The Whine Season.

On the sidewalk in front of my house, 10:01 AM, Thursday, November 2, 2017. At last I have found a good use for the pavement that no one on Long Island ever uses.

I went Fall Leaf hunting yesterday morning. The weather has turned a bit cooler this past week with a few days of hard rain, so there was quite a lot to choose from right in my own font yard.

My Perfect Fall Leaf has to have an interesting “color story”, as you can see from some of my past Perfects:

Maybe you can tell that I have a preference for Oak leaves, especially ones that exhibit a little bit of rot. The shape is breath-takingly exquisite, but the problem is that Oak trees tend to zap straight from their Summer shade of dull olive green to their Fall shade of drabbier-than-drab brown.  It’s a real treat when I can find an Oak leaf that has a color story to tell, but that is exceedingly rare. That Oak leaf that you see directly above is practically a miracle: I’ve NEVER seen one that was so chronically complex and that is why that leaf is my favorite painting ever.

In my perusal of my front yard yesterday morning, I found two leaves that might be thought-provoking enough to paint. I have placed them between two wet paper towels and stored them in the refrigerator until I finish putting this post up. Then I’ll make a cup of tea and pull them out and consider whether their stories are worth my telling.

My story for this post is that I had a very literary week, in that one night I went to a book event for a well-known ghost writer, and a few evenings later I attended a swell “do” that featured a panel of distinguished lady writers: a biographer, a memoirist, a novelist, and a short-fiction writer. Except for the short-fiction writer, the panel was mind-numbingly lackluster and I nearly expired out of boredom so I will not go into details except to say that writers who spend a lot of time teaching college tend to not have much awareness that people attending book events don’t want to hear a droning monologue. That might work with a captive audience of college freshman, but not in the real world.

This has nothing to do with this week’s blog but I need to break up the text so here’s a pic of my desk lamp. I cleared away the cobwebs three weeks ago but this is what I’m dealing with now and I can’t bring myself to evict whoever is living there because spiders are “good” things, but whenever I sit at my computer I get the feeling that there are spiders crawling in my hair.

The book event I attended was for Daniel Paisner, and it was evident that his humor and intelligence are what makes him the go-to ghost writer for celebrities in the sports and entertainment world. He gave a lively and fun event while not saying anything critical about any of the personalities he’s collaborated with, which is saying a lot because he ghost wrote Ivanka Trump’s first book The Trump Card and I asked him specifically about that smug, dim-witted, crypto-Nazi bitch experience and he still did not have a bad world to say.

His discretion is another reason why he’s at the top of his profession.

But writing is basically a horrible profession that turns people into skin bags of regret, even for a writer as successful as Mr. Paisner. There he was, telling stories about the presidents and movie stars he’s met and worked with, and the weird places he’s traveld to with politicians and athletes, and the intimate conversations and lasting friendships he’s made with his high-achieving subjects, and a young guy in the back row raised his hand and asked Mr. Paisner the question we all were dying to ask: How does a person get into the ghost writing biz?

And Daniel Paisner told the young man that he (Daniel Passer) could not recommend, not at all, that anyone take that career path. Ghost writing (said Mr. Paisner) will kill the possibilities of your having a literary career. AS IF THAT WAS A BAD THING.

I’ve written three books, and the process is so horrible that I am loathe to subject myself to it for a fourth time. I don’t want to sit in a room for three years by myself, doubting every damn word I write, for less than minimum wage, just so some half wit can plaster a bad review about it on Amazon because she didn’t like it that I packed a cashmere sweater when I went to Paris. (True story.)

I will happily, merrily, with a song in my heart be glad to ghost write anybody’s book if it let me GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and meet interesting, non-writer people, travel on somebody else’s expense account, and make lots of money.

As it is, all I get are “offers” to” take dictation” from guys who “have a book inside me but I just doesn’t have the patience to write it”, a book that this busy person won’t pay me for because it’s “sure to be a best seller”.

Well. I only have myself to blame. I picked the worst time in history to be an author. Another writer beautifully described what the thrill of getting published is like these days: It’s like being a Russian Princess, but it’s the eve of the Revolution. 

I’m going to close here and check out my Fall Leaf situation in the refrigerator. But instead of tea, I think I’ll make me a cup of vodka and be thankful that I’m not successful enough to be plagiarized, which I hear is a big problem when you’re a famous writer (my writer’s career cup runneth over with half-fullness).

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers: May all your glasses be, like mine, half-full instead of half-empty, unless it’s a tea cup of vodka, and then make sure all your glasses are full.

9 Comments, RSS

  1. Leslie November 3, 2017 @ 7:08 am

    Speaking of writers, I’ve been waiting to recommend to you a great film I watched on Netflix yesterday about Joan Didion. I wrote down her last words in the film, “Remembering what it’s like to be me, that was always the point.” Everything she said resonated with truth. She wrote for a living her whole life, fiction and nonfiction, not as a hired hack, but as a person with a point of view. I think you’d like her and the film.

