Forgiveness and dairy maids
I loved September when I was younger. I loved school, new pens and notebooks, paper assignments filled with possibilities, new books to read, new inspiration, new competition. Becoming a teacher changed some of those feelings. Honestly, there was dread associated with the waning summer, anxiety, weird dreams, a longing to bolt. But then I'd meet my kids and it would all be fine.
Now, I have no job and while I have many plans, none of them is really concrete. So, Harper Collins buys the VAMPIRE MOTHER (unlikely). What does the editor want? Are they asking for a trilogy? I get much deeper into THE TUG BOAT CAPTAINS DAUGHTER. Do I take a trip down the Mississippi? Do I cut my throat for writing another middle-aged woman novel? Do I trust myself? Will my beloved agent finally fire me? Will she reproach me for my mid-list, noncommercial dreck and toss me back into the pool of unrepresented writers to rot? And the play-will my play get staged and if it does will anyone like it?
I am reading TESS OF THE DURBERVILLES and am amazed by Hardy's modern understanding of so much to do with class & sex & the way people behave. It's a beautiful book full of pain and sweetness. Maybe my father recommends books to me so I stop writing. Not that I'd ever compare myself to Hardy but the inspiration is so double-edged. You feel how their prose embroiders an alternate universe and fear your own prose is whiny and thin, self-conscious and bad.
Someone else from my high school class died a few days ago. He was married to a woman who became famous for being the youngest editor at ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. She edited Hunter Thompson which was something no one could do. I left my job at Random House to be her assistant at Bantam Doubleday Dell in like 1987. She was adorable, funny, wore really cool clothes, had this witty, sharp repartee that I appreciated having grown up with my brilliant parents. She was two-faced and cruel also. Anyway, she fired me after I claimed something I had done that she took credit for. She stood in the doorway of my cubicle and said: "Maybe now you can go write your novel."
But I was broke, unemployed, barely recovered from the death of my sister, my return to drinking, a terrible, violent marriage, getting a divorce and getting sober again. That job had represented my only security or success. I was stunned. She told the publisher I was quitting to write and I didn't know how to call her a liar. They probably wouldn't have cared.
I went in her office and cracked the Tiffany cup I gave her for Christmas. I took all her mail and threw it out, I ordered tons of things she didn't need and then I left. A year later my first novel was bought, a year later she was fired. then she married this guy I knew in high school which seemed weird. And he just died. So I wrote her a note to say I was sorry. They have children and I'm sure he was a great father. And I am sorry.