Friday, May 14, 2021

Life, liberty, happiness


How quickly the writing habit evaporates. Here's a picture. My news? The proposal I wrote has been sold to a publisher, and so now I have to write the book, but first I have to interview my subject again, in even greater depth, but first I have to catch her when she isn't on a plane to somewhere, she is always on a plane to somewhere. 

In the meanwhile I have had three work-related lunches in two weeks, two in my neighborhood and one in a tony town in a neighboring state, where people who are wealthy beyond imagining live. I worried about what to wear, and then I thought, just be yourself, if just being yourself doesn't cut it, then it's not a project for you. It may not be for me regardless, I don't know yet. I do love the agent on the project. She's one of those dark-humored yet deeply humane people with whom even an angsty soul can feel fully at ease. The prospect of working with her is a huge attraction, but I know what I do well, and what I might not be as well suited for, so I'm here, assessing. 

My son drove me the hour north to the lunch meeting in another state, and hung out with a friend of his who lives nearby until I called him to say I was ready, at which point he came and collected me from the restaurant and drove me back home. Such a lucky mother I am. Turns out I didn't need to worry about what I wore as my luncheon companion arrived at the waterside restaurant overlooking rich men's yachts with Crocs on her feet and she was completely and delightfully herself.

Things do seem to be bubbling. I had lunch two days ago with the woman who was my boss back in the early nineties, when I worked as senior editor for a travel book imprint at a publishing house. It was the only job I ever had that combined my college double major, English: writing concentration and Geography: cartography concentration. I've always loved maps; my first job in high school was handwriting the names of places on newly drafted maps, which my geography teacher recommended me for because my script looked like machined type. I digress. Back when I got hired at the publishing house, I was newly in my thirties and my boss, a prodigy in her late twenties, was already a publisher. When she offered me the job she said, "Oh Rosemarie, I have been searching for you for so long!" which made me preemptively forgive her for every difficulty she might ever cause me. 

She wasn't necessarily an easy boss, she was a stickler, a perfectionist, but it turns out I work well with such people, because they're very clear and straightforward about what they want. She left that job before I did, and a year later, she tapped me to be the co-writer with historian Madeleine Burnside on the very first book I ever had published, Spirits of the Passage, an illustrated coffee table reconstructed history of the earliest slave ship ever recovered, the wreck of the Henrietta Marie. 

We lost touch after the book's elegant launch party in an East Side art gallery thirty three years ago, until out of the blue she reached out two weeks ago and suggested we meet for lunch. I loved seeing her. We still knew each other so well, it was comfortable and warm as we caught each other up on the intervening years, talked about our twenty-something children, and reflected on how young we were back then. I learned that she'd married, moved to the Bay Area, raised her daughter there, got amicably divorced, and moved back to the city two years ago. She'd run her own literary agency for all of those years ("How did you start it?" I asked her. "Oh, I just found some clients," she shrugged), and now she had a project to pitch to me, a rather exciting one, and it just might play better to my strengths, I don't know, I have to do my research, figure out where to turn next, but it's a happy problem, this deciding.

The photo here is of a wonderful mural on East Third Street. It was taken by my friend Maryam, whose book I've just had the privilege of editing. Her novel is a sweeping global saga about motherhood and belonging, an epic work, and now it is with her agent and I pray and pray that it sells to a worthy publisher and you all will have a chance to read it, as you will not come away unmoved, and the world will be richer for receiving it. Amen.


24 comments:

  1. I loved reading this. Your life is so rich and full. What wonderful interactions and connections and creative pursuits. I look forward to reading how all of this unfolds with hopes that it all goes well for you in every way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. robin, after a year of being mostly indoors, I am finding these interactions to be unexpectedly lovely, no matter what evolves from them. Thank you, dear friend, for the good wish.

