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Essay

Two days before the start of the NYU teaching term and I have finished an essay that has been in my head for weeks. It’s 2,000 words, written in the third person, all on the page but still inside me. I wrote it for myself, no audience in mind, a respite from what must be written. It was fun, relaxing, absorbing, just the tonic for the hiatus between one long project and another.

The essay is still in my mind, I cannot let it go. I must get up from this desk and go for a swim to break this post-partum mood and begin some other work this afternoon or tomorrow morning, the beginnings of a second murder mystery, the third if I count the rewritten first murder mystery, “Say Nothing,” which is now called “Collateral Damage.” My agent is getting some good feedback on the revision—a new, younger protagonist, an Iraq war veteran—is gaining interest, even excitement, so we are hopeful. Some editors are finding the writing too literary, others not literary enough. It’s impossible to write to please this particular audience, always with their eyes on the marketplace. My mind drifts back to the essay. I will let it sit for a while, then show it to a reader or two, revise, and send it out. My agent won’t have time or inclination to read it. There’s no money for her in one essay. Perhaps, one day, a collection might interest her. It’s important just to keep writing every day even if it’s only in my journals, I tell myself when my optimism flags. Every viable idea begins in the journals and after a while, if I persevere, the projects line up like airplanes on a crowded runway.
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