage and skilled agent for the most part approves of the book (and trust me, this man tells me when he thinks I’ve written a big pile of shit, which of course I always appreciate and accept gracefully) (did that sound sarcastic? Because I’m serious, I love/need it/him) and that soon the thing will be floating through the ether to editors who are sure to fight each other mercilessly for the chance to publish it/celebrate me as a genius/ask my agent to take them off his contact list/request that I never write anything ever again.
Because I have a very good imagination, the book is about…a mother of two young children who lives in Park Slope. I started writing it when Harper was a few months old and my agent informed me that the first second book I’d written was sort of, how you say, a big pile of shit. I didn’t disagree. So I promptly set about to start this one, the kernel for which I’d been mulling over since a certain stroll through a forest preserve in St Paul, Minnesota, when I told the excellent writer Amanda Fields (who was accompanying me on a RIDICULOUS childless person’s outing designed to entertain the DOG who I felt would enjoy a romp in the WOODS ha ha ha) about something that my grandmother had just told me, that I’d been trying to write an essay about. We’d been in the shoe section of Fields (no relation to the aforementioned Amanda, I don’t think), my grandmother and mother and I, looking for shoes for me to wear to my impending wedding. My grandmother casually said, “Did I ever tell you how a pair of shoes saved my mother’s life?” And proceeded to tell me this amazing anecdote about my great-grandmother, Jenny Lipkin, and her life-saving shoes. When I repeated it to Amanda she said, “Hm, that’s not an essay. That’s a novel.” So really, this is all her fault.
Zoom back to the future of 2009 Brooklyn, new baby Harper sleeping on my chest. I decided to write Jenny Lipkin’s story (mostly in stolen bits of time, on weekends, at the Red Horse Cafe, while drinking too much coffee for a nursing mother), told of course in current day Brooklyn and without any real regard to the actual Jenny Lipkin or her actual story. I had in mind as I wrote the mothers I was meeting now that I was a staying-at-home mother myself, and how everyone had these incredibly stressed-out moments they felt they couldn’t quite cop to – how being a mother was harder than you’d think. Weirdly, I gave my Jenny two kids two years apart JUST LIKE I HAVE NOW. (My first novel, which came out the day before I found out I was pregnant for the first time, was about a pregnant lady. I think I will have my next novel be about a fabulously wealthy lady who travels the world, drives a cool 1970s BMW, cooks amazing meals without a recipe, can run 10 miles without getting winded, and writes wise and witty novels that are always runaway bestsellers. You know, just in case.)
Last week, I finished this round of revisions with new baby Alton sleeping on my chest. Isn’t that some nice symmetry? Of course, most of my revisions had to do with the bits about actually having both a toddler and a baby at the same time, which now I actually do and felt I could deal with a little more realistically, although I would like to say for the record that this poor lady’s kids are way more trouble than mine are. As is her husband. As I keep telling mine, “But if there’s no trouble, there’s no STORY! Of course her husband isn’t PERFECT AND ALSO DEVASTATINGLY HANDSOME LIKE MINE IS. Just for the story!”
Now we wait. Maybe there will never be a triumphant update here and I will set about to, sigh, revise again. Or go back to that other first second novel and start sifting through that particular shit pile.
Now, to do the dishes before the family wakes up from naptime.