Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And that's why I call myself a writer . . .

I am not a religious person, but I don’t know how else to say this: I feel blessed.  Maybe I’m blessed by the universe, who knows.  I am definitely blessed with friends.  Two sweet friends tagged me to participate in a blog hop and answer a bunch of excruciating questions for public consumption.  On second thought, maybe I’m cursed with friends.  Anyhoo, Kate at Nested and Anna at The Silent Isle, thank you.  I enjoyed reading your answers, was greatly informed and wildly impressed (Anna has a novella due out in September!)

One other note before I start the exercise of anguish, I learned something very important that I feel I should share with my fellow bloggers.  I already wrote this post.  Yep, wrote it and lost it.  Blogger was kinked up and when I thought I saved my changes I didn’t.  Then when I thought I would copy and paste the post for security (which really was a great idea) I copied and forgot to paste in a Word document and thus lost everything.  Note to self: copying and not pasting is stupid.  I am not defeated, however, and here I am rewriting the whole dang thing.  Be kind.  I have not answered questions about my non-blog writing in public before.  And even though I write a monthly column for The Paper and have published several essays, this is well, I may throw up a little in my own mouth, so be gentle.

Here goes the questions of doom:

1) What is the working title of your book or project?

Funny story: I have two projects because when I get overwhelmed and irritated with one, I shelve it and go to the other.  One is a collection of essays with the working title "I May Be Indecisive, But I’m Just Not Sure.The other is a memoir (I see you rolling your eyes so just pretend you’re interested) with the working title "Chronic.No it’s not about marijuana.  It may have a subtitle, something like this: "Chronic: Marriage, Moving & Medication.Maybe.  Or maybe I’ll erase the file.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book or project?  

See, it’s irritating that I have two projects because now I have two answers for each question.  However, it’s fitting given that my collection is about being indecisive.  The collection has grown one essay at a time.  It started as a project about parenting without organized religion, but then I realized I’m ambivalent about pretty much everything and that it is a raging motif in my life.

The memoir is newer and I’m very insecure about it at this point.  I tend to write about taboos in an effort to break them, to talk about what makes us most uncomfortable.  So why not talk about my year without Crohn’s medication, a year of medical trials that ended badly?  Why wouldn’t people want to read that?

3) What genre does it fall under, if any?

Both projects are Creative Non-fiction/Humor

4) If applicable, whom would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

This is the point where I try not to sound like a narcissist.  The main character of both projects is me.  Now I have answered those If-a-Hollywood-director-were-making-the-movie-of-your-life surveys in the early days of Facebook (Don’t feign ignorance.  You know you did, too.  And by the way, Jennifer Lawrence and Audrey Hepburn are NOT realistic choices.).  Uusually I chose actresses who looked a little like me.  Women around the same age with a mess of curly brown hair: Amy Irving, Judy Davis (she’s so intense), or Julia Louis-Dreyfus because throughout the 90s my dad called me “Elaine.”  But I’m going to go for broke here.  If I could cast myself in my own ridiculous melodrama, I’d have to go with Tina Fey (I love you, Tina).

What?  I could look this good. (original image published in BUST Magazine
 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

Essays: One woman’s search for religion, parenting advice, hair color and other important stuff.

Memoir: The majors stressors in life include: moving, illness, and job change; add terrorism to that and you have my first year of marriage.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  

I defer to Kate on this one: let’s get the projects finished first.  I hope to have representation one day.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

I started my first essay five years ago.  It’s still not finished.

8) What other book or stories would you compare this story to with the genre?  

I’d love to say that the memoir is akin to Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” or Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club,” but without the bipolar parents, alcoholism, heroin, and abuse.  Really, I’m not sure what it’s like.  Too soon to say.  Maybe I’ll do sociological research about the year 2001 or medical trials and weave that into the personal narrative, a la Rosemary Mahoney’s brilliant “Whoredom In Kimmage.”
Read this book!
The essays could be a love child of Nora Ephron and David Sedaris or the product of a threesome with Marion Winik, Sarah Vowell and David Rakoff, all of which you know could never happen.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?  

The essays have all grown out of my own search for answers.  I don’t have them and sometimes I write about it to make sense of my world.  Usually I just tell jokes.

The memoir at this stage is an effort to bring light to a subject people don’t read about much: Crohn’s disease.  I was diagnosed in 2000 and spent much of  2001 involved in a medical trial in Washington, DC.  It didn’t go well.  At the same time, I struggled with crushing anxiety.  Then 9/11 happened.  And the anthrax scare.  It was a crazy year.  Oh, and my husband and I were newlyweds.  Wheeeeeeeee.  I’ve written about my own struggles with taboo topics before in an effort to help those with similar issues.  I think that’s my purpose here.  What do you think?  I mean it.  I’m just writing it down at this stage.

10) What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?  

Essays: I compare my hair to tuna fish and Liz Lemon makes an appearance in my bedroom.
Memoir:  I spent a lot of hours in a friend’s hot tub that year.


What makes a blog hop fun is passing on the torch to other bloggers who you may or may not have read before.  Click on these links.  You’ll be happy you did.

1. First up is my sister, Randi, whose blog Children’s Writer’s World offers useful advice to writers of children’s books.  She also runs a children’s magazine at Kid’s Imagination Train.  If your child is a budding artist, look for her guidelines for submitting his or her artwork.

2. Next is the hilarious Christina at Geisha Smackdown.  Christina also self-published a collection of her work with the same name.  You can purchase it on Amazon here: Geisha Smackdown, the book!

3. Last is my friend Different Laura (so coined by my son to distinguish the various Lauras in my life).  Slouching Towards Mediocrity is a very sardonic look at life in the independent film industry and Craigslist.

So, that’s it.

I hope this one publishes.