Amazing Author: Joseph Wallace

It's Tuesday and I am bringing you another amazing author interview, courtesy of the amazing author Caroline Leavitt.

Caroline is the award winning author of eight novels, most recently Girls in Trouble, which was a Booksense Selection and is now in its third printing. Look for her new book Pictures of You coming out from Algonquin this Spring 2010.

Joe Wallace is one of the literati twitterati I hang out with on twitter. He's funny, smart, and his first novel Diamond Ruby is a grand slam, featuring a feisty heroine with a pitching arm that could rival Babe Ruth's. Of course I wanted Joe to answer questions here. (Thanks, Joe!)

Diamond Ruby is filled with thrilling historical cameos, from Babe Ruth to Jack Dempsey. What kind of research did you do for the book and what was the process like for you?

I loved researching Diamond Ruby! In the microform room of the New York Public Library, I paged through half a dozen newspapers covering every day of the spring, summer, and fall of 1923, when most of the novel takes place. It was fascinating seeing history (the opening of the Coney Island Boardwalk, the death of President Harding, gun battles between rum-runners and Prohibition agents, all the day-to-day tumult of life in the big city) covered from so many different angles. It made those times seem three-dimensional to me, as if I were living inside them.

The decision to include real-life characters like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey was not an easy one. I tend to be wary of books that get inside the heads of real people, so I chose not to. Babe Ruth especially strides across this novel with all the self-assurance he had in real life, but he’s always seen through Ruby’s eyes. She stands in for us, seeing him as we would if we’d been lucky enough to be in his presence.

Ruby is based on real life Jackie Mitchell, the girl who struck out Babe Ruth and was banned from baseball. What interested me was that I had never heard about this. Is this because I somehow missed it, or is it because people wanted a story like this buried? And what happened to the real life Ruby?

Before I found a photograph of Jackie Mitchell at the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’d never heard her story either. It’s not completely lost: There have been a couple of picture books about her, and you can find brief biographies easily on the Internet. I think the story is little known, though, because Jackie’s career came to such a quick end when she was banned from baseball by Commissioner Landis. Jackie was just a teenager when it happened, and never got the chance to have a real career, one with an arc that might have made her truly famous.

I don’t know much about what happened to Jackie after she was banned. I purposely didn’t look too deeply because, after all, my Diamond Ruby Thomas shares very little with her inspiration other than a strong throwing arm. I did read that Jackie later barnstormed with an independent (men’s) baseball team, before quitting because she felt humiliated by the way she was displayed as a kind of sideshow attraction. Her treatment is still a scandal and a shame.

Diamond Ruby is your first work of fiction—what surprised you about writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction?

What surprised me about writing fiction is how emotional the experience is. I’ve loved writing nonfiction, especially meeting fascinating people and getting to tell their stories. But Ruby and the other characters became real to me too, and so it became incredibly important that I succeed in communicating my views of them to readers. I felt I would be letting the characters down if I didn’t succeed in portraying them as I imagined them.

What I loved about the book was that it had this rich, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn feel, coupled with some John Irving like moments. Who do you feel your literary influences are?

It is, of course, an incredible honor to be compared to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (one of the best of all American novels, I think) and John Irving’s extravagantly imaginative books. My literary tastes have always been all over the place, ranging from mysteries and thrillers to an ongoing devotion to Latin American novelists and other writers who experiment with form and structure. Recent favorites include Haruki Murakami’s boggling A Wild Sheep Chase and David Mitchell’s equally ambitious Cloud Atlas.

But the strongest influences on Diamond Ruby have been novels featuring tough, strong young female protagonists. I still remember loving Joan Aiken’s young-adult novels of my childhood (Nightbirds on Nantucket et al) featuring a plucky young heroine named Dido Twite. More recently, Laura Lippman’s superb What the Dead Know and Kate Atkinson’s Case Historiesand When Will There Be Good News? also helped point the way to Ruby Thomas.

