Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I didn't relish waking at 5:30 today to prepare for jury duty. The courthouse is less than a half hour away, but being summoned for 8:15 means allowing a good hour's defense against rush hour traffic, and two dogs here require an extensive walk before leaving.
Along the drive, I made a mental note of everything I could have been doing if not for jury duty. I was so up in my head that not until hours later when I stood beside my car, diving into every compartment of my bag, finally dumping the contents of the entire bag onto the asphalt parking lot, did I realize I'd left my watch and car keys behind in the security line.
Inside the jury assembly room, however, a hundred or so of us stood and uttered oaths, several men tossing out jokes during pauses. "What usually works for a hardship excuse?" shouted one at the bailiff. When the first round of us was excused, a juror shouted "Bingo!" and "Anyone want to buy their way outta here?" The room erupted in laughter and soft applause.
During the second round of cuts, a disgruntled juror who hadn't been excused, shouted, "I'll trade with anyone who really gets a kick out of sitting on a jury -- some people love it, you know." The excused shuffled quietly toward the exit.
That's when I thought about Perry Mason. When I was a kid, I watched Perry Mason during visits to my grandmother's. I dreamed of being a lawyer, one as highly principled as Perry Mason. When I was about ten and finally old enough to walk the two blocks from my grandmother's house to the library, I went every day to read books about the law. I was reading words, really, hardly absorbing complicated concepts of legal cases. But even then, I seemed to have this notion that if I just showed up and tried, something good would come of it.
This is the same approach I take with my writing. Every day, I could make dozens of excuses for not showing up to write. There's always a college essay to grade, a condo to clean, dogs to walk.... But I have this notion that if I just show up, something good will eventually come from the effort.
But back inside the jury assembly room.... After twenty were called to the courtroom for a trial -- their juror numbers chosen randomly by a computer, so we were told -- most of us returned to our books and laptops. Some appeared lost in their thoughts; they stared at the podium just vacated by the bailiff, as if the bailiff would materialize again any second to excuse them.
By this point, I began to feel guilty about dreading this civic responsibility. Like voting, I should demand this right. My thoughts drifted to those behind the doors of upstairs courtrooms: how life, in a second, takes a twisted, often cruel, turn. Perhaps there's a teenager upstairs facing manslaughter charges because he was texting his girlfriend after baseball practice, and clipped a biker. Maybe a sleep-deprived mother who had failed to notice the brake lights of the car ahead, and rear-ended the car.
Our duty as jurors that morning was simple: show up.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
I was visiting my daughter in Los Angeles last week during my spring break from the college. Never fails. For some reason, whenever I'm fortunate enough to be with Morgan, I get the best emails from my editors about the progress of publication for the memoir.
The routine is something like this -- I squeal over the newest development and Morgan comes running to hear the news.
Last week, emails came in from Cara and Sara. Cara is the publicity manager on the project, and so our discussions were about the book blurbs I've generated for EYES RIGHT, and about the other writers who have agreed to blurb the book. Cara recommends we ask these writers, instead, for reviews since we have generous blurbs for the back cover. Makes sense.
Sara is in charge of the much-important copyediting process, which will begin April 28 and take two weeks. I'll receive the "redline" to review, and I'll have between May 16 and June 6 to return for comments, revisions, etc.
A question for my published friends: Is there a way to prepare for the redline? For example, I've already started a mini copyediting list of things I want to consider such as changing Kaddhafi to Gadhafi. Yes, Gadhafi is actually mentioned in my memoir. :) Friends -- am I on the right track? What else should I be doing?