The Fabulous Peabodies

Picked up this biography on a whim at the library last week, The Peabody Sisters, by Megan Marshall, and I CANNOT put it down. As I told Xtina (our neighb across the hall), it’s full of the same salacious gossip one expects from Us Weekly—only the celebs are dead, philsophical/literary types from 150 years ago.

What’s not to love?

In the last chapter, one of the sisters got engaged to Nathaniel Hawthorne. YES. That Nathaniel Hawthorne—he of the seven gabled house with scarlet letters and marble fauns prancing around the dour Puritans.

How did I not know about this?

It’s like perusing the newsstand and suddenly discovering that Brad and Angelina split 100 years ago. One expects to know these things in slightly more current fashion.

Anywho, a fantastic read that has inspired me to snatch a bio of George Eliot when I was out today. Will see if I love that one too. Perhaps I’m in a lit gossip phase.

OH, but I think the enduring covetous theme of the Peabody book is actually hearing about the fantastic and random “school” and “lecture series” and “conversation clubs.” One dreams wistfully for friends to found discussion clubs and Thursday afternoon literary salons, places to loll about and discuss the meaning of life and divine calling, theology and politics.

Not that I can really complain. I’ve had two fantastic evenings of chat with friends while the merciful one was gone.

All of which probably explains why I’ve been having troubling making much headway on the new draft. Have cut out 80 pages of material (still not enough!), and have a finalized and spiffy first chapter completed, but oh, the horror, the horror.

Frothy little Caroline turned into a venomous little snake in my rewrite today, and I spent a good hour trying to convince her to speak nicely to her sister. Insanity, trying to make each sentence count—propel plot, show character, and, if not lyric brilliance, at least showcasing a mental aptitude on the right side of what the experts now call “challenged.”

… Must dash and kill insects before going to bed. Our apartment is lightly infested with an assortment of bugs. Carl politely says he should spray the walls again. I’m pretty sure vacuuming would also solve our woes. I tend to read on the floor, and I tend to snack while reading, and I tend to not vacuum.

Which leads to the predictable HENCE.

12 Months Later…

So, I got my first highly positive reply from an agent early this week. I say “highly positive” because I’ve had one agent say he really liked my writing but didn’t like the book and another ask for the full manuscript before dashing into the bushes never to be heard from again, but THIS ONE seems slightly more stationary and cooperative.

One can but hope.

And spazz, of c.

The 2 stipulations to taking me on were 1) eliminate 30,000 words, and 2) have the hero show up sooner.

Well, I did a rough chop yesterday and got rid of 15,000 words by taking out a side plot and a couple of chapters that were exposition-heavy (my bane). The encouraging thing is that I know good and well she’s right. The book is suffering from bloat. The second 15,000 will be trickier, because it needs to come out of the whole thing, paragraph by paragraph.

Apparently, that’s what the month of July is for.

Not a done deal, by any stretch of the i., but certainly an encouraging end to the last 12 months of agent fishing.

And in the mean time, I’ve been fighting off some sort of vile virus. Something sleepy and headachy and sore throatish.

Spent the past weekend in GR with my fam. Excellent times, including a couple key moments of brilliance—one involving one of the M’s friends who gustily confided to me her bewilderment at the vagaries of fate that resulted in my being married while her daughter is not. Truly, there is NO accounting for taste among men these days.

Absolutely amazing. I could practically feel my cloven little feet twitch for joy. I recounted the story to Fig and W later with much chortling. Mr. Bennet would be SO pleased.

I really should go home more often.

And honestly, who could help wanting to write with people in the world like this? I feel like encounters of this variety should count as divine anointing, a sign that one’s feet are firmly planted on the correct path.

What bliss.

More Rejection…

Also, I killed a duck.

Fortunately, those were not connected incidents. As in, the day went neither: a) I got rejected and therefore killed the agent’s pet duck in revenge, nor b) I killed a duck and, bloodstained and feather-mottled, was promptly rejected from an agency.

Nope. More mundane.

I feel worse about the duck, though. A trio of mallards touched down in the middle of Haggerty Rd, where the speed limit is 45 and traffic fairly heavy. I just had enough time to register: WHAT IS THAT DUCK THINKING? And, sadly, not enough time to check my mirrors before swerving and THUMP-POOF. In my rearview nothing but feathers in a mushroom cloud.

OH. Also the Comcast dude totally broke our apartment hall window.

What the heck, world?

But, those are the lowlights. Carl had an extra day off today, so we slept in, played tennis, got Jimmy John’s, and went to Kensington Park to walk along the lake for a mile or two. Beautiful weather.

It’s been a good weekend off, and I’m starting (hesitantly) to think more constructively about writing. Been getting bad vibes from the last couple of people I shared my latest project with… “But, where’s the romance?” they say. “Do they fall in love?”

Am I the only person who’s not feeling the love these days? Not personally, I mean. Am utterly happy myself, but… just not feeling the need to get all up in a fictional character’s Kool Aid, you know? Surely people do interesting things besides fall in L? I dunno. I think I currently believe that love (which is interesting) and falling in love (which is not very) are kind of separate deals.

Does that make sense?

In the absence of clarity on that topic, I think we’re going out for some late evening McDonalds. “I need fries,” I told Carl. “I killed a duck tonight. I need something to soothe the pain of making that male duck a widower.”

Carl said ok.

Eat your heart out, Bella Swan. That’s what true love looks like.