The Ascendancy

Once again, none of my novels were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Naturally, I was distraught. It almost put me off of my coffee. Almost, but not really. It’s their loss.

Despite that oversight, my spirits are rising. Nothing to do with anything tangible; it’s just that time of my cycle. It’s beautiful weather, and seems like a wonderful to day write and edit.

As part of my lazing about this AM, I read a 2011 Paris Review article, “Catch-18”,  by Erica Heller about her father, Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22. Several passages interested me, but I want to highlight two.

At one point when Dad was writing Catch-22 (he wrote it for nine years, which turned out to be something of an average gestation period for his books), only once and quite late in the game do I remember him becoming discouraged, fed up with the writing process and how long it was taking to finish. This brief, uncharacteristic bit of self-doubt caused him to actually set the book aside and try to find distractions. I recall seeing him watching television in the evenings, but his boredom and exasperation was immediate. Within a week, he’d become so sullen that soon he was scurrying exultantly back into the waiting arms of Catch, telling my mother that he honestly couldn’t imagine how anyone survived who didn’t have a novel to write.

It is hard to imagine not having a novel to write. That’s my primary survival/coping mechanism. Computer games help, along with coffee, wine, and beer.

When Catch was finally taking off, about a year after publication, my parents, who had now moved us to a much larger, far grander apartment, would often jump into a cab late at night and ride around to the city’s leading bookstores in order to see the jaunty riot of red, white, and blue and the crooked little man—the covers of “the book,” piled up in towers and pyramids, stacked in so many store windows. Was anything ever again as much fun, I wonder, for either of them? They would come home giddy and very late and go to sleep with their heads still full of the potent magic of a dream poised right on the cusp of becoming true.

That sounds fun and real, and is the kind of thing that I dream of doing, cruising places looking for copies of my books and evidence that my dream is becoming true.

Time to write edit like crazy, at least one more time.




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