Prepare For Your Arrival
If you would like to order a personalized copy of any of my novels or my memoir as a holiday gift, I’m happy to take a ride up to Blue Cypress Books and sign them for you.
I’m still working on writing and editing two books at the same time over here. Or, rather, one book for a period of days, and then I arrive at a milestone for that particular project, put it down and start the other. It seems I can’t write both simultaneously. Can’t start the workday with one and then attack the other in the afternoon. I thought maybe I would be able to function like that, but after the first day I knew that was never going to happen. When I’m handling this many pages, when things are already so hefty, my brain only travels in one direction creatively each day, at least in terms of managing things in a big picture kind of way or generating new material to fit within that existing framework. I’ve never really done anything like this before, worked on two significant projects at once, so I’m learning new things about how my brain works or is capable of working, anyway, every step of the way.
Went to Florida and met my mother’s caterpillars
This morning I was thinking about a conversation I had with the witty and charming and extremely soulful Mary Laura Philpott (author of the “masterwork” Bomb Shelter) at the Texas Book Festival last weekend. I was talking shop with her, which for me means asking her how her new work was going but also about her skin care regimen. She told me which line of products she uses (she honestly has really amazing skin) and said that she hadn’t started writing anything new yet because she had been touring all this time. “I just can’t move into the head space of the new thing while I’m still dwelling in the space of the old thing, which I am if I’m traveling around talking about it,” she said.
That day was, in fact, her last event after many events this year. I had seen her schedule online. It was hectic. It’s never just the touring, though. There’s the promoting it online, worrying about it out in the world on multiple planes. The psychic space it occupies within you. This new revelation of hers about what she was capable of felt almost maternal to me, mothering her book, mothering herself, but also about a professional understanding of herself. She had learned to recognize the way the business side of things impacted her creative self. She sounded healthy and strong and capable. And also, just about ready to arrive at the next place.
Four more flights left this year. But just to see the ones I love.
I’m always so interested in identifying what our blocks are in our creativity. Sometimes it’s because we’re not getting enough sleep and sometimes it’s because there’s an upcoming election and sometimes it’s because there’s a little heartache in your life and sometimes it’s because your day job is taking a toll on you lately and sometimes it’s because you just need to read a new good book, get that extra little bit of inspiration to remind why you wanted to make your art in the first place. Big blocks and small blocks alike. Let us all strive to arrive at the confident place of knowing exactly why we can’t and then accepting it, because then moving onto the next place will surely come quicker. (Or at least we can forgive ourselves a little more while we wait.)
Today I am starting a ten-day intense round of edits. I am looking to fill some holes. This is the goal. I have the book printed out and I’m going to sit with my most recent favorite pen and make line edits and then type all those changes up when I’m done. And then I’ll send it to my two readers hopefully by Thanksgiving. This is my dream! I just need to be super focused and dynamic. Infuse this book with light, spend some time early in the morning thinking about its aboutness, tend to all the threads, pulling them tighter throughout the book. I am exhilarated and intimidated and hope I do this book justice.
I know in particular there is one chapter late in the game that needs some serious nurturing. I feel certain if I don’t nail it, I will collapse all the faith the reader has put in me the entire book. I see it coming. I see the big challenge coming my way. I clear away the blocks as I move closer toward it. I prepare for my arrival.
Love to you all,
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to Grow Dat Youth Farm.
Jami, your messages sometimes feel so personalized to me...thanks for putting it into words that we need to name the things that block us. Every message finds me learning from you and feeling bolstered by your encouragement.
Hi Jami, Thanks for newsletters! I work mostly as an editor (so far), but the demands can be similar. I’ve finally learned that to accommodate age and chronic health issues (and life), I needed to modify my approach. I plan three days of editorial work for every four workdays, and that seems to create the most efficient and satisfying way through the week without sacrificing deadlines. I have yet to figure out a way to work on multiple book-length projects simultaneously while also enabling my brain to switch gears effectively from editorial work to independent (creative) writing. But I will get there!