You go on vacation... But then what?
It’s very peculiar when you’ve spent the last four years telling wannabe novelists to “Write every day!” “Come Hell or high water, put your ass in that chair and write.” So, here I’ve been since the end of February NOT writing.
I was asked by my editor to STOP. The novel that I have been working on for more than a year (as yet untitled… Working title: The Saints of Los Vientos) will be published next year: 2013. It’s my editor’s turn to do her magic. She is an incredible editor and an incredibly busy editor because she is so fantastic at how she brings out the very best in every novel she puts thought and pencil to (sorry about that preposition). That said, I’ve had the luxury (HA HA—great word choice) of selling my house since I stopped writing. Not a luxury. I have a whole other blog about selling one’s house. (I’ll share another time.) Anyway, what I am getting to is that yesterday, I could stand it no longer. Sitting in the sunshine on a blanket in my front yard, a yard that will belong to someone else in less than sixty days, the muse (goddess that she is) came to me! Thank you! I wrote something totally new and unrelated to the two novels now under contract with Simon and Schuster, but it’s all me. It’s me and that shiny muse and for that, I am unbelievably grateful.
I am putting my ass back in the chair. And here's the beginning of Lucy Graber:
The psychiatrist wrote the prescriptions on a beige pad of paper and the paper, enough if shredded to make a suitable amount of confetti for a parade of one, was delivered by Lucy to the pharmacist's assistant, whose lipstick was cracked, settled in the corners of her mouth, obviously cheap, and the assistant, without looking up, asked for Lucy's birthdate, at which point, Lucy inevitably felt compelled to lie, but recalled her therapist, who couldn't legally write confetti scripts, saying, "Be honest with people, Lucy. You can do it. Make the right decision."
My name is Lucy Springtime and I was born on May 1st, 1990, because then I'd be twenty and not forty. And then I'd have only been eleven whet the Twin Towers came crashing down, and then I wouldn't buy expensive face creams to decrease lines and wrinkles, and then on my birthday, I'd construct a Maypole and everyone, including Shotsy, would dance, flowers in their hair.
The assistant glanced up. "Ma'am?" That word is the proof that I was not born in 1990, but in 1970. Lucy smiled at the assistant. "Date of birth, please?"
"Don't you have my date of birth?"
"It's so that we don't confuse you with someone else."
Lucy thought it would be wonderful to be confused with someone else. "September 22nd, 1970." She added, "Do you know who Elizabeth Taylor is?"
Lucy went to the blood pressure machine and smiled at the men and women, at their walkers and plastic tubing running up their noses. She smiled at the scent of urine, at the sweet smell of diabetes, at the high waisted pants and orthopedic shoes. The black and brown socks and knee-high hosiery. The varicose veins were too much for Lucy. She looked away. I will never be that old.
Lucy Graber is the heroine of this love story so she's debating adopting a three-legged dog or doing something, anything, that will make her empathetic to you, the reader. She's thinking about you now. About being famous. Lucy pushed the green button and enjoyed the feel of her upper arm being squeezed. She sang quietly, "Like a Virgin" and took her blood pressure three times. It ranged from 150 over 100 to 120 over 90 to 110 over 70. She could do that--make it change that way. The therapist, the talking doctor without the legal right to write medications, taught Lucy how to meditate. Meditating was so effective that Lucy decided it was magic of some sort and she (not the therapist) was some sort of sorceress. To think otherwise was painfully boring.
Even though Lucy was sitting right there by the pharmacy counter, inspecting the older sets' hands, the deep wrinkles and sagging skin, singing and pushing the green button, the pharmacy assistant said, "Lucy Graber" over the loud speaker.
"Do you want to speak with the pharmacist?" The assistant handed her a pen. Lucy had her own. A fine-lined black Sharpie. She wrote with nothing else.
"No thank you about the pharmacist." Apothecary, she thought, wishing he had a mortar and pestle, wishing he were a cloaked, bearded man and not an Indian woman with a dot on her forehead.
There were four prescriptions total. Medicinals for Manics. That would be a great book title.
Taking the pill bags from the assistant who lacked a name tag, Lucy Graber pursed her lips and said, "Strike a pose. Vogue." Lucy was an eccentric, not a crazy. She thought so. Strike a pose was for the poor assistant in her humdrum glasses, crap lipstick and mousy hair. Now the assistant would have a funny story to tell.
Lucy sang as she headed toward the exit. On her way, she grabbed a pack of Reese cups and tore open the wrapper. Will they come after me for stealing candy? She laughed, nibbling serrated edge of chocolate goodness. Must think about that dog adoption... Lucy wanted to drive fast. She wanted to jump on a trampoline, one without a net, or get into one of those bouncy houses for kids. She wanted to have fun before Daddy took the T-Bird away, which meant that Shotsy, or some other so-called friend, was going to watch her swallow each and every one of those god-damn Medicinals for Manics.
Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, currently in paperback. Her next two novels are under contract with Simon and Schuster. Michele likes babies, bicycles, birds, books, and the beach.