Welcome Back to Montreuil-les-Vignes, Y’all!

I’m back! Here I am, four months after wrapping my blog up in a few layers of Saran Wrap and sticking it in deep-freeze.

There is so much to say that I don’t know where to start. You’ve been writing me emails asking about the book, the kids, and the existence of my vital signs, and trying to answer everything at once seems overwhelming. So I’m going to break it up into a few separate helpings and serve it up French style – course by course, instead of putting everything including the frozen fruit salad on the same plate, like we did in Alabama.

So Course #1, your hors d’oeuvres… The Writing…the reason I ditched you all for a 7’x10′ room in the Boulangerie furnished with a desk and a chair and powered by an extension cord running across the yard from my bedroom window.

Let me start with my twelve-step introduction. Hello, my name is Amy, and I am a blogging junkie. Um, yeah. I had a bit of a withdrawal after leaving you guys high and dry. It took me a couple of months to get over that nagging feeling that I needed to get a post out soon or…or what? My fingers would explode?

Every time a bunch of farmers drove a motorcade of tractors up and down the streets of town pulling a miniature house decorated with vines behind them on a trailer bed and honking their horns like they were in a parade, I ran for my camera so I could show you, only to remember “Oh yeah, I’m on a break.”

Long after the fact, here it is. And no, I have no clue what they were doing.

But I soon discovered that with the same amount of time I spent writing the blog I could write a few pages of a short story. And the mental space I used every day thinking, “I wonder how I could tell this on the blog?” was easily repopulated with plots and characters and dialogue.

So I launched into the first thing that came to mind – a short-story that turned out to be extremely dark and creepy and Rosemary’s Baby-ish, and when I finished it I thought, “Where the hell did that come from?” I spent a few days brushing it up in case I ever found anything to do with it and just as I was finishing, I came up with another idea.

I spent the next few months writing it into a 315-page young adult novel that I entitled “Sleepwalking”. And the hardest part of writing the book was not being able to stop every few pages, show it to a thousand-or-so people, and have a few of them write back within seconds to tell me what they thought about it.

It was another symptom of my blogging junkiehood: the need for immediate feedback. Sound ridiculous? Well, that need to expose what I wrote on an everyday basis was SO STRONG that I had to find an outlet. So every day at lunch, I sat down in front of Laurent and read him what I had written the day before. (I know. Poor Laurent. I’m going to write the Pope and request his canonization: Saint Laurent of the Bleeding Ears. After all of his pain and suffering, he deserves it.)

But the only problem with that solution was that Laurent doesn’t talk very much. So I had to pull feedback out of him like an particularly intransigent tapeworm. Usually when I was done reading, he would just nod, put his plate in the sink, and go take his after-lunch nap. I finally decided that I needed a better solution than listening to myself read for a half-hour every day. So I enlisted Claudia.

Claudia is married to Bill, a friend I made while working at Sotheby’s in a much more glamorous past-life. She is a librarian, loves books at least as much as I do, and also happens to be in love with the same twenty-three year old British actor with whom I am annoyingly and embarrassingly infatuated. (We trade shirtless photos of him over Facebook. It’s really sad.)

Claudia agreed to read what I wrote. Fifteen pages. Every day. (Except the week I spent in my friend Nicolas’s castle, when, in a productive frenzy I sometimes wrote more than twenty a day.) And she told me what she thought of each and every installment. And, just to prove her mettle, she then offered to read my re-write: three chapters a day. So thanks to Laurent’s and Claudia’s support, I got through the writing and rewriting of a novel in four months.

Now I’m on the final rewrite, having had a few other people read and give their opinions along the way. The feedback has been good. And I’m glad for that. As for What Comes Next, I have another book idea. I can’t begin now – the semester at the university just started and I am up to my neck in lesson plans. So we shall see how things develop.

All of that to say, today I feel like I’m facing Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3. [Insert Destiny into Monty Hall’s shoes and hand her his microphone.] The only problem is that those curtains all take SO DAMN LONG to swing open. Anything could happen. But it won’t happen right away – not without more slogging and waiting and uncertainty. The only booby prize would be nothing happening at all. And I’d like to think that it’s too late for that.

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