Uprush

THE BIRTH, ALMOST, OF A NOVEL

The four of us will come together at a beach house once again.  We’ll take stock of the wreckage eighty years has wrought to each of our bodies, smiling and remarking on the undamaged parts, hair or feet or narrow bodies, flinching a little at the age’s toll we see in each other’s slow steps, sun damaged skin, crevasses at the edge of lips, irises grayed by the medicine several of us drop into our eyes each night.
It’s appropriate that we meet this summer because my novel, based on our past comings-together, UPRUSH, was published this spring.  My friends read the original manuscript written five years ago and gave me their permission to go ahead with it, even though, in my story, one become a Lesbian, another marries a video-taping philanderer, and a third is sure the priest she loves will break down and love her back.  Pure fiction. The fourth woman is the most fictional of all, an author of enough successful books to become quite famous, buy a large stucco Spanish house, keep a long-haired blacksmith as her amanuens and her lover.  Well, I can dream, can’t I?
This meeting will find us husbandless, except for me–none of us with feisty lovers on our doorsteps.  At eighty, one looks backward much more than forward; we’ll share stories about almost-forgotten sorority sisters, dead old boyfriends, past professions, our latest volunteer chores. Perhaps this year we’ll schedule a session of plucking chin hairs with our tweezers as we did one year.  We’ll certainly anguish over the tags of skin that appear regularly on our necks, legs. We’ll hand around photos of smiling cheeks and bright youthful eyes that look a little like ours.
We’ll celebrate with a glass of wine or two our survivals despite the frightening, painful, unexpected events that have shaken us over the years. Some of our off spring will become subjects of “Oh, my God’ conversations.  No one is perfect, we’ll say, especially a parent. We’ll spend time consoling each other’s imperfections.
And when I come back home to my computer, I wonder if I’ll have another book churning in me. Like I did five years ago. About old ladies.  Maybe one of them is working on being crazy; another in false eyelashes is still looking for a warm body to wrap her arms around; another is afraid of the end of the road and the unmapped territory she’s knows is ahead; and the fourth uses a special computer to talk her stories into because her fingers have become knobs. They decide to live together, divide the chores, make long lists, writ large, of everyone’s appointments and medicines on the chalkboard in the kitchen.  And maybe they will do what the author in UPRUSH suggests: they’ll hire the yard boy to do more than mow the lawn.  At least until his mother finds out.

Damn!  This is how a story gets born.  I hope my friends like it.

NOT THERE YET

I’ve had the fun of talking to four different book clubs in the past few months, the result of offering my words of wisdom about indi books, writing at an advanced age, street people, suicide, and last night we got into a great discussion about hemp milk.  A paper bottle of the stuff was offered to me and all I could think of saying was, “How does one milk a hemp?” The group was a lovely set of dieticians and medical  women, and the talk, as we enjoyed our vegetarian soup and salad, had veered away from  pedophilia, my subject, to nutrition, their subject.  It’s not polite to talk about bad things over dinner. 
They had, though, read Graffiti Grandma and when they asked how I knew so much about all those gritty things and people in the book, I answered as I always do:  “Google, of course.”  They seemed disappointed. I had not actually sat on curbs with street kids or wandered through Forest Park looking for a family’s camp.  And I had no answers for the homelessness we see on our urban streets. I was a little embarrassed.
It’s true that writers do not necessarily experience what they write about.  Their imaginations, their friends’ stories, and Google fill in the blanks.  I’m thinking of Hunger Games, and maybe Yellow Bird, two authorial flights into the What If world.  My latest book, Not There Yet, is such a flight, as I What-If’d my way into finding a dead husband in my bed on Christmas morning.  Not me, of course.  And certainly not Don, I assured him.  A whole story was built out of my imagination and supplemented with Google research into medications that could kill people without their knowing. Not There Yetis unfinished.  I have a couple of friends reading it who will let me know what I left out. Don is in a holding position, opinion-wise.
However, at this moment, I’m riding along on a crest of joy over the book that came out this month. UPRUSH. Once an ebook, I needed to touch and smell this story, so I re-titled it, formatted and published it as a paperback on Createspace, and when the proof came, despite its small imperfections of one sort or another, it was beautiful from the day it was born.  Inside and out.
It is a book based not on Google research, but on my own life and friendships.  Fictionalized, of course, the Lou character is not a lesbian, Jackie was only maybe a little infatuated with a priest, Joan didn’t end up with a philandering designer.  And the writer Madge does not have Alzheimer’s, although indications are that she may be wandering in that direction, my husband’s lost keys found in my pajamas this morning. The library in the Alzheimer’s center nearby helped me understand the disease, but that isn’t the story.  UPRUSH is focused on a question: How does one grow old and hold on to herself and her dreams in the process?
Once again, I don’t have the answer, but I’m not turning to Google to find it.

SELLING THE BABY

I’ve read somewhere that the truly insane person can be diagnosed because s/he keeps repeating the same action over and over again with no change in results.
So. 
I’m back.  Repeating.  Thinking:  maybe this time.
Another book is born. I will soon begin the usual scramble through a zillion marketing ads, offers to make my book famous if I only sign this contract or that one, advice from almost-famous authors about how they have almost done it, sort of, reluctant scans of websites reaching out to damp pleas for help from frantic, shell-shocked authors, their visions of fame and fortune shot to hell by the blast of silence that followed their triumphant yell, “I’ve finished it!”
Damn.  I’m doing it again. Becoming obsessive. Clinically.
But. Uprush looks really good.  Reads well.  May sell well to women who have the urge to look back.  Not a huge audience, but my friends love it.  They tell me they love whatever I write, though, even when it’s about pedophiles and serial killers.  They are good friends, very good friends. 
The thrill for me this time isn’t in the writing so much as the fact that I have conquered Createspace, have actually built a book, page by page, front cover to back, including a bio, a dedication page, and an icon, and that is hard work!
 I published this novel as an ebook a few years ago, distant memories that I needed to write about then and which I care about even now after all this time.
I’ve always wanted to hold these memories in my hands, feel the print.
I got my first twenty books today. They are BEAUTIFUL.  The cover is terrific. The  book’s smell, as I open a copy and breathe into it, is intoxicating. The font, thank god, is  just right for older eyes.
The thing is, I now need to sell Uprush.   Send my precious newborn out into the world. Believe that others will find it as wonderful as I do. I click my cursor, open the computer, begin.

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