Thank you for the chocolate! You know who you are... and so do I. Bless your heart. I was so surprised when my mail carrier friend Bobby showed up with your package. I'm already eyeballing my first piece as I finish lunch. (I did stop for lunch today, as Jim cooked.)
And I've bought myself twelve extra hours. I need them. Instead of hitting Fedex at 6pm tonight, I'm hitting the send key on my laptop at 6am tomorrow morning -- remember, Tuesday was/is my deadline. So the Fedex package will arrive on Wednesday, but the manuscript will be waiting for my editor tomorrow morning, as promised. I've let him know.
For most of yesterday, I was absorbed in Pete Seeger. Who knew how perfectly he fits into the landscape of this new novel? Oh, I'd heard the stories. But to read about them in primary source accounts is nothing short of amazing... and to try to distill his life into the space I've got... impossible. So that's what I'm wrestling today.
Some quotes I'm working with as I finish shaping this biography:
Talk about ivory towers... I grew up in a woodland tower. I knew all about plants and could identify birds and snakes, but I didn't know about anti-semitism or what a Jew was until I was 14 years old. My contact with black people was literally nil... If someone asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, I'd say an Indian or farmer or forest ranger. Maybe an artist. I'd always loved to draw.
After losing his scholarship at Harvard:
College was fine for those who want it, but I was just not interested.
In a letter home to his wife, Toshi, during World War II:
After the war, I want to organize a very large chorus of untrained voices.
To the House Un-American Activities Committee:
I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American.
This sentiment gets right to the heart of what my novel, The End of the Rope, is all about.
Until I stumbled across it in research, I didn't know that Pete had sung for civil rights workers in Albany, Georgia in 1961. I didn't know the albums of children's songs Seeger made with Moe Asch in the fifties were made during the period he couldn't get work in this country. I have those albums -- I bought them at a library sale many years ago. I can't tell you how many times I danced with my children to Pete Seeger singing "All Around the Kitchen."
And... Pete kept journals from the time he was a young boy. Lots of journals. Man after my own heart.
Thank you to the readers who wrote me passionately about Pete Seeger and asked me to take another look at how well he would blend into this 1962 novel. He was on my list, but I was saving him for another book. I think he's perfect here. I think you're perfect for speaking up.
My new chocolate is perfect, too. I'm choosing just the right pieces to go with a slice of this strawberry buttermilk cake baked by Hannah.
One day soon I'll have pictures of something other than food or manuscripts to show you, but that's my world right now. Friends invited us over on Saturday night. "I'm laboring," I said. I stayed here and panted and pushed. It's about to pay off, too -- this baby is almost here, born brand new into the world.