Wednesday, January 14, 2009

B3 And Mom

Altogether now. If it says B3 in the title, there are spoilers in the entry.

I've been hard at work on This World We Live In, which is coming along fine. I'm on page 84, right on schedule, although that's most likely going to change for the worst maybe as soon as tomorrow. I'm scheduled for a teeth cleaning tomorrow at 1:00, and then Friday I should clean the apartment, and TCM is showing Three Strangers at 2:30, and it's been a long time since I've seen it (Geraldine Fitzgerald! Peter Lorre! Sydney Greenstreet! Yum yum triple yum). Neither of these things would be a problem if I weren't dawdling before getting to work.

Next week will be trickier. Monday, aka Martin Luther King Day, aka (by me at least) The Last Day We Can Blame George Bush For Everything, I'm having lunch with my friends Hilarie and Bonnie and Pam. Many many years ago, along with a woman named Pat, we were members of a writers' group, that used to meet at my house on a regular basis, but the last time we were altogether was June 1, at my 75th book party.

Then Tuesday, for those who don't keep track of these things, is Inauguration Day. I intend to turn the mute button on for the prayers, but will probably get a little bit misty for most of the rest of it.

If that weren't enough, next week is also the US National Figure Skating Championships, which will stream live on icenetwork. My guess is if I have a choice between writing and the junior pairs short program, the latter will win.

I am enjoying writing B3 though, and I'm looking forward, maybe even tomorrow, to having Alex and Julie from the dead and the gone show up. In my head this morning, I rewrote a scene so that Miranda and Alex do something together, rather than Miranda and Julie. I need to give Alex more facetime.

I've been writing scenes where Miranda goes what I now call house hunting, searching deserted houses for things like toilet paper. Sometime around yesterday I realized that while Miranda, Matt, and Jon were leaving the house, Mom never seemed to join them.

So I had a wonderful idea. I decided that Mom has become agoraphobic. And this afternoon, I wrote a scene where it would make perfect sense for Mom to leave the house, but she chooses not to.

This is what I love best about the writing process. Having an usable insight that takes me by surprise, and leads the plot in slightly different directions.

Today, after working, I got on the treadmill and tried to remember the last time Mom went out in Life As We Knew It. First I thought it was before she twisted her ankle the second time. Then I remembered she shoveled snow from the garage door in early December. And then I remembered she went Christmas caroling.

But B3 starts April 25 (I know, because I just checked the manuscript), and since I don't recall Mom leaving the house after Christmas, that would be four months of growing agoraphobia.

I don't know who's going to confront Mom about it. I'm assuming not Miranda, because I think it's the kind of thing you don't notice if you're living in the situation. So maybe Matt's bride Syl, or maybe Dad. And I don't know how long I'll play it out, whether it will be a factor at the very end of the book, when I plan for the family to leave on the long (over 300 miles- I google mapped it) journey to Pittsburgh. But I can hear Mom saying that she's afraid if she leaves the house, her entire world will collapse. Except by book's end, her entire world will have collapsed (something Miranda may point out), and Mom, terrified but courageous, will take those first steps outside.

Also on the treadmill today, I decided Miranda is going to bike into a pothole and fall down hard. Nothing like major bruising to make the end of the world even more unpleasant.

No wonder Mom is staying in these days!


Anonymous said...

Mom and agoraphobia sounds interesting. The idea that she feels she HAS to stay inside to keep her world from falling apart makes sense; it's part of what's become her coping mechanism. Is Miranda temporarily housebound herself as a result of her injury? Maybe (if you chose to accept my suggestion from the last B3 post), this could be the point where Miranda discovers her adoption papers -- or perhaps, if/when Syl is discovered not to be who she claims, Syl could lash back with the info, which she learned either from Matt (who somehow had found out) or, possibly more in keeping with the person she might turn out to be, discovered herself while searching the house for stuff she might steal from the family before she leaves/tries to make her getaway.

Just an idea to use or discard.

Anonymous Santa Fe

Karen said...

Pittsburgh?!? I'm so glad they're coming to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh will love them, and they'll love Pittsburgh.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good afternoon to Anonymous Santa Fe and Karen-

I used the excuse of snow to postpone my dental appointment until Monday morning, and spent the day alternating between dawdling and working. I did a good amount of both, and have now completed page 100 (and work for the day).

Tomorrow, I think, I'll clean the apartment first, then work, and then watch Three Strangers. Or maybe I won't work. I'm at a clear stopping point; the next scene I'm going to write is the arrival of Dad, Lisa, and the gang, and maybe it would make more sense not to start on all that until Wednesday. I think I'll check the schedule for US Nationals, and see how much morning time I'll have Wednesday-Friday of next week.

Meanwhile, I'm delighted to have singlehandedly saved the city of Pittsburgh. And the word verification du jour is "exmlaxi" which cries out to be a product name.

Linda Jacobs said...

Just wanted to let you know that my tenth-grade class is reading your books right now and loving them. The boys have d&g and the girls are reading LAWKI.

We've been doing some fun activities, too. For example, the girls had to write and read news reports about the actual night the meteor hit since the boys don't get that description in their book and a few days later, the boys had to do the same with Alex's body search at Yankee Stadium.

Last weekend, several of the girls got really freaked out because the actual moon was so huge. One girl even researched if that was normal!

Another girl says she's been dreaming about the book.

We've had some interesting descussions, too, about science and religion, etc.

Thanks, again, for writing them!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Linda Jacobs-

While I was writing, and you were teaching, a plane went down into the Hudson River. Apparently everyone survived with no serious injuries.

Life is so fragile.

On a far cheerier note, I'm going to take your comment and put it into the program idea for LAWKI entry. So I thank you again both for teaching with my books and for letting us know how you're using them.

Anonymous said...

As my daughter is reading LAWKI for school, (the current assignment is to read any book you want and that's what she picked) I'm also getting into it once again.

Mom and agoraphobia may sound interesting, but I always thought of Mom as much stronger than that. My take on her is that she would do anything for her family and having her scared to go out of her house just doesn't seem in character to me. I'll be interested to see how you pull it off.

I also wanted to tell you how much my daughter, Shayna, is enjoying reading your book.


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Glen! I'm so glad to see you again, I'm not even calling you Anonymous.

The agoraphobia is feeling right to me, partly because it's not going to be a key part of the book (at least not the way things are going right now). It's more like Mom just doesn't leave the house, and eventually people pick up on that (the way I did).

Mom's devoted so much of her time and energy to making sure her children survive (and now she's doing the same for Lisa and the baby) that I can see her just not being able to fight one more battle.

In any event, I'll see how it plays out.

Thank your daughter for picking LAWKI. I feel like I'm a family tradition.

Anonymous said...

Mom won't leave the house. Fine. Let her be superstitous about it. Knock off on the agoraphobia bit. And, Glen? "being strong" has nothing to do with agoraphobia -- at least not as you write it.