I’ve been such a scattered reader lately. Does that ever happen to you? Truth be told, I’ve just been a scattered person. Dealing with above mentioned life bumps, I find my concentration evaporates. So, I’m reading, Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs, by Beth Ann Fennelly, and it’s just the thing. Some of the pieces a mere sentence long, others run to five pages. She’s funny, insightful and real. Consider this one: “Married Love, IV. Morning: bought a bag of frozen peas to numb my husband’s sore testicles after his vasectomy. Evening: added thawed peas to our carbonara.”
I’ve also been reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck, by Mark Manson. Some of it is a bit too bro-y for me, but there’s solid advice about fear, failure and art making (or rather, NOT art making) that hit home for me. Manson says, “We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.” Or, how about this gem, “…if it’s down to me being screwed up, or everyone else being screwed up, it’s far more likely that I’m the one who’s screwed up.”
Finally, I did read straight through Tessa Hadley’s gorgeous new novel, Late in the Day. Hadley is one of my favorite authors and this book soars. It’s a novel full of the aches that attend long marriages, long friendships, children, art, aging. People pay attention in this book, which, as I mentioned above, has lately been a struggle for me.
With whom do you share your drafts? Of course you know it’s terribly important to have a crew. I’m super lucky to have peeps to send work to, and a writing group to sit around with once a month, drinking wine and workshopping pages. But sometimes that isn’t enough. Perhaps an outside editor is the ticket.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a stalled (I’ve changed the language from failed to stalled…and who knows, it might be failed) novel hunkered like a troll under my desk. Getting pals to read your novel is a big ask. When (if?) I’m ready to face it again, I may enlist a hired gun. In planning for that moment, I recently sent a story to Will Allison at the gushing endorsement of a friend. He was terrific! He’s got chops (check his bio). He’s smart, clear, funny, and helpful. The best editor works to support your vision of your work. Will does just that. I won’t lie, it isn’t cheap to hire an editor. But, if you can no longer see your own work and want a path through, I vote for Will! Plus, he’s a great writer. I’m currently enjoying his novel, What You Have Left.
I asked around and here are a two other outside editors friends have used and been happy with the comments and support they received: 5E: Creativity, Editing and the Business of Publishing, and Michelle Wildgen Editorial Services.
Quick update: Remember in a previous r.w.e. newsletter I told you I was aiming for 100 rejections in 2019? Well, 5 so far. Ouch and keep going, right?
Okay, that thing about a poor attention span? Well, I’ve been watching a bit of TV. I am in love with two cooking shows, both on Netflix.
First off, this show is more an eating and traveling show. Somebody Feed Phil is about this nebbishy guy who travels the world and enjoys food. He has no deep insights, no experience in the kitchen, but man, it’s fun to watch pleasure bloom on his face when he takes a bite. Eater wrote an article, 5 Problems with ‘Somebody Feed Phil,’ and the thing is, these 5 problems are exactly why we like it. Phil’s like a dorky friend telling us about a great trip. Plus, it’s priceless when he Skypes with his aged parents at the end of each show.
Another person who is exquisite at showing pleasure? Samin Nosrat. Her show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is fantastic. Unlike Phil, Samin knows her way around a kitchen and is rigorous in her selection of ingredients—fresh, unique, beautiful. I’ve cooked her Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken, which could not be easier or more comforting. I also made the Bean and Roasted Veg Salad, which I got the gist of from watching the show. Check out the Heat episode for some sweet mother/daughter exchanges.
Quick Update: Remember my New Year’s Resolution to bake a cake a month? January was Banana Cake. February I’ve made a Carrot Cake. (I know, enough with the fruit and vegetables! Chocolate coming soon. In fact, do you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe I should try?)