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14.46.107

That’s right, travel season is nearly upon us, and this year it is all about family.

In 14 days spring break will FINALLY be here and my dad, sister, and myself will travel to the British Virgin Islands where we’ll spend a week semi-conscious on the beach.

In 46 days I will have administered my last final exam and submitted my grades and I’ll get on a plane for Seattle. I’ll spend about 2 1/2 weeks visiting my parents and sister, helping my mom in her amazing garden, writing a lot, and camping with my nieces. It will be awesome.

Then, in 107 days, my husband and I will take a family vacation with my parents to the Dordogne in SW France. I will wallow around in prehistoric cave art, stuff my face with truffles and foie gras, drink lots of wine, and post photos on Facebook that will make everyone hate me. Apologies in advance.

These trips will no doubt be fabulous, but the best part is that in the next 4 months I’ll spending almost 5 whole weeks with my family. This makes me really happy because they live in Seattle and I live in NYC and I never get to see them this much in such a short time. Yay!

Into the Woods

I mean this literally and figuratively.

In the literal sense, I’ll be heading off to a writing retreat this weekend. Some friends and I will be staying in a house deep in the woods of northeastern NY. The house used to be a hotel and the woods are (I’m told) dark and deep. It all sounds very atmospheric. I think there’s an equally likely possibility that we’ll:

a. have a great time and get lots of writing done

or

b. be devoured by sinister forces that dwell beneath moss and stone, never to be heard from again.

Wish us luck!

In the figurative sense, I’ve definitely wandered out of reality and down a winding path with an unknown end. I call this journey Miranda’s First Draft Adventure in which I temporarily disconnect from reality. When I’m feeling my way through a new project for the first time, I tend to go invisible. Or, maybe a better way to put it is that the real world becomes invisible to me.

It might look like I’m cooking dinner or having coffee with a friend or folding laundry, but I’m not. I’m actually working out the way this character might react in a particular situation or considering how to fix a plot hole. I’m not really in a classroom in Queens queuing up the afternoon’s lecture but on a damaged shuttle in another galaxy, trying to imagine how my protagonist will react when he finds out his best friend is a lying liar.

The “here but not here” part of working on a first draft has many advantages. It means I’m always working on my novel, even when I’m doing something else. It means I wake up at 3am with The Solution to a problem or have flashes of deep character insight while waiting for the G train. It makes the book better and is, frankly, an integral part of how I work. It also has disadvantages. I neglect my friends and family. I get scatterbrained at work. I can’t concentrate on other important things in my life. I drift away from the here and now.

This process, though? It appears to be involuntary. I don’t know another way to write a first draft. So, if you’re looking for me, that’s where I’ll be. In the Woods. Literally and figuratively.

See you on the other side.

Falling around the sun

Yup, that’s right. Another journey completed. 41 and counting!

I love birthdays, a delight I’ve never lost as I aged. After all, what’s not to like about a day where everyone tells you how happy they are that you’re still alive and gives you presents and takes you out to dinner? Birthdays are awesome. Sometimes there’s even cake.

They’re also a good chance to reflect back and dream ahead. 40 was a big year for me. I had some pretty major Life stuff going on, faced some serious fears, and generally did a lot of growing as a person. I like that I’m still growing up and learning in midlife. In fact, in many ways, I think I’m doing more of that as I approach middle age than I did in my formative years. Every year is a formative one, eh? I like that.

The last year was also a very exciting one for my career. I hit an important writing milestone when I signed with the brilliant Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary agency, taking me one step closer to what I’ve been working so hard for: publishing novel-length works. I’ve been writing a long time, but it is only in the last year or so that I’ve really begun to feel a sort of confidence in my abilities (albeit tempered with the requisite dosage of fear, self-loathing, and anxiety with which all writers must contend). When I look back on that fateful year (now seemingly so long ago) that I decided to prioritize writing fiction over pursuing a tenure-track job in academia, I have zero regrets. It isn’t that this road has been any easier, but it has made me a lot happier. Hard to argue with that.

So, what will 41 hold? Well, it’d be great if I got a book deal. That would make 41 my Best Year Ever. Regardless, though, I know I’ll be doing a lot of writing. Also, there will be (must be!) travel. I want to spend more time with family and I want to cut negative things out of my life as much as possible. I want 41 to be the year of positive.

