Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Terry McMillan's book, "Getting to Happy"

Saturday, early, I grabbed a book, thinking I'll read a chapter and then figure out what to do next with my day. It's 8 hours later. I've indulged in reading all day long. Like I used to do in the summers. When I was a kid. Such a simple pleasure! I first got into Terry McMillan when "Waiting to Exhale" came out, years ago. I loved these 4 friends, Robin, Savannah, Gloria & Bernie when they were younger. Now, they're in their 50's. Like me. They're all dealing with tough stuff and I feel rejuvenated, having spent the day with them, watching them all transform.

McMillan asks a brave question in this book: "What is happy?" Each character defines it for herself and then works to get there. I found myself asking: what does my happy look like?

Last month, the owner of WestSide Books, the home of my novel, Shattered, put the company up for sale. Every day since, I've moved through a different kind of emotion or thought about it. I don't know what it means for the future of all of us authors at WestSide. I just know I feel a lot of anxiety because it's all so uncertain. I hope another publisher will buy us, hire Evelyn Fazio--who was the heart and soul of WestSide(she's in the picture with me above)--and move us all forward, continuing to publish realistic fiction for young adults. What is certain is I don't have control over any of it.

But what I do have control over is my writing life. For me, "getting to happy" is about continuing on with the life I had before WestSide. A lifestyle I created while being a grad student at Vermont College. Spending time reading young adult literature, to learn how to write for teens, journaling to be true, and writing and re-writing to get it right.

I'm also back to wanting to get published. I'm working at putting my best work on the page, even if it takes hours to write one sentence. Even if it takes 5 drafts to get the story out. Moment to moment, word by word, I'm living the me I was meant to be: a writer. Yes, publication brings its own kind of special joy. But honestly, what makes me ecstatic is creating.
I don't know if I'll ever make it to another publication. But I'm pretty sure, if I keep on writing, I'll make it to happy.

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