September 23, 2010
I think I broke my toe today and since this was supposed to be a big running weekend, that sucks. I thought about going to the doctor, but I really hate that notion.
Whenever you teach at writing conferences, you encounter writers who want to make a lot of money or even some money. It’s one of the first things that often comes up. How do you make money as a writer? As Huffington Post reports…
By MIKE FLEMING | Wednesday September 29, 2010 @ 7:27pm EDTTags: Alfred Knopf, Andrew Wylie, Book Publishing, Book Publishing Deals, Kiran Desai, Orhan Pamuk, Robin Desser, Sonny Mehta, The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny
EXCLUSIVE: The deals are popping this week, and publishing is not immune. On the basis of a 4-page proposal, Alfred Knopf’s Sonny Mehta has paid $2.5 million for The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny, the new novel by Kiran Desai. She’s the Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss. Robin Desser is the acquiring editor. This is the time for big book deals in the run up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, which gets underway in Germany next week. The publishing crowd was also buzzing over the fact that the deal was brokered by Andrew Wylie, who signed her 2 weeks ago from Inkwell Management. She left to join Wylie because he reps her partner, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk.
Interesting that she was signed away from Inkwell, an agency I’ve been to several times and very much respect. But Andrew Wylie is powerful. Well, maybe big publishing deals are on their way up, but it’s still a fact that most good writers aren’t writing for money, they’re writing because they like to write. Because their fingers itch for the keys.
I’ve been reading my Nebraska MFA students’ work all day and it is amazing. Very good stuff.
I’m also reading a manuscript from a big New York agency and I am completely in love with it; I won’t tell you the plot, but it’s from the point of view of this woman and she’s a doctor and she’s got a crazy sad life. I really am inside her life. She’s a runner too. But mostly, I am in love with her inner life. She’s very lonely and I like that. I would like to know her and maybe that’s what good story does, pull you in, yank you by the shirt, ask you to taste humanity.
We’re watching First Contact which is one of my favorite Star Trek movies; Mark is all about the old Star Trek, but I’m in love with Jean Luc Picard. Patrick Stewart is my man as is Pierce Brosnan. The new James Bond is scary, sad and not sexy.
Here are my favorite two criticisms online about the new James Bond who is a thug and a goon and there is nothing funny in the whole movie.
Dont watch it. It was horrible. I mean HOR-RI-BLE.
This bad guy is trying to steal all the water in bolivia. Yep, that’s the plot. It’s that stupid. He just wants to steal some water and sell it back for profit. Plus there is random action (I mean random) and characters just come in leaving me asking who the hell is that?
Oh, and he has a cell phone that he uses to take pictures of peoples faces 500 feet away with ‘super magic zoom that stabilizes itself perfectly’. It’s total BS.
That was the only ‘gadget’ the whole movie. No montepenny. No Q. No funny lines.
(I kid you not, this person wrote montepenny.)
This one is great:
New James Bond Sucks
Don’t know about most of you out there, but the new James Bond movies have totally deviated from the theme of James Bond movies. It all started when they changed the actor from Pierce to Daniel Craig. There are some paramount inclusions to every bond movie: an alpha male super agent, unbelievable car chases and mechanics, and Gadgets galore. Whatever happened to the 007 with panache and savoir-faire who did so much as taking out bad guys by knocking them unconscious with the butt of his gun. This new Bond is breaking bones, administering karate chops and Van-Damme like kicks. Used to really look forward to seeing the next 007 movie but I’d be more entertained watching the next XXX(Triple X) movie. Maybe Sean “Diddy” Combs should play the next 007. I used to want to be James Bond but I guess I would rather be a transformer(Transformer 2 will kick ass)
Well, there you have it. Some writers make a lot of money, just maybe not you. Daniel Craig sucks as James Bond and I think broke my toe but if I can, I plan to tape it and run tomorrow anyway or at least go to the gym, but hopefully run. Running and writing keep me thinking about other people making 2.5 million for four pages.
Meredith Maran falsely accused her father of incest, Oprahtization of America, Red Hen forges on in the heat and recession toward success
September 29, 2010
On the way to work, there were many accidents, maybe eight. I’m not sure why; there is a fire blazing somewhere near here because you can smell smoke. Not sure where that fire is.
I just read a review of a book I may buy by Meredith Maran about recovered memories. It was the 80’s. She was told by her therapist that she was an incest survivor and like thousands of other women, accused her father of having sex with her as a child. But she realizes now, she lied. All the shame her father experienced all those years of having a daughter accuse him of abuse… And it wasn’t true. She blames the times. She says there was a lot of that going around. She left her husband. She decided to become a lesbian. She wanted no part of men. All right. I wonder what her therapist thinks now? This is making me very glad that I never went to therapy and got myself fixed up. I think I’m glad to be the crazy person I am today. Seeing the right therapist has clearly saved lives, families and marriages. Seeing the wrong therapist can be devastating. In this age of the Oprahtization of America, everyone wants to have story they can go on Oprah or Jerry Springer to talk about. The question is whether it’s a true story. What is the true story?
