Now that I have your attention, I will fess up that the novel has been available as an audiobook via Amazon since the book launch back in September of 2018. However, since I didn’t do any specific promotion on the format, it has just been sitting around, quietly, with modest purchases by experienced audiobook fans who knew how to find it. It’s time I gave it some love.Read More
My first love, a thirteen-year affair, caused a lot of emotion over its long life—excitement, rage, fear, euphoria, satisfaction, frustration. It was both thrilling and exasperating and, truth be told, there were a few breakups, one I thought would be irrevocable. Friends were concerned we wouldn’t make it, calling it my phantom novel. But we went the distance and finally celebrated going public nine months ago. Since then it’s been a party, all champagne and celebration. A victory lap full of hard work, yes, but mostly pure joy.
One of the names I call the object of my affection is The Fourteenth of September. When I’m in a rush, I use its pet name, “A Woman’s Story of Vietnam,” sometimes just a short but sweet “Set in ’69.” We’ve had our moments. Never will a relationship be so volatile, meaningful, or memorable, and it will always be with me.
But I’m ready, as they say, to move on. It’s me, not it. No fault, harm, or foul. It’s just time.Read More
I've been getting a lot of questions about my position on the subject of Jim Morris's guest post sent out last week and that's fair. I didn't want to include it until I heard from you all and it was a lively series of comments indeed. In thinking this through, I got a little carried away given the complexity of the Art vs Artist debate. I hope you'll find it provocative as we all struggle with this tricky issue. Let me know what you think.
Many of you have asked my “stand” on this fraught issue. So here I am weighing in and wanting, really wanting, to purely say that the Art should be above the behavior of the Artist. But is that an absolute? I find censorship anathema and have always felt that people who reject the pleasure of Wagner’s music (or Cate Blanchett’s sublime performance in Blue Jasmine — it's worth it, Frank) are being way too rigid in a world that requires more flexibility. But then, does that very flexibility give permission beyond what our viewing or listening, or overall enjoying of the art, intends? Are we, God forbid, enabling?Read More
So here’s the famous story. Sheila Talton hired my public relations firm back in the early ’90s to represent her technology company. One day, she took me to lunch at Chicago’s famed University Club. There, in the glow of the glorious two-story, stained-glass windows gracing the sumptuous corporate dining room, a shared history was revealed.
It turns out we’d both been at the same school (Northern Illinois University), at the same time, and in the same massive student protest—she in one faction as a civil rights protestor yelling “Black Power,” and me in the other as a member of the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, shouting “Bring the Troops Home Now.” I’m sure you recognize the era.Read More
Process is not for the faint of heart. I’ve emerged from my latest residency without coherent pages in my hand—nothing tangible, nothing new to read on my last day where we shared what we’d been working on. My time there was all about process, and I feel scattered. Does thinking count? Did I waste three precious weeks or take a big step? It’s been making me ponder this question: how do you judge your own “productivity” when it comes to the creative arts? Is it the thickness of the manuscript in your hand, or the heaviness in your heart from the wrestling you’ve done to get it there?
I could always write at Ragdale
We often talk about “writer’s block” (I believe that comes just before The Crack-Up), and I’ve certainly had it in spades, but never at a residency. On the contrary, I’ve been to a variety of writer’s retreats over the past twelve years, primarily at the wonderful Ragdale in Lake Forest, Illinois. And it’s always been a great experience, miraculous actually. Ragdale is where I’ve written about 90% of my novel, The Fourteenth of September, most of the time in a delightful nook with a sloped ceiling and French doors named after one of the historic building’s original inhabitants, my “lucky” Sarah’s Room.Read More