It may be hard to see at first, but the late Dick Francis’s mysteries were also a huge influence on me. Yes, Francis’s protagonists were 1) male; 2) adult and 3) fascinated by horses, none of which exactly call to mind a teenage girl trying to survive in 1920s New York. Look a little deeper, though, and you’ll see all the characteristics my young heroine shares with Francis’s heroes: They never stop thinking, never admit defeat. People underestimate Francis’s heroes—and my Ruby—at their peril.

What are you working on now and how is it obsessing you?

I’m currently midway through the first draft of my follow-up to Diamond Ruby, tentatively titled Ruby in Paradise. (And, yes, I’m obsessed!) It’s set in Hollywood in 1926, three years after Diamond Ruby. The leap forward in time poses me a series of challenges: Ruby is a young woman now. She’s away from her home turf of Brooklyn. She’s in a town that prizes physical appearance above all. Her family is fracturing. How will she react? Will she be as strong and resourceful facing threats to herself and her loved ones as she was back home?

What question didn’t I ask that I should have?

I’m not sure, but I did want to say something about the revolutionary effect that social media—Twitter, facebook, blogs—have had on my career. I spent more than twenty years as a lone wolf, venturing out only to do research or interview experts for some book I was writing. Now, because of the online world, I’m part of a sprawling, supportive community of writers and readers. It’s a golden feeling.


Medium Art Show!!!

If you are in L.A. this weekend, check out another great Medium show. Medium is an event that happens 4 times a year in different spaces in Los Angeles, and pairs together a great group of artists with fabulous music, drinks and a whole lot of fun. The first Medium event that I went to also had a wild dance performance, that just kind of happened in the space amongst the crowds and the artists. The idea is the celebration of art in all its Mediums, and so not only are different artistic disciplines featured, but so many different types of visual art as well.

It's a terrific way to see a whole bunch of established and emerging artists at once, and as an art lover, it's Heaven. My friend Beau Clark showed his work their last time, a series of stunning nudes, and I was lucky enough to snap up a beautiful small piece of a woman's breast painted on reclaimed wood, which now proudly hangs in my living room and is admired by all who see it.

Beau will be showing his art again this weekend, along with a great line up of artists, (click the link to learn more) and the whole event costs just ten dollars and includes free wine. And just think, even if you don't purchase any of the art, you are experiencing it and supporting, and being a living part of it, and that's kind of what Medium is all about. Although buying the art, is pretty great too!



Not too much to post today. I am a working machine, spending all day and often all night in my office, trying to meet all kinds of dead lines. Some are for work, some are self imposed, but all matter and will hopefully lead to more work.

I love working. I really do. And like a lot of people I am at my happiest when I am busiest. Happily sequestered in my gorgeous little office, my desk adorned with all my little talismans, fresh flowers, an ever present cup of coffee, water, candy, my sweet dogs napping nearby, and Pandora playing on my computer. I hardly notice that I sometimes eat all 3 meals a day in here! I always wanted a room of my own to write, and I finally got one , and I have to say that it makes all the difference. Of course visitors are allowed, and welcomed, as are naps on the daybed!

Although I see very little napping in my future, as I hope to finish the last few chapters of my novel by the end of April. It's a big deadline, but an important one, and when it is done...I am gonna throw a party, right here, in my office!


The price of playing hooky...

I had a fabulous week visiting with my folks and playing hooky! It took me a few days to relax, like it always does, but once I did, I quickly turned into a window shopping-sidewalk strolling-pinkberry eating-magazine reading machine! The only work I did was audition and exercise and it was lovely. I spent the whole week being the birthday girl and feeling the love from so many wonderful friends and family, near and far.

My folks left yesterday, and today I locked myself in my office and began to chip away at the mountain of work that awaited me. I have 2 huge deadlines Friday, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and in order to make them, I will do what I did today...sit at my desk. I have eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and am going to call it quits, so I can tune in to Nurse Jackie and Damages and tune out the freelance writing that I am working on.

The greatest things about being self employed are also the worst things. But it is on days like this, after a week of not having to go into work because I make my own schedule, that makes all the stress worth it. As long as my deadlines are met, and they will be, that is all that matters. The time management...work hard, play hard, work even harder...that is up to me.

