Swings, Bars and Cemeteries

I’m mere months from the publication of my next novel, The Crossing, and part of the revision process involves early readers. One in particular, Kristin, I can always count on to blast me with the unadulterated truth, the kind that makes me go back and rewrite the beginning. Again. But I trust her, and I know she’s not going to steer me wrong. However brutal it might have been to hear that my first paragraph was too precious, I had to admit she was right.

So I’ve been deep in revisions for a while, and I’m looking forward to that moment I read through the entire document and think, yeah, I’m done.

(As much as any artist can ever be done. Wasn’t it Degas who kept trying to work on his paintings even after he’d sold them?)

Kristin has read The Crossing more than once. I think she’s read it five times, actually–twice recently, twice the first time around, and once in between. She’s a careful reader, and thoughtful, and she’s not afraid to mince words (as evidenced by her “your first paragraph is too precious” comment, as well as a few other choice remarks). But what struck her the most about her latest read-through, she said, was that she really “felt the years.” Kristin read the first draft of The Crossing back in 2006, and now it’s 2013 and I’m still living with the same voices in my head. She wondered what it would feel like to write this book, to have a twenty-year relationship with certain characters (Joel first came to me so long ago I’d rather blush than mention my age). How could I still connect with them?

Oh, but I can. I slip into their heads so easily. I think about them so often, in fact, that I know the people who love me most think I’m a bit crazy.

So much of the time I’m somewhere else.

But I honestly can’t help myself.

And I don’t know that I want to change.

Does this mean I can’t be there for my friends? That my son doesn’t get my undivided attention later today when he comes home from summer camp and wants to race his radio-controlled cars with me? That I’m incapable of a connected conversation?

Absolutely not. But it might mean that you have to say my name more than once.

Because I might be thinking about that swing scene, the one where Joel says that he can “feel something building, a restlessness, a shiver of impatience.”

Or I might have in my mind the moment Joel meets Adam, and says, “His eyes, even in the dim light of the bar, knock me out.” (You know all about Adam if you’ve read I, too, Have Suffered in the Garden–and if you haven’t read that novel yet, OH. You so should. Click here to purchase.)

Or I might be thinking ahead, to the next novel, the one I’m already writing.


I am. I always am. And each short story, each vignette, each photograph, feels that much more provocative than the last.

Twenty plus years and counting.

I have no intention of turning back.

p.s. Do you ever get lost in your head? Are you a writer, a photographer, an artist, a musician, an engineer? Tell me what you do and what that feels like in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved


Swings, Bars and Cemeteries — 6 Comments

  1. Tantalized – yes. Surprised, no. I often get lost in my own head. I never realized how often until my children began to get past the stage where they were content to have me play with them and read to them. Once they started wanting me to talk with them, I realized how often I retreat into my own head. Did you ever read, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden? It scared me how much I sympathized with the main character, who is in a mental hospital undergoing psychotherapy to get out of the world she has created in her own mind. I look forward to reading The Crossing (slightly nervous about the intensity of the sex scenes) and I am intensely curious to see what you have come up with that relates to the cemetery. And I, too, love the quote that “zellienet” pulled from your blog – about cherishing the friends that tell us the truth.

    • I love this comment on so many levels.

      I’ve never read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, but will because I can see already that, like you, I could sympathize with the main character. Thank you for the recommendation.

      I love that you’re slightly nervous about the “intensity” of the sex scenes in The Crossing. I’m sure some readers won’t find them particularly intense, but others will–and that makes me feel as if I’m doing something right. I like making people stretch. And the cemetery? Oh, just WAIT. I get so shivery thinking about the third novel it’s all I can do to revise The Crossing.

      And yes to friends that tell us the truth. They’re inevitably the ones you can count on, no?

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Annoying or not, it’s a rare privilege to know a really passionate, talented and committed artist. Even if it’s from 1000 miles away, the work is close. Always.

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