I’ve just crossed the 30K wordcount line in my third novel, though a good part of that has involved revisions. I wanted to take the time to say hello.
First, I have had two Virginia Woolf sightings this week. One was in the admittedly juvenile movie, Senior Year, on Netflix. I always say that I’m serious about literature and art, so I can watch whatever silliness I want! I’ve gotta say, I wasn’t crazy about the Woolf reference in the movie, but I hope it will lead some curious watchers to give the book a try. In the movie, a librarian is logging in new books and Woolf’s The Waves passes by and he says something like, “I know nobody’s going to read you.” Challenge accepted, I hope adventurous viewer/readers will say. P.S. We didn’t enjoy the movie after all.
The other Woolf sighting was in Less is Lost, a novel by Andrew Sean Greer. Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is mentioned! In a letter to Less, who is an author, a member of a theater troupe says the troupe puts on literary works as plays and mention a six-hour performance of To the Lighthouse! (I’m assuming this is meant to be humorous, and it is.)
Moving right along…I’ve been looking for our spare sheet(s) this morning with no luck. I told Hubby that I am tired of washing our bedsheet sheet and putting it right back on, mainly because I read an Anne Tyler novel once where a character was scandalized that a relative did that because you’re “supposed” to let your linens air before you put it back on. While I’m not one to do what I’m “supposed” to do, not on that front, anyway, it’s hard to forget that bit of manners. Or is it manner? It’s certainly mannered.
After having searched the linen closet, the towel cabinet, under the bed, in all of our drawers and closets…on and on, I decided to give up and order a new set. It’s not like we will have lost anything if the sheet(s) turn up. That’s right, I’m not even sure whether we’re missing one or two sheets.
You see, we bought a wonderful, marvelous, literally life-changing bed during the pandemic. A Purple mattress and platform. King-sized. (Not a sponsored post.) While the part of me that once upon a time said she NEVER wanted anything larger than a full (because snuggles) was sad to see our old bed go, this bed…ah! I don’t wake up aching every day now. And I don’t hit my husband in the face by accident in my sleep.
And wonder of wonders, there’s room in the bed for my phone, my earbuds, AND my books! (I try to remember to remove them when I fall asleep, but that doesn’t always happen, I must admit.)
Needless to say, I’ve been more focused on the bed than the sheets. But now our poor, well-used sheet will get a rest. Full disclosure: we do have plenty of unfitted sheets, and I know opinions vary on the gaucheness of fitted ones, but there are things in life that I refuse to do, and one of them is spend time wrestling an unfitted sheet onto the bed, knowing I will also have to also wrestle to keep it on once in bed. No thanks. Hospital corners, no matter how crisp, are not for me. (Likewise, please do not bother tucking in the covers. I will only be irritated and will kick them loose.)
What about you, do you do hospital corners? Do you let your linen “rest”?
Recently I submitted the first page of Southern-Fried Woolf to a contest, and I thought if I could do that, maybe I should be brave and share it over here, too. Heads up: this sample contains strong profanity.
I should tell you, I am not trying to be clever with my book. I am unabashedly trying to interest a new generation in Woolf’s writing, and I have surrounded the main character’s “thesis” with what I hope is a compelling, fast-paced story as bait. Obviously, I would be happy if everyone loved it, but time will tell…
One or two words about the main character in my book. She is Briscoe Chambers, 28 years old, her country musician husband’s manager, and she’s also a grad school student, trying to write her thesis to get her degree. At least until she gets this phone call. Now all bets are off.
If it seems as if she questions everything, that’s because she does.
Southern-Fried Woolf, Page One
“…this is what leads naturally on to the next stage—the essay-novel.” The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Wednesday, November 2, 1932
I push my whining phone across the bed with my toes until it dangles over the edge like an imperiled onscreen Marvel superhero. Not that it stops ringing. I admire my freshly polished toenails, (sunset chrome, very cool), but force my fingers to return to the home keys while my thoughts hunt for a similar perch. I sweep my hair off my shoulder with determination; my graduate thesis I have nicknamed Beastis is due too soon to allow interruptions of any kind, I sternly, silently, warn myself. I thwart the creeping dusk with the twist of a lamp switch to extend the day, as if doing so can give me more time as well, and I once again position my fingers. This time, I actually move them:
In what has been seen by some as her most autobiographical work, Virginia Woolf weaves into her novel To the Lighthouse a “femininely” knitted and “masculinely” knotted marriage of covert and subtle madness, though not one without warmth and love. She challenges the reader with a paradox: She makes sacred the domestic arena while revealing madness by the domestic activities themselves, thus showing us the “twisted (and twisting) finger” of the main character, Mrs. Ramsay….
…and of herself,” I type while frowning at my insistent phone, while wondering how much sh*t I’ll get for using the word madness, and especially in relation to Woolf. I highlight it to consider it carefully in light of previous and present scholarship, to decide if it even makes sense to use it.
Hell, madness is a word literature has pretty much co-opted for centuries. Then again, it’s also one that can be seen as making light of mental illness. That’s a topic for my feminist mother, “madness” in women in literature. (Funny the speed of a thought, how a phone can still f*cking ring in the time you’ve had the equivalent of a mini essay go through your head.)
The marimba stops, then almost immediately resumes, bones on metal, until it registers that the noise is my husband’s ringtone. Sh*t.
I groan and lean across the time-softened quilt. My shifting sends a cascade of mini-chocolate bar wrappers onto the floor as I leap and rescue the phone just as it vibrates over the edge.
Wait, could this call mean Michael actually wants to speak to me, even though he has Queen Velvet around? Hope grows the flimsiest bones and then sags back to the ground, the garbage cartilage it was to begin with. Hope, the enemy of peace. Sponsored by Tanqueray and tonic, my thesis writing beverage of choice.
END OF PAGE ONE!
Look for the whole book to come in January 2023. I can’t wait to share it with you!
P.S. Interested in what else has been keeping me busy? Barry and I have started a podcast, MFA Payday for MFA graduates. Episode One is live! To go along with it, I created a free pretty submission tracker. Because even tools should be pretty!
Thanks for reading!
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