Ground Zero Days

I love it; I loathe it. It's terrific; it's utter dreck. I'm a genius! I'm a moron! I can't stand it anymore! Just one more day, please!

My friend DebH writes to tell me I'm always like this, at the end of a book. It's intense, oh-so-intense. I am making connections, right and left. Connections I wish I had made months ago, but that just were not close enough to the surface. And now I want to go back and begin again, from the beginning, knowing what I know now.

I can do some of this. Some of this, I cannot do. It will be what it is, at midnight tonight, my day zero, my last day. And tomorrow morning, come what may, I package up this story that I have lived with intensely for the past year, and send it off to both my agent and my editor, and with it -- a piece of my heart. Soul. LIFE, that's for sure.

And, right up 'til the last moment, I am finding doorways opening -- Cuba. I must know more about Cuba. Not the Cuba of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the Cuba of the culture, the cities, the people. In my book, Franny's teacher is named Mrs. Rodgriguez. I named her this because I had a teacher in fifth grade named Mrs. Rodriguez and I loved her. It may seem obvious to you, but not until an hour ago did I realize that Mrs. Rodriguez's husband... is Cuban.

I've written an entirely new scene today, within an already-written chapter. After an assembly, where all students see a duck and cover video, the day after Kennedy gives his speech to the nation, all about those offensive missiles in Cuba, Mrs. Rodriguez starts a geography lesson with her class. She pulls down the map (you know the one; it covers the chalk board). She takes her pointer (you know the one -- it retracts and extends, it's metal, it has a red tip), and she points to the map: "This... is Cuba."

I can paint this layer with brushstrokes -- it doesn't have to be a heavy-handed thing. I can add a layer of richness and humanity to this story that it did not have before. Part of me is stunned that I didn't see this earlier -- why didn't I?

Because I just didn't. Proceed as the way opens. Just because a draft is due on a certain date does not mean that all is known. More will be revealed. That is always the case. So I will be as done as I can be, and tomorrow --- tomorrow I will be done. Done enough. For now. The book will be in someone else's capable hands.

Thank goodness, for -- at this point -- I have got to give it up.


  1. YOU are fabulous. That's all I have to say about this post.

  2. No, YOU are fabulous! (This sounds like a cartoon I can't remember right now.) Thanks so much. I'm doing a read-through now. YAY!

  3. Are we gonna have a fabulous-fight? Put 'em up!

    Are you loving it? I always forget the good parts when I'm working. Then I do a read-through and think, Oh my God, this is...good.

  4. Don't you love that feeling? It's so, so rare! Write me and tell me the latest about your new book.


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