We are forging ahead with Red Hen, working to raise funds for staff who can do their jobs. We have a really good marketing person working as an intern. The first good marketing person we’ve ever had. We’ve hired people to do sales/publicity and marketing, but somehow no one has ever pulled it off until now. Our guy William is amazing. But these are tough times to be raising funds for a non profit. Money is tight, giving is down and we’re in Los Angeles. The difference between a New York donation and a California donation is a couple of zeros on the check. But, we are hard working, aggressive, optimistic and we have buzz at our back, eggs in the kitchen and sake in the freezer. Despite the unbearable heat, we feel ourselves swimming upstream. And anyway, Huffington Post thinks we’re one of the 15 most important presses in the country.
September 28, 2010
Had coffee this morning with Mary Guterson, She’s smart, writes good books. Also saw Rochelle with Pasadena cultural affairs. Lots of coffee. Now, half dizzy with the heat, I blog. Why? Because it’s like adult video games. It’s a way to avoid working, writing, thinking, or doing anything constructive. It feels like therapy and chewing over madness and driving on the LA freeways and smog culture and putting graffiti on the wall. It’s better than subversive. It’s transversive. It’s waking up from sleep, but not completely, and then telling people your dreams. It’s being on Oprah without Oprah being there. It’s getting naked in public without being arrested. It’s asking for God and expecting people to answer, “It’s you, you should win a MacArthur, you’re a genius,” and then you notice that your computer is leaking onto you and still you blog, in the bleak sodden air or the blistering air, amid the scraps of human existence that is beyond understanding, you blog.
September 28, 2010
I got up early so I can run and run I shall. Maybe only 5-6 miles before it becomes insanely hot. I was worried that Charlie or Smoky might have expired in the heat, but they were there begging for food this morning and Charlie wanted to come into this very library where Mark has forbidden him to come.
Skyped with Steve and Adina Amore last night, they are well and enjoying Nepal. They are going to look for a little house to rent by the orphanage so they can garden and cook. It would be cheaper than staying at the orphanage. They seem very happy.
Last night I drove home listening to “Come Sail Away,” and thought of my big dream which will probably never happen. It’s to sail around the Greek Islands and swim every day and write in my little cabin and eat fish and drink wine and put in at different ports. Given the heat here, sailing away seems wonderful. I need to keep my dreams in perspective. Just dreaming of being able to be full time at Red Hen is a 5 year dream, so if I get to do the sailing thing in ten years, maybe less, who knows? I better go for that run before it gets any hotter.
It’s supposed to be another hot day. I can hear Charlie outside the office right now, carrying on the way Siamese cats do, like it’s all about him and I am just here to wait on him. I’m going to Europane for coffee with Rochelle and then to Zelis the coffee shop at Vromans with Mary Guterson, and tonight I have to go to a reception for a County. And then I’ll meet my friend Theresa at Mussos.
These things for the County are usually interesting because you see other people in the non profit world who you haven’t seen in ages. They look haggard; they are taking other people’s drinks. Just seeing them makes you realize how well your organization is doing. You have paper and last you checked, paper clips. You ask if they have paper clips. They don’t. Neither do they have rubber bands. Any kind of white out, even the nasty liquid kind, they ran out of long ago even though they continue to make mistakes. You have another drink. These parties are usually in high places in Downtown LA, so when you see them walk over to the ledge, you follow. You offer to help them find free interns. You know paid staff are out of the question. But, they say, they can’t even afford dancers any more. Or singers. You don’t want them going to the dogs. You show them then and there that you can dance. You can sing. You’re all about dancing and singing. On the Eighth Floor of the Kenneth Hall building, you do a fast salsa move, then finally a little shake your booty action. People are watching, but you don’t care now, you’re trying to make a point and that point may be lost on most people. In fact, you’re not sure what the point was. Maybe this is one long monologue about the existential in the arts, maybe you should have been a writer, but this dancing and singing suits you as if we could all do something for someone else. As if we could all change about each other’s existence with a flick of the wrist, a step to the left, it would be all right.
September 27, 2010
Heat continues in Southern California
I got up at 4:30 am, went to the gym, it was already so hot you could feel the heat rising off the pavement at 5 am. It’s going to be unbearable. I’m wearing a sundress and my friend Mary Lou would say that I’m pushing the season, but I say the season is pushing me.
Blasé Bonpane’s talk yesterday at the West Hollywood Book Fair on the U.S and Israel both making weapons of mass destruction and working together against peace in the Middle East (an elusive concept for how many centuries?) got me thinking and doing a little research.
I found an article on Salon.com about the continued building of settlements in the West Bank and the settlers celebrating as they continue to move in on Palestinian land. It’s hard from an American intellectual perspective to understand this except when I think of the Native Americans who also had their land taken away, were moved to “reservations,” some via the infamous Trail of Tears, and then often had those reservations taken away when they proved to have anything valuable that the government wanted. And, for many years their children were taken away and put in boarding schools so they could learn how to be “White.”
The situation in Israel seems so terrible and backward in a world that should be moving forward and becoming more humane and global. But we’re not. In the U.S., we would rather spend over a trillion on wars abroad that benefit no one but the rich in the U.S. who invest in the defense industry rather than spend that money on health care, education, welfare or infrastructure. We’re a war economy as is Israel.
There are more and more peace programs in this country working on everything from marital discord to gang warfare to mediation between countries and yet we don’t seem much closer to peace in the Middle East.
When it comes to marriage, you can walk away. The Middle East has no walk zone, no get out of jail free card.
Salon had a story of a woman who found out her husband was having an affair and took him back. Why is it always women doing this? Why can’t women say, okay, I might take you back but not until I have my own affair. You might say two wrongs don’t make a right, but I like the idea of an even playing field. I think that starting with both sides even makes it better. The problem with staying with someone who has had an affair is that you can’t trust them any more, so I’m not sure what the point is. But if you’ve both had one, then I think it would be easier. (I’ve never actually tried this though.) Marriage if it’s any good, is built on trust. However, I applaud this woman’s courage. She is getting what she wanted—to stay married to this guy. And.. I like what she said about how much easier it would have been in Los Angeles where you can be anonymous. No explanations necessary. Just walk away into the city.
Life is hard enough –we have wars, poverty, we don’t have the jobs we want or make the money we want—at least most of the people I know. That’s why in the heat and uncertain bank accounts and certainty of that heavy golden Southern California light, what keeps me going is creative work, intellectual buzz, love, rice, running, kids and a few good friends. I dream of pools and water. I dream of time.
September 26, 2010
The whole thing went well. Here are some things that happened today.
- A woman in the Green Room told me to give away my dog.
- There was a clown who had a strange nose.
- It was very hot. Maybe 100 degrees at the book fair, but actually about 115 degrees in the San Fernando Valley. It was so insanely hot, it felt like hot death.
- I saw many people there, some who I thought didn’t like me or Red Hen and everyone was very nice. Were they sucking up? I couldn’t tell.
- I made dinner tonight. Salad of course, cooking actual food would have been a travesty. The air was too hot to breathe. We ate the salad with beets, gorgonzola, hard boiled eggs.
- We decided to watch the Invention of Lying which we are enjoying. The mom wants to have her daughter marry the best man. She’s manipulating her daughter into marrying someone who is “better.” It’s funny, I really think that some people have all the luck and they can just walk around the world and everything goes right. Some of us aren’t lucky in terms of money and stuff, but we just get lucky with love.
- The sky is very blue in So Cal. I knew that I wanted to come here when I saw David Hockney paintings. I do love the heat and light but enough is enough.
West Hollywood Book Fair, musings on Sunday morning, Queen in Japan, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, what is Obama doing?
September 26th, 2010
This is the only really literary book fair in this city. The events are literary, there are writers rather than cooks, kids and dog people like you have at the LA Times Book fair. Nothing against all those people who are amazing, or can be unless they’re delusional freaks which they might be since they live in Los Angeles which is a freaky place to live. But I like a book fair to be literary and about books and the West Ho book fair is. We have political writers like Blasé Bonpane and great poets like Jamey Hecht, great fiction writers like Rob Roberge.
My daughter and her girlfriend are coming. It’s the girlfriend, Cassidy’s 21st birthday tomorrow. So she can drink for 40 days before Amy. Live it up.
It’s going to be fun. Mark got up at 6 am and he’s already there. Yours truly is blogging in bed listening to Queen. Freddie Mercury (Born Farrokh Bulsara) could sing with an amazing range and was an actual musician unlike many of the people putting together music today, but some of those outfits? I wouldn’t dress in those on my worst day. A lot of these videos were filmed during their last Japanese tour, it looks like the Japanese love this big hunky shirtless Brit. In “I want to Break Free” he starts off with these huge breasts and then he loses them during the performance and is down to his bare hairy chest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7oRnSFsOHA&feature=related
What is funny is that until I had kids I basically listened to my own college days music (80’s!) and classical. They got me into Queen and Zeppelin and all that. And my dog JJ is in the room and I had to let Charlie in. That cat is high maintenance. Siamese talk all the time.
I’m definitely planning a marathon in Feb so the daily situps and yoga and the running training have begun. That will be part 1 of getting my life on track. Running and then writing and then getting published. We are also transforming the house, but I use the term “we” very loosely. Mark is transforming the house, but I’m like Garfield, I can watch people work for hours without moving a hair. And then I ask for tuna afterwards.
So, my students are writing on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their cost in terms of people and money. Recruiters are always trying to get them to drop out of college and join the military and some of them do. In most of my classes, there are at a least a couple people who are in the military. We’ve spent over a trillion dollars. For what? We haven’t set up democracy in either country. We’re making the rich of this country frighteningly richer. And the poor keep getting poorer.
Obama was elected with a mandate to change things. Since he hasn’t changed anything, is he surprised that he might be a one term president? We like him, I think he would be great to have over for dinner. But name me one thing he has changed.
Education is going down the tubes. The wars go one. There are no jobs. You can’t buy or sell a house because the housing market is frozen.
People ask us how Red Hen continues to thrive. On a wing and a prayer. We need to hire a marketing/publicity/sales person and we need our development person to be full time and we wish for a production person. But staff would entail big grants and those aren’t happening in this climate. Insects have tiny fragile wings. You can see sunlight through them