  2. Elizabeth Schmid November 3, 2017 @ 7:14 am

    Glorious leaves!
    Ah the perils of authorship – but your books are super splendid and lovely.
    Off to England on Monday which I’m looking forward to.
    We will drink together on your return.
    x

  3. Marg-o November 3, 2017 @ 1:10 pm

    Love the autumn leaf installation on your sidewalk. I wish I were walking down your street to come upon this work of art — it would make my day. Beautiful.

  4. jeanie November 3, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

    I love the Russian Princess/Revolution connection. perfect. Cashmere sweater? Really? That bugged her? I can’t even afford the Land’s End cashmere but if I could, I’d have 20. I’m thinking no sheep were killed making your sweater… ugh.

    Well, I love your sidewalk leaf of leaves and since your paint-a-leaf post is always one of my favorites, looking ahead in great anticipation. And yes, I’d ghost write, too, if the price was right!

  5. Felicia Cass November 4, 2017 @ 10:33 am

    Love the leaf pictures. Hope you’re painting for our amusement/education next week? I’d love to learn how you get the veins in your leaves.

    Writing is hard work, but besides visiting all of the places you tell us about, while you are painting and writing you get to reside in those places again in your mind. And don’t you feel the tiniest bit courageous for facing down your inner critic again and again as you write and paint?

    I’m not sure a leading a fulfilling life is always easy and pleasant. It seems to me to require great courage, persistence and faith; qualities you demonstrate in spades. And it may also be true that I’m biased since I really want a fourth Vivian Swift book of wonder.

  6. Gigi DeVault November 4, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

    I an reading “Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage'” by Dani Shapiro. I’ve attended workshops and conferences with Dani and her husband, Michael. Always a bit in awe of published writers, I surprised to read this in her book: “Between us, M. and I gave taken on a lot of jobs: screenwriting, journalism, television writing, book reviewing, freelance editing, ghost writing, corporate writing, teaching, leading retreats, public speaking.”

    In an article in Elle magazine, Pam Houston wrote: “I used to believe I could without sleep…I could still get enough work done to maintain my seven or eight various paid occupations, which add up, I always figure, to something like three full-time jobs….I accept nearly every job that comes my way partly out of fear that each one might be the last. Work is my pleasure, my refuge, my comfort, my challenge, my definition…writing a novel or reading at the Library of Congress…grading a 10-inch pile of student manuscripts in an intro to creative writing class…writing a semi-positive review of a book I didn’t love written by someone I’ll have to see at a conference later in the year.”

    I can’t find the reference, Pam Houston once wrote an insert for an ant farm package that had a tongue-in-cheek Marxian tone.

    I like these authors quite a lot, as I do you. And I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to continue to write creatively – knowing about their struggles (confessions not easy to make until there have been a few NY Times best sellers, I imagine) while enduring the many unsatisfactory ways I have had to write for pay.

    These are hard times for writers. But how much richer our lives are because of the writers whose works we read and the writers we come to cherish through their writing. So thank you for creating 3 beautiful works…and the only blog I read regularly!

  7. Becky November 4, 2017 @ 4:16 pm

    I absolutely loved the design of a leaf with leaves. So beautiful, and all the fall colors were represented.
    I never get tired of reading your books….and then reading my favorite parts all over again. And the paintings are a visual delight. Thank you for all your hard work.
    I picked up one fall leaf to paint….it was a beautiful red color, and all chewed up. I thought it would make an interesting subject, but I forgot to put it in the fridge, and it turned into a curled up mess. I have moved on to pumpkins.

  8. Kirra November 5, 2017 @ 6:08 am

    I love your sidewalk art leaf installation! I hope someone got to appreciate it, even though you say they aren’t used in Long Island. I think it is hard being a writer, and people don’t always understand. I’ve heard it said by one of Australia’s most famous writers (Tim Winton) that if you can do something else rather than write do! However I am selfish and totally love reading and re-reading your book, so would love a fourth book. Reading your blog each week is a total treat and is like a mini book complete with pictures so we can’t really complain. Plus were else do I get to read gold like ‘….mind-numbingly lackluster and I nearly expired out of boredom’. Cheers!

  9. Marilyn November 7, 2017 @ 8:22 pm

    You make me want to run out and collect fall leafs and then have a full glass of vodka. Loving your humor. Maybe you could be a humorous or comedian? I have a son that just self published his first book thinking he would get discovered or something. Oh dreamers! Me, on the other hand, just self published my third little book and you are the first to know it. If I sell any it would be a miracle, but I just had to do it for me. Now I have that out of me I can move on to other more fun things.

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