Mostly, I look forward to all the surprises the next year of life will hold. I know they’re coming, and that some will be delightful and some crushingly awful (that’s life, after all), and I welcome them.

Bring it on, 41!

A New Year

It is the first official work day of 2016 (though, as a writer, most days are work days for me), and I thought I’d take a break from editing my manuscript to post a few thoughts about the year gone by and the year ahead.

So, yeah, 2015. It had good bits and bad bits, making it very like most of life. Reflecting back, the biggest challenges and difficulties the past year posed were also the source of some of my proudest moments and greatest accomplishments. Maybe I’ll try to remember that when I’m bemoaning hardship in the future. Good can come out of it. Growth, too.

Another thing that really jumps out about 2015 is the general awesomeness of my writing buddies. A small group of them in particular, who I have known since way back when I attended my first ever writing workshop, have been — and I know will continue to be — the greatest support network I could ever ask for. Sometimes cheerleaders, sometimes delivering much needed tough love, and sometimes just there to share a cup of tea and sympathy, I am really grateful to know them.

I landed an agent this year (!!!!) — Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency signed me just as 2015 turned to 2016 — and I have no doubt I was able to brave the sometimes agonizing, sometimes thrilling process of seeking representation in large part due to the support of my writing group. I look forward to returning the favor. I think we’re all going to do great things in the year to come!

2016 is only a few days old and it is hard to predict the future. Still, I’m sure the year will hold its share of hardships and, hopefully, an equal measure of triumphs. I will try to face them with fearlessness, compassion, and equanimity.

For now, though, I have a rapidly cooling cup of tea to drink and a manuscript that needs trimming. Time to get to work.

Here’s to another year!

 

 

 

A few friends of mine (very smart, interesting friends who happen to all be terrific writers) have decided to start up a podcast.

It is called Unreliable Narrators (which they all are, but only in the very best sense of the word). They talk about writing and books and other media they enjoy. It is casual, fun, and entertaining.

Give it a listen: Unreliable Narrators Podcast

I am beyond excited to announce that I have been signed by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency!

I can think of no better way to close out 2015 🙂

 

Almost a month has passed since I’ve updated the blog and it feels like it’s been about two days. The last four weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, writing, and end of semester kookiness.

Travel. After dealing with a really annoying bout of vertigo (thank you, wonderful world of migraines!), I finally decided I wasn’t putting my love of travel on hold any longer and made plans to visit my friend Pam in Miami. Good decision! The dizzies were unaffected by air travel and Miami was warm and zany. We ate lots of good food and poked fun of and enjoyed (in roughly equal measure) the ridiculosity of Art Basel.

Writing. As regular readers know, I participated in NaNoWriMo in November. While I didn’t “win” (whatever that means), I did clock about 35K words on a new novel. This momentum has carried me in to December and I’m having a blast working on the new project.

End of Semester Kookiness. Yeah. There’s not much to say here other than to note that the semester is ending, which always brings out the kooky. The students get stressed. There’s lots of assignments due and exams, which means lots of exam prep and grading for me. I try to take it in stride, but sometimes the general air of anxiety on campus is infectious. We’re down to the last few days (my finals are this Thursday and Friday), so the end is in sight. It helps that the weather has been absurdly warm, making my hour and a half subway-bus-walk commute to Queens more pleasant than usual.

Now, of course, the holidays are ramping up. My parents are coming to visit this year. Yay! Brooklyn Christmas! I’ve got my tree up, have wrapped most of my presents in Star Wars wrapping paper, and have planned parties and festive activities up the wazoo. All we’re missing is a sexy leg lamp to put in the window. Oh, and snow. It’s projected to be 66 degrees on Christmas Eve this year. So, that’s not weird or anything.

I still have approximately four million research papers to grade and two exams to emotionally fortify myself for. In the meantime, have a glass of spiked eggnog on me, and (if you celebrate Christmas) be sure you stay on Santa’s naughty list (if not, be sure you stay on someone’s naughty list. Anyone’s, really).

Crazy days, and happy holidays!

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