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It’s been a few days since I’ve posted on this blog, but don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere… Well, not off the blog anyway.
This whole “selling a novel” thing has changed my life in more ways than I would’ve imagined. When I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing, everyone said I had no hope of becoming a published novelist (it’s too hard; the industry is closed to new writers; it’s a pipe dream), but I still wanted to making a living telling stories…
So I headed out to Hollywood.
Hollywood is a proper business; a place where people make money — LOTS of money — telling stories. I thought, if I can’t be a novelist, I suppose I can make TV and movies.
And I did. Think of someone famous. Go ahead. 99% chance I’ve worked with them. It’s been fun.
But it was always my Plan B…
I feel like I’m the only person who worked in Hollywood as a fallback career until I achieved my REAL dream. Everyone else out here wants to make movies and television — that IS the dream. But me? I worked in TV and film while fantasizing about writing novels (and actually writing them before work, after work, on the weekends, on vacation).
Now that I have my Plan A — a published novel — I don’t feel like I need to settle for Plan B anymore.
This summer, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “We’re ready for a new adventure,” so…
We sold our condo. Gave our furniture and things to friends and charities. We’ve sold upwards of a thousand books to used bookstores and donated another 50 boxes to local libraries. Here’s a picture of when we had just a few of our books spread out on our living room floor to decide which ones to keep and which ones to give away. The photo was taken from our loft:
We are shipping a few boxes to my parents’ for safe keeping and the rest will fit in the back of our car. According to our measurements, here’s what will fit:
In less than two weeks, we will officially be off.
We don’t know what we will find or where any of this will lead, but we are headed out onto the road — across the country, across oceans to other countries, and onto a new adventure.
My husband and I are both creative people. I write books and movies and poetry. I’m always looking for new ideas and new projects, and the road seems like a good place to find them. Right now I’m writing my NEXT novel, so part of the time I will do research for my new book — and write it. I’ll also visit bookstores and museums and do PR for Oil and Marble.
My husband is an actor, comic and Emmy-winning writer. He has been in the entertainment business for 25 years. He is in search of his next project, too. I don’t know what he’ll find as we travel, but he always has ideas… and he will settle on something.
I grew up in Hot Springs, a small town in Arkansas. I love my hometown, but I always said I didn’t want to be one of those people who stayed in the same place forever… I went to college in Tennessee, studied art in Italy, lived in St. Louis, went to graduate school in Boston, and then came out to LA —
Where I’ve been for 15 YEARS.
Yes, Los Angeles is the capital of the global entertainment industry and it is GIANT, but if you stay here long enough, it becomes just another small town.
Same freeways, same jobs, same trips to the Bowl, same culture, same food, same gossip, same people working toward the same goals. I’m no longer inspired by LA; the stories here have become stale. And I never wanted life to get stale.
I’m a novelist. I disappear into the hearts of other people. To be able to see the world through the eyes of others, I must keep my perspective broad and staying in LA is making my perspective narrow. Soon, I fear, I will only be able to see the world as a Southern Californian sees it.
And I don’t want that any more than I want to see the world only as an Arkansasan, a Bostonian, a New Yorker, a Parisian, an American…
I’m not saying we won’t end back up in Southern California. We are open to anything.
But first, we will drive from Los Angeles to Arkansas. We will head through Arizona and New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. We won’t drive fast; we are taking our time. We will visit museums and bookstores and take plenty of detours. Then, we will fly to Europe. We haven’t been in a couple of years, and we’ve never been to Spain. We’ll see things we’ve never seen and visit museums and go to places my characters — in the novel I’m writing now — used to haunt.
After that? I don’t know. Oil and Marble comes out on March 1st. We want to be free enough to travel with the book. If I’m going to get the chance to publish MORE novels, this one has to sell. So I’m willing to take the risk and put all of my effort into promoting this book, so I can have a career writing more of them.
My husband has his own projects to pursue — and he will find his own answers on the road.
For the last 15 years, I have produced other people’s dreams. I helped Tavis Smiley launch his TV show and grow his audience on PBS. I brought Arsenio Hall back to late night TV. Jesse Ventura, Kevin Nealon, Jim Rash, Lewis Black, Carrie Fisher, Candice Bergen — they all relied on me to bring their projects to life.
It’s time to stop building other people’s dreams and build mine.
Besides, who DOESN’T want their novelist to sell everything and go on the road? It seems right, doesn’t it?
I don’t know where we are going or where we will end up, but I think this is my favorite thing I’ve ever done with my life.
We are ready.
Adventure, here we come.