Archive for April, 2011

We’re Covered!


File this under: Now It Feels Real. LITTLE GALE GUMBO is now covered, friends!

Huge thanks to three very talented people for this beauty: Mimi Bark for the cover design, Tom Hallman for the illustration and Nate Williams for the handlettering.

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I’ve been on a huge memories kick lately.

I suppose it can’t be helped. When you clean out closets, the past surfaces with each opened box. I have so been enjoying everyone’s comments on my previous blog, as well as the wonderful spectrum of responses to throwing away my journals.

Maybe part of why I didn’t worry about tossing them, was that I believe firmly that memories and our life stories don’t just live in our journals. While I had thrown out pages of recollections, I am still surrounded by them. Just last night, as I was sautéing dinner in my favorite pan, I was reminded of this fact. When I first graduated from college, I moved to LA to become, you guessed it, an actress. Not knowing anyone, I wandered around the wonderful Venice neighborhood looking for an apartment to rent and came across a small studio behind the house of a music producer (he assured me he had Linda Ronstadt waiting upstairs while we were talking–who knows if he did, but I like to think so). It was a charming place, affordable, steps from the beach. There was only one little catch. The previous tenant had gone out one day and never come back. This was two months before I’d arrived. When I stepped into the apartment, I discovered the landlord wasn’t kidding. Everything was right where it had been left. Down to the washcloth draped over the sink, the dirty socks scattered on the bedroom floor.

“You can move in, if you clean it out,” the landlord told me.

And so I did, carefully loading a stranger’s life into garbage bags that would be stored in the basement. When it came time to empty the kitchen, I recognized a high-quality pan among the collection and asked if I could use it. My landlord shrugged. “Sure you wouldn’t rather have the TV?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “The pan’s good.”

Twenty years, fourteen apartments, six states later, that pan remains the king of my collection.

And to this day, I think on all of that each and every time I set it down on the stove, which I do almost daily. I think on how I came to have it, I think on the stranger who used it before me and wonder whatever became of him or all the bags of his life in that music producer’s basement. I think on my tiny apartment on the boardwalk, and my year of wonder and adventure in California.

I think. I remember.

So what about you all? Where are YOUR memories hiding?

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Memories, light the corners of my closet

Recently, Teri Carter had me thinking of memoirs–thanks to some wonderful recent posts on her blog, and the fact that I’ve been reading Rosanne Cash’s memoir.

Looking back, looking forward--or just looking, Olive?

Yesterday, I boldly went where no one has gone before (well, not in 2 years, at least): the back of our closet. There I uncovered the bin (I use the singular to make myself feel better, but trust me, there are other such bins buried in there) where I imagine everything I haven’t been able to find since we moved in has been carefully archived, but upon opening (which had all the pomp and circumstances of Indiana Jones opening one of his franchise’s many tombs), I find it is merely a catch-all for pieces of my past that I can’t decide what to do with.

Today, I decided. After moving old journals for almost 20 years, the diaries of my high school and college years, and a few later, I decided to throw them away. Will I regret it? I don’t think so. By my nature, I’m not someone who lives in the past, or hangs on to it. And frankly, when I cracked open one of the journals, I was met with such a surge of discomfort, I couldn’t close it fast enough.

Now, please understand: This is not about denial or coating the past in a hard candy shell. I GO there. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I process experiences the way the IRS likely processed Al Capone’s receipts. And maybe that’s why it pains me to read those passages. Knowing how deeply felt they were at the time I wrote them.

I know why I kept them so long. Because I truly believed one day I would be able to read them with detachment, with a new perspective, with a smile. But I’ve tried to revisit them for 20 years now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t.  

Then it occurs to me that I DO revisit my past when I write. How can we not as writers? We may write about people doing things we’ve never done, but chances are they feel what we’ve felt. And maybe that’s a sort of memoir in itself.

What about you all? Do you keep journals? Do you revisit them, or have you thrown them away?

Do you write your memoirs through your fiction? Or do you steer clear?

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So I know it’s early and it’s Monday, but I’m hoping, dear friends, you all might be willing to indulge me in a little discussion about book trailers.

I’m in the process of making one for LITTLE GALE GUMBO, and frankly, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on the little devils.

Do they entice you?
Annoy you?
Surprise you?
Do you like ones that play like a movie trailer? Or do you like the ones that play more like a documentary?

OR (and this IS a possible answer) do you simply not have a feeling one way or another about them?

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