I know that all good things must come to…blah blah blah, but that doesn’t make me less sad to see the literary magazine “The Fiddleback” drawing the curtain. They’ve compiled a goodbye “Greatest Hits" issue, and an essay I have about an emotional, weird blood draw is in it. Thank you for that, and thank you for existing, Fiddleback!
Want proof that really (really) hard work pays off?
Ten years ago, when I was still living in Paris, I wrote a novel called “The Blue Bear.” I was uncommonly lucky and got an agent for it and an interested editor at Doubleday right away. I worked on revisions for said editor all summer, talking with her on the phone, assured that when I returned to the states in September, we would sign a book deal. Revisions accomplished, I returned to Connecticut and the meeting was set. One week before this meeting, not only did the editor change her mind, but she also quit her job, leaving me “orphaned,” the offer gone and a dream dissolved.
I was totally thrown off-track by this turn of events. My writing became awful—I quickly set about writing something more “commercial” which was what the other editors who read the manuscript said they wanted. I became sad. I eventually became sadder. I left New York because I felt jealous and competitive and envious of anyone who was having success and it made my writing—and the process of writing—worse. It took me a very long time to get rid of the disappointment and bitterness. YEARS.
And then I got the joy back. I started writing for me again, not for some faceless audience and editor that I didn’t have. I stopped asking myself whether or not I was going to be liked or be successful, or quite simply, be published, and just started writing. And so it is, a full TEN YEARS after the crash of this first novel that a serendipitous alignment with the incomparable literary agent Rebecca Gradinger gave me the encouragement and motivation and courage to pick this decade-old project up again. And it is with some serious joy and emotion that I’m happy to tell you that the entirely new version I’ve quietly been working on has just been purchased by Sally Kim at Simon and Schuster for publication (if all goes well) next summer.
My friends: keep working. Keeping working hard for YOU. This journey taught me a very difficult but important lesson about patience, and generosity, and getting over oneself and getting the work done.
I’m so grateful to my friends out there who have supported my writing, to those who have danced and partied with me and hugged me, married me (hi, Diego Ongaro!) and sung and just generally made this writing trip a pleasure ride again.
What is it about grapefruit?
From time to time, I buy a grapefruit and I place it in the fruit bowl with the red apples and bananas. I eat a banana daily but I never eat the grapefruit. What is it about grapefruit?
In American diners, the waitress says, “We have apple, orange, grapefruit,” when you ask about the juice. But you never order grapefruit.
If you do order the grapefruit, you get the same feeling as when I call up the stairs to my husband, and yell, Do you want half of this grapefruit? as if it’s any old day, any old morning, except it isn’t, we’re finally going to eat the grapefruit.
Afterwards, you get a superior sense of being. You hold your head a little higher. It’s something about the smell. I mean, you really feel like a better person after eating grapefruit. It’s strange, you would think that I would eat it more.