Monday, May 25, 2009

Writing, retirement, Memorial Day

On AgentQuest, the Sisters in Crime listserv for writers not yet published and seeking either an agent or publisher, there's a lot of talk about being in limbo. That's where I am--in limbo. I've had a full manuscript out to a publisher for almost six months--and they request an exclusive, so I cannot try another other avenues. Meantime I've been writing the sequel and am about to finish it and am already worrying about what's next. Today I thought again about food writing--maybe because after two signings my head is big over Cooking My Way Through Life with Books and Kids. But tonight I got out a book I'd read two or three years ago--Will Write for Food. It's a how-to guide for everything from cookbooks to writing fiction with food to restaurant reviewing (which I used to do years ago but am not sure my palate is sophisticated enough these days). I would like, as I said before, to write a review blog or column, about food writing and mysteries with food a primary element. I'm just not sure how to go about it. I think I'll request a review copy of one book I really want to read and see if that works--and gives me ideas. Then there are older books I've enjoyed that I could review--the one mentioned above or Julie and Julia, about the young woman in a tiny New York apartment kitchen who decides to cook every recipes in Julia Child's The Art of Mastering French Cooking, or anything by Ruth Reichel, now editor of Gourmet and formerly restaurant reviewer for, I think, The New York Times. She can be hysterically funny but she's also informative. Maybe what I need to do is apply myself. The mystery writer J. A. Jance once told me, rather peevishly, that the way to write a mystery is to put your bottom in the chair before the computer and go at it (I later learned she had just had a death in the family so I forgive her impatience) but I beg to differ. It's not tht easy--yes, maybe that's the way to write it, but then you have to find agent, publisher, etc. and that's hard and, to me, depends part on luck. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I'll keep trying on both fronts.

Meanwhile, I've been practicing for retirement today--slept late and piddled, something it's taken me hard practice to learn to do. I once wrote an article on the art of learning to putz but the editor changed it to putter because of unfortunate Yiddish connotations of the word putz. But anyway, it's the art of learning to do not much. This morning I slept late, lingered over the paper and my low fat breakfast, chunked up some fruit for a salad to take to friends tonight and put together an asparagus dish (you coat asparagus in a little bit of melted butter, top with crumbled goat cheese and bread crumbs and bake for 10 minutes at 400--delicious). Then I did my yoga, read emails and answered some, caught up on blogs and Facebook, and by then it was lunchtime. Read for a while, napped, and got ready to go to dinner.
Jean Walbridge had fixed steak and baked potatoes and sliced tomatoes. I added the aspargus dish and fruit that we had for dessert. All delicious. She served fat-free yogurt with the potatoes and it was great--my deal from now on. The three of us had a pleasant dinner, and Jim showed me the concept--and some samples--of the art he's working on now. Carvings where texture in the wood indicates texture in the coat of animals--like the mane of a lion or the ruff of a buffalo. Fascinating stuff. He showed me pictures of some early American art from which he got the idea. And I laughed to learn that when he has an idea he sketches right away--even on the margins of the program in church. Jim feels about his art like I do about my writing--we do it regardless, because we keep having ideas and because we cannot NOT do it. Jean's form of the addiction is weaving--with very fine yarns, for which I would never have the patience! But we are all three lucky to have found our avocations.

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