The Map of My People

My daughter is getting into my shit.

I mean she’s getting into my old shit. She and her friends found boxes of my scrapbooks and drawings from when I was in my twenties.

“What are these?” they asked, opening those 11×14 sketchbooks, papers and clippings exploding out of the pages.

“Those,” I said, “are what we did before Pinterest.”

20140424-173545.jpgNow I have to stop here and hope somebody out there knows what I’m talking about. You got a big stack of magazines, a pair of scissors and a can of rubber cement. And either alone or in a group of girlfriends, you cut things out of the mags—pictures that looked good, things that sounded good, sound advice, sexy secrets, perfume ads, hot men, adorable shoes. And you pasted them into the pages of your black faux-leather bound sketchbooks. The bigger the better.

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Tell me you did this. Tell me you did it for hours. Because I did and I still have them and now my daughter and her friends are going through them. And they’re finding my sketches in there—pencilled portraits from sunglasses ads. A lot of ballet dancers.

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“I want to be talented,” one of the friends said, sighing.

“You are talented,” I said from my desk. “Everyone is talented.” In my head I added, put your phone down, pick up some magazines and rubber cement and touch shit for once. But it is unwise to say such things to your daughter’s friends. Just a little free advice there.

20140424-174316.jpgOh, and they went nuts for this map I drew.  I got really into David Eddings for a few years, fascinated by the detailed universe he created in The Belgariad and The Malloreon.  So I fooled around with writing my own fantasy fiction, an ungodly mess called “Hawkmoon: The Most Unreadable Thing Ever Written.” I think I just wanted to draw a map.

And then, in between the very last pages of the very last sketchbook, Jules pulled out this:

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“Oh, wow, Mom,” she said.  “Is this Daisy and Erik?”

And I just had to stop for a second because she asked that question. She knows who Daisy and Erik are. She doesn’t know their whole story (frankly it’s not quite fit for her ears yet) but she knows enough and she knows they’re real to me.

They’re my people. I sometimes forget they’re not real. I see them all the time—at the grocery store, in a diner, running errands, working in the yard. I see them together.

Writing a novel is much like creating a universe. What ends up in the reader’s hands is a small tip of the iceberg compared to what is in your head. In your head you have the immunization records, the family tree, the skeletons in the closet. You know their shoe size, shirt size, dress size. You know what soap and shampoo they use and whether they say “God Bless You” or “Gesundheit” after a sneeze. You know she hates to be called “Kiddo” and he loves when she calls him “Dumbass.” Lovingly, of course. Teasingly. When he rips open a bag of chips and they go flying everywhere, she rolls her eyes and mutters, “Nice going, Dumbass.”

Your novel doesn’t need an illustrated map but you know the blueprints of the characters’ houses and what trees grow in their yard.

And you know what they look like.

I took the picture from Jules and studied it. Obviously I had copied it from a magazine ad. It was dated 1989 which would’ve been right around the time of the Big Bang—when I began writing the material that would eventually turn into The Man I Love.

Erik and Daisy“It’s a little pretty for Erik,” I said. “But that’s Daisy. Maybe her nose isn’t so round but that’s her face. And she would be lying like that. With her head on Erik’s back.”

Of course she would.

I know these things.

 

Done

Tonight I emailed the final draft of “The Man I Love” to my editor. It’s done. She gets another crack at it but for all intents and purposes I am not allowed to touch fiddle fuck mess with it anymore.

See what I did there?

One of the most daunting things about this goal of finishing the novel was finishing it.  Finishing means you have to let it go. You stop touching it, changing words, rearranging paragraphs, developing this idea a little more or drawing a conversation out. You reach a place where you cannot do anymore. Actually, forget I said that. I think the nature of writers is to always want to do more. To edit forever. Our sweaty hands still shake as we hover over the “send” button, wondering if every word is as polished as it can be. If every unnecessary adverb is dead. If we used that metaphor twice too often.

Even if it ended right here, I wrote in the email to Becky, it would still be the greatest moment of my life. But fuck that shit because this is just the beginning…

I hit “send.”

Then I realized I forgot to attach the manuscript.

Yes, the fingers were ready to let go.  The brain, not so much.

button sendNOW it is sent. For real. She has it. And so now what? Plenty. When you self-publish you must be author, publisher and entrepreneur. The latter is a blank slate for me but I’ve been working with the awesome Desiree, building my media platform and getting ready to launch this novel like a Texas debutante.

I’m looking at early-mid July cotillion which sounds far away but there’s so much to do between now and then. I have plans to crowdsource a book cover design, and will be working with the amazing underground author Michael Xavier on a book trailer (see some of his cinevella work here).

In the mean time, stayed tuned here and on my Facebook page (have you liked it? Do you like me?) Or better yet, follow this blog on email using the form in the right-hand tool bar. You wouldn’t want to miss the launch party, would you? That would break my heart.

A Moment is Born

“Flip I can’t on its head,” my editor Becky said.

I can’t.

Can’t I?

I can.

I just did.

Stick around. There’ll be lots more to see here.

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