Welcome back to LitPark! And thanks for telling me your stories of burial grounds and yard sales and cattle drives and relocations and film making and book editing and guitar lessons and car shows and all of the many things you did over the summer that make you so interesting to me.
A lot of people have asked me, “How was Montana?” “How was Paris?” “How was the south of France?” And while I went to those places and had a wonderful time, my memory of this summer has been all about editing my book. I got my edits back in May. And several weeks later, when I was able to pull myself out of the fetal position, I went to work, unstringing all the beautiful sentences I thought were finished to do the tough work of trying to make the book bigger and better than the original.
Editing a piece of writing is very much like taking a knitted sweater and having someone say, “Only small changes, really. Just re-do this bit in the shoulder. And maybe use an alternating color every other row.” And you know very well that this means you’ll have to unravel the entire sweater to make those changes, and once you have a pile of yarn, you have to trust that it will be a sweater again. That it will be a sweater that blows the original out of the water.
Luckily, while I was still in shock and calling myself stupid, failure, mediocre, and other favorite pet names I like to use, Mr. Henderson built me the most awesome, secret office, where I am typing this very blog and also rebuilding the sweater, so to speak.
To get to my office, you have to go through a wisteria tunnel.
The office is hidden in ivy.
And it has a door that’s hard to come across.
Here’s the inside. That’s Jack, one of my dogs. I should straighten that lampshade, I guess.
Maybe you noticed the doll in the window. It’s my first Barbie doll ever, and I got it this summer from the very awesome Heather Fowler. She sent outfits, too!
I have to say I was tempted to cut Barbie’s hair and see what happens when you unscrew her head and stick firecrackers inside. Maybe this is why no one bought me a Barbie as a kid. (Did you know J.C. Penney sells Carol Channing dolls? Mr. Henderson actually does a spot-on imitation of Carol Channing.)
I sit at this desk for hours and hours every day. My desk is usually messier than that. And when I’m on a roll, there will be balled up pieces of paper all over the floor. (Man, I need some artwork on that wall. Over the couch, too.)
My mouse pad is a Roget’s thesaurus. I’ve had this one since high school and it’s falling apart.
I have the coolest view ever out this window. I should probably wash the window, huh?
There are little boxes all around, filled with whatever. This one has rattlesnake tails and bullet shells. Some have tampons and ponytail holders and gum.
This is a tricky section of the book, all laid out so I can see where the problem is. I keep that little bat-girl nearby because I think she’s made of the same stuff as the narrator of my book. I’ve tried to buy that print, but it’s sold out, so I’ve got my eye on Ray Caesar, and next time I love something, I won’t be so slow about it.
There you go – a quickie office tour. Mr. Henderson built the whole thing and painted it and put up the molding and sewed the curtains. It’s an absolutely awesome gift, and now I need to make good use of it and edit this little book the best I know how.
Real quick, here are my answers to Wednesday’s Top 5 Question: Name 5 famous people you’ve met, and tell a story about at least one of them.
I decided to name some of the folks I was around the most growing up: Vint Cerf (Turing Award winner and considered the father of the internet, and now the “chief internet evangelist” at Google), Herb Simon (Nobel Prize winner, Turing Award winner, and considered the father of Artificial Intelligence), Bob Kahn (Turing Award winner and co-inventor of the internet), Raj Reddy (Turing Award winner; he was also awarded the Legion of Honor by Francois Mitterand, which is how I met the French president).The Turing Award, by the way, is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for Computer Science. In other words, I grew up around a whole lot of geeks.
Number 5 was not in my family’s inner circle, but I’ll tell a story for this one. When I was 17, I did my first-ever interview. It was in the West Wing of the White House with Jim Brady, a few years after he was shot in the head. We recently did a big clean-out (part of creating my new office), and I discovered a very humiliating cassette tape, which not only featured me giggling my way through the interview and asking completely inappropriate questions such as, How did it feel to get shot in the head? But after the interview was over, I apparently recorded myself singing my heart out – everything from The Carpenters to Teena Marie. Listening to this tape almost killed me out of sheer embarrassment. Here are some clips from my interview with Brady, talking about the Carter administration, and about Hinckley, and about butts.
Thank you to my special guest this week, Dr. Dot, who is fun and lovely and created a great time around here with her Top 5 game. Thanks to everyone who linked to LitPark this week: Dr. Dot, Where’s Travis McGee?, and a.k.a. Si Ma Tian. And thanks to those of you who linked me to your Wikipedia pages: Josh, Maria, Tao, and Greg. Have a great weekend!