      Delete
  2. I do hope it works out. It is wonderful to have a friend with whom you can reconnect like that. I have one as well - makes one feel much richer than a lifestyle ever could.
    I find it amazing that artists can work at that size outside and come up with something that good. Mind you, book editing is not an easy life either, eh? My worst ever? A cookbook that I was doing by telephone while at a cottage with no phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary G, I had no idea we would reconnect so easily, but I suppose a clue was the fact that I wasn't a bit anxious beforehand, and as you probably know I am usually quite nervous when required to show up socially. And isn't that mural extraordinary? Editing by telephone from a cottage with no phone--how did you manage??

      Delete
  3. Amen to all your good writing energy. Our public library has 17 holds on the four copies it purchased of Heart of Fire. My turn to read it has arrived. Beautiful mural!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. am, thank you, friend! and I hope you enjoy Heart of Fire! Senator Hirono is an American hero by my lights, and another soul who is always fully herself. I so appreciate your support.

      Delete
  4. I do love that mural, painting at that scale is so amazing to me. Lunch sounded very fun. Isn't it amazing how Crocs stay on the market and people keep buying them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Allison, I've never owned a pair of Crocs, but everyone I know who does wears them constantly. Perhaps I should try them!

      Delete
  5. You have so many options swirling around you. How exciting for you! I certainly did enjoy Heart of Fire and have been recommending it to others on blogs I read. Hope all continues to go well for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellen, it might seem like so many options (well, two anyway), but like things that bubble they may yet go poof and dissipate like so much steam. Nothing is ever sure until a contract is signed, and then I am committed. And I am sooo happy you enjoyed Heart of Fire, and grateful to you for reading and recommending it.

      Delete
  6. Your cup runneth over and isn't that wonderful. I can imagine that contract work must be stressful at times, waiting for the next job, but you rock it woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Lily, contract work can indeed be stressful, so to have two fascinating projects swirling in my general direction is lovely, but nothing is ever guaranteed. I am trying to move forward carefully, responsibly, most of all with inspiration and faith. Thank you for being around the fire, here.

      Delete
  7. Let me guess -- your lunch was in Greenwich? It's great that you're able to stay in touch with these professional connections, and it sounds like you enjoy their company too, which is always a plus! Congrats on selling the book and here's hoping your subject slows down enough to help you write it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, it's weird, I dont always enjoy these professional lunches, but somehow I'm batting 100 percent for these recent ones. Is it that I've been inside so much and am intrigued to finally be interacting again with people outside my bubble (much as I love the people inside my bubble)? Who knows.

      Delete
  8. Oh, and that is a GREAT mural! (Did I say that?)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Absolutely everything I read here is marvelous and mirrors your amazing talent and gift of observation.
    I just know that the best offer will be the outcome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind and hopeful sentiments, Sabine. Thank you.

      Delete
  10. Oh, Queen. I just love you so. Thank you for all your guidance and nurturing. You are a one in a million soul. I thank the Universe for you, all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Maryam, you wrote such a beautiful book, and with such humanity. I can't wait for the world to embrace it. And you. Love.

      Delete
  11. what a wonderful post and so loved learning more about your past. so many great projects on the offering, I know you will excel at whichever gets handed to you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are very fortunate in having so many great adventures in this thing that we call life and I love reading all of your posts just so I can imagine what it would be like to have worked in the areas that you have and have raised such awesome children along the way. Reconnecting is also another awesome aspect of life and I do so hope that your book is sold to a GREAT publisher and we all can have the chance to read it. Big Hugs xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  13. A nice dilemma to have. I find people that are really well off rarely show it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I originally read this post on my Feedly feed and was shocked to find it was not posted. I had a similar experience Friday but it never showed back up which was fine because unlike this post of yours, it wasn't much of anything.
    It sounds like the shut-down/quarantine did not get in the way of your productivity or projects and now- this new book! Your talent is obviously so recognized and so respected, as is your work ethic. And of course, your experience is unparalleled. You're the whole package, lady!

    ReplyDelete