Monday, January 10, 2011

Casual, With A Touch of Lunatic

I haven't kept you up to date on the book and I promised I would, so I thought I'd let you all know I'm hard at work writing another chapter.

That's not my cute, naked butt at the computer (this picture completely makes me smile) but I'm doing something like that, hunched over the key board, pounding out something I think might be brilliant, that I read later, and realize how terribly mediocre it all is, and have to start at it again.

My day goes something like this: I'm a genius. I'm an idiot. I'm a genius. I'm an idiot.

That's my day, except when it's punctuated by intense, seething writer's block, where I just stare morosely into the computer wondering why my shopping list is the only thing I can think about.

There are two agents, both lovely, and bright, and amazing at what they do, who have decided they like me and I like them. But none of us have made any firm decisions. Both thought I needed to write another chapter, both felt I had an even better way to tell this story in me, and both felt that I needed to make some changes. They both gave me great notes. I'll send them both the finished product and see, if at the end, they both like me, or one of them, or if I'm standing there alone, with my book proposal flapping in the wind, unable to get an agent after all.

We'll see. But I have a good feeling that won't happen. This has been a good year already.

If you've read my sample chapters here, know that they have undergone a face lift. More story, more details, more focus on characters. More funny. In fact, I didn't just write a new chapter, I've actually remodeled the whole book, making it more about the story of my year cooking with kids in a Harlem Public School, and those really compelling, wacky characters, and less about making it some kind of story/handbook. Everyone agrees this is the way to go.

Actually, it was David who said that first. Months ago. Bastard. Also, he and Matthew Amster-Burton both thought I lost some of the edge of my writing in the book and felt that I sounded to "author-y". I've corrected that. The tone of the chapters sound a lot like this blog...Casual, with a touch of lunatic. I think I should trademark that.

I think that getting this book published has been a real writer's journey for me. We hear about people throwing together a book proposal in a week, having it speed to auction, where it sells for a half a million dollar advance. These things fuel our dreams. And they happen. But I think, for most of us work-horse writers, the process is about the writing, the telling of the story in the best possible way - writing, writing, writing, putting something out there, getting feedback, notes, writing again, re-writing, re-writing, tussling and fighting with the sucker, re-writing, putting it out there, and doing it again, and again, until it is more finished than we ever possibly imagined, different totally than what we originally conceived, and full of other people, and their ideas. Writers think they work alone. That's how it feels. But I'm not convinced they do.

While I was visiting one of the agents in her office, she told me she saw my book as a movie. I'm sure she was shit-faced. She said it off-handedly, quickly, almost as an afterthought as I was leaving - and who knows the woman might love a good Lifetime Movie - but that little comment changed everything for this re-write because it helped me really zero in on characters and make them strong and relatable, as if they were standing right in front of me. Or on a movie screen. See, I pictured the whole book on screen while I wrote.

No one who isn't four believes this will be a movie, but it just goes to show you that words are powerful and one sentence - one off-handed, seemingly inconsequential sentence - put me on the right path, got me to see how this story needed to be told. It helped the writing. She helped the writing. That says a lot.

So, I'm hoping to have the re-writes done by the end of this week or early next. Then, David will read and comment. Then, hopefully I can send it out again. And see what people say. I won't go to the bother of posting the chapters here and bore everyone with yet another version of this story. You've been amazingly attentive readers and note-givers already. But if you want to see the new chapters, leave your e-mail in comments and I'll send them to you when they are finished.

Until then, know that I'll be hunkering down and writing. But as usual you can still find me here.

xo YM



Cheryl Arkison said...

Casual, with a touch of lunatic.

That makes me know we would be best friends. Kindred spirits like Anne and Dianna, except I would totally let you get drunk on currant wine.

You are awesome for tackling the rewrite like that. My friend Kate has this to say about first drafts, and it is so true.

MrsWheelbarrow said...

I agree with Cheryl - Casual, with a touch of lunatic may be trademark-able, but this was my favorite quote:

"Writers think they work alone. That's how it feels. But I'm not convinced they do."

Love to you,

Nuts about food said...

Your hard work will be repaid.รน
And that picture makes me smile too, without even knowing your daughter or husband. Besides the cuteness, it is so funny how they stand in exactly the same way!

Michelle (What's Cooking with Kids) said...

I love you, and can't wait to buy your book, regardless of which agent recognizes your talent or which one is sober...xoxoxoxo

Jennie said...

Lady I love you. I just simply love you and know you have this in you. xo

Christine said...

Just here to be your cheerleader and as an eventual buyer of said book! Good luck and go work!

merry jennifer said...

You are totally doing this thing. I'm SO excited for you - and proud! You mentioned the movie part, and I can completely "see" the story unfold on screen. Oh, yes. This is happening.

CookiePie said...

I, for one, can't wait to read the book AND see the movie! I will choose it for my book club and beg you to come and speak to the group. But, of course, by then you'll be waaaay too famous and busy with Hollywood parties to hang out with the likes of us :)

Anne Stesney said...

You are a terrific storyteller and have such a fantastic voice. I'm glad everyone is pushing you to use it.

You will have a book. And when you do, I'll point to the display at B&N and say, "Yeah, I know that bitch."

THE Tough Cookie said...

"Casual, With a Touch of Lunatic" opening Friday at a theater near you.

I can't wait to hear those words.

Christina @ Spoonfed said...

Ditto what everyone else said. And definitely send the new stuff my way. Would love to see it.

BTW, not that I don't love The Yummy Mummy, but Casual with a Touch of Lunatic does have a nice ring...

rita said...

Really happy for the update on your book proposal. I was just thinking about that a few days ago. I have a feeling something good is going to happen!!

Natalie Sztern said...

2 toddlers, a book, a husband and a blog; how do u manage? yes, I know with a touch of lunacy. Do not blame you at all. And they say the toughest thing in life are kids...obviously they never wrote a book.

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Anonymous said...

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