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, which means 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.