When I worked full-time in public relations, I grew pretty handy at pre-fabbing quotes and assigning them to other people. I’m not sure my husband agrees that this is an enviable life skill–this conversational jockeying, this proclivity for sometimes talking over and through people–but it is a totally normal and even advantageous talent in PR-land.
Often, these were celebratory quotes, thoroughly happy announcements: Our leaders reveling in a fortuitous donation, a hard-won grant, being ranked on some swanky list, the best-of-the-best.
“We are so thrilled,” I’d say (or, have them say).
But when the approved copy boomeranged back to me, it was always tempered, its collar buttoned all the way up: “We are very pleased.”
I begin this way to point out that I have been thoroughly schooled and taught the full weight of this word, thrilled.
And I want to deploy it here.
I am thrilled to share this news with you: The book is absolutely real, absolutely happening. It is now at major online outlets and available for pre-order.
The cover was shot by a local photographer (who happens to be my baby sister). It’s not stock. It contains the real lake and the real dock and a very real chair that appears in the beginning of the book.
When the editorial team asked for some family photographs, preferably any old ones we had from our time growing up at the cottage, I mentioned that we were headed down there for July 4 weekend, and that my sister was a professional photographer. I said she could probably snap some stuff for their reference. The designer sent along a few quick sketches, and one was of this: Dad’s old red aluminum chair, angled out over the water.
I was struck. For one, because it’s the scene my agent mentioned when she first offered representation–the one she said sang out to her, and the one that still has its claws in me. When I think of this book, this is the image that has always been seared in, soul-deep, because the lake is summer, and the lake is Dad, and so the lake has become something else entirely: it is metaphor for me. It reminds me of a hurt I hug onto, loving and hating all at once.
It reminds me that earth is a banquet, so much beauty, all you can eat, and yet: earth doesn’t last.
It reminds me that splendor is spilled all around, and yet, all is seasonal. Summer melts into fall every year, almost on time.
I could talk your ear off. I could tell you SO many things about this book, about my heart, but the cover seems like a good enough place to start.
This is Dad’s chair, the one that came with the cottage, one that he painted red.
One that’s now marching back to its original blue.
One that reminds me we leave a mark, but time rubs against us, too; one that reminds me that, despite all the work of these sore hands, all eventually fades. The only lasting art is the kind we color in other people.
More to come (the book is bound for copy-edit land, which means most of my meaningful meddling is done. This is a good thing, but it feels wonderful and frightening all at once, and I hear that’s about par. It’s like a kind of toothpick-test: If you feel wonderful and frightened all at once, the book’s probably done cooking in the middle.)
Enjoy your weekends, people. The weather folks here say we might even spot snow.