Some days it's good to be my own boss!



Eat, play, love...doing all three cause it's my birthday!!

Tonight I am going out for a fabulous birthday dinner with my beloved parents and husband to a great little French Restaurant that is having a lobster special and let's you bring your own wine! I am bringing a gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc that I got in wine country and a bottle of Veuve Cliqueot rose champagne that a friend gave me. We all played today at the Lacma, checking out the gorgeous Renoir exhibit and the phenomenal Richard Serra sculptures, and Love has been pouring in from friends and family near and far. I am a lucky lady.

Getting older isn't easy for a lot of people, but it is especially bad for those of us ladies who act and live in Hollywood. Hollywood is not a fan of older woman, favoring tight bodies and faces and encouraging men and women alike, to constantly try and beat the signs of age. I have had my own insecurities about looking older, have thought about botox on my forehead, maybe plumping up the every-year-a-little-deeper-groove between my brows, but there is something that I find so beautiful about seeing a persons face age naturally and looking at all the life that they have lived in every crease and crevice of skin. Don't get me wrong, I am not preaching against trying to be youthful, but I do wish that the world was a little wiser and kinder to the entire aging process and recognized the wisdom that hopefully comes with it, and that youth is a state of mind. Personally, I think that each year is a victory. Each year that I stay an artist and am able to keep doing what it is that I love to do, is worth celebrating.

There was a great quote today by Renoir at the exhibit, that was made when the painter was 78...he said that he wanted to stop just feeling his way through the painting. Incredible. He was talking about developing skills, not just going by instinct, but getting really good, at what he did. He was already famous, already being collected around the world, and with a circle of friends and peers that included Matisse, Malliol, and Manet, to name a few. Pictures showed that his face was lined and his hands were crippled with arthritis, and yet, he wasn't looking back, but looking forward to all the things that he wanted to still accomplish and learn. Amazing.

This year, I too am looking forward. Looking forward to all the great things and wonderful times that lie ahead and sharing them with all the beautiful people in my life, whose love and friendship, is the greatest birthday gift of all.


Amazing Authors and book clubs...

Next week we will be back with another Amazing Author interview by the Amazing Author Caroline Leavitt! But today, I wanted to write a little bit about authors themselves and why they really are so amazing.

It takes a long time to write a book. Sometimes it takes a few years, sometimes it takes many years. I recently heard that John Irving won't write until he knows exactly what the beginning, middle and end of his book is going to be, then he puts pen to paper. It can him 10 years to write a book. It took me 3 1/2 to write my first novel. And I am coming up on 2 years with the one I am working on now, after walking around with an idea for it for many, many years before I started. Another author friend of mine, takes 2 years, just to find the story, then another 2-3 years writing it, often tossing away hundreds of pages and doing as many as 11 revisions. When all is said and done and the author has a beloved book, they send it to their agent if they have one, or spend a good year trying to find one. Once the agent has the book, it is still a few months to read it, and then if more revisions are needed, it gets revised and when it is finally ready, the agent can spend a year shopping it around. Each editor needs the time to read it and carefully consider it and that means months. Then the book finds a home at a wonderful publishing house, where there are often more revisions, which means more months and then a date is announced for publication, which is often at least a year in the future.

When the book comes out, many years after it was started, the author, does press and readings, and book signings and hustles to get their book in the hands of readers. And many of them, so many of them, will even do a Skype conference with a book club if they are asked!!

The amount of effort not just to write, but to sell, and promote, and make sure that readers connect to the work, is just amazing to me! So please...buy books, invite authors to speak at your events, write reviews on Amazon if you like someones work, and start your own book club. I have one and it is hilarious fun. We rotate who chooses the book and who hosts, and we get together and eat too much and drink too much and laugh and talk and share our thoughts on what we read, and we have a great time doing it. And it only takes us hours. Hours, not years. But the stories that we love, that all those authors spent years crafting... well, those can last a lifetime. Aren't we the lucky ones.


