I’ll confess, ever since I got back from the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC last weekend, I’ve been struggling to come up with a decent post. A (minor) shoulder injury has put off my next installment of “To Dance Again;” my kids haven’t done anything special to inspire a new mixed-race-parenting piece—nor have I had any ah-hah moments about my own biracial, Jewish, black, ex-dancer-shrink-ness.
Frankly, though I’ve been proof-reading, not really writing, I’ve thinking of nothing but my writing, which is itself an identity topic. My writing is made up of all the pieces that make me myself. (I think most writers would agree.)
I am in full writer mode this week. My kids get it: they scrounge for their own snack and start their own homework, work out their own little squabbles, knowing that somewhere upstairs in the fire-hazard, dust-bunny haven of the study, is Mommy-as-Writer-Lady (they know I’ll be down to cook and feed and hang out later).
I haven’t posted here for a whole week; I’ve been too busy giving my novel one last comb through before sending requested pages to agents I met at the conference. (Still insanely giddy over the fact that they were interested enough to ask!) And now that I’m finally posting, what do I post about? Writing!
Here’s why I write: Certain aspects of being human either vex, amuse or fascinate me. I need to get them down in my own quirky way, ultimately to see whether or not others feel as I do. In The Marriage Plot (which I haven’t finished yet), Jeffrey Eugenides’s Madeleine finds in Barthes “the reason she read books in the first place … a sign that she wasn’t alone.” In Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (which I will post more about at another time), when Rachel says, “…the other black girls in school think I want to be white … I don’t want to be white … I want to be nothing,” I think, yes, it’s something I’ve felt before.
So maybe you’re not biracial, black or Jewish, maybe you’ve never obsessed about whether your thighs touch when you stand with your feet together, maybe you’re not an only child or even female. But when you read me you just might see a small part of yourself reflected back.
Now, let me take this opportunity to say what a thrilling, magical weekend I had at the Writer’s Digest Conference (#WDC12 in Twitter-speak). I met so many fascinating people: other aspiring authors, some successful ones, editors, agents and others in this great, old, but rapidly changing field of publishing. Though everyone says, “go to conferences with an open mind, ready to learn everything you can,” I’ll admit I went mostly to pitch Birch Wood Doll. Once I got there, though, I inhaled information, from “Writing about Yourself in the Digital Age,” with A.J. Jacobs , to “Conflict and Suspense” with James Scott Bell, to a fantastic kid-lit seminar with Mary Kole , which convinced me to make my next project a YA venture. Of course the Pitch Slam—60 agents, 400+ unpublished authors, 3 hours—was the high point. I was fortunate enough to walk away with business cards from five of the agents on my top-six list. I got home and immediately read through BWD again for typos and awkward phrasing, sent everything out on Tuesday and found myself coming down with a cold and an utter loss for words.
Fortunately, I had signed up for a Pitchapalooza workshop at Watchung Booksellers last night. I decided not to pitch Birch Wood Doll, since my pitch had been successful at the WDC. Instead I challenged myself to formulate a pitch for the (as yet unwritten) YA book, just to see if “The Book Doctors” would think it sounded worthwhile. The good news is that they did. And with that project to look forward to (yet another novel heavily featuring body image and identity) my blogging voice seems to have returned.
Lastly, to the wonderful fellow writers I met last weekend—Grace, Joanna, AG, KSZ, Harry and others—I am rooting for you all!