And under a month to go until publication! Perception of time can be strange. It was the summer of 2007 when I wrote a “shitty first draft” (see Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird) of the book not yet titled The Marriage Act (there could be another chapter, “Shitty First Titles” – but I’ll save those for a future post). That fall, I salvaged ten or twelve lines from it in my first workshop in Nonfiction Writing MFA school based on some feedback I got that was something along the lines of “This would be great as a chick lit novel! There are so many pink martinis and venti nonfat iced vanilla lattes in the first ten pages.” Ooops. I hadn’t written the book I set out to write at all! I didn’t get to the beginning of what was to be the central concept until about page 250, which seemed insane when I first realized it but in hindsight was only part of the process. I had a lot of pre-writing to get out of the way, and also a lot more living to do. The book took eight years when all is said and done (if you count waiting for publication, otherwise it’s closer to six) and that felt like what is most commonly known as a long ass time. However, now it all feels as if it happened so fast! And I’m like, wait! I need to prepare! but, um, that’s what I’ve been doing for six to eight years, so, now that it’s close to launch I better be ready to birth this babe.
On another note, it’s a January afternoon in Santa Cruz and the current weather is 74 degrees. I’m sitting indoors at the coffee shop because the glare outside from the sun is too bright to see the screen.
There are still things I miss about New York but I’ve now realized exactly how much I’ve acclimated to sweet-little-beach-town life.
I would love to hear from readers so please email me at liza AT lizamonroy DOT com if you’d like!
Earlier in the fall, I read the provocative and controversial Jonathan Franzen piece in the Guardian, written in conjunction with the then-forthcoming publication of his new book, The Kraus Project. I’d just started teaching a writing class at UCSC and thought this was an amazing piece for modeling argument and using a lens, a source whose purposes you adapt for your own; Kraus:Vienna in early 1900s/Viennese press is to Franzen:United States, today/The Internet. Speaking of The Internet, it exploded into argument over the piece, many more anti- than pro-Franzen articles. I brought a selection of those into class, too, to model the idea of public discourse.
On Monday, in an appearance at Bookshop Santa Cruz, Franzen was introduced as a good friend of the bookstore. He then said this was the one and only bookstore event he was doing for The Kraus Project. Santa Cruz? Our sleepy little beach paradise? I wondered why.
Some Googling revealed that Franzen is actually a part-time resident. When not living on the Upper East Side, he, too, is here. Is it odd that learning this gave me some kind of weird validation?
Here are some articles and interviews in which he talks about SC:
Since I moved here I’ve been saying it’s the perfect place for a writer – I had no idea Franzen beat me to it. It’s a place that yields the good quiet life for producing work, but also has enough going on so one never feels out in the woods, unless you are, well, out in the woods – as in the actual redwoods, which is awesome. And this, whether true or false, is pretty funny:
At a time of new beginnings, I’m more grateful than ever for the past. Almost a year ago, I was at the magical Thurber House and putting the finishing touches on The Marriage Act. The Columbus Dispatch ran this piece and my fingers were simultaneously crossed for the book to find a home, so I could live up to the “upcoming” label. But I also do believe that we are more powerful than we know when it comes to manifesting our dreams. Whatever it is, it’s already real. (Yes I’ve moved from New York to California and I sound like it..)
I have loved and gleaned so much from this conference for the past few years. This year, with The Marriage Act forthcoming and a lot to think about re. what’s next, the changing publishing industry, etc, I’m excited to be a part of the conversation. If you’re heading to AWP in Boston, come check out one of my panels and let’s go to some of the fun social events too.
Don’t things always come full circle? In college, when I knew I wanted to become a writer, I was double-majoring in film and creative writing, planning to pursue a career in screenwriting (as always, if I could figure out how). When I moved to New York after two years in L.A., though, I landed a job in publishing, and started writing the beginnings of the novel that became Mexican High. I figured I would make my way back to screenwriting eventually, somehow, but that it would probably happen on its own when the time was right.
When Alex Garinger, fellow former intern at City magazine got in touch with me after the Profiler essay came out in the Times, with news that his production company wanted to option the story for a romantic comedy (he and I hadn’t been in touch for about six years!) it was one of those right-thing-at-the-right-time situations. Five All in the Fifth and their article on The Profiler.