Birthday Wishes

This week coming up I am gonna do a lot of eating playing and loving, as my Mom and Dad are coming to visit for my birthday and that is something to shout about. I am combining two blog posts here as you can see, as I have been crazy busy trying to get ready for their visit and have had been blessed with naming and copywriting work, auditions and progress in the novel.

I love that my folks are coming down for my birthday and I love birthdays, although I don't love that I can not help but make myself a goal that I try to reach by birthday every year and as the date nears, I start to take stock of all that I did and didn't get done...the projects completed, the money made, the fitness goals etc. I used to always say, "I am gonna lose 5 pounds by my birthday!" and then be bummed when I didn't, and beat myself up. I stopped doing that, because well, it is just ridiculous. But I do set other traps for myself and this birthday I think I am going to give myself the present of no longer doing this.

I turn 38 this year and had previously declared, "by the time I turn 38, I will be published!" Well, it hasn't happened so far, but my debut novel is out at several publishers, and has been requested by a fabulous independent press, and I am hopeful that it will find a great home. I am also nearly finished the first draft of my second novel, and each day, I am making progress.

Yesterday I had a wonderful phone call with my writing mentor and friend, who reminded me that "these things take as long as they take." She was talking about my second novel, but it really can be applied to all areas of life. We can not control the time line or the outcome of everything we do, but we can control what we do day to day. And for me the most important thing, is just to keep on doing. As another friend of mine likes to say...Keep on keeping on!

This birthday I plan to celebrate all that I already have accomplished and think positively about all that I still want to do. I plan to eat dinner out with my family, play hooky with my mom and go window shopping, and celebrate all the love that I am so lucky to have.

Let's give a shout out to getting older...and wiser.


Amazing Author Interview with Katharine Weber!

It's Tuesday and I am bringing you another amazing author interview, courtesy of the amazing author Caroline Leavitt.

Caroline is the award winning author of eight novels, most recently Girls in Trouble, which was a Booksense Selection and is now in its third printing. Look for her new book Pictures of You coming out from Algonquin this Spring 2010.

Katharine Weber’s life is a novel in itself. (Note: you’ll want to buy and read her forthcoming memoir.) The author of Objects in the Mirror are Closer than They Appear, The Little Women, The Music Lesson and Triangle, and the granddaughter of famed songwriter Kay Swift, she has no college degree, never took a writing course, and yet has taught at Yale and Columbia. Her latest novel, True Confections is an uproariously funny, provocative and smart novel about belonging and family, racism, Jews and the candy business. The raves began prepublication and continue to be astonishing, from the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and more.

Over the course of a few days, Katharine and I got into a discussion about her work and writing in general, reproduced here. I can’t thank you enough, Katharine.

Let’s talk about the unreliable narrator and the whole question of voice. For me, the pleasure of writing is tunneling so deeply into your character you feel merged. With someone like Alice, who often is not quite telling the truth to us or to herself, how close to her were you able to get? Was there ever a moment when you weren’t sure what truth she was or wasn’t telling?

I think I started off thinking I was close to Alice, and so she seemed perfectly transparent and available to me as I wrote her. But as the novel progressed, and her voice became that much more specific to me, she got much more complex, on the page and in my thoughts about her. Her situation drove her character, and her character drove the situation. Consequently, things she had stated as facts started to feel less certain to me in retrospect than they had when I was writing those pages. She thinks she is telling all the Truth but telling it slant, but is she? There are all sorts of ambiguities in the story that I believed one thing about as I wrote the pages and now I am just not so sure what I think I know. Ultimately all kinds of things about Alice and her story are up for grabs, though as I wrote them I had what seemed like clarity at the time -- but it turns out it was the power of Alice's convictions.

You also deliciously blur the lines between truth and fiction yourself, by pushing the 4th wall out of the way and introducing, for example, the live Zips Candies website, complete with jingle. Because the jingle has a whiff of racism about it, and it sounds and looks and feels so real, it makes the whole idea of racism even more unsettling. We wonder, is this true, is this the novelist playing with us, what do we believe and why do we believe it? What makes us think something is so? Do you feel that writing about racism is ever racist or is this kind of writing really the way to look at it, understand it, and then do something about it?

