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4/27/2009

Loyal Readers

I’ve been SUCH a slacker this month with my posts.

It’s not you, it’s me! I’ve wanted to blog. Really, I have. And trust me, I still do have a LOAD of meaningless things to say (especially since my Experiment is working).

I just haven’t found the time. No excuse, I know.

Earlier today, an anonymous Loyal Reader reminded me that I need to “get a typin’.” (I swear, it’s not my mom – she doesn’t understand how to work the computer). Anyway, he (or she) is totally right! But I need to get going on more than just my blog -- this friendly kick in the ass has also reminded me that what I REALLY need to get going on is my book.

My what? My book!

I originally started this blog as a way to get back into writing after a long hiatus. (If you already know this story, feel free to sing along.)

Follow me waaaay back in time to 2002. I was about to turn 29, and I was having a crisis of sorts. I wasn’t happy at my job, in my relationships, or with my living situation. To me, turning 30 was a very scary proposition, mainly because I had a long checklist filled with empty boxes (House, husband, kids? Nah, nope, nada!) Before I started a new decade, my life needed a spring cleaning. And I needed to shake things up a bit. So I took a vacation all by myself to the Cayman Islands for 10 days, and started writing a novel.

It was about a single girl. From Jersey. On the verge of turning 30. (They say write what you know, right?)

I wrote it in real-time from my 29th birthday until the time I turned 30. I’d work out the next plot point or piece of dialogue in my head while I was driving home from work. I’d jot down notes on napkins and gum wrappers during the day as something funny occurred to me. I slept with a notebook next to my bed. I knew exactly where the story began, and exactly how it would end, but the journey in between was shaping me as much as I was shaping it.

In the end, I wound up with a 280-page manuscript that was kinda funny and kinda touching, part fantasy and part based on my actual life (and the people in it).

Anyway, I spent the next year editing the story -- punching up the funny, filling in the blanks, and soliciting feedback from my close friends and family on ways to make it better, tighter, smarter. Now keep in mind, this was never meant to be the next Great American Novel -- it was nothing more than a summer beach read, a guilty pleasure. Written to be read in a weekend.

Because I started my career in book publishing, there was this false notion that I had all these industry contacts. Newsflash: The turnover in publishing is worse than at your local deli, so any experience I got there was pretty much useless (unless I wanted to order a turkey sandwich, in which case, the new guy behind the counter could bang one out just as good as the old guy).

I told everyone it didn’t matter if it ever got published. “It was fun just writing it,” I’d say. Sounds a lot like, “it was an honor just being nominated,” doesn’t it? Well, I was full of total crap. While I WAS afraid of having my writing and my story (which was loosely based on ME) judged by perfect strangers, I really wanted to get it published. Really bad.

Then, life got in the way.

Soon after I was finished editing, and re-editing, and re-re-editing my manuscript, my mom got sick. Most of my free time and energy went into helping my parents out. As it should. And thankfully, she's better now! But this lasted for several years, which left my poor book alone to fend for itself (it turns out, unpublished novels are very shy, lazy creatures who stubbornly refuse to see the light of day unless somebody actually sends them someplace -- who knew?).

So there mine sat, collecting dust. Which is exactly what it’s still doing right about… now.

To tell you the truth, I’m overwhelmed just thinking about reading it again -- it was such a snapshot of my life at the time. And that was my big “hook” -- the author has written it in real-time as she, herself, was turning 30! “What a wunderkind,” they would say.

Now, all these years later, I am more like stale Wonder Bread -- my pop culture references are hopelessly out of date and I’m actually closer to 40 than I am to 30 (and yes, the mere thought of that still makes me throw up a little in my mouth). And that long checklist I had filled with empty boxes? Still mostly unchecked.

So, Loyal Readers, I’d like your help…



Don’t see an answer you like in this multiple choice? Write your own below!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You wrote a book? Color me impressed.

Abby said...

I'm one of the lucky few who have read it, so I happen to know that it's ridiculously funny and brilliant. Don't even think about changing it...just get it out there!

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon -- Color me confused. Is that a compliment? I can't tell.

Aw "Abby" -- you're too sweet!

Abby said...

Actually...you could change it a little. It would be OK if you wanted to give me a makeover. Not that I don't love my crazy red hair and purple overalls!

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Ha, I'll see what I can do, Abs. Would you prefer green? I'm speaking of the overalls, of course, not the hair...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting up a new post...It has been four days now though....so get a typin'!
best,
Your favorite pushy reader

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Keep pushing, I could use it! I promise I'll get back in the groove.