Monday, January 17, 2011
Book #37: Breakfast with My Publisher
This morning I had breakfast with my publisher, Sandra, to discuss the first ten chapters of my book. Since this chunk of writing contains some deviations from the chapter outline I'd included in my book proposal, I was a tad nervous, and it didn't help that I was jittery from too much coffee. But as I perched on a bar stool at Canteen, unable to resist another Americano, Sandra told me she was delighted with the new emotional territory I'd broached, and in fact, if I hadn't included the new material, she'd been planning to push me to delve deeper. As if through some beautiful telepathy, I'd intuited that she wanted more vulnerability and self-disclosure, which was wonderful to hear, because at this point I really am having so much fun reliving and revelling in the most miserable periods of my life - my promiscuous youth, my failed career as an English professor, family secrets, my deformed spine, what have you. Writing about all that old misery somehow helps redeem it (at least in my mind).
So now I am down to the last three chapters, which I have the next month and a half to write. No sooner had Sandra and I toasted to saving the best for last than a wave of cold sweat and nerve prickles swept over me.
After we'd wrapped up our meeting, I decided I needed a short break from working on the manuscript to clear my head. So I ended up reading a book that a friend lent me, The Paris Review Interviews, volume three. What a marvellous discovery. I had no idea that these interviews are so revealing and interesting - it's as if these revered writers are sitting down with you and disclosing the most intimate details about their minds and writing habits, over a glass of wine. I love in particular Joyce Carol Oates' reflections on how old photographs serve as inspiration and transport her, almost magically, into the minds of her ancestors. What she's saying resonates with how I feel when I look at the old photos of my grandmother, particularly the pre-Internment photos from her adolescence, and I think to myself, Oates said it perfectly: her memories are my memories.
And so I must finish my current book quickly so I can move on to writing something else. My deepest desire has always been to write an historical novel.
Photo from: here
- Leslie Shimotakahara
- Toronto, ON, Canada
- Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.