I love your astute sense of what goes on in True Confections, Caroline. Writers talk about novels in certain ways that are different from the ways critics or readers discuss novels.

To answer you question on racism, I am sure there are sly ways, and careless ways, to write about racism in a way that is in itself racist. But it is racist to mock racism? Surely that is only offensive to racists. I really wanted to confront racism and the definitions of racism head-on. And I do think satire is the perfect way to do it. For one thing, I think that casual, submerged, endemic racism is much more insidious than overt racism, because it is denied and normalized even as it occurs. So, yes, I do mean to make people squirm a little, and then ask themselves why? What about that feels wrong, or what about that makes me feel a kind of chagrin about myself, and what about that activates the PC police, who are, in their own way, as blinkered and close-minded as bigots. Censoring anything that takes up issues of the complex issues of race does not solve racism.

Also -- I think women writers are expected to be nice, and to be well-behaved and proper, and not cause offense or upset anybody in any way, and I am serious when I say that I think the threshold for disapproval -- by purse-lipped priggish readers, by the Mrs. Grundys -- comes much sooner for women writers than for male writers.

Does the guy singing, "Say, Dat's Tasty!" at the end of the jingle seem racist to you? Why? Does it make any difference that the vocalist who sang the line for the jingle is actually Caucasian? Does the word "dat" have a specific connotation? What? Why? How do we feel about Uncle Ben's Rice, and Aunt Jemima on the box of pancake mix? Are they okay? Are they only not okay when pointed out, but okay when not discussed?

True Confections has a lot of threads winding through it. It’s the story of Alice battling for control of the chocolate company that’s become her life, but also the story of the chocolate business, racism, and a plan of the Third Reich to get all the Jews to Madagascar. How, in the writing, were you able to balance all these threads? And how did you make your ultimate decisions in shaping the story?

You left out the runaway slave from the cacao plantations of Cote D'Ivoire, wartime Budapest, the murder of Kid Dropper Kaplan on the steps of the Essex Market Courthouse in 1923, and a few other things, too! It is indeed a three-ring circus of a novel, but that's the way I write. I am always intrigued by the opportunities in a novel to find meaning and substance in those odd intersections, to take apparently disparate strands and weave them together to make something whole and shaped that signifies in new ways.

I recognize that for some impatient readers who prefer the simplicity of a single narrative line, one straight shot, there is too much going on. And you know, it has dawned on me, after five novels, that I am just not going to go into a spasm of anxiety if somebody doesn't like my novel and thinks it has too many parts and doesn't understand why. Perhaps the issue is simply that I am just not the writer for every reader.

I have been asked why, for example, in Triangle there is all that music? Or in The Music Lesson, why is there all that Walter Benjamin? And I can only say that singling out some of the elements in one of my novels that you think are somehow not necessary to the novel feels like asking me why the odd-numbered pages are in one of my novels because you would be happy reading only the even-numbered pages. For me, all these disparate pieces are essential, I have them in mind usually before I begin to write one word of the novel, and the way they fit together IS the novel.

That’s a really interesting question, that one can not be the right writer for every reader. I remember in an interview Dan Chaon said his wife told him to pay no mind to some of the stranger Amazon reader reviews, because those readers were not HIS readers. Because of this, I think many writers realize they can’t write for one audience, because who is that audience? Do you feel that instead the truest thing to do is write the book you are obsessed with writing and hope that what is deeply personal is also deeply universal and will strike some chords?

I can't worry about the response of individual readers while I am writing. Of course I hope to find a wide audience, and I think I have a fairly diverse following, as it is, one that expands in new directions with each novel. (For example, Triangle was probably read by more men than any of my previous novels, and at two of my Connecticut library readings, firefighters were there, in uniform, in the back row, with their hook and ladder parked out in front of the library!)

