Amazing, the number of knitting books that come out each year offering speedy knits for Christmas. I wish they applied to me. Unfortunately (or fortunately, to judge from the finished product, IMOSHO) I like knitting with fingerweight or DK yarns, which is thinner and finer than bulky, requires thinner and finer needles, and takes a whole lot longer. So waiting until the last minute isn’t an option.
My book group met last night to discuss The Paris Wife, which is a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage. When I read this book last April, I was intrigued by the marriage, but even more, as a writer, by the ups and downs of Hemingway as he struggled to be published. I was one of those who had pushed this book when we chose our 2011-2012 list last June, and the discussion was terrific, validating the choice.
A book title either hits me, or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, I defer to my publisher. After all, a title is a marketing tool, and they’re the marketing experts. Of my last five books, from FAMILY TREE to the present, the only one I came up with myself was ESCAPE, but that was a no-brainer. ESCAPE was about … escape! From the first, that was the only title I could see on the cover.
Good news. My editor called this morning to say that everyone at SMP loves my proposal. There are a few questions, basically things for me to keep in mind as I write, but now that I have a green light, I can start.
And suddenly nervous. Drafting a proposal is one thing. As real as my characters are, they’re still hypothetical. Suddenly now, they’re etched in blood.
Well, not really. But you know what I mean.
I finished my Kai-Mei socks last night. Hours in front of the TV helped, because when what you’re watching is emotional, like the 9-11 memorials yesterday were, knitting is a comfort.
Part of it’s the rhythm, which is simple and timeless. But part is the material. I confess it. I’m a fiber snob. I mean, I understand the value of acrylics when it comes to some baby things, and certainly the cost can’t be beat. But if life is about the process, I want natural and fine. I want soft, not scratchy. I want organic. Wool, alpaca, cotton, silk – any of those will do – but if a yarn has even a whiff of cashmere, I’m in love.
Remember when we used to sit on the floor sorting through boxes of photos, reminiscing, laughing or groaning depending on how we looked back then? There is no box now. Our photos are on the computer, the iPad or the phone.
So how do we reminisce?
I start by combing through digital files, picking the best shots and printing them out. I don’t do fancy editing, only what’s available in iPhoto, but I do like to tinker with my pictures, cropping, fixing red eye, enhancing color. Once they’re printed, I frame them and put them wherever there’s room in the house.
Early this morning, I emailed the formal proposal for my new book to New York. It was sixteen pages of single-spaced description, starting with a single painstakingly-written sentence. That first sentence has to hook my editor or she’ll never read the rest. I mean, you guys read the first page or two of a book before buying. If you don’t like what’s right there at the beginning, you pass on the whole thing. Right? Well, pitching a book isn’t all that different.
Here’s the sentence I sent:
A woman has a secret that may save the life of her best friend’s husband – or destroy him.
I’m back! My energy has finally returned, and no wonder. I took the whole summer off – I mean, did zero writing. This was possible, of course, because I’m at the plotting stage of my next book, which entails more thinking than writing. And I did think. My new characters have been gestating since June, when my editor and I settled on one story idea from the eleven (that’s right, eleven!) I dreamed up. How did we choose? There was lots of back and forth, dancing between my favorite and her favorite, with more than one thought about which plot would be freshest when this book comes out in 2013. The one we finally chose was not initially at the top of my list. But her arguments were good, a springboard for my imagination, and the end result is something we both love. Such is the value of keeping an open mind. Such is the power of compromise.