Thursday, March 19, 2009

Small World Serendipity

Traveled home from Philly on Amtrak late yesterday afternoon. The train's packed, the quiet car full, and I trudged through three cars before I found a seat. The woman by the window has her laptop out, jacket and bags strewn on the seat I wanted to make mine. I felt badly asking her to move her stuff, but damn if at fifty bucks I was going to stand in my Italian leather pumps for an hour to Baltimore.

I hoisted stuff in the overhead for her, slid into my seat, pulled out my netbook to work on novel edits. I was cranky, in need of a glass of wine or chocolate, but there were too many folks cramming the aisle. Somehow, we started talking, about grant proposals I think, and the convo morphed into one of the best chats I've had in ages: the academic charade, career-mommy balance, the bloom of new passions wrought at mid-life.

You know, the important stuff.

So she asked me what it was I really wanted to do, and of course I told her: write.

I describe Ben, my protagonist in BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, and she asked me a very simple question: "Where's he from?"

And I replied, "He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but he's from Larchmont, New York."

"Why," she said, "That's where I'm from."

Small, small world. At any rate, she helped me pinpoint which streets in Larchmont have million-dollar manses with views, confirming my google-mapping exercise from the night before.

The Reading... Rereading Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World. So intricate and intense. Stuyding now for structure and form, how she molds voice. Next up: Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book and a quirky memoir called My Lobotomy. And a lot of medical papers on treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease complicated by depression and anxiety. Sigh.

The Writing... All three beta readers' comments IN. Processing, processing... I hope to wrap up in the next week or so, as April 1st marks the beginning of the Nudge-Nudge Collective's Novel #2 Initiative. It WILL be intense, and will last more than a year - that's how long it takes for six people to critically read 6 novels-in-waiting. The Day of the Fool also marks NaPoWriMo. Yikes.

Peace, Linda


  1. Love serendipity. I even love the word.

    Look forward to your poetic stylings come April. I remember you had some winners last year.


  2. Incredible luck, running into that woman on that train. Probably cured the crankiness too.

    Our group read People of the Book. As I recall it was well received. I never even heard of NaPoWriMo. Interesting. I think I'll skip it. Too hard keeping up already.

    Another great CAPTCHA tonight: fusli.

  3. To be sure you are not going to shoulder NaNo too? Has it really been a year. Seems like we were just talking about it on E.U.

  4. I see I read a little too quickly. It's NaPoWriMo. Yes, very good luck with that. I'll check with you in November when the one I was talking about gets underway.

  5. Serendipity does have a nice ring to it... it's everywhere, btw. I always yammer about my novels when I travel, and I always end up talking to someone who makes a difference, who helps me somehow, whether it be insight into bipolar disorder or the name of an agent or editor.

    John, thank goodness April is NOT NaNoWriMo. With our little blitzkrieg going on, no way could I even think about writing 50k words in 30 days. A poem a day will be plenty o' challenge. Peace, Linda

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