This title sounds more ominous than it is which is just to hook you, dear reader…
Sorry. But do read on.
Time moves in loops and circles and I hope this end is a new beginning. This morning we’re meeting a second realtor to show him our house.
When we moved into this house, it was literally falling apart. Rain came through the roof, ivy and roses grew behind the dry rot walls, and rats, the size of mini dachshunds ran through the kitchen.
I wrote a memoir about what it was like for a European to move to the New World to fix up an old house and it became my debut book in the Netherlands. In part, it was a parody of Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun (about an American moving to the Old World, fixing up an old farm). As we were pulling some of our shit together before the arrival of the realtor, CBS Sunday Morning played in the background, featuring Italy, and Frances Mayes… There are no coincidences in life. For me it was a sign that my long history with this house was coming to an end, and that it was time to move on. I was only half listening to Mayes but I believe she’s written yet another book about Bella Italia, no doubt recycling old material as the publisher basically wants her to write another blockbuster like Under the Tuscan Sun. For some reason, this country is obsessed with sequels, but very rarely are they more successful than the original.
But the title of this blog is also to tell you that I’m in the last 50-100 pages of my Henry Miller manuscript and while I promised to have a first draft by the end of this month, I missed that deadline. This is my life: doing most of my reading on the weekend, I sit down at my desk on Monday, and get some assignments in. Most of these have to be returned within 24-48 hours and since my clients pay and Henry Miller does not, and may never, that kind of work takes priority. In the lulls between assignments I return to writing but as some of you know, the interruptions are a killer for momentum.
Because I put myself on a deadline, I have literally not looked back. Editing your work can be a total buzz kill and leads to writer’s block, so I just fixed my gaze on the horizon and plodded on. No doubt, I may have repeated myself but that’s all for the chopping block and I’m going to be ruthless.
This is my plan:
- Finish (if all goes well, by the end of this Summer?)
- Put it away. Time away from a manuscript is good as it will give you distance and thus more objectivity and, hopefully endow you with the cold eye of the critic. Go over your work as if it were written by your arch enemy, I used to tell my students.
- Once I start reading, I’m only going to keep the paragraphs that really sparkle. The rest? Cut, cut, cut.
- In the process, the book may well take a different direction. Right now it is a memoir about my relationship with Henry Miller as a reader and a woman, while focusing on his relationship with the two most important women in his life, June and Anaïs Nin. All of this means a process of careful:
- And eventually: Proofreading
As I start this process, I may try to get more articles published but if the manuscript falls into place, as I hope it will, I will seek out publishers.
If it becomes a big rejection game, and why wouldn’t it be (people don’t read books anymore is my feeling), I will use the money that I raised on GoFundMe to publish hard copies for the people who supported me and the rest can buy it through some self-publishing company. I like to avoid self publishing as I don’t take it seriously at all… and well, self-published books don’t get the respect they probably deserve. You can forget about reviews and the marketing is something you have to do all yourself, and I don’t have time for that sort of shit.
That’s it. I will close to tell you (and all the people who supported me on this journey) that I love you.
Or as Nin wrote in a 1932 letter to Henry:
“That I love you.
That I love you.
That I love you.
I have become an idiot like Gertrude Stein. That’s what love does to intelligent women. They cannot write letters anymore.”