June Report

It isn’t June anymore is it?  I love the summer, but July always makes me a little nervous — you’re suddenly in the MIDDLE of summer, and you feel some urgency to get your summer things done, which is crazy because the whole point of summer is to not do much, and to enjoy the not-doing of much.

In contrast, June was a month when a lot happened.  Because I am spending more and more time writing 140 character accounts of myself on twitter and facebook, I have fallen a little out of practice with the longer form that is a blog post.  So I am going to make a list of what June looked like, thinking I might fool myself into thinking that a blog post is as simple as stringing together small accounts of yourself, which, in a way, it is:

1.  I discovered this month that death and sickness, which are with us always, need not be disasters.  My Uncle Martin died early in the month, and then two weeks later, another uncle, a lovely man we’d just seen on our way down from my Uncle Martin’s funeral, also died.  Jim Berlin was his name — a man whose preferred form of communication was the three line joke,  a guy who drove a truck for a living, fished and hunted and camped and swam and loved my aunt and my cousins, who were just toddlers when they married, and who are now grown men with trucks of their own.  His funeral was a few days ago in Colusa — one of those places in California where it gets really hot in the summer and people grow things like rice and tomatoes, and the gathering after the funeral is in the park in the middle of town, under huge shade trees, right next to the municipal swimming pool.  People bring macaroni salad and five hundred different versions of chocolate cake. And a lot of cold drinks.

What I learned in June  is that small communities are rich places.

2.  I spent a lot of time in  June refreshing my e-mail inbox, waiting to get editing suggestions from my new agent, waiting to hear about a writing residency I applied for, waiting to hear about stories I have out.  The results:  new agent is a terrific editor so far and really busy, as all people who sell books for a living are; I will be doing this great writing residency with Antonya Nelson in the fall in Florida for three weeks; and no one at the remaining literary journals that have my stories is alive anymore.  I can only hope that in small towns across America people are eating macaroni salad and chocolate velvet cake with cream cheese icing to celebrate the lives of those literary editors who are no longer with us.

What have I learned about waiting?  That if you aren’t careful, and don’t guard against it,  you can divert your attention from the stories you want to tell to the business of writing.  I’ve spent far too much time in the last year doing that, and am slowly weaning myself off the e-mail inbox refresh button.  Maybe I will write a blog post instead of opening my e-mail to see what’s in there besides offers to grow the penis I don’t have.

More things than that happened in June:  my oldest sons are off to high school in the fall, and there is a lot of new teenage energy in our house, and then there is the next novel, which has to get in a higher, faster gear, now that I have come close to settling the business of the last one.  Also, if I am going to be sitting around a table with a woman who actually writes amazing fiction, shouldn’t I be producing something that could at least be described as a credible effort?

But in July it would be lovely if there could be a day or two here or there when nothing at all happens, except lying around and reading and dreaming.  I hope that’s the kind of July all of you are getting to have.


13 thoughts on “June Report

  1. I wish you a dreamy July, with the stories you want to tell. How wonderful that your first novel is taking off and that your second is already in the pipeline. To talk business, I would be more than happy to take part in any BlogLily-novel-marketing when the time comes – blog tours, reviews, what have you. I’m here.

  2. Those 140 character posts can be devisous, can’t they, leading you to think that they are the same as a blog post. I’ve fallen in that trap too, it seems.

    I wish for you: a happy July, to find amusement and joy in that teenage energy (and especially perseverence to find it during periods of teen angst), that you are successful with your writing, and have a few dreamy days, sipping ice tea or something else cold & refreshing, reading and dreaming.

  3. I agree with you about July. I have always felt that by July 4th, summer was essentially played out. At least by then you know how you will spend the weekends in it that are left. Still, there are long, lazy days to come–many of them strung together as a matter of fact–and here in the Northeast, we have been stuck in a kind of not-quite-summer, with plenty of cool, cloudy days and LOTS of rain. The result: everything is vibrantly green and alive, but we rub our eyes with disbelief that it’s actually July 3rd. How can this be, when we are still wearing sweatshirts? I need to go to those sunny, hot places in California and eat chocolate cake under the shade trees and crave lots of cold, cold drinks.

