War and Pieces of Chocolate

Romeo and JulietAfter flying high and wide, my little feet are soberly on the ground, wings folded and put back in the weirdly narrow closet where most of my things are stored. Time to buckle down for a winter season of serious labor. Today, however, felt like spring, and I even went running outside in a lovely park that rises up a hill a bit, with a nice view of Mount Nittany across town. Still, this is January, and I’m sure the future holds mounds of snow, slick spreads of ice, and the kind of cold wind that makes you gasp and utter those useful words your mama didn’t teach you. Not that that was her job.

I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, ever, because those are for people who have flaws, but I am making a change. The room with the weirdly narrow closet is being officially converted into a home office, which means I have to organize that desk in there, and oh my God. But I’ll do it, as I am not an unemployed slack-ass welfare moocher, but a Freelance Writer (it’s a subtle difference, but there’s a difference), and I need an office.

Lately I have done Actual Real Work, with all that hotel writing, and I just finished a website for the glass company, and there are hints of more. Monday I have a meeting to discuss writing projects with a man downtown, and as I pursue the owner of an Italian restaurant in a nearby town, to give him a website, I can sense his resolve weakening, and in a couple of weeks he may come through. After all, how can you have a restaurant without a website? Right?

In the world of literary publishing, as I stand outside in mounds of snow looking through the big windows of Barnes and Noble, I see people inside where it’s warm, looking at books, drinking coffee, laughing, enjoying their bookish lives. Peering in at this happy vision, I give up all rational, realistic behavior (that’s a metaphor—I never had much to start with), and I intend to publish a book to place on that big pile that no one is buying.

In pursuit of such a glorious dream, last night I emailed seven more literary agents. On my list of agents (which has about 200 names, agencies I’ve contacted in the past), I have an increasingly long list of those who accept only paper submissions. I keep thinking I’ll get around to sending them something, print out everything they want, put it in envelopes, drive to the post office. Eventually. As soon as the desk is cleaned off. And the elves tidy up the office and dust it a little bit. And I have a nap with a cookie.

Now that I’m home I’ve also finished reworking what I’ve written so far on the new novel, and I’m ready to get on with extending the story east and west. I anticipate the new work happily, and perhaps this time I will escape the gravitational field of the Black Hole of Writing Reality, which is this: everything I write is far better before I actually write it down.

Of course new material also comes with its own technical issues. Am I supposed to just come up with all this stuff out of my own head? How crazy is that? Maybe I should be reading more, so that I can steal things from other people. What if I have Miramar fall in love with a boy from an opposing family, and when Benedict forbids them to marry, they make plans to run away, but the boy gets there first and takes a potion that makes it seem like he’s dead, and then…

Or maybe I’ll have Benedict and Miramar visit this crazy factory that makes chocolate, with a bunch of little people working there and a factory owner who’s just a bit eccentric. Or wait, wait, I know. They go back in time—which I’ve already got—and they move to Moscow just as Napoleon is about to invade. How about that? Then I just need a good title.

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