|My son on the stick phone at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taken with my old Nikon FE SLR.|
Last week my son graduated from high school, and it has been an emotional time. When I decided in my mid 20's to stay home with my children, I envisioned a lifetime of Lego and Brio trains, reading picture books, playing in the leaves and building snow forts. I couldn't imagine my little boy becoming a half foot taller than me and caulking the leaky tub. This summer he'll be a junior counselor at Chewonki, his first real job. In the fall he's heading to Middlebury College.
Not only is my boy leaving home, he's leaving the planet. He wants to be an Astrophysicist, but he also enjoys Russian literature and the mountains of New England. I'm so pleased that he's found his passion and so many good friends. He's a wonderful son. It's a huge relief as parents to see our job half done. He has a younger sister, and she's doing really well too.
|My son at Mt. Katahdin on our camping trip in Baxter State Park, Maine.|
My virtual child has been more demanding. Eve is the protagonist of my young adult novel set in England. Switching genres led me to switch agents, and my new agent gave me feedback in May. Laura didn't ask for major changes, but there was more research to do and a new first chapter to consider. Moving scenes led to a domino effect of inconsistencies. Now is the time to polish. A novel is not unlike Plato's cave. What I write is a shadow of the ideal story in my head. A good agent/editor frees the writing from the cave, and Laura is a genius.
I've been using my time offline to read too. Beth Kephart, Maria Padian and other friends recommended Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012), which I bought in paperback at Gulf of Maine Books. It's a satire of politically correct parenting, of architecture and of the high tech industry. The novel is set in Seattle, but it could have been Portland, Maine or Cambridge, Massachusetts. The premise is that a creative person unable to create will become a menace to society. Under pressure, Bernadette pulls a disappearing act greater than mine.
My one criticism was that the teen narrator was not believable. Bee was too old for eighth grade (14-15 years) but often acted like she was in elementary school. She enjoys going to the zoo with her dad and to touristy restaurants with her mom, Bernadette. Bee watches TV but doesn't have a cell phone. Her best friend says, "Goody, goody gumdrops!"and tackle hugs her. Other times Bee info dumps like an encyclopedia.
The disjointed teen voice was not a big flaw because the bulk of the narrative was told in emails between the adult characters. Bernadette and the other grown ups were more true to life, if exaggerated for comic effect. I only put the book down down to laugh. If you like satire and good writing, I strongly recommend Where'd You Go, Bernadette.
Next Post: July 3rd. I'll be tweeting more frequently but won't be back to blogging regularly until later this summer. For now, I need to focus my creative energy on revision. I don't want to become a menace to society!