"Success implies endeavor."-Mr. Knightley
I got my hair cut this evening.
I got bangs.
Farnham would approve.
(If you got that reference, you're a peach.)
The reviews for Anon, Sir, Anon are beginning to roll in and I am pleasantly ... not surprised, per se, but definitely un-vaguely gratified that I have (seemingly) succeeded with it. One thing I will say is that if you are toying with a novel set in another area of the world, it helps to have people belonging to that culture to read through and tap you on the shoulder when you've misspoken. Ness, of course, was invaluable in Stage Uno, but my more recent friend, Suzannah Rowntree , has made herself most useful by sending in a list of British slip-ups I made in the draft. Thanks to her, readers in the UK and Down Under will not be upset by the wrong geometrical pattern of Vivi's scones and the fact that I misused "chuffed". Thanks, Suzannah!
I have been having the most wonderful time feeling unstressed about Anon, Sir, Anon and then realizing, by turns, that I have to apply all of Rachelle's edits this week because St. Rachel is to format after that, and then I've got to get the cover out for a reveal and then I have to start asking for interviews and guest posts and start writing those because soon I'll be helping plan a wedding. Oy. I can't help but be excited, though, and it is a wonderful feeling to be this close to finishing a project of which you are decidedly proud.
On a seemingly random note, elderly people can be the most amusing things. And not by virtue of being senile (most aren't), but simply because they're allowed to say what they jolly well want and many avail themselves of this privilege. At a graduation party I attended this past weekend, I was given the job of corralling all the chillens into the twelve-passenger van and carting them home (Mama and Dad were off celebrating their 26th anniversary). As I stood there trying to pick out my siblings from a crowd of half-a-hundred other people below four feet in height, an older gentleman sidled over. This man was the father of a South African woman with whom I have been pleased to be acquainted, and as I was looking for one or another of the kids, he said to me: "Young lady?"
"Yes?" I answered with a bright smile. His accent was enough to bring that on.
"Is that your truck?"
He gestured to our van and I laughed. "It is my van."
"You drive that truck?"
"Yes. And I learned to drive on one even bigger."
"Women and girls in this country drive such large vehicles," he said with a wry smile.
I then explained to him the story of the van (how it was gifted to us on our driveway in the middle of the night by some good fairies) and how it better fit our family's needs than driving two cars everyplace.
"Can I give you an address?" he asked with a wink, "In case anyone wants to give you another free vehicle and you'd rather send them to me."
Oh, I love accents and interesting people. In addition to my conversation with the South African gentleman, I was able to spend a lovely evening at my grandmother's house, Sunday. We discussed everything from actors of the 40's to Doc Martin, from Charlotte Bronte's life to funny things heard on the radio, from the most terrible series on television (Dance Moms) to education opportunities and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As I've gotten older, I've realized that so much of my refined taste, my love of literature, elegance, art, and the like, comes from Grandmama. I never tire of hearing about her college experiences in NYC during the 1950's, nor of her exploits as a child in Norfolk, VA in the 30's and 40's.
As we discussed our annoyance with the lack of grammatical graces in most modern-day conversation (and one case in particular), I tried to excuse the person with: "But I am not sure what kind of education he had."
Grandmama raised her eyebrow (you've never experienced such disgrace as that felt by the person on the opposite end of the eyebrow), raised pointer finger, stuck her tongue in her cheek and said, with all the sass of an accomplished woman in her eighties: "That is NO excuse. My grandmother held national and regional offices in all the clubs of which she was a member. She memorized Robert's Rules of Order and chaired the meetings. She read all the classics and judged Flower Arranging shows at her Garden Club and taught herself Japanese floral art. She was smart as a whip and do you know what level of education she had?"
"I'm ... not sure," I said, feeling suitably impressed.
"Third-grade." Grandmama dropped her finger and tapped the wood of the table with her nail, just as she always had, the light catching in her amethyst ring, her mother's diamond engagement ring, her own wedding band, just as it always does. "And she educated herself because she cared. So none of this. Anyone can learn if they've a mind to."
Have I mentioned elderly people make me smile? And it's so true. Anyone can learn if they've a mind to. Your mind is a beautiful treasure and some people, like my grandmother's grandmother, have treasured it enough to hard-scrabble their way to wits. Please don't waste the opportunities you have been given. It's so much more inspiring to work your mind to the hilt.