Here in the Mark program, our mid-project review looms large in the near future. Our revised manuscript is due this Wednesday along with our log line, a synopsis, and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. These people are serious. My head exploded five days ago so don’t expect too much from this post.
The Mark: Give us a small synopsis of the project you are working on.
Monica Carter: I am working on a novel about a famous and aging closeted lesbian writer living in 1930s Manhattan, who attempts to recapture the passion and honesty of her young days as a writer. Determined to write a truthful novel about two women who love each other, she alienates her longtime lover and her agent while falling in love with a younger woman who wants her success.
This is a difficult letter to write. From the beginning of your novel-writing journey, we have been there for you. Never have we judged you or turned you away. Silently, we have let you abuse us and take us for granted. Yet we have never asked for anything in return. Today, we are asking.
Sometimes, late at night when I am trying to fall asleep, I pretend I am having a conversation with Dorothy Parker about writing. She seemed to have the answers for everything.
ME: Dotty, I want to talk about writing. Here’s your martini.
DOTTY: I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host. As for writing, I hate writing, I love having written.
ME: But you’re good at it.
Last week I wrote about slaughter. This week, I write about saving. Contradictory? Not really. As much as I have enjoyed trimming the fat off the novel, I have also discovered that there are some things I cut, only to put them back in later. I realize this is confusing when we are talking about writing.
You are bound to ask, “Are you saying, Monica, that you delete things only to put them back in later? Sounds like you’re not really editing, then.”
I just came to the conclusion that I have a BIG crush on the Mark Program.
As I'm moving deeper into the revision process, I've realized how invaluable the workshop experience has been in terms of guiding my novel to its fullest potential. This statement may seem trite or obvious, but there are some variables in this particular workshop with the Mark that warrant some praise and thought.
One of the most provocative and inspiring experiences for a struggling writer is to read or watch an author being interviewed on their writing process. In downtown Los Angeles, the [ALOUD] series at the Los Angeles Public Library often provides this valuable experience. Last week, Thomas Curwen of the Los Angeles Times interviewed the incomparable Pico Iyer about The Man Within My Head, Iyer's new book on his fascination with Graham Greene.