"Novels aren't just pleasure, I think they are an education of feeling."
She died today at the age of 71. I couldn't read her, and though I didn't know her well, I didn't especially like her. But I do have a funny story about her...and me.
When we were in our middle twenties we met at a party. I had just published a small book called SUZUKI BEANE, illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh. It was the first thing I'd ever published and even though it was a novelty type book (sort of like ELOISE) I was pretty full of myself. Susan and I chatted and I asked her what she did. She answered "I'm a writer." And I thought, "Oh, sure, everybody's a writer."
Boy was I surprised a few years later.
I want to add that I respect what she did with her life as a writer and an activist.
Two days before Christmas. I would have been writing. At least this morning I would have been writing. And all this past week.
I want to be reminded when I start complaining about writing how much better it is than having to do everything for a person who has broken her leg. Writing is a piece of cake compared.
But the thing is, when I start writing again we will only be in the first part of week 3. So I'll be writing AND doing everything.
I don't have my 100 pages before Christmas and I won't. My partner fell off a table and broke her leg. This means I have to do everything. Especially in these first two weeks.
I want to start on the novel again the first weekday of 2005. I can't imagine that things won't be better by then...but as I said...don't plan.
I never intended to write between Christmas and the New Year anyway. I always take that week. I use it to recharge, read and go to movies. I don't know how much time I'll have to do any of those things.
I still haven't seen the revised cover art and my editor goes away on the 21st until after the New Year. Unless I get something tomorrow I won't know until 2005. It would be nice to see it but I'll live. They've posted the jacket on their website and I'm hoping that's for a reason I don't understand and not because that's the jacket they intend to use. Because if it is I intend to call my agent and let her cause a fuss. She's very good at that. The best.
I have to go now and see what's in the fridge so I can make dinner. And then do the dishes.
I've had nothing but trouble with my jacket photo. It's the one on this page. I know you can't tell because it's so small but it's good and I like it. It was taken with a digital camera.
All day yesterday was spent back and forth to my editor and his assistant about this damn picture. It was the best one out of 53 and they wanted me to have another taken because the resolution had to be at least 300dpi. I was told the art department couldn't do anything with it. Yes, that art department.
They wanted it to be large and the resolution wouldn't allow that. I told them if it couldn't be fixed then I didn't need a picture on my jacket.
I couldn't believe they weren't capable of fixing it in Photoshop or some other program. Then I remembered my cousin Andy. He's a wiz at this stuff. So I sent him the picture, told him the problem and he fixed it.
I sent it to my editor and his assistant this morning. My editot said he would send it on to the art department. I await the verdict.
Raymond Chandler said: "Writers should never be seen."
My editor didn't seem to understand 2 out of 3 complaints I had about the cover art. This surprised me. The hemline is being changed but I have a feeling that the body distortion will still be there. As for the shoulder bag, my editor said he thought it was a holster. No one would wear a holster over their coat. A shoulder holster is worn underneath a jacket or coat. And my protagonist wouldn't wear one ever. I'm not looking forward to this discussion this week. There seems to be a rush on this but it's not my fault that the art department couldn't look in a book or on the Internet to find out what people were wearing in the 40's. I hope I don't have to drag my agent into this.
I've almost completed the page proofs. They would've been done by now but I've been working on a new website with an artist long distance.
Anyway, I hate the book again. And it really makes me not want to write the next in the series. Maybe I'll be dead by the time they want a third. Very cranky here.
They came yesterday. This is the last chance I get to make changes in my book, This Dame For Hire. They are exactly the way the pages will look in the bound galley and the hardcover book.
I spent most of the day working on them. That means that I've been reading the book again and looking for typos or mistakes. I found very few and I'm halfway through.
Having to read it again is hideous. I don't feel like reading it. It's interrupted my writing schedule. In fact, it feels like torture having to read it. But this will be the last time. Once a book is published I never read it again.
If I have to make a personal appearance and do a reading that's the only time I give the book a tumble. I don't know whether that will happen with his novel or not.
I got very good at doing that with my Lauren Laurano series. And this book has an angle to it that will make it fairly easy to read aloud. We'll see.
I have to continue reading the damn thing tomorrow. I hope I finish it then. I'm not a fast reader at all.
So it looks like my writing week is over because we'll be running away from the cleaners again on Friday. Going to the movies. This was always going to be a four day writing week, but it turned out to be a two day week.
I want to have at least 100 pages finished before Christmas. I'll take the week between Christmas and New Years. The whole publishing industry does so why shouldn't I? That's one of the perks I have being a novelist who supports herself strictly through writing. I'm so lucky.
Then why am I complaining?
The second rendition of the cover art for book one came to me through email.
It's still wrong. The colors are fine. The background is fine. But the woman's outfit is still wrong. She remains in silhouette but now she's facing us. The hat is perfect. But they have her wearing a shoulder bag (there weren't any in 1943) and they have once again given her a long skirt. Women didn't wear long skirts in 1943.
I've sent them pictures of women's fashions I found on the Internet and written "note the hemlines" but obviously it did no good.
There's another problem and that is the woman's body is distorted or something. The bottom half of her is going one way while the top is going another.
It's very upsetting. I hate to be a complainer but this can't stand. I put in a call to my editor and am now waiting for him to return it. He must like the art work because he sent it to me and he knew exactly what I wanted the last time we talked.
I don't know what this means.
I just learned that my editor won't be back until next week and that his assistant was the one who sent me the art work. I'm Relieved that my editor hadn't seen it and sent it on. Now I wait for him to come back. I'm sure he'll see the folly of this cover.
I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was. I wasn't comfortable writing this novel. I never had that exact feeling before. Why should I feel uncomfortable or comfortable writing a book?
I had a talk with someone about this. I didn't tell the plot (don't you hate it when he/she tells you the plot of their book?) of my novel because I never do that.
BTW, it's a mistake to tell the plot before you start writing, or while you're writing, because it's simple to talk it away. Once you tell all, it's easy not to write all.
So, as I was talking about this feeling of being uncomfortable it became clear to me that it was with the new characters I'd introduced this week. These two people were new but they were the parents of Faye's client. So their status had been set-up in chapter one. This was what was wrong. The people were in the wrong class. Don't forget this is 1943.
Once I realized this I was able to sit down today and make those changes. I put them in a different part of town, a different type of home and gave the father a different job. Now they were right. They were who they should be.
More surprises came out of the conversation they were all having. But it made perfect sense.
I look forward to tomorrow's work day because now I feel comfortable.