Occasionally, I have one of those deeply humbling moments.
These include, but are not limited to, such things as trying to help my son with his math homework, anything technological, finding out Bono is 46, checking my bank balance, realizing my mother was right about anything, and undressing in a Macy’s fitting room beside a full-length mirror under the most heinous flourescent lighting ever.
Last night was such a moment. I was scheduled to read and talk at the New Brunswick, NJ Public Library. So I grab my umbrella and catch the train to NJ, forgetting to grab a train schedule so that I had to pester the nice conductor to tell me when to get off (humbling moment #1. Or no, just stupid moment #1,458,907.) It’s pissing rain. The librarian, John, and I go for a really nice dinner. He is a sweetheart, and we bond over sci fi, zine publishing, Hal Duncan, hummus, and kids. I’m nervous about the library gig. (I am one of those misleading introverts. I can pass for extrovert but inside, I’m ready to bolt for the safety of my Hobbit Hole.) I’m thinking, gosh, what if there are a lot of teens? What if I don’t read well? What if I make an ass of myself or spontaneously flop-sweat? What if I have pepper in my teeth? What if they ask me questions about the third book and I respond with non-answers like, “Yes. Possibly. Or not. Look over there–baby foxes!”
This is all for naught. (This is what we writers call foreshadowing.)
At 7:00, we enter the room and there sits…one girl. One. Uno. Un Solitario. I think Three Dog Night said it best when they sang, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”
Her name was Allison. She’d never read my books, so I kind of told her about them, and wondered if maybe this would be the time to bust out the new routine I’ve been considering: The Story of AGATB…in mime. Sadly, my “walking against the wind” movements were a bit rusty so I decided against it. But the dear girl was such a good sport that she sat next to me for far longer than she needed to, sipping a Capri Sun while I nodded and smiled way too much and said things like, “So…have you always lived in Franklin Township?”
Finally, after an hour, she looked longingly, one might even say desperately, toward the doors and said, “I think my mom’s here.” I owe Allison a potted plant. John offered me all the Twizzlers I could eat and took me to the train station where we gabbed some more and no doubt he was thinking, “Sheesh. Next time I book Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier.” New Brunswick. Tough room, tough room…
And in more humble-land, I got back my editorial notes from my beloved editor, Wendy. All twelve pages of them. I asked her if I could just wait until she publishes her notes in hardcover. Hahaha. Ha. Ahem. Wendy, being Wendy, which is to say unfailingly polite, has already assured me that this is a “good book” that with “tweaking” will be “great.” I already know that I will be ripping this book apart by the seams and completely refashioning it. I really do feel like this is Project Runway, and Tim Gunn has just said, “I’m concerned” and “Make it work.” And I will. Actually, I love revision. (Full disclosure: I’m high on pre-Halloween mini Snickers.) But seriously, while revision is no picnic, it’s where the real stuff happens. For me, at least. Please. Dear God, please. But the little hamsters who run on the wheel inside my head that activates my brain are scurrying along, and I’m starting to crackle with new ideas. It’s finally making sense and I feel jazzed again. Some old friends might be stopping by. *cough* Poppy Warriors *cough* Or not. But it will come together. I will make it work. I do not wish to be auf’d.
Oh, and we have a title: THE SWEET FAR THING. It’s from W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Rose of Battle.” (google away.) Wish I could say I thought of it, but it was Wendy to the rescue. I wanted to use Yeats; she suggested this particular line. Maybe she needs a potted plant, too.
Two last bits of news and then I’ll shut up:
1. I had a very nice conversation with Charles Sturridge, the director who is writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of AGATB. I lost about the first ten minutes of what he said because he has the most gorgeous British accent, the sort that makes everything sound yummy–honestly, he could’ve discussed entrail surgery and it would have sounded like “Masterpiece Theatre.” But then I caught up again, and I think he’s going to do a fantastic job with the film if we get that green light.
2. I have a first-person essay in the November issue of Cosmo Girl. It’s about hair, self-esteem, car accidents, feminism, and the tyranny of the beauty myth. In, you know, 800 words or less. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.
Now, I really am getting back to it.