Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A venting

I shouldn't do this but I'm feeling very relieved to be getting back to writing my food book now that I've taken a few months to let it go and get over a couple of rejections. I've been working on this thing for so long that this new version feels truly new. I just wrote an email to this woman, Ana Maria Spagna, whose book Potluck, returned me to the idea that actual books of essays do exist. I feel like I've been pounding my head (read: this book) against a wall trying to create an increasing narrative, trying to make it read like a novel, trying to keep being funny, while using less of an 'I' point of view, while simultaneously changing the book thoroughly while refraining from changing the book too much, while making it more about Mormons, more about the apocalypse, more about the environment, more about food.

Today, I (now I'm self-conscious starting a paragraph with an 'I' but this is the blog world where the I is free to be you and me) am letting the book be essays. It may never be as commercial as everyone kept promising it would be. It may never even get published but I am happier with it than I ever have been. I have lists! Meta-narrative! Letters to people and to the editor! I don't know if it's funny or too I-ridden or uses the subjunctive tense but it makes sense to me now.

It's not perfect. I know I'm the kind of person who needs an editor. There are loose ends but for a book about a narrator growing up in Utah, not eating tuna casserole, who is worried about animals and yet still not a vegetarian, who has a hard time saying no, who thinks that humans adapt the world too much to them and don't adapt enough to it, I think that it holds together in some very esoteric way. I hope the book doesn't read as digressive. I hope it reads not too frilly or fancy. But I also feel, at least right now, that if I do have to go back in and revise yet again, it will be fun, not hopeless.

I'm pretty lucky. I was able to write almost 2 hours a day for the first half of the semester. Then, toward the second half of the semester, still about twice a week. Now that school is out and grades are in, I'm back to every day. Even when I teach summer school this summer, I hope I can write while the students are writing. I'm looking forward to Brady Udall's visit. My friend Karen is going to take the workshop with me plus help me entertain Brady. Max and I played blocks and cars and trains and some weird lets roll around on the floor game and Zoe is almost done with Kindergarten so we can swim and swim and swim the rest of the summer away (well, as soon as it stops snowing) and I'm putting in another order to D'artagnan for more truffle butter and pancetta. Super summer all the time.


Dr Write said...

I can't wait to read this book and I know it is perfect.
Congrats on the writing! I'm still trying to find time for such things, but mostly I'm finding myself with various kinds of tired related sicknesses.
I will try to write so we can read each other's books. And ditto on the summer, if it ever shows up.

What Now? said...

I'm so glad that the book is shaping in exciting ways and that you're enjoying the writing!

Sandy said...

I can't wait to read it. I think it's so important to make it your own, and not worry about what it "should" be. Your post made me want to write! I'm so excited I can barely sit still (or maybe that's the coffee).

Nik said...

It's true that I write it for you guys. Thank you. Day = made.

Lisa B. said...

I can't wait to read this book! This is a terribly inspiring post, by the way, not least because its final gesture is bacon.

Yay for you for writing!

Condiment said...

Hey NIcole, I'm looking forward to reading this book. Please don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like you were overthinking it... Always better to do the thing that you feel good about doing--that's an extension of YOU--instead of trying to divine and then unscramble the unknowable thing you think they might want!


Nik said...

Lisa B and Sleep E: Thank you for this. I'm encouraged and doubly inspired. I do think I very much overthought it. The last version was so over-done. I hope I have unthought the book, to some degree, and let the regular me come through less twistedly (although I think the book is still pretty twisted).