Things picked up. It started with that podcast yesterday morning, and the living energy of the raw food I bought at Juice Plus. Then I reached out to actual humans. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but I’m an extrovert. That’s why I often write at Starbucks — and I’ve gotten flack for it. When I used to blog for Beliefnet.com, people commented, “You talk about Starbucks too much. Are you on their payroll?” Well, no (although that would be nice)…It’s just that Starbucks lets you sit all day with a plug and WiFi and soy milk. But the real gift for me is the people, their energy, their eccentricities, the views out the windows. The best of these came when I first arrived in New York and I looked out the Columbus Avenue window of an Upper West Side Starbucks and a fellow whizzed past, on a unicycle, talking on his cell phone and carrying his cup of coffee. I translate those images and the feelings they evoke into what I’m writing. I’ve written half a dozen books at Starbucks. Of course I’d prefer a ma and pa place, but they don’t take kindly to having somebody hang out all day, even though I buy something , if only a water, every hour. It’s my rent.
It seems to me, then, that if just having people around helps me write, what about having people’s input? Tah,dah! I was spoiled in my early years as an author because I had the most amazing agent on earth, Patti Breitman. She retired at forty-seven to be a full-time philanthropist, always her goal and vision, but on the books we did together — The Love-Powered Diet, Get the Fat Out, Shelter for the Spirit, Creating a Charmed Life, Lit from Within, and Fit from Within — she was almost a collaborator as well as an agent. She read every chapter, every essay, and gave me her feedback. It was perfect for an extroverted writer like me and I’ve missed her input and her caring. So: I called her. And also Karen Kelly, the superb writer’s writer who picked up The Love-Powered Diet after it went out of print to republish as Love Yourself Thin in 1997 when she was the editor at Daybreak, a now defunct imprint of Rodale. The two of them understood me perfectly and told me just what I needed to hear. Then I got in touch with Lisa Pitman, the Toronto recipe creator and food photographer who’s doing the recipes for the new book, and she lined up her scrumptious, healthy, mostly raw recipes so that there’s one perfect pairing for each of the forty chapters of the book-to-be.
Today I’ll go over the proposal again and tweak, in particular, the “brief overview,” the very first part of the proposal. That needs to be perfect: it’s what will grab the editor and the others on her team, and it’ll end up in press materials and on the back cover when the embryo on my hard drive becomes a book with a cover. Then I’ll get it off to my agent and the wheels will start turning. What it means for me: I’ll be back in writing mode, my favorite state of being.
I also realized yesterday as I walked Forbes in the afternoon that these few days are vacation. I don’t tend to take vacations: since I travel so much to speak, staying home is a treat. And yet this really is a lovely little working vacation — unconventional since I’m alone except for Forbes, and I don’t want to leave him by himself much so I’m not doing much outside the room except long walks with him, but those walks are so nourishing. This morning we hiked through the Lower East Side to Organic Avenue on Suffolk Street and I stocked up for breakfast and lunch: a matcha chia smoothie (yummy does not begin to describe it), and green juice, Greek salad, and kale chips for later. After I post this, I’ll tend to the proposal and if I get it done, I’ll treat myself to a reflexology treatment — a real bargain in this neighborhood.
Rudolph Nureyev once said of ballet: “It never becomes easy, but it does become possible.” I find writing like that — not this kind of writing, a quick post, a journal entry, an email — but real writing, a book or an article for a magazine. It causes you dig so deep and care so much it hurts, but there’s something to it when you’re done. And that’s why, despite the all the “content” online for free, this kind of writing is worth paying for, and reading over again, and keeping the book on a bedside table where you can access it at will and allow it to change your life.