So of course I hope for a broad readership. I have said more than once that if you are a carbon-based life form with the price of the book, then you are my reader. I have never subscribed to the Franzenian definitions of my work as too "literary" or too "high art" for certain audiences. However, I know my novels have been deemed "too much" by some readers. But trying to be all things to all readers is just a hopeless and pointless enterprise (for me, anyway) and it really has nothing to do with the deepest reasons why I write. In one sense, the first reader I am writing for is myself. I was a reader before I was a writer, like all of us, and I think my sense of what I wanted to write came from my sense of what I have always responded to most deeply and found most appealing and moving and satisfying in the novels I have read over the course of my lifetime. So I try to write novels that I would want to read.

I usually think of your work as very serious and literary, and while True Confections is certainly that, it’s also hilariously funny. Can you talk a bit about the progression of your novels. What parts were a progression by design and which novels simply happened and surprised you?

First of all, I happen to think that each of my novels has a lot of humor, although they haven't been characterized that way by critics, and although there are very sad pieces to some of them as well. You know that old cliché of a perfect book review? "I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down!" Well, that really is, for me, the perfect response from a reader. I want my readers to be moved, I want them to be challenged, but also, I want them to be very entertained along the way.

I am not sure I have ever thought about my novels as a progression other than the way I like to write very different novels each time out, so there is a natural progression in that sense that each novel has a different narrative strategy, a different sort of structure, and a very different sort of narrator.

With True Confections, I had the story and the substance of the novel very thoroughly planned without really having the narrative strategy in place. Alice actually came along after the Ziplinsky family and Zip's Candies were well mapped. In a way, I think what I am describing is that each of my novels has come into being with a left brain-right brain sort of dual energy being harnessed. I make a plan, I have all kinds of intentions and elements in mind, and that is all very governed and detailed. But then I deviate from the plan in intuitive leaps, with a purely associative and playful, imaginative engagement with the material. Out of that I can find myself developing completely new elements in a kind of organic way as I am writing. These pieces of the story feel both surprising and inevitable. I am always willing to be surprised by where the novel goes -- and by that I do not necessarily mean plot -- and I have never failed to be surprised by some imaginative alchemy that occurs during the writing.

Oh yes, I meant categorized by critics as humorous. Which leads to another questions, how do you deal with the way critics categorize your work? What is it like to get a brilliant review but you feel the critic was not reading the book you wrote?

It's frustrating to be praised but not understood. We all like praise, but maybe even more important to most of us is being understood, being really truly understood. But you can't let yourself be too reactive or too defined by reviews. Like most thoughtful writers, I would rather have a strong mixed review of high intelligence than an empty-headed rave. But even that rave feels good because you know it might win you a few more readers, and among those readers there might be someone who really gets it.

A negative review hurts (and I read my reviews) but it would very rarely make me regret the way I have written my novel. It's hard not to be defensive. It can feel as if someone has just said your wonderful child is ugly and stupid. But opinion is only what it is, one person's response to something you have spent much more time thinking about than she has. And it is important to remember that unless the critic has a personal agenda (in which case he or she shouldn't be reviewing your book in the first place) then the review is not personal -- your book is of you, but it is not you.

The biggest issue for me is that I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a writer. Each of my novels is very different, and that's always going to be the case. But critics and booksellers, and maybe some readers, too, like to slot writers into categories. I do think that every serious female novelist is pigeonholed in a certain way just because she is female. I know this is a tired subject, but it doesn't go away. I believe my novels would be read somewhat differently if I were not a woman. If I were a man, I believe that there would be more obvious comparisons to certain male writers in reviews of my novels. And I believe male critics would more often read and consider my work.

I’m fascinated that you are able to be working on so many different projects at once. How do you juggle all of this and what’s up next—and why?

