At AWP I reconnected with a dear friend from grad school. [Management: Indy knows that the phrase “dear friend” makes her sound like her grandmother, but does not care. Grandmaternal Clause was probably the best person in her family. (Note to Cougar: best in a moral sense)] We were wandering through the
three-ring fucking circus book fair, when Dear Friend mentioned that she was working on a novel.
“I didn’t know you wrote fiction!” I said. I met Dear Friend in a nonfiction workshop.
“Well, it’s a mystery novel,” Friend said sheepishly.
“Why that tone? I love mystery stories.”
“You do?” There is a pregnant pause that shows up between writer friends. If we were dating, this would be the point when someone would suggest that we take our clothes off. But as Friend and I are both happily married to other people, the following suggestion is slightly different.
“I would read it,” I said. “Literary mysteries are one of my favorite genres!”
“You would? What could I possibly do for you in turn?” Well, readers, I had an answer to that. Grandmaternal Clause would have read it out of the goodness of her heart. I had ulterior motives.
“Wanna read my memoir?” I had been wanting to ask this question of my friend so bad, but as with other kinds of propositions, the moment hadn’t been right.
She needed a reader who was both a writer and a fan of the genre, and I needed someone who writes the kind of thing I do. We both felt like we had won the lottery (or gotten laid).
Friend sent me her mystery yesterday. I’m 5/6 the way through a paper edit of my own MS. And this morning instead of buying fireworks, planning a BBQ, editing, or going through the last sixth of the book, I’m entering edits. This is a picky stage I hate. The command “more” in all caps peppers my draft.
Instead of my usual reaction, which is, “Well, shit. If I had known what else to add I would have done it the first time,” I’m aiming for the positive. This is a series of writing challenges. And wouldn’t I rather be writing than anything else? Wouldn’t I?
What would you rather be doing?