My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Sickness, Sci Fi & Squirrels

2005-10-03
Well, we have officially entered the Season of Sickness. This season generally lasts from September through March and, sure enough, Red managed to get sick last week on top of teething (because of or in spite of?). This weekend, my husband managed to get strep throat which means the next week or so should be so fun I’m going to charge for tickets just to get in the house. Bring a face mask and a can of Lysol, we’ll provide the plague germs.

Before the recent germ attack, I attended a fabulous writers’ conference in Richmond on Friday and Saturday. One of the highlights of the conference is the reading of “first pages” of novels that registrants submit beforehand to be critiqued (a kind word) by three literary agents. From what I’d heard, the pages – and the writing found on them – are torn apart in a very Simon Cowell way and there was a distinct American Idol feeling in the room as one agent would invariably say, “Well, I actually liked parts of this,” after the other two had finished chewing it up and spitting it out. Mine was read and got pretty good reviews from two out of three agents. Phew! I was relieved because the other highlight was a 5 minute meeting with an agent. You marked your first, second and third choices on the registration form. Somehow, despite registering back in the summer, I got stuck with my third choice – an agent who specializes in science fiction and fantasy. Which I don’t even like to read (more on that in a moment) much less write. I was really put out and grumbled for a day or two. I was less than enthusiastic about preparing a 5-minute elevator speech to prepare my “pitch” to her. I mean, what was the point?

Then, that very agent was one of the two that liked my first page! So, I was quite happy. The universe does move in mysterious ways and this seemed like one of those “meant to be” moments. So, I met with her on Saturday morning, she proclaimed that my novel sounded “very promising” and gave me her card. With the email address of one of her assistant agents who sells literary fiction (ahh, music to my ears!). So. Now all I have to do is finish the damn thing. Ha. Probably the agency won’t exist by then but who knows? Maybe I’ll just run away from the sick people currently occupying my house and find an Apartment of One’s Own and write. Worse mothers have existed. One exists in my novel.

So, the strep throat news on Sunday pretty much underscored what I’ve always, pessimistically, believed about life in that whenever something good happens, you pay for it. This is my reward for having a two-day writers’ immersion and happy novel news. I will now spend the next few weeks (months?) under quarantine of one kind or the other. Figures.

But, in and amongst all this, a DVD collection of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons arrived (my husband’s doing) and Dusty is now becoming educated in the ways of R&B. She’s a big fan already, naturally. Her favorite bits are the Fractured Fairy Tales. And Rocky, of course. Who doesn’t love Rocky? He’s dreamy. In a squirrel kind of way.

And speaking of sci-fi and fantasy writing, I’m trying really hard to get through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. It’s slow going because, god, I just can’t stretch the suspension of disbelief to include such a far-fetched idea of the bio-tech DNA-tampering business of creating an entirely new and “improved” kind of human and world. There is enough in the here-and-now world to interest me, and I am a Margaret Atwood fan but, seriously, I’m ready to just give this up and find something more interesting to read. I just have no interest in exploring a what-if situation that’s that removed from current reality. I’d rather re-read every Stephen King novel (and talk about your far-fetched what-ifs!) than waste much more time on this book. On the other hand, I really hate to give in at the half-way point because then I feel like I’ve wasted time that could have been spent reading something else. And, can I include an unfinished book on my book list (anally, I’ve been keeping a list of books read since 1989. Yes, I do have a “kick me – I’m a hopeless dork” sign on my back in indelible ink.)?

I met such interesting writers such as Rosalind Miles and Edward P. Jones this weekend that I’m now doubly anxious to finish this stupid book so I can read books by these two authors. And then some. Sigh.

And, that about sums it up. If I disappear for awhile, it’s because I’ve had to put on my Florence Nightingale cap (which does not fit well – it’s too tight and gives me a headache) and slog through the pestilential despair that hangs heavy like rain clouds in my house when I am surrounded by the diseased. I promise not to sit too close to you.

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11:32 a.m. ::
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