I'm not quite one-third of the way through 2006 and I'm already concerned for my sanity.
In The Lovely Bones, Susie Salmon's version of heaven contained a bird's eye view of her family and a gazebo. My heaven would be a library, one with those suede chaise lounge chairs and chenille throws. I would look up and see row upon row of shelves disappearing into the mists. I would climb upon a ladder and it would Harry Potter-me to the exact book I want.
My heaven is books. My heaven is reading.
So, almost one-third of the way through 2006, I find myself relishing this choice. I have no fewer than seven books on my bedside table. I have more piled on my desk downstairs. I have ARC copies, a snoozing golden retriever at my side, and fantastic '80s tunes on my iPod.
But the complaints are filing in. First, the family. "We want more attention." Then, the friends. "Are you dead?"
Finally, the writing. Like Shel Silverstein's Giving Tree, "Come, Kristin. Come swing on my branches and eat apples and be happy. Come play." Slips of dialogue, the wisps of an introduction. Gone. I forget to write them down. I forget to write. And I have a deadline at the end of the month.
Lolita says to forget it, that editors never mean for them to be firm deadlines. The Brothers Karamazov say to wait until the weekend, refresh myself with a new novel, then plunge into my work. The Constant Gardener says to go outside and play with my kids, smell fresh air instead of library pages that remind me of my grandfather, all faded yellow, cigarette smoke.