I feel a bit overwhelmed by the various projects I am juggling these days, in fact. I am working on a screenplay revision of my own adaptation of The Music Lesson, which is now on its third option, with a dynamic young director who has made an award-winning short dramatic film of a short story of mine. And I am working with a creative team to revive the hit 1930 Broadway show Fine and Dandy, the score for which was written by my grandmother Kay Swift, whose musical legacy my husband and I manage. And I am on staff at Star in the Arizona desert at least once a year. There are just not enough hours in the day or days in the week or weeks in the month or months in the year.

What's up next is a nonfiction consideration of family stories, memory, and the impulse to create narrative. It is manifestly a memoir, with the title Symptoms of Fiction, but it is also very much about telling stories in a family, how we are shaped by those stories, and how we tell our own story to ourselves and others. I have contributed several essays to collections over the years that touch on key aspects of my story, and finally it felt that the time was ripe to put this kind of writing front and center. But I have three novels in my head that will come after that's done, I hope in the middle of this year, and as much as I am loving writing this memoir, I really look forward to returning to fiction.


Nautical stripes and writing uniforms....

I am loving my new navy nautical Saint James striped knit shirt. It's the same kind of shirt that Picasso was always photographed in. The company has been around since the late 1800's, and recently J.Crew carried them and they sold out in no time! I got one of the last 3. They are unisex, and it is hard to explain, just why I am so in love with a shirt, but I am gonna try. I work from home. I sit in my office all day, except when walking the dogs or auditioning, but when writing I am pretty much inside for hour and hours at a time. I could write in my pajamas, nobody would care, and I have, but I find that if I make myself get ready and dressed as if I was going out into the real world, I feel better. I like to think of my writing as a job, and I like to feel good when I write and I love clothes, but whatever I wear has to have my writing life in mind. In other words, I want to look good, but I want to be comfortable. I need to be able to sit for hours, so no tight jeans, or tops that cling to my middle, and I am always cold, so sleeves and I need the fabric to feel good, so I don't fuss. My writing uniform is pretty much always the same, worn in jeans, t-shirt, cardigan, scarf, socks and faux fur lined slippers. In the summer, the jeans become cargos, but the slippers remain. But lately I have been thinking that I need a new uniform, something loose and stylish, and so I have been hunting for the perfect button down, and found it at J. Crew, in the men's department, but it wasn't on sale, and it was then, while I was telling myself that I had to wait until they were reduced (they always are!) that I saw this full price long sleeved sweater/t-shirt and knew that it was going to become part of my new uniform.

What about you? How do you feel about uniforms and do you have one?


Late night conversations...

I actually forgot that I was going to blog today. Probably, because I don't really know what is up and what is down, as I am so pooped! We have had our dear friends staying with us and it has been the most wonderful thing to spend time with people you love and who love you and who you can chat for hours late into the night with.

One of the great conversations that we had happened late last night, about an artist in search of the medium that expresses the story that they are trying to tell and not only the best way to tell it, but also the way in which they are best heard. We were chatting about me, and the shift that I have made towards writing more and more and acting less, and my dear friend really wanted to make sure that I understood, that the nature of who I am and what I do, hasn't changed, just the medium that I am currently working in. It was an interesting way of looking at it. Not somebody used to be an actor and is now a director, or used to be a dancer and is now a choreographer, that there is no used to, just what is, now. The artist remains, the desire to communicate through one's art is still there, but that sometimes different mediums are better fits, or at least allows others to see/hear/recognize what it is that the artist is trying to do, at the moment.

I have always thought that art shares a common language, whether it be painting or dancing or music, and I am often most inspired by different artistic disciplines that my own. But I had to admit, that there was a part of me that does feel that having to find a new one, meant failing at the other. I had put all the responsibility on the artist and none of it on the audience. Of course the audience plays a huge part. They may see an actor only as a comedian, or a writer only as a children's author and it can be hard for them to see differently. But it is important for us artists to reach our audience, to have our work go out into the world... and be received. And sometimes that means that we need to work at many disciplines, until we find the one that lines up in all these areas, and when we do, that doesn't mean that the others were a waste of time, or failures, it simply means that we have found another way of telling stories and being heard. I mean, Jack Benny the famous comedian was a concert violionist before he had his own hit tv show. Who knew?
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