This is the cleanest room in my house. The rest of it looks like a lego-action-figure-cereal-craft-project explosion happened and the only survivors were these half-crazed wild beasties, otherwise known as my children, and on his best days, my husband — assuming he’s not feverishly pounding on his laptop making what we now call “movie magic” which is another word for “losing your mind”.
The documentary took its toll on our home, but that’s fixable. The project is done, except for the million little details of applying to festivals over the next few months, which includes multiple formats depending on the festival programmer’s whims, writing long and short paragraphs about yourself in the third person and forking over large sums of cash to get a 1 in 5,000 chance to be screened, for free, in front of their audiences. I hear there’s an open bar at some industry events, so there’s that. Potential free alcohol. A small thing, but tiny spark of light at the end of the tunnel.
I haven’t been writing much here to spare all of you this entirely avoidable drama of our last minute panic, but now at least the majority of it is over.
Oh right. There’s a book. I am writing a book.
In the middle of all of this nonsense, I got an email from my agent, and then my editor that she (the editor) was leaving. She left me some last minute notes and then signed off with, “Please direct all future emails to xxxx k thx bye”. Something like that.
I am happy for her. She got a new job. She was a great editor and made me a better writer by the sheer force of her talent.
In the publishing world, having your editor leave is rather routine, especially if your project takes several years, like mine does, but I am extremely lucky and humbled that despite the acquiring editor leaving, they still love my book enough to keep it. And nurture it. And send me a new, wonderfully clear-vision editor.
I kind of love her.
However, as it’s is also common in the publishing world, no two editors see a project the same way, and my new editor wants to change directions. She wants to go back to my original proposal… to focus more tightly on my original idea. To essentially say, “Christine, you were right, let’s do it your way.”
I am now writing a new outline for my book with lots of new research. Some of which I will ask, beg and plead you guys to help me with on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else I can make people do a simple thing: fill out a survey. That will come soon. I’ll leave a comment with the link to the first one, but there are two others I am preparing.
I’m researching and writing about bilingual and multilingual parents, about people who speak multiple languages, about the science behind language learning and the exploding field of looking at languages as they affect our brains, our memory, our ability to multitask. I am writing about what it feels like to speak other languages, to raise a child in other languages, but also about my travels, the way they have changed me, the multitude of collisions between my native culture and the way language makes us at once aware of our core beliefs, but in examining them, we are never the same.
It’s a lot of threads to weave together so I’ve set aside this room — and really the physical room in my life — to spend three weeks working on it. A new outline. A brand new editor. A lot of possibilities.
Outside, the hummingbirds visit the bougainvillea flowers, the jackfruit is dropping overripe into my driveway, the cherry and guava trees are barren, the mangos never came in, and our neighbor’s avocado tree refuses to drop anything into our yard, but we’re still waiting.
My daughter Stella is almost nine months and trying her best to walk, as soon as possible, so she can chase her brother. Cole is mixing Spanish and English together, answering me with “sí” or “yes” depending on his mood, telling me to be “cuidado” and when we listen to Spanish movies together, he seems to understand everything. I have no idea.
Someone asked me recently how I find the bandwidth to do all these projects and the simple answer is that I don’t. I am very good at making it seem like I have it all together, but really I have no idea how this will all work. In the spring we move to Barcelona. I’m skimming articles on Catalán culture and realizing that I will have children who will be Catalán. They will never be American like me. I’m wrestling with this, my workload, the tsunami of tourists (and seemingly bloggers) who are flooding this area now that’s the high season, white people with shopping carts full of vodka at the grocery store, not wanting to write about my neighborhood too much, like the street festival that has been happening all last week, because I selfishly enjoy being the only foreigner there. I don’t want people with big lenses walking around and capturing the “local flavor” while staying for a week. These are my neighbors, my friends. It feels odd to write about them like they are some attraction worth visiting.
All these things conflict me, and pull at me in different directions. To suggest I have the bandwidth, the room, the energy to do it all is insane. I have enough time to do a few things, and I’m constantly having to choose, to neglect important things, to piss people off, to hide from my email. Isn’t this what life is like for most of us?
So I give myself this room for a few weeks to finish this one thing, then I’m back into the fray. A little room to write, to research, to finish this outline. To make my new editor happy. I have tiny little goals, and I shut everything else out to get them done. I hyper-focus, and my husband catches me when I fall. It’s not a system, it’s just happens.