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Saying goodbye to my book (for now)
I finished my novel (again) and went to Italy to celebrate (again).
At the beginning of May, I sent a revised draft of my novel to my agent and closed the book on a big chapter in my life.
If this sounds repetitive, it’s because it is. I first sent him a draft of the book last May; he gave me some great feedback in December; I spent the first four months of the year rewriting the book, including a brand new ending. Then I turned it in, and now I wait.
Emotionally, I feel done with this project. I challenged myself to experiment outside my comfort zone, I wasn’t afraid to cut thousands of words and write thousands of better ones to take their place, I made sacrifices in my personal life to prioritize my art, and I told the story I wanted and needed to tell. I truly did the best I could, and I’m proud of what I accomplished.
Logistically, however, there are still so many unknowns. Will my agent want yet another rewrite? If we go out on submission, will it sell? If it sells, will an editor want revisions? If it’s published, will anyone read it? Will I be able to write another book after this one? Do I have the stamina to go through this whole, years-long process again, and again, and again?
It’s a weird feeling, to be in two places at once, a strange moment to straddle. I’m doing my best to enjoy the in-between and embrace the unknown. Instead of sitting around waiting, I’m working, reading, traveling, and gardening. I’m thinking of my book as it continues to move forward step by step, and sending it lots of good vibes. ✨
We just got back from Italy, again. Last September, we went on a big trip through Florence and Tuscany to celebrate my 40th birthday, our 20 year anniversary, Nathan’s graduation from PA school. I planned the trip for months, built it up in my head for even longer, and turned it into a profound metaphor for life and art, as I am wont to do.
This time, the trip wasn’t about me or us. Nathan had the opportunity to attend a work conference in Florence, and thanks to his continuing education stipend, much of it was paid for. So obviously I bought a plane ticket and kept him company.
We stayed in Florence for the whole week, which was really nice. I coordinated with a friend who was going to be in Europe at the same time, and we managed to overlap our trips and hang out a bunch. We did a 4 hour bike tour to a tiny vineyard, roamed the streets for miles every day, and consumed so much wine. While Nathan was at his conference, my friends and I saw the David and took a pasta making class (two things I didn’t have time to do the first time around.)
The fact that this wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime, overly-planned, and incredibly-hyped trip was profound in a different way. Last time, everything was new and confusing—I hadn’t been out of the country in over fifteen years, language barriers made me anxious, and I still couldn’t wrap my head around spending money on something as frivolous and indulgent as an international vacation. (My financial hangups are fairly epic.)
This time, I realized travel doesn’t have to be as hard or impossible or expensive as I thought. I can book a plane ticket, find an Airbnb, point at things when I forget the word. Travel doesn’t have to be profound or life-changing every time—it can simply be a part of my life. Bellissima!
We ate a lot of great food in Italy, but my favorite meal was this vegetarian ensemble at La Brac. When you Google vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Florence, La Brac is always at the top of the list. Last time we were there, we searched all over for this restaurant and could not find it anywhere. This time, we realized the restaurant is actually hidden in the back of an art bookstore. So, to summarize: an Italian restaurant, that specializes in vegetarian and vegan food, which you enjoy while surrounded by art books? It’s like it was designed specifically for me! We were so thrilled to finally crack the code, we ate there twice. 🍝
Reading: I just finished Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin, and WOW. This was one of the most talked about books last year, and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I’m happy to report that I was dead wrong. I absolutely loved this long, expansive novel that follows the complicated friendship of two genius creative collaborators who make video games together. It was the perfect way to spend a 10 hour flight to Europe.
Watching: On the flight home, I watched a bunch of movies. The best was La La Land, a musical about young artists falling in love with their craft and with each other. Despite being 100% my wheelhouse, I was surprised to find myself quite moved!
Growing: Right before our flight, we pulled the beets from the garden, which we grew from seed! I’ve been gardening for a while, but it’s still wild that I can stick a tiny speck into the dirt and just a few months later, pull huge, beautiful vegetables out of the ground.
Eating: Pasta, pizza, and gelato, obvi. Now that we’re back home, I’m looking forward to reintroducing vegetables and water into my diet.
Feeling: Happy but exhausted. Looking forward to spending the rest of the summer at home, at the beach, and in my garden.
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