Saturday, May 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes


1.  Helen is due out in 26 days. Good news. My mom and brother both enjoyed it.  Bad news. I'm still editing.  Good news.  It's not as clunky as it was.  Bad news. It still needs buffing and polishing in places.  Good news.  It holds.  Bad news. There is so much more I want to put into this book, because I really have enjoyed having her wander around in my head these past six years.  I'll miss her occasional running dialogue on life.

New caption...what do you mean you're no longer taking my calls?

2.  The smell of summer, it is there in the morning. I can feel it. Hints of the hot sticky days to come in the width of a sunbeam and the stillness of the trees. Even better, we booked a vacation!!! We never are this organized. We never think, hey, summer is coming, we should plan something. This year we did!  Can't wait! 

3.  That reminds me....I need to sign up for swimming lessons for at least 5 of them.   I did sign up one for summer school for an extra math class, so that's something...

4.  My children sometimes weary I suspect of being on auto-witness.  As part of a large family, it is inevitable that any conversation between adults results in somewhere, somehow, the talk turning to 1) what do you do and 2) do you have any children?  The other day, my second daughter explained what drives her nuts.  It doesn't matter where we are. If someone asks me, "How many children do you have?" she knows the next 20 minutes are shot because there are always follow up questions when the answer is ten.  I pointed out there were always follow up question when the answer was five but she countered that she's heard the answers all her life, and that people romanticize big families because I speak about it happily.  It doesn't help that their mother loves to talk.  
5.  But what she doesn't realize, is that even at two children, this was part of the reality of our lives. I had just delivered my second child. She was being cleaned at the nurse's station. I was calming down and looking at her.  "She's beautiful." I said.  The nurse held her up for me to see.  "Are you going to have any more?" she asked as she handed me my first daughter.  I looked at her eyes, at her face, I breathed in the perfume of a newborn and said, "Oh yes."
6.  The Book of Penelope...yes...I'm writing my second book. Yes, it is a continuation of what happened in The Book of Helen, but also...not. 
It is the same time. It is the same world. It is a very different woman, a woman whose power and authority rest internally, rather than manifest itself as luminous.  Helen was beauty. Penelope is not Helen.  Helen's life, her sins and virtues were  largely public knowledge. Penelope's struggle was quiet, long, domestic, intimate and only celebrated in relation to her husband.  Her faithfulness in his absence, her crafty handling of multiple predator men in a world ruled by men, these are what has made her famous.  But what made Odysseus choose her. How did he court her?  Where did she find the internal fortitude to hold on for twenty years? How did they come back together after such a long separation and what scars were created by wounds from the long years of absence? These are the questions. 
My initial thinking is that Penelope is first and foremost, a creature of duty.  But duty, done even faithfully without love, done without relationship, becomes a form of bitter martyrdom of all the sweetness of life.  So it is that Odysseus must re-win his wife's true affection and willingness to share what she has spent twenty years mastering to withhold, her own thoughts and feelings on everything.  He will also have to come face to face with the problems of having been a ghost of a memory as a father for so long, and competing with his own history/legend when the real person must face the consequences a legendary story version of the same man, never did. 
His wife and son know the tales. Neither is willing to gloss over the injuries done to them by Odysseus's dalliances with Calypso and Circe and others.  Combined, they should make for a serious powder keg of feeling.   Whereas with Helen, I collected luminous moments like fireflies, I will be trying to weave al the threads of these three broken lives into one coherent tapestry.  
7.  Is this thing on?  I keep seeing that the people who read my posts go up and up and up, while the only comments I get are from Spambots.
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So if you're human, if any of this made you laugh or think or remember, I've got to start planning a vacation, leave a comment. I'm starting to think this blog is me and the spambot crickets.  
For whoever does leave a comment who is not a 


P.S. Don't feed the spambots. It makes them tribbles.


Lisa said...

Happy to read and comment :)
Will Helen be available from the usual places?

Sherry Antonetti said...

Yes! As an ebook, The Book of Helen will be available through Amazon, Barnes&, in Kobo, through and a few other venues, I will post all of them here once I'm sure of all of them.

Thanks Lisa!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading but don't often get the chance to comment. And I've very much looking forward to reading the Book of Helen! :)

Rita Buettner said...

I feel inclined to comment just so you know I read and enjoyed your writing. And I love that your daughter doesn't expect follow-up questions when you answer that you have 10 children. Hooray for booked vacations! Our boys are counting down to ours and asking about it all the time. I enjoyed stopping by! (Rita @ Open Window)

Kevin J. Bartell said...

Six years? I feel better about my own rewrite; perhaps it's worth finishing after all. I'd heard you mention your novel, and "Helen," but I must have joined the conversation too late to realize it was That Helen. Great idea! I like the idea of a Catholic writer doing to the "Matter of Troy" what the pagan Marion Zimmer Bradley did to the "Matter of Britain." I look forward to reading it, next time I have some reading funds.

Sherry Antonetti said...

Rewriting is the hardest part. The first year Kevin, I'd written 60,000 words and her personality came out. But it was lacking a narrative arc. Imposing the scaffolding after I'd started was very difficult. Seven chapters were destroyed in the process of bringing her to the point to be seen by an editor. Whole plot lines were dropped. Don't be discouraged. Writing a book is like running a marathon but without a clear vision of where or when you will get to the finish line. Tip? Put on your things to do list each day, "FINISH MY BOOK." or in my case, it looked like a note to a domestic assassin, as I had "FINISH HELEN OFF!" listed next to Laundry, Dry Cleaners, Groceries...

Anonymous said...

I am in awe still of a fiction writer. Well done!!! I wanted to say thank-you for your encouragement; you are one of the reasons I applied to be a columinist on a couple sites. Your opinion and comments meant more than you realize because some one who was a published author felt I could even be paid to write. Well that is not happening yet but...

I just had my first article published as a columnist on Catholic Stand and three for CatholicMom, plus a few blog picks on Catholic Bloggegers Network. See you around :)

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!