  4. How exciting to hear your first book is taking off and your second is underway. I do hope to read here some shameless self-promotion posts! I sort of never think of summer as actually starting until July 4–mostly because it can get so hot and humid here and lasts well into September, which means summer drags on forever. Of course if at least some of it consists of not much at all happening (except reading of course) then that’s not at all a bad thing. I hope you get a fair good number of those days, too.

  5. July makes me panicky because it suddenly seems like summer, which only just started, is half over, and I haven’t soaked up some sun/read fat novels by a pool/seen the ocean/gone swimming yet, and it begins to look like I never will.

    But really, all I need in the world is chocolate cake. Glad to hear that those small towns know how to celebrate life!

  6. It seems like a lot happened in June… where have I been? Congrats on the new agent! All this waiting… how does the publishing industry expect us impatient writers to put up with it? I hope your July involves very little waiting, many answers, literary journal editors rising from the dead to send acceptance letters, and other good things.

    Happy summer, BL!

  7. My July be filled with daydreams that becomes wonderful stories!

    (I’ll be spending half of July along the US/Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico, researching and writing a book on immigration. Not the kind of writing that allows for daydreaming, but I do hope I get to meet the ghost of Saint Toribio Romo).

  8. I have that same feeling about July, made even worse by the letdown after celebrating my birthday all month in June (and paying the bills for the birthday presents I bought myself). Congratulations on the residency and condolences on the loss of your uncles and the passing of all the editors (surely that was tongue in cheek–the editors have simply gone missing not all dead?). Balancing creativity with the business side of creation is a fine line to walk, and since I love to organize things, a tempting way to procrastinate and avoid the blank canvas, too.

  9. Many congratulations on the novel front, Lily. If any of us is going to do this, it’s you. I look forward to walking into Waterstones in Cambridge and buying my copy! Have a wonderful July – summer just flies, doesn’t it?

  10. Charlotte, Thank you! And I wish you a similarly dreamy July. And how nice you are in re: Book Number One (which is called The Secret War). I will be so pleased to do the same for you, when your book number 1 is ready. xoxoxo

    Cam, i’m raising my iced tea to amusement, joy and perserverance!

    Sandi! All that rain!!! It’s crazy. Has there ever been such a summer? And if summer has to be delayed, surely that means it will extend to late October, right?

    Dear Danielle, I am going to have to give some real thought to the shameless self promotion thing. You see, when I started writing this blog, I never really thought I’d finish that book, and then I never thought anyone would like it… but I loved writing it, and I love the one I am writing now, and there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for your beloved, now is there? Even SSP!

    Marie, I think chocolate cake will do quite nicely as an ocean-and-fat-novel replacement.

    Oh Nova, thank you. and many, many congratulations to you too. It’s hard to believe all this has happened in the last three years! And here you are, with your book coming out in the fall, and your two book deal coming up and isn’t it wonderful????

    Dear Ben, I can think of few people better suited to write a moving, intelligent, inspiring book on the subject of immigration and I wish you good travels while you are doing that. xoxoxo

    Happy Belated Birthday dear Jana! (And yay for the presents.. Boo for the bills….) yes, organizing. There’s another way to fool yourself into thinking you’re working, right? Goodness, the way is never quite smooth, is it?

    Op: I’m glad to BE here!

    Litlove, you know Waterstones in Cambridge is going to be really, really crowded with books by bloggers — we’ll have to break out a case of champagne. or two. here’s to your book soon!

  11. Catching up here. (I, too, have found my attention span shrinking to 140 characters.) In any case, I’m thrilled, but not at all surprised by all your good news. I can’t wait to hear more!

  12. Hi Patry, I’m excited about the writing news too! I just got an e-mail from the arts center in Florida — apparently it takes 45 minutes to ride a bike to the beach and the ride sounds really beautiful. I can’t wait!

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