Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where Are You Tonight, Sweet Marie?

My awesome cousin (ok, they're all awesome in their own way, but I'm talking about a specific one here) is a writer and he gave me his manuscript to read when I saw him this summer. I'm so honored that he shared it with me in the first place, I know what a delicate thing it is to share a work-in-progress. There's no way anyone's seeing mine until I've got at least one more draft under my belt. Or a whole different story (ha ha. Ha?). ANYWAY. I just finished it yesterday and. Holy bones. Is it good. It's a real, amazing, funny, interesting grown-up book with a plot and everything. And I cried. Not out of envy and thoughts that I'll never do anything like that--sure these feelings passed through me because he did what I keep not doing--but the tears were because the story made me cry. I can't wait until it's published so I can sing its praises from the treetops and rejoice when it's chosen by whatever huge book club will replace The Oprah's when she's done. I am seriously inspired now.

I've been reading A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book and it's as intensely great a piece of work as she's ever done. I'll be sad when it's over. A theme in it that really resonates with me, something she describes so well, is the lives of mothers and how their need to work introduces a competitive edge into the family, an air of resentment. The work itself becomes a sort of favorite child. Of course I don't have the book with me to pull up the quote I want to share that perfectly distills this particularly feminine phenomenon, but I'll come back here and post it when a get a chance. Suffice to say that as a woman and a writer and a mother herself, Byatt knows what's up. There are always exceptions, but historically it's not the same for men with children. Please know that I don't mean "Oh it's so hard to be a writer with children, you could never understand, woe and damnation, etc." especially since I haven't really written since my son was born and, like, he still tries to get a meal off of any woman who holds him close to her chest so it's not like he's old enough to be proprietary. I just mean that there's something about when you are passionate about something, it's hard to do it without it in some way being at the expense of the people you love. Oh fiction, you and your turning a mirror on society.

I get to see my niece for the first time tomorrow. So there!


  1. Is this by chance my cousin too?

  2. I bet he is an amazing writer. What is this weird phenomenon in your family anyway...

  3. Heidi - you are mighty astute ;-) and Whitney, aw shucks.