Things in my head have been begging to blogged lately, so here goes. The professional advice about blogging is: focus on a theme, be an “authority”, use this writing to market my work. That’s probably not happening. Mostly I blog about my oddball novel writing life; it’s hard to fence that chaos. Comedy, Alzheimer’s, feminism, the Goddess, caregiving, my mother-housemate, my partial retirement, reading books in the bath. Life’s a grab bag.
Recently, I was thinking about how people talk about the publication of a book as “giving birth.” For me, that’s the wrong analogy. The novel I am working on (to be “published” next year) was born about forty years ago. My funny father and I used to watch the Tonight Show; I kept saying “Why aren’t there more women comedians?” Women are funny! All my life, I knew that. I also knew I was too shy to do standup comedy. But I could write, so I began creating a female comic’s fictional biography. Since then, Nessa Allen has been growing in my brain and in words all these years; she has her fiftieth birthday in the newest version of the manuscript.
I have nurtured this book through a process as self-sacrificing as raising any child, with dedication and anguish, wonder and joy. This being the third re-write, this novel has now, from my perspective, left home and returned twice. The upcoming printing and distribution will be “graduation,” not “birth.” The finished book will go out not as a newborn entity, but as a mature work intended to compensate for my labors. Hopefully, it will support me in my old age. Its “sisters,” soon to follow, can help foot the bill.
More recent thinking – I LOVE libraries. How can I become a successful book seller given my lifelong practice of borrowing rather than buying books? Lately, I’ve checked out newer books about the comedy business/culture of the 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s. That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick, about the National Lampoon (Harvard) guys and Saturday Night Live. We Killed, about women in comedy. I’m Dying up Here, ultimately a labor story, about comedians “striking” to be paid at comedy clubs. Now I am reading I Killed, stories of comedians on the road. I read about and studied humor and comedy, everything I could get my hands on from 1980 until 1995. Now, I’m in that soup again, and all this new information is contributing another delicious layer of realism to Nessa Allen’s “life.” Icing on our cake.
Meanwhile, from my non-fiction bathtub, where I’m reading these funny road stories, I find myself sputtering at – and suddenly blogging to – all my fellow library lovers: Spare the pencil, please. Some uptight public editor has corrected the great image “two students gifted us with cookies wrapped in colored construction paper decorated with hearts and stars and unicorns” so it looks like “two students gifted gave us with …” Gift me a break! Go buy your own books if you need to scribble in them.