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My Jane Austen Summer
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Category Archives: Living in a novel
Previously published on Girlfriends Book Club
Since we are discussing setting I will reluctantly work past my discomfort to share, not only how I obtained realistic details to create the manor house in my novel, but also how a sense of poetic entitlement caused me to behave badly. Ahem. (Sound of me clearing throat). I avoided arrest and have purposely omitted names in this post in order to protect myself.
My family was hopeful that after the launch of my debut novel, things would return to normal. And ideally, I would have dropped everything and gone back to matching socks, if only my novel-in-progress had not been weighing on me like a term paper for a class I’d stopped attending. Since I was already short-listed for Space Cadet of The Year, and considering how little time remained before summer, it hardly seemed worthwhile to switch gears. If I could just take the momentum from my book launch and apply it to finishing next novel, I could be present for an earthling summer and sort socks in time for camp. Unfortunately, over the previous year I’d only demonstrated ability to focus on next novel while in solitary confinement, at least 450 miles from home. Sacrifices would be required to replicate the intensity. Earth would have to go.
I was a fairly successful cook once upon a time. Now, my occupation as a fiction writer takes me so far out to lunch that it is hard to get all the way home for dinner. Visual aides are helpful. Like yesterday, I was physically present in my kitchen, but mentally lost in space, when a cloud of smoke roiled past the window. I thought, whoa. There’s smoke in our backyard. Hmm, must be a fire. Someone must be having a fire in our backyard. Oh! THE CHICKEN.
Summer ended today as the last of my four sons surrendered his Xbox controller, packed up his summer reading files, and entered Middle School peacefully. Structure, discipline, and progress for all. But before completely buttoning up starry nights and car trips, I want to confess my summer reading affairs and relive the attribute that made me fall in love each time.
And then I will move on.
While adjusting to the freedom of no homework and children who sleep all morning, I had a fling with literature. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman was indeed original, perspective-altering, and a teensy bit heartbreaking for an old-fashioned reader like me. (Italy was great). Walks With Men by Ann Beattie was edgy for my appetite, but her photo-realistic characters taught me things a writer can use. Solar by Ian McEwan was way better than the NYTBR led me to expect, the potato chip scene alone was worth the read.
This time, last year, I went to England to meet Jane Austen. I was nervous, and with good reason since I’d taken the liberty of writing about our relationship, even though we’d never met. I ran the terrible risk of discovering I’d based my book on a deep misunderstanding . Five years of my life could go down the drain.
Not to mention what Agent would say.