I’m reading more than usual and researching unfamiliar authors (Hi, agents!) It’s quite an exercise, actually. Years ago I might have spent hours perusing the library shelves before toting home an armload of books in my genre, reminiscent of my writerly voice and in the same thematic vein as the manuscript I’m sending to a targeted list of agents.
Not today. I can easily find time to write, but finding time alone during library hours is nearly out of the question. I’m doing the full-court press thing here, so I ran to the library, excel spreadsheet in hand, and checked out everything on it.
In 55 minutes I checked out 49 books. This was particularly difficult given the lack of reusable bags in the car. (Thanks, 1977!)
It took three trips to haul them to the trunk, and now I’m reading.
Now, I am not yet an author, but I do consider myself a full-fledged writer. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. But can I judge another author? (Hint: I’m about to.)
These authors are CRAZY. The last four books I’ve read have included chapter titles. It took me months to paste a title on my manuscript, and some authors are crazy enough to find the (often perfect) title for each chapter? In a book of three dozen chapters?
Crazy or brilliant? I cannot decide. Either way, my hat’s off to them.
(Full-court press aside, this querying process has brought several brilliant new authors to my shelves. Om, nom, nom.)
Years ago, when I moved to Chicago, I created a book club. I chose a book, set a date and sent (paper!) invitations to my favorite Chicagoland-based women.
We met every month for years. At some point, we started a Facebook page that we never used. Two years ago, because the suburbanites had difficulty balancing the commute and our littles' bedtime demands, we split into two groups.
Now I meet with the suburban book club ladies monthly and see the urban ladies individually for brunch and whatnot.
Today, as I removed myself from several groups on Facebook, I found that old Facebook page. It had two posts. When I tried to leave the group, a message popped up: "You are the only member of this group. If you leave the group, it will be deleted."
It's true on several levels. I miss my joint book club. I miss my urban ladies.
Maybe we should try to reconcile.
I've lived in the western suburbs for nearly five years. I miss Chicago's food. I would pay big bucks for Art of Pizza or Hema's Kitchen to open restaurants out here. Orange, too. I miss our friends and the lake. I long for the parks and museums.
Most of all, I envy our former neighbors, who can walk to Harold Washington Library at a moment's notice. We lived so close that my arms never tired on the way home, even in winter. A few steps from Harold was a bookstore where we spent many a date night.
And then we moved to the suburbs.
In 2011, my suburb lost our last book store. How does that happen? Sure, there's Amazon (and yes, we're Prime members, so my books arrive within 48 hours of my purchase,) but I love wandering the aisles of a bookstore, looking for new friends to take home.
Our closest indie book store is twenty minutes away. And a big, big Barnes & Noble is just a bit further. But what does it say about my community that we no longer have a place to buy books?
Today I'm reading The Family Fang, the fabulous debut novel from Kevin Wilson (Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories). Two children, Annie and Buster, grew up at the heels of performance artists and are now as neurotic and unbalanced as you might expect. (Take note, Marni Kotak.)
I am inspired to write better prose and more interesting circumstances. While Annie and Buster's lives are contrived by their parents, Wilson's prose is anything but contrived. Beautifully crafted, this book is forcing me to look beyond writing about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
Thanks, Kevin Wilson. I look forward to reading more from you.
This post intentionally left blank. But you've FOUND IT!
The fun starts in May 2016, just before the book release. Want to play?
Give me your address and you'll know the moment we're live.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: