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How Do You SOlve a Problem Like Maria

I’ve spent thirty years as an editor and now agent talking writers off the ledge. That’s what we do. And it’s never more intense than in the two months before publication when anything and nothing can happen. When all your hopes and dreams could fill a dirigible floating over the city. Your fears and anxieties florid and deranged.

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HOw do I talk people off the ledge. First, I remind them their book is awesome, how much work it took, their dedication, their craft, how worthwhile it is even before a single copy is sold. Then I tell them stories the way you tell children stories to keep the bogey man away or stories to make them feel hopeful, about little trains that could. Or little books that grew up into mighty oaks. I get them thinking about their next book, about their inner life as a writer, about the long distance race. If all this fails, I suggest, they go shopping, to the movies, mani/pedi, hit the gym, start tutoring kids. If you’re in therapy: stay. If you’re not: start.

When I try to talk myself off the ledge, I realize something very scary. I am the ledge. Any advice?

 

 

They Say as a Child I Appeared a Little Bit Wild

 

tumblr_m5agp4ws751rxiaoto1_500Someone recently asked me if I felt anxious about the book coming out because it is so personal. Get to know me. I’m anxious because it might not sell. I’m anxious because the New York Times might say mean things, or worse say nothing at all. I’m anxious because if I fail it’s not only in front of my friends and family, but the publishing profession where I work. I’m anxious because I’m not in therapy and I probably should be. I’m anxious because I don’t feel like myself, meaning I feel a little hopeful and that is just not part of the package. ¬†I’m anxious because it’s all out of my hands now with the exception of boosting Facebook pages and going up and down Fifth avenue in the sandwich boards I’ve made with the Queen of Hearts on both sides.

What makes you anxious about getting your work out there? What’s your worst fear?

Yesterday Don’t Matter If It’s Gone

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I know it looks like The Bridge Ladies have hijacked my blog about writing, depression, and how publishing will break your heart in a hundred different ways. The Bridge Ladies is my new book and it’s coming out in May and if you love me even a little please buy a copy or 200 for your local synagogue’s sisterhood. Or pre-order. ūüėČ

So I’m working on changing the blog and trying to keep it the same. I’m trying to lose weight and am gaining it instead. I’m trying to sleep through the night but I’m up every hour. It’ been seven years since I published a book and I feel as nervous as a virgin. I want to spread the word about Bridge Ladies and hear from people about their ¬†Bridge memories. But I also want to throw my mashed potatoes on the floor and spit peas through a straw at the ceiling.

I’m thinking about blogging about the publication of the book. Is this interesting or even more indulgent than the thousand plus posts I’ve dumped on a beautiful and unsuspecting world.

What would you do if you were me?

I’m So Tired of Being Alone

When writers tell me that they are writing for an audience, I always want ask: who? Like really, when you are physically writing or for that matter when you are writing in your head, are you thinking of readers? Is it general: people browsing at Barnes & Noble they way you cruise a buffet table. Or specific: For Aunt Sue, Uncle Wiggly? The people in church or on line at the Genius Bar? What about the people in the second to last car of the Amtrak train traveling from Virginia to Maine?  And what of writing for yourself? The immature man in the mirror. The ingrown toe nail. All the strands of hair you violently pulled from your brush the morning of your wedding day. Are you the small man running in brown leather shoes down a path softened by dead leaves? Or squeezing an apricot not quite ripe that you still slice open and greedily eat?

Who the hell are you writing for?

Shining Star for You To See

 GIVE IT UP FOR ONE OF OUR OWN!

Took this off the web, not entirely sure it’s SHana.

 

PEN Emerging Voices Fellow Shanna Mahin’s OH! YOU PRETTY THINGS, a roman a clef about a young woman in L.A. whose efforts to escape the manic orbit of her former child-star mother land her in the employ of one of the hottest starlets in Hollywood, to Dutton, in a significant deal.

You know, every once in a great while I actually feel completely happy for someone else. When I read in Publisher’s Marketplace that Shanna sold her novel I felt like this was the best motherfucking news I had heard in a long time. How many drafts, revisions, xanax? How many therapy sessions, break ups, tantrums, reams of paper, forests felled? How much blood? How many tears? And what about lift off? Days when you get out of your way, where there is a direct line from your brain to the words. When it all finally starts to happen on the page. ANd someone says, yes, we would like to publish your book. ¬†Our little girls is growing up. ! Give it up for Shana! Congrats girl!¬† Don’t forget the little people!

People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People in the World

Hey Everyone! It’s that time of year! The 2013 HATE list compiled in no particular order.¬†¬†You Could Have Been Anyone To Me

1.¬†Constant use of the phrase, “I’m obsessed with.”¬†¬†I’m obsessed with Pinterest.¬†¬†I’m¬†obsessed with Snapchat. I’m obsessed with pumpkin chai latte.¬†You can not be obsessed with a pumpkin chai latte. If you want to understand obsession, read The End of the Affair. Then talk to me a about disgusting Starbucks beverages.

2. Transparency. Suddenly everything has to be transparent. Since when isn’t clear good enough. When did clear get demoted? Did clear get the memo?

3. Pumpkin chai latte.

4. I don’t hate Taylor Swift, but I’ve had it, too.

5. Hating on Obama. I loved him, I love him, and I will always love him.

6. What the fuck is the Duck Dynasty and why is it all over the bestseller list?

7. Adam Levine named People Magazine’s sexiest man of the year. Okay, he is the first Jew to be named which I suppose is something. Seriously, there are men in publishing who are sexier than Adam Levine.

8. People asking me if I read “The Goldfinch.”

9. People sending me an email that says, “Call me.” Okay, you’re emailing me to to call you. Why don’t you just fucking call me. Just pick up the fucking phone. In the words of Ernestine, “One ringy dingy.” Are we CLEAR?

10. The continued shortening of every work in the dic.

And just for the record, I love all of you who come here and leave your snail slime in the form comments that are harrowing and hilarious and truly supportive of all the people who check in at the Lerner Rehab Facility for Writers and Artists and stay for a day or a lifetime.

Now, please, let’s see if we can get to 100 items on the hate list. What do you find irritating, obnoxious (besides me), heinous, and hideous?

I Love All the Things You Say and Do

Just want to mention that I spent four hours in Temple and forgot to atone. Spent the entire time thinking about writing, my writing, the writing of others, the cover of the NYT book review, a new client I shook hands with, the way my eyes feel most of the time which is dry and achy and sometimes slightly pulsing. The lady in front of me had a lace doily folded in the shape of a piece of pie and pinned to her head with a bobby pin. But it came loose and the pleats on the doily were hanging precariously off her head, the bobby pin also hanging on for dear life. Really, pray for my sins and pray for the dead with all that going on? Please, ladies, attend to your doilies! I beg of you.

What distracts you from yourself?

Just Give Me a Reason Just A Little Bit’s Enough

Dear Insane People Who Write: Why do you like being dangled by your feet from the twentieth floor of a down-on-its-heels Marriott in a bankrupt city? Why do you like the feeling of your eyes being peeled back like the film inside a hard boiled egg? Was it worth removing your baby toe? Or turning a pimple into a mole?¬† Yes, I’m back for more Immodium; what’s it to you? Yes, I take sleep aids.¬† So what if you find me walking down a dark street in my nightgown? It was just a dream that lasted seven months and then I awoke. Why do you torture yourself unnecessarily, my father used to ask. Because necessary torture is for lightweights? You can no longer remember the name of the first boy you fucked. Or what you paid for your first house. If you had chicken or prime rib at your own wedding.¬† Why do you like to get punched in the face, apart, of course, from being a writer?

Got milk?

It’s a Wonder That You Still Know How to Breathe

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Every question every writer has ever asked me about how long they should wait to contact an editor or agent who is considering his work ¬†may now spit in my kasha. And every writer who has asked my advice regarding how to write a cover letter may drop a shovelful of dirt of my grave. I am in Jewish limbo which I believe is like standing on line at Katz’s and not knowing if the pastrami will hold out. Every pore on my face has been scrutinized, every blister on my foot calling out for more torture. One minute I am polishing my acceptance speech and the next I can’t seem to take another step without an infusion of peanut m&m’s. ¬†I’m throwing food from my high chair, I’m trying on clothes in a dressing room that is one hundred degrees and nothing fucking fits, and manically thanking the Starbucks guy working the register as if he were a long lost friend. Please don’t say it’s the journey that counts. Please don’t talk about the “process.” And don’t give me any credit for finishing and getting it out there. What’s so special about special dinners? There is only thing I feel remotely good about is that I’ve started a new project so the screenplay is looking more like a piece of toast with the face of Jesus carved into it.

How sick does it get?

Another One Bites the Dust

Free fall. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Finishing something and getting first reads. I’ve given my script to the young turk from my film class, my literary agent, my writing partner and bff, and a former film executive. What’s that on my shirt? Oh, did I throw up? What is the biggest fear? It sucks. Duh. But more than that it’s the strong possibility that people will see things about me that are humiliating and that I thought I had successfully concealed or transformed. I think that’s why I was drawn to poetry as a depressed teenager. I thought that writing things that people couldn’t understand would protect me and allow me to express yourself at the same time.

How do you handle it?