Since I last checked in, I’ve polished up the draft of the middle-grade novel I’ve been working on since June; submitted it to my agent (hi Rosemary!); received her encouraging feedback and excellent suggestions; edited with those in mind; and sent back the revision. Now I’m waiting for the next steps to play out. In the hold-onto-your-seats world of publishing, I should know within eighteen months whether this story will ultimately appear in bookstores and libraries near you. I promise you'll be among the very first to know.
What to do in the meantime? I’ll work on the novel I’m writing with Marcie. I’ve signed up for a crime fiction workshop. (Why? It's a long story.) And then there's the issue of these piles of books, all purchased relatively recently:
Book buying is my crack, my smack, my China White. (Did you know “China White” means heroin? It can be our phrase of the day—I just looked it up in Urban Dictionary.) If one of my daughters recommends something, I buy it. If I hear an editor on the New York Times Book Review podcast rave about a book, I buy it. If Modern Mrs. Darcy suggests something that’s right up my alley, I buy it. I get the Literary Hub, CrimeReads, and BookPage newsletters, too—if they mention books that sound appealing, I buy them. Don’t get me started on the selections in James Mustich's phenomenal 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List, or those New York Times Book Review "Buy the Book" interviews of authors I love, in which they recommend a gazillion authors they love. Those make for big, bad American Express bills for yours truly. Very bad.
I know I should check these books out of the library. Don’t think I don’t know. But if I take them from the library, I have to return them. I don’t want to return them. I want to keep them.
Unfortunately, I don’t live in a space big enough to house all these books. I’ve taken to filling bedroom clothing cubbies with them, and laundry room shelves, and the kitchen pantry. Maybe you think I'm exaggerating. I wish I was. I can say only this in my defense: Accumulating books brings me joy.
Still, I have to slow down. See those stacks in the photo up there? I am not allowing myself to buy any new books until I’ve read ten of the books in those stacks. I give you that pledge, and I will report back.
I’ve already begun one of the ten—the very slender (I can read it quickly!) Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman. It’s a lovely book of essays about loving books. And get this—she mentions that she’s married to George Howe Colt. George Howe Colt, I thought, when I read that. George Howe Colt. Isn’t he…. And yes, he is! He’s the author of The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, a book I highly recommend about saying goodbye to a summer house that belonged to his family for generations before they had to sell. Turns out, Colt has written other books! I should read those, too, don’t you think? He sounds so fabulous in Ex Libris, and I so loved The Big House.
No, no, no, no, no. I’m not buying another book by George Howe Colt. Not yet, anyway. I’m just going to write “George Howe Colt” on a post-it and put it somewhere safe, where’s it’s neither forgotten entirely nor too unbearably tempting. And I’m turning very diligently back to Ex Libris.
Happy reading, everyone! More soon about my progress with my pledge, and any manuscript news, and other assorted book and writing thoughts.