Saturday, May 21, 2011

I remember you well, in the St. George Hotel

By the time I moved to Brooklyn the St. George Hotel was a wreck, a former SRO. In the basement the once mighty salt water pool had been sliced up. The pool I swam barely longer than a bathtub, upstairs my husband worked out on the basketball court. There he played against Earl the Pearl who had already had two hip replacements. Still it was a magic moment. Yet once it had been a great hotel, frequented by the rich, famous and infamous. The saying was, 'it had seen better days.' Now that New York has been transformed into a place that I find myself misremembering, or not even knowing, I think fondly of those better days. They were the ones I lived myself; who remembers the New Yorker bookstore? Or the real Thalia where I saw A Hard Day's Night? Or the pizza places that served by the slice right next door, the best damn pizza in New York to a twelve year old who was in love, yes in love with John.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Been A Long Time Coming

So, we are at an end. I hope for a fresh beginning for myself and for Amelia. I think about what it takes to write a novel, even as flawed a one as this. It takes chutzpah, there my mother's word. It takes dedication. It takes a pinch of insanity. And patience.
And a strong stomach. I can't thank all those who have read it enough. But next time, whatever it is, it won't be like this.

Why Amelia? I wonder that, the idea came to me when I was walking my dog in the woods one day. And stuck. In between I did all sorts of things. I wrote around her, making her a memory. I wrote about her as a child. I wrote about what it as like growing up in New York for me as a child. I invented her sister, invoking my own mother in the process. I invented a woman from the Midwest, a wife of a naval officer whose life was so completely different from any I'd experienced and yet for years was likely my most successful character. I avoided Amelia even as the whole book evolved. Then when I began to include her as a character I digressed. I purposely, though irrationally couldn't fit her into the narrative in a convincing way.

Four months ago that changed. Perhaps it takes that long to come to the right idea. But more likely it took me that long to let go of whatever stubbornness I was wedded to. I see it in my friends who write. We so often refuse to listen to what needs to change, we want to be taken as we are, loved as we are, understood as we are, we want our writing to carry us home. Home is where the heart is, and it's where I long to go still. I wish for acceptance from those who first rejected me. But there comes a time when one has to give up on wishing and grow up.

I have been forced to it, so I say goodbye to Amelia and in saying goodbye I say goodbye to the parents who raised me, goodbye to the years I've spent nursing them through their final illnesses, goodbye to all that. I have no idea what the next phase will be. But I hope there will be fun in it. That was why Amelia did what she did after all, for 'the fun of it.'