As part of their What’s Up Wednesday feature, Elodie Nowodazkij, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, and Jaime Morrow are hosting a summer-long initiative called Ready. Set. Write! Participants will share weekly, monthly, or overall goals in the “What I’m Writing” section of the weekly posts.
What I’m Writing
I’m now up to about 463,000 words in my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest, and decided to split up the events of what I’d planned as just Chapter 56 into two chapters. Now I’m up to Chapter 57, “The Results of Veroníka and Velira’s Scheme,” which starts in December 1940. Inessa’s daughter and Vitya’s daughter Velira deliberately contracted whooping cough, and infected the other four children, to try to drive her and Vitya closer. The entire family were quarantined for four months. These were the days when everyone recognised these diseases as public health threats. Parents of 1940 didn’t gush about how it’s so awesome to naturally boost the immune system or shrug it off as no big deal if a child can’t breathe for up to a minute, over and over again, for months.
She and Vitya go out for the first time in January 1941, to dinner at an automat and then to see the W.C. Fields classic The Bank Dick. During the movie, Vitya whispers that W.C. Fields seems like a good match for their curmudgeonly old orphanage mother Mrs. Brezhneva. That bit just came to me as I was writing, and it was too good to pass up!
What I’m Reading
I’ve got a few interesting books out of the library now:
Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones. It’s an anthology of YA writers talking about their teen experiences with being bullied, bullying others, and watching bullying. As a survivor of bullying, this topic is of particular interest to me. I only wish there’d been so much public attention paid to bullying when I was in junior high.
The Fifties: A Women’s Oral History, by Brett Harvey. I read this book way back in community college and wanted to revisit it, both for my own historical research and because I just thought it were time to reread it. These women tell the real story of what it was like to be female in the Fifties, beyond the rosy-coloured myths. I’m so glad I didn’t live during that restrictive decade, which really was an anomaly in history that arose because of the circumstances that came together after WWII.
Generations: A Century of Women Speak About Their Lives, edited by Myriam Miedzian and Alisa Malinovich. These are interviews with a panoply of American women from every decade of the 20th century, and reflect the changing realities of women’s lives. Thank God I was born in 1979!
The Garden of My Imaan, a MG book by Farhana Zia. It’s about a young Muslim girl, Aliya, and explores her struggle with finding her place in Islam, her community, her school, and the world. I’ve lived among Muslims most of my life, and my family were dear friends with an Iranian family while I was growing up. It always makes me happy to find books depicting these people whom I know and love in a positive light, instead of spewing about hurtful, offensive, slanderous stereotypes.
What Inspires Me
Monday was my 10-year anniversary of the car accident that almost killed me. I’m inspired by how much time has already passed, and by the power of the human body to heal itself when given the chance. I remember being out of my mind with terror because I couldn’t feel my legs, and there was no relief from the intense burning metal on my stomach and abdomen. It’s a miracle I escaped with “only” a severely broken leg, a bunch of bruises, gashes, scrapes, and cuts, burns, and the need for two root canals. Given the nature of the accident, I’m lucky to be alive, or at least could’ve been injured much, much worse.
I’ve had seven surgeries between August 2003-September 2009. The orthopaedic surgeon who did my first three surgeries reminded my parents of a Vulcan, with his totally emotionless state, but on the day of my first surgery, Dr. Vulcan called down from the OR after I’d been put under, furious I hadn’t been operated on asap six days ago. The student doctors at the ER just put a heavy 30-pound cast on my leg and sent me home. They didn’t even treat the burns. That was the only time he ever exhibited any emotions!
What Else I’ve Been Up To
Well, we finally have a kitchen to work with, though there are still some things waiting to be koshered, and there are still a few restrictions on what we can and can’t cook or put on the table. At least that’s better than it was last week at this time. Hopefully, everything will be 100% soon.
Since I got my cookbooks out of storage, I’m also seriously thinking again of transitioning to veganism, or at least a stricter form of vegetarianism. I started the transition in 2007, but ultimately lapsed back into eating dairy and fish. My ideal would really be eggs and goat dairy from a small, humane farm I knew I could trust, not store food that probably came from a factory farm. One day I’d really like to finally fulfill my longtime dream of having my own